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Travels in the Fourth World

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 20th Dec 2012

Lately, I have been transfixed like a sugar-crazed junkie tuning into endless episodes of a doomsday reality show on cable. Following the antics of these wacky prep squads of lunatics somehow provides a shallow form of entertainment and I just can't find the will to change channels.

Boredom, anxiety and stress all figure in an oversized toxic mojito. While the world continues to explode in an increasing array of political, economic and erratic events, I find it comforting to get out of the fray at least for an hour or two.

Asia Inc has managed to have another enviable year of success both far and near. Property prices in most markets have continued to reach to the heavens and a rising middle class is spurring the East Side Story. Forget the American Dream. The West seems to be headed down the tube, destined to be the new Third World. It's "Open Sesame" to the future, and if you look ahead the journey now facing Asia is one that takes it into the kind of unknown territory that could best be serialised as the story of The Fourth World. Bad Lance and his pimped-up bike mates threw all the rulebooks away and now our journey into Neverland is in full swing. Alice and Michael J are already skipping past overhead, in a demented vision.

"Here we go again", I can hear my editor cry, cursing me under his breath as he heaves himself up from a despair-ridden heap on the floor, but we've come too far to stop now, and must continue. Get up, be a man! Show a bit of courage and edge. Who cares what the advertisers think? For MBA types, investment bankers and the hallowed halls of financial institutions, the book on "moneyball" remains anchored in the belief that market cycles will inevitably prevail and therefore the best recipe for success is cooking something up over a low, slow boil. These days, after you clear the streets of Wall Street suicides, the world has becoming loud, jarring and unpredictable.

Instant Karma prevails and who the hell has time for cooking? Just throw something into a microwave at the nearest 7 -Eleven and stuff it down your mouth as fast as you can. Hell, tomorrow might never come, so sky fall and live for the moment.

Lately, my tortured soul rarely gets a solid night's sleep, but the question on my mind remains. Is Asia too big to fail? Of course, 1997 and 2008 quickly blaze through my subconscious.

Gravity remains a scientific fact and what goes up must surely go down, or at least flatten, just like the world that Columbus sought out.

So while there is every reason to celebrate a New Year and revel on the endless possibilities of Asia's ever growing real estate market, a hard cold slap on the face is never more than a breaking news story away. Although in this digital age, we will more than likely hear the thunder of the bears coming on Twitter or Facebook, well before it even hits the television screen.

So yes, it seems four is the new three, for now at least. I must get back to my underground bomb shelter, as doomsday is inevitably just a flick of the remote away. In the distance, the only sound is the wailing mess of my once proud editor.

"Get ahold of yourself man, the worst is yet to come" I shout out, just as a Mayan starts knocking at my door.

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