Cooling off in a hot market with a dose of reality
Being in Asia for as long as I have, one gets used to the quirky nature of some of the region’s smallest markets. My personal favourite is Myanmar, a country long closed off to the outside world and now slowly coming into its own.
Just take a look at the Yangon Stock Exchange. The fact that a stock exchange, housed in an impressive stone building, even exists in Myanmar is a feat in itself. So when I took a recent trip to Yangon with Tai Tai, I couldn’t help but pop by for a look at what I expected to be a bustling centre of commerce.
Unfortunately, when I arrived, the stock exchange was pretty much empty. I had no issue sneaking past two snoring security guards in the middle of what should have been a trading day. Instead of the bustle of traders, all I saw was a dusty copy of a Burmese economics book from the 1950s, and a few business magazines that had seen their better days in the early 1990s. Tai Tai merely scoffed when she saw quotes from Warren Buffet hanging on the walls of the trading floor.
But much to my delight, I did eventually spot two gentlemen sitting in the corner of the trading floor.
I excitedly ran over to them, ready to chat about the burgeoning opportunities for their country’s stock market. Alas, the two men just gave me befuddled looks as they chewed on their betel nuts, spraying the floor occasionally with their red-tinted spit.
When I asked them what they were working on, they shrugged and responded: “We just come in here for the air con.” What a reality check!