Sunday, October 19, 2008


The global financial crisis has revived my interest in economics hehe, and this guy who just won a nobel prize in economics makes a lot sense leh...

Let’s Get Fiscal

Published: October 16, 2008

The Dow is surging! No, it’s plunging! No, it’s surging! No, it’s ...

Nevermind. While the manic-depressive stock market is dominating the headlines, the more important story is the grim news coming in about the real economy. It’s now clear that rescuing the banks is just the beginning: the nonfinancial economy is also in desperate need of help.

And to provide that help, we’re going to have to put some prejudices aside. It’s politically fashionable to rant against government spending and demand fiscal responsibility. But right now, increased government spending is just what the doctor ordered, and concerns about the budget deficit should be put on hold.

Before I get there, let’s talk about the economic situation.

Just this week, we learned that retail sales have fallen off a cliff, and so has industrial production. Unemployment claims are at steep-recession levels, and the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index is falling at the fastest pace in almost 20 years. All signs point to an economic slump that will be nasty, brutish — and long.

How nasty? The unemployment rate is already above 6 percent (and broader measures of underemployment are in double digits). It’s now virtually certain that the unemployment rate will go above 7 percent, and quite possibly above 8 percent, making this the worst recession in a quarter-century.

And how long? It could be very long indeed.

Think about what happened in the last recession, which followed the bursting of the late-1990s technology bubble. On the surface, the policy response to that recession looks like a success story. Although there were widespread fears that the United States would experience a Japanese-style “lost decade,” that didn’t happen: the Federal Reserve was able to engineer a recovery from that recession by cutting interest rates.

But the truth is that we were looking Japanese for quite a while: the Fed had a hard time getting traction. Despite repeated interest rate cuts, which eventually brought the federal funds rate down to just 1 percent, the unemployment rate just kept on rising; it was more than two years before the job picture started to improve. And when a convincing recovery finally did come, it was only because Alan Greenspan had managed to replace the technology bubble with a housing bubble.

Now the housing bubble has burst in turn, leaving the financial landscape strewn with wreckage. Even if the ongoing efforts to rescue the banking system and unfreeze the credit markets work — and while it’s early days yet, the initial results have been disappointing — it’s hard to see housing making a comeback any time soon. And if there’s another bubble waiting to happen, it’s not obvious. So the Fed will find it even harder to get traction this time.

In other words, there’s not much Ben Bernanke can do for the economy. He can and should cut interest rates even more — but nobody expects this to do more than provide a slight economic boost.

On the other hand, there’s a lot the federal government can do for the economy. It can provide extended benefits to the unemployed, which will both help distressed families cope and put money in the hands of people likely to spend it. It can provide emergency aid to state and local governments, so that they aren’t forced into steep spending cuts that both degrade public services and destroy jobs. It can buy up mortgages (but not at face value, as John McCain has proposed) and restructure the terms to help families stay in their homes.

And this is also a good time to engage in some serious infrastructure spending, which the country badly needs in any case. The usual argument against public works as economic stimulus is that they take too long: by the time you get around to repairing that bridge and upgrading that rail line, the slump is over and the stimulus isn’t needed. Well, that argument has no force now, since the chances that this slump will be over anytime soon are virtually nil. So let’s get those projects rolling.

Will the next administration do what’s needed to deal with the economic slump? Not if Mr. McCain pulls off an upset. What we need right now is more government spending — but when Mr. McCain was asked in one of the debates how he would deal with the economic crisis, he answered: “Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control.”

If Barack Obama becomes president, he won’t have the same knee-jerk opposition to spending. But he will face a chorus of inside-the-Beltway types telling him that he has to be responsible, that the big deficits the government will run next year if it does the right thing are unacceptable.

He should ignore that chorus. The responsible thing, right now, is to give the economy the help it needs. Now is not the time to worry about the deficit.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

'Do the right thing'... but beware divide and conquer tactics...

After weeks of dragging their feet, MAS has decided to act, but......

Oct 18, 2008
Do the right thing
MAS says priority will be given to lowly-educated retirees who lost money in its probe into mis-selling.

By Ignatius Low & Francis Chan

LOWLY-EDUCATED retiree investors who put their savings in structured products linked to the collapsed Lehman Brothers have been singled out by the Government for special attention.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) wants banks and financial institutions to give this group top priority when investigating complaints of mis-selling.

Instead of giving retirees priority, why not equally to all? Is it because retirees are mostly older and may not live as long as "non-retiree" investors? All investors should be accorded the same treatment. No one group should be accorded preferential treatment. The collective action by the victims forced MAS to act. By giving some priority over others, is someone hoping to split the group and then deal with them one by one? Hmmm........

Second incident, somewhat alike, the ongoing foreign worker dormitory at Serangoon Garden.

Serangoon Garden residents who don't want to 'guai guai' go along with gahment's decision to build a dormitory there have been making a lot of noise. So far Sporeans I have spoken to support the actions of these residents. Becos they too dislike the idea of having a worker dormitory so close to their homes and community. And crucially the unchecked import of such workers to alarming numbers in recent years.

But going by reports, articles and letters to the 148th, it seems like some Sporeans are very critical of Serangoon Garden residents and their actions. Words ranging from
snobbish, xenophobic, racist, elitish etc were used to label the 'enemy'. Totally irrational and seems like a smear campaign to tarnish the 'enemy'.

To me it is very clear the 148th and their editors blindly support all gahment decisions or policies, and will chut all necessary patterns to wage a media war on whoever they perceive as 'enemy'. In such a war, anyone who is not pro-Gahment is the enemy, even if supporting the Gahment means being anti-Spore and anti-Sporeans!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kangaroos felt scandalised...

Oct 15, 2008
A-G takes trio to court for 'scandalising judiciary'
'Kangaroo in judge's robe' T-shirt at centre of case
By Goh Chin Lian

According to the AGC, the three men had 'scandalised the Singapore Judiciary by publicly wearing identical white T-shirts, imprinted with a palm-sized picture of a kangaroo dressed in a judge's gown, within and in the vicinity of the New Supreme Court Building'.

By this, they meant to imply the Court was a kangaroo court, it added.

A kangaroo court is generally understood as being a court characterised by unauthorised or irregular procedures, or sham and unfair legal proceedings, noted the AGC. It also said Tan made his 'This is a kangaroo court' remark as MM Lee walked past him outside Court 4B.

Tan was also responsible, it added, for the appearance of an article, 'Police question activists over kangaroo T-shirts', and a photo of the trio in the T-shirts on the SDP website on July 27.

'The article and the photograph...were meant to give wider publicity to their allegation that the Court was a kangaroo court,' said the AGC.

It accused them of engaging in a 'deliberate and calculated course of action to impugn the reputation of and undermine public confidence in the Singapore Judiciary, and to lower its authority in the administration of justice in Singapore'.

Lawyers interviewed said it was the first time they had heard of a contempt of court case involving the wearing of T-shirts.

"Who you calling a kangaroo?" *uurp*

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fly the flag and 21 gun slaute to JBJ

If you would like to show your support for all that Mr. Jeyaretnam stood for, how about putting this flag on your blog too, just as both the picture maker and video producer have suggested? You can also include this paragraph, so that your readers, upon reading, can do their part too, on their blogs. Many of us, for one reason or another, have not shown direct support for JBJ in real life when he was alive, com'on, let us be brave enough to at least take a stand, and show our virtual support, OK?