Count your losses

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 July, 2008, 12:00am

What is the price of hubris? Hongkongers might be tempted to say HK$10,000 - that's what many of us have had to pay for the brilliant decisions made by the world's investment bankers. They're the ones responsible for great ideas such as piling billions into mortgages for people who could not afford them on homes that were more likely to collapse than increase in value. As a result, Hong Kong employees who pay into the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme lost on average HK$10,000 in the past six months. MPF returns fell an average 9.29 per cent - the largest-ever half-year drop. Here's what tends to happen - markets plunge and for a few months everybody's contrite. The markets recover and share prices rise but after a while the real sources of profit growth get exhausted. That's when the markets seek more 'exotic' (ridiculous) vehicles to keep those bonuses high. It takes about eight years for bankers to repeat their mistakes, so the next 'sub-prime' crisis should hit around 2016.