Millennials Will Destroy Bitcoin


Irrational exuberance is alive and well.

A textbook bubble in Bitcoin prices is developing right now.
And it has everything to do with Bitcoin’s investors.
Bitcoin Bubble
I’m probably not going to gain any friends with this perspective. But there are inarguable factors that suggest Bitcoin’s own buyers are irrationally driving up prices. And their
exuberance is setting the market up for a crash.
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Let me clear one thing up about Bitcoin before I explain why I think prices are eventually headed for a crash…
As I argued before, Bitcoin is a legitimate form of money. But for the time being, it’s being treated as a speculative investment.
Money is typically used in exchange. And while Bitcoin can be used in exchange, it’s largely not. Gary Schneider, Professor of Accounting at California State University, says only about 10% of Bitcoin is held by people who use it as currency. The large majority are
speculators hoping to sell at higher prices.
The fact that the market is dominated by speculators is not necessarily the problem for Bitcoin. And here’s where I’m sure to piss some people off… The problem for Bitcoin is its
buyers.
Who are they?
Well, according to a recent survey, approximately 60% of Bitcoin owners are under 35 years old.
Bitcoin User Age
In short, most Bitcoin buyers are millennials. And that’s all we need to know about them to make an inarguable point (told you I wouldn’t be making any friends here).
The fact is this: A 35-year-old speculator intrinsically has much less experience in risk management than a 60-year-old. And remember, most Bitcoin owners are mostly speculators, as opposed to users of the product.
AND remember they’re speculating on a currency, which is among the most volatile of financial instruments.
AND remember they’re speculating on what essentially amounts to a new, experimental currency.
All this considered, Bitcoin looks to me as one of the (if not the) most speculative financial instruments available…
Expect for Bitcoin’s derivatives, of course.
Yes, believe it or not, Bitcoin has a futures market. And there are products that offer even more risk. On its Perpetual Bitcoin/USD Swap Contracts, BitMEX offers up to 100x
leverage!
But to really understand why I think Bitcoin is eventually headed for a crash, let’s consider the most famous market bubble in history…
Dutch Tulip Mania
In the 17th century, formal futures markets developed in the Dutch Republic, providing the infrastructure for a massive bubble in the price of tulip bulbs.
The tulip first became fashionable in France, where early modern ladies of the aristocracy began sporting the flower on their dresses. From there, the tulip became the flower to show off social status and wealth. The demand for bulbs subsequently
skyrocketed, and prices immediately followed.
At the peak of Tulip Mania in 1637, a single tulip bulb could cost as much as 10,000 gilders, the price of a nice middle-class townhouse in Amsterdam. According to one author, 12 acres of land was once offered for one rare bulb. For a flower bulb!
Semper Augustus The Semper Augustus was the most coveted of all Dutch tulips.
Of course, the bubble eventually burst. The price of tulip bulbs collapsed, and fortunes in perceived value disappeared over night.
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If we consider whom the people were who took part in Dutch Tulip Mania and compare them to the majority of Bitcoin owners, it seems both groups share the same shortcomings.
First, we know both groups are speculators betting on the hot new product. But I think we can also make good assumptions to compare the investment sophistication of the Dutch tulip investors and today’s Bitcoin buyers.
Because formal futures markets were only recently developed, the Dutch tulip buyers were inherently unsophisticated investors. All of them. They simply didn’t have the
experience.
The majority of today’s Bitcoin buyers are generally younger, so they share the same inexperience. For many Bitcoin buyers, I imagine it represents their first real investment. They simply don’t have experience in risk management. And I think that’s pretty clear considering some are buying products with 100x leverage!
Bitcoin could be the tulip of the 21st century with the development of a textbook bubble. And I think could be setting itself up for an eventual crash.
Now, even though I’ve been talking about a crash in Bitcoin prices, there’s an epilogue to the Dutch tulip story that’s often overlooked… and that actually provides a bullish outlook for the technology.
Truth is, the Dutch tulip bubble never really ended… it evolved. The price of tulip bulbs collapsed in the 17th century. But the flower industry at large eventually recovered and
has never been bigger. Global floral production value is currently estimated at $55 billion.
People still pay thousands for rare flowers. In fact, an anonymous buyer paid over $200,000 for a rare orchid in 2005. And that’s not even considered the most expensive flower in the world. Rose breeder David Austin spent 15 years and $5 million to develop Juliet rose.
Juliet rose
My point is, the tulip as an individual product lost favor. But the collapse of the tulip  market didn’t completely kill the flower market. In the same way, I don’t expect a
collapse of Bitcoin prices to completely kill the blockchain-based currency market.
Bitcoin is simply one product of many blockchain-based currencies. A crash in Bitcoin would throw a wrench in the blockchain-based revolution. But there is little doubt that blockchain technologies are the future.
As we speak, every major central bank and large financial institution is researching how to implement blockchain into its own systems. It has already been proven to eliminate
verification redundancies and improve security, and new applications are
being tested every day.
So while I think Bitcoin itself could eventually be headed for a crash, the blockchain technologies that are supporting all these digital currencies seem set for unprecedented
growth.
Until next time,
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Luke Burgess
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Reject corrupt practices, weed out the bad apples, don’t hesitate reporting bribery


