By Davina MacKail
China has a long history of using astrology to predict financial markets. Based on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year fell on 10 February, ushering in the black water snake. So what financial trends can we expect for 2013?
While 2013 will undoubtedly be a year of change and transformation, overall there will be less drama and volatility in the markets than was experienced in 2012. In astrological terms, the water snake is the karmic partner of last year’s dragon. The dragon is the masculine, yang, active principle and the snake is the feminine, yin, receptive principle.
In financial terms, this means a year to collect on last year’s investments; 2012 was all about selling a good story, making a splash but on reflection very little financial progress actually materialised. Returns on investments just didn’t live up to the hype. We only have to look at the UK to see the truth of this.
The UK celebrated a very Dragon year in 2012, with the Queen’s Jubilee followed by the Olympics and the Paralympics – all great Dragon campaigns of pageantry and hype. Every political and social commentator was quick to jump on the hyperbole bandwagon with endless promises of economic gain, boosts to business and sporting legacy. Yet the tangible financial results as the UK slips into further economic decline have, so far, proved to be as mythological as the fire-breathing dragon itself.
Things will be very different in 2013, and there is a lot to celebrate about this new arrival. The receptive nature of the snake suggests a year where dividends can finally be reaped from last year’s fiery posturing. That’s not to say all will be plain sailing, but in a quiet, snake-like way, things will gradually improve, confidence will return and investments will prosper.
The Chinese underpin their astrology system on the interactions of the five elements that comprise life: fire, metal, water, wood and earth. These elements enjoy compatible or antagonistic relationships with one another, and this governs how trends will manifest in the markets; 2013 is governed by the element of water but it is also a snake year, and the snake’s fundamental energy is fire.
Therefore we can expect certain anta-gonism, as water and fire are opposing elements. But because it is yin (passive) water, these conflicts are likely to be less dramatic than the uprisings witnessed in 2012 – a yang (active) water year. That said, the year will not be without its natural disasters due to that antagonistic elemental relationship. The last time we experienced a water snake year, in 1953, severe North Sea floods claimed the lives of 1,835 people in the Netherlands, with many more lost at sea. There was a hurricane in South-East Asia, an earthquake in western Turkey and a devastating tornado in America.
For the stock markets there is good news in the presence of this fire element – its first appearance since 2008. Fire is the element of vision, joy and optimism – something the markets need to thrive. Although investors need to heed caution, as what is known as the ‘fire penalty’ will cause market instability, especially in August due to conflicts with opposing elements.
Overall the year generally favours investments in property, new technology, science and the entertainment industry. It was in the last water snake year, 1953, that Watson and Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA, the first polio vaccine was tested, there was an explosion of innovation in the white-goods markets, America announced the development of the hydrogen bomb and the first colour television set went on sale in the United States for the grand sum of $1,175.
The snake is a master of transformation and resurrection and we can expect to shed outmoded ways of being – just as the snake sheds its skin. This will result in continued political shifts globally as old regimes continue to topple where they are not serving the populace. Consequently the stock markets will experience unpredictable swings and be hard to read.
The snake is also a symbol of power and healing. The two intertwined serpents of the caduceus have long been adopted as the international symbol for medicine, and 2013 will see breakthroughs in medicine and science. In 1953, the discovery of REM sleep was first published and it was proved tobacco smoking caused lung cancer; this could be the year that the elusive cure for cancer is finally found.
Referred to in China as the year of “the snake in the grass,” underhand dealings will quickly come to light and honesty is undoubtedly the best policy in 2013. Evidence of this trend is already surfacing in the UK with the latest sexual-harassment scandal in the Liberal Democratic Party and the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien over alleged inappropriate behaviour. More investment scandals will be uncovered and hidden dangers are an ever-present possibility. Yet the cunning and intuition of the snake’s energy can be used to advantage in clever, tactical, well researched investments.
In personality terms, snake people are considered political and good wealth creators. They are generally glamorous and have a certain indefinable allure – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, John F Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Greta Garbo, J Paul Getty and Princess Grace of Monaco were all snakes. This alluring quality will be reflected in a boost to the luxury goods market and the entertainment industries. 1953 saw the launch of Playboy magazine, with Marilyn Monroe gracing the front cover; Ian Fleming published the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, and Peter Pan premiered.
That said, 2013 is unlikely to be an outstanding financial year – the snake prefers a low profile unless provoked – but neither will it be a disaster. It will be quietly revolutionary, with the odd dramatic highlight and those investing in the right areas of real estate, travel, science and new technology stand to make substantial gains.