Showing posts from November, 2011

DPM Tharman warns of severe slowdown in global economy

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has warned of a possible severe slowdown in the global economy due to the debt crisis in Europe.

He said that this could test the leadership of Singapore's government and union movement.

Mr Tharman said: "Unfortunately, troubles are brewing once again, this time in the eurozone... We have to prepare for the possibility, the very real possibility of rough times ahead, a severe slowdown in the global economy. Once again, this will test leadership, leadership not just within government but leadership within the union movement."

He was speaking at a graduation ceremony for the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute, where Mr Tharman and Labour Chief Lim Swee Say gave out certificates and diplomas to 99 graduates.

Mr Tharman's comments come a day after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warned that the global economy is at its most fragile state since the last financial crisis.

However, Mr Tharman believes Sin…

“Don’t Get Too Bearish”: 5 Keys to the Market’s Next Move

By Aaron Task

After a third quarter of wild swings and a big rally in October, the stock market heads into the home stretch virtually unchanged for 2011. After Monday's decline, the S&P 500 is down 0.5% year—to-date.

Four key issues hold the key to whether 2011 ends up being the first down year since 2008 or whether the Santa Claus rally comes to town, according to Greg Zuckerman of The Wall Street Journal:

The Core of Europe: Now that Europe's debt crisis has moved from the "periphery", markets will take their cues from interest rates in Italy and France. On Monday, for example, Italy sold $4.1 billion of 5-year debt at the highest yields since 1997, which pretty much set the tone for financial markets worldwide.

It's the Economy, Stupid: A big reason for the big rally in October was better-than-expected U.S. economic data. Many money managers were braced for an imminent "double-dip" and the positive surprises on GDP, employment, retail sales and other…

Make Money in 2012: Investments

By Carla Fried

As some of the uncertainties surrounding the economy lift over the course of the year, attention is bound to turn back to the fundamentals of the private sector, says Katherine Nixon, chief investment officer for the Northeast region at Northern Trust.

And on that front, things don't look so bad. Corporate profits are hanging tough. Yes, growth has been slowing noticeably in recent months, but earnings for firms in the S&P 500 are still expected to climb an above-average 9% next year, according to S&P Capital IQ.

As for whether stocks represent a good value now, the picture is decidedly mixed. A conservative measure of price/ earnings ratios -- which relies on 10 years of averaged earnings -- would suggest equities are too expensive to load up on. But the S&P's P/E, based on projected profits, points to stocks being a decent buy. "Anyone willing to take on volatility and invest in equities today with a three-year time frame should see large positiv…

Why Investors Make Terrible Decisions

By Daniel Solin

There is much talk in the financial media about the market volatility that commenced in 2008. The markets experienced a very sharp downturn in 2008, and a remarkably quick recovery in the ensuing years. You would think that investors who relied on their brokers or advisers for advice during this period would have fared well. Market volatility should provide the perfect environment for investment pros who say they can time the markets.

Unfortunately, the opposite occurred. Investors were caught by surprise at the steep market decline in 2008, and some of them panicked, sold, and missed the market recovery.

According to an analysis by Byran Harris, senior editor at Dimensional Fund Advisors, the market began its steep decline in late 2008. It bottomed out in early March 2009 and then began a rapid recovery through June, 2011. During this period, investors dumped over $266 billion of their U.S. stock mutual funds. The biggest outflows occurred in early 2009, just as the mark…

The 9 Steps I Took to Get My Finances Back on Track

by Mandi Woodruff

As the youngest daughter of two borderline baby boomers, like many other Generation Yers, I grew up watching my parents spend cash faster than they made it and had no concept of financial planning whatsoever.

When I scored my first full-time job after college, I'll never forget the rush I felt seeing all those numbers fill up my bank account. I bought new furniture for my apartment, stocked my closet with fancy new work clothes, and spent paydays filling my shopping cart on

Ten weeks later, my entire department was laid off.

At that point, I had no savings, my credit score was crap, and I had absolutely no backup plan. I scraped by for two months with a few freelance jobs until I took a $10,000 pay cut just to get by.

Things finally turned around, and a couple years later, I found myself in the same place as many of my friends in their mid-twenties. We're paying rent comfortably for the first time and are able to start building our nest eggs. The probl…

3 ways to gauge a scary market

FORTUNE -- With the economy wobbling, what's the best way to tell whether the stock market is headed for a complete meltdown or poised for a roaring rally? Simple: Watch the spreads. No, not the latest lines from Vegas oddsmakers. Rather, experts point to three key metrics in the credit markets that have historically given investors a good sense of the risk environment ahead.

Start with the so-called TED spread, which measures the difference between the rates on three-month U.S. Treasury bills and the three-month London interbank offered rate, or Libor (the rate at which banks borrow from one another). The wider it is, the more skittish banks are about lending. Right now, the TED spread is telling investors to "tread lightly in stocks," warns Gina Martin Adams, an equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities.

