Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Acknowledgement of Unsustainable 'Frickin Killer Rent' Economy by Govt

Comments in parliament by MP Inderjit Singh:

"the day MNCs move out in large numbers, we will see a vacuum & a hollowing of our economy without a strong base of home grown companies."

"I recently spoke to some SME owners who are tenants in a JTC(govt industrial land agency) development in Toa Payoh which is now operated by a leading private property firm. Some of the tenants who are now negotiating a lease renewal with landlord face substantially higher rent at 40% increase. This is clearly an industrial policy gone wrong. We should never allow industrial land to be used for investors. Now what has happened is that the genuine companies who need industrial land have to pay way beyond what it should be & therefore they cannot survive as they also cannot compete with similar economies such as Taiwan, Korea or Malaysia."

"In fact, JTC should practice a differentiated land pricing policy because pegging industrial land to the market is not realistic in S'pore where the market for land is on the higher end of the curve due to shortage of supply. JTC should offer land based on prices offered in equivalent competing economies so that our companies can compete effectively,"

"There are many hidden taxes too - GST, high levies for foreign workers, series of duties & taxes on utilities & transportation, like COE & ERP charges, that add to escalating business costs."

Before this blog was started, i'm already peeved off by the high costs of living which is manipulated to the current dangerous & unsustainable level by the incumbent ruling party to benefit a small group of people.

Common sense would dictate that is unsustainable when we can buy stuff from ebay or other online retailers at a lower price. Unless desperate, why buy stuff locally & pay exorbitant killer rent component which many people exchanged their lifeforce in their daytime for a paycheck in a job they don't like.

I loathe eating with colleagues as i don't order drinks & i'm not willing to go with the crowd when it comes to ordering food thereby incurring higher expenses. Even when joining a group cycling ride in this tiny island i don't buy drinks. Before every ride i would load up with a drink & load my water bottles accordingly for the ride. I used to be a hardcore saver & deprived myself of many things in order to reach my savings target. Now i'm not so hardup on myself & learnt to 'blow' some $ by spending on minor treats during daytrips in JB, Msia.

While the darn incumbent party has finally come to the horrific realization about the hollowing out of the economy when MNCs move out due to killer rents, i wonder if is too late for this awakening. Being a cyclist i marvel at Taiwan which is also an asian tiger economy like S'pore in the past. In cycling industry Taiwan has spun off world industry giants like KMC(bicycle chains), GIANT(bike maker) & Topeak (bike accessories). Why niche crap does S'pore have? How can S'pore progress to the next stage when we have state capitalism running the country?

Yes REITs investors have benefited from the bloodsucking rents but the party is going to be over soon for reasons i've stated to a question-'Why I Consider REITs Risky'. Issue finally raised in parliament is an indication the situation is very bad already- it is a house of cards.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ramping Up Public Healthcare Sector for 'Silver' Tsunami

Such propaganda of which sector is hot to drive recruitment by govt gives me a bad taste. Starting in 90s with urge for engineering, then wafer fab then biomed- all of which faded into obscurity along with the dashing of dreams of those naive to listen & do as the propaganda espouses. In the end we have a casino & another casino...

Summing up as follows:
- 6,400 more nurses & 1,800 support staff needed
- close to 2,000 more public hospital beds will be added by 2020
- targeting school leavers between 16 & 20 years old
- salary review for public healthcare sector underway.
- Flexi/part time work

How many 16 -20 year old students know what they want in life? Current educational system stressing on scoring A & more As does not produce many good healthcare givers. IQ is different from the EQ which is utilise in caring professions.

Forcing someone at a young age to specialise in a narrow field (eg nursing) without teaching vital life skills severely limits the options one has later in life. Without vital life skills such as personal finance management, the economic machine can be assured of ratrace slaves working to grease & keep the machine running. Hence many people are trapped in professions they dislike.

Teenagers need to be aware of what happens when the 'silver' tsunami is over - baby boomers more or less died out. Assuming they start working as nurses at 20 & retire at 65, that's 45years. If the healthcare workers demand is over after 25 years upon the passing away of the tsunami wave of old folks, would there still be a need for so many healthcare workers? After 25years, the person is in mid 40s & we already know the difficulties many of those aged 40+ face in switching careers.

There is a time for boom & a time for bust. Propaganda put out by the hybrid regime serve their needs first by brainwashing teenagers of the rosy prospects & little or no mention of the downsides.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

19.4km Leisure 'Recon On Economy' Ride

Went for a short night ride to destress. Is more of a ride to take a look at the shops facing the road. I found the following shops closed down & vacant:

- L&T Cycle at 1Commonwealth
- Another shop (no idea what biz) at 1Commonwealth
- 2 stalls in coffeeshop at 1Commonwealth
- 3 shops beside Body Shop at HollandV
- Restaurant at Junction of Ulu Pandan Rd & Clementi Rd

Looks like we are in for exciting times. More businesses closing down due to killer rents--> more people losing their jobs --> can't pay exorbitant 30year mortgages --> property market collapse.

