Saturday, November 02, 2019

Quora: Why does China seem so confident in the Trade War?

Jonathan Tan, was an avid reader of science magazines answered.

Because while the US is spending 680 billion every year (that’s closing in on a trillion) on their military, China is spending 150 billion for their military and 150+ billion every year on their one road, one belt project.

The US military budget is a hole. It goes out but nothing comes back in (this is why the US is always looking to fight a war where it can benefit resource wise and where the opponent isn’t too tough)

China’s military budge is a hole too but its 20% of the US and their road/belt is very smart as it is simply loaning money which mostly goes to Chinese construction companies (remember both are year by year). This brings several benefits

i) Employment. The number of Chinese is huge. Finding suitable employment for all is difficult. This allows them to maintain a lid on low skilled workers while letting them do on the job training for higher skills, for a double win

ii) Loans. The loans can either be low interest or interest free but the money comes back (in the form of leased assets or actual returns)

iii) Improvement in logistics. This is massively important because this allows China to access primary resources found in hard to reach areas in reasonable time and a reliable manner.

iv) New markets. Any trader wants a new market for their goods, even if the trader is the size of a nation. By improving economic conditions in the country hosting the road/belt, they create more able consumers who can spend more.

The money the Chinese are spending improves their own economic conditions. As long as the road/belt continues in a timely manner, the impact of losing the US export market is reduced.

Off tangent:

Why would the host countries want to be involved in the road/belt when all these western news are shouting “Its a debt trap!!!” (which is true when the host country has terrible planners). I suspect China’s view is that its a bank/business, so you default, you lose your collateral

The reasons differ from each country but some are common.

i) The infrastructure built allows you to move goods and people around much easier. This allows the exploitation of resources in areas that may have been hard to travel to and from.

For example, farmers in villages where the road is a mud track won’t be able to transport their goods far before it rots and weather can strand them as the road

Quora: Why do some people not admit that China is in the weaker side in the trade war against the US?

Andres Garcia, I have lived and studied in several American countries answered.

Because for many people China is not on the weaker side.
Because some people know that strength in a globalized economy cannot be measured by that outdated term known as “trade deficit”.
Because some people know that many times it can be worse for a country to lose its imports than reducing its exports, especially for a 21st century consumer-based economy.
Because some people read more than one source to get their news, and don't call any information they don't like as “fake news”
Because for some people facts still have more weight than wishes.
How is that good-and-easy-to-win trade war going, by the way? Last time that I checked, by mere curiosity, the TV channel preferred by the president, they claimed about a thousand times that China was going to surrender very soon. This happened around a year and a half ago.

Doctor too busy to give proper advice

A patent paid $1,100 to a health screening package (platinum male) with SATA in Potong Pasir.

WOTC - Opinion of female ministers

Wisdom of the Crowd: 86% of the participants in this survey did not like any of the female ministers. Among the remaining 14%, the highest vote goes to Indriani Rajah.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Opinion of speaker Tan Chuan Jin

Wisdom of the Crowd: 77% of the participants in this survey had a negative opinion of speaker Tan Chuan Jin. 23% had a positive opinion.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should the western part of Singapore used used to test autonomous cars?
2. Donald Trump said he built the greatest economy in the history of America
Vote in

Friday, November 01, 2019

Quora: Trump is bringing back manufacturing to the USA and rejecting other countries' markets. Will the USA fare better with the anti-globalism policies?

Jon Mixon, worked at Manufacturing answered

First things first: Donald Trump has nothing to do with some aspects of minor manufacturing returning to the United States.

Major corporations make their decisions years or even decades in advance. They certainly don’t wait for the minor input of a man whose business acumen is known to be laughable at best. And since many are multinationals, they really don’t care who makes their products, or where, so long as they can profit from them.

Trump’s trade plans are a hodgepodge of items that he thinks will sell his candidacy in 2020 to the few voters who don’t understand trade policies and who think that he still has the capability of running this country successfully. They aren’t based on sound logic, they are provoking our own allies to reject our input, and they are simply making the nations which he’s trying to combat seek out other markets for their imports. None of what he’s doing is helping the US in the long run.

Trade doesn’t need to be a zero sum game. Everybody can, and should, “win” as it benefits no one to have high tariffs and closed markets. Trump has been told that by his economic advisers; however since that doesn’t align with his thinking or the policies that he believes will garner him the rural and red state votes he needs to win, he’s rejecting it. Frankly, since he gets paid regardless of what happens and his acolytes have proven that they don’t believe that he can make a wrong decision, there’s no reason for him to bother creating or maintaining coherent policies.

Trump is not “bringing manufacturing back”.

