Return of the Bull Dragon

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HONG KONG: For what may well be a fleeting moment, all's well in the global marketplace. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index roared Wednesday, wiping out the losses of Tuesday's devastating crash and surging 18.82 percent — its biggest gain ever. This came on the back of a similarly record-breaking day on Wall Street. "The world finally got what it wanted," TIME Wall Street columnist Daniel Kadlec said. "Somebody to stand up and stop the dominoes."

Of course, such a powerful rally does not wipe out Asian economic woes at a stroke. "Nobody's out of the woods just yet," Kadlec adds. "There are fundamental problems in the Asian economies that haven't gone away, and that are not going anywhere." Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed chief executive, still intends to protect the former colony's currency peg of around eight HK dollars to the U.S. dollar — and he's got $85 billion in gold reserves with which to do it.

Tung’s defense of the currency is what drove markets down before — and if push comes to shove, he will do so again, since Hong Kongers tend to value their currency more than they value their stocks. "Let the peg go," says TIME Asia correspondent John Colmley, "and the basis of the Hong Kong economy collapses." Even $85 billion may not be enough to defend it, he warns, if currency vultures like George Soros move in. So hang on to your seat belts: Messrs. Hang Seng and Dow Jones could be in for another one of their bumpy rides.