The Year of the Rat

With the arrival of the Rat, we start the 12-year Lunar zodiac rotation again, with an opportunity for creative progress.  The Rat, although a much-maligned rodent in western lore, is celebrated in many Asian cultures as intuitive, courageous and enterprising, and worthy of its status at the front of the line.  2020 will be a year to capitalize on new sources of energy, determine new beginnings, initiate new ventures and break new ground.

This year's Rat is Metal and the yang element is Water, which should support healthcare and related-consumer industries throughout the year.  Also, the symbiotic relationship of Earth with Metal and Water would typically underscore prospects for the property and energy sectors; however, the chilly interface between Metal and Water (the Rat's preferred element), cooled further by the dying-down of Fire this year, forebodes continuing global tensions and significant volatility, so investors will need to keep their heads up.  The last Year of the Rat was 2008, which will always be remembered by students of finance as the year of the Global Financial Crisis, when about 30% of the world’s asset value was written-off in a few short months.  As we commence the 2020 Rat year amid a growing global health crisis, it cannot be surprising that some pundits are haunted by the past. 

Past Years of the Rat have held up the Rat's reputation for creating change and new beginnings.  The Sino-British Joint declaration, signed in December 1984, marked a new beginning for Hongkongers, setting the arrangements for Hong Kong’s governance post-Handover and charting the course of Hong Kong’s future as part of China.  That same year welcomed China’s participation in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, the first appearance of a Chinese delegation since 1952, achieved as a direct consequence of Taiwan’s agreement to participate under the banner of Chinese Taipei — again, the Rat breaking new ground.

As we look toward South Korean Presidential elections in April, it’s hard to ignore the impact of past Rat years on Korea’s political evolution. Syngman Rhee was elected President in 1948, the first democratic elections following WWII and very much a new beginning for the country. In the next Rat year 1960, Yun Posun was victorious in the Presidential elections after Rhee had been ousted that same year in the April Revolution. Posun’s leadership was then cut short by Park Chung-hee who, in the next Rat year 1972, enacted an infamous new Constitution granting him broader powers, proclaiming a “new Korean-style democracy”.  Evolutionary changes, although not always good.

Without a doubt, we can expect that this year’s Rat will bring about transformation.  The challenge will be how to react.  "A rat is neither good nor evil.  A rat does what it needs to do" — well-said by Norwegian novelist, Jo Nesbo.  It will be up to each of us to determine how we are affected by, or will take advantage of, the change incited by the rodent.

 

The observations set forth above represent the distilled thoughts of a number of Chinese feng shui commentators, and do not constitute investment criteria for the professionals at Excelsior Capital Asia!