Saturday, April 02, 2011

Cost of Living and the coming elections...

A few days ago Today did a survey and found out the biggest election issue is the rising cost of living. [Rising Cost of Living Matters Most to Voters]. Rising cost of living has affected everyone right up to middle income families[Middle income worry over cost of living]. It hurts low income families the most and some of these families have to cut down on the quality of food and nutrition[.Link]. But if you think things cannot get worse....think again..

Here is a chart of S$ vs US$:


The Singapore dollar has appreciated against the US$ by 11% within 1 year. The stronger Sing$ has helped to prevent the cost of imported goods from rising too quickly i.e. imported inflation. There is a limit to how much we can allow the Sing$ to strengthen as explained by SM Goh yesterday[Link]- Singapore's economy depends a lot on exports and a rising Sing$ makes our exports less competitive. Once we reach the tail end of this Sing$ strengthening we will start to see the full effects of imported inflation. Also, govt linked NTUC and transport operators have held back price increases (until after the elections?).

 "On rising costs, this is a perpetual problem - every generation, every year, we
are faced with the question of rising costs. Another word for this is inflation" - Goh Chok Tong


While inflation occurs all the time when there is economic growth , there is an important difference between the past and what has happened the recent few years. Last year we saw the economy growing 14% but real median income rising by only 0.3%. A large part of income growth is eaten up by inflation. If the guy in the middle is only marginally better off, roughly half the people are worse off because income growth is slower as we move down income bracket. Right at the bottom we see the real pain in families that have to adjust by cutting down on meals and quality of nutrition. Right on top we have ministers who received 8 months bonus and a whopping pay rise of 30% (linked to GDP growth)   they don't have to worry about inflation.  We have had inflation in the past but income distribution was more even and the majority of the population gained from GDP growth. The PAP govt will always say that it is not their responsibility, there is nothing that can or should be done, things are still affordable and that is the nature of the economic system the PAP has designed to be the best for Singapore in the long run etc etc etc.

It is very hard for the PAP to run away from all this because they have given themselves so much credit for improving the lives of the people in the past. That was the main selling point in the past - it was called the "social contract" [Link] - don't mind the undemocratic ways of the PAP, don't mind them bullying their opponents, don't mind them limiting your freedom and human rights ...so long as  you're economically better off, you should support them. Now that this social contract is under strain and cannot be fulfilled for many Singaporeans, the PAP  has to fall back on its alternate marketing strategy which is "we have better people than the opposition". We get this parade of "yes-men" and "yes-women" ...no doubt highly qualified on paper but for many ordinary Singaporeans having qualified people to just preserve the status quo and  the system that has led to year after year of deterioration of their quality of life is no longer good enough. This claim that they have "better peope"  is not helped by them having Tin Pei Ling as a candidate when the opposition has people like Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha and Chen Show Mao.

At a time when we have an electorate that is yearning for change, the PAP looks like they are going to sit tight and try to preserve their system with their "next generation leaders" plucked from various parts of the establishment : the SAF, civil service, NTUC etc. The best system for ordinary Singaporeans is one that safeguard their interests and deliver the best quality of life possible over the long term - that is not the system we have today in which so much of the economic benefits of growth goes to a small concentrated segment of the population to produce the biggest income gap in the developed world. To accept this system, you have to believe President SR Nathan deserves to be paid $4.2M per annum[Link] when close to 460,000 Singaporean workers make less than $1500[]2009 Figures].

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would say that despite the cost of living issue etc etc, the reality is that PAP still has the strong support of the majority of voters.

Or put it this way. A Chen Show Mao under the PAP banner will have much higher chances of winning than a Chen Show Mao under the WP banner. Although it is the same Chen Show Mao!

And a Ting Pei Ling will even win, (although margin may not be good) in a straight fight with Chen Show Mao!!

That's why I believe PAP is very confident. If not why would they announce increase in President's pay, increase electricity tariffs etc etc just before elections? Or choose a candidate like Tin Pei Ling?

Anonymous said...

"If not why would they announce increase in President's pay, increase electricity tariffs etc etc just before elections? Or choose a candidate like Tin Pei Ling?"

