On 9 March 2022, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Chairman, Monetary Authority of Singapore talked about Singapore’s position in the Perfect Long Storm.
The perfect long storm is a combination of the Ukraine Crisis, a risk of Stagflation, climate crisis, pandemic insecurity and a global food crisis.
In today’s article, I will focus on the 4 ways this long storm will affect us.
The Ukraine Crisis has set alarm bells ringing in Europe as they are buying energy from Russia (their biggest supplier). Because of supply issues, wholesale gas prices are up over 300% now.
Let’s take a look at how Singapore is doing. Singapore gets 95% of energy from natural gases. It is piped from Malaysia, Indonesia and our liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal from Jurong Island. LNG imports from Australia and United States account for 70% of total LNG import into Singapore. In 2020, the terminal supplied between 25% and 30% of the country’s natural gas demand for power generation.
These statistics means one thing. We are energy dependent with these partner countries. Tension with partner countries will shake the core of our energy consumption (amidst all the other things)
SolarNova Program was started in 2014 to deploy solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Singapore. It targets to generate 648GWh of solar energy by 2030 to power 135,000 four room flats. There are around 1.09M HDB apartment units (2021) in Singapore. There is still a stretch before we are energy independent for our residential needs.
While I think we never will be energy independent, it will be vital for Singapore to slowly reduce dependency using new solar technology.
As individuals, we can adopt energy saving appliances and match our consumption with the plans that power providers have.
Singapore’s inflation has historically averaged 2% but edged up to 4% in Dec 2021. I believe this will continue for a while as we are a net importer of goods and services. 3 things in particular stood up which is food, housing and utilities and transport.
As we have already covered energy above that will impact utilities and transport, let’s talk about food. 90% of food consumed in the country is imported. I read that the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is working towards producing 30% of nutritional needs locally by 2030. Again, it is about reducing dependency.
As individuals, we can support these initiatives by supporting local. You will be able to see this in labels such as the one below. Unfortunately, food is a basis necessity. It is really up to us to manage these cost.
I think people are already tired of hearing this from me. However, I have to emphasis again that you (and/or your family) might be one illness away from being financially ruined. SARS, Zika, COVID19 are some examples of threats that came without preparation.
However, we can “control” and prepare for some threats such as diabetes, heart attack and cancer. This includes exercising more, having a good diet and not smoking. At the same time, we can prepare for such threats with adequate financial planning.
According to NTUC Income’s claims statistics, 73% of all critical illness claims comes from Cancer and the average Critical Illness Claim is $52,343. Looking at the claim amount, my opinion is that it really isn’t a good figure for income replacement. There are gaps that should be addressed and can be addressed.
Claims aside, medical inflation is not new and we might be seeing premiums changes in the years ahead from our hospitalisation plans. Would we be able to afford for healthcare cost during working life and also during retirement?
The most touchy issue of all is income. As Singapore is an aging population, most of our workers would probably be middle aged. These means that wages then to stay stagnant as compared to a younger population. A high inflation will definitely hurt our pockets.
Salaries increment has average around 3.3% (in 2021) according to a survey done by Mercer. This means that if inflation were to be above 3.3%, we are worse off. Voluntary turnover was 11.2% in 2021 and the main reasons for doing so are dissatisfaction with their compensation (66%), lack of career advancement (60%), followed by burnout (32%).
It may be challenging to change a job, ask for an increment for no reason. I think more than ever, it is important to be relevant in your role and how you can benefit your company.
It got to my attention that humans have been entirely at peace for just 8% of recorded history or at war 92% of the time. Since 2003, there have been 30 wars going around the world. This average out to be around 1.5 wars per year. These crisis are not new but probably got escalated by political difference between the West (USA and Allies) and Russia.
As a small country who is reliant on imports, it is important to be adequately prepared and planning as a nation ahead to reduce dependency. There are numerous examples around the world such as Egypt (dependency on wheat to make bread) that caused a food crisis in 2008.
It is also important as individuals to make wise (as best possible) decisions for the above 4 points.
Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.
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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.