Hong Kong's infallible stock market index

Jan 11, 2009
*Special to asia!

They call it Adam Cheng.

The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the numerous high-flying hedge fund managers and investors in the West may have been caught by the current sub-prime market meltdown, but Hong Kongers had known a big fall in equity prices was coming weeks before it happened.

Hong Kongers are not brighter than the rest of the world; it is simply that they use a different indicator.

In the West hundreds of millions is spent on economic models and sophisticated quantity analysis to gauge the mood of the market. All to no avail, as just about everyone was caught flatfooted by the current meltdown.

But in Hong Kong, investors rely on something that is much more reliable, and has been proven correct in the past 15 years. They closely follow the moves of actor Adam Cheng Siu-Chow.

In July word went around that Cheng – famous for being formerly married to the fat actress Lydia Sum – was at it again, meaning he was launching a new TV serial. Many savvy investors, who had already been made nervous by the bull run that drove prices to seemingly unsustainable levels, started to sell selectively.

Soon enough, the market collapsed. Again, Cheng’s reputation as a negative stock market indicator was enhanced, not that the ageing actor – just turned 60 and recently caught wearing a toupee – was very pleased.

Cheng just cannot shake off the seemingly mythical association he has with the stock market. It started when he made "Greed of Man" in October 1992, a TV soap opera about – appropriately enough – a family of unscrupulous stock investors who made a fortune short selling stocks. During the airing, the Hang Seng Index dropped nearly 600 points.

This was followed by numerous examples of shows starring Cheng and the fall of the market:

November 1994 – "Instinct", Hang Seng fell 2,000 points.

September 1996 – "Once Upon a Time in Shanghai", Hang Seng fell 300 points.

June 1997 – Cold Blood, Warm Heart. Hang Seng fell 735 points.

December 1997 - Legend of Yung Ching, Hang Seng, hit by the Asian Crisis, fell 5,342 points.

June 1999 - Lord of Imprisonment, Hang Seng fell 1,176 points.

September 2000 – A loose remake of "Greed of Man", Hang Seng fell 1,715 points, this time the Cheng Effect was felt globally.

October 2003 – "The Driving Power". Market actually rose 100 points, leading many to say the spell was broken. Then it fell 501 points.

March 2004 – "Blade Heart", Hang Seng fell 550 points.

October 2004 – "The Conqueror’s Story", Hang Seng fell nearly 200 points.

April 2006 – "Bar Bender". Wild drops in US and Hong Kong stock markets.

July 2006 – "The Prince's Shadow" was followed by big drops in the markets caused by the Israeli-Lebanese Conflict.
February-March 2007- "The Prince's Shadow" was rebroadcast in Hong Kong, and a Chinese stock market crisis caused Hong Kong and global markets to drop significantly.

May 2007 – Cheng hosted a TV programme called "Mystery". The Hang Seng fell 700 points.

July 2007 – "Return Home". The Hong Kong market fell 1,165 due to subprime mortgage problems.

August 2007 – "Bar Bender" premiered in TVB-USA, and the Cheng curse has gone global, causing an extreme drop in many markets.

Needless to say, Hong Kongers are all watching for the next time Cheng launches a show. This time, it is said that some Western analysts are also monitoring the situation. A new show is likely to come out next year. World markets, watch out.



lee han shihLee Han Shih is the founder, publisher and editor of asia! Magazine.


Contact Han Shih