Becoz PAP thinks that Sinkies are daft and idiots, kenna punched and screwed still willing to vote for PAP, that's why.

True or not? Up to you -- you decide.

DareToAct said...

One more YES man for you.
Meet Mr. mini bond.
Under Mr. Heng, the MAS embarked on a torrid promotion of Singapore as a financial center.  Banks and hedge funds were lured by tax incentives and easy registration to set up shops and expand operations here.  

So, when the going get tough in the US for some CDO managers and CDO originators (in banks), what did they do?  They set up shops here in Singapore.  And what did they do? They sold mini bonds, pinnacles, high notes, to retail investors.

Obviously we need to look at the big picture and the bigger good.  The influx of financial institutions had led to GDP growth for Singapore, lifting us off the post SARs doom and gloom.  It is a small price to pay to have some greedy and ignorant retail investors (who did not heed the government's warning of "caveat emptor") to lose their life savings.

http://www.todayonline.com/SingaporeVotes/EDC110402-0000613/Former-MAS-director-tipped-to-be-Minister

Anonymous said...

"One more YES man for you.
Meet Mr. mini bond."

Doesn't matter YES man or NO man, as long as they can win, it is a good man!

The late Deng Xiao Ping said:

Doesn't matter black cat or white cat, as long as they catch mice, it is a good cat.

Anonymous said...

O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!
Walter Scott

Source:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/walterscot118003.html

Anonymous said...

because you have stars...you have been conditioned to look at....stars. the more mesmerized you are with...stars....the more stars surround your head and you become one blur fark...lol

Anonymous said...

let me rant a bit more. yesterday...in today's papers...there was this one big star who was a...ahem....two time Pulitzer prize winner....wow...my siao siao ok. these are the kind of stars that nurture big big stars like..ahem....tin.

so the guy looked at the middle east issue and said..wah lao eh....I big farking mess..and he went...I feel pretty good about it...hehehe.you see, he is optimistic that the mess will become a...lesser mess...lol.

so he concluded...let's get used to it. ..hehehe

now you know why our ST stars and tin stars lick bullitzer prize asses? because....no mess where got news job hah I ask you? LOL

Anonymous said...

That's the beauty of democracy. :)

Anonymous said...

If everyone just do their part in voting for the future of citizen, miracle will follow. Please don't keep whining that PAP will win by majority if you just want to vote for PAP. Every vote count no matter small is your vote, your dick and pussy ! Let's vote for tomorrow and make PAP history ! Because either PAP is history or Singaporeans is history. Make your choice.

hayek said...

Let me give some lessons on Econs 101.

Law 1
Inflation is a MONETARY problem. It happens because government is printing money. It is not imported.

Law 2
Singapore imports inflation precisely. True. But the underlying reason is supply of Sing Dollar is increasing exponentially in tandem with USD.

Fed is printing, to prevent SGD from rising against USD, MAS is printing as well.

Law 3
If PAP choose to kept our reserve in gold rather than worthless FX such as USD, we could have preserve our wealth.

Law 4
Since government is printing, CPF has now become a tax rather pension fund.

Worst, it is re-directed to asset which elite wants to inflate like property.

Law 5
Inflation is deem benign if prices level rises above wages.

Ask PAP and their bunch of LIARS go fuck themselves. Singaporean suffer so much because they have robbed from us for so many years.

Lucky Tan said...

hayek,

All this money printing is causing govt to be overthrown from one end of the middle east to the other. The price inflation is only a initial manifestation of a larger long term problem set in motion by the actions of western govts. We are locked in. Bernanke prints and pensioners, see their real savings plunge while the Goldman Sachs and other big boys rake in the speculative fortunes bumping up everything from copper to soya beans to oil. The system is that they rescued appears to one that is rigged and will never reproduce the thriving middle class of the 50s and 60s.

Anonymous said...

When you run a nation like a corporate,the CEO and his
lieutenants always have obscene
compensations relative to the
rank and file.In a corporate, the
CEO is beholden to his shareholders.
This is where the conflict of interest lies when a nation is run like a corporate. The PAP is NOT beholden to Singaporeans of all
economic strata.Past records have shown that PAP has invariably ignored the plights of the middle
class.The middle class is the
bulwark of most developed nations.
When you have unfair employment policies,run-away housing costs,
over-crowded transportation,etc.
This is an assault to the well-
being of the middle class.
To those Singaporeans who say why rock the boat...vote PAP..?
I say this to you, why don`t we
aspire to be a nation which is even
better ;where every segment of society is fairly represented?
Ahhh! Then we must aspire to true
democracy.And not keep the status quo of a corporate autocrat system.

