Sunday, August 30, 2015

China, economic growth, and the future - 4 articles

[Four articles on China. Firstly, is China strong and promising, or a house build on sand?

Secondly, Why the China problem is so complex.

Thirdly, Chian's debt is 282% of GDP. This is large. This is a problem. Or it should be a problem. Or is a problem just waiting to show itself. It's only a matter of time. Because all financial crises start with the same problem: too much debt. BUT, China has huge reserves and this gives them the resources to deal with a crisis and to ameliorate any effects. So they could still "pull it off".

Fourthly, China is not going to collapse. Huge growth is over, but there will still be growth.]

Putting the heartland at the core of its policies: Has the PAP done enough?

Aug 29, 2015, 

Chua Mui Hoong
Opinion Editor

Coffee shop politics has come to the fore.This was after the Aug 12 event when the organising secretary of the People's Action Party, Dr Ng Eng Hen, decided to hold the traditional press conference introducing new candidates at a heartland coffee shop in Toa Payoh.

The move sent the commentariat into a tizzy. Sarcastic comment flowed online about the PAP trying too hard.

Dr Ng’s move in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC was followed in Tanjong Pagar GRC and West Coast GRC, with the latter two going one better and holding their press conferences in a hawker centre (Tanjong Pagar Plaza and Boon Lay Market and Food Centre, to be precise).

Those truly in touch with the heartlands know the nuance: a coffee shop is usually run by a private operator (the Toa Payoh one was run by the Kim San Leng group), where a cup of tea or coffee with milk now usually costs 90 cents or even - gasp - $1.

A hawker centre is run by the National Environment Agency, where a cup of coffee or tea with milk can still be had for 80 cents.

If you want to be really heartland, the hawker centre trumps the kopitiam, anytime.

To what end, all the President's Scholars?

Aug 30, 2015

Lee Wei Ling

When the A-level results of my cohort were announced in 1973, I was named the top science student. I did not expect it and was pleased and surprised. I remembered feeling that I had performed extremely inadequately after completing every paper.

My results also earned me a President's Scholarship. I don't know where the scroll is now, nor does it matter. I wonder as well now whether the scholarship had a positive effect on my life's journey subsequently. That may astonish some, given the acute prestige associated with being a President's Scholar. Yet, the same prestige exerts extra pressure on the recipient to perform. Winning the scholarship attracts jealousy as well, and I have experienced both.

I was among 11 students in the class of 1972 who received the scholarship. Since then, I am aware of the progress of six. Three - Teo Chee Hean, George Yeo and Lim Hng Kiang - were also Singapore Armed Forces scholars. As many Singaporeans know, the trio became household names after they entered politics and rose to become senior Cabinet ministers. A fourth boy, Chan Seng Onn, is currently a Supreme Court justice.

Mood swings can lead to vote swings

Aug 30, 2015, 

Research says a negative mood has a stronger impact on elections than positive sentiment
Han Fook Kwang


Here is a numbers quiz: 70, 74, 78, 65, 63, 61, 65, 75, 67, 60. (Hint: It is not about maths.)

If you have been following the political news closely, it is not hard to guess that the figures represent the People's Action Party's (PAP's) percentage share of the valid votes in past elections.

With campaigning for the Sept 11 General Election set to intensify in the coming week, this numbers game will be making the rounds. How many seats will the PAP and opposition parties get, how much share of the popular vote, and what sort of swing will we see, if any?

While the general election is serious business about issues concerning Singapore's leadership, the future of multiparty politics, and even about the next 50 years, the reality is that when the ballots are finally counted, all eyes will be on these numbers.

And indeed when you look closely at the 10 numbers listed, they tell quite a story. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

WP has different objectives from other opposition parties: Low

By Ng Jing Yng -

August 27

SINGAPORE — Asked for his views on opposition unity yesterday, Workers’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang revealed that he was under “a lot of pressure” for his party to join the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) when it was founded by veteran opposition figure Chiam See Tong in 2001.

However, he held on to his belief of building up the WP to offer Singaporeans a “credible choice”, he said.

“We built ourselves up and today, after 20 years, we are still talking about opposition unity,” he said at the WP’s first press conference to introduce its candidates for the coming General Election.

“WP has taken its own path and I believe that is the path on which we can build a credible party to offer Singaporeans a credible choice.”

Friday, August 28, 2015

China will respond too late to avoid recession: Citigroup


NEW YORK — China is sliding into recession and the leadership will not act quickly enough to avoid a major slowdown by implementing large-scale fiscal policies to stimulate demand, Citigroup’s top economist Willem Buiter said.

The only thing to stop a Chinese recession, which the former external member of the Bank of England defines as 4 per cent growth on “the mendacious official data” for a year, is a consumption-oriented fiscal stimulus program funded by the central government and monetised by the People’s Bank of China, Mr Buiter said.

“Despite the economy crying out for it, the Chinese leadership is not ready for this,” Mr Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup, said in a media call hosted yesterday (Aug 27) by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “It’s an economy that’s sliding into recession.”

What should China do as its economy slows down?



The Chinese government’s heavy-handed efforts to contain recent stock-market volatility — the latest move prohibits short selling and sales by major shareholders — have seriously damaged its credibility. But China’s policy failures should come as no surprise. Policymakers there are far from the first to mismanage financial markets, currencies and trade. Many European governments, for example, suffered humiliating losses defending currencies that were misaligned in the early 1990s.

Still, China’s economy remains a source of significant uncertainty. Indeed, although the performance of China’s stock market and that of its real economy has not been closely correlated, a major slowdown is under way. That is a serious concern occupying finance ministries, central banks, trading desks and importers and exporters worldwide.

China’s government believed it could engineer a soft landing in the transition from torrid double-digit economic growth, fuelled by exports and investments, to steady and balanced growth underpinned by domestic consumption, especially of services. And, in fact, it enacted some sensible policies and reforms.

But rapid growth obscured many problems. For example, officials, seeking to secure promotions by achieving short-term economic targets, misallocated resources; basic industries such as steel and cement built up vast excess capacity; and bad loans accumulated on the balance sheets of banks and local governments.