Friday, February 27, 2015

Beyond Budget 2015

My former boss sent me this yesterday from Bloomberg News.

I had mentioned more than once that our leaders must be anxiously waiting for the global tide to reverse because we do not know how much longer we could take the pressure of the yawning gap between haves and have-nots.  Looks like the wait is almost over as other economies also commit to more left leaning budgets.

This is the first round, the beginning of many income and wealth transfer budgets most economies will be making. I think it is not a good idea but we have no choice. We are really out of ideas and we simply cannot keep societies together on the old path leading to the 1% to 10% getting more and more of the wealth and income.

I don't think such populist budgets will solve the problem. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is only to buy time and a poor choice for creating wealth. The risk is to go overboard and condemn ourselves to many years of slow growth, but the bet is on Asians eagerness to better themselves especially materially. We will need again and again to be inventive and create new products and services to keep our "cannot stop" system of running economies going. As Asians manufacture, import and consumes the familiar products hopefully this will give time for the most inventive people to create the next generation of global demand. We need more Apples and less zero sum fatalistic thinking which so many economists and worse government leaders are so fond of.


  1. Re : Need to be an "Apple" and not me-too

    Unfortunately, in my opinion, you are right. But unfortunately also, we used to be an Apple under the Old Guards but today, we're probably more like an relatively more efficient HP, but HP nonetheless and definitely no Apple. If anything, China is looking more and more like an Apple to me, especially under its leader Xi Jin Ping.

    Take a look at our manufacturing cluster. Under the Old Guards, we pioneered (yes, Apple) the idea of partnering with MNCs and rode the wave of technology booms, whether its birth of the IC industry, to the PC boom etc. Today, very little of what we produce even goes into the iphone. Our strategy of attracting MNCs is duplicated by many others. We even have to go down the path of trying to compete by promising MNCs that they can hire unlimited foreigners here and that wages will be kept low and that the rules will be bent in their favor. Why do we let Shell, Esso etc get away with de facto monopsony on petrol prices? Because they also pumped billions into Jurong Island etc.

    Can we become an "Apple"? We became an Apple in the 1960s because of near death experience necessiting a team of leaders, with nothing to lose, to try something new. Apple became an apple when it was losing its way so much in the PC market that it brought new leaders in (Jobs, Jonathan Iverson) to try something new.

    Asian values like willingness to work hard, being practical no longer assures an Apple. Whatever we have in these values, some of our neighbors, espcially China, has more.

    I wish we have a stronger set of leaders than what we have today. Thats why, contrary to PM Lee's publicly expressed wish to give 10-20 years of apprenticeship to his would-be successor, I hope we get leaders from outside the usual circles and let them have less apprenticeship so that they are not conformed to our tried and tested paths.