21 October 2016
Jasper Tsang has suggested that "7" will be a key number this year, prompting observers to associate it with the unlucky start for the stock markets. Photos: HKEJ
Jasper Tsang has suggested that "7" will be a key number this year, prompting observers to associate it with the unlucky start for the stock markets. Photos: HKEJ

Numbers game: Why markets had a poor start in 2016

Forget Goldman Sachs, UBS and other investment banks!

Perhaps we should be paying more attention to the prognostications of Jasper Tsang Yuk-shing following the sour start for global equities in the New Year.

In a column Monday, the LegCo chief highlighted “7″ as a key number for this year because 2016 is the end result of “777+777+77+77+77+77+77+77″.

Some people may feel that 7 is a lucky number. But not all Cantonese agree with that, as the word’s pronunciation can be similar to a dirty word that means “stupid”, “useless” and “shameful”. 

If a Hong Kong youth describes you as being “very seven”, it’s probably not a very charitable reference.

Now, coming to equities, China’s markets tumbled 7 percent on Monday, the maximum allowed daily limit, triggering circuit breakers and a transactions halt on the first trading day of 2016.

Not just that, Hang Seng Index also ended with a “7″ in its intra-day high and low and the number of points it dropped yesterday.

Does Tsang know something that we don’t?

That may well be possible given that the LegCo chief, who passed out with first class honors in mathematics from the University of Hong Kong, has been known to drop hints to people without really elaborating on what he knows.

If he was looking for a second career, the skills would make him a perfect stock tipster.

In his regular column for AM730, Tsang wrote that he had received a New Year greeting from Lo Wai-kwok, a lawmaker representing the engineering functional constituency, that read like this:


Wishing you a smooth, prosperous and longevity year of 2016!”

Apparently six means smooth, eight means prosperous and nine means longevity — all buzz words for greetings.

But all told, Tsang is a bit sensitive to the combo of 689, a symbol for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying who won the top post in 2012 by securing 689 votes from a 1,200-member election committee.

Tsang said last year, after his brother Tsang Tak-shing was fired as Secretary of Home Affairs, that he would have joined the chief executive race had he been younger.

That shows how much Tsang enjoys the political work even though he has to constantly deal with uncooperative actions — like filibustering and calls for quorum bells — by opposition lawmakers.

As he prepares to complete his final term, Tsang will have to steer political debates ahead of the 2017 chief executive election.

While Leung is apparently seeking a second term in office, there are other possible contenders for the top job.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and his predecessor Antony Leung Kam-chung are seen as possible candidates though they are yet to make their aspirations clear as the election is still 14 months away. 

To that, Tsang threw in another riddle: 2016=144×14.

All told, 14 is a very inauspicious word which indicates a “must die” situation.

The LegCo chief’s predictions are not to be underestimated.

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EJ Insight writer

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