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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

BBC says cleaners can afford maids

In Economy, Humour on 22/10/2013 at 1:57 pm

Even our nation-building, cfonstructive media’s journalists or editors don’t talk such rubbish.

“But the forced saving scheme and social housing mean that even cleaners live in reasonable housing and employ their own foreign live-in maid,” writes a BBC economics journalist, admittedly relatively newish and whose blog postings have been criticised. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24606989).

She based this comment on Office cleaner Liew Siew Giok [who] works all day on her feet but goes home to a meal cooked by her Burmese maid. She lives with her extended family, who pay for the domestic help and her flat.

Her secret? She lives with her extended family, who pay for the domestic help and her flat. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24339815)

So S’poreans, this BBC reporter is saying life is gd. Stop bitching. Come next Ge, vote PAP!

Not bull: FT policy is bad for productivity and innovation

In Economy on 22/10/2013 at 5:40 am

The govt complains that productivity is poor and is worried, introducing measures to “improve” it. At the same time, we all know that the working population here has increased due to the flood of FTs. At the same time, S’pore’s attempt to be a global centre of innovation, is stuck on the runway. Contrast this with Estonia.

Some S’poreans have pointed to the influx of FTs as a probable reason (not the only one) for the low productivity. The local media and the govt ignore these views. The implication being that cutting back on FTs will help productivity.

Well these views have some validity as research in the West proves. (Note emphasis added is mine.)

Is it possible, really, that low productivity growth was a consequence of rapid labour-force growth? Once upon a time Paul Romer speculated that it might be:

One interpretation…is that there is a negative exernality associated with labor. this could arise if there is a form of innovation that economizes on labor, if investment in this kind of innovation is sensitive to movements in wages, an dif this innovation has positive external effects because of spillovers of knowledge. in this case, an increase in the rate of growth of the labor force, with the implied decrease in the rate of grwoth of wages, could case a decrease in innovation, and hence a decrease in knowledge spillovers from innovation. The net effect that an increase in labor supply has on output would then be the combination of the positive direct effect of more workers and the negative indirect effect of less innovation.

The suggestion that this kind of effective could be present is not new. This kind of interaction between wages and innovation has been invoked repeatedly in the comparative analysis of productivity growth in the United States and Britain during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

More recently, Daron Acemoglu has done extensive work noting that innovation responds to factor scarcity or abundance. If there’s rapid growth in labour supply then one should expect lots of innovation in technologies that complement labour and very little in labour-saving innovation. Whether that should net out to a slowdown in overall productivity growth is unclear, but the story isn’t something to write off out of hand.

(http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/generations)

If you’ve read this far, you will have noticed that innovation suffers when there there are too many bodies available. So govt saboing its policy of trying to make S’pore a centre of innovation?

Why economic forecasters underperform fortune tellers

In Economy, Financial competency on 20/10/2013 at 5:23 am

(Taz all the more reason to stick to stocks that make can make sustainable (we hope) good payouts. Check Temasek’s Fab 5 out: they have consistently made gd payments but the prices reflects this i.e. better yields available elsewhere but at greater risk.)

[A]n advance estimate showing the city-state’s economy shrank 1.0 percent on quarter in the July-September period, better than expectations for a 3.6 percent contraction, but a significant deceleration from 16.9 percent growth in the previous three months.http://www.cnbc.com/id/101109030

Opps wrong again. And govt isn’t that gd either at forecasting. A few months ago: The Republic’s economy is expected to do better this year than previously expected, with the growth forecast raised to between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

The previous official forecast was between 1 and 3 per cent. [Today]

In both cases, in percentage terms, the changes are significant: a fortune teller would lose his credibility with such forecasts. All finance ministers, their advisers, economists, central bankers and analysts always get their forecasts wrong: nothing uniquely S’porean.

In addition to the general reasons I gave here, here are two more reasons for them being sotong in the post 2008 environment.:-

– The experts are lost because the conventional model of how the financial system interacts with the real economy has evolved too little since the huge and largely unexpected financial crisis. Now as then, there is too much debt in the world for either monetary or fiscal policy to have the effect that the textbooks say.

The stimulative efforts of governments and central banks help the highly leveraged financial system stay afloat, but only a small portion of the funds actually reach the real economy. In such an unconventional financial world, the conventional wisdom is likely to stay wrong. Expect more of the unexpected.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/08/05/markets-central-bankers-face-strange-new-world/

– Economics is an inexact science, with exceptions to almost every pattern of behaviour that economists take for granted. For example, economists predict that higher prices for a good will reduce demand for it. But students of economics will no doubt remember an early encounter with “Giffen goods”, which violate the usual pattern. When tortillas become more expensive, a poor Mexican worker may eat more of them, because she now has to cut back on more expensive food like meat.

Such “violations” occur elsewhere as well. Customers often value a good more when its price goes up. One reason may be its signalling value. An expensive handcrafted mechanical watch may tell time no more accurately than a cheap quartz model; but, because few people can afford one, buying it signals that the owner is rich. Similarly, investors flock to stocks that have appreciated, because they have “momentum”.

The point is that economic behavior is complex and can vary among individuals, over time, between goods, and across cultures. Physicists do not need to know the behavior of every molecule to predict how a gas will behave under pressure. Economists cannot be so sanguine. Under some conditions, individual behavioral aberrations cancel one another out, making crowds more predictable than individuals. But, under other conditions, individuals influence one another in such a way that the crowd becomes a herd, led by a few.

Unfortunately, many of these methods [to get clear-cut evidence of causality. If high national debt is associated with slow economic growth, is it because excessive debt impedes growth, or because slow growth causes countries to accumulate more debt? cannot be applied to the most important questions facing economic policymakers.] So the evidence does not really tell us whether a heavily indebted country should pay down its debt or borrow and invest more.Moreover, what seem like obvious, commonsense policy solutions all too often have unintended consequences, because a policy’s targets are not passive objects, as in physics, but active agents who react in unpredictable ways. For example, price controls, rather than lowering prices, often cause scarcity and the emergence of a black market in which controlled commodities cost significantly more.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/08/raghuram-rajan-economic-paranoia-uncertainty

 

Blame Apple, Google for declining exports, growth

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 19/10/2013 at 6:26 am

The following pieces of bad news came as no surprise even though I’m no economist

– Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) fell year-on-year for an eighth straight month in September.

Overall, exports declined by 1.2 per cent on-year in September.

Still, economists say the contraction was smaller than what the market was expecting.

Better-than-expected export performance in September was driven by non-electronic exports like ships and petrochemicals.

This helped to offset lower electronics exports such as PC parts and disk media products.

Electronic export has been declining year-on-year for 14 consecutive months due to weak external demand.

Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank, explained: “The higher value-add items such as the part for the integrated circuits — they did better; whereas PC parts, the lower-end items, disk drives — these did much worse. So this underlies the fact that Singapore’s competitiveness must be at the higher end of the range given our cost base, and that’s where we’re losing out. So in terms of restructuring, it’s going to be a difficult period for electronics despite coming from a low base.”

The top three contributors to the export contraction were the European Union, South Korea and Japan.

On a month-on-month basis, exports rose 5.7 per cent in September, versus the previous month’s 6.6 per cent decline.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/singapore/singapore-s-nodx-down-1-2/850428.html

– [A]n advance estimate showing the city-state’s economy shrank 1.0 percent on quarter in the July-September period, better than expectations for a 3.6 percent contraction, but a significant deceleration from 16.9 percent growth in the previous three months.http://www.cnbc.com/id/101109030

This is because on 10 October I read a BBC report:

Global PC shipments drop to a five-year low

Global shipments of personal computers (PCs) have hit a five-year low, according to new figures from the research firm Gartner.

Shipments totalled 80.3m units in the three months to September, down 8.6% from a year ago.

PC sales have now fallen for six quarters in a row, hurt by the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones.

Gartner said falling prices of tablets had further hurt sales of PCs in emerging markets.

“Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

“A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.”

Decline

Research firm IDC, also released figures on Thursday, which showed global shipments of PCs fell by 7.6% to 81.6m units over the period.

As I explained before (example), S’pore and M’sia belong to the Microsoft ecosystem, not those of Android or Apple.

Not gd news for Msia either.

In other Asean-round-up news,

In M’sia, Umno V-Ps favoured to hold on to posts. They are up against three challengers, including Mahathir’s youngest son, Mukhriz

And maybe we can learn something from Indonesia‘s

– youth growing interest in politics and civil society matters (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24549654); and

– how to grow old gracefully by going against tradition (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24530350).

Waz the “right” kind of gotong royong?

In Economy, Infrastructure, Internet, Political governance, Public Administration on 18/10/2013 at 5:00 am

Update on 22 23 October 2013: Minister explains use of Criminal Law Temporary Provision Act (http://au.sports.yahoo.com/football/news/article/-/19491410/football-match-fixing-witnesses-fear-reprisals/) on footie fixers.

I recently came across “gotong royong” the American way, or community spirit the capitalist way: in American- speak, the “sharing economy”.

Technology is revolutionising the way Americans catch a cab with a ride now just a click away through mobile phone apps like like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Instantcab and Flywheel.

Many of these services are part of the so-called “sharing economy” in which car owners offer to drive strangers in exchange for a “donation”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24393348

But is this the “right” gotong royong that the PAPpies say they want here?

Bet you the Hard Truths that premise the PAP’s governing methods will prevent S’pore from ever going down this route, even though this seems one of several viable solutions (several are needed)  to our public tpt and private car problems  Remember, NTUC is via the Labour Foundation, the controlling shareholder of ComfortDelgro, the owner of the biggest taxi fleet here, and Temasek’s SMRT has a big taxi fleet too. The former runs most of the buses, while the latter runs most of the trains too. And it might impact the revenue from CoEs.

Seriously, the problem here is that “gotong royong” is contrary to the PAP’s Hard Truth that it is fount of everything. Gotong royong is not compatible with a top-down approach, where there is always a “right” way of doing things.

In “gotong royong”, as in the “sharing economy”, things happen because the rabble plebs mob community, society, consumer is the driving force, not a benign meritocratic elite. The people realise that there is a problem, issue, and are free (within some, not many, constraints) to work out a solution*. They don’t bitch while waiting for the governing elite to solve the problem, feeling entitled that because said elite is well-paid, they must solve the problem, resolve the issue.

I consider the following to be gotong royong in action, but doubt the PAP ministers urging us to “gotong royong” would agree:

– TOC’s and TRE’s continued existence;

– the various fund raisings for various legal cases where the govt is the defendant;

– the public funding of the deposits of Alex Tan and friends, and the independent team at Tanjong Pagar GRC;

– Nicole Seah raising money for her team’s election expenses;

– the free food and drinks at Gilbert Goh’s Hong Lim Green functions;

– Function 8;

– CHC members who willingly pay the legal fees of church members being prosecuted for false accounting etc;

– pastor Khong’s gang funding a legal suit;

– those who lend sound eqpt and technical help at various Hong Lim Green parties

– the kay pohs trying to help FTs avoid being hung for drug trafficking**;

– those gathering to help the family of Dinesh Raman get justice and closure**;

– Maruah**;

– the volunteers who help FT manual workers;

– the LGBT community; and

the dedicated band of enthusiasts who have been trying to draw attention to the cemetery’s [Bukit Brown's] value. They have succeeded in having it included on the biennial watchlist of the World Monument Fund (WMF), of heritage sites around the world that are in danger.

All these examples and more show that the gotong royong spirit is alive and well. They juz don’t fit the PAP’s narrative, especially the bit that the PA’s and PAP’s grass-root activists are the only selfless, dedicated volunteers. And that in cyberspace, their activists are no match for the the injuns, outlaws and other inhabitants of cowboy towns.

*In the US, there is no hegemonic elite to enforce the top down approach, and stifle innovation or stifle dissent or force recantations from members of the elite turned heretical.

**How come no help Dan Tan? Because he drive 7 series, got properties and China babe? And he not violent, middle class or FT?

