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The US Sub-Prime Crisis: What Does It Mean For Singapore?

The US Sub-Prime Crisis: What Does It Mean For Singapore?
Date/Time: May 12, 2008 / 5.00pm

With the US being the world’s largest economy, economists and analysts have said that any signs of slowdown could impact everyone, especially those economies or industries highly dependent on the US. Some have warned that the effects of a drop in consumer spending could impact the Asian electronics manufacturers.

That said, we see resilience in the global economies. Where there are challenges, we also see some opportunities. All the more, businesses need to focus on creating value for their customers to maintain their competitive edge and strengthen their position in the industry.

How will a US slowdown or recession affect your organisation and industry, and the Singapore economy in general? What can businesses do in the event of a slowdown? Mr Joseph Tan shared his views and analysis on these issues.

Post-Event writeup
by Minju Kim

Mr Joseph Tan, Council Treasurer of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs shared his view on the US sub-prime crisis and its impact on Singapore at the SIIA House on May 12, 2008.

Mr Joseph Tan is a Senior Strategist for Fortis Bank SA/NV responsible for global markets research on Asian foreign exchange and interests rates. A CFA charter holder, Mr Tan speaks frequently at regional forums and roundtables organized by government bodies and think-tanks. Meeting frequently with officials from regional central banks, economy and finance ministries Mr Tan ascertains policy trends, which serve as inputs for FX and interest rate strategies for clients.

The session was chaired by Prof. Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, whose opening remarks provided the introduction to the session. Mr Tan started with mentioning possible criticism on nations/authorities for not taking more cautious steps about domestic practices of the bank. To suggest where Asia goes from the status quo and what it means for Singapore as well as Asia, Mr Tan firstly defined the current situation as the crisis of confidence. He then shared his skeptical view on management of the situation of property, suggesting many pending worrisome such as the trouble with inflation, the trouble with the growth of the US, the trouble with bank failure and the trouble with moral hazard which affects the variable situation.
Mr Tan also stressed the volatile characters of the current situation. That said, facing the crisis confidence requires preparation with various angles. Both the banking sectors and the corporate sectors are influenced simultaneously, and a lot of people are concerned about issues such as the prospect of losing their jobs, the prospect of negative equity and the prospect of housing prices. Although the shifty judgment upon the current market, good or horrible, is normal occurrence, Mr Tan suggested, consumers are advised to scale back their consumption.

New requirements made on banks indicate disclose of the liquidity. Regarding the ease of the monetary system as releasing liquidity, Mr Tan re-emphasized that the volatility is name of the game. The dynamics of new economy will be different form the previous. Mr Tan forecasted continuous inflation around the world, the decline of US dollar, strengthening Euro -hence the European corporates stay well- and the need for further cut back on Sterling. Upon the excessive liquidity, he suggested that the liquidity price itself is depending on profit when facing the crisis of confidence. He categorized Asian countries into three groups. The first group, comprised of India, China, Indonesia, Singapore and Viet Nam will raise the rates or at least hold still. The second group, comprised of Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand South Korea, will see no action done by the central banks this year. Lastly, Japan and Hong Kong show not much indication.

Mr Tan went on to explain future prospects in Singapore. Although the general picture remains positive, there will be the start of recession. Government has been able to engineer the diversification in the domestic economy, but the biggest challenge will be inflation.

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