The manipulated bubble need to & must burst. It is simply unsustainable.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Soviet Storm: Soviet Perspective of WWII

Both Hitler & Stalin are disgusting dictators. During wartime what gave Stalin an advantage despite soviet forces suffering severe losses at the start is that he adopted the advice of his generals on the frontlines whereas Hitler at time overruled his thinking he knows better although he's in the rear echelons.

What makes this documentary unique is that it's from the soviet perspective. I have watched 6 episodes so far & enjoyed it.

I still consider the soviet's defense of Stalingrad to be the most epic on the eastern front. That real battle together with the Tortise Vs Rabbit Race Amazing Version video tells us that many things in our life are not fair. It is up to us to make the best with what we have & minimise our gaps.

8 episodes in chronological order without 2hrs of your life wasted on commercials though a much smaller screen:

Operation Barbarossa

Battle of Moscow

Siege of Leningrad

Battle of Stalingrad

Battle of Kursk

Operation Bagration

Liberation of Ukraine

Battle of Berlin

Soviet Storm is a new & epic television history of the 2nd World War's Eastern Front. Giving an unprecedented Russian perspective on the war's most decisive & bloody theatre.

This was a conflict of staggering scale & savagery. 4 out of 5 German soldiers killed in World War II died on the Eastern Front. The Red Army suffered 10 times as many dead as the Western Allies combined. The total dead on all sides was more than 30 million, most of them civilians. The war was seen by both sides as a struggle for existence. In that light, Hitler & Stalin were prepared to accept losses on any scale to achieve final victory.

Soviet Storm tells the story of this titanic clash of arms blow by blow. Using archive film & photography, computer generated imagery & innovative reconstructions,

From the German invasion of 22 June 1941 'Operation Barbarossa' (the largest military operation in history), through to the brutal fighting outside the gates of Moscow, the savage street-fighting of Stalingrad, and the long, bloody road to Berlin, this is an epic retelling of the world's most devastating conflict.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

State Capitalism - S'pore, China

Hybrid regime S'pore, Authoritarian regime China & Russia practises State Capitalism. Government linked-companies in S'pore take up around 60% of the economy which is unhealthy like that of China's. If China risks economic crisis if no reforms wouldn't it be the same for S'pore as well?

With GLCs dominant at around 60% of the economy, its bidding process tendered out to SMEs are usually if not always awarded out to the lowest bidder as what the 2 chiefs of Civil Defense Force & Central Narcotics corruption case has revealed.

Govt bureaucrats run the GLCs instead of entreprenuers. As such their mentality is dominantly very risk averse to cover their backside in their cushy jobs. How to have innovation with such mindset? How does ex-generals & scholars who are parachuted into GLCs know about starting & running a business from the ground up?

What free market is there in S'pore when Telcos & privatised public transport(again GLCs) are like monopolised cartels? Taking the Telcos as example, isn't it a waste with 3 sets of board of directors, 3 HR depts, 3 investor relations dept etc when all 3 companies are controlled by govt? There's duplication of resources which are a waste in this form of state capitalism.

China's govt state capitalism style is obsessed with high gdp growth to create jobs for their citizens to be employed & happy. S'pore's govt state capitalism is also obsessed with high gdp but this is where it ends. Difference is that S'pore state capitalism is used to create jobs the bulk of which are for foreigners & more & more citizens displaced/underemployed & of course unhappy. See the difference?

The opening of 2 casinos here is a prominent sign of a lack of SMEs(suffocated by GLCs) to drive the economy forward. Unless the current ruling party/regime loses its 2/3 majority in parliament, don't expect any major reforms to avert the coming economic crisis.

China risks economic crisis if no reforms

China could face an economic crisis if it does not implement major reforms in the next 20 years, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday, citing a report by the World Bank & Chinese government researchers.

The "China 2030" report - to be released on Monday - warns economic growth is at risk of a sharp & sudden slowdown, which could trigger a severe downturn in the world's second-largest economy.

The report makes a number of recommendations for restructuring China's economic growth model, including scaling back its vast & powerful state-owned enterprises & making them operate more like commercial firms.

It also urges Beijing to overhaul local government finances & promote competition & entrepreneurship, the newspaper said, citing half a dozen people involved in preparing the document.