Making noise is a fact of life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Take a look at this clip:

http://www.temasekreview.com/2011/04/01/tin-pei-ling-the-cost-of-education-is-very-low/

Is she a mother yet? If she has children, she has not gone through the process of being a mother. How can she make this kind of conclusion?

Cost of education for children is very low...

Is she trying to impress her boss or trying to impress the public?

Protons said...

Agree with Lucky, and pretty much what all the Opposition Parties are trying to achieve here.

Come on People, let's get real. The leading cause of death in mice is Scientist. If PAP keep telling you the mice are the ones to be blamed for failing to jump the hoops; take the poison drug; not take directions; didn't know how to plan an escape; falls into the trap etc etc you have to wonder why or how they got into this giant test lab to begin with.

Anon 11.24 posed a good question we should ask. Why don't we singaporeans aspire to be better, where every segment of the society is well-represented. An egalitarian society where people are treated as equal because no one human life is more or less superior than the other. Job title/education/wealth status are only a small reflection of who you are. What you do with these, and contribute to your fella human kinds is more and by far the most important values that speaks volume to me. IF we continue to allow this place we call home, to deterioate and have such a BIG divide between elite/non elite, have/have-nots, rich/poor, bedok/holland v etc, soon these values will corrupt your children, our generations, our foreign guests/talents and we'll be sorry that we'd not done enough on our part to stop these erosions. You don't have to look at the Chinese history to know that we're all heading down the same path albeit in a modern context.

We either have a peaceful re-balancing of power in this election, or we will at some point, have a nasty revolution in the street. We decide.

Anonymous said...

'inflation' is just a nice term used to hide the real effect or the depreciation value of the dollar we hold. In effect, it robbed us of our wealth without even knowing. Which is better, to say you're robbed due to inflation or your dollar had loose purchasing power?

inflation is good for the rich who get the first hand of the money and used it to invest with maximum purchasing power. By the time the money trickles down to the rest of the pyramid, it looses much of purchasing power.

What is worse for the poor in Singapore is our main CPF's (ordinary) interest rate is paid even lower than the under-reported 'official' inflation rate.

Anonymous said...

Now that S$ to US$ exchange is almost at historical high, what if the S$ weakens to historical low in the neighborhood of 1.85S$ to 1US$? Will we have 40-50% inflation for all our imported (practically everything that we consumed) stuff? So when the PAP says they "targets" to raise our median income by 30% in 10 years without factoring inflation, we have to take it as a pinch of salt!

Smartie said...

We all know surveys or research, like statistics can be tilted to suit the views you want it to be seen.
No difference here.

http://yawningbread.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/on-mediacorps-heartland-voter-survey-part-2/#more-3642

Anonymous said...

"Will we have 40-50% inflation for all our imported (practically everything that we consumed) stuff?"
anon 2/4/11 13:43

It is already happening! But so what?

Just look at the biggest ticket item necessity - public housing (or HDB pigeon holes) for peasants.

You think PAP will lose the elections because of that?

Anonymous said...

An ordinary investor bought a financial product from a financial institution.

He discovered later that the product he bought is not what he understands from the newspaper advertisements and sales brochures. And worse, it is bad or toxic.

The product he bought is a high risk low return (the scale of return of 3 but risk of 9) complex financial product. A group of “elites” (financial and legal experts) is responsible for the drafting of the newspaper advertisements, sales brochures and prospectus so that it appears similar to those low risk simple products.

The investor complains to the authorities, but authorities is having an opinion that he must be invested with his eyes open because he did not satisfy the conditions of “vulnerable investors” (i.e. education level must be below primary 6 and age must be 65 or above).

The authorities did not investigate into the complaints of misleading advertisements, sales brochures and the quality of the product (whether bad or toxic). Instead, it is more interested in how the financial institutions train their sales staff.

