The Year of the Snake brings a sting or five in its tail

Having just come back from a visit to China, it is very clear that expectations for the New Year (February 10) are more subdued than last year.

The shift from the fifth to the sixth Zodiac sign represents a slide from the optimism of the Year of the Dragon to the caution associated with the Year of the Snake – one of the most desirable birth years in the zodiac.

People born in this sign are said to be very intelligent and often a wellspring of creative ideas. They are expected to be charming, creative, intelligent and decisive, but may guard emotions or secrets, and can be vengeful if betrayed.

Water Snakes love to socialise and meet new friends. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means that your family will not starve.

2013 is a well-rounded year, as trends turn to sophistication, intellect, grace and enlightenment. It’s a good year for money, commerce, entrepreneurship and business. The arts flourish, especially music, theatre, writing, fashion, design and online media. International travel will rise.

The final days of the Year of the Dragon were remarkable for many Chinese traders, as exports rebounded to a seven-month high in December. Experts admit that a similar turnaround looks highly unlikely this time around, despite bright prospects in developing markets. Expectations of an export-led stimulus to world trade are being revised to focus on domestic markets.

The 2013 Year of Snake is the Water Snake. Water Snake years are linked to luck with finances as cashflows surge and people always seem to have money flowing their way. This is a time for adventurous spirits and rewards for those who take pride in achievements and show a willingness to take risks and are also very thoughtful and considerate of others. This is said to be a good sign that 2013 will be a boom year for those shifting their wealth from bonds back to equities.

According to Feng Shui experts we can expect upward trends particularly in industries involving finance, education, media, metals and minerals. On an individual level, most can also hope to improve their current financial situation. All in all, many will emerge from this year stronger, wiser, better off and with a well-deserved pat on the back!

At this time last year, we suggested (see The Futurist on the Year of the Dragon) that the doom-and-gloomers will be faced with the reality of steadily rising corporate profits and dividend yields despite an end of year fall in consumer confidence.

A year later, Gary Morgan reports that Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence has started 2013 with a jump to 118.3pts (up 3.1pts since the weekend of December 15/16, 2012):

Driving the increase in Consumer Confidence this year is increasing optimism about the Australian economy over the next 12 months and five years with 34% (up 3%) of Australians expecting ‘good times’ over the next 12 months and 38% (up 3%) expecting good times over the next five years.

While the worst of the GFC appears to have been redressed, there are a number of stings left in the tail of the Year of the Snake:

1. Weakening economic growth and policy uncertainties will cast a shadow over the global economic outlook. Most developed countries will adopt a combination of fiscal austerity and expansionary monetary policies, aiming to reduce public debt and lower debt refinancing costs.

2. The Aussie election year will see a focus upon reduction in the level of structural unemployment and investments in education and training with a focus on a balanced budget and longer-term infrastructure investments. The opposition will focus on deficit reduction, cancelling the carbon and mining taxes and parental childcare payments. The government will reallocate finances to pay for new initiatives in education and disability insurance.

3. Global GDP growth will be a bit slower in 2013 than expected last year at 2.4% in 2013 but pick up to 3.2% in 2014. The economic woes in Europe, Japan and the United States will spill over to developing countries through weaker demand for their exports which will lead to heightened volatility in capital flows and commodity prices for those looking to take the risks associated with options trades.

4. Governments will shift focus from short-term consolidation to robust economic growth with medium to long-term fiscal sustainability and a steady effort to reduce reliance upon fossil fuels and address issues of climate change. World oil demand is expected to remain subdued during 2013 and 2014. Supply is expected to further expand in several oil-producing areas, including North America, the Russian Federation and Brazil, partially offset by declines in the North Sea and Central Asia.

5. Monetary policies will be better coordinated internationally and regulatory reforms of financial sectors be accelerated in order to stem exchange rate and capital flow volatility and reduce the demands for damaging austerity measures. Central banks around the world will keep printing money to use inflation to build a second half recovery as the pace of growth will not be sufficient to overcome the continued jobs crisis that many countries are still facing.

The Snake is considered by many to be an ancestral form of Dragon. Thus, Snake embodies Dragon energy but takes a more mellow approach. This is taken to be the sting in the tail of expectations for the year, as the impact of dramatic changes in governments over the last year will lead to caution and reconstruction in the first half of 2013.

Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.


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