The report, to be presented by World Bank President Robert Zoellick at a conference in Beijing, is aimed at influencing the next generation of leaders in China, who will begin to take power at the end of this year during a major transition, the paper said.

"The report lays out the recommendations for a development growth path for the medium term, helping China make the transition to become a high income society," Zoellick said earlier this week in a statement announcing his visit.

The report, prepared by the World Bank & the Development Research Centre under the State Council, China's cabinet, has been criticised by the Chinese regulator of state-owned companies, which is expected to try to block its adoption, the paper said.

Beijing prohibits or restricts foreign investment in strategic sectors such as auto, energy, finance, banking & telecommunications, drawing criticism from overseas competitors over the lack of market access & unfair treatment.

Domestically, privately owned firms often complain about the lack of competition & the fact they cannot access financing from commercial banks, which prefer to lend money to other major state-owned enterprises.

Chinese leaders frequently talk about the need to reform the country's economic model, partly by reducing its heavy reliance on exports & increasing domestic consumption.

But significant reforms have been slow as stability-obsessed leaders try to maintain rapid economic growth seen as essential to create enough jobs for the country's 1.3 billion people & keep a lid on unrest.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Power of Introversion from Notable People

My introversion is not as heavy as Carl Jung as in requiring several days to recover.

"Solitude is for me a fount of healing which makes my life worth living. Talking is often a torment for me & i need many days of silence to recover from the futility of words."- Carl Jung

"I hate crowds & making speeches. I hate facing cameras & having to answer to a crossfire of questions. Why popular fancy should i seize upon me, a scientist, dealing in abstract things & happy if left alone, is a manifestation of mass psychology that is beyond me."-Albert Einstein

33% to 50% of the population are introverts. However our culture tend towards glamorizing extroversion. Some introverts pretend to be extroverts in order to fit in- end of workday they are even more exhausted.

Cost cutting & consolidation in my previous workplace led to 'open concept cubicle farms' where there's hardly any privacy. For a rather heavy leaning introvert like me i dislike such environment. At times i escape to quiet spots during lunch time in order to recharge.

People's attention span are already low with so many spam & carpet bombing of advertisements trying to interrupt us to get our attention. If bosses are worried about workers lazing in cubicles with higher walls providing more privacy, their worries are pretty much ill-founded. Why? -Competition from globalization.

How can productivity & innovation of introverts thrive when there's constantly people walking around & looking around even when seated due to low cubicle farm walls(easier to interrupt)?

Monday, February 20, 2012

2nd CRC Order- Just 1 800ml Bottle

800ml is my biggest bottle for rides. Bought it by joining a chainreactioncycles mass order again when it was back in stock. I estimate the cost of such similar product to be doubled in S'pore.

Initial capital investment will be recouped in 4-5 rides (no need to buy canned drinks), after which it'll be savings. This 800ml along with my other 750ml ought to be sufficient for rides to anywhere on this tiny island without spending a dime on overpriced canned drinks or mineral/distilled bottled water.

Why buy those overpriced canned drinks when it is better spent on local hawker's $1 desserts at Tanglin Halt Hawker Centre. Opt for a reward that's more value for $ with the $ saved.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

State Capitalism PAP Style in Public Transport Sector

After trains now come buses.

Stakeholders Vs Shareholders. Party Against People (PAP) as is also known among netizens is spending $1.1B of taxpayers(stakeholders) $$ to buy 550 buses + cover 10 years running costs for the privatised public transport companies which are majority owned by the govt. Socializing costs privatizing profits.

Easy duopoly business with captive market to transfer $$ from masses into hands of minority of shareholders.

When there is such easy way to make $$ there is little/no incentive to increase local workforce productivity through automation. Just flood in more & more people since they are forced to use the buses/trains. Automated machines if bought to increase productivity can't use buses/trains on a daily basis while hordes of imported cheaper labor cum consumers die die must use.

Gdp can grow can already. Grow like cancer also damn good- that's how distasteful the gdp mindset of the pap.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Housing Collapse As Tsunami Wave of Destitute Old Folks Sell

Mr Thomas Ling: 'With many retiring citizens having little Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies left, is it any wonder they should zealously protect their last assets?'
Someone wrote in state controlled paper that many old folks have little retirement funds(cpf) thus these aged folks don't want eldercare facilities near where they live for fear of depreciating their pigeon hole dwellings.

Aging process cannot be stop as of now. Property market will still collapse when tsunami wave of old folks selling to pay medical bills & living expenses. It is a demographic timebomb made worse by the Stop-at-2 birth control policies by the paramount leader. Importing immigrants won't solve the problem- Warren Buffett said you don't get a baby in 1mth by getting 9 women pregnant.

