HIGHER yields or profits are absolutely necessary for investors or speculators today and undoubtedly for the remainder of this decade. During those glorious years of the 1980s (including a bit before and after) we could invest in the Hongkong stockmarket and profitably follow it all the way from Hang Seng 4,500 to 7,000. With little doubt you could make an acceptable profit with almost any stock bought. It was the supreme bull market and the wind was so strong that even the turkeys flew. During the late part of the 1980s we could obtain 10 per cent and more for super-safe fixed bank deposits in European Currencies. It was an era that doesn't exist today and may not return soon. Today returns are in general much lower on the low-risk investments of the 1980s. The Hongkong stock market is at more or less the highest in history. Only a person determined to lose money will invest at the top of the market and then sell at the low, losing most of his money. At times like these brokers will tell you it is a market of stocks, not a stock market. The Hongkong market is most difficult to make real profit in as there are few stocks paying six per cent or more dividend yield and selling below book value, and any nominal profit you do make has to have double-digit inflation subtracted before real profit exists. More shocks to come NEARLY the entire world is in turmoil and recession and the US, the largest economy, has given economists a terrible shock. They predicted 3.5 per cent economic growth in 1993, but the first quarter was reported as 1.8 per cent, then revised to 0.09 per cent, then 0.7 per cent. The facts are that the recession which started in October 1989 never ended and the US is still in recession - and I can't see how they will get out for years. The dragon-killer will be felt in April, 1994, when the Clinton super-tax will hit even tradesmen and relatively low earners, as well as small businesses; and 80 per cent of jobs are in small businesses. Bill Clinton (left) proposes that Americans can tax themselves to prosperity, which is an economic model that has never worked. The next three years will be the most precarious and difficult for investors and speculators since the 1930s, and I know because I was there. In the horrible 1930s we had a strong dollar and the US had no debt. Now the 1993 dollar is worth less than eight cents of the 1930s dollar and the US is in debt up to its eyeballs. My biggest fear is that it may not be too long before people will not accept any currencies as they know they are all worthless. They will demand real money, which is gold and silver. Turning good profits LEON on Sunday suggested the acquisition of specific gold mining stocks in Australia, North America, South Africa and Latin America on various occasions during the last year or so. A recent evaluation of these recommendations, which included nearly 40 stocks, shows the investors have already profited an average 312 per cent in capital gains, plus the dividends, some of which have been meaningful. Your profits are robust. Also recommended were two silver mining stocks and some South African Platinum stocks. Your profit on the silver mines has been over 300 per cent and on the platinum mines you have made, on average, 400 per cent. I also recommended futures contracts on silver, platinum, gold, soy beans, corn, wheat and other commodities such as gold, silver, palladium, and coffee. Most of these have brought you joyous profits and the other contracts will mature later - and I'm confident we will have excellent earnings then. Stick with these as they all should go further yet. Time to buy nickel METALS, other than precious, have had a difficult few years. Their prices are remark-ably low. In general, I don't see any reason for prices to rise since there is virtually no economic recovery and more deflation than inflation. However, I have studied nickel for many years. This metal zoomed a bit in 1990 but has been cold dead in the market the last two to 21/2 years. Suddenly the fundamentals, but not the technicals are looking good on nickel. Nickel is an indispensable and unsubstitutable metal. You cannot make quality stainless steel without nickel. A jet engine and most other military hardware cannot be made without nickel. During my life time I have experienced many nickel shortage periods. When nickel is difficult to obtain, a genuine panic occurs in many industries. Today the price of nickel is about US$2.40 per pound. It ended 1992 at $2.60 per pound. There are not a large number of nickel refineries and at $2.60 per pound, eight of the refineries would have been losers as their production cost would have been morethan the $2.60 sales price. My study and experience tells me that today's $2.40 per pound is far too low for nickel. Nickel has met its equilibrium price at most producers. That is the point at which the production cost exceeds the sales price, so they must close down. As this occurs one after another closes. This creates in due time a shortage which forces the price up. I think nickel is being overlooked by investors, as most have just lost interest in tangibles, and especially metals. It has been my experience that markets tend to over-react. Eventually the over-reactions are corrected. Many commodities have fallen too low far too long and will adjust to reality in '93 and '94. I personally, as a metallurgist, believe that nickel prices are too cheap today. In 1993 prices have been stable even during the last year of worldwide recession because demand has been quite buoyant. This is because stainless steel production has been increasing to higher levels in Japan and Europe despite a recession in both regions. Secondly, there is virtually no stainless steel scrap available so producers have had to use nickel stock instead of scrap. I don't want to mislead; the CIS (former Soviet Union) and Cuba are still in the game. However, experts predict the combined CIS-Cuba exports will only be 95,000 tonnes in 1993 as compared to 112,000 tonnes in 1992. The answer is, You can make profit on nickel in every way you can with any commodity such as futures market, options, etc. However, I think the best way for the average person such as you and I is to buy stock in Western Mining Company of Australia. Buyfrom any broker who trades Australian stocks in Hongkong. This column has recommended WMC for gold, of which they are a major producer. However, their achievement in nickel is even greater. The reason I suggest Western Mining is that it is well managed, is the lowest-cost producer of refined nickel in the world, and is in a position to provide excellent returns on its gold mines at today's advancing prices to add to the coming super-profit on nickel. Naturally this is a buy-and-hold stock but WMC already pays good dividends. Leon Richardson is a well-known financial commentator and investor.