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Up Close And Personal With The Liquid Kitty

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 1st Oct 2015

"Where did the chopsticks go?" I roar to the cowering waiter, as my angst rises to an alarming level that could escalate to a total flameout at any second. Dim sum is not tapas, and if I had wanted to eat with my hands, the nearby Bombay Boogaloo would have done just fine.

In the nick of time, a nearby diner who intuitively senses that all manner of chaos, violence and mayhem is about to erupt, offers me his own slightly used sticks, which he swiftly wipes off on his wife's Chanel jacket.

Here, indeed, is a man who understands the nature of a hair.

It's fair to say that we've all been derailed in the plaid, mad year of 2015; driven a bit nuts by all things disruptive.

Blame it on El Niño or the televised imaged of that loony goon Donald Trump bringing us frightful images of what it means to be an American in the great age of disgrace.

The chopstick scare created a sinking feeling, which is further compounded by a regular stream of TV news bulletins about the devaluation of the yuan.
Faced with the option of letting the ship sink, it appears that mainland China has decided to let it float amidst an ocean of uncertainly. Exports will without a doubt prop it up, but will the move create a currency war amongst other Asian nations looking to grab honors as the global factory floor?

What were once general rules – buy low, sell high, anticipate capital appreciation, or even mitigate risk on rental yield – no longer apply. Be it Australia, Malaysia or now China, the stage just become increasingly more complex with the adding in of a true game changer – rising and falling exchange rates.

Remember those lines from "The Gambler": "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em / Know when to walk away, know when to run. / You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table, / There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."

How true. As for China, so much has been written and discussed about the rage of domestic investors with their casino mentality over stocks and real estate and worship of the liquid kitty. But like the Good Lord, the kitty also has off days and while a giving attitude sometimes prevails, it's recently been a case of take, take, take.

You see, although cats and dogs are different, the reality is that the beast must be fed one way or another. Property is no longer only about dirt, aspirations and true greed, it's also requires investors to keep a keen eye on the fiddler on the roof – a multiplier of boom or bust that goes by the name, currency.

My meal thankfully comes to an end. I hand back my slightly used chopsticks to the startled fellow at the next table and walk outside into the night. Down a dark street, emanating from the distant shadows, I make out a sound – is that the purring of a kitty, or just my imagination?

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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