Economist Special Report on Singapore: Complacency Could be Biggest Threat

This week’s Economist has a special report on Singapore.

From the intro, called “The Singapore exception”:

Singapore is, to use a word its leaders favour, an “exceptional” place: the world’s only fully functioning city-state; a truly global hub for commerce, finance, shipping and travel; and the only one among the world’s richest countries never to have changed its ruling party. At a May Day rally this year, its prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, asserted that “to survive you have to be exceptional.” This special report will examine different aspects of Singaporean exceptionalism and ask whether its survival really is under threat. It will argue that Singapore is well placed to thrive, but that in its second half-century it will face threats very different from those it confronted at its unplanned, accidental birth 50 years ago. They will require very different responses. The biggest danger Singapore faces may be complacency—the belief that policies that have proved so successful for so long can help it negotiate a new world.

There are also pieces on “land and people,” politics, the social contract, the economy, inequality, business and finance, and Singapore’s “foreign policy and national identity.”

Economist on Yingluck’s campaign

The Economist‘s Banyan columnist says that Yingluck is charming, her campaign is well-executed, and that the Democrats are in trouble:

In sum, the naturalness and easy manner that Thais appreciate in Ms Yingluck is authentic—but the fact that it comes over so well is the result of a lot of sweat and forethought. I have covered many campaigns now both in rich and in developing countries, and Ms Yingluck’s campaign is among the best choreographed and organised that I’ve seen. And, of course, it helps enormously that she is pretty (“hot” in Thai political-science jargon) and has a big smile—which is just the sort of thing that newspaper editors look for to brighten up their front page every morning.

American misperceptions about China’s economic power

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Note: I have updated this post here.

Excellent post from James Fallows pointing out that a new Pew report shows that 44 percent of Americans think that the “top global economic power” is China. Just 27 percent of respondents correctly picked the U.S.

Yes, China owns a lot of American T-bills. And yes, China’s economy is developing rapidly. But China’s economic might is not as great as many people assume.

From an Oct. 22nd story in the Economist headlined “The Odd Couple: America should be much more confident in its dealings with its closest rival”:

China’s economy is still less than a third the size of America’s at market exchange-rates. Its GDP per head is one-fourteenth that of America. The innovation gap between the two countries remains huge. America’s defence budget is still six times China’s.

(Emphasis mine.)

Check out Fallows’s post (linked to above) for more info.

So much to link to, so little time

Lots of good Economist and WSJ stuff to link to, and so little time. But here goes:

  • A fantastic Thailand story from the WSJ: “How to Make a Croc Look Cuddly: Paint It Like a Panda; Bears From China Are a Hit in Thailand, Prompting Makeovers of Local Animals.” Contains a wonderful image of a baby croc painted like a panda.
  • The Economist has a good story about Iran’s growing influence in Latin America: “Iran and Latin America: Ayatollahs in the backyard.” Ecuador watchers won’t want to miss this snippet:

    To see how Iran’s foreign policy works in smaller, ideologically sympathetic Latin American countries, take Ecuador—a country that has such dire problems raising money after defaulting on its debt that it can easily be swayed by cash from foreign governments. Ecuador is thinking of joining Nicaragua and Venezuela in recognising the independence of the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the hope of getting Russian government loans.

    This month an Iranian delegation was in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, to discuss loans for hydroelectric power plants, one of the 25 bilateral agreements signed when Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president, visited Iran last year. Ecuador badly needs the plants: it was forced to start rationing power this month.

  • And speaking of the Andes, here’s the WSJ on what appears to be Bolivian President Evo Morales’s re-election: “Evo Morales Appears to Win Bolivia Vote; Second Term Expected to Bring More Ambitious Economic Changes; Ruling Party Poised to Take Over Senate
  • And finally, the Economist has an obit for Thai PM Samak Sundaravej, whose passing I mentioned earlier.

More soon. Don’t think the draw for World Cup 2010 has escaped my attention…

Economist on Thailand’s political crisis

A quick heads up that the current Economist has a story about Thailand’s ongoing political crisis. It’s called “Orange, anyone? Red and yellow factions still find compromise elusive.” Worth a read.

Economist’s Christmas edition

The Economist’s Christmas edition is brilliant. Don’t miss their fascinating articles about Filipinas living in Hong Kong, “The Bridget Jones Economy”, and the strange story of the Pacific island of Nauru.