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Archive for the ‘Hong Kong’ Category

We really poor? Why we don’t have Swiss standard of living?

In Economy, Hong Kong on 19/02/2014 at 4:51 am

The u/m perhaps explains why the PAP despite the triumphalism  of itself  and its wallies of our Swiss standard of living, our massive (but  “secret” reserves), and massive budget surpluses (last yr’s estimated $2.4bn is likely to be $6.5bn according to economists. Gd TRE post on this http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/02/18/sg-surplus-for-this-fy-may-hit-6-5-billion/) refuses to spend our money on ourselves. I’ve always blogged that a Hard Truth born of meanness is, “Don’t spend money on making life more comfortable for S’poreans, better to cheong on markets”. But maybe we juz don’t have the $. It belongs to MNCs.

Incidentally, the article shows why local investment is preferable to foreign investment: the profits stick around. The PAP govt rightly takes credit for attracting MNCs here in the 60s and 70s to create jobs. So it should accept responsibility for not diversifying away from this reliance on MNCs, especially as attracting MNCs is not conventional wisdom. In the 60s and 70s, attracting MNC was seen as neo-colonialism.

In Singapore, personal consumption expenditure has steadily fallen over the years as a percentage of GDP and, at 35 per cent, is now barely half of what it is in Hong Kong. This is an oddity characteristic of a startup economy, not of a wealthy town like Singapore.

But it means that, on the basis of our money-in-your-hands measure, Hong Kong at US$24,000 per capita still outranks Singapore at US$21,000.

The second chart gives you a clue as to why the two economies are so different on this measure. Industrial investment in Singapore, always predominantly foreign, has become even more so in recent years, accounting for an average of about 80 per cent of total investment over the past 10 years. I do not have the equivalent figures for Hong Kong but, at a rough guess, the foreign-local ratio would be the reverse.

This foreign investment in Singapore has in turn produced a huge trade surplus in both goods and services. Over recent years, it has run at about 30 per cent of GDP. And most of this money goes right back out again to pay foreigners for all the confidence they have shown in Singapore by investing in it so heavily.

In short, Singapore’s high GDP numbers are mostly an anomaly created by very generous industrial concessions to foreigners. They do not really reflect domestic wealth.

In another way, however, these GDP measures of Hong Kong and Singapore do not mean much as a yardstick of the comparative efficiency of either system. The fact is both are parasite economies feeding off much larger neighbours, the mainland in Hong Kong’s case and Indonesia and Malaysia in Singapore’s. They are both wealthy because they perform services that their neighbours cannot or, for reasons of policy, will not perform.

http://www.scmp.com/business/economy/article/1420215/singaporeans-not-wealthy-gdp-figures-suggest

Where S’pore and other Asean countries most vulnerable to Fed tapering

In China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Vietnam on 14/09/2013 at 5:36 am

This chart from Reuters shows the vulnerability of major Asian economies to Fed policy of tapering

http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/RNGS/2013/AUG/ASIARANKINGS/ASIARANKINGS.html

S’pore is vulnerable

Slowing GDP: Most vulnerable

Growing Public Debt : Second most vulnerable

Uncompetitive Currency: Second most vulnerable

Growing Credit Intensity: Fourth most vulnerable. Another view: Banks with large property loan portfolios will face higher risks when interest rates start to rise — this as highly-leveraged households begin to have difficulty paying their mortgages.

Economists said this could lead to credit tightening by banks, and a hard landing for the property sector.

If that happens, DBS Bank said Singapore and Hong Kong will be hardest hit within Asia.

In other Asean round-up news

surpluses of Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia have narrowed even more since the second half of 2007. However, this is partly because Thailand and Malaysia have boosted domestic investment, which lifts imports.

Malaysian and Indonesian companies are grappling with a margin squeeze: The two commodity-producing economies have witnessed the biggest rise in their real cost of capital. The Philippines has the opposite problem: Falling inflation-adjusted returns for savers.

Rightly or wrongly, though, the sovereign debt issued by developed countries is perceived as safe. Malaysia is not in the same league, and it is pruning petrol and diesel subsidies to control its growing public debt problem.

Unlike in 1997, most Asian countries have relatively straightforward choices. Malaysia can introduce a goods and services tax to control the 14 percentage point increase in its sovereign-debt-to-GDP ratio since 2007. Indonesia can raise interest rates to tame 9 percent inflation. The main problem is India, with its cocktail of slumping growth, high inflation, a creaking banking system, reckless fiscal policies and political uncertainty. Other Asian nations can’t take rising U.S. interest rates lightly, but they are far from a crisis.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/09/05/not-all-asian-countries-need-to-fear-the-fed/

Indonesia’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points Thursday afternoon in a move that defied market expectations and continued a swift phase of tightening efforts as the nation’s economic growth showed signs of stumbling.

The interest rate increased to 7.25 percent, the fourth hike in as many months, as Bank Indonesia moved to stabilize the increasingly volatile rupiah while controlling inflation and the widening trade deficit.

The danger of capital controls in Asean (Note this is new link and chart, not the one originally posted)

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21586569-error-apology-and-revision-spreadsheet-different

Asean trade with China (FT charts)

“HK finds room for 7.2 million people”

In Hong Kong, Political governance on 20/02/2013 at 5:40 am

That was the headline of a SunT article in the same issue that downplayed the protest at Hong Lim Green, a downplaying that not only got me annoyed but upset a retired senior ink-wielding Imperial Storm Trooper http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/reporting-hong-lim-park/.

