Main reference: Story in Sinafinance by blogger Wang Yun
I’ve been investing in equities for over a decade and I have a habit of loitering in front of a huge indoor stock price TV monitor at a brokerage on The Bund in Shanghai.
So I put myself in the center of it all, so to speak, as far as China’s financial world is concerned.
However, I recently endured a day that was so frustrating that it sometimes makes me wonder why I bother to carry on with this costly hobby, which I will now share with you on a nearly hour-by-hour basis.
3:00 am: I begin the “day” when the old one was still pitch dark. I sit red-eyed and groggy in front of my computer as I await the machine to open the share-trading software I’ve installed. I went out of my way to add this feature to help me jump right to my portfolio each morning and know within a heartbeat whether it had risen, fallen or stayed put during the brief night. So there I spend the next few hours, staring in the dimly blue-lit room at my screen and my stocks, murmuring to myself about what to do when the trading resumes.
7:00 am: I’ve fought the urge to go back to bed these four hours, but in the meantime I make as good a breakfast as I can muster for my husband and child, and then I find myself checking out – mentally. The lack of sleep and stress over my portfolio is taking its toll and I find myself fighting the urge to suddenly take the eggs boiling on the stove and hurl them out the window in frustration. The need to vent is overwhelming, but I don’t dare let my husband see me like this. He knows I am obsessed with the market but he has no idea how poorly my picks have done of late.
If he knew how much we were losing, he would surely throw a bird and might even get physical. Actually, I have already befriended what I can only describe as a large gaggle of peers – all female – who also share my obsession, along with offering so-called “tips” and rumors circulating within the market. But I do my best to keep this circle of fellow sufferers concealed from my husband as the money I had invested and lost is the sweat of both our brows, and I fear the worst if all is known – divorce.
9:00 am: I’ve been on a bus for an hour and finally arrive at my favorite place in front of a big stock screen on Bund South Road. However, I can’t help but feel alone as my daily dealings are mainly a secret I keep from my family. The stock-watching hall is abandoned this morning, even though the opening trade bell will ring in half-an-hour’s time. I am the first to arrive – something I can’t remember doing in ages. When A-shares were all the rage a few years ago, the hall would be half full by this time. Then an unfamiliar face appears – a woman carrying a lunchbox. She smiles briefly in my direction, sits down, and we don’t say a word to each other until the trading day begins.
Then, as the numbers begin to flicker up and down before us, she tells me that she avoids doing her trading and stock monitoring at home because her husband is around the house all day. “As soon as he sees me trading stocks, an argument almost always ensues. It’s more peaceful here and I can work hard to win back some of my losses. Only then can I feel good about facing my family again,” she said.
11:00 am: Although the bourse is approaching its mid-day break, I along with the group of women in the hall make no move and stare vacantly at the stock screen before us. Back in the day, this would be a frantic and festive time as the hall would quickly move to buy or sell before the lunch recess. I want to strike up a conversation with some of the newcomers, but I simply don’t know what to say that hasn’t been said a million times already. I feel more like crying than talking, and I don’t want that to be their first impression of me. The woman beside me opens her lunch box, only to quickly close it and put it aside, saying she has no appetite. I look at the bread I’ve bought and realize I also have no appetite, so instead comfort myself with a few sips of water.
2:00 pm: Lunch break is over and the monitors have sprung back to life. In walk two investors I know and one asks me outright: “Do you think the government can and will save the markets? We’ve put in nearly our life savings, not just expendable income. We earned it so we hope to earn it back and not see it all go to waste,” one woman shared with me. She added that in one recent week, she saw 100,000 yuan of her money evaporate into thin air, and she was on the verge of a breakdown.
3:00 pm: The closing bell has sounded and the benchmark Shanghai Composite has hit a near-term low. I think that at least I buffered the situation a bit today by selling my Beijing Enlight Media (SZA: 300251) shares for 66 yuan apiece. And so it goes, another day of stress and concealment from my loved ones is in the books.
It turns out that Wang Yun’s selloff of Enlight was a wise one, as its shares are now around half of what she sold them for. The only problem is that this pick represented around just 1% of her portfolio.