deja vu

Yesterday I reposted “Invisible Man“.  Today, it’s about “invisible hand“. There is an invisible hand that definitely plays with events in history, and this Adam-Smith-like hand seems to run out of tricks every 40 years or so, so it seems.

In Understanding Vietnam (Berkeley Press), we learn that history seems to recycle itself every 40 years also

(29-69-09).  First the French romantic/liberty movement, then the generation gap movement, and now the consumer movement.

This time, with the confluence of technological shift, policy shift and evolutionary shift, we  see Vietnam emerge

and leap-frog (it now exports more handsets than garment) into the world scene. After all, it has

survived quarrels with three of the UN Security Council members and emerged unscathed (France, US and China).

Saigon Tourist (a Vietnamese consortium in VN) once acquired a SF hotel in Fisherman Wharf  for $44 million (as of this edit, a Chinese consortium has just acquired a development around the Staples Center in the Southland).

It’s like a bi-coastal mirror image of another Vietnamese hotel owner from New York (who by the way donated a lot of money to the victims of disasters in New York).

It’s about time Vietnamese philanthropy plays catch up. The Viet Kieu (Viet expats) community has another 2 years to  face its American version of 40-year cycle. At that point, there will be a hand-over of the torch to the second generation, whom , as studies often confirm, wants nothing to do with their first-generation immigrant parents.

Many FDI projects have been abandoned here in VN. Banks are stuck with bad debts. And companies pick up the tab to retrain their workforce, whose education ill-prepares them for the work world. The only sure thing here are young people getting married in drove over the holidays.

I have seen it before: the rush to spend, then withdraw syndrome to survive, then spend again as if there is no tomorrow, much less next year.

If any indication at all, the young demographics will take up on Western counterparts, from online gaming to online music, from lifestyle consumption to hopefully, a respect for the fragile environment. It’s deja vu all over again here Vietnam: eat, drink and be merry. They did that in war time, now they do it in peace time. 40 years is a long time, but then, 40 years seems like just a blink of an eye. Just try to hear the prelude to some songs you once loved, and tell me you don’t react on reflex as if you had done not so long ago, when you first heard it and felt it resonated.

I hope you love the “invisible hand” better than being the “invisible man”. At least, that hand might give you a chance, another dance.




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