Analysts worried about higher inflation, predict stronger S$

In Currencies, Economy on 16/10/2013 at 4:21 am

Remember ministers jokes on inflation last yr? They told us that we should look on the bright side i.e. inflation excluding COEs as though biz vehicles don’t need COEs. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/inflation-why-the-misleading-picture-minister-media/

Wonder why they don’t crack such jokes this yr? Inflation (excluding COEs) not too looking gd for us and govt

From BT 15th October 2013

Coupled with a tight labour market, the central bank said that core inflation – which excludes costs of accommodation and private road transport – is expected to be 1.5-2 per cent in 2013, and rise to 2-3 per cent in 2014. With upside core inflation risks looming, economists from Nomura, Citi, DBS and UOB say that a tightening of monetary policy in April could be on the cards – particularly if prices rise beyond the government’s comfort zone.

Said Nomura analysts in a report: “Overall, the statement should raise market expectations of the MAS shifting towards an even tighter (foreign exchange) policy stance at the April 2014 meeting.”

Added Citi economist Kit Wei Zheng: “Though not our forecast, with the possibility that core inflation may breach the MAS’s implicit 2-2.5 per cent tolerance threshold in 2014, slope steepening in April 2014 cannot be ruled out, especially if growth uncertainties subside.”

Calling such a scenario “definitely possible”, UOB economist Francis Tan said: “It would have to be fuelled by something completely unanticipated, like if oil prices suddenly spike up due to renewed political tensions in the Middle East. Then the MAS will probably move in to tighten the Singapore dollar NEER.”

http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/unabated-inflation-could-tip-mas-tightening-economists-20131015

Ah well S$ will appreciate eve3n more against regional currencies. Gd for S’poreans travelling, not gd for tourists from the region, and for our companies.

Why more FT Indians here than local Indians?

In Economy, India on 15/10/2013 at 4:52 am

(I hope readers don’t mind my flow onto LionsXII at the end)

One of the bloggers, I was concerned about here that might get a stroke or a heart attack, last week blogged that there are more FT Indians, than local Indians here. He didn’t give his source but used the statistic as the basis of prophesying doom and gloom for our minorities and society. It would have been nice if he had given his reasons, rather than assuming that we all know why.

Assuming he is correct about the FT Indian population being bigger than the local Indian population, there is possibly a gd, sound economic reason for it:- Our local Indians are not the “right” kind of Indians S’pore needs?

He may not be aware that S’pore’s an offshore hub of India, along with Dubai and Mauritius.

The largest hub for Indian trade is probably Singapore. It is the centre for investment banking, which thrives offshore, owing to the tight regulation of India’s banks and debt markets. Reflecting this, the global exposure to India of Citigroup and Standard Chartered, the two foreign banks busiest in India, is 1.9 times the size of their regulated Indian bank subsidiaries.

Fund managers running money in India are often based in Singapore. India’s best financial newspaper, Mint, now has a Singapore edition. At least half of all rupee trading is offshore, says Ajay Shah of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in Delhi. Investors and firms do not like India’s fiddly rules and worry that the country may tighten capital controls if its currency falls too far, says one trader in Singapore. He denies, though, that the rupee’s fall is mainly the work of speculators abroad. “The onshore guys have as much of a role,” he says.

Indian e-commerce firms often get their data crunched in Singapore, using web-hosting and cloud-computing firms, such as Google and Amazon. Amitabh Misra, of Snapdeal, says bandwidth costs less, technology is better and you avoid India’s headaches—such as finding somewhere to work, coping with state-run telecoms firms and having to wait to import hardware.

Singapore is also a centre for legal services. International deals involving India often contain clauses which state that disputes be arbitrated outside India, with its clogged courts. Singapore, along with London and Paris, has become the preferred jurisdiction. “The level of comfort Indian companies get from Singapore is unmatched,” says Vivekananda N of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.

When India’s economy thrived, in 2003-08, so did its offshore hubs. Singapore’s service exports to India tripled. Yet these centres may sometimes be a reverse barometer. If things improve in India, activity should shift to the mainland, and vice versa. By gradually improving its ports, for example, India has convinced more shipping lines to make direct stops.

The government wants to attract activity back to create jobs and boost foreign earnings. Pride plays a role, too—it is unbecoming for a potential superpower to have outsourced vital economic functions. India has far less control over Dubai and Singapore than China does over Hong Kong. Plenty of policy statements in recent years argue that India should become a global hub for aviation, legal arbitration, diamond trading and international finance.

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21583285-growth-slows-and-reforms-falter-economic-activity-shifting-out-india-made-outside?spc=scode&spv=xm&ah=9d7f7ab945510a56fa6d37c30b6f1709

So are TRE posters who regularly complain about Indian FTs are DRUMS saboing S’pore? Though two-timing new citizen Raj who has publicly boasted that his son will avoid NS, and get PR (here and here) is not exactly a poster boy for Indian FTs or the govt’s “We love FTs” policy: more for GG and friends who hate FTs.

Finally, those of us (self-included) who love to regularly grumble about or mock ESM “Peanuts” should remember that he initiated the “Look to India” to differentiate himself from one LKY who wanted S’pore to be plugged into China’s sphere. So three cheers for him, for initiating the move that resulted in S’pore becoming a major offshore hub of India? Or should it be only two cheers for then allowing the likes of new citizen Raj in?

BTW, Mindef should be trying to close the loop-holes that allow those bums like new citizen Raj to boast that their sons can avoid NS, and then get PR, rather than make it difficult for our young Lions http://www.goal.com/en-sg/news/3880/singapore/2013/10/13/4321556/zainudin-hints-at-restrictions-for-sundram-departure: In his two-year tenure with the LionsXII, one of Sundram’s biggest bugbear had been the unavailability of players. A slim squad that was frequently decimated by injury lay-offs was further shorn of players due to National Service (NS) call-ups.

Players in NS who had used up their annual leaves to play for the LionsXII were often unable to find release from their active duties. Shakir Hamzah was most infamously found guilty of going AWOL from duties in June, after linking up with the LionsXII for an away game, and was handed a four-day sentence in the detention barracks.

BTW2, Our media has been 200% behind Fandhi’s attempt to be the new LionsXII  coach (Of course, he would deny he is campaigning to be coach: he would wouldn’t he?); but would temperamental Fandhi have put up with Sundram’s frustrations. I doubt he would. Likely, he would have walked out. Don’t anyhow support Fandhi. He willingly collaborates with our MSM, wanted to sue SDP and failed as coach of a free-spending Johor team (think Sity, think Johor). He was a good, and honest footballer but he isn’t exactly god’s gift to LionsXII. He’s god’s gift to our constructive, nation-building media who use him to sell papers and try to make us forget that the media here in part of the Dark Side.

Financial centres’ curses

In Economy, Internet, Political economy, Political governance on 13/10/2013 at 5:10 am

For all the highfaluting talk of govt and talk-cock artists especially in the local media, we don’t do things like this even though Burma is in Asean (our backyard):

[I]n Burma – or Myanmar – social media sites and the whole internet have been inaccessible for years.

For one Canadian-Vietnamese woman that has provided a unique business opportunity to found the Burma’s first-ever social networking site.

However, Rita Nguyen had never been to the country before this year as BBC South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head heard.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24393043

Why?

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/a-very-high-tech-inventive-low-population-country/)

Are we are more comfortable as serfs slaves PMETs in a financial centre?

A recent article, interestingly, makes a compelling argument that places that depend on the financial industry (like S’pore) are like resource-rich countries, and like them suffer from the triple problems of a high exchange rate that causes problems for manufacturers, revenue volatility and poor governance.

Is finance like crude oil? Countries rich in minerals are often poverty-stricken, corrupt and violent. A relatively small rent-seeking elite captures vast wealth while the dominant sector crowds out the rest of the economy. The parallels with countries ‘blessed’ with powerful financial sectors are becoming too obvious to ignore.

http://taxjustice.blogspot.sg/2013/09/is-finance-like-crude-oil-resource.html

Another US innovation to breed entrepreneurs

… has designed I-Corps as a way of converting the most promising science and engineering projects in American universities into start-ups. The I-Corps teams … comprise just a principal investigator (usually a tenured professor), a younger entrepreneurial lead (undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral student) and an experienced entrepreneur or venture capitalist as a mentor. Each of the 100 or so teams has received a [US}$50,000 to cover a crash course on how to avoid the pitfalls common to all new ventures … New ventures, they are taught, are all about finding customers, what distribution channels to adopt, how to price the product, who to partner with, and more. From day one, the mantra is “get out of the lab” … The I-Corps programme is based on the premise that all new ventures are little more than a series of untested hypotheses—in other words, optimistic guesses about market size, customer needs, product pricing and sales channels. With so many unknowns, the programme teaches participants to treat their start-up as if it were a typical research project, amenable to the same iterative process of hypothesis testing and experimentation.

http://www.economist.com/node/21559734

PM’s statement that’s so very wrong

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 02/10/2013 at 6:45 am

PM’s comments, “there are countries like China, Vietnam and India which are hungry and anxious to steal the lunch from us”, is pure inflammatory rubbish worthy of Gilbert Goh. They are not trying to steal from us. They are trying to improve themselves, by working harder (and perhaps smarter) than us. PM should leave anti-foreigner comments to Gilbert Goh and friends. Even TRE, TOC not into this kind of rubbish. The PM shouldn’t. But maybe he wants to talk on 5 October at GG’s “regime change” day.

Three other things wrong about his comment:

– Why is he comparing S’pore to these countries esp Vietnam? Tot, PM and his govt say we first world country like Switzerland, or global city like NY or London? I mean even manufacturers from China are moving to Vietnam because labour is cheaper there? What next compare us with Bangladesh or Burma?

– Productivity is more impt than working hard

And it seems that more productive—and, consequently, better-paid—workers put in less time in at the office. The graph below shows the relationship between productivity (GDP per hour worked) and annual working hours:

The Greeks are some of the most hardworking in the OECD, putting in over 2,000 hours a year on average. Germans, on the other hand, are comparative slackers, working about 1,400 hours each year. But German productivity is about 70% higher.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/working-hours

It’s all about working smart, like the decadent Japs that LKY mocks but who outperform the ang mohs. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/honest-conversation-on-fts-lets-have-it-not-juz-pretend-that-weve-having-it-iswaran/

– “Insatiability, and the 15-hour week — Lessons in life and work”

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/09/insatiability-and-15-hour-week

The most stinging rebuke to PM’s line of reasoning comes close to the end of this longish, but intellectually entertaining piece.

BTW, if PM is genuine about wanting us to trust the govt, in addition to not imitating Gilbert Goh and friends, he should

– ensure that this kind of inflammatory rubbish doesn’t appear in our constructive, nation-building media

I am Singaporean, therefore I am entitled
While there is nothing wrong with policies that are based on a ‘Singaporean first’ principle, it can be taken too far. Abuse of this principle could lead to racism, xenophobia and aggressive nationalism. By Wu Zijian
It’s stuff like this that makes me thing GG has a point (which he doesn’t) about FTs being the problem. The problem is the PAP govt’s “FT Tua Kee” attitude.
– not juz talk the talk on limiting FTs coming in. Using, govt stats, Uncle Leong shows the flood is still rising, not receding. http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/09/27/new-citizenships-increased-by-31-in-2012/

Why rising inequality shows that things are working

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 24/09/2013 at 4:52 am

No, not the PAP or one of its running dogs talking; but the Economist (Err OK it is part PAPpy friendly ecosystem http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/sporeans-avoiding-low-paid-jobs-are-not-lazy-or-daft-juz-rational/, on economic and financial matters, though not when it comes to things like human rights, hanging, democracy, drugs, gays and media freedom.)

The regeneration of Manchester regeneration hasn’t benefited the whole population of the city equally. This is certainly true. The authors of the Manchester Independent Economic Review, published in 2009, found that in the first decade of the new millennium, while in absolute terms, every part of the city improved, inequality in the city had actually sharply increased. The richest bits of the city got richer at a much faster pace than the poorest bits.

I’m not sure that is a bad thing however. Even if we accept that growing inequality across the country is a bad thing, in this case, it strikes me as evidence of success. After all, as this Work Foundation report found, the most equal parts of Britain are towns such as Burnley and Sunderland. Those places are not more equal because the money is spread out more fairly. They’re more equal simply because everyone is poor. Manchester’s growing inequality, like London’s, is proof that it has managed to create well-paying jobs for at least a minority of its population.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/blighty/2013/09/manchester

Surprised our constructive, nation-building media, and the Breakfast Network and Independent are not telling us that rising inequality shows things are working. Maybe the media are waiting for media guidance.