Don't expect any sustainable boom when so much of the population are in debt up to their eyeballs. Can't force the retiring baby boomers to spend spend spend to drive this unsustainble consumer driven economic model.

Baby boomers spend spend spend in productive years --> boom boom boom
Baby boomers cut cut cut in retiring years --> bust bust bust

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

China's 3 Gorges Dam Construction & Its Effects

1hr 25min documentary. Another 11 months left to finish this year with no viewing of regular tv & its time wasting commercials. The part on historical & cultural relics being lost & changes taking place so fast... community life vanishing... It is like is talking about S'pore as well.

- reservoir of water behind the dam is longer than the Grand Canyon
- dam wall thick enough to withstand conventional missile attack
- world's biggest power plant's 32 turbine generators produce as much electricity as 18 nuclear power plants
- Look at the motorbike factory. A glimpse of manufacturing capacity that eclipses that of USA

Monday, February 13, 2012

Warren Buffett Won't Invest in S'pore Inc

When reading investment books one invariably come across a section somewhat late in the investment process regarding executive pay. It caution the investor on whether the executives running the company has the shareholders interest at heart or just simply interested in fattening his own pockets.

- find out online how much the companies' executives are paid
- Compare the pay with a few other companies in the industry

If the businesses make roughly the same amount of $$ & industry is same then the pay is comparable. If a CEO's pay isn't in line with others by a wide margin then you might have found a company that isn't putting its shareholder interests first. Huge paychecks are just 1 symptom of questionable management.

Substitute companies with other 1st world govts & industry with other 1st world nations.

Does this ring a bell especially to S'poreans? Even after salaries downward adjustment the pay is still ridiculous. If S'pore is a 'company' which some people already say is S'pore Inc then Buffett won't touch this dubious company as the executive package already fail his criteria of honest management miserably.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

1% Chain Stretch is Expensive If Neglected

What's 1%? Very little right? Well a 1% stretched on your bicycle chain can burn a big hole in the wallet if left neglected especially for higher end bicycle components which cost much much more to replace in addition to the worn chain.

I know nothing about this chain stretch stuff until i see 'valley holes' where the chain rest on the chainring on my market bike. Thus when i see small 'valley holes' on my entry flatbar roadbike i know is time for replacement before the chainrings & cassette are grinded away by the worn chain.

A cycling group's organiser who is also a frugal guy like me shared how to determine chain stretch using a measuring tape - no need to buy fancy chain wear measuring tool:

Picture from:
Replacing a chain & learning how to do it (might need chain breaker tool) is a simple skill worth knowing & it pay for itself over a lifetime when coupled with buying cheaper replacement parts from

Similarly small tiny amounts like buying drinks during meals outside can add up to a sizeable amount over time. Such small leakages in how money is spend can be detrimental to one's financial health over a lifetime.

How many of these small leakages like 1% stretch do you have that is going to hurt you later on in life if neglected?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

1st Purchase of 3 Bicycle Stuff Items from Chainreactioncycles

Price in [] is estimated price in S'pore. Leftmost price is after conversion from £.

KMC Z82 8spd Half Silver Chain
S$15.20 [S$28, savings of $12.80]

Topeak Universal Chain Breaker Tool

Clear Plastic 550ml Waterbottle
S$5.20 [around double price in S'pore] is the world's largest online bicycle store. It currently has free shipping on orders hitting £200. Since my original chain has stretched to dangerous limit i've been shopping around for a replacement. Original bike shop where i bought my bike has sold out 8 speed chains. They recommend i go to neighourhood bike shops.

For 2 weeks i was in a delimma whether to pay a higher price locally with the mechanic changing it or buy it for much less from CRC & DIY. A regular biker mentioned to me he's using KMC z82 at S$28 on his MTB so i decided to go for that (via CRC). Also bought a chain tool to break the worn out chain. Bought a smaller volume water bottle since the bigger volume model was sold out.

How to get free shipping when my order is so pathetic? Well i joined 1 of the CRC mass orders initiated by cyclists on . The savings are still worth it after paying commission to the mass order organiser for his efforts & hassle.

Don't just look at the difference in dollar amounts. Look at the % difference & you'll be shocked how much you can save by buying stuff online without paying for the killer rent in S'pore. We expend our 'life' earning $$ so what value is that throwing our 'life' away for the frickin high rent?

For many businesses there is a limit to how high they can raise prices as there is price pressure from online stores with much lower overheads. However S'pore's incumbent government with its state capitalism approach & manipulated property market has no limit to raising rents. How can productive businesses survive like that?

No 7% goods & services tax too since the order is less than S$400.

Are you getting more bang for your $$ by buying things online? It pays to start practising anticipating what items you need in advance since it takes a couple of days for the items to arrive.

