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In Japan, Year of the Rabbit Arrives Just in Time

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In Tokyo, as thousands of Japanese visited a shrine on the first working day of the year to pray for good fortune and usher in The Year of the Rabbit, sentiment was in almost universal agreement -- the economy is... it's... everything is... just horrible.

"Gloomy news is all we hear around us these days, so I wished that this year we'd get some bright and joyful news for a change,"  46-year-old Yoshiko Saeki told Reuters.

"I wished for an economic rebound from the bottom up so that my business is also positively affected," Shinya Watanabe, a 24-year-old businessman who has been in his current job for just two years, said.

"I wish that this year, our economy and society can finally give hope to young people," said 53-year-old Sadao Hosoi, a nuclear power plant manager.

Well, you never know, it just might work. Stranger things have happened. And with most economists and market watchers having left Japan -- both the economy and financial markets for dead -- perhaps the doom and gloom has peaked?

From its height in 1989 (were some of you even born then?), the Nikkei 225 is still down more than 70%. From peak to trough, the index collapsed by more than 80%. This has to end sometime, doesn't it?

Well, enough reckless speculation. Let's get back to this Year of the Rabbit thing. See, in the Asian Zodiac, years also bear elemental signs. This year's elemental sign? Metal. That's right, it's the Year of the Metal Rabbit. I'll let you do with that what you will.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.