AFTER being berated for my bearish views for most of last year, I have suddenly become a golden bull, after writing a report last week about regional markets roaring, as the golden tiger approached.
Sorry, I haven't changed my views at all — and that is to snap up bargains if you believe that the stock has fallen to an attractive enough level.
What should these bargain levels be?
It will depend on your risk appetite. Plenty of people have admitted to being astounded by the ferocity of the stock market rebound last year, with indexes like the STI almost doubling from their grim low levels in March.
But plenty of traders are also feeling the squeeze from the sudden about-turn in equities markets worldwide, as Asian stocks fell almost 10 per cent in the past two weeks.
I have listed in my Cai Jin column three factors which will continue to dog the market for the rest of this year — and which brings unhappy reminders of 2007.
We experienced the backlash from one of them last week: the growing risk of sovereign default by Pigs (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) whose combined debts of US$2.3 trillion euros makes Lehman Brothers' US$600 billion liabilities seem like small change.
Then there is the tightening monetary measures by China — hardly mentioned as all eyes turn to Europe — but which is nevertheless causing the the global commodities markets to rock and roll, as traders try to figure out whether demand for raw materials will fall as a result.
And casting a long shadow over the entire global system is the US$1.5 trillion US dollar carry trade whose un-winding will have a thermonuclear impact on global stock markets.
For a writer labelled as a golden bull, I sure sound very bearish, don't I?
The size of all three problems which I just raise all run into a few trillion dollars each. Any rescue effort — if any one of the three problems implodes — may also have to be of the same scale.
Since Li Chun, the first day of Spring, last Thursday, STI has suffered three days of fall in a row. And if the maxim that what goes for Spring will also go for the year holds true, we will indeed be in line for a very volatile year.
One stock pundit explains that the reason why markets have been behaving in such extreme fashion is because there is too much liquidity sloshing around in the financial system.
It explains why stock markets crumbled in late 2008 after Lehman collapsed, and shot up like a shooting star six months later, when the crisis appeared to have stabilised.
Now that there are scary comparisons being drawn with early 2007, the hot money is sloshing around, looking for safe havens and triggering chaos in global stock markets.
It is difficult to tell if history will repeat itself, another 2007, when a confluence of negative factors unleashed a perfect storm on an unwary financial world.
But as I implied in Sunday's small change column, Tiger years are great years to pick up bargains for the long-term.
This year should prove to be no exception, as the hot money takes fright and triggers wild price swings among assets of all classes.
Best keep your powder dry and await the opportune moment to strike.