NDR 2018: High Cost of Living in Singapore A Major Concern?

Image source: Mediacorp

During this year’s National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talked about how Singaporeans will have to make some lifestyle changes and adapt to ease the pressures of the high cost of living in Singapore, as well as some of the government initiatives to help citizens cope.

Here are some of the major issues:

1. Cost of Housing

  • Currently, 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB flats, of which the downpayment can be made using CPF, making it affordable for most people to own a house.
  • The Home Improvement Programme aims to improve flats when they are about 60-70 years old, and will be extended to 230,000 flats in various estates. The new scheme is designed to make it easy for authorities to redevelop old estates over a long period, by subsidizing maintenance and repair costs for aging flats.
  • Owners of older HDB Flats will also get an opportunity to go en bloc before their leases run out as part of a new scheme dubbed Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS). Eligible residents will have a chance to decide whether the government can take back their flats once the leases clock the 70-year mark. This will allow the government to buy back their flats earlier, which can then be redeveloped, and the owners can use the cash from the sale to purchase a new house.
  • A 99-year HDB lease is long enough for flats to retain substantial value, and act as a good retirement nest egg for most Singaporeans.
  • For HDB owners whose lease has ended, the government will help them get a new one. Some of the oldest flats are more than 50 years old, which means that there is still 40+ more years before the lease expires.
  • Cooling measures have been taken to prevent excessive speculation of property prices in the private property market.

2. Cost of Healthcare

  • There will be a new health care package that will cater to the needs of people born in the 1950’s. Dubbed ‘The Merdeka Generation’ Package, the new scheme will cover areas such as outpatient subsidies as well MediSave top-Ups, payouts on long-term care and subsidies for MediShield Life.
  • The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) which provides health care services for middle and lower income people will now also cover chronic medical conditions.
  • There will be new polyclinics in Sembawang, Eunos, Kallang and Bukit Panjang by 2020; and in Nee Soon Central, Tampines North by 2023

3. Cost of Utilities

  • With regard to the recent price hikes in electricity, the current prices are actually still lower as compared to 10 years ago.
  • As Singapore is not an oil producing country, fixing electricity tariffs may incur more cost in the long-run, hence is not a viable solution.
  • Instead, government initiatives such as U-Save will help lower-income Singaporeans with their utility bills.
  • Water prices are not expected to increase as ties with Malaysia are good and the ‘1962 Water Agreement’ remains in place

4. Cost of Food

  • The government is planning to increase the number of hawker centres, which is currently the main source of affordable meal options
  • In recent years, there have been 7 new hawker centres built, and we can look forward to 13 more in the coming years.
  • Will there be a new generation of hawkers to take over from the old retiring hawkers?

According to the EIU annual ranking, Singapore has been dubbed the world’s most expensive city to live in (for expats) for the fifth year running.

This could mean a stable economy and high standards of living, but it could also represent income inequality and a struggling lower income demographic.

It is a good sign that the government does not shy away from discussing such issues, and actively comes up with schemes to help citizens cope.

But the bigger question is whether such initiatives solve the root problem, or are merely stop-gap measures.

Video Interview with Spencer: The 20 Most Burning Questions

In this latest video series, watch as Spencer answers the top 20 most commonly-asked questions by new traders & investors!

For those just starting out, this will be a big help in avoiding a lot of “beginner pitfalls” which 90% of all traders get stuck at.

 

Here is the full list of Burning Questions:

  1. What is the difference between trading and investing?
  2. Do you believe in the buy-and-hold value investing approach?
  3. What is your long-term investment strategy?
  4. Trading is risky, shouldn’t I just buy stocks with good fundamentals?
  5. What is your trading strategy?
  6. What products should I trade? How many different products should I trade?
  7. What is the difference between TA (technical analysis) and FA (fundamental analysis)?
  8. Do you use fundamentals in your trading?
  9. What technical indicators do you use to trade?
  10. What type of charts do you use to trade, and what timeframe do you use? What is your holding period?
  11. How much capital do I need to start trading?
  12. How can I become more consistent in my trading results?
  13. How can I predict the price of a stock? How do I know when the price will turn and start going up/down?
  14. What is a good % return per year I should aim for? How much returns can I expect from trading?
  15. When should I trade? During the day, or the night? When is the best time to trade?
  16. How do you trade the news? What news should I look at and how can I profit from news?
  17. Is trading safe? Can I end up losing all my capital and more? How do you manage your risk?
  18. If everyone uses the same trading strategies (your strategies), will they stop working?
  19. What is the difference between trading for a fund and trading your own money?
  20. How can I get started on trading and investing? Any good resources?

