Editor's Note: Beware the Fire Dog

What the Chinese zodiac suggests about our new leader.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
 
The end of January marks the Chinese New Year as well as the elevation of a volatile, capricious new leader to the highest office on the planet. Had we been more attuned to the finer points of Chinese astrology, we would have predicted the election-year peculiarities that produced this result. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2016 was the year of the monkey, an animal that scholars of this ancient classification scheme describe as naughty and prone to practical jokes. Since Washington state is so heavily dependent on trade with China, now would seem a prudent time to turn to the zodiac for guidance on how this new leader will reign in the coming year.
 
The zodiac is a complex system, thousands of years old. Millions of people across Asia turn to it for advice on everything from investment to marriage. The analysis is based on a 60-year cycle, which incorporates a pairing of one of 12 animals with one of five earth elements.
 
The year 2017, for example, is the year of the rooster, a bird associated with pride and ambition. This year, the rooster is associated with the earth element fire, which astrologist George Tang says could foreshadow a tendency toward the “aggressive and impatient, which could lead to impulsive actions.”
 
Another important variable is the animal sign under which the new leader was born. That would be the year of the dog, which, in 1946, the leader’s birth year, was also associated with fire. Tang says fire dogs “must learn to use cool logic and not heated emotions to ensure a well-balanced life path.”
 
It is even recommended that the dog-born wear clear quartz-crystal bracelets to “bring your emotions and temper down.” (Maybe a good investment for the U.S. Department of Defense?)
 
Washington state, which sends China everything from apples to airplanes, needn’t be too concerned about the new leader’s hostile views toward China because he has turned for advice on China to corporate raider Carl Icahn, who has shown himself to be particularly sensitive to trade diplomacy. To wit: “If you get into a trade war with China, sooner or later we’ll have to come to grips with that,” Icahn told CNBC in December, suggesting stock prices could plunge after such an event. “But maybe, if you are going to do it, you should get it over with, right?”
 
Icahn assumes the trade war won’t get nasty because everybody knows that would only hurt the global economy. It’s a little like nuclear weaponry: Nobody would ever start a nuclear war because it would result in mutually assured destruction, right? That’s why they call it MAD. 
 
Then again, the new leader seems almost eager to outshine Russian President Vladimir Putin when it comes to nuclear spending. “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” the new leader said, explaining that “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
 
Comforting words, no? But that was our new leader talking in the silly year of the monkey. Imagine what the fire dog might say — and do — to perceived adversaries in the year of the fire rooster. Get ready for a new take on “You’re fired!” Or, worse, “Fire away!”
 
LESLIE HELM is executive editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at leslie.helm@tigeroak.com.

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