PENANG Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas has urged public servants to defend the good name of the civil service by rejecting corruption and misuse of power.

“I fully support efforts in eradicating corruption among public servants by taking strict action against those found guilty, including termination of service,” he said in his speech when opening the fifth term of the 13th state assembly at the state legislative assembly building in George Town yesterday.

Abdul Rahman evoked the example of Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon), who spurned bribes, as an inspiration for civil servants in carrying out their duties.

On the economy, Abdul Rahman said Penang received RM4.3bil in investments, with 106 projects approved last year.

“From that amount, RM3.1bil was from foreign investment while RM1.2bil was from domestic investment,” he added.

In agriculture, he said livestock production value increased from RM827.96mil in 2015 to RM842.55mil last year, with the amount expected to continue growing and exceed RM850mil by 2018.

Abdul Rahman praised the state for its efforts to promote medical tourism by establishing the Penang Center of Medical Tourism (PMED) involving 10 private hospitals in the state.

He said the number of tourists seeking medical services in Penang increased by 14.77% from 302,000 in 2015 to 347,000 last year.

“Income also increased by 17.92% in the same period, from RM391mil in 2015 to RM458mil last year,” he added.

Earlier, Abdul Rahman inspected a guard-of-honour by 102 Federal Reserve Unit personnel.

The state assembly sitting is scheduled to start at 9.30am on Monday.

Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Farid Saad was earlier quoted as saying that it was unfair to reject the Opposition’s two motions, one asking Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to step down pending his corruption trial while the other called for civil servants to take leave if they are charged with corruption.

“We will bring it up during our debate in the assembly and let the people decide if the state government practised what it preached,” he had said.

It was also reported that a motion would be tabled by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng or a state exco member to censure Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya over his controversial remarks in Parliament on child marriages.

Source: The Star by Lo Tern Chern

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Bitcoin, digital currencies rally, caution prevails; virtual currency in property


Bitcoins As Digital Currency's Rally Crushed Every Other Currency in 2016
A collection of bitcoin tokens. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Digital currencies rally, but caution prevails

While investing in the future is the way to go, it comes with risks and rewards. The best strategy would be to not be in a rush. Do your homework.

THIS week, the rally in crypto currencies is at its all-time high.

Bitcoin, the pioneer in digital currency, surged to over US$1,700 per coin in
anticipation of a reversal in United States financial regulators’ ruling to allow for an exchange-traded fund for Bitcoin and other factors.

Bitcoin was trading at US$935 on March 24. It rose 82%, pushing its market capitalisation to over US$28bil.

Ether, another such currency, surged from US$8 on Jan 1 to US$90 this week, gaining 1,125% in five months.

The market capitalisation of the 700-over currencies is over US$50bil. The promoters believe it is the currency of the future, hence the rise, but the naysayers believe it is entering a speculative bubble.

But there are some who are ditching gold to mine Bitcoins.

It is a fact that crypto currencies are gaining traction from their inception in 2009. Now, at least 150 organisations including Apple, Walmart, Sears, eBay, Overstock.com,  Microsoft, Steam, Expedia and even Subway accept them in exchange for goods.

So, what is Bitcoin then?