The group of “elites” and their associates managed to create an impression that the victim is greedy and has unrealistic expectation (such as expect high return and no risk …).

The poor investor not only lost most of his 30-years hard earned money, but also deeply humiliated.

Anonymous said...

//The Japan PM said " It will be kind of a long battle, but the government will be working hard together with you until the end. I want everyone to do their best, too,"

A person that used to have a house near the coast told me 'Where am I supposed to build a house after this?', so I encouraged this person and said the government will provide support until the end," Kan told reporters. -- Reuters //

Our PAP leaders would say "we will work with you on targeted basis" and by that, it is a very strict criterion for a very narrow base of singaporeans, once every 4 years. The rest , you're pretty much on your own. Kind of like the tweet message sent by ST yesterday : -

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_652162.html

hayek said...

We must build few dozens of guillotines for those rentier elites. The idea is nothing new, it has been use in French Revolution and has proven to be beneficial for all mankind.

Let me give a few more insights to inflation. Inflation is a unavoidable phenomenon ever since the financial terrorist elite adopt the fiat currency system.

The gold standard currency itself has is inherently deflationary bias.

So the next question is: Who the hell is going to suffer the burden of inflation? The elite or the people?

The answer is pretty obvious. I would write in next comment how the inflationary burden is being shift to the peasants while elite profited from it.

Anonymous said...

before you raise your expectations and hopes for...erm....change, watch the debate tonight between the political parties and decide for yourself whether a two party system is erm....a waste of taxpayers monies or not.

Anonymous said...

"The poor investor not only lost most of his 30-years hard earned money, but also deeply humiliated."
Anon 2/4/11 14:26

For your info, the ex MAS MD will be a likely PAP candidate in this election.

You think he will lose?

Not only will he win, he will most likely be appointed (promoted) to Minister.

Humiliated, angry, what not, it's majority voters being happy and satisfied and hence their support that counts. Hats off to the PAP for achieving this.

hayek said...

Econonic Terrorist Law 1:

Inflation is benign if price level rises faster than wages.

When there is inflation, everyone suffer due to increase in price level except the fucking elite.

If goods get expensive, they rich will make more $ provided, they they do not pay more for salary.

Econonic Terrorist Law 2:

We must keep minimum 5% of population jobless because 100% employment cause inflation.This is an OFFICIAL POLICY as per NAIRU.

When there is full employment, the rich need to compete for workers and that drive up salary.

Wages inflation is good for everyone except the rich.

The rich elite is actually the root cause of tragedy of the poor.

Econonic Terrorist Law 3:

Target inflation only at the asset class that was majority owned by the rich.

In Singapore, CPF is deliberately deregulated into property purchase. This is to create wealth for the rich.

Our elite deserve nothing less than death penalty. FUCK THEM.

Anonymous said...

This Ah Heng guy from MAS which is so call "MP" potential. Where was he when investors were cheated of millions of hard earned money in toxic structures product and frantically seeking help? MAS in allowing such products to be sold in Spore has a moral responsibility to all Singaporean but MAS did nothing.

Protons said...

"Every Singaporean who owns a flat can double his value in today's terms within the next 15 to 20 years. In other words, in the next 20 years, we can make everybody worth twice as much, at least."
- PM Lee Kuan Yew, National Day Rally, 1990

The Realities
(1)
"Wealth of Singaporeans shrank by $26b in 2001. Falling property prices and stock prices were the main culprits."
- Straits Times, Aug 28, 2003
(2)
"The average Singaporean worker would have a staggering 75 per cent of his assets locked in housing upon retirement. By the age of 62, he would be classically cash-poor and asset rich. His CPF savings would generate a paltry income, barely enough to cover subsistence."
- Straits Times, Feb 5, 2003
(3)
Given last year’s record 14.5 per cent GDP growth and buoyant job market, why is it that the number of families applying for financial assistance in 2010, at 55,600 (latest press release) is so much higher than the pre-recession 2008’s 36,300 (June press release)? TOC, Leong Sze Hian, March 2011
(4)
It illustrates the flaw in the repeated exhortations to Singaporeans that HDB flats are affordable.. here is the assumption that the entire monthly mortgage can be serviced from one’s CPF, at the contribution rate of the OA at the time of purchase. We should not forget the issue of declining Ordinary Account contributions as one gets older.
TOC, Leong Sze Hian, March 2011

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans suffered from suppressed wages due to cheap FT while cost of living hiked to all time high.