One can only assume that as the same issue carried a front page story on why according to PM, S’pore is a great place to breed, that the story filed from HK was meant to reinforce the view that the 6.9m number that had gotten 5,000 S’poreans to protest was no big deal: their reactions were “emotional” , “unbalanced” or “not shedding light on important issues”*.

Unfortunately for ST, the article contained a table scan0001  comparing the land use in HK and S’pore. Two comparative figures stand out

– Land Use

HK        S.pore

1108       710 sq km

– Country parks and nature reserves

HK         S’pore

738*           57 sq km**

*66.6% of Land Use

**8%

Need I say more on why S’poreans are upset? Especially as the 8% grren space includes the Central Catchment area which will be ripped apart to accommodate the planned projected FT expansion

ST has rightly been given a lot of stick for its coverage of the 6.9m debate. But two cheers to it for the land usage comparison table which sabos the PM’s and his govt’s assertion that 6.9m people doesn’t mean living in a slum. Despite all the extra land and green spaces, even SunT’s HK eporter admits that life isn’t that comfy.

And “Yes’ fair-minded readers, and PAPpies can bitch that I used the comparison stats unfairly, but hey the PAP govt** and allies in the media and the think-tanks (ISEAS is an honourable exception), ain’t playing fair in trying to persuade us that living like battery-hens is high quality living.

*Er how can the PM, defence minister etc say that they are listening and have learnt from when one ESM Goh Chok Tong makes these remarks? PM should give him a tight slap to show that the and his govt are sincere in caring for S’poreans, unlike GCT. Remember during his premiership, FTs were allowed to sneak in under the radar. And our fears were dismissed.

***Donald Low, a senior fellow at the LKY School of Public Policy and a former senior civil servant, has criticised the white paper, “wasn’t even a References section to show what research the writers of the paper had done, what social science theories they relied on, what competing theories/frameworks they looked at … There was also a surprising lack of rigorous comparison with other countries that have gone through, or are going through, a similar demographic transition.”

S-Chips are not the only Chinese junk exports, ask the US and HK

In China, Hong Kong on 23/04/2012 at 6:44 pm

The 180 Chinese companies that went public around the world since the beginning of 2010 are trading at an average of 21%  below their IPO prices, Bloomberg News reports.

In Singapore, the third-biggest market for such listings after Hong Kong and New York, eight Chinese companies that went public in 2010 have declined an average of 47 percent from their offer prices, the data show. That compares with a drop of 15 percent for the 23 non-Chinese firms that had IPOs in 2010.

And trading volumes are shrinking. In the last 12 months, trading volumes in S-Chips have halved. [Update on 24 April 2012 at 7.20pm]

But HK and the US are doing something. Regulators in Hong Kong are set to propose rules that would make banks liable for faulty IPO documents, Reuters reports. And earlier today, Hong Kong’s securities regulator fined a brokerage firm and revoked its corporate finance licence. Mega Capital (Asia) has been fined HK$42m (US$5.4mfor “inadequate and sub-standard” diligence work and “failure to act independently”. The firm was the sole adviser to Hontex International, which had raised HK$1bn via a share sale in 2009. BBC Online

In the US, the SEC and FBI have been investigating people allegedly involved in fraud in China-based companies listed on US exchanges. Latest [25 April 2012] SEC investigations and analysis of the complicated structure that overseas listed Chinese cos (including S-Chips) have to adopt to list overseas which makes malpractice easier..

Err waz happening here? We are told by an SGX non-executive director that SGX is “a private club” despite it regulatory role. He said this recently when representing SGX in court as SGX’s lawyer in a case involving a S–Chip. Article 14 analyses the case.

S’pore’s average wage relative to other countries

In Economy, Hong Kong, Humour on 15/04/2012 at 9:23 am

S’pore’s average wage is juz behind Germany’s and juz ahead of Australia. HK is a long way below us. So Gordon Lee and David See (TOC contributors) stop talking BS when comparing S’pore to HK. Lots of things wrong with S’pore but there is a difference between facts and rubbish. (Funny that TOC use their stuff when TOC has contributors of the quality of Ghui and Uncle Leong.)

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17543356

Funny also the our mainstream constructive, nation-building doesn’t report how well S’pore ranks globally. Cock-up or subversion by friends of Gordon and David in the newsrooms of our constructive, nation-building media? ISD should investigate.

Hong Kong to resume subsidising housing

In Hong Kong on 13/10/2011 at 5:07 pm

Hong Kong will resume a programme to subsidise home purchases to address public anger over ever rising property prices.

Donald Tsang, HK’s leader, said in his annual policy address that the government plans to provide more than 17,000 apartments between 2016 and 2020. On average about 5,000 apartments will be available each year. “Peanuts” by S’pore standards and remember there are lots more people in HK.

The programme is aimed at families who earn too much to qualify for public rental housing but who cannot afford to buy a home of their own.

The flats are to be priced at the equivalent of S$250,000 – S$330,000 and available to those earning a monthly salary of the equivalent of S$3,300 and S$5,000. These apartments will be between 400 to 500 square feet in size.

More background from BBC Online.

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