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Spreading the Misery: The Hong Kong investor featured in this piece is not the only one to lose money. Warren Buffet (pictured here) has seen his Hong Kong-listed BYD shares plummet with the falling fortunes of China's flagship hybrid vehicle maker. Photo: IMD

AN INVESTOR in Hong Kong shares attempted to end his own life after over 10 mln hkd of his son’s money disappeared in a heartbeat in the local stock market following yet another “Black Friday.”

Luckily his wife intervened and quickly sought out psychiatric care for him, a Chinese language piece in Sinafinance said.

While stories like this sadly happen on a much too frequent basis, this one was covered by the PRC press and offers insights into just how desperate the market situation has become for some.

In fact, his story is less unique than most would imagine.

The investor had completely divested himself of ordinary means of support – having no full-time job, savings or pension to prepare for either a “rainy day” or his own “golden years,” and relied solely on his own recent run of good luck on the stock market to make ends meet as well as provide for his family.

In fact, he had been living in a dilapidated housing unit and the state of his quarters certainly did not exactly give off the impression of someone making a killing in the market.

In other words, the article said, he had “abandoned the iron rice bowl” -- a euphemism for the social safety net in Greater China societies – and decided to strike it out on his own, walking the tightrope of market speculation with no net to catch him should he, or the market, fall.

But of course, what goes up...  And Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index has plummeted by over a third in the past 10 months, and 9.2% in September alone.

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Hong Kong’s gambling addiction hotlines have been inundated with calls for help in recent months. Photo: Internet

Luckily, for lack of a better word, this forlorn and bankrupt investor’s sudden purchases of charcoal (a common method of felodece in the Special Administrative Region) alerted his wife to his desperate plan, and she quickly intervened before the deed was done.

Hong Kong’s gambling addiction hotlines have been inundated with calls in recent months, the article said, with around 30% of the callers employed in the financial sector.

Social workers say that the vast majority of these “problem gamblers” are simply unable to stop “gambling” (i.e. recklessly chasing rumors and market speculation with their own money) and are increasingly turning to professional counselors in their hour of need.

The would-be suicide investor was on the cusp of 60 years old, and looking forward to an imminent retirement.

He himself had done well enough for himself to get by on good-enough stock picks and dividend, but his decision to introduce the lifestyle to his son proved nearly fatal.

The father lost everything in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and had slowly struggled to get back on his feet for over a decade, vowing to never allow his son to pursue his path of complete and total reliance on the vagaries of a highly volatile capital market.

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Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index has plunged 9.2% in September



However, with the local economy in the doldrums and his son’s career in jeopardy, the father decided to initiate his son into the life of a bourse speculator.

Betting on a quick but ultimately non-existent bounceback after a recent plummet, all the son’s capital which had been invested in the market at the father’s behest suddently vanished, virtually overnight.

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China's top aluminum firm Chalco fell 5.6% on Friday on weaker demand expectations. Photo: Chalco

The father had been hoping to multiply his limited wealth in a hurry so as to send his son overseas to study.

Experts say that as might be expected, suicides (both attempted and successful) tend to spike during major market corrections.

And recent reports of highly educated professionals abandoning their established careers to dedicate themselves full-time to “playing the market” have been increasingly commonplace.

One notable example was that of a highly-paid civil servant at the top of his career who recently “retired” from his position to become a full-time retail investor after one of his stock picks earned him more in one day than he would make in a lifetime in his former post.

But the prevalence of these success stories and the dearth of stories like the one here about the desperate and destitute unrealistically offers hope to would-be speculators, thus inadvertently creating victims like this near fatality, our 60-year old speculator.

Perhaps only when equal coverage is given to the spectacular speculating winners as well as to the epic failures in the market will the general public be in a better position to make wise decisions when deciding where to put their life savings.

See also:

Buffet-Invested BYD Loses 20 Bln Yuan, Automaker's Shares On Verge Of Collapse

BAOFENG: HK Flagship Store To Solidify Slamdunk NBA Tieup 

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