"A worker in Singapore will cost $1000 per month or more, but there is a bountiful stream of workers in China who will gladly work for $100 per month ... that is why we should lower our wage costs."
- Labour chief Lim Boon Heng, ST, June 17 2002

The Realities
"Singapore ninth most expensive city in the world."
- Economic Intelligence Unit, Jan 2001

Singapore ranked 10th (previously 15th) for most expensive city in the world.
-- EIU, 2009 WW Cost of Living Survey

Anonymous said...

All I know is that my President will be getting a new salary increase to $4.2m per year = $350,ooo/mth = $87500/wk = $12,500/day = $208/hr = $3.50/sec!!
Wow..he makes $3.50 even while he takes his first breadth when he wakes up in the morning and his butler prepares a hot towel for him..what does he do exactly for the citizens?

"The new provisions make it possible for the Government to transfer its reserves to selected statutory boards and Government companies, without such transfers being regarded as a draw on past reserves... 'The Government thus has a carte blanche to bail out its ailing companies without the need for Presidential approval.'"
- TODAY on the Constitutional Amendment to allow reserves to be transferred to stat boards and GLCs, May 2004

Anonymous said...

92 Year-Old Madam Looks Forward To Meeting 27 Year-Old MP.



Madam Tan is wheelchair bound and 92 years old this year

She lives in MacPherson HDB for more than 35 years

Rediffusion programmes were the only entertainment in her early years

Since the day dialect programmes were phased out of her ears

Everyday she has nothing to cheer



In the last two days, she seems to be very excited and happy

As her ward is going to have a new and young 27 year-old MP

Madam Tan wants to learn either Chinese or English

So that she could talk to the new and young 27 year-old MP

Who will teach Madam Tan the necessary Chinese or English?

Kojakbt said...

One of the main contributing factors in cost increase is rental. This is also partly caused by the policies of the establishment. For example, when HDB decided to privatize the wet markets to “politically-connected” private operators to manage, prices would inevitably increase. In the following case, how can stallholders not increase food and meal prices in order to survive themselves? I certainly fail to see the benefits of privatization especially when the land was forcibly acquired by the Govt at dirt cheap prices long time ago (supposedly for the benefit of the people)…

Sheng Siong increased rental by 30 percent at the 5 wet markets bought by them

http://www.temasekreview.com/2010/03/24/sheng-siong-increased-rental-by-30-percent-at-the-5-wet-markets-bought-by-them/

Sheng Shiong has increased the rental by an astonishing 30 percent at the 5 wet markets it bought last year from HDB in a controversial sale which was opposed by both the stallholders and customers alike.

The Straits Times reported that “the stallholders at the five markets – in Serangoon, Bukit Batok, Fajar Road and two in Choa Chu Kang – were informed of the increase by the supermarket chain earlier this month.”

The increase means that they will have to pay about $2,000 to $4,000 in rent. The duration of their contracts was also reduced from two to one year.

Sheng Siong’s managing director Lim Hock Chee claimed that the chain had “no choice ” but to increase rental rates in order to recoup its $25 million purchase of the wet markets.

Gary said...

The failure of shareholder capitalism

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/29/failure_of_shareholder_capitalism

Read this link and relate it to John Tan's recent article in the SDP website on the GDP, and the way all GLCs, transport companies,etc are run.

Form your own conclusions on how the govt ministers are going to reward themselves with salaries, pay rise and bonuses that really come from your pocket.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with @Kojakbt that the rising costs is a big part attibuted by rising rentals. Even in Ghim Moh, several shops closed down (selling clothes etc) because the rental is too high. The shops that can survive are the beauty salons and I think there are now too many beauty salons and not enough of the shops we residents need. Not all shops can be high value added as what the gov wants. A variety of shops is needed. Casinos and brothels are the highest value added...is that what we're heading?

Anonymous said...

