Is a recession on the horizon?

Singaporeans-first

Your job and salary is directly related to how well Singapore’s economy is performing. If the overall reports show that our economy is growing, then your salary is safe and may even rise. If it sustains a decline, then the chances of  you being retrenched is very high. Companies typically cut spending (especially on your salary) to stay afloat.

Recently, Singapore’s economy expanded by a slower-than-expected 1.7% in the second quarter of this year from a year ago.

The growth during the April to June period was lower than the 2.8 per cent expansion seen in the first quarter, and lower than with the 2.7 per cent estimate of economists polled by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in June.

It was also reported that job creation has shrunk, with less new jobs created this quarter.

Events across the globe are also sending reverberations into our region.

Greece, a small state of 11 million is facing a debt crisis and its default could lead to a downward spiral worse than the Lehman Brothers collapse a few years ago. The country is, by all means and purposes, bankrupt. The country is being forced by its euro zone partners to undertake austerity reforms… which were subsequently rejected by its own people in a referendum.

China is looking at a stock market crisis that the government is artificially trying to solve. Last week, drastic official efforts was seen. This included a move to ban sales by executives and big shareholders. The action appeared to have at least temporarily halted the decline that wiped out $3.8tn (£2.45tn) in investor wealth.

Oil prices have crashed, and countries that depend on the commodity to keep their economies afloat are now plunged into crisis.

As these events unfold, their effect will sharply affect the future of Singapore. As it is, our own economic future is uncertain. The policy changes that affect property and manpower are by no means small and their full effects are still unfolding.

And then there is the big “E”.

The coming elections will be conducted in the shadow of economic uncertainty and politicians of all colours know this. However, because matters of economics and finance appear to be the PAP’s strongest point of delivery, we can assume that combating parties will not play on this. Their rhetoric will likely press strongly on “giving back to the country”.

Investors and businesses are closely observing.

The attitudes in the electorate has changed significantly. There appears to be greater appetite for welfare. The citizens are very much more liberal. In some pockets, some even ask for exclusivity (protectionism essentially) for Singaporean jobs. All this require significant changes in policy making and as yet there are no answers on how these changes will affect us.

This one thing is certain though: our livelihood and ability to even run this country at all depend directly on the health of our economy.

We’ve done pretty well so far. Singapore had absorbed the shocks of past recessions and declines – and sometimes even prospered strongly after it.

The question today is: Can we continue to do so under the increased pressure of new electorate desires?

 

 

About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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