But unlike Manchester, S’pore doesn’t have Manchester’s culture life that students find attractive: Cultural life feeds off economic success. After all, Burnley and Sunderland are not known for their great independent record shops and nightclubs. And it doesn’t have too EPL teams. BTW, for MU fans, the explanation for the defeat is simple: Allah and the Pope had the better of Yahweh on Sunday.

On the clubbing scene attracting students, I knew a German gal who chose to study in Manchester because of the nightclubs. She hated the weather though when she got there. BTW, while she was a party animal, she did very well in the IB exams, a perfect score.

Related posts:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/the-pap-govt-has-lost-output-legitimacy-discuss/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/ingratitude-uniquely-sporean-blame-the-internet-not-really/

The PAP govt has lost “output legitimacy”: Discuss

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 23/09/2013 at 5:18 am

The ST has for several weeks been writing about the loss of trust between the people and the govt, and laying the blame on the people (“daft”) who are distracted by the new media’s DRUMS beating the RAVII theme ( OK I exaggerate but juz a little). (BTW, here in a different context, I’ve looked at the role the new media plays: amplification, not distortion of the dissenting, inconvenient voices to the PAP’s narrative which the local media propagandises, while suppressing the former.)

Actually, the loss of trust is due to the PAP govt’s loss of “output legitimacy” since the 1990s.

“Output legitimacy” is the idea that elected leaders make decisions that are unpopular in the short term but will be approved by voters once their success has been demonstrated.  A govt aiming for “output legitimacy” (most govts don’t, but the PAP is an exception) is a bold, self-confident govt because the govt and the politicians need to be proved right by events.  Sadly for S’poreans and the PAP, the record doesn’t look that great for one LHL. He had been DPM, and in charge of economic and financial issues, and the civil service, since the 1990s, until he became PM in 2004.

Yet events have showed that S’poreans are discontented, not happy with the achievements of his govt. The PAP only polled 60% (lowest ever) in the 2011 GE, and three cabinet ministers lost their seats, with the WP winning for the first time ever a GRC. In the subsequent PE, the PAP’s “preferred” candidate and a challenger (ex PAP man too) polled 35% each. The preferred candidate won by a very short nose.

This yr, the PM promised to meet our concerns (housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education) is like that: “Crashed the cars, trains and buses we were on – and then wants us to thank him for pulling us out of the wreckage using our own money, by voting for the PAP”.

– http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/analysing-pms-coming-rally-speech/

– http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/govt-needed-natcon-survey-to-find-these-things-out/

After all S’poreans concerns that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable, and on education are the result of govt policies

His dad introduced the concept “output legitimacy” to S’pore (although not the term: too highfaluting perhaps?), partly because it suited LKY’s personality (intellectual thuggery, the belief that “leaders lead” and shouldn’t be governed by opinion polls, and micromanaging**), and partly because while S’pore was a leading Asian city in the 50s and 60s (as LKY and PAP haters like to remind us ad nauseum), that wasn’t saying much for most S’poreans: err bit like now, one could reasonably argue. Examples:

– When the PAP came into power in 1959, unemployment was over 10%; and

– in 1960, 126,000 man-hours were lost in strikes as compared to 26,000 in 1959.

Source: book reviewed here

There were then things that had to be done that would upset many people most of the time for a while. But if the policies worked, then the results would be visible. Well, at the very least, the voters were prepared to give LKY and the PAP, over 70% of the popular vote and all the parly seats for over a decade.

The world’s now a bit more complex since then, and S’poreans’ expectations have rightly risen, so whether it is ever possible that the PAP govt can ever recover “output legitimacy” is open to question even if it has the ‘right” people leading it. But at least it’s willing to spend more of our money on making life a more comfortable for ourselves. Maybe that should be its articulated goal, to frame our expectations of its “output legitimacy”.

Maybe the constructive, nation-building media, and new media outlets that believe in constructive criticism, like the Breakfast Network and the Independent*** can help the PAP govt? Better than flogging the dead horses of trust, daft people and that the internet beats DRUMS to the RAVII theme.

*Recriminations, Accusations, Vilifications, Insinuations & Insults

**Remind me of the bible verses: “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” or “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”

***Independent sucks because it got its branding wrong. Name is so traditional media. In fact there is an established UK newspaper by that name.

Names with a whiff of the establishment seem old hat. Chris West, founder of Verbal Identity, specialists in linguistic branding, says that “they appear to be hankering after a debased culture of corporate magnificence”. Consumers think of them as pompous, self-serving, impersonal. The advantage of calling your business Wonga and GiffGaff lies in the rejection of superfluous formality. We perceive them as younger, more in-touch, less “corporate”. As Mr West concludes, “they sound like words we might hear at the pub”.

Then there is the quality of its writing. But that shows up the pedigree of two of its founders.

As for BN, it’s a work-in-progress, and it’s a gd training place for budding journalists: got ex-TOCer who has learnt to write proper, readable English. So I wish it well, even if I’ve heard allegations about its funding. And it has a great name. Spent a lot of cash getting its name right?

NS and the welfare state: two sides of the same coin in the first world,

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/09/2013 at 4:55 am

including Switzerland and Israel

S’poreans are rightly asking why they should do NS to defend two-timers like new citizen Raj who openly boasted on how his son will avoid NS, while still getting his PR status. (Related post on two-timer Raj)

In return, the govt has been moaning that S’poreans no longer believe in the value of NS. It tries to make NS more “valuable” for us via gimmicks rather than hard cash (“Money talks, BS walks”) and addressing the the issue of defending someone like new citizen Raj and his family.

Apart from addressing the issue of defending people like new citizen Raj and his son, methinks the ministers and ESM should reach for a 6th September article in FT (behind a pay-wall). It is an opinion written by Mark Mazower, professor of history at Columbia University and author of ‘Governing the World”. It is entitled, “The west needs a replacement for the warrior spirit”.

Cutting to the chase, I quote the following:

The late Charles Tilly demonstrated in a series of brilliant sociological studies the extent to which warfare and welfare have historically been tightly connected. Rulers who wanted citizens to fight learnt the hard way that they had to give them something more concrete and appealing to fight for than the privilege of dying in their name. That is why the advent of mass conscript armies, unified around allegiance to the nation, coincided with the dramatic 20th-century transformation in the nature of the state and the swift post-1945 expansion of social rights in the shape of public housing, healthcare and schooling.

During the two world wars, military service resulted in the percentage of the population in uniform in the UK and the US approaching an extraordinary 10 per cent. This kind of warfare accustomed entire societies to new egalitarian norms and demonstrated the indispensability of the state itself as mediator in industrial relations, and as economic strategist and planner. The lessons were learnt and applied after the war as well, underpinning much of the west’s managed capitalism in the years of the post-1945 economic boom.

Get it PAP govt? NS and the welfare state go together. Israel and Switzerland, countries still with NS, have gd welfare systems, BTW.

Maybe, since the PAP doesn’t want a welfare state, scrape NS? Has the additional benefit to the PAP of getting rid of the issue of us defending new citizen Raj and his family. We might be willing to be more amenable to more two-timing new citizens, like Raj.

Get it PAP govt?

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/where-ns-leads-to-successful-high-tech-start-ups/


PM wrong on haze, hope he correct on “no repeat of 1997 crisis’

In Economy, Indonesia on 15/09/2013 at 5:47 am

(Or “1997/ 1998 revisited”)

Earlier this week, PM said: “On balance, I would take a sanguine view. I think the Asian economies are in a stronger position than they were in 1997 when the crisis came. I think we’ve got more safeguards instituted now, over the last decades since the Asian crisis to deal with the likely consequences of big capital flows. CNA

Well, Indonesia’s central bank has raised interest rates for the second time in two weeks as it looks to stem the sharp decline in its currency, the rupiah.

It raised its key rate to 7.25%, the highest level in more than four years.

Indonesia’s currency has dipped nearly 18% against the US dollar since May this year as investors pull out of emerging markets, stoking concerns about the economic impact.

The central bank also cut its growth forecast for the current year.

On Thursday, it said that it now expects the economy to grow between 5.5% to 5.9% compared with its earlier projection of a growth between 5.8% to 6.2%.

That will be the lowest pace of growth since the global financial crisis in 2009.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24075745

But he got the haze issue wrong: he said would return “for weeks”. Hasn’t has it? And haze season is almost over. I’m glad he was wrong on this.

Here’s hoping he’s right on the Asian economies because if not

vivid memories of the 1997 crisis in Indonesia … watching in disbelief as a once stable currency slid, gently at first, from 2,400 rupiah to the US dollar in July, to 4,000 by early December, and then, dramatically to more than 16,000 in January.

The economy seized up, and within months Indonesia was in chaos.

… something else too.

The foreign fund managers, who had been cheerleaders for the investment boom before the crisis, privately admitting that the corporate data they were given by Indonesian companies was suspect.

But they continued buying into the country’s broader economic growth story, despite nagging fears about corruption and the persistent current account deficit.

“Start Quote

Today the Thai economy is very different. Because we learned things like risk management, corporate governance, the ability to be flexible”

Jada Wattanasiritham SCB

I remember the World Bank and other respected international experts telling us, after Thailand’s economic collapse in July 1997, that Indonesia was different, its fundamentals were sound. It would not be infected by the disease, they said.

For anyone who experienced those bewildering months, and especially those who were victims of the crisis, they left a lingering mistrust of official reassurances, and an anxiety that they could be caught out again.

She seems to have forgotten:

– Fresh from leveraging up to buy a stake in insurer Ping An (he borrowed US$5.5bn), Dhanin Chearavanont is borrowing US$6 billion to finance a takeover of Siam Makro. Combining the Thai cash-and-carry group with his 7-Eleven convenience store chain makes sense. He co-founded Siam Makro with Dutch group SHV in the late 1980s, but was forced to sell out in 1998 when the Asian crisis left his empire overextended (soon to be repeated?). Sentimentality aside, the combined business should also be in a stronger position to expand into neighbouring Southeast Asian countries such as Laos and Myanmar.

The reunion is expensive. The offer price of 787 baht per share is 75% above where Siam Makro was trading at the beginning of January, and values the business at 53 times last year’s earnings. The advantage is that both Siam Makro and CP All, Mr Dhanin’s partially listed Thai retail company, currently have no debt.

– And in January another Thai tycoon, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, won the battle for control of Fraser and Neave with a debt-heavy $11.2 billion offer based largely on breaking up the Singaporean conglomerate.

1997/1998 again? Both had problems then, esp the former.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/why-regional-mkts-are-tanking-why-its-a-risky-moment/

S’poreans avoiding low-paid jobs are not lazy or daft, juz rational

In Economy, Political governance on 02/09/2013 at 4:47 am

SME employers are forever bitching moaning that they need FTs because S’poreans (esp the young) don’t want to do the jobs on offer, be it factory work or restaurant work. The govt, too, is forever complaining that FTs are needed because there are jobs that S’poreans don’t want to do. The underlying message of govt and employers is “S’poreans are lazy”, echoing and amplifying one LKY’s Hard Truth that S’poreans need to be spurred on, by way of the import of FTs. BTW, strangely, they are silent on benefit of the wage repression that such imports bring them, and people like me.)

Well these employers are not “uniquely S’porean”. Farmers in the UK too complain that they need FTs according to this article

Farmers claim that they will then face a dramatic shortage of labour [when a FT scheme is ended].

Often migration is justified on the grounds that there are jobs young Britons are unwilling to do. They’re lazy and coddled the argument goes, workers from less wealthy countries tend to be keen to get the work. Yet at the same time as around 22,000 Bulgarians and Romanians came to Britain through the SAWS, over 46,000 Britons traveled to Australia last year as part of the Working Holiday Makers program. There, they often get low paid jobs, as farm hands, cleaners or in the catering industry.

The Economist (remember it likes our healthcare, CBD and COEs, and believes in low taxes, GST and liberal immigration policies) goes on to explain this paradox of British youth preferring to take menial, low paying jobs in Oz but not at home, while British farmers have to rely on immigrant labour:

Migrants—whether Romanian or British—usually intend to stay for just a few years before returning back to their country of origin. This means that they’re much more willing to live in cramped conditions, cut their costs and take on low paid temporary work. But Britons who are willing to work as field hands in Australia probably would not consider do so in Britain: they would hold out for a more permanent and better paid job. This is not necessarily evidence of laziness but prudence. It is just that it is much harder to buy a house or raise a family on the wages of a field hand than it is to backpack across Australia.

