Happy Buddha’s Birthday!

buddha-bdayToday is Buddha’s Birthday. The proper name for this annual celebration is “Vesak”, which is the Sinhalese word for the Sanskrit name “Vaisakha”. Vesak actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment (or Nirvana), and passing of Gautama Buddha. The Buddha explains Nirvana as “the highest happiness”. This happiness is an enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightment, rather than the happiness derived from impermanent things.

In today’s turbulent world, may we all be protected and blessed as we celebrate the annual Vesak, and derive true happiness from calmness and enlightment.

AlanLau Nirvana (Mayor, RMB City, April-June 2009)

Blog — AlanLau Nirvana, May 1, 2009 @ 10:06 am

Capital control in SL


As a still relatively new SL citizen, I was shocked to know that there is capital control in SL, just like in RL. As an avatar, I can only buy US$25 worth of credit in my first 3 days, and up to $250 in my first week. Once you reach the first month anniversary, your limit goes up to $5,000 every day, which is quite enough, but still a lot less than if you are a “business user”. Once I max out on buying credit in my SL account, I can only exchange that amount into Linden dollar after 24 hours. Oddly enough, the same capital control applies “twice”, so every RL dollar to Linden dollar transaction takes 48 hours.

This is not too different from transfer HK dollar to RMB – I can exchange up to RMB 20,000 every day, and can only transfer up to RMB 80,000 to my Chinese bank account (which must be under my own name) in a day. So it takes literally forever to move money from HK to China!

Capital control in SL is to “prevent fraud” (according to the SL website), especially protecting the new and uninitiated. Capital control in RL, for RMB at least, prevents excess liquidity and currency speculation, for a currency that is still not freely traded, hence protecting it from unwanted volatility – and preventing it from reaching its “true value” – as most think the RMB should appreciate a lot more from current level?!

So, another case of SL not too different from RL.

Blog — AlanLau Nirvana, April 24, 2009 @ 2:26 am

History of RMB


Fun fact: there is Renminbi (RMB) before there is People’s Republic of China!

RMB became a currency in 1948, Dec 1 – so it has a “brief” history of 60 years now. It was pegged at less than 3 RMB/USD – which was clearly dislocated from the commercial reality at that time, and RMB’s real purchasing power. And of course it was not a freely circulated currency, so as a foreigner, you have to use foreign exchange certificates. All of us thirtysomethings should still remember that.
Because the RMB was pegged so high, there were dual rates running, so in the “black market” one can exchange to get a lot more RMB than at official exchange shops. From that level of 3 RMB/USD, the RMB continued to depreciate, until almost 8 RMB/USD before China’s central bank pegged it to a basket of currency at close to that value a few years ago. After that, the RMB has been on an up trend, appreciating to 6.8 now.
A country’s currency is a major reflection of its history and the underlying economy; and the development of RMB reflected how China as an economy has developed: the closed door policy, the gradual opening up, and the RMB strengthening in the past few years, as one of the world’s fastest largest large economies, with now the world’s largest foreign currency reserve – China is now the single biggest buyer of US Treasury – and hence a “lender” in effect to the US Government and George Bush for many years!
Many ways to read the world and a country, with its currency being one mean!
Blog — AlanLau Nirvana, @ 2:11 am