atans1

Signs govt moving on from “Let the buyer beware”?

In Political governance on 15/06/2012 at 5:54 am

While searching for something, I came across a piece dated late last week by a card carrying foot-soldier of the nation-building, constructive media. He was ranting against a rant by the CapitaLand CEO against “almost inhuman” developments (his words: but he builds “almost inhuman” rabbit hutches at Bedok Residences. Typical PAPpy? Talk the talk, but not walk the walk.). “Let the market decide” said the foot-soldier who should be retired, not still ranting. Not I’m not linking to his rant. And he has form: he ranted against the additional stamp duty imposed on some buyers.

Now this reminded me of Khaw’s warning a few weeks ago, which I wanted to commend at the time, but the bad news management of Yaacob and the spin ministry, SPH and MediaCorp meant I had more interesting things to say.

“Mr Khaw reiterated the Government is watching the situation closely and he will not hesitate to intervene if there is clear evidence that investor demand for such units is unsustainable.” http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC120515-0000047/Shoebox-wave-heading-to-the-heartlands

This in turn reminded me of the report about the central bank’s concerns over retail holdings of perpetual bonds that were expressed to the banks: “[T]he discussions show that the regulator is worried individual investors may be taking on too much risk without a full understanding of the product. http://www.todayonline.com/Business/EDC120515-0000049/Perpetual-bond-rush-causes-alarm-in-Spore

Hurray. On two issues at least, the government is moving away from its policy of “Buyer beware”. It is taking a more nuanced stance. Hopefully, it also reflects a move from “Let the market decide”. My primary objection to the “market” approach is that the government or a state agency is a major and active player in many markets from property to cars.

Maybe we are returning to an attitude that is more sceptical of business: something seen in the government policies between 1965- 1980s. Whether this is good for S’pore will have to be seen. Remember the world, and S’pore society has “moved on”. S’pore became more “market friendly” to ensure that it could compete with HK as a financial centre in the early 1990s. This was the handiwork of one LHL when he was central bank governor, finance minister, and DPM.

Related post http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/how-times-have-changed-since-the-late-70s-moral-suasion/

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  1. LHL was not only market friendly. In the 1980s, he was too employer friendly with his wage freeze. With his reiteration of immigration policy at the ESS dinner speech, he shows he is still employer friendly.
    He knows how to peg his salary to the highest earners but the low wage workers have to be pegged to productivity. A thoroughly nice guy.

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