Likewise, S’poreans want better paying jobs because this is home, and a pretty expensive place to boot. A recent Yahoo article had this quote: I just think there must be something really wrong if the government keeps having to subsidise people like us who are considered middle-income wage earners. There’s a real income inequality problem here and they need to address it.” – Marketing executive Adrian Matthew, 26. Taz a middle income wage earner talking. Imagine what would a S’porean manual worker or waiter say?

True, we don’t have welfare benefits for the unemployed but young S’poreans have their parents. This being S’pore, the son or daughter is likely to be the only child, or one of two, and S’porean parents are likely to understand their children’s situation. And there is a generation that can still afford to indulge their children because they have jobs and have paid off their HDB loans, and are sitting pretty. Taz the welfare net for these young S’poreans.

The piece ends with shumething our PM and his cabinet should be thinking about (I slightly edited the passage to make it fit our situation):

There’s little point in complaining about laziness, those who won’t take these jobs are often making rational decisions. We don’t really want an army of underpaid Brits S’poreans working uncomfortable hours in jobs which pay nothing. It would be better to wonder why they cannot find better ones—and what the government can do to help them to.

The PM should remember that as the Economist agrees with many of the things he is doing such as:

– bring on the FTs;

– GST;

– COEs;

– CDB;

– high petrol prices;

– low taxes;

– no minimum wages; and

– meritocracy,

so he should listen to it when it talks of the need to try  to find better ways of helping the lower-paid workers. After all in S’pore, as I pointed out here, real wage median growth is dependent on govt fiat (raising employers’ CPF contribution.

What better goodie to celebrate 50 yrs of independence?

Even the PAP govt gets a goodie: a continuation of the de-facto one-party state if the govt can find a way to make sure S’poreans have stable, gd paying jobs. And no more subsidising of HDB flats for middle income S’poreans. No more raiding of the reserves as one Mah Bow Tan almost put it. More for Temasek to put on “Red”?

Off-key & jarring: DBS’ trumpeting of restructuring success

In Economy on 29/08/2013 at 4:54 am

(Or Govt decides if there is real median wage growth, not businesses?

When I read this quote from DBS Group Research some time back, I was puzzled,

In this regard, real median income has increased by an average pace of 3.1% per annum since the announcement of the ESC recommendations.

At the current pace, real median income will be 35% higher than what it was in 2010. This is precisely what policymakers have aimed for. By this measure, restructuring is smack on track . http://sbr.com.sg/economy/news/heres-convincing-proof-singapores-restructuring-track

It did not make sense as I remembered reading a MoM report that stated that in recent yrs real median wage growth was negative.

I forwarded the above link to TRE with a note asking why it didn’t publish +ve things about govt policies? Was it the mirror image of the constructive nation-building ST, except that it only published -ve stuff about the govt?

It published the link and asked Uncle Leong for his comments.

His reply is here. DBS took into consideration the employers’ contribution rate increase!

He added

In this connection, I wrote a letter to the media, “asking why a real median income growth rate of -0.6% for 2011 was used in the calculation of the National Bonus for political office-holders, and the Prime Minister’s Office and MOM came out to clarify:

“MOM’s 1.0% real median income growth rate for employed Singaporeans included the employers’ CPF contributions while the -0.6% real median income growth rate used by PMO for the National Bonus calculation did not include it.

PMO said it had computed the National Bonus payout using income figures sans the contributions as it was felt that changes to employers’ CPF rates are decided by the Government and, hence, should not be linked to the payout for political office-holders.” – TR Emeritus link, Apr 7, 2012

So, even the PMO concedes that the real median income growth (excluding employer CPF contribution) is the more appropriate measure.

Going further he added,

14.5% lower & not 35% higher next decade?

Therefore, instead of “At the current pace, real median income will be 35% higher than what it was in 2010. This is precisely what policymakers have aimed for. By this measure, restructuring is smack on track.” – may be it should be “ At the current pace, real median income will be 14.5% lower than what it was in 2010. This is precisely what policymakers have not aimed for. By this measure, restructuring is smack off track .”

Bottom line: Netizens, our local media and the govt are not the only beaters of DRUMS. Investment analysts too can play the DRUMS. And what are DRUMS may be relative. our DRUMs may be one man’s Hard Truths and vice-versa.

Bottom, bottom line: S’poreans are dependent on the govt for real wage increases. Include the 3% (?) increase to 16% in the employers’ CPF contribution, and hey presto median real wage growth is 3.1%. Increase it to 20% and the PAP will win back Aljunied and get 75% of the popular vote.

Shumetime is very, very wrong with the economy or society, or both, if the only way the real median wage can grow is via govt fiat.

Tharman has a point, but Lawrence Wong missed the plot

In Economy, Financial competency on 27/08/2013 at 4:50 am

Speaking at the Network ASEAN forum on Friday morning, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said there was never a realistic prospect of a smooth and easy exit from quantitative easing (QE).

But the QE tapering will not be bad for the ASEAN economies as it is not in anyone’s interest for very low global interest rates to continue indefinitely.

It also signals an economic recovery in the US — a major market for ASEAN. [Channel News Asia last week].

Investors who have suffered from the flight from regional markets and currencies should look on the bright side. What he said is one gd point to remain calm.

Another reason why tapering is gd: The Federal Reserve is forcing Asia to kick its addiction to hot money. The prospect of higher U.S. interest rates had made the region’s dwindling trade surpluses look an increasingly dangerous habit. Though markets may be turbulent, pricier local money or cheaper currencies will improve the trade balance for most Asian countries. http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/08/22/fed-liquidity-curbs-will-act-as-asias-detox-plan/

But QE tapering is gd news only if investors are not leveraged to their eyeballs and counting, bringing me to the issue of Lawrence Wong (a board director at the central bank, where Tharman is the chairman) talked cock on “over-leveraged” borrowers.

Most heavy borrowers in Singapore have above average income levels, which means they are less likely to default on their loans.

Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong said this [on 11 August] in response to questions in Parliament on household debts from Nominated MP Laurence Lien and Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong.

He went on to say: On borrowers who are “over-leveraged”, or those with debt service burdens exceeding 60 per cent of their income, Mr Wong said most of them have incomes higher than the median household income of S$6,000.

He added that nearly 90 per cent of these borrowers are servicing private property loans, and more than 80 per cent are servicing only one loan.

The reasons to be concerned about these people is not that they earn a lot and can service a loan while leading the gd life, or that they only got one loan. The issues are:

– What happens if they lose their high playing jobs. Will they find another high paying job before the bank manager starts calling? And if they can’t?

– Do they have the cash to cope with a rise in interest rates, whether they have a job that pays them a high a lot or not?

That they have incomes higher than the median household income of S$6,000 is irrelevant, or only one loan is irrelevant to the issue of whether the level of over-leverage poses a danger to the system. Going by the numbers available, over-leverae borrowers do not seem to pose a danger to the system. But the minister’s explanation does worry me: it could indicate the complacency of the central bank and the govt. Hopefully, I’m wrong about their complacency.

Low productivity: LKY and the DRUMS agree on its cause

In Economy, Political economy on 15/08/2013 at 5:11 am

I kid you not, miracles can happen. LKY agrees with the Blogging 7, Uncle Leong, E-Jay, s/o JBS, NSP, SDP and all the usual players of DRUMS. The latter have always argued that low productivity is the result of the FT policy. Not included Low or WP among the latter as I don’t know itheir stand on this issue.

Stoolies Foils, Comedy Straightmen ST: On the issue of making productivity gains, we lag behind many developed countries. In manufacturing and services, Singapore’s productivity is only 55 per cent to 65 per cent of that in Japan and the United States.

LKY: Because we have large numbers of migrants who do not fit into the workforce so easily and who do not speak English.Some hold work permits and do not stay for long – they leave within a few years, after developing skills.

http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={1072294113-18605-1765558123}

This appeared in Tuesday’s BT:

Manufacturing firms in Singapore relied on low-skilled foreign workers as substitutes for machinery between 2003 and 2008, sacrificing productivity levels in the process, according to a study.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) study released yesterday, however, found that other factors – unrelated to foreign workers – could have also caused the decline in automation, underscoring the need for greater R&D and product innovation.

The five years in question mark the government’s most recent period of liberal foreign labour policy. Between 2003 and 2008, the dependency ratio ceiling – which specifies the maximum proportion of foreign workers that companies can hire – was raised to 65 per cent; levies for unskilled work permit holders were reduced; and firms were allowed to hire work permit holders from China.

In its study of 1,500 manufacturing firms over that period, MTI found that those which hired relatively more low-skilled foreign workers relied less on machinery for production.

Doesn’t LKY’s words  and the MTI study show that the govt talk of increasing productivity over the yrs (from 1990s onwards) was juz that: talk? And now, the guy that was charged with leading the productivity drive in the late 1990s is now the chairman of Temasek? Isn’t S’pore a meritocracy, unlike M’sia?

Where LKY and the DRUMS would disagree is what would have happened if FTs didn’t come in by the cattle-truck load:

But you ask yourself how many small and medium-sized companies will pack up if we cut off the foreign workers?

But isn’t it a chicken-and-egg situation? Precisely because it is so easy and cheap to hire foreigners, the SMEs continue to rely on them. If the tap were tightened, they would be forced to find new ways of operation. There will be some that will shut down, but maybe some level of churn is necessary so that the economy can go on to be more productive.

You cut them off and you find the SMEs just caving in.

Would that be a bad thing, or could that just be a necessary transition?

If our SMEs collapse, we will lose more than half of our economy.

In a way, that is what the Government is now trying to do. They are trying to slow down the growth in the foreign labour force.

Yes, because the Singapore public feels uncomfortable with so many of them. Not because of the economics. From an economic point of view, we should grow.

So how do you see this ending now that we have started to tighten the tap? Does it mean that we will lose half of our economy?

As you bleed out the present workers on work permits, the economy will shrink. But we are keeping the same level and just slowing down the inputs of new workers. Not stopping them. You stop it, you are in trouble.

The DRUMS would argue that the SMEs wouldn’t collapse or move on. They would adapt. I don’t think any elected govt would dare take the risk of allowing SMEs to collapse. It could lose power. As Dr Goh liked to say, repeating a Western political aphorism, “Oppositions don’t win elections, govt lose them.”

Related posts:

Jokey

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/why-productivity-is-so-low-here/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/no-wonder-spores-productivity-so-low/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/productivity-ntuc-learn-from-china/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/singas-ft-replacement/

Serious

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/us-experience-on-growing-gdp-via-productivity/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/insufficient-public-data-a-reason-for-our-low-productivity-numbers/

 

:

Stagnating income: Not fault of locals or FTs, not uniquely S’porean

In Economy on 13/08/2013 at 4:43 am

Our S’pore Conversation committee Chairman and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that overall, the participants at the OSC sessions wanted the assurance that housing, healthcare and public transport will remain affordable.

Well they would be concerned about these things as wages have been pretty stagnant for most S’poreans recently* and the costs of these have risen, faster than the inflation rate, I think.

This train of tot reminded me that I wanted to kick ST and critics, bo0th of the article and the govt,  when I read http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/07/20/stagnant-wages-its-your-own-fault-according-to-st/

Stagnant wages is not a problem caused by S’porean workers (ST’s version) nor by the wholesale import of FTs by the cattle-truck load (netizens’ version).

Taiwan has this problem too.

Those [Taiwanese manufacturers] coming back are motivated by Taiwan’s low wages, which, if factoring in inflation, are back at the same level they were 15 years ago for entry entry level jobs.

In the past, Taiwan’s wages were much higher than those in China. But now, Chinese blue-collar wages are approaching those of their counterparts in Taiwan and in some sectors and big cities in China white collar workers can expect to earn even more than their island neighbours.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22754725

So too has HK. Example http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/hph-trust-cost-of-strike-settlement/

And in a recent talk I attended, the swing away from BN in M’sia was partly attributable to stagnating incomes.

So ST, it’s not the workers’ fault. And critics, it ain’t all the PAP’s govt’s fault. It’s happening in other parts of Asia and in the West. http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/08/economies-and-markets-0

BTW, in the Asian countries mentioned, property prices (esp residential ones) are rising too. So stagnating income and rising residential prices is also not uniquely S’porean.

