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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Commentary about Singapore's prospects

Hey... i am quite prescient if i may say so. Predicted very accurately the following :

1) Widening income gap. So bad it has become an election issue.

 2) Accelerating income of top tier. Top 1% of wage earners now have median wage of 700K vs just 60K or so for middle wage earner.

3) Property market went crazy from 2007 to 2013. Many properties doubled in value or more. And now middle class housing and condos exceed 1000psf routinely.

Am i happy with Singapore as it is now? I think we face some really challenging issues and our current political leaders (PAP and WP) have talked about it a lot. I believe if we stay true to our goal of building a nation, we will get through this fine. Key is to think long term while still making sure short term issues are resolved. Sort of like running a company. ====================================================================== (article first posted on sgentrepreneur Oct 2006)

Want to share my thinking on Singapore’s prospects. I actually feel very positive about Singapore for the next 3 years. I started my business in 1999 and went through some really down times all the way until 2004. And for 04,05,06, I could sense Singapore riding a huge wave of growth and optimism. I believe this wave will continue until end 2008 or 2009 at the very least. Here are the everyday signs.

 1. Property market surging on high end and select areas. I think over next 2 years, we will see trickle down to middle class housing and condos.

2. Stock market at all time highs about to breach 3000.

3. Go to any mall or shopping centre. People are buying and they are all very crowded.

4. Employment market very tight. Bonuses and wages will be higher this year.

Personally, I know most SMEs who are service line or high tech are doing very well. At least 30-50% growth this year with strong projections for next year. And going forward, here are the factors which will continue to drive this momentum.

1. Trickle down effect not in full force yet.
2. IRs and a construction and property boom with even more trickle down effect.
3. Singapore’s reasonably successful move to diversify our economy. Our firms are doing better overseas now.
4. Continued boom in high end service/product. Singapore’s cementing as a private wealth hub.

The downsides?
a) Disparity between rich and poor will only widen.
b) Disparity between middle class (sandwich group) and top earners will only widen.
c) We must ensure that as we pursue $$ and growth, we do not disenfranchise our less educated and less fortunate citizens. Otherwise, not only is it ethically wrong, we are creating future social and political problems.

Case in point, I know a early 30s year old who is riding the entrepreneurship wave, his family earns a yearly income of $400-500K. Same as any IB friend or admin service friends of his. His peers who did not ride the wave are still doing decently. They are professionals/ graduates who have worked 6-7 years. Their families earn $100K a year. Those friends will naturally seriously have some envy issues. But that is still ok, since all are doing well.

How about his cohort peers who are not educated (O levels, ITEs) and working in manufacturing lines. Their families are earning 30K annually. Not much saving here already. Go one step down to those who for some reason could not complete studies, and the picture becomes dismal. I know the government is acutely aware of this issue and is moving to do more even as they encourage the growth of the high end side. But sometimes I think the trickle down effect is very slow and perceptions need to be managed very well. My two cents.

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