He’s taking credit for decisions which were made for a host of reasons, the majority of which have nothing to do with him or his failing policies.

WOTC - Was it wise for Jokowi to appoint Subianto into his cabinet?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 74% of the participants in this survey said that it is a good idea for Jokowi to appoint his opponent in the presidential election to hold a key position in his cabinet. 26% disagreed.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Does the economy needs a stimulus package now?

Wisdom of the Crowd: 89% of the participants in this survey disagreed with finance minister Heng that the economy does not need a stimulus package yet. The other 11% agreed.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Move to Electronic Mail

Sing Post is increasing its rates for mails and parcels. This is unavoidable, as their operating cost has increased. There is an increased volume of mail and parcels to be delivered. Their existing rates are not adequate to meet the operating cost.

It is time for us to move to more efficient ways of communication.

What can be done?

Financial Planning Tip #1 - Save Regularly

I will be writing 10 separate articles on financial planning.

Here is Tip #1 - Save Regularly.

It will be restricted for FISCA members in the future, but for the time being, it is open to the public.

Read about it now.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Is the behavior of the netizens towards Ramesh of JP Morgan appropriate?
2. Is the general behavior of Singaporeans gracious?

Vote in

WOTC - Will Anwar Ibrahim be a good prime minister for Malaysia

Wisdom of the Crowd: 69% of the participants in this survey has a positive view of Anwar Ibrahim as the next prime minister of Malaysia. 31% has a negative view.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - What will happen to Hong Kong

Wisdom of the Crowd: 60% of the participants in this survey expect that the police will continue to deal with the situation in Hong Kong and China will not act to stop the rioting. The other 40% expect other outcomes.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

AIA continues to charge high rates for unsuspecting customer

Dear Mr Tan,
I am writing to you to seek your opinion as a veteran in the insurance industry. My wife "KMM" bought an AIA life insurance with a 5-yr Term rider back in 1995 when she was 25. The 5-year Term rider started with a S$176/year premium for S$100,000 coverage. However, after 25 years, I found out that the premium has ballooned to S$630/year for the same 5-year Term.

Provide fire extinguishers at public places

I suggest that the ministry require all buildings to have fire extinguishes at public places, e.g. on every level of an apartment or office block and for long corridors, to have a fire extinguisher for every five units.

This will ensure that the fire extinguishes are easily accessible for every household. As this is a public property, the building manager can ensure that the fire extinguishers are checked and replaced regularly.

Quora: Why does Trump's trade war with China actually hurt Beijing less?

Richard Seeto, because of my interest in its history and the way it has been exploited & rubbis

The reason Trump’s trade war with China actually hurt Beijing less is because of many factors.

Firstly, China has been hardened by decades past of the US perfidy in its diplomatic and commercial dealings with the country which uses sanctions in all sort of ways as its first resort in dealing with any problems of its own short-sighted making.

Secondly, unlike Trump who is making conflict by reneging on decades old traditional dealings with the world and alienating every country it feels like, China is making friends with others and promoting trade so that where her exports to the world hegemon diminishes, she is making up for the slack with her other export destinations.

Thirdly, with Trump’s logic, the imposition of his tariffs on China was claimed by him that it is China who is paying for the extra imposts fully realizing that the importer, in this case, the US which is footing the bill but those of his supporters are so blinded by his lies, swallow his every word, hook, line and sinker would accept his words without question.

Security in a condo

What is the purpose of employing security guards in a condo?