Look at the array of items at online stores compared to a regular bicycle store. Why bother squeezing with people at the shops & malls?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Where is the Investment on the 'Fuel Gauge'?

This is an addon to my blogpost on 'Why I Consider REITs Risky' a few days back.

At times we read about people making piles of $$ investing in a certain instrument or asset. Greed emotion would naturally stir up inside us. However we need to ask ourselves roughly where it is on the fuel gauge? (as analogy)

Person you read about making $$ is most likely making $$ during the earlier to mid stages of the gauge where there's plenty of gas in the tank. People who neglected the 'fuel gauge' & heed the sirens of greed boarded the airplane with near-empty fuel tanks. These investors(passengers) giggled with delight was they soared into the clouds... until the fuel ran out.

Mass panic hits when there's no more gas left to power the flight to profits. When the plane hits the ground, many investors suffered heavy losses.

With those factors i've seen & read about which i mentioned in the REITs risky post, i believe the local REITs are in the red danger zone on the gauge.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Many S'poreans Are Gloomy About the Future

Ever wonder how come Consumer Confidence is used to gauge optimism/pessimism & not Citizen Confidence? I find it kinda weird to use consume, consume, consume to indicate whether people are optimistic/pessimistic. We as a society has seen large numbers of people mutated from citizens into consumers.

What is the difference between citizen & consumer?

A layperson doesn't need such survey to know the general gloomy outlook among many sinkies & SMEs which are being sucked dry by Party Against People's State Capitalism approach & the manipulated property market's killer rents.

Most would cut back on spending. Again this goes back to the domino effect: Spending down-->Businesses down & slain by killer rent--> Workers lose jobs & can't pay exorbitant mortgages-->Subprime crisis(S'pore). How long can the profits from REITs go on? Is gonna end, thus i consider reits risky.

Significant opportunities for financial services industry? There's always a bull market somewhere & here it is... Sharks are drawn to blood since more people are stashing more $$ & less spending. This reminds me of what Robert Kiyosaki said:

"Asking Wall Street to provide financial education is the same as asking a fox to raise your chickens. If the fox is smart, the fox will be patient & raise very fat chickens. The fox works hard to gain the chickens' trust... so he cares for them by providing slick brochures, branch offices & good looking salespeople who have been trained to sound like investors. The chickens mistakenly believe the financial planner is looking after them, will make them rich & protect them from the harsh cruel world outside the chicken coop."

Whether the person's portfolio goes up or down, the financial services industry will have a bite of it via management fees of the actively managed funds being sold.

Sinkies looking for ways to preserve & protect their wealth? How come is not growing wealth? Is like having all the football players on your team to focus on defense & neglect offense. How to score goals with that mentality? With such a scared lose attitude is no wonder many sinkies are screwed left, right & centre - they deserve it.

S'poreans "pessimistic about future"
By Monica Kotwani

Singaporeans seem to be pessimistic about the future, according to the latest report by research firm Nielsen.

Its global survey on spending intentions found that consumer confidence in Singapore remains at its lowest, in more than 2 years.

Singapore's Consumer Confidence Index stood at 94 points.

Consumer confidence levels above & below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism & pessimism, respectively.

Survey, conducted between November & December last year, revealed 29% of Singaporeans thought the country was in economic recession.

Of those who believed so, 44% said Singapore would not come out of recession this year.

55% also revealed pessimism over job prospects. The figure is higher than 47% who thought so, in the previous quarter.

Most will hold back on their spending.

Some 70% of respondents said they would put spare cash into savings.

32% said they planned to invest in stocks or mutual funds. That's slightly higher than the global average of about 19%.

Joan Koh, managing director of Nielsen Singapore, said: "Singaporeans are looking for ways to preserve & protect their wealth.

"These results indicate significant opportunities for the financial services industry in the country & in the region."

Survey covered some 28,000 respondents across 56 countries.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why I Consider REITS Risky

Someone in a comment asked why i consider reits risky. Thought i'll have a blogpost on this.

REITS investors have been making $$ from the frickin killer rent that's killing businesses. Evidence have been around for people to see. Is only recently in past couple of days it 'finally' surface in print media - which means is very serious already.

There is a limit how much rental increases a business can absorb in the manipulated property market here. Situation here has become like a house of cards that's gonna collapse soon. Subprime crisis that started in America is still fresh among most people's minds. When people lost their jobs they can't make mortgage payments. A chain reaction ensues that erupted into the worst financial crisis since depression.