The TED spread has more than doubled since Jan. 1 and now hovers around 40 basis points (100 basis points equals one percentage point). That's a far cry from the 4…

The latest round of layoffs feels like the macabre GFC all over again

Anonymous candidate

I will never forget that particular day in March 2009. Neither will 400 or so of my ex-colleagues who were laid off at the US firm in Asia Pacific that we all worked for.

In the months leading up to it, a circulated memo stipulated 20 per cent of employees would be given the flick. Working for a financial corporation brought to its knees during the global financial crisis (GFC), every single one of us were moving targets, and every day until doomsday, the fear became palpable and the nervousness among the staff was electrifying.

However, being part of a lean and small finance team i.e. under-resourced and over-worked, my colleague Anna and I were told by our manager, the CFO that the team was safe and there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Phew. What comforting words!

Broken promises

But in an instant, these words snapped like delicate glass. As I wander over Anna’s empty desk unwittingly thinking she was in a meeting, Mark, who sat next to her, solemnly said Anna…

Singapore PM: Economy Is Visibly Slowing Down

Singapore's economy is visibly slowing down and will continue to do so into the first half of 2012, as global economic conditions get tough, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Wednesday.

"We are now in a period where incomes will be under pressure at the low-end. I think even in the middle, white-collar workers will also be coming under pressure," Lee told CNBC.

On a quarter-on-quarter annualized basis, Singapore's economy grew 1.3 percent over July-September, after contracting 6.3 percent in the previous quarter, according Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Annual growth is expected to slow to around 5 percent in 2011, after a record 14.5 percent rise in 2010, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said late October.

"There will be uncertainties because the (economic) cycles are shorter, things go up, things go down," PM Lee said.

For the economy to continue to grow at a strong pace, Lee said Singapore needs "more workers, more skills, more talent."


The World in 2100: Ten Billion People, No Oil and Not Enough Food

by Eric Goldschein and Robert Johnso

With global population now at seven billion, it may be time to start planning for what the world will look like in the coming years.

Though most of us won't be around to see it, the United Nations has projected that our incredible population growth will level off at around 10 billion people by the year 2100.

Already, at seven billion, we are experiencing severe poverty, hunger, a shortage of resources, increased urbanization and climate change issues.

Will we be doomed by 2100, or can we make it work? Since we've only got one planet (so far), let's hope for the latter.

By 2100, 80 percent of the world's populations will live in cities.

Increased urbanization will be one of the main ways the planet will sustain 10 billion people. There will be a lot of new cities, and mega-cities (cities with a population of over 20 million) will become more common.

Possible candidates for mega-city status include: Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Mexico City, Mumb…

Consumer confidence in Singapore hits 2-year low

By Magdalen Ng

Consumer confidence in Singapore has fallen for the second consecutive quarter to a two-year low, amid growing worries of an economic recession.

The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index for Singapore fell nine points to 94 in the three months to September compared to the quarter before.

A number above 100 indicates positive consumer sentiment, while a figure below 100 indicates pessimism.

'Singaporean consumers turned into a more pessimistic group as the prospect of a prolonged global macroeconomic malaise became more pronounced. The continuing inflationary pressures and higher volatility in asset prices also contributed to a higher level of uncertainty among consumers, who are increasingly concerned about how to protect their wealth,' said Ms Grace Liu, head of consumer research at Nielsen Singapore.

OECD warns against EU failure to implement agreed measures; It says short-term economic uncertainties have 'risen dramatically'

Anthony Rowley; in Cannes

ON the eve of this week's G-20 summit in Cannes, the OECD warned yesterday that failure by leaders of the eurozone countries to fully implement the crisis-averting measures agreed to last week could have a dramatic impact on the global economy.

The warning came as leaders of the score of advanced and emerging countries that make up the G-20 prepared for a summit that is expected to be dominated overwhelmingly by the eurozone crisis because of its global importance.

Heads of the leading emerging economies, including those from China and Brazil, are expected to put strong pressure on their counterparts from Germany and France and others to ensure that the eurozone crisis is contained.

In return, these emerging economies, along with Japan, will probably offer to subscribe to new bonds to be issued by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to help finance the bailout of Greece and other economies at the periphery of the eurozone.

In a pre-summit briefi…

Businesses see dark clouds ahead; Three new surveys forecast gloomy days for most sectors

Melissa Tan

FIRMS in Singapore have turned decidedly gloomy about the business outlook.

Three newly released surveys suggest darker days ahead across most sectors as deteriorating global conditions continue to hobble the local economy.

A survey conducted by the Economic Development Board (EDB) found that manufacturers are expecting business conditions to worsen over the next six months through till March next year.

In all, 17 per cent of manufacturers expect things to get worse, a figure which exceeds their more upbeat peers by 10 percentage points, the EDB said yesterday.

The numbers are weighted according to 'contribution to employment and value added', EDB said.

This dovetails with the results of the D&B Business Optimism Index survey, also released yesterday, which found that businesses in Singapore are generally gloomier about the fourth quarter.

'Singapore's economy has been undermined by softening global market conditions weighed down particularly by currency vol…