The solution? In Taiwan, profitable, responsible homegrown cos (note not MNCs) investing at home, Foxconn recently announced plans to hire 5,000 technicians to work in two plants in Taiwan. It will be one of the group’s largest hiring sprees here in recent years.

The Taiwanese technicians will research and build factory robots, so that the company, which makes smartphones and computers for top brands such as Apple and Dell, can further reduce dependency on increasingly expensive Chinese workers.

OK lah one company lah. But knowing how Taiwanese society works, others will have to follow to show that they too love Taiwan and its people.

And in HK, workers go on strike, while in M’sia, voters vote against the govt.

In S’pore, S’poreans bitch while the govt talks about productivity, and restructuring the economy, again and again. And cuts and pastes “reform” plans from the time one Lee Hsieen Loong was juz a jnr cabinet paper.

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/cutting-and-pasting-the-esc-report/)

Finally shumething for gd-heated kay pohs to think about:If you want to employ current workers at higher wages you either have to make them better workers or you have to take income from someone else—which can be sensible but which can also make for nasty unintended consequences.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/08/labour-markets

*Uncle Leong has talked about this regularly using govt statistics to prove his point: juz google if you want to refesh yr memory.

What the PAP govt doesn’t get it abt the new economy

In Economy on 08/08/2013 at 5:13 am

Two gd links below for yr holiday reading.

The govt fails in its attempts to recreate the economy for the Age of Knowledge because the surest way to guarantee failure in the long term is to be so paralysed by the fear of it that you don’t try anything new. The line that separates a hit from a flop is thin. The govt is always cutting and pasting previous reports on how to create a new, knowledge economy http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/cutting-and-pasting-the-esc-report/. Nothing fundamental has changed in its thinking since Dr Goh decided to allow the MNCs in: at the time, it was derided as neo-colonialism. It worked but other countries caught on esp after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. So S’pore lost its killer edge.

It can only

– Talk the rhetoric of change. The latest example of which is As Singapore paves a new way forward through inclusive growth, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said executing these strategies also depend on two important stakeholders — the government and the people.

In carrying out these strategies, the government will need to have foresight, be nimble and take on a multi-faceted role.

Mr Heng said the government must work with businesses to restructure the economy, and must intervene in areas such as healthcare and housing to achieve socially desirable outcomes. [CNA yesterday]

– And import FTs to lower the cost of doing biz here for MNCs.

Coming back to the quote, Look at Disney’s movie making division. Walt Disney has another flop: “The Lone Ranger” is expected to lose up to US$190m. Last yr it had “John Carter”. So is Disney losing money?

The Economist wrote at the time: But the existence of flops such as “John Carter” is perverse proof that the Walt Disney Company is doing something right.

http://www.economist.com/node/21551455

Disney is still making serious money at the movie division, and minting it overall. It had “The Avengers” last yr, and “Iron Man 3″ this yr.

Juz before the above quote, the Economist wrote: Still, the surest way to guarantee failure in the long term is to be so paralysed by the fear of it that you don’t try anything new. The line that separates a hit from a flop is thin. Companies sometimes have to slaughter sacred cows to escape obsolescence: IBM only recovered from its death spiral when it abandoned its focus on building hardware. Some of the most successful products are the result of mixing oil and water—most obviously, phones with computers and entertainment systems.

What looks like a flop can flip into a success. After New Coke fizzled, sales of the original version rebounded, lifting the firm’s stock price and reviving what had been a fading brand. Pringles (the stackable crisps, not the alarming jumpers worn by golfers) started life as one of Procter & Gamble’s greatest flops. They are now munched everywhere, including over this kybard#.

And would S’pore have such a school running such a course?

Inside a US Boarding School for Aspiring Tech Moguls. At the Draper University of Heroes, students in their early to mid-20s looking to break into Silicon Valley apprentice at the feet of the venture capitalist Tim Draper, “trying to pick up the tech world’s own brand of magical thinking,” Kevin Roose writes in New York magazine.

NEW YORK

PM’s right on the Swiss remaining No 1 in wealth mgt

In Banks, Economy on 01/08/2013 at 6:11 am

A recent Pricewaterhouse Coopers report said the S’pore could overtake Switzerland as the top wealth centre in the world by 2015.  Another report says that Singapore is tipped to overtake Switzerland to become the largest global offshore wealth center in terms of assets by 2020, according to London research firm, WealthInsight, in may http://edition.cnn.com/2013/05/13/business/singapore-rich-switzerland-wealth/index.html.

Our constructive, nation-building media was triumphalist.

But our PM is more realistic. He said S’pore is unlikely to overtake Switzerland as the biggest wealth centre in the world any time soon, http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/07/06/singapore-unlikely-to-overtake-switzerland-in-wealth-management/. “I read somewhere that we might overtake Switzerland. I don’t think that’s true. I don’t want that to be my marketing line,” the FT had him saying.

One advantage S’pore has is tax. Deloitte ranks Switzerland only in fifth place for tax competitiveness, behind Bahrain, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. S’pore also has an advantage in attracting Asian wealth, like not being part or near of China, while being in Asia.

But I think the PM is right (even though he cannot even get the haze issue right: he talked of the haze coming back “for weeks” about a month ago, but since then the reading was “moderate”, now “good”),

Two reasons

Private banks in the Asian financial hub, Singapore, are the next target of tighter regulations after the crackdown in the U.S. and Europe on tax cheats. From July 1, any banks believed to be abetting tax evasion or having inadequate controls in place may face a heavy fine, criminal charges and possibly the loss of their license to operate in the city state. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100793751

– The G8 countries are getting more aggressive in making sure that places like Switzerland and S’pore cannot hide behind secrecy laws to avoid sharing info. In short, all offshore havens will have to be more transparent, and none will have an advantage over the others. Money moved from Switzerland to S’pore in the noughties because it was tot S’pore would not be forced to be more open; not true anymore.

The only adv that S’pore has over Switzerland, is that Asia is getting richer, esp China, and Asean; the latter with a population of over 620m, would be “the 21st century’s champion in fostering the vast middle class consumer market”, according to the Japanese PM. Asean is in our immediate neighbourhood, a great advantage. And S’pore has been a traditional regional financial, commercial and services centre.

Interestingly, not reported here, Deloitte says Hong Kong could overtake Switzerland as the world’s top wealth manager as early as 2019 if current asset growth rates are maintained. Being part of China has its advantages esp in attracting non-Chinese money that wants a piece of the action in China. And HK’s reputation for financial innovation doesn’t hinder.

Can Oppo MPs ask MoM for FT fake rates here?

In Economy, Public Administration on 25/07/2013 at 5:17 am

And that this isn’t happening here? (Reminder, only recently there was report of  25 FTs convicted for using false education certificates in work pass applications.)

The ABC has revealed that thousands of Indian students, skilled workers and 457 visa holders have been admitted to Australia on dodgy travel and work documents.

Briefings prepared by the Immigration Department and obtained by the ABC’s Fact Check Unit under Freedom of Information show out-of-control, large-scale fraud of the visa system.

The internal audits show fraud rates approaching 50 per cent, and an Immigration Department struggling to properly identify people who are enterin

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-22/immigration-audits-reveal-large-scale-visa-fraud/4833710

Note that in the US, there are complaints that Indian IT companies are misusing the US visa system: However, critics of the proposed expansion argue that it’s not the future Facebooks of the world that are in desperate need of more H-1B visas but rather large outsourcing firms like iGate Technologies and Cognizant that benefit most from the programme.

Many outsourcing firms are of course Indian and already the Indian government has objected to provisions in the bill that would tax companies whose workforce is made up of more than 50% of H-1B visa holders.

Those provisions are meant to appease critics such as Systems in Motion CEO Neeraj Gupta, himself a former H-1B visa holder who once sold a company to a large Indian outsourcing firm.

Mr Gupta says the cap on visas should not be raised unless serious questions about the programme in general are asked.

“Before you open up the numbers let’s look at how they’re being used today: more than 80% of H-1B visas go to outsourcing firms,” says Mr Gupta.

“Let’s stop the use of these visas for outsourcing and you have more visas available for the innovation economy.”

Mr Gupta and others argue that foreign workers, mostly from India, are not necessarily future innovators but just cheaply educated lower-level engineers.

Because of the strictures of the H-1B programme, they are paid less money than equivalent American workers – and they have less bargaining power.

“If a worker complained about their wages or their working conditions, the employer could just threaten to lay them off and if they did that worker would have to leave the country,” says Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Ron Hira, who is himself ethnically Indian and a mentor to many foreign graduate students.

“It’s a form of indentured servitude.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23010391

Related post: New Citizen Raj talks openly of how his son will avoid NS while becoming a PR

BTW, I’m sure some ultra sensitive kay poh will bitch that I’m targeting Indians. If there are any reports of slit eyed chinks gaming the immigration systems of ang moh countries, send me the links and I’ll publish them here.

 

Insufficient public data: a reason for our low productivity numbers?

In Economy, Public Administration on 23/07/2013 at 4:50 am

Canada like S’pore has lousy productivity numbers. A recent study* has come up with a plausible explanation that could be applicable here. There is insufficient publicly available data for companies (esp SMEs) to benchmark against. They don’t know how badly they are performing vis-a-vis their peers. The solution?

Industry associations could help fill the gap by more consistently gathering and sharing investment information among their members.

The Canadian federal industry department is also working with the national statistical agency and academics to see if some way can be found to release at least some investment data.

*A report … by Deloitte, a business consultancy, offers a novel explanation that may be relevant to other poor performers in the productivity stakes: More than one third of Canadian companies don’t realise they are not making the necessary investments in research, machinery, equipment and technology to keep up with more competitive firms because they lack access to the kind of information they need to compare themselves with their peers. The report calls this group “over-confident” because they think they are doing better than they actually are.

In an age when many feel deluged by the amount of information available, not having enough of the stuff is an odd problem to have. Bill Currie, Deloitte’s managing director for the Americas, says information on how much companies spend on productivity-enhancing measures is collected through tax returns. However, sharing it at the level of detail required to make it relevant raises privacy concerns in a country like Canada where privately owned companies dominate in some regions or sectors.

The problem doesn’t exist in America and other big economies because the large number of companies in such places—the US has about 6m employers to Canada’s 1m—means no one firm will stand out when investment statistics are given by sector or region. (In national data releases in America, statistics are often redacted in sectors where a single firm’s proprietary information could be discerned thanks to its dominance in the category.) But it may be relevant in smaller economies that lag America in labour productivity such as New Zealand or Switzerland. Industry associations could help fill the gap by more consistently gathering and sharing investment information among their members, says Mr Currie. The Canadian federal industry department is also working with the national statistical agency and academics to see if some way can be found to release at least some investment data. Of course that won’t help with another problem (this one not particular to Canada): firms tend to look inward at past practice rather than outward at the current practice of competitors when setting benchmarks.

Canadian firms are terrible laggards when it comes to spending money on research and development, machinery, equipment or technology. In the past, the low level of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis its southern peer was blamed for dissuading companies from importing what they required.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/06/productivity-growth

Effect here of $ leaving Asia

In Economy on 17/07/2013 at 7:09 am

Ang moh money returning home from emerging mkts

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/07/11/dash-from-emerging-to-developed-markets-hits-new-risks/

Asian money leaving their home countries

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/07/15/asian-capital-flight-risk-goes-beyond-hot-money/

Whether some of this money comes here is irrelevant. Our high hsehold debt ratio is likely to give grief to leveraged S’poreans (most of us, self excluded) esp those whose financial asssets depreciate while the debt obligations remain. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100882025 While, rising household debt is a concern, it should also be viewed in context with the asset side of the balance sheet. If needed, they [borrowers] could draw down on deposits,” said Michael Wan, economist at Credit Suisse. 

PC sales see ‘longest decline’ in history

In Economy, Malaysia on 11/07/2013 at 5:43 pm

Not gd for economy of S’pore and M’sia which are part of the PC ecosystem http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-5-gdp-growth-this-yr/

Global personal computer (PC) sales have fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, making it the “longest duration of decline” in history.

Worldwide PC shipments totalled 76 million units in the second quarter, a 10.9% drop from a year earlier, according to research firm Gartner.

PC sales have been hurt in recent years by the growing popularity of tablets.