It is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically, not blocked by any nation or government, not printed like dollars and ringgit but produced by people. Crypto currencies are digital currencies that use encryption to secure transactions and control how new coins are made.

You and I can get Bitcoins by “mining” computers that validate blocks of transactions using software to solve mathematical puzzles every 10 minutes. If you solve it first, you are rewarded with new Bitcoins.

Bitcoin is the mother of all crypto currencies – also known as virtual currencies, digital currencies and private currencies.

Other than Bitcoin and Ether, there is also Dogecoin, Augur, Chinacoin, Litecon, Dash, Waves and Zcash. There are over 40 exchanges globally to trade in Bitcoins.

All this came about because of fintech, the financial services technology that is  disrupting the financial services sector with faster, cheaper and so-called “reliable”
transactions for money transfers, bank exchange rates and other money-related transactions. The average clearance is a 12-hour period, which apparently the banks cannot match.

In Brazil, people use Zcash to pay for their taxes, electricity bills and purchases.

This week, Australia said there would be no double taxation for crypto currencies and to treat it just like other currencies from July 1, paving the way for greater usage.

Many are betting on crypto currencies because of the lure that they are the currency of the future. Would you?

Since 2009, there have been gainers and losers, so you decide.

All these digital currencies came about because of the Internet and data.  The value of data and digital services is becoming more apparent, and in the digital era, data is the new currency.

Amid all this is blockchain, which is simply a digital ledger that keeps track of Bitcoin transactions and transfers it globally. It boasts of instantaneous transactions, transparent and cheaper than the traditional ways. This is why banks are hurriedly getting their acts together in the area of fintech so as to not miss the boat.

There is a growing number of mergers and acquisitions and crowdfunding for blockchains. Last month, music-podcast-video streaming service Spotify  bought over blockchain technology company Mediachain Labs to help reward  online content owners with royalty payments.

Other telcos and IT firms are getting into blockchain because they don’t want to miss out on anything. Other payment companies are getting into the act too. There is just too much interest in this new wave of doing things.

The journey of crypto currencies, however, is not without hurdles, and there are plenty out there that cannot be ignored. Even blockchain’s growth cannot be ignored, especially since it is being positioned by those championing it as the de facto technology of the future.

But will it really be all that or will it just add another layer to the overall cost?

All these transfers do not need regulation as yet, something that central bankers don’t like. In fact, Bank Negara is already in the thick of things where fintech is concerned.

While investing in the future is the way to go, it comes with risks and rewards. The best
strategy would be to not be in a rush. Do your homework, as there is also the other side of Bitcoin – fake websites, fake online gaming sites, trading, etc.

I bet you would know of someone who has lost money mining Bitcoin or Ether. You honestly wouldn’t want to be put in a spot like those caught up in the recent forex scam and the earlier gold scam.

It would be good too to bear in mind that the sweet spot of crypto currencies has been linked to terrorism financing, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud.

Trust and transparency have been the bedrock of financial institutions all these years. Ensure your bedrock is solid, but at the same time, remember what the former US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke had said in a letter to US senators about virtual currencies, that they “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system”.

Do you think blockchain will bring trust and transparency to the world of crypto currency? Share your thoughts with me at bksidhu@thestar

Source: The Star by b.k. sidhu

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Property in a digital era

WITH digital technology all the rage and taking the world by storm, we look at how science and automation has managed to change and revolutionise the way we do things, in this section, property.

While the internet has changed the way we receive information and connect with others and the smart phone transformed the whole concept of a phone, we now look at the evolution of finance and how purchasing items, including a house, is going through reform with the introduction of bitcoin.

Introducing bitcoin

When people hear terms like “bitcoin” and “blockchain”, many are vague while some may not even be familiar with these words. But for the technology industry adept, bitcoin and blockchain is common as these new-age technology concepts and modus operandi have been around, perhaps less widely known in Southeast Asia as it is in the West and China.

For the uninformed and in the dark, bitcoin is a technology that has established a new electronic payment method using “digitised money” made with digital cryptography, otherwise known as cryptocurrency.

This system of payment is carried out when a user uses “bitcoin currency” (or cryptocurrency) to pay for goods by transferring the currency to another user (seller) within the bitcoin community.