When people lose jobs when businesses are killed by killer rents, the same scenario will happen in S'pore. Thus i consider REITS & business with major exposure to property risky. Killer rent is making businesses uncompetitive. More & more people are buying stuff online to avoid killer rent & gst. Some online retailers that pack a wallop are:
  • gmarket
  • dealextreme
  • alibaba express (i didn't try before)
  • chainreactioncycles (mass order with other buyers)
  • ebay
How are businesses going to survive & sustain rent payment when people are flocking online for cheaper alternatives & don't mind a few days wait?

In addition to the above mentioned online retailers other bleak signs are:

- stagnating salaries among many people
- Even Starbucks is feeling the heat from the killer rent
- Pawnshops growing like weeds (financial distress)
- More in revolving credit card debt
- Closing down of bridal shops
- Closing down of bookstores (Harris, Popular, PageOne, Clementi bkstores etc)

CapitaMalls Asia went public at $2.12 in late 2009. After a short burst of initial euphoria is like a man diving without a chute. Since there's more & more people buying & consuming stuff at malls + killer rents, how come the stock price is collapsing? Perhaps the IPO price is for suckers to buy who are fooled by the nice 'story' in the prospectus.

The 1st ominous sign of killer rent i notice was 50% shops(half a regular shop) in the heartlands many years ago. With 80-85% of people living in flats the evidence is already staring at us in the face. Right now the house of cards are supported by cheap foreign labor. All this led me to conclude the REITs party will not go on for long.

More Babies else More Immigrants. He Just Wants Consumers!!

S'pore's paramount leader or the sith lord as he is known by others dishes out his usual heap of 'wisdom'. After his disastrous 'Stop at 2' birth control policy in the 70s, he now exhort the locals to reproduce more.

Why stop at 2? Because he's terrified the economy won't be able to grow & sustain growing numbers of people. Why sudden change in tune? Simply - $$$$$. After discovering how easy to suck $$ out of the people with his Pro Alien Party's state capitalism approach he's afraid his govt linked companies profits would shrink with lesser population.

Economic growth (gdp) = Population growth + Productivity growth

With population dwindling of course he's worried about the loss of easy $$ when the other productivity factor is low among foreign imports due to high churn/turnover rate.

Bigger or more & more is not necessarily better. In my younger days, life was more carefree & less stressful for many people despite lower incomes. Fact is once incomes crosses the threshold of basic necessities, more $$ does not lead to a corresponding increase in happiness. People have more time to smell the roses & community lives are better. Right now the pace of life is so frentic that gatherings are confine to Chinese New Year & funerals.

Is he concerned about the quality of life of the peasants? It seems to me he is obsess with gdp, gdp, gdp. Citizens or consumers? Answer is obvious- have 6.5M consumers into this tiny island to consume & consume stuff like locusts & use plastic bags so that sea level can rise faster & submerge S'pore.

More plastic bags add to the gdp. Effort to reduce usage is pathetic & is just for show. Look at our neighbouring Msian state of Johor which already ban plastic bags for large retailers on busy Sat.

Oh & we have grossly overpaid ministers who don't have the political will to initiate a 1 day/week ban in effort to start toilet training & unhook people's addiction to plastic bags.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

More Youngsters Entering Slavery Via Credit Card as 'Frequent Revolvers'

Hardly surprising. Slick talking salespersons hawking credit cards are a frequent sight at malls, subway stations etc. There's little to no financial education in schools. Heavily-in-debt slaves are needed as obedient workers to grease the economic wheels.

Frugal people are increasingly endangered in this hyperconsumption tiny island. As if credit cards are not enough, there's pawnshops which are growing like weeds. Another kind of weed are as you guess it- malls.

How many people can resist the temptations screaming at them from peer pressure to buy same or better gadgets to keep up, ads plastered in so many places like spam? The need to keep up in external appearances is a trap many fall into.

I've broken off with friends after they don't heed my caution regarding the mass consumption orgy. Think of it as springcleaning, i don't like being infected by their hyperconsumption mania. 1 sinkie = 33 africans in consumption of resources. Average sinkie consume resources at '3 Earths'. What madness is that destroying the Mother Earth by going deeper & deeper into debt by buying more & more & more stuff?

Funny thing i have witness myself is that a multi-millionaire in my reservist platoon treated us to dinner & he paid in cold hard cash! Yet some people trying to look rich think they are flush with money with the multiple cards in their purse/wallet when opening it to pay the bills.

More young people holding credit cards
By Alvina Soh

Credit Bureau Singapore said the number of credit card holders aged 21 to 29 have shot up by nearly 50% over the past 4 years. They now total 150,667. However, this group is also seeing a bigger jump in those not paying in full.

From 2008 to 2011, the bureau said the number of so-called "frequent revolvers" jumped by nearly 70%. They are those who pay a part of their bills and roll over the outstanding balance for at least 3 consecutive months.