Paul Krugman - People still don’t understand debt

New York Times
Author Headshot
Opinion Columnist
Today’s column is about our trillion dollar deficit, which nobody seems to care about. The thing is, this lack of concern is justified: There’s no good reason to believe that the current budget deficit is doing significant harm.
What did do a lot of harm was the deficit hysteria that dominated establishment discourse the last time we had a deficit this big, which also happened to be a period during which the economy was deeply depressed, and the stimulus from deficit spending was actually a good thing. It should have been obvious that obsessing about deficits in 2012 was a huge mistake. What’s relatively new — and something I couldn’t get into at length in the column — is the realization that government debt isn’t much of a problem even at full employment.
One reason people find this hard to understand is that they make an analogy between the nation as a whole and an individual family. This leads to sober-sounding warnings that budget deficits amount to stealing from our children, in the same way that spendthrift parents are squandering their heirs’ inheritance.
This analogy, however, is all wrong. Debt is money we owe to ourselves — that is, for the most part it obliges one group of Americans, taxpayers, to make payments to another group of Americans, bondholders. It doesn’t directly make the nation poorer, at all. (O.K., there’s a small caveat: some debt is held by foreigners. But it’s not quantitatively important.)
Now, there might be indirect ways in which debt makes us poorer. To pay interest, the government might have to spend less or collect more taxes than it would have otherwise. And this could hurt growth — for example, high taxes could reduce incentives to produce and invest.
What economists have come to realize, however, is that even these indirect costs of debt may be negligible.
Why, after all, must a government raise taxes to deal with a higher level of debt? The usual answer is that if it doesn’t, the debt will snowball: the government will have to pay more in interest, which will cause the debt to rise further, leading to even more interest payments, and so on.
But nobody cares about the absolute value of debt; what matters is the ratio of debt to the tax base, which for the federal government is basically the whole economy, i.e., G.D.P. And a rise in the debt/G.D.P. ratio doesn’t snowball — it melts! Why? Because the interest rate on federal debt is normally lower than the economy’s growth rate.
Right now, in particular, U.S. 10-year bonds are paying less than 2 percent, while G.D.P. normally grows around 4 percent a year — half real, half rising prices. So even if the government only raised enough money to pay noninterest expenses, totally ignoring interest, debt would grow more slowly than the economy, and the ratio to G.D.P. would shrink over time. So the government does need, more or less, to pay for what it spends, but taking on more debt now won’t make that task any harder in the future.
I don’t want to say that debt never does any harm. And if you’re going to run up debt, it should be for a good purpose, like rebuilding infrastructure, not to give rich people even more money to spend on luxuries. But debt isn’t a huge evil, and bringing it down shouldn’t be anyone’s priority.

Quick Hits

The debt crisis in Europe motivated a lot of the hysteria here. But that crisis vanished for everyone but Greece when Mario Draghi, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank, said three words — “whatever it takes” — which markets saw as a pledge to provide cash if needed. And now even Greece has interest rates below 2 percent.
Olivier Blanchard, the immensely respected former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, on why debt isn’t as scary as you think.
The very establishment Larry Summers and Jason Furman make a similar argument.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. When will Anwar Ibrahim take over as prime minister
2. Which issue will cause the biggest loss of vote to PAP?
3. Will the CECA agreement cause Heng SK to lose votes?

Vote in

WOTC: Dr. Mahathir performance as prime minister

Wisdom of the Crowd: 51% of the participants in this survey said that Dr. Mahathir performed well in his current term as prime minister. The other 49% think otherwise.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC: Use of Trump resort for G7 meeting

Wisdom of the Crowd: 70% of the participants in this survey said that there is a strong conflict of interest in the decision to choose the Trump resort for the G7 meeting. The other 30% had a different perspective.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Pride and Prejudice

I encourage you to download a copy of this PDF book (it is free) and encourage your children, age 14 or older, to read it. It is an interesting story and will improve their command of English.

Learning from other countries

When I visit another country, I pay attention to how their organize their society and give my observations on how things could be improved in Singapore.

Some people have the mistaken impression that I found conditions in other countries to be better than Singapore. This is a wrong impression.

Let me share my perspective.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Should Ramesh be expelled from Singapore?
2. Does America have the right to send in troops to "protect Syrian oil"?
3. Which outcome do you prefer for the general election.

Vote in

Anger at Ramesh's bullying of the security guard

Many netizens were angry at the behavior of Ramesh, the "foreign talent" who had bullied a security guard over the parking incident at the condo. This incident was captured and shared in a video through social media.

I wish to give my views.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Quora: What do you think of this tweet from Donald Trump: “There is no reason for the U.S. Consumer to pay the Tariffs, which take effect on China today. This has been proven recently when only 4 points were paid by the U.S., 21 points by China.”?

Celia Milton, Owner/lead Officiant (2006-present) answered.

Clearly, he doesn’t know how tariffs work. And it’s pretty terrifying that so many people actually believe that China will be writing us checks.

The American consumer is paying a price. American farmers are paying a price. Amerian manufacturers are paying a price.

He’s an idiot.

China will be forced to pay more to sell goods here.

Importers of foreign goods will pay a higher price and pass that down to American consumers.

There is absolutely nothing mysterious about this.

At the same time, China will buy less goods; they are already buying literally no soybeans and pork and far less American cars.

Again, nothing mysterious about this.

He lied to us. Again.

My participation in the general election

This post is a private message to my friends who follow me on Facebook. I do not want it to be shared outside of this circle. Please observe its privacy.
Dear friends,

Many friends have asked me about my plans to contest the next general election and the party that I would join.

It is my personal desire to participate in the general election with any of the opposition parties that has similar goals to mine.

Read the full statement here:

Grab changes its subscription plans

I do not like subscription plans. As a customer, I find it too complicated to manage. I believe that Grab, on the other side of the transaction, will also find it difficult to manage. Read here.