Each transaction is recorded in a public data ledger known as “blockchain” and it is here where all the transactions that have taken place within the bitcoin community are stored.

The amazing thing about this system is that anyone in the bitcoin community is able to validate transactions that take place without the need of an intermediary.

Sound too good to be true and a little risky? Well, the reason there is no intermediate party necessary is due to the network bitcoin technology is regulated on.


Modus operandi and more

The bitcoin network is founded on a “peer-to-peer network system (P2P network)” which is explained as “a network of computers/ mobile configured to allow certain files and folders to be shared with everyone or with selected users”.

As a result, the “participants” are in control of their transactions, making everyone equal within the bitcoin community, which is also transparent.

It is said that bitcoin technology was first created in 2008 by a person or a group of persons under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” in a research paper. The research stated that there was need for a new electronic payment method, one using digitised money. The analysis also included the future of bitcoin, its benefits, capabilities and potential.

The system was implemented on Jan 3, 2009. And after just a few years, bitcoin grew to become a whopping US$12 billion (RM52.7 billion) globalised economy.

Bitcoin attributes

While not much has been said about bitcoin in this part of the region, the system has been around, slowly developing and growing. Like many things that are cloudy and not often talked about, people are weary hence, there will be sceptics who dissuade others about the system they themselves are unclear about.

With that, theSun’s Brian Chung shares what he learnt of this new method of transaction and currency when he attended a talk by renowned entrepreneur, author and expert on bitcoin Andreas M. Antonopoulos.

Below, Antonopolous shares important information on bitcoin.

1) Bitcoin is an open system of payment: It is a system that anyone can access, participate and innovate, and does not require permission. Bitcoin allows anyone to join in and use the system, validate the transaction and create different kinds of cryptocurrency.

2) Bitcoin is borderless: Like the internet, bitcoin is not restricted to a country’s rules and regulations as it has its own protocol with no distinction across countries.

3) Bitcoin is neutral: Bitcoin does not take the identity of the participant into any consideration. It only validates the transaction that takes place between participants. This attribute also allows participants to remain anonymous.

4) Bitcoin is censorship resistant: Every transaction in the bitcoin network cannot be frozen, censored or canceled. Like the internet, the bitcoin system is a global digital economy with one currency.

5) Bitcoin is a decentralised system: The bitcoin network has no central institution or centre point of control. This trait ensures that there is no one major target for hackers to concentrate their attacks on. Instead, hackers have to create attacks on every single participant’s software with different forms of virus and codes to hack into one computer.

6) Bitcoin is scarce and limited: Bitcoin is a system of value like gold but in digital form. This makes it a system that is not based on credit and debit. It also makes bitcoin a singular global currency with no exchange rate between countries.

7) Every bitcoin transaction is permanent and immutable: The transaction of everyone in the community is verified by everyone in the system. Once it is verified, the transaction will be permanently recorded in the blockchain.

8) Bitcoin is a constantly innovative technology: The open source nature of the bitcoin technology allows other people to further improve on it. There are many other cryptocurrencies based on the bitcoin technology. Moreover, the bitcoin technology is dependent on the internet, which makes improvement and innovation necessary.

Bitcoin transactions can be done via smart phones and computers by downloading the application and software. Users do not need to register themselves to be part of the bitcoin network as all “participants” are referred to by codes and “signature of one’s device”.

However, iPhone users need to remember their iTunes password to download the application. In addition, the device that one has downloaded the bitcoin software on must remain connected to the internet in order for one to use the bitcoin method of payment.

Follow our column next week on the application of bitcoin in property.

[Note: All charts courtesy of Bitcoin Malaysia.]

 

The application of bitcoin in property

 

WHILE last week, we introduced the term bitcoin to those oblivious of this new age cryptocurrency and system of payment, this week, we share bitcoin whiz Andreas M. Antonopoulus’ insights on how this technology is applied in property. Here is what he had to say:

Permanent records

“One very common application is the registration of assets or ownership of tangible and
non-tangible things like the registration of title over land and the ownership of assets
like homes.

