Peace and calm for 2009, but not economic recovery: soothsayers

HONG KONG (AFP) - The world can look forward to peace and harmony in 2009, but Chinese soothsayers warned that the road to economic recovery will be long.
The Year of the Rat, marked by an unprecedented, global financial crisis, will give way to a much more stable Year of the Ox, Chinese astrologists and feng shui masters predicted.

Peace and calm for 2009, but not economic recovery: soothsayers
"The soil represents a garden or a green field, a feng shui symbol for harmony, relaxation, and recovery," Raymond Lo, Hong Kong feng shui expert, told AFP.
Chinese fortune-tellers study the changing balance of the five spiritual elements they believe form the core of the universe -- gold, wood, water, fire, and soil. A person's element can be calculated by using the exact time and date of his birth.
Each of the elements is further divided into the yin and the yang strands, the two complementary qualities representing respectively the passive and active side of nature.

Coincidentally, Lo said, quite a few world leaders in 2009 were associated with "yin soil", including US President-elect Barack Obama and French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

"People belonging to the yin soil tend to be more charming and charitable. They love peace rather than war. They are usually the ones who contribute to science and humanity," he said.

Examples include Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and Sigmund Freud, he said.

However, the feng shui master said he did not expect Obama or other state leaders to be able to turn around the global economic situation in 2009 because the element of fire -- which stands for the force that motivates financial activities -- is missing for most of next year.

"It is a year for Obama to lay the foundation for his administration, rather than achieve anything.

"The financial markets will go up a little in the first couple of months but this will be short-lived. Investors are bound to be disappointed in the end," he said.

The prediction is similar to the forecasts of many financial analysts.

Sarkozy's administration will be more stable than it was in 2008, because the strength of water will weaken in 2009, said Lo.
"There was a lot of water in 2008, which is not good for a yin soil leader because it will flood the soil," he said.
The Chinese calendar moves in 60-year cycles, meaning the world will experience similar events in the new year to those that took place 60 years ago.
In 1949, the People's Republic of China was established by communist leader Mao Zedong. Lo said that 2009's year of the Ox could similarly see a new world order being forged.
Professions or events that can be associated with wood will fare well next year because the element thrives on soil, Lo said.
He predicted that former US Vice President Al Gore, who has since turned himself into an environmental activist, will make big progress in his efforts to combat global warming.
Next year will also be good for professions that are related to wood, paper, and energy, including fashion, news media, entertainment, oil and air travel, said Lo.
Mak Ling-ling, a celebrity astrologist and feng shui master, said the financial markets would be very quiet next year and economic problems would be particularly acute in the west.
"Businesses will be even worse than now. Social order will be disturbed, with the number of fraud cases will rise," she said, but added that the situation would improve after next year.
While many of the wealthiest and the most powerful businessmen in Hong Kong will continue to suffer in the present financial climate, Mak said some low-profile individuals would be able to seize the chance to profit from the crisis with their courage and original ideas.
She warned the Hong Kong government against relying too heavily on Beijing, saying China will have its own problems to solve next year.
"I think it will be unwise for Hong Kong to keep hoping that it can forever rely on mainland Chinese tourists to boost the domestic economy," she said.

Wednesday, December 31st 2008
Polly Hui

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