Quora: Will China win the trade war in 2019 against the USA?

Andreas Mihardja, PhD from Georg-August University of Göttingen (1969) answered

In this trade war the losers is now the USA.

The USA is the supplier of the food products in China. China is not buying enough to offset the losses in the US agricultural sector. Before the trade war almost all the needs of China is supplied by the USA. By this trade war the farmers in the USA have NO buyers of their products and it now rotting on the fields. Also meat products export to China is curtailed in the demands and the Pig farmers and cattle ranches receive competition from Australia and South America.- result no sales

USA try to sell their LNG the product of their Shale oil that is now being cracked. Trade deals with China was already in the making and special LNG harbors are in the design phase or even at the implementation stages. All was scraped suddenly because Trump wanted more after the latest trade deal. - Result no sales [ China receive their energy from the Russian and the Central Asian countries ]

Boeing is preparing for a multi trillion sale to China. This is around 6400 commercial airplanes. This purchases is now on ice after Trump started the trade war. — Result the planes are not ordered yet and all is on ice. Airbus company that at this moment has no technical problems with their planes, is rubbing their belly. The sales could eventually go to Airbus. if Trump is re-elected.

In the case of the car industry, USA was supplying GM, Ford and other cars made in the USA to the Chinese public. Trump wants to stop this trend, but lucky Mary Barra is ignoring Trump and continue build GM plants in China. This sale is much larger than the US market. A boycott is in the making. EU automakers are producing electric cars in China and selling it like potato chips. Tesla is starting but is losing to BMW and others from the EU. If there was no trade war GM and Tesla will have the upper hand. The latest autoshow in China was an influx of many EU made cars. Angela Merkel is sponsoring it.and was visiting China 16x in the last 3 years. This means a lot.

Besides this EU is supplying China with machineries for the Electronic chip production. These companies are competing against US companies and the US is losing ground. If their is a good trade relationship China will not look for other suppliers because all could be supplied by the US. A single machinery for the Chip production cost as much as a Boeing airplane. The latest tool from ASML for the 7nm technology cost >100 million base price.

As you may observe - China is the customer of the world. It has enough money to buy and most of all it has enough money to spend. This is important in trade. The buying power of China is just half of the trade volume of China. Their export is the most profitable product for creating the money.

In the electronic world, the most money is made in the Cellphone industry. The hardware production is almost a monopoly of China in Shenzhen. In the software production China is not to strong yet. This is the monopoly of the USA. Trump is manipulating this field and forbid the sales of this products to China with the excuse of security. Result Google cannot sell their products. China is not sleeping and has now created it own OS with an open source [meaning the source code is free to obtain.] Huawei has created a new operating system to replace Google Android OS, the Harmony OS. That is just a start. The question is if the software APP industry is taking the offer. All depends on the sales volume of the OS. Android and Microsoft WIN is having the monopoly. Huawei OS, Harmony is now just like the Apple OS.

Still in the world of cellphones , Huawei has the 5G technology and US have not and has to buy from Huawei. Trump put pressure on Huawei thinking and hoping it would collapsed. He miscalculated and now the 5G is in the hands of China. Software people in the Silicon Valley US are putting this problem aside and are working on the Sixth generation since the fifth market is already destroyed by Trump. The US is also loosing 40 Billion/yr of sales to Huawei and this is now almost replaced in its entirely by made in Huawei incl. its microprocessor. Imagine this is just done in less than a year, showing the capacity of the Shenzhen community.. Lucky for the US the upgrade from 4G to 5G is now available w/o hardware replacements. the hit will not be that big.

China is the supplier of most assembling plants in the USA from the airplane to the household industry. Only missing one component in the chain of production is crucial and could stop any assembling line. In order to keep business alive there is no way out than buy it at a premium [with the 25% tariff]. China is also the world supplier of rare metals important for the electronic industry.

People are normally thinking of made in China are those dolls in Toysaurus or house hold products in Target or Walmart They don’t even now that their pencils, pens, erasers etc. are also made in China. They also never look at the inner part of their appliances. Almost all of the electronic parts are made in ShenZhen. The body part are all made in China. If you make an accident with your car and need a body part - well most of it are not coming from the manufacturer but all came from China [ask any collision shop].Have you check your in house lightning, your water supply fixtures yet or the bulbs in your house - well they are all made in China and not made in the USA. Sp if you need them what will you do - You the premium price with the 25% tariff.

