Now that the crisis that ravaged the local financial markets in the past two weeks appears to have settled down, it is time for picking up the pieces. Hong Kong has been fortunate that local people's resilience allowed them to handle the crisis calmly. Unlike economic crises suffered in the past, this time we saw no panic. There was no rush to the supermarkets to stock up on rice, nor queues of depositors at banks intending to empty their accounts. It reflects people's faith in Hong Kong, that the community at large still trusts that it is financially strong and believes the crisis is only temporary. There are a number of reasons for people's calmness. Firstly, despite the enormous volume of stock market transactions, trading was orderly, a key feature conspicuously missing during the 1987 market crash. Secondly, there is the China factor. Many people, especially those small investors who speculate heavily in the stock market, are confident that at least in the handover year, Beijing will not allow Hong Kong's financial markets to collapse. They think Beijing will do anything to save Hong Kong. But the most important factor is Hong Kong's massive reserves. Only last weekend Secretary for the Treasury Kwong Ki-chi reinforced local confidence by stressing that our fiscal reserves would make yet another jump to hit a record high of $400 billion. On the surface, Hong Kong has handled the crisis successfully, but there is no room for complacency, especially when some factors that help hold up local confidence are fragile. What happens if something goes wrong with the mainland's economy, quite possible given the difficult economic reforms it has embraced? And what happens if people start to doubt the benefits of the huge reserves? It is true that since the handover, Hong Kong has repeatedly fended off the assaults of currency speculators, but locals' economic confidence also suffered, according to surveys conducted last month. In a University of Hong Kong survey conducted last week, 72.6 per cent of respondents expressed confidence in Hong Kong's economic future, a small drop from the 78.8 per cent recorded early last month. But officials should not take it for granted that people's faith will not falter. As no one can guarantee that the speculators will call it a day, the threat of repeated assaults remains. On the other hand, the knock-on effect from last week's financial crisis has yet to be fully felt, although the feel-good factor has gone - stock buyers have had their fingers burned, big businesses suffered big losses to their asset values, home-buyers face higher mortgages, and the property market is heading for a downturn. Experience tells us that immediately and directly affected are the consumer markets. With the bad mood prevailing, many people, even though they have no shares or mortgages, will feel less well off and their spending appetite will be affected. Depression similar to that of 1994 and 1995 becomes a real possibility. Therefore it is important that apart from addressing the problems relating to the financial markets, other measures will have to be seriously considered to bring back the feel-good factor. And this year's windfall surplus can help. Although the Government is likely to point to last month's crisis to reaffirm its needs for prudent financial planning and building up its reserves, it can still afford to use part of the surplus to help stimulate the consumer markets and other business activities. To help Hong Kong out of a potential depression, more sensible debate is needed in the community to work out how best the money can be spent.