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Causes of financial crisis: Singapore?

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Causes of financial crisis: Singapore?

Post by Darkmen on Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:43 am

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]THE collapse of Lehman Brothers, a sprawling global bank, in September 2008 almost brought down the world’s financial system.


Causes of financial crisis?

I refer to the article “The origins of the financial crisis.

Crash course: The effects of the financial crisis are still being felt, five years on. This article, the first of a series of five on the lessons of the upheaval, looks at its causes” (The Economist, Sep 6).

It states that “The macroeconomic backdrop was important, too. The “Great Moderation”—years of low inflation and stable growth—fostered complacency and risk-taking. A “savings glut” – pushed down global interest rates. All these factors came together to foster a surge of debt in what seemed to have become a less risky world.

Investors sought out these – products because they appeared to be relatively safe while providing higher returns in a world of low interest rates. Economists still disagree over whether these low rates were the result of central bankers’ mistakes or broader shifts in the world economy. Some accuse the – of keeping short-term rates too low, pulling longer-term mortgage rates down with them. – defenders shift the blame to the savings glut—the surfeit of saving over investment

Low interest rates created an incentive for banks, hedge funds and other investors to hunt for riskier assets that offered higher returns. They also made it profitable for such outfits to borrow and use the extra cash to amplify their investments, on the assumption that the returns would exceed the cost of borrowing. The low volatility of the Great Moderation increased the temptation to “leverage” in this way. If short-term interest rates are low but unstable, investors will hesitate before leveraging their bets. But if rates appear stable, investors will take the risk of borrowing in the money markets to buy longer-dated, higher-yielding securities. That is indeed what happened.

When – housing market turned, a chain reaction exposed fragilities in the financial system.

Trust, the ultimate glue of all financial systems, began to dissolve

In effect they had bet on themselves with borrowed money, a gamble that had paid off in good times but proved catastrophic in bad.

Central bankers insist that it would have been difficult to temper the housing and credit boom through higher interest rates.

When economies are doing well there are powerful political pressures not to rock the boat. With inflation at bay central bankers could not appeal to their usual rationale for spoiling the party. The long period of economic and price stability over which they presided encouraged risk-taking. And as so often in the history of financial crashes, humble consumers also joined in the collective delusion that lasting prosperity could be built on ever-bigger piles of debt.”

Similarities with Singapore?

After reading the above, do you see any possible similarities with Singapore?

Singapore has one of the highest household debt levels in Asia, and we have arguably had one of the longest periods of good economic growth with very low interest rates.

Perhaps our greatest challenge and issue going forward, may be how long a Government can continue to literally not spend a single cent on healthcare, public housing and pensions?
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Leong Sze Hian

Leong Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow and an author of 4 books. He is frequently quoted in the media. He has also been invited to speak more than 100 times in 25 countries on 5 continents. He has served as Honorary Consul of Jamaica, Chairman of the Institute of Administrative Management, and founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Brunei and Indonesia. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional qualifications. He blogs at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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