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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


But some of you may wonder: If our economy is fundamentally sound, why is Singapore so prone to recession? Why have we fallen into recession so many times in recent years? Why were we the first in the region to suffer a recession last year? Why is our economic outlook so bleak this year when some other countries in the region are forecasting positive growth?

The reason lies in the nature of our economy. We are not only a small economy but also an open one, fully plugged into the global economic grid. Our total trade is 3 1/2 times our GDP, one of the highest in the world.

Let me use imagery to illustrate the nature of our economy. Think of Singapore as a small speedboat in the open sea. There are also other ships out there, like container ships, bulk carriers and supertankers. When the sky is clear and the sea is calm, we can easily outrun the larger ships and tankers. But when the winds rise and the waves are high, we have to slow down or seek shelter in the nearest harbor.
         (Chok Tong, Goh.  "Riding the waves."  The Straits Times [Singapore] 3 February 2009: A17.)

FWIW, the last time I checked, compared to "small speedboat" operators, captains of larger vessels (such as "container ships, bulk carriers and supertankers," for example) hold more difficult and complex jobs, with greater responsibilities — and thus, are paid higher wages.

Another case of Uniquely Singapore?


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