What to ponder in Singapore

James Crabtree directs our attention to this symbol at Nanyang Technological University:


That is in fact the motto of their School of International Studies.  Right now the Singaporean improbable is deflation for seventeen consecutive months, let’s hope for better news on that front.


A book and an open flame?

Someone remind me - the Nanyang University, which what was this institution was when it was founded, was closed down by Lee Kwan Yew for unacceptable political views among the staff and students wasn't it?

So perhaps that is an ironic comment on the government?

Singapore does a lot of things well, but not irony!

Today is Anzac Day, the day for Australia, the "Lucky Country."

Singapore's motto should be "The Improbable Country."

I'd say the Singaporean improbable is the opposite of deflation, that deflation is the probable given the high level of inequality in China and Singapore and the high level of savings in China and Singapore. But there's no harm in pondering the improbable.

The reason for the motto becomes clearer if you know that it started life as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, explicitly modeled on defence think tanks and created to advise the Ministry of Defence

We would of course like war to be extremely improbable, but a war institute still ponders it

Only later did it evolve to pursue country studies and international relations more generally. The IDSS still exists, but as an entity within the RSIS, which annexed its motto.

I wouldn't have thought deflation was a big problem for a small open economy like Singapore. It is unlikely to be a signal of deficient demand in it's economy - more a reflection on the strength of its currency versus it's main economic suppliers for basic consumer staples and other commodities, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Singapore gets 95% of its energy from natural gas (much of the rest from incinerating waste) and deflation kicked in around the same time that crude prices started to the collapse.

What are taxes and population growth doing?

Another example: in real life, tight money does not work.

For some reason, for many people, it is an ideological point of honor that money must be tight and at all times even tighter even if the results are depressions and recessions.

The costs of too-tight monetary policies are far higher than one that is a moderately too loose.

They closed down the universities during the communist insurgency. The students were communists of course.

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