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Betting on raindrops.

Nigel Morris-Co...

When Americans discovered "day trading" they thought they were onto something new.

They weren't.

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For decades, my mother-in-law and a few friends used to go to a market - usually gold but sometimes shares - in the morning, pool a few Hong Kong dollars, and sit on the rail around the pit. They would watch prices move, huddle, make a decision, call over a runner, give him their money and tell him what to buy. As the price of their selection moved up, they would watch and decide to sell before it topped out. They never held a position. The runner would act and give them the proceeds, being paid a commission for his service.

They never made much but they always paid for a nice lunch and had a bit of excitement in the mornings.

Importantly, they never bet the housekeeping, or the farm, or whatever and they never kidded themselves they were investing. They did, literally, get a free lunch and that was another little joke they made often.

All they were doing was updating the old joke that the Chinese would bet on raindrops running down a window. And, for those of us "Old Asia Hands" we know that to be pretty much true.

In the Malaysian stock market, there has long been a saying that people buy on rumour and sell on fact.

This, not some celebrity entrepreneur or influencer, is the origins of the cryptocraziness. But the extent of the problem is due to a media (in its broadest sense) that jumps on fads, upsells them as if they are singers whose primary talent is to wear a stupid haircut and make a noise that an autotuner will turn into something resembling music.

The world is full of gullible people, too anxious to belong, willing to follow any trend, to stand behind any hashtag, if it gives them something to crow about to their pals. That sense of belonging is what criminals exploit to commit fraud and to recruit money launderers and terrorists.

Criminals are creating the next generation of environments - and victims.

They are employing the tricks of online game makers and retailers to increase your dopamine levels to turn you into an addicted user, They are creating environments that your brain is tricked into believing is real. They are meddling with your brain to bypass the thinking part, to operate in the primal decision making function that reacts but does not consider.

They want you to bet on raindrops: they will even create the mist that forms into those drops. But they, as in a stacked deck of cards or an unbalanced roulette wheel, will control how those drops fall and whether you win or, most likely, lose.

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