When you record something on blockchain, it cannot be modified … it is immutable. Once recorded on the blockchain, the system of trust prevents anyone from reversing or overwriting it. That makes a record on blockchain permanent, an immutable record which is really important in real estate transaction as it allows one to pass the title of a piece of land from person to person independently with no one being able to falsify the record or steal land through paper,” Antonopoulos said.

Moreover, he mentioned that this technology can benefit the industry tremendously as it is able to resolve a huge problem in real estate and property transactions – the falsification of strata titles and property documents.

His view is further enhanced with the emergence of another bitcoin-based system, ethereum. Like bitcoin, ethereum has its own cryptocurrency known as ether. However, ethereum adopts a different technology that is based on the blockchain public ledger system known as Smart Contract.

According to Antonopoulos, a smart contract is an electronic contract with all the contractual obligations of the buyer and seller. The contract is written and coded into an application, which will ensure both parties fulfill their obligations.

Like blockchain technology that is built on trust and verification, these contracts are encoded in a public ledger in the ethereum community. If anyone tries to forge the contract, the ledger will reject it. As such, this smart contract cannot be rewritten and altered as it is a permanent and immutable contract.


Direct transactions

Besides the use of a contract, the technology will make transactions direct, fast and secure.

Antonopoulos also shared about the removal of third parties and its altered role. He said, “Another example relevant to real estate application is the function of escrow. In order to do make transactions for real estate today, people have to use a third party agent, an escrow agent. This escrow agent charges a significant amount of money in most countries. During the process, that agent holds custody of the entire fund, which is dangerous. This means that the escrow agent has to be carefully vetted and have foresight.

Bitcoin can replace all of this by using multi-signature, which allows the seller and buyer to transact escrow programmatically, with the third party acting as mediator only in the case of a dispute.

Buyer and seller will be able to execute a transaction on their own without the need of an escrow agent and without any of the parties having custody of the entire fund. Through bitcoin, you do not need to spend that additional one percent of the sale of the house – the escrow agent is no longer necessary.

It can also change the speed of escrow by doing it in hours instead of a month and changes the security because no one of the three parties can run away with the money. It is faster, cheaper and secure. It can be done in other industries related to real estates like purchasing assets, corporation, mergers and acquisitions.

International property purchase

With the use of decentralised digital currency, one can assume that purchasing items and properties is a little easier, and it is.

The chance of purchasing international property is further reinforced by the fact that bitcoin is not controlled by anyone, not even political and banking institutions. This attribute of bitcoin makes it easier for people buying property from another country. Although each country has its regulations, the use of bitcoin to purchase property abroad saves time and money as one does not need to change currency.

The Australia Real Estate website has stated that there are properties in the United States and Latin America being sold using bitcoin. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article in 2014 regarding a Lake Tahoe property, which was sold for US$1 million in bitcoin.

Follow our column next week for more interesting information on bitcoin, its challenges and how stable a cryptocurrency it is.

By rian Chung

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Retrenchments ahead, says Malaysian Employers Federation


The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) believes that more people will get the axe this year due to the current economic challenges.

Apart from the weak economy, contributing factors include the introduction of “disruptive technology” in some industries, it said.

According to its executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan (pic), economic challenges would see bosses reviewing their workers’ requirements.

“I think slightly more workers will be retrenched this year,” he told a press conference after the Taxation and Employer seminar jointly hosted by the Inland Revenue Board and MEF yesterday.

Shamsuddin said in 2015, about 44,000 workers lost their jobs while up to September last year, about 40,000 workers were retrenched.

He said the complete data for 2016 has not been released by authorities yet, but the numbers could be higher than the previous year.

In 2015, said Shamsuddin, about 18,000 of those who lost their jobs were from the banking sector due to the introduction of what he termed as “disruptive technology”, where banks were increasingly adopting online transactions, for example.

Other industries that could be affected, said Shamsuddin, include insurance, manufacturing and construction.

He said for the insurance industry, many prefer dealing with the companies directly for their services, which makes the job of middlemen or agents, redundant.

“However, these agents are not really part of the retrenchment rate because they are considered to be self-employed,” he said.

Asked to comment on the E-kad (enforcement card) programme by the Immigration Department, Shamsuddin said the Government should consider widening the criteria.

He said the programme should be open to illegal workers who do not have permanent employers.

