Singapore is extraordinary for all the reasons you’ve read about: it’s clean, safe, well-off and HOT, with a micro-managing, essentially one-party governing establishment whose leader spoke up yesterday to say: Singapore’s economic growth will now be slower than before because its economy is maturing. “We must acknowledge that we are now more developed economically than we were 10 or 15 years ago, and we can no longer grow as rapidly as before,” said Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister and son of modern Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. I felt a little melancholy when I read Lee’s remarks – partly because I still miss that amazing island, where we lived for three years until last June. But also: Singapore’s rise from a swampy cast-off of the British and Malays to the modern pride of Southeast Asia has been nothing short of extraordinary. What now for this less-than-45-year-old city-state? The outlook is far from bleak, even if Singapore’s economic development will lag behind its Asian neighbors and rivals.
Archive for January 28th, 2010
President Obama announced $8 billion in high-speed rail grants today. (As a quick aside, that $8 billion is part of the $787 billion stimulus package that simply HAD to be passed immediately last year to help improve the economy in 2009. The $8 billion is part of the majority of the $787 billion that wasn’t spent in 2009. But I digress.)
Who can be against high-speed rail? It brings distant cities closer together, making for more mobile populations, and presumably, easier access to high-job-growth areas from population centers; it’s greener than driving or flying; and of course, the point of the stimulus, it creates jobs.
The first point is true, the second not as true as it first appears, and the third true mainly in the short term. But as the states continue to fight their way through a persistent economic slowdown, let’s focus on the cost of these projects, which is enormous.
Consumer electronics, Consumer Products, Retailing, Technology / Comments Off
Amazon just reported strong financial results – net income up 71% in the fourth quarter versus a year ago. And sales up 42% to $9.52 billion, also 4Q year-over-year. But the real story re Amazon remains with yesterday’s unveiling by Apple of the iPad. There are a lot of people who think Apple didn’t go far enough with the iPad – my fellow blogger Gabriella is one, see her post below. But when Apple figures out all that should be on this thing, the iPad will be a force to be reckoned with. Apple has been on a roll and no reason to believe it won’t continue to be.
Which brings us back to Amazon. CEO Jeff Bezos said in the company’s press release that when Amazon has both the electronic and physical version of a book, “we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books.” (Kindle is Amazon’s electronic book reader that also offers newspapers and magazines.) The Kindle has been a big success for Amazon. But it will have to figure out a way to get some of the buzz back that it lost yesterday to the iPad – and that’s real product buzz, not PR spin buzz. Stay tuned for an epic battle.
If you have friends, or offspring, in their teens, you know what’s wrong with the new iPad: there’s no video camera, so you can’t see your pals while chatting with them when you’re supposed to be doing your homework. Lack of video chat capability is a yawning gap in the iPad’s functionality. It might be precisely what makes it more of a niche than a mass-market product. The blogosphere is full of speculation that the next version of iPad (iPad 2.0) will in fact have video chat capability. If so – and surely Apple wants to fix this flaw – it’s worth holding off on an immediate iPad purchase.
Presented as part of a panel discussion about India at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum here in Davos, a majority of global Facebook users, responding to the question of what the world should expect from India, said they want India to be a leader on climate change issues.
When Facebook users within India were asked what India should expect from the world, the largest portion – 42% – said a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The next biggest chunk – 28% – want the world to look after India’s security interests.
Anand Sharma, India’s minister of commerce and industry, protested that the global economic architecture and the U.N. stemmed from post-World War II realities and don’t reflect today’s world, including the role of India, the world’s largest democracy.
Robert Hormats, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs, agreed that if the U.N. was created today the Security Council would look a lot different.
Hormats noted the rise of the G20 group of nations as a key policy group – supplanting the G7 – and India’s key role in the G20.
Consumer electronics / Comments Off
The reviews are already starting to trickle in on Apple’s latest product, which hasn’t even hit the stores yet. Apple’s tablet, called the iPad, will have a 9 inch or so screen and combines much of the functionality of an iPhone (minus the phone) with a laptop. It will work on WiFi and have 3G cellphone connectivity. The only carrier mentioned by Apple yesterday was AT&T.
AT&T has had serious performance issues on its network, in large part because of the success of the iPhone. At one point recently, it made the decision to briefly halt sales of the iPhone in New York City because of the problems.
Banks, Corporate Governance, Executive Compensation / Comments Off
The high-voltage issue of banker and other executive compensation is still seen by some as a matter for corporate, rather than government, reform.
Some voices at the World Economic Forum annual meeting here in Davos, Switzerland, have made that point. There’s also been some dissent to the notion that paying out bonuses in company stock that vests only after a number of years will reduce excessive risk-taking.
Executive compensation as the responsibility of a company’s board of directors is a “central tenet” of corporate organization, said Robert Greifeld, chief executive of NASDAQ OMX Group, said in a Wednesday interview at the outskirts of the Davos meeting.