Gartner said the introduction of low-cost tablets had further hurt PC sales, especially in emerging economies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23251285

Added on 18th October 2013: Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/missed-smartphone-boom-planners-thinking-about-2025/

 

Where S’pore is not first world: not reported in MSM

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 10/07/2013 at 5:18 am

S’pore is richer (per capita) than Japan. Yet as this chart from the Economist shows, its welfare spending is below that of Japan, and is clustered with Thailand and China, with only Indonesia worse-off. Korea is slightly better than S’pore but the president there has promised massive welfare spending. S’pore has not made such a promise.

We should be aiming to be clustered withJapan. And as Temasek’s recent results help show, we got the money. Prosperous Japan is the only country that protects its people both well and widely, according to the index. In Singapore, now richer than Japan, social protection is spread broadly but thinly, the index shows.

For the geeks:The Asian Development Bank’s newly published social-protection index shows both the breadth of coverage (the percentage of potential beneficiaries actually covered) and the depth (the amount of spending per beneficiary, expressed as a percentage of the country’s GDP per person).

PAP’s “right” politics defined

In Economy, Humour, Political governance on 09/07/2013 at 5:48 am

When TRE republished this (where I pointed out PM did not define what he meant by the “right” politics, Orang Miskin posted:

 The PAP’s definition of “right” politics:

 • Always be ready to fix the opposition

• Avoid meaningful debates, stage wayangs to fool voters

• Appoint yes-men into Parliament

• Surround yourself with sycophants, cronies and overpaid army “generals” and “admirals”

• Occasionally whack some young people to teach others a lesson, to silence or intimidate them

• Hide statistics/information from the people

• Surreptitiously flood the country with foreigners without authorisation from voters

• Abdicate state responsibility for taking care of the poor and elderly

• Let males become MPs who have not served NS

BTW, based on his other postings, I think OM is a retired SPH journalist from the old days. Glad to see another imperial storm trooper (keyboard regiment) from the Dark Side becoming Jedi, even if he is anon Jedi.

Another post read

PAP is very bad politics:

July 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm (Quote)

Under LHL PAP is (very) bad politics. Want proof? See below.

(1) low productivity of Singapore economy

(2) low birth rate which started from LKY’s “Stop at 2” policy

(3) depressed local wages

(4) failing to plan for the many foreigners it allowed into Singapore

(5) shortage, “shrinking” and high cost of public housing

(6) shortage of public buses and MRT trains

(7) shortage of hospitals, doctors and nursing homes

(8) shortage of teachers and places in schools for Singaporeans

(9) gave foreigners a big advantage over Singaporeans in job market

(10) shortage of jobs for Singaporeans

(11) foreigners taking jobs away from Singaporeans

(12) frequent breakdowns of MRT trains

(13) overcrowded public transport (buses and MRT trains)

(14) bailout of public transport (failed privatisation)

(15) frequent 50-year “ponding”

(16) high cost of public housing (price doubled over the last 5 years)

(17) high inflation (Singapore now most expensive Asian city)

(18) high cost of education and healthcare

(19) high cost of electricity (failed privatisation)

(20) poor air quality as per WHO Air Quality Guidelines

(21) depleted CPF accounts after buying “affordable” HDB flats

(22) many CPF accounts below CPF Minimum Sum

(23) massive (billions) losses of taxpayers’ money by Temasek / GIC

(24) wasteful purchases by Government agencies like NParks

(25) made Singapore a “tuition nation”

(26) wages lagging behind increase in the cost of housing, education, healthcare and transport

(27) failing to provide Singaporeans with Swiss Standard of Living as promised by PAP

(28) NSF still dying during training

(29) AIM scandal showed PAP corruption

(30) PAP censoring social media and Internet

(31) PAP manipulating PSI reading to report lower readings

Actually, this poster should have said these were “wrong” policies.

And finally, this chap should start a petition to get TRE to stop republishing me:

Cynical investor = PAP:

July 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm (Quote)

Cynical investor is likely a PAP running dog. But a careful one as he/she plays both sides but leaning towards pro-PAP. That way, he will not be dismissed as a member of PAP internet brigade. We should be cynical with him/her.

Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

He and the likers must be among those who think that voting for Dr Tan was voting for the PAP. They may even think a vote for TKL was voting for the PAP. Only voting for TJS (and Dr Chee) would satisfy them. They are members of the “PAP are always wrong, even if they are right” platoon.

BTW, the first one got a rating of 10 out of 10, and the second 12 out of 12.

China sneezes, effects on Asean vary

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 29/06/2013 at 8:50 am

http://pdf.reuters.com/pdfnews/pdfnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=2013_06_25_02_09_f82ae67b8b074f939b48a00c4e962d23_PRIMARY.jpg

As these charts show, S’pore’s economy is more exposed to China than Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and M’sia. (BTW, no Asean round-up this week)

http://pdf.reuters.com/pdfnews/pdfnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=2013_06_25_02_09_f82ae67b8b074f939b48a00c4e962d23_PRIMARY.jpg

http://pdf.reuters.com/pdfnews/pdfnews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=2013_06_25_02_16_19b6271f49d347d89d8c26ed2ba7bb44_PRIMARY.jpg

Missed smartphone boom, planners thinking about 2025

In Economy, Public Administration on 25/06/2013 at 5:34 am

S’pore starts to chart great tech unknown of 2025 Media and infocomm convergence a key theme; meanwhile, business analytics gets a boost

Screamed BT last Wednesday.

As Singapore peers into a future where technology is indistinguishable from media, the government has set about arming itself with the new Infocomm Media Masterplan that will see it into 2025.

Yesterday, the 14 members of the committee tasked with developing the masterplan report were announced by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

This committee, headed by veteran money man Koh Boon Hwee, will release its recommendations in mid-2015. The new 10-year masterplan will pick up where the existing Intelligent Nation 2015 masterplan – developed in 2005 – leaves off.

While the Intelligent Nation plan was preoccupied with keeping the infocomm technology field competitive, the new plan will take into account how media and infocomm interests have become intertwined in the intervening years.

But if our master planners got things so wrong over not moving into the Apple, Google ecosystems, how can be expect them to get this right?

Let me explain: Singapore’s exports fell more than economists estimated in May as manufacturers shipped fewer electronics after an uneven global recovery hurt demand.

Wai Ho Leong, a senior regional economist at Barclays Plc in Singapore said then , “The external outlook is still fragile, particularly when we’re not well tapped into the smartphone boom that’s going on in North Asia.”http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-17/singapore-exports-fall-more-than-estimated-on-electronics-slump.html

As I’ve blogged before, a major issue for S’pore (and M’sia and Penang in particular) is the decline in PC sales. In April, IDC,  a research firm, said that in the first quarter of 2013 worldwide PC sales fell by 13.9% to 76.3m units, their steepest decline since 1994, when records began. People have been slow to buy PCs with Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, but they are still buying tablets or smartphones. S’pore and M’sia are major organisms in the PC ecosystem. They are for all intents and purposes non-existent in the Android (Google) and Apple smartphone ecosystems.

Related posts

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/1-5-gdp-growth-this-yr/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/when-economy-slows-not-nec-its-cause-ft-supply-ltd/

S’pore (like M’sia

Haze: Govt wasting money? Aided & abetted by anti-govt or kay poh activists!

In Economy, Political governance on 23/06/2013 at 4:30 am

The SAF distributed 1m free N95 masks meant for the poor yesterday to “grassroot” leaders. Today, these PAP people will distribute the masks. The anti-govt or kay poh activists stopped bitching against the govt for juz a second , then started bitching, “Why so late leh? People suffering for days.” Obviously nothing will satisfy them.

Actually, they should be bitching about the free masks.

The face masks which are in high demand in Singapore can protect against the worst of the smog.

But Dr Bhaskaran says they are unlikely to provide total protection.

“The masks may be sufficient to keep out some particles, but other gases would go straight through them.”

The British Lung Foundation agrees: “The use of masks is not recommended; they are often ineffective and may make breathing more difficult.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23000409

As this foundation is non-political and is quasi-medical, I have to accept that its view is authoritative and founded on medical evidence, especially given that our govt is trying to bribe us with our money,  and that activists, whether anti-govt or juz plain kay pohs, don’t care if public funds are wasted’ so long as it suits their agendas, whatever that may be.

When anti-govt or kay poh activists, and the govt are on the same wave-length, we get screwed. SIGH.

Meanwhile, the cost of the current haze for Singapore could be hundreds of millions of dollars, brokerage CLSA said in a report.

It said that in 2006, when the pollution index reached 150, it was estimated the haze cost $50 million and in 1997 it was $300 million. CLSA said the 1997 and 2006 figures seemed low when considering the direct and indirect cost of prolonged haze.

And this is what Barclays says http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/haze-economy-will-slow/

Haze: Economy will slow

In Economy, Indonesia on 22/06/2013 at 10:35 am

Businesses and analysts have warned that the longer the problem persists, the higher the cost will be for the overall economy.

“Tourism-related sectors such as retails sales, hotels, food and beverage, and gaming, these will take a hit,” Joey Wong of Barclays told the BBC.

Tourism is a big revenue earner for Singapore and according to some estimates industries related to the sector account for between 5% and 6% of Singapore’s total economic output.

The last time the city-state was hit by such bad haze in 1997, tourist arrivals dropped by nearly 15% in a month.

According to a report by Barclays, there are indications that some tourists have already started to cut short their stay in Singapore and some have even cancelled their bookings.

Ms Wong said while it was too early to estimate the overall impact of the haze on the industry, the cost for the sector could be between $200m – $400m (£130m – £260m) if there was an 8% to 10% drop in arrivals.

However, she added that any drop would be temporary and the arrivals will pick up once the conditions improved.

Bad timing?

While a situation like the current one is never good for businesses, it is even worse if it happens during the peak annual period.

That is position that Singapore’s retailers find themselves in. The haze has hit during the annual “Great Singapore Sale”, one of the busiest shopping periods of the year … Singapore Retail Association, says that retailers are already experiencing a marked decline in traffic and sales are down by between 8% to 12%.

“If this continues, the industry – which is already faced with very high cost of operations – would certainly be badly hit and retailers, who are already struggling to hold on to their very slim margins, will see this being eroded further,” said Ms Wei.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22999205

Swiss & S’poreans share a concern

In Economy, Political governance on 03/06/2013 at 5:51 am

The number of foreigners in Switzerland stands at almost 25%* … and while many Swiss accept their labour market needs foreign workers, they are unhappy about rising house prices or overcrowded schools.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22738774

Fee-fi-fo-fum, the Swiss sound like us S’poreans.

Are they xenophobic? I’m sure our constructive, nation-building media would say they are. Juz as the PAP-stream media would agree with Gordon  Brown, the then UK PM, that this lady’s a “bigot” for being concerned about immigration. He lost a general election and his party has apologised for its immigration policies.

As the above link shows, a Swiss opposition has gained votes by articulating the public’s concerns. Maybe an idea for our opposition parties. But then the Wayang Party wants to be a co-driver, the SDP doesn’t do xenophobe, and NSP stands for “No Substance Party”. Over to you Mrs Chiam.

She shows what an opposition party is meant to do.

—-

*38% here including PRs. Remember PRs here are not “permanent”: renewable, like 99-leases and COEs.

What our local media doesn’t boast about

In Economy on 30/05/2013 at 5:59 am

S’poreans punch above their weight when in comes to lotteries (and taz excluding the casinos) — 11th in the world because “The island-state’s 5m people spend about $1,000 each in the Singapore Pools”.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/05/daily-chart-16

The casinos juz add to the mix.

 

US experience on growing GDP via productivity

In Economy on 23/05/2013 at 5:46 am

One striking fact is that even among the best performing metropolitan areas, overall increases in output per capita have been hard to come by. They have been limited to a handful of very brainy cities, especially West Coast tech centres. In general, growth has been a product of population increase large enough to offset falling output per person.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/05/migration

Growing via productivity is damned difficult! Only places with brainy people can do it successful. Given that we are “daft”, growing the population via immigration is the chosen way to grow economy. So taz why we need 6.9m people? In addition, according to PM’s dad, FTs are more more productive: locals need to be “spurred”.