Separately, Credit Counselling Singapore said it is also seeing more permanent residents seeking financial help.

Kuo How Nam, president of Credit Counselling Singapore, said: "In 2008, what we saw was a big increase in the number of people coming to see us. But that stabilised over the last few years. So what has been very noticeable is there are more permanent residents (PRs) coming to see us for help."

According to Credit Counselling Singapore, PRs make up nearly a fifth of those having credit card woes & it is concerned over this trend.

Mr Kuo said: "Foreigners, because they are in Singapore, they actually have less family support available & that sometimes make their situation worse. There's no differentiation in ways to help them because their financial situation is usually the same.

"We would try to ascertain what their financial situation is. We would then take them through a counselling process where we try to understand what their problems are, and we will try to work out what the options are. 1 of the option would be the debt restructuring programme with the bank & see whether we can put them on this programme."

In 2011, some 1,100 people, including 200 PRs, sought help from Credit Counselling Singapore.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Bookstore Bites the Dust - Killed by More than Double of Rent

Bloodbath continues due to killer rents. Bookstores are a magnet for me. Is one of the source for my 'what to read next?' list as i browse through the personal finance/investment & self improvement bookshelves. Haven't bought any books last year. Is not because i don't read but because of space constraints at home.
Killer rent news over the past few days have grabbed my attention. High cost of living brought about through manipulated property market has been a pain in the ass. Thought of how much of a frickin killer rent am i paying for this product/service is often enought to shut my wallet & look for alternatives online.

S'pore's economy is in a precarious state. These killer rents have many businesses hanging on by their fingernails. Many are 'floating' through cheap foreign labor often with low productivity. When many private sector businesses are 'chained' with killer rents, how can they thrive & grow? The current situation is already very bad with incumbent Pay&Pay 's style of state capitalism in which government linked companies take up more than 50% of s'pore economy.

With killer rent draining the life out of useful productive businesses what future is there for S'pore? Open more sin businesses like casinos?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hell March Lives On in Creative Adaptations

Hell March - one of the most if not the most amazing sountrack in Command & Conquer: Red Alert computer game. Adds so much to the mood of the game. Contribution to the world by self-taught musician who dare to follow his calling - Frank Klepacki

Look at how fans of his music have adapted his music into the military parades of these 3 countries:

North Korea: This has got to be the best since little is known of this reclusive state. Is one of the few remaining places on earth not polluted by advertisements bombarding us on the streets, subway.

Russia: Parade at Moscow where Hitler's armies were stopped at the outskirts of Moscow.

China: Next emerging superpower? China got its own set of problems. While the western countries are mired in debts, China has been signing treaties for resources in Africa & other countries(neglected by the west).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Killer Rent News Finally in Business Times

I've been railing about the absurb high rental component in stuff & services we buy in S'pore ever since starting this blog. Be wise with $$. Be frugal. Isn't it foolish paying high rent for product/service if you can avoid it?

Reit manager said the rent rise is a component of market forces. What bullshit is that when the govt own most of the land & manipulate the supply & demand of it? There is no market forces. The govt is the market, it set the market. Also how private are the 'entities' mentioned when the majority shareholder is the govt itself?

I'm smelling a bloodbath soon. When more & more business go out of business, people can't pay their already absurb mortgages on their grossly inflated pigeon hole dwellings. What does that mean? It means a subprime crisis created by our Pay & Pay govt. is coming.

Most glaring example i have pointed out is the Starbucks outlet sweating over killer rent at the mall near where i live. Just gives me the creeps when is a booth space instead of shop space.

SMEs blame Reits for growing rental pains

JTC asked to review its current policy of divesting industrial space to private entities

Rising rentals for commercial & industrial space have emerged as a pressing issue for small & medium enterprises (SMEs), and the fingers are pointed squarely at the dominance of real estate investment trusts or Reits as landlords.

Reits' drive to enhance yields & returns for unit holders - which usually translates into rental hikes - have left many SME owners, who feel they have limited alternatives here, fuming.

It has also led to calls - including a recommendation by the newly formed SME Committee - for JTC Corp to review its current policy of divesting industrial space to private entities like Reits and return to its previous role of an industrial landlord, so that it can provide ready & affordable industrial space to SMEs.

'Rentals & capital values of properties are going up, impacting business costs for SME owners & eating into their bottomline,' said Lawrence Leow, chairman of the SME Committee.

According to Abdul Rohim Sarip, president of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI), rental forms between 40% & 50% of operational costs for small businesses. So the increase in rental costs has had a significant impact on their bottom-line.

