Thursday, November 25, 2010

food (or cash) for thought

"Recently the Singapore Straits Times reported proudly : “SINGAPORE ranks fourth globally and second in Asia Pacific in terms of average personal wealth, according to the inaugural global wealth report by Credit Suisse Research.
Average wealth per adult in Singapore has grown strongly in the last decade, rising from US$105,000 (S$137,100) per adult to over US$250,000 in 2010, supported by a period of strong domestic economic growth and asset price increases.”(Oct 8th).
The caption, is to my mind, misleading, while the skimpy ST report conveniently ignores more vital information in the Credit Suisse Report about Singapore.
What the state media didn’t tell was the report mentions that only 3.6% of the surveyed population (4 million Singaporeans &PRs) are wealthy, owning more than a half million dollars, while 2.4% have USD1000 or less. The majority (55%) have wealth between USD10,000 and 100,000 (obviously owning HDB flats), and another 23% whose wealth is estimated at between USD1,000 and 10,000. About 16% fall between USD100,000 and 588,000. So the million dollar question is – which Singaporeans are 2nd richest in Asia and 4th richest in the world?
For the record, Singapore’s median wealth per adult, which is a more meaningful measure, actually stands at just US$30,092. That means half the population has USD 30,000 or less as household wealth. This is a huge difference from the average wealth figure. People at the top end of the wealth average have so much wealth that it skews the average to almost ten times the median. Most other countries do not have such bad skewing, including US (whose average is 5x its median), India (3.8x), France (3.8x), Indonesia (3.6x), Taiwan (3.1x), UK (2.9x), China (2.7x), Australia (2.6x), Canada (2.4x) and Japan (2x).
Further, if we consider the fact that most Singaporeans would have a sizeable amount of their savings in their CPF, the median disposable wealth per adult would be significantly lower.
It is interesting to note that in contrast to classical financial institutions’ definition, of wealth as the amount of “investable assets”, Credit Suisse defines wealth as the value of financial assets plus non-financial assets (principally housing) owned by individuals less their debts. Based on this definition to start with, can the majority of Singaporeans really claim to be “wealthy” when even the HDB flat we live in is only leased to us and most lessees have a mortgage to pay for the greater part of their life.
The study states that household wealth in Singapore grew steadily and vigorously during the past decade, rising from USD 105,000 at the outset to more than USD 250,000 at the end. Interestingly, this increase was due to domestic growth and asset price increases. But wait. How did our “assets” grow in value? That too, exponentially? Remember the selective statistics used to show that HDB flats were affordable? According to the Credit Suisse report, just over 20 per cent of the adult population in Singapore has over US$100,000 in financial and non-financial assets.
Another interesting fact about the study is its analyses are based on adult populations. The report puts the total number of adults in Singapore at four million. Unfortunately the numbers don’t tally. There are not that many adult Singaporeans, according to Singstat. The latest figures indicate that Singapore’s total resident population of citizens and permanent residents, aged 15 and up, is 3,117,300.
Now coming back to median wealth in Singapore. Where do we stand in world rankings? The median wealth is higher in at least 25 countries. Here they are: Singapore is at the bottom of this table


-- Singapore 2nd richest in Asia?, The Temasek Review

well said. see how screwed our economy is and how ridiculous the disparity is? could you explain why are we suppressed to the poor cycle while the rich get humongous rich? aren't we suppose to be the first world country whereby our rich-poor ratio shouldn't be in such exaggerating figures? somehow i feel "our assets" are making us poor, tying us down to our country and being cash-strap while looking superficially rich to other countries? educated finance student pls enlighten me. (no sarcasm intended)

no wonder ppl have to work till they die. cause all our money seemingly goes to the faggot-ly rich and powerful. i don't know but this model seems to me like an singapore economy is an epitome of how the first class countries are making use of the cheap labour of the third world to gain loads of profits while depriving them of what they deserve for their hard work. just that both the first class citizens and third world dweller exist in the very same plane. mcdonalds in singapore is one such "country".
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