Given that there are hordes of M’sians wanting to come, hopefully Lina Chiam will ask for regular updates on the FTs allowed in to see if govt will U-turn on its promise to restrict  FTs from trickling in. (WP too busy giving away contracts to supporters and preparing for ministerial goodies.) In 2008, the M’sian FTs poured in after their GE reduced BN’s grip on power. They were afraid of another May 13.

Related post:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/estonia-doing-it-spore-still-talking-about-it/

Update on 26 May 2013: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-14/ponzi-schemes-built-on-people-always-crash-too.html

Estonia doing it, S’pore still talking about it

In Economy, Infrastructure, Political economy on 19/05/2013 at 7:39 am

The inventors of Skype came from Estonia. More importantly, the economy there is using IT to leverage its productivity. Not like S’pore where FTs are thrown at any problem.

Estonian schools are teaching children as young as seven how to programme computers.

Estonia’s e-revolution began in the 1990s, not long after independence. Toomas Hendrik Ilves, then the country’s ambassador to the United States, now Estonia’s president, takes some of the credit … He read a book whose “Luddite, neo-Marxist” thesis, he says, was that computerisation would be the death of work.

The book cited a Kentucky steel mill where several thousands of workers had been made redundant, because after automatisation, the new owners could produce the same amount of steel with only 100 employees.

“This may be bad if you are an American,” he says. “But from an Estonian point of view, where you have this existential angst about your small size – we were at that time only 1.4 million people – I said this is exactly what we need.

“We need to really computerise, in every possible way, to massively increase our functional size.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22317297

Why gd GDP growth but “peanuts” pay increase

In Economy on 14/05/2013 at 6:02 am

Since I wrote “PM, this can’t be right? 5.9% GDP but 0.4% wage increase?”, I’ve read something that illustrates that it’s the distribution of GDP growth that matters, not GDP growth by itself. Hopefully someone who reads this blog and has personal access to PM will forward to him this extract from an Economist blog.

To see how the distribution of growth affects incomes, imagine a country of just ten people, with one earning $1,000 a month, another earning $2,000 a month, and so on up to the tenth, who earns $10,000 a month. Between them, these ten people earn $55,000 a month. Now suppose that in a year the economy grows by a modest 1.8%, so that there is an extra $1,000 to go around each month. If the richest person captures all that growth, it will give him a 10% pay boost. But he will hardly feel it, because he is already rich, and the average pay rise across the entire population would be just 1%. But if the poorest resident got all the extra money, his income would double. That would make a huge difference to his life—and the average pay rise in our little country would be a whopping 10%, far higher than the meagre overall growth rate. In general, the more of the $1,000 that goes to those on lower incomes, the bigger the average pay rise it causes, and the more impact it has. (Emphasis is mine)

What has happened here is that between 2000 and 2011, the earners of the median wage (those only getting 0.4% real wage increases) have not been getting most of the average 5.9% GDP growth. It went to those above the median wage: hence the ever rising COE prices and private property prices. The latter, meant that under Minister Mah HDB prices (remember the land cost) went up affecting the median wage earners, and the poor.

It also meant that increasing GDP via FT inflows was not in effective helping the median wage earner. The benefits of GDP growth went to the above median earners.

Finally what it means is that S’pore can have slower growth that benefits the poorer and median wage S’porean: provided the distribution of GDP growth is tilted towards the below median and median earners, away from the above median earners.Pigs would fly first.

Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/inflation-why-the-misleading-picture-minister-media/

PM, this can’t be right? 5.9% GDP but 0.4% wage increase?

In Economy on 10/05/2013 at 5:48 am

(Update on 30 May 2014: Related post http://atans1.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/beer-real-wages-next-ge/)

For incomes to rise, the economy must grow, Mr Lee said in his May Day message, making clear the centrality of economic growth which has been disputed by some who are worried about foreign workers and inequality, according to the local media. This is a repeat of, “Everyone would like their lives to become better and one important way of doing that is to make sure your pay goes up, especially with low-income workers. And for the pay to go up, the economy has to grow,” he had said in April. 

So I’m looking forward to hear what the govt has to say about Uncle Leong’s assertion that he estimated that from 2000 to 20111, the real growth in the median wage excluding employer’s CPF contribution was only 0.4%per annum., (FYI, Singapore’s economy grew at an average of 5.9% annum from 2000 to 2011*), After all, the govt was quick to counter his comments about the rent increases on Ubin.

Somehow, I doubt that the govt would contradict him because in a paper sometime ago, the Dept of Statistics  reported that between 2000 and 2011, real wages increased by 1.6% pa including employer’s CPF contribution. Uncle Leong juz took out the employer’s CPF contribution.After all, this money is not easily accessible, given the restrictions on the use of CPF money.

More interesting than Uncle Leong’s comments is that the NTUC minister (Zorro Lim) said:

“Wages can still go up despite slower economic growth.

‘This, provided that Singapore continues to get its policies right, said labour chief Lim Swee Say” on Saturday 27 April, ST reported.

True, this doesn’t contradict what PM said, but does imply that the link between wages and economic growth isn’t as clear cut as what PM says it is. And that it is also dependent on govt getting “its policies right”. But what if it gets its policies wrong (like HDB flats**, public tpt** and FTs by the truck-load).

We suffer while ministers earn their salaries and are protected from being sacked for incompetency, until the voters show their anger, and the ministers “resign”?

————

*

Year GDP%
2000 9
2001 -1.2
2002 4.2
2003 4.6
2004 9.2
2005 7.4
2006 8.6
2007 8.5
2008 1.8
2009 -1.3
2010 14.8
2011 5.2

(Dept of Stats)

**To be fair policies in these areas have undergone U-turns. But S’poreans are suffering from Mah’s and Raymond Lim’s goof-ups. I make no comment on the FT policy because I’m not sure if the govt is walking the talk until I see more numbers. Also after the 2008 M’sian GE, there was a influx of FTs from M’sia, afraid that the Malays would take out their parangs like in 1969. Given the 110% support that the Chinese gave the DAP in the recent election, and the failure to PK to defeat BN, I’m sure the Chinese are feeling vulnerable again.. Will they try to come again, and will the govt allow them in despite its promise to cut back on FT inflows?

1.5% GDP growth this yr?

In Economy on 03/05/2013 at 7:18 am

Yesterday it was announced that the manufacturing sector continued to expand last month, though at a softer pace, in line with expectations of a gradual and modest recovery as global economic uncertainties continue to linger.

Factory activity in April, as measured by the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), was at 50.3, a marginal dip of 0.3 point from the previous month but still above the 50-point line that divides expansion and contraction.

The slight decline resulted from slower growth in new orders and new export orders, said the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM), which compiles the monthly figures. (Today)

BT reported last week that DBS cuts growth rate from 3.2% to 2.5% but Credit Suisse reiterates forecast of 1.5%, http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/infohub_article.asp?readid={27464576-17231-7047640680}

As I’ve blogged before, a major issue for S’pore (and M’sia and Penang in particular) is the decline in PC sales. Last month, IDC,  a research firm, said that in the first quarter of 2013 worldwide PC sales fell by 13.9% to 76.3m units, their steepest decline since 1994, when records began. People have been slow to buy PCs with Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, but they are still buying tablets or smartphones. S’pore and M’sia are major organisms in the PC ecosystem. They are for all intents and purposes non-existent in the Android (Google) and Apple ecosystems.

And the bright spot in PC sales is not much help for HP and Dell which sources stuff from M’sia and S’pore. In China, not only are PC sales still rising; they are evenly split between desktops and portable notebooks, which globally make up 64% of the market. China overtook America in sales of personal computers (PCs) last year, to become the world’s biggest PC market. According to IHS, a research firm, shipments to China amounted to 69m units, against 66m to America.

The biggest player in the PC space in China is Lenovo, a home-grown company that bot IBM’s PC biz.

Which bits of world are growing faster or slower

In Economy on 29/04/2013 at 5:45 pm

Fourth yr in a row?

In Economy on 27/04/2013 at 7:31 am

In each of the past three years the global economic recovery (read that of the US) started with a burst of momentum, only to swoon over the spring and summer. Likewise stock markets.

There are now signs of a repeat,what with

– weak US jobs numbers for March;

– US manufacturing sector grew at its slowest pace in six months during April, a survey has suggested; and

– the American economy grew at just a 2.5% annual pace in the first quarter. While that is up from a 0.4% performance in the fourth quarter of 2012, it came in below expectations for growth at or just above 3%.

When economy slows, not nec it’s ’cause FT supply ltd

In Economy on 11/04/2013 at 9:15 am

It could be because the electronics sector here is suffering from lack of demand

Global sales of PCs fell 14% in the first three months this year, the biggest fall since research firm IDC started tracking the industry in 1994 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22103079

Even our constructive, nation-building media recently admitted that S’pore has a problem in electronics production. It doesn’t do much components smartphones or tablets. Still very PC-based. Windows 8 is designed to work well with touch-sensitive screens, but the displays add to the cost of a PC. Together, the changes and higher prices “have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices,” Mr O’Donnell said.

Update on 12th April 2013: The PC market may get a fillip from Microsoft. A year from now the company will cease all support for its ancient Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 software package, which remain installed on tens of millions of computers worldwide. Microsoft hopes to bully users—especially corporate IT departments rather fond of the robust XP—to switch to its new Windows 8, sales of which have not been as perky as hoped. But the move might prompt even more users to flock to tablets instead. S’pore will be hoping for the former effect. I’m one of those still on XP.

ST never told you of these comparisons

In Economy, Media on 01/04/2013 at 5:29 am

 

They appeared at http://veritas-lux.blogspot.sg/2013/03/social-darwinism-taking-its-toll-on.html. Thank SG Daily’s Facebook for drawing my attention to them.

http://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/low-employee-loyalty-in-singapore.jpg?w=604http://atans1.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/singapore-employees-not-happy.jpg?w=604

Numbers show GCT & Lee Jnr messed up?

In Economy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 27/03/2013 at 6:45 am

This chart shows all the economies that maintained 6% growth or faster over 30 years. S’pore’s run of 7ish% growthended in 1994, when GCT was PM and Lee Jnr was Deputy PM and in charge of the economy. Going by the things our PM is doing now, maybe GCT held him back? Or LHL has repented? And the changes he is initiating, is his way of saying, “Sorry”?. How about a claw-back of ministerial salaries? Esp of PM’sand DPM’s? If it happens to bankers, it can happen to ministers: after all ministers’ salaries pegged to bankers among others.

Subsidising wage rises good, Minimum Wage bad

In Economy, Political economy on 13/03/2013 at 6:40 am

As usual the grumblers are out on TRE, TOC and Facebook. The question they are bitching out loud is, “Why is the govt spending our money on subsidising wage increases?”. And asking, “What about introducing a Minimum Wage?”

I’ve this fantasy that when the govt introduces a Minimum Wage scheme, these same people who say that this scheme is bad for S’pore: which it is*.

Coming back to subsidised pay rises, other than to win votes from the many S’poreans who don’t belong to Team “Govt, PAP are bastards” or “PAP govt is always wrong” or “We always bitch against the PAP, govt”, there is a good economic reason for the govt subsidising wage rises.

Rising wages give employers an incentive to increase the return to recruiting and training, if they can no longer bring in FTs by the cattle-truck load to off-set rising wages for locals. At the same time, rising wages make it more attractive for older S’poreans to look for work, rather than go online and complain about everything, while making it more attractive for employers to drop their prejudices and discrimination against the elderly.

(Having said all that, there is an educated oldie at the Marine Parade polyclinic that I wish wasn’t working there.)

And given that the SMEs are screaming that the govt is killing them by cutting off the supply of FTS, how else to give S’poreans a wage rise, on top of CPF employer rate rises.

And better to spend our money on fellow S’poreans rather than giving it to our SWFs who will spend some of it on ang moh investment bankers who bring them lousy deals.

Post on Workfare: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/minimum-wages-missing-the-point/

*I wish all those MPs who talked cock about a Minimum Wage would read http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/02/minimum-wage and I’m shocked that the PAP didn’t ensure that its MPs understood elementary economics. (BTW, the piece is entitled “The minimum wage- The law of demand is a bummer”)

Most relevant excerpt: There are conditions under which raising the minimum wage will increase demand, as well as economic efficiency. According to one story, monopsony conditions for low-wage labour, ie, imperfectly competitive labour-market conditions in which there is but a single buyer of low-wage labour (or a colluding band of buyers) that is able to set wages at a level workers have little choice but to accept. Good old Econ 101 shows that under such conditions, a bump in the minimum wage, within a certain range, can boost employment and enhance efficiency. So there’s that. And such conditions no doubt exist in some sectors at some places at some times. One famous, and egregiously misused, study suggests that monopsony-like conditions applied to fast-food restaurants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the mid-1990s. But there is basically no reason whatsoever to think that such conditions apply generally, across all sector and regions of the American labour market.

