Smart investors and distinguished scholars know how hard it is to time markets. But that does not stop finance officials the world over trying. We now have talk of countercyclical measures to prevent potential bubbles forming at a time when major economies around the world are flooded with liquidity. While there may be good reason for such concerns, the dangers have arisen as a result of measures taken by the same officials to prop up collapsing financial institutions during the global economic crisis. And the crisis itself was largely brought about by policies of deregulation and lax monitoring. For all these reasons, people are entitled to be a little sceptical when dire warnings about future problems are sounded. Such is the case with the International Monetary Fund's expression of concern about bubbles emerging in Hong Kong's property and stock markets. It has called on the government to take action. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has expressed similar fears about hot money flooding in while interest rates remain low. But it is not yet clear that we are experiencing bubbles. Certainly, stock markets have bounced back from their nadir in March. Froth undoubtedly exists at the luxury end of the property market, but the mass market is still affordable by historical standards. The stock market rally also appears to have petered out. In any case, some of the measures that the IMF has recommended are already in place. Virtually all our major banks are well capitalised. Mortgages for luxury flats have been cut from the usual 70 per cent of price to 60 per cent. If you approach a bank loan officer today, it is likely your finances will be subjected to careful scrutiny. The IMF's calculation that the government's various 'stimulus' measures amounted to more than 5 per cent of gross domestic product is open to question. The largest government giveaway, in fact, took place well before the global financial collapse. Our officials may be tempted to heed the advice of the IMF. The fund's brand value still carries cachet. But they should think very carefully before taking such action.