Currently, only illegal foreign workers with valid employers can register and legalise their work under the E-kad programme.

Shamsuddin said by including illegal foreign workers without employers, the source pool for workers can be widened.

By Hemananthani Vivanandam The Star/ANN

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Ma’sia’s skilled labour shortage, engineers not take up challenges, graduates can’t solve problems

Call on the Government to downsize the country’s bloated civil service


Sheriff: ‘Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy

KUALA LUMPUR: One of Malaysia’s former top civil servants has called on the Government to consider downsizing the country’s bloated civil service, while it still can.

Malaysia has the highest civil servants to population ratio in the Asia-Pacific, employing 1.6 million people or 11% of the country’s labour force.

And that could be a problem Malaysia may not be able to sustain if it runs into a financial crisis, said Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, the former Finance Ministry secretary-general and Economic Planning Unit director-general.

He said if the Government was really set on keeping the national deficit at 3%, it needed to look at retrenching employees, particularly in the lower levels of the civil service, to cut spending.

“Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy. There are just too many rules and regulations that the public and private sector have to live with,” he told a delegation of economists, politicians and government officials at the Malaysian Economic Association’s forum on public sector governance.

He advised Malaysia to begin downsizing the civil service, “better sooner than later” if it wanted to avoid running the risk of falling into a Greece-like crisis, where the European country had to cut salaries and was unable to pay pensions for its civil service.

Drawing examples from the recent Malaysia Airlines restructuring, where 6,000 people were retrenched, Mohd Sheriff said it was better to let staff go now and compensate them with retrenchment packages while the Government can still afford it.

“It may cost the Government a heavy expenditure now but it is worthwhile to do it now while we can still afford it and not until we are forced into a financial crisis like Greece.

“We don’t want to be in that situation. I think we should do it gradually. It is kinder to do it now with incentives than to suddenly cut their salaries and pensions at a time when they can least afford it,” he said.

Malaysia is expected to spend RM76bil in salaries and allowances for the civil service this year, on top of another RM21bil for pensions. Efficiency and corruption dominated talks on the civil service at the forum, held at Bank Negara’s Sasana Kijang.

Mohd Sheriff, who is also former president of the Malaysian Economic Association, said these issues have been around since his time in the civil service decades ago though not much has changed due to a lack of political will.

In jest, he suggested Malaysia emulate United States President Donald Trump’s idea on downsizing the US civil service by closing down two departments of the Government if it wanted to open another one.

He also suggested that Parliament create a committee to monitor the performance of top civil servants and give them the ability to retrench these officers if they fail to meet their marks.

“In many countries, even Indonesia, they have committees to hold Government leaders to any shortcomings on policy implementations and projects.

“These are the kinds of checks and balance we need to make our civil servants aware that they are being monitored for their work and they can be pulled out at any time,” he said.

Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani had said Malaysia’s ratio of civil servants is one to 19.37 civilians and that the high number of Government staff had caused expenditures to balloon yearly.

As a comparison, the ratio in Indonesia is 1:110, in China it is 1:108, in Singapore it’s 1:71.4 and in South Korea the ratio is 1:50.

Despite this, Johari said there were no plans to reduce the number of civil servants.

By Nicholas Ccheng The Star

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Malaysia no longer stuck in middle-income trap?


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is no longer stuck in the middle-income trap, as its gross national income (GNI) is now progressively growing towards the high-income benchmark as defined by the World Bank, says Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

Attributing the positive development to the various reforms undertaken via the multi-year economic transformation programme (ETP), the CEO of Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) points out that Malaysia’s GNI at US$10,570 (RM42,340) per capita last year is now only 15% away from the high-income-economy benchmark of US$12,475 per capita.

This compared with a gap of 33% between Malaysia’s GNI of US$8,280 per capita in 2010 and the then high-income economy threshold of US$12,276 per capita.

“As a result of the things we have been doing since 2010 and up to now, we have become completely unstuck (from the middle-income trap), with the gap (in Malaysia’s per capita GNI against the high-income threshold) now narrowed down to just 15%, compared with 33% in 2010,” Idris, who has been leading Pemandu, which is an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department, since 2010, said.

