| 기사 출처 : 미국 블룸버그 홈페이지|
In the Year of the Pig, property is king, geomancers divine
By Soraya Permatasari and Kyung Bok Cho Bloomberg NewsPublished: February 15, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: Marc Teng, a Malaysian real- estate agent and developer, is taking over a half-finished townhouse project in Kuala Lumpur this year because a Chinese fortuneteller says it's a good investment.
"It's got good feng shui," says Teng. His decision is affirmed by astrologers, numerologists and other Asian geomancers who are laying down their predictions as Lunar New Year, the most important date on the Chinese calendar, dawns under the sign of the pig Sunday. They like real estate.
Geomancy — divining the future from readings based on stars, numbers and energy flows — purports to predict events as diverse as stock prices, personal relationships and natural disasters.
Many Asians, especially small businesspeople, use geomancers to help make decisions, says Kang Jeong Won, a professor of anthropology at Seoul National University.
"The markets are complex and hard to predict, so it's a way of seeing through the uncertainty," says Kang, 43. "They don't necessarily believe in it 100 percent."
Asian markets aren't easy to divine these days. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index swung between a 3 percent loss and a 3 percent gain this year en route to a record, set Wednesday. The Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 Index tumbled 12 percent in the five days ending Feb. 5 and reached a record high in trading on Thursday.
At the same time, there are more Asian investors, and they are getting richer. Assets managed by Chinese mutual funds jumped 83 percent last year to 856 billion yuan, or $110 billion, for instance. Apartments in Mumbai sell for almost as much as comparable properties in Manhattan.
More than half of 1,407 South Koreans surveyed by e-mail before Wednesday said they had consulted an astrologer for Lunar New Year or planned to do so, according to CareerNet, an online job-information provider in Seoul.
Of those, 52 percent said they felt comforted by the advice, 13 percent said it helped them make a decision and 20 percent said they did it purely for fun.
A Malaysian fund manager, Raymond Tang, dismisses geomancy as superstition. The main forecasting tool is a round board known as a compass. Components include nine flying stars, eight lunar mansions and the five elements of earth, fire, metal, water and wood.
"If it were that easy, all of us would be out of a job by now," says Tang, who manages $1.7 billion as chief investment officer at CIMB-Principal Asset Management in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia's property sector will expand this year because prices are cheap relative to neighboring countries such as Singapore, he says.
The billionaire businessman, Stanley Ho, does not need ethereal help. The Macao casino entrepreneur opened his new flagship gambling house last weekend without advice from a geomancer.
"Everybody knows that if you stay in the casino long enough, you're bound to lose," said Ambrose So, director of Ho's closely held Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, at the opening Sunday of the Grand Lisboa. "We don't need to use feng shui to help us make people lose money."
For the less secure, geomancers say real estate leads their investment tips this year as the pig, the last animal in the 12-creature Chinese zodiac, ushers in earth and wood elements. The omens also bode well for construction and paper-related businesses.
Stay away from stocks and bonds, say three fortunetellers, Son He Rim in Seoul, Joey Yap in Kuala Lumpur and Edwin Ma in Hong Kong.
"Forget about striking it rich," says Son, 50, who uses numerology and a computer to weigh her formulations. "From April to June, things could pick up for some reason, possibly related to policy, but it will be temporary."
Markets will be unpredictable from February to July, says Ma, 50, who claims more than 200 clients in countries from New Zealand to France and has practiced his art since 1989.
"Avoid any stocks involving fire, including restaurants and steelmakers," Ma says. Real estate managers, newspaper publishers and paper manufacturers should prosper, he says.
A weak metal element means banks, insurance companies and any business relating to lending will perform badly, says Yap, 30. He has given feng shui — literally "wind, water" —advice for 10 years.
Instead, the price of wood-related commodities such as palm oil may rise, and property and construction will boom.
"There will be lots of new developments in 2007," says Yap, who predicted last year that oil prices would spike. "Because this is a year of change, old has been destroyed, new has to come out."
Property also tops geomancer Tan Khoon Yong's list of tips. Home prices in Singapore will rise by as much as 15 percent, adding to last year's 10.2 percent gain, he says.
Tan, 52, has been right before. Last year he forecast home prices would gain 10 percent to 15 percent. He also predicted Singapore's Straits Times Index would rise to a record in 2006.
It advanced to 2,985.83 on Dec. 29, the highest ever.
Teng, 33, who heads Metro Realty, says he started taking feng shui seriously after the company's first new branch was burglarized three times in six months in 2005 and he lost two-thirds of his agents in the first year.
To reverse his fortunes, Teng's geomancer recommended adding a fish tank to attract wealth, a Chinese character poster near the front door to deter thieves and a painting of running horses to lure clients.
"Business has been good since," Teng says.