Click here to download for free: http://bit.ly/2D9j6gk

15 FREE Animated Videos on the Basics of Trading & Investing

In collaboration with TradeHero (now Ayondo) & SGX (Singapore Exchange), we have developed a series of 15 animated video tutorials that will make learning fun & easy for all beginners!

I have been tasked as the mastermind behind the content, drawing from my knowledge of the 200+ books I have read and 10,000+ hours of professional market experience as mentioned in the video.

The videos are divided into 5 parts:

After Crashing 20%, Is Facebook Stock a Good Buy Now?

Just last month, I made a trip to the Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley, and I was very impressed by the work culture and vibe of the whole community there. It made me glad to be a shareholder of Facebook, and since then, I have been waiting for an opportunity to buy more of it. 😀

Yesterday, after a disastrous Q2 earnings call, Facebook’s stock has plunged almost 20% so far; is this the start of something really bad, or the long-awaited chance to buy this stock?

 

Personally, I am a big fan of the tech sector, and I have been accumulating positions in the US tech giants since I liquidated all my Singapore stocks portfolio in 2015. but I am not going to jump in blindly, so let me sum up some of the key considerations:

  • The comment that spooked investors was the CFO’s prediction that revenue growth rates would continue to decelerate in the “high single-digit percentages” in Q3 and Q4.
  • While the results were not as fantastic as in the past, the disparity to analysts’ revenue and user growth forecast were not very major.
  • Facebook is likely being extremely conservative and has plenty of opportunities to gain back the momentum.
  • They are constantly innovating and acquiring new companies, some of these might turn out to be big winners
  • Its valuation based on PE is still ok compared to other stocks in the tech sector (about 30x)

 

The last time there was a plunge in FB shares due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it dropped almost 10% overnight in March. However, prices recovered very quickly, and before long prices were back to hitting all time highs, bringing valuation close to a $1 trillion market cap.

Some of the key risks could include more regulations that will hurt its bottom line, or anti-trust actions that attempt to split up the company.

But there are also upsides, such as the company leveraging on its technological innovations and data to expand to other industries and eat up the value chain.

So, in conclusion, I will not buy in immediately as I do not want to be catching a falling knife, instead I will wait for selling momentum to wane and the dust to settle before scooping up more of this stock. This is to ensure that I can get in at the best price. After all, I am still optimistic for the long run.

What Are Some of the Biggest Problems with Crypto Trading Platforms?

After trading cryptocurrencies for almost half a year and coaching many others to do the same, I had realised that many new traders seem to face the same gripes about the limited trading platforms. This issue is extremely prominent if traders are used to other platforms such as forex or stock brokerages.

Here are some of the biggest complications about the existing platforms:

  1. Long waiting period for account opening, verification, or funding
  2. Misleading and unfriendly user-interface
  3. Expensive trading fees and wide spreads
  4. High charges by banks for fund transfers

When cryptocurrency was first introduced in 2010, only a handful of specialised exchanges offered trading services. Throughout the years, cryptocurrency trading grew larger in number and size. Comparing the existing functions and complexities of Forex to any other cryptocurrencies brokerages, there is still a huge room for improvement for cryptocurrencies. As of today, many emerging companies are out in the market, competing to resolve the problems consumers are facing.

While browsing the net, I came across many new promising brokerages, and I had a chat with some of them to find out more about where the industry is headed.

One of them is Cryptaw, a new brokerage that aims to provide simplicity and reliability for Bitcoin trading. When I spoke with the management, they told me that  “Singaporeans should not pay a premium for cryptocurrency.”

On Cryptaw’s website, which they have just launched this month, they have made some really bold promises which could potentially disrupt cryptocurrency brokerage industry:
– Direct SGD Deposit
– Low trading fee of 0.6%*
– Simple user interface
– Fast account verification within 3 working days

If Cryptaw is able to address the 4 big issues, it will make it a lot easier not only for new traders (of which many are still waiting weeks/months for their accounts to get verified), but also for existing traders who can benefit from a simpler execution platform.

*Original trading fee of 1.2%. User will be able to enjoy discounted trading fee with promo codes and referral codes. Users will be able to enjoy 50% off trading fee until 3 Aug 2018

[Note: This is a sponsored post by Cryptaw.]