Monday, February 01, 2016

[Prologue] Peak Prosperity : How do we know that Singapore is in decline ?

I've got less than an hour before my lectures begin so this is going to be a short post.

Right now I am in the process of researching the concept which has the working title of "Peak Prosperity" which sounds so interesting, it may warrant a new book from me in the future.

In my previous books, I would pull out bad news and events from thin air to conclude that the Singapore Dream is being threatened by external forces. This time round, I hope to be more methodical so I would have to read more deeply before forming my conclusions. The biggest problem right now is that technology is displacing jobs faster than we can retrain but this problem affects the whole world and we are actually better equipped than most countries to deal with this problem.

So, the book I am reading is The Geography of Genius by Eric Wiener which may shed light on societies which reach its peak in the past and then declined with the times. My progress is quite slow and have covered only Athens and Hangzhou so far but on casual observation, city states reach their peak when they are the most open minded. Athens accepted foreign traders and had a great marketplace and only began its downward spiral when its citizens began to closed their minds to new ideas. Hangzhou was also the kind of place where people were encouraged to experiment and synthesise new ideas - Su Dongpo was a poet and an engineer.

Similarly Singapore is thinking twice about its foreign talent policy, I guess to prevent a decline, Singapore would need to continue to admit talented individuals but at a pace which is acceptable by the electorate. I think the government may need to, once again, pursue an unpopular FT policy once our transport woes are resolved.

But this research continues because I have to figure out what metrics can be used as a leading indicator to predict a decline in Singapore.

Right now I have no hints on which numbers to look at.

Any feedback or suggestions are welcome.


  1. Hi Christopher

    Based on expectancy theory, you will find "evidence" out there to support your next book. Ain't sure that is a good idea or not but numbers are numbers. The finance market is full of techniques, investment philosophies and countless ancient history to draw parallel to today's happening in the stock, forex and economic developments.

    Does it leave the retail investor wiser knowing George Soros is betting huge on RMB or several hedge fund managers are joining the bandwagon?

    All the best to your new book!

  2. Hi Christopher,

    One thing that comes immediately to my mind is demographics in general and ageing population in particular (the famous age-pyramid slowly starting to stand upside down).

    It is a proven fact that once we cross the fifties we do consume less and less. So who will be the consumers in the future? Tourists? Would they be so kind to buy a few properties during their average stay of 3.7 days too?

    Looking forward to your new book.

  3. Thanks Andy !

    Demographics is definitely a relevant answer. But we are already doing our best to attract foreign workers to replace our numbers. But there is this fear that demographics is not enough.

    Once foreigners become Singaporeans, they stop reproducing and suffer under the same stresses.