Monday marks the start of the Chinese New Year -- the Year of the Water Dragon, to be precise, which comes around every 60 years. In Chinese culture, the dragon is seen as "a mystical and auspicious creature." Accordingly, this year is expected to be lucky, even transformational.
But despite the good omens, China faces steep economic challenges: Growth is slowing, and inflation, though it has eased somewhat of late, is still high, at 4.1%. (Food prices there are said to be rising at a rate of 6% or 7%.) The possible bursting of what some consider a serious property bubble could prove disastrous. Moreover, 2012 will be a year of transition at the top of China's government, as President Hu Jintao is set to make way for a successor.
One prognosticator, a Manila-based feng shui practitioner named Maxima "Maxie" Tue, thinks 2012 will prove difficult for wealth management, bringing much volatility to the business sector. "This is the year of the water dragon, and the dragon breathes fire," she told the Inquirer News, explaining that "the effects of both elements run counter to each other, thus creating tension and disrupting the harmonious flow of energies in the environment."
That sounds like bad news for those investors who turned to fund groups predicting China would be the next great source of global wealth. Several such groups "are encouraging investors to keep faith with China despite some dismal returns of late," according to The Telegraph--including a decline of 23% last year for Jupiter China, "one of the most popular unit trusts."
That didn't stop the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, from welcoming the new year in some kind of style, appearing on Chinese national TV to play the ukelele and sing "I've Been Working on the Railroad":
As The New York Times explained, "It's an apt song choice in a fitting venue, given Mr. Buffett's interest in railways (he purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 2009 for $26 billion) and his praise for Chinese efficiency (last year, he told DealBook that China had 'enormously talented, hardworking people')."
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is expecting a profitable holiday, with Chinese tourists hoping to cash in on the auspiciousness of the occasion.
"We'll definitely see additional visitors from China," said Michael Goldsmith, the group's vice president of international sales. "All of our data shows that international visitors stay longer and spend more, so there's terrific value in this holiday from all the money they'll spend and the experiences they'll take back and share with their family and friends. Hopefully, it leads to return visits in the future."
Kung Hei Fat Choi, readers -- may prosperity be with you!