In the absence of special conditions, we have every reason to expect the law of demand to hold, such that raising the minimum wage will make it harder for inexperienced workers—workers whose output is worth less to employers than the mandated wage, and especially teenagers from low-income families looking to get a first footing in the labour market—to find work. And this is, in fact, what empirical studies tend to conclude. A comprehensive 2008 survey of the empirical literature from David Neumark, a professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, and William Wascher, an economist for the Federal Reserve, found that, as one would expect, “[M]inimum wages reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers, especially those who are most directly affected by the minimum wage.”

Again, it doesn’t have to work this way. Employers can cut hours rather than hiring fewer workers. They can turn down the air-conditioner, strictly police the length of breaks, and otherwise reduce the cost of amenities previously enjoyed by employees. They can shift to off-the-books employees willing to work for less than the legally-mandated minimum. They can raise prices, passing on increased labour costs to consumers. It’s conceivable that the only consequence would be that a larger share of profits gets distributed to low-wage workers. Conceivable and exceedingly unlikely. In reality, we probably get small adjustments along each of these dimensions.

Of course, there is some newish empirical research contesting the disemployment effect of increases in the minimum wage, and then there is even newer research debunking it.

S’pore can learn from BMW

In Economy, Political economy on 28/02/2013 at 6:28 am

And Western countries on how to create the conditions to optimise the working environment for an older work force. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21535772

ST editor calls leading economists and us daft

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance on 12/02/2013 at 6:06 am

According to ST editor Han Fook Kwang in his weekly SunT column (pg 37) “it isn’t possible for ordinary Singaporeans to absorb and fully understand all the arguments and implications. arguments and implications highlighted in the Population White Paper”. Hence our opposition. Hello Mr Han, so how come four leading S’porean economists, scholars all wrote this http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/02/09/economics-myths-in-the-great-population-debate/ (I’m linking to this republishing ’cause of the comments section)

So these four are daft too?

He was riffing on what the PM said, “Govt could have presented Population White Paper better”. And going further anddaring to call us openly what PM didn’t dare?

So how come,

– the Chief Communications Officer of the govt, s/o the former disgraced president,

– an unemployed MP who was the head of the regional business of an int’l PR firm,

– the editorial teams at SPH and MediaCorp,

– CoC Yaacob and his team at the Ministry of Truth & Spin, and

– the numerous PR senior managers in the govt and its agencies,

didn’t advise the PM and DPM Teo to take account of our daftness when presenting the PWP?

They too out of touch with us daftees? Or they dafter than us? Or did PM and DPM Teo ignore their advice? Hence they more dafter than everyone else in S’pore.

The ST Managing Editor, as a member of the Dark Side, should be using his skills to prevent us from thinking? Not provoking us to think “unhealthy”, non-constructive tots: like there are daft Men In White on the Dark Side.

White Paper fiasco: Who goofed?

In Economy, Media, Political economy, Political governance on 03/02/2013 at 6:39 am

So we now know that the 6.9m figure in the White Paper is a “worse-case scenario”

– “Reiterating that the 6.9 million figure should be viewed as “the worst-case scenario”****, Mr Khaw wrote: “We hope we do not reach that figure; we may never reach that figure.”

–” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said … he fully agrees with Mr Khaw’s explanation that a 6.9 million population is not a target, but just a worst-case, aggressive scenario the Government must prepare for.”

(Excerpts from MediaCorp)

So why didn’t the media tell us this when the media reported the White Paper? The media reported the figure of 6.9m as though it was set in reinforced concrete that had platinum bars rather than steel bars. Surely when the staff of the s/o the disgraced president, and Yaacob*gave the local media their instructions local journalists and editors the customary briefing, they made it clear that the 6.9m figure is a “worse-case scenario”? And that the figure was used to ensure that there would be adequate infrastructure should this happen, which the government didn’t want to happen. And that if it didn’t happen, S’poreans would have even better facilities for which they should thank the PAP on bended knees.

But these messages were never reported. They came to the attention of “the inhabitants of cowboy towns” who were happily shooting holes into the White Paper, and other S’poreans only when the PM Facebooked and Khaw blogged these messages.

Then the local media parroted reported what the PM and Khaw had said.

Either the local media are staffed by stupid people, or are full of subversives, who take their 30 pieces of silver ** while saboing the PAP government. Or maybe the going rate is a lot more than 30 pieces of silver? And they are not getting it? Hence the government’s messages didn’t get broadcasted.

Or were the minions of s/o Devan Nair, and Yaacob, incompetent, stupid spinners? Journalists and editors are claiming that they were never ordered briefed that the 6.9m figure was a “worse-case scenario”. They claim to be as surprised as us netizens that the PM and Khaw are now making this claim.

Whatever it is, if WP Low is to get his wish of continued PAP hegemony, PM should get a grip on the PAP spin machine. He and his ministers can’t do all the spinning themselves. Maybe Auntie Sylvia or Show Mao, in emulation of a Tang dynasty official, can whisper this to the PAP, “behind closed doors”. Remember WP, yr mission is to preserve PAP hegemony.

**He used the phrase “worse-case scenario” when one LKY gave his Hard Truth on Malay Muslims not integrating.

Book PM could cite in validation of “Growth, ‘cheong’ all the way”

In Economy, Humour, Political economy, Political governance, Property on 01/02/2013 at 7:37 am

In “Planet of Cities”, by Shlomo Angel*, a professor of urban planning at New York University, argues that cities must prepare themselves for rapid growth, citing New York and Barcelona: In the 19th century both cities decided to prepare themselves for rapid growth. In 1811 New York’s city council approved a plan which allowed all of Manhattan to be built up and included the island’s now famous street grid. In 1859 Barcelona followed suit with a similar concept to expand the city nine-fold.

Err PM not planning to increase the population that much.

And on why working-age population matters:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/01/demography-0

Netizens, pls realise that the intellectual underpinnings are there for the White Paper. It’s the conventional wisdom. Raving, ranting and screaming will do no good.

Nothing will, not even the ballot box: “A vote for the WP is a vote for the continuance of PAP policies” says WP Low. So lie back and enjoy being raped. Think of the value of your property when you cash out and move on overseas.

SMEs: Problems getting finance, but govt U-turn on FTs?

In Banks, Economy on 31/01/2013 at 4:53 am

http://sbr.com.sg/financial-services/news/over-half-singapore-smes-application-financing-got-rejected-in-2012

And wonder if the SME financing target mentioned in this BT report from sometime in the middle of 2012, was met. As not heard any more, I suspect not.

UP to $175 million of the $250 million the government has earmarked for investment in small- and medium-sized enterprises under the first phase of its public-private co-investment funding programme for local SMEs will be seeded with private equity funds by year-end.

The programme includes a fund-of-funds called the SME Catalyst Fund, which the $175 million investment falls under, and a direct co-investment fund called the SME Co-Investment Fund.

This means that some $350 million will be placed with the PE funds by the end of this year for investment in SMEs, as the private sector has to match dollar-for-dollar what the government is putting with the PE funds.

The $350 million is part of the first phase of the co-investment fund that is expected to come up to $500 million – $250 million from the government, and the other half from private sector capital.

As to whether the White paper on population reflects a U-turn on the policy of starving SMEs of cheap FTs, only time will tell. Watch and wait. Remember the WP was bitching in parly about the shortage of labour among SMEs. Chinese-owned SMEs fund the WP.

PM, what about asking the right questions? Or at least different ones

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance, Private Equity, Temasek on 29/01/2013 at 7:52 am

“Do you want faster growth or do you want fewer foreign workers? Do you want more hard work or more leisure? Do you want more competitive schools and good results and good futures, or more relaxed schools and fall behind? How can we find that balance in between?” the Prime Minister asked. Whatever the hurdles, he emphasised that the PAP had always been open with Singaporeans, even when these trade-offs may be unpopular – SPH.

I got two gripes with the above remarks by PM.

Firstly, as usual he is framing* the issues in such a way so as to try to get us to answer the way he wants us to answer them. Dad used to do this successfully when we didn’t have the best education system in the world, when issues were less complicated, and when there wasn’t the internet. But times have changed, but PM hasn’t shaken off daddy’s influence.

– “Do you want faster growth or do you want fewer foreign workers?” Well how about asking, “How can we have faster growth without FTs? Can we substitute robots, or pay higher wages?” And more fundamentally what about, “Do we need faster growth? What about better quality growth?”

– “Do you want more hard work or more leisure?” What about asking,”Can we work smarter to have more leisure?” Or more fundamentally, “Are we working smart? Or are we working harder because we are not working smart?”

– “Do you want more competitive schools and good results and good futures, or more relaxed schools and fall behind?” Shouldn’t we be asking, “Are there other ways of educating S’poreans that ensure national prosperity and self-development?”

Now the answers to these alternative questions may well be those that the PM thinks are the solutions to the problems that we face. Fair enough, then. But let’s ask alternative questions, think thru the answers, and also think blue sky. The great and the good don’t always have the answers. Even Bill Gates got Google wrong, badly wrong http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/prophesies-made-in-davos-dont-always-come-true/

And lest the PM forget, the PAP has not always been open with us.

The FTs came pouring in on the quiet. The government was not open on this issue, public housing and transport, and inflation.

Mah Bow Tan was telling us that his HDB building programme was sufficient when S’poreans were saying it was insufficient. Well fact that Khaw has accelerated and expanded the building programme shows that Mah was wrong, if not in denial.

And remember Raymond Lim said GST had to rise when we bitched about overcrowded trainds and buses: he implied that we juz wanted more comfort and so should pay for it. He was wrong or in denial about the problem. Well the massive spending plans, shows that we were right to get upset.

And inflation. I’ve gone on and on about Tharman and Hng Kiang saying that higher inflation doesn’t affect S’poreans who don’t buy cars. That is obfuscation, not openness.

But never mind, the PAP can remain complacent because Low has publicly implied that a vote for the WP is a vote for continued PAP rule.

Not that I’ll complain too much. The low-tax environment and the emphasis on making sure property prices “cheong all the way” have allowed me to stop working in my 40s. And have the time to think; and grumble, constructively, I hope.

And oh, keep on spending our money on ourselves. And double it, or triple it. Better return on investment for the PAP, then letting Temasek lose it like in here http://www.breakingviews.com/tpg-runs-rings-around-li-ning-shareholders/21064940.article. And anyway, , potential returns for investors are not going to be that great anyway http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/01/investing. So it’s a better investment for us and the PAP: make life more comfortable for us using our money.

*Read this on the science of framing questions, to get the “right” answers http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-20512743

Population cliff: Even China has a problem

In Economy on 28/01/2013 at 5:20 am

Updated to include links to analysis of  the White Paper on FT growth released on 29 January 2013)

There is a a demographic cliff ahead: even for China

http://simonhedlin.com/2013/01/21/demographic-cliff-ahead/

Chinese statisticians are screaming about it: In the past the NBS has counted anyone between 15 and 64 years old as of working age. That age range is consistent with international convention and China’s own statistical yearbook. But in announcing the decline last week, the NBS adopted a narrower definition: 15- to 59-year-olds. By doing so, it drew early attention to a demographic downturn that will soon apply to 15- to 64-year-olds and to the population as a whole. Ma Jiantang, head of the NBS, said he did not want the population data to be “drowned in a sea of figures” released at the same time.

http://www.economist.com/news/china/21570750-first-two-articles-about-impact-chinas-one-child-policy-we-look-shrinking

Sadly, the PAP is no longer believed because its habit of prophesying doom and gloom went too far. Biy like boy who called “Wolf”, too often.

Update on 29 January 2012 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-21/singapore-turns-against-itself-as-pressure-for-babies-irks-women.html

http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/01/29/population-white-paper-projecting-6-9m-u-turn-on-influx-of-foreigners/

Related link:http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-55-of-voters-were-fts/

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