The number 4 has long had a bad rap for being unlucky because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for ‘die’ (死). It’s so widely accepted that you’ll see buildings that skip the fourth floor, and people go to great lengths to ensure they don’t have it on their phone numbers. (Sadako calling?) On the other hand the number 8 is believed to be good luck because it sounds similar to fa (发), the word for fortune or getting rich.
When it comes to business, however, it looks like Chinese numerology got it wrong. Cai Hongbin, esteemed professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management explained in a press conference this week why China may be getting luckier in years ending in four. He said that historically, China’s economic boom years were 1984, 1993, 1994, 2003 and 2004.
Coincidentally, these years were also the time of political transitions. Historical trends show that when new officials take power they typically kick off their decade-long service with large investment projects.
Ironically, years that ended in “lucky” eight weren’t so hot, with 1978-79, 1998-99 and 2008-2009 being the years when China’s economy took a beating.
Professor Cai thinks this means we are up for a better second half of 2013, and big jump when 2014 rolls around. “For the last 35 years the business cycles in China have been closely related to the political cycles,” he says, “If you really want a prediction, I think the turning point is probably in the third quarter or fourth quarter of this year.”
That’s good news, because the economy hasn’t been promising in the first quarter of 2013, what with rising debt levels, food safety scandals (which affected the poultry and pork industries), and ho-hum GDP growth. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang took the top spots early March, and hopefully in a few months we’ll see if they make Professor Cai’s prediction come true.
By Angela Sy // Image credit: @trey333