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This photo shows a Taoist temple on Qingcheng Mountain, the birthplace of Po the Kung-Fu Panda. Kung-Fu Panda is big here in Chengdu, since Po is a native son, and I’m told that he is typical of people of Chengdu: friendly, loves to eat, interested in peace and not war.

Ever since I saw the first movie, I’ve been repeating a key line from in it my finance classes: “There is no secret ingredient.” Everyone wants to believe, desperately, that there is a way to make gobs of money in the markets, and they will pay big money to try to get at the secret. And yet, over and over again, we see that hardly any professionals can beat the market and that last year’s sure thing is this year’s dog.

Whenever some market disaster hits, it turns out that one or two people called it right and made a ton of money. Suddenly, those people become the heroes, the true seers, the seekers who found the secret ingredient to making money. In 2008, it was John Paulson, whose hedge fund called the collapse of the mortgage market and figured out how to trade on it. He was the star, and money poured into his fund. And then, the fund failed to deliver. That’s what always happens. The person who was right once – was right once. There is no secret ingredient.

Now, if I had a surefire way to beat the market, I would be retired to the beach in Maui. Instead, I’m here in Chengdu, working (and having a great time, too.)