Friday, May 10, 2013


Selling discretion and security, not gum.

The new Monaco! A tut-tutting Nanny State no more! Singapore has arrived. It is now considered the wealthiest city in the world. This in-depth Wall Street Journal article provides an eye-opening update on Singapore as the playground du jour of the world’s wealthy. Despite its persistent reputation for prudishness (laws still outlaw selling chewing gum and peeing in elevators, caning transgressors and putting drug traffickers to death), the city now prides itself on its combination of sparkling showiness and disciplined discretion. It boasts a rock solid government and first world infrastructure that instills a high degree of confidence for the wealthy based in shakier regimes such as China and Indonesia to park their money and indulge their passion for, well, indulgence. Taxes are low, bank secrecy is high, the paparazzi are kept to heel, and the weather is warm 24/7/365. No wonder the glitzy are finding themselves in larger numbers here.
Of course, this policy of having an open border to overseas money has deleterious impacts on wealth disparity and the cost of living. Singapore’s Gini coefficient is now one of the highest amongst developed economies. At street level and among the masses, there has been more frequent grumbling about the invasion of wealthy foreigners into this once-sleepy Chinese outpost in a sea of Malay. However, for those high up in the Pangaea bar sipping a $26,000 cocktail while keys to their Ferraris or private jets dangle out of Armani slacks, such social issues seem far from mind.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely put, Kim. I was acutely aware of this high ride in my recent visit to the garden city.