'About 40% of these companies (from the retail and manufacturing industries) who seek advisory assistance from EDC@SMCCI have difficulty in sustaining their operational costs & are in need of short-term loans from banks, which is another challenge,' he added.

Noted Low Cheong Kee, managing-director of Home-Fix DIY: 'Reits are commercial entities. They will do what they can to keep upping the rent at every renewal whereas JTC had a national agenda to stabilise rent.'

JTC, a statutory board, oversees the development of industrial infrastructure in Singapore. There is clearly frustration among SME owners. An SME owner who did not wish to be named told BT she is currently in negotiations with her landlord, a Reit trust manager, to renew her lease for an additional 3 years. The new lease agreement is for $28,000 per month, plus 3% of the store's monthly gross turnover (GTO). She currently pays $17,000 for her 1,000 sq ft unit.

Another SME owner said his rent for a 50,000 sq ft business space in Tuas increased by 56% from $50,000 to $78,000 when he tried to negotiate to renew his lease for 8 months.

According to official statistics, rental rates of multiple-user factory space increased 16.2% year on year in 2011, while rental at multiple user warehouse rose 13.3%.

Retail rents also rose on Singapore's success as a world-class shopping & event destination, but are expected to stabilise in 2012 due to a more muted economic outlook and oncoming supply. Average rents at prime Orchard Road malls went up 4.6% year on year last quarter, while those at prime suburban malls edged up 2.2%, according to CBRE Research.

What rankles too is the perception SMEs have that the odds are stacked in favour of the landlords.

Retailers argue that the practice of requiring tenants to reveal their GTO figures gives landlords an unfair advantage when negotiating rents. Said an SME owner: 'The current retail market is unbalanced in favour of landlords . . . (since) in the prime retail spaces, you will find that 80% to 90% of landlords insist that their tenants reveal their monthly sales numbers.'

There is also the problem of landlords working in a clause that allows them to terminate tenancy agreements. 'So even though the lease may be signed for 2 to 3 years, and there's no breach of contract, landlords still have the right to terminate the tenancy of the tenant simply because the landlord feels that another tenant might be able to bring in a better image, sales, or rental . . . So your future is never secure,' he said.

Greenpac's chief executive Susan Chong not only had the plus-2-years clause of her lease terminated following the sale of her factory building to a Reit, but is also unable to negotiate a renewal on her existing lease with the new owner. According to Ms Chong, she has been trying to arrange for a lease renewal since October last year. Her lease expires in April.

Her frustration is palpable, given that she only requires the space for an additional 8 months. 'I'm currently building my own factory so I'm asking that they either allow me to rent for an additional 8 months, or a year,' she said. While she will only require the facilities for the next 8 months, she is willing to renew the lease for a whole year, she emphasised. But thus far, the landlord's response to requests to negotiate has been a firm no, citing potential tenants who are looking to lease the property for a minimum 3 year term.

Reit managers are quick to point out that rents are a function of market forces, and that they are simply looking to achieve market rates. They say tenants have a choice as to where to locate their business & it would be impossible for Reits to charge rental rates above what the market can bear & what other landlords are charging.

'Industrial Reits collectively own about 15.8% (about 6 million sqm) of the total stock of about 38.2 million sqm of industrial property stock as at 2011. Are they able to dictate rental rates?' asked an Ascendas Funds Management spokesperson rhetorically.

'Recent media headlines of high percentage increase in rental rate in certain segments of the industrial property market is a result of catching-up to market rent level as a result of the change from public to private ownership,' the spokesperson added.

According to a CapitaMall Trust Management Ltd spokesperson, rental reversions for malls in CMT's portfolio averaged 2.1% a year in the last 2 years.

'In that same period, our tenants' sales have increased even faster - by more than 6% a year - showing that our tenants continue to do well in our malls,' it added, crediting its strong track record in asset enhancement, which has helped increase shopper traffic & thus tenants' sales.

Still, business owners look back to the time when JTC was a benevolent landlord. Allen Ang, group managing director of Aldon Technologies Services, pointed out that JTC initiated a rent reduction of 15% during the 2009 financial crisis.

Rent now makes up about 11% of the group's overhead costs. 'This is a substantial sum in an operation like ours. Considering our operations/business & industry norms, ideally the rents should stay at around 7% to 8%,' Mr Ang said.

He has signed a third lease for a 3 year term, from 2010 to 2013. The monthly rent for year one is $40,295, while monthly rent for year 2 is $43,498, a year-on-year increase of 8%.

The SME Committee's recommendation for JTC to review its role is an attempt to address these issues. A second recommendation calls for a one-off grant to help relocate SMEs with low value-added activities to lower-cost countries.

The recommendations, among others, will be presented to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Trade and Industry ahead of Budget 2012.