WOTC - Change of managing agent for town council

Wisdom of the Crowd: 82% of the participants in this survey said that the current arrangement for appointing the managing agent for a town council is unsatisfactory.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - Appointing FMSS as managing agent for AHTC

Wisdom of the Crowd: 84% of the participants in this survey said that the AHTC MPs acted correctly in appointing FMSS as the managing agent.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Which type of property would you choose as an investment?
2. Is it acceptable for the US to kill a leader of ISIS?
Vote in

Sunday, October 27, 2019

How to handle a sharp increase in water consumption

If you have received an utilities bill that showed a high consumption of water in a recent month, you can take the following steps to check for the possible cause.

This approach can also be adopted for high consumption of electricity.

Difference between Opal and Ez Link cards

There is a difference between the Opal card used in Sydney transport and the Ez Link card used in Singapore. Which is better?

What is wrong with the statement of moving closer to "ordinary Singaporeans"

There was an uproar over the statement, which was suspected to be given by a teacher of Raffles Girls School, that the school was being relocated to Bishan to be closer to "ordinary Singaporeans".

The anger was so strong that the school had to disassociate itself from the statement. It said that the person who made the statement was not an official spokes person for the school. This person remain unnamed.

I do not understand why some many people were upset about this statement. What is wrong with being closer to "ordinary Singaporeans"?

I asked this question, but was not able to get any reply that explains the unhappiness.

Here is my guess, and it is quite worrisome

Hospital claim covered by Incomeshield and group insurance

Many people have a personal medical coverage (Medishield or integrated plan) and also a group medical coverage provided by the employer.

It can be quite confusing when they make a claim for a hospital stay. How do the two insurers treat the claim?

This problem is illustrated by the following example.

Quora: What concessions will China squeeze Trump for before signing a new trade deal in advance of the 2020 presidential election?

Lance Chambers answered.

I don’t think China will try and squeeze anything out of the US prior to the election.

China is waiting until Trump has gone before they will negotiate in any serious manner. China have the room to wait. Xi will be there until he dies and he is a patient man as is the whole of the CCP. China have been a relatively cohesive entity for close too 5000 years. Do you honestly believe they will hiccup now?

Trump has proven to be an unreliable president who fails to keep his word. He changes his mind in a whim. Who can trust anyone like this?Certainly not China!

China is still ‘talking’ to trump and the WH and are making very very small moves to placate trump but not making any big moves. Buying a few 10’s of thousands of tonnes of soybeans to feed to Chinese pigs isn’t China embracing trade with the USA as it did before trump arrived on the scene.

PS Chinese people do not eat GMO foods and that’s why the Brazilian, Argentinan and Russian soybeans are better for China as they can be eaten by the Chinese people as well as feeding their pigs. Two bangs for the buck so to speak.

Wisdom of the Crowd - New Issues

1. Raffles Girls School is moved to new premises to be closer to ordinary Singaporeans
2. Will Carrie Lam continue as HK chief executive for the remainder of her term?

Vote in

WOTC - GRC is a bad system

Wisdom of the Crowd: 98% of the participants in this survey said that the GRC is a bad system. 2% said that it is a good system.

See the breakdown of the votes in

WOTC - PDPA is a bad law

Wisdom of the Crowd: 91% of the respondents to this survey said that the Privacy and Data Protection Act is a bad law. The remaining 9% said that is a good law.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Wrong meter reading in a past month led to high surcharged in September

SP Services billed me for 87.4 cu meters of water consumed in September. This was excessive. My normal water consumption should be 40 cu meters. My utilities bill for September increased by about $200 from the normal bill.

I monitored my actual consumption in October and found it to be only 25.2 cu meters.

I send this email to SP Services.

I attach a copy of my water meter reading, copy to your customer support.

The meter reading is 1884.1, showing a consumption of 25.2 cu meters for the past month.

The consumption was lower as my wife and I were traveling for the past 10 days. Still there were three occupants in the house.

I am convinced that the high consumption in September was probably due to a wrong meter reading in July. This caused the billing in July to be lower and that is compensated by the high billing in September.

As higher consumption attracted a higher rate, this caused by September bill to be unusually high. It would not have occurred if there the meter reading in July had been correctly taken.

I do not have any proof about the meter reading in July, but is is obvious from the trend of the meter readings that you have sent to me for the past year.

I wish to ask for the water bill in September to be adjusted to be based on the lower tier rate.

Get locals to fill public sector jobs

I made this observation during my recent visit to Sydney.

There was road works at George Street in Sydney. Several workers in yellow vests were controlling the traffic. They were locals, and not low wage foreign workers.

The locals traffic controllers were expensive, but this is how good paying jobs are created for locals. They are funded through higher taxes, but it is a better way to ensure that there are jobs for locals that pay adequate wages.

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