"I totally agree with @Kojakbt that the rising costs is a big part attibuted by rising rentals."
Anon 2/4/11 20:26

I agree too. But to PAP, what is most important is that this does not affect the majority votes (at least 60%) for them.

And I believe it will not affect. Don't you agree too?

Anonymous said...

Political stars should belong in history.

Anonymous said...

pls don't go on tv. bloody duds except for one who articulate better

other than that, all want to hit the jackpot for talking air and wasting taxpayers monies and those cashing on the jackpot already are determine to raise your ahem, come rain or shine, hell or over your dead body...your productivity.

the duds(zero IQ basically lol) are going around the big bush and coming back to ...money ....but they are going to drive down the costs or revenues and..ahem the value of your assets too....a serious deadly blow to your economy.lol

aiyoh,one is a slow death(buy us some time), the other is a quick death. choose. lol

but close shop better. that way we dont laugh ourselves to death. lol

ps: we have definitely wasted good money on the crooked old and his wife lol

Anonymous said...

sorry..is old man and his wife lol

Ah Kow said...

hola hayek,

start your own blog, bro. I want to read your stuff.

Anonymous said...

"Right on top we have ministers who received 8 months bonus and a whopping pay rise of 30% (linked to GDP growth)"

But majority of Singaporeans (especially those housewives) are not aware this.

Anonymous said...

Represent your head. haaaaaaa

hyom said...

Hi Lucky,

I am worried our government is torn by its own conflicts of interests that may not serve Singaporeans well in the matter of cost of living.

The salaries of civil servants are pegged to GDP growth. Policy-makers may inadvertently overheat the economy when they try to achieve the target GDP growth. If they try to out-perform their target, the cost of living may rise even more due to the over-heating of the economy.

Our government is a major shareholder of publicly-listed companies that directly affect our cost of living. If SMRT and SBS lowers transport fares and make lesser profits, Temasek collects lesser dividends. Actually, even HDB is owned by Temasek.

Temasek Holdings is doing its job when it pressures the companies it owns to make more profits, even at the expense of squeezing customers. On this aspect, we cannot fault Temasek Holdings. However, there is a conflict of interest if the customers are the Singaporean people.

There are probably more instances of conflicts of interests which I have not mentioned due to ignorance.

I hope the government will seek to align their own interest with that of the citizens, especially when it comes to setting KPI (Key Performance Indicators) that determine the bonuses and promotion of the civil servants. A wrong set of incentives to highly intelligent bunch of people will lead to self-destruction. Remember Wall Street?

Anonymous said...

Wasting taxpayers monies on these goons.

I think the people, properly discipled, better represent themselves.

Get rid of all these useless, self serving,arrogant, over paid, over hyped and over stayed PoP stars and the wannabes.

Even my dog can make better judgment.

Anonymous said...

the people have been dubbed to think that they can't think and they need to lose their pants so a handful of super phd saints can do all the thinking for them.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of contented Singaporeans out there. They don't delved deeply into others' problems as long as they themselves are comfortable.
I have got a friend who do not bother to read more than the Straits Times, and believes that the PAP is all we need.

Anonymous said...

my take, once total bank loans hit certain amount, they will increase interest.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
2/4/11 09:44

"One more YES man for you.
Meet Mr. mini bond."

Doesn't matter YES man or NO man, as long as they can win, it is a good man!

The late Deng Xiao Ping said:

Doesn't matter black cat or white cat, as long as they catch mice, it is a good cat.
=============

In the 70s, Deng Xiao Ping make a surprise visit to Shenzhen to check on illegal immigrant to Hong Kong. Instead blame the official for not doing a good job. Deng Xiao Ping said Chinese illegal immigrant to Hong Kong is the problem of Head Government by deploy more people at the coast will not solve the problem. Two years later new china begin in Shenzhen.

Understand the root of the problem is more important then to understand the source of the problem. Can your cat understand ???


Hi Lucky,
My understanding is 14% is nominal GDP. I suggest you should compare real to real and nominal to nominal. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

As to why President Nathan is being paid SGD4.2 mil, it is not difficult to guess - he is also another PAP selected "YES MAN".

I hope the next elected president. Yes, I mean truly elected one (not by PAP) came from an independent private sector top leader and not any tom dick and harry self-picked within the pro PAP camp.