“The gap was even wider before 2010, and we could never close the gap for many years, resulting in many economists and financial experts proclaiming that Malaysia is stuck in the middle-income trap, and would not be able to become a high-income nation by 2020 unless we become unstuck,” he said in his keynote address on the Public Private Partnerships panel discussion here yesterday.

The panel discussion, jointly organised by research and publishing company The Business Year and education services provider Brickfields Asia College, was themed “Innovation as Driver for Local Economic Empowerment”.

According to Idris, Malaysia had managed to transform its economy, as a result of implementing innovative strategies. He said the Government remained confident of closing the GNI per capita gap and achieving the high-income target by 2020.

Under the ETP, the target was to achieve a GNI per capita of US$15,000 by 2020.

Meanwhile, in addition to GNI growth, Idris said Malaysia was also making good progress in the fiscal-sustainability space, as evident in the narrowing of the Government’s budget deficit and the continued manageability of its debt level.

The reduction of Malaysia’s fiscal deficit to 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) last year from 6.6% of GDP in 2009, for instance, was an indication of a stronger and more sustainable financial position. The country’s fiscal-deficit-to-GDP ratio was expected to reduce further to 3.1% by the end of 2016.

The Government debt-to-GDP level, on the other hand, would remain below the self-imposed limit of 55%. It stood at 53% last year.

“We have reduced subsides and implemented the goods and services tax (among the various economic reforms) to achieve fiscal sustainability,” Idris said.

“We have also put in a lot of effort to stimulate private investment growth” he added, noting that private investment growth had outpaced public investment since the launch of the ETP.

Idris said while there were still challenges in implementing economic reforms, Pemandu would continue to monitor closely the progress made by various government ministries.

“We are tracking all the investment projects one by one … we want to make sure that all these projects are being implemented just as we said they would,” Idris said.

On the moderate growth of the country’s economy and gradual pace of fiscal-deficit reduction, Idris said these were a result of deliberate policy to ensure that Malaysia did not grow at the expense of accumulating more debts, or had its budget deficit cut drastically at the expense of the country’s economic growth.

Through this balancing act, Idris said, Malaysia had managed to stay in the “safe zone” in terms of debt-to-GDP and fiscal deficit levels while maintaining a steady growth path. – Cecila Kok The Star

But in the same article, Danny Quah, professor of economics and international development at the London School of Economics, disagreed that Malaysia had moved past the middle-income trap.

Quah maintained his position on Saturday, at a panel discussion organised by Sunway University in Petaling Jaya.

He told the university’s students that Malaysia had been going after “low-hanging fruits” in policymaking, resulting in it being trapped in the middle-income status.

“We are now in a situation where we are in a good place, but we’ll not get past it to gain fully developed country status in Malaysia’s own mould,” he said.

Quah is of the view that Malaysia has become complacent about its achievements, and that the nation suffers from what economists call the “natural resource curse”.

The economist pointed out that only about one million out of the 30 million people in the country are paying income tax, noting that this small fiscal base would be unsustainable moving forward.

The problems are an unclear direction, lack of leadership commitment, high-level plans that are not practical, rigid implementation, a silo mentality and work approach, public demands and inputs not adequately obtained, poor accountability, and a lack of transparency and trust deficit.

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Landed residential properties much sought after with resilent demand, Market insights


CBRE|WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen (pic) said that in spite of confidence issues among property buyers, there was still good demand for “the right products,” especially for landed units.

PETALING JAYA: Demand for landed residential units is still promising despite the current property glut, said an official from a local real estate services provider.

CBRE|WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen (pic) said that in spite of confidence issues among property buyers, there was still good demand for “the right products,” especially for landed units.

“Despite the issue with the confidence levels, some developers are still registering good sales for landed and affordable homes. High rise developers meanwhile are having to offer a lot more freebies, with some even offering their own financing.

“But you don’t see that for landed property as the demand is still there,” he said at a press conference announcing the joint venture (JV) between real estate agencies CH Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd (WTW) and CBRE last week.

He emphasised that one of the biggest issues facing the current property sector is not oversupply, but instead a mismatch of supply and demand.

“Developers are putting the wrong products in the market and this is not what the masses want. The demand is there but it’s not the correct product. So the question is, how long will the market take to absorb (these products)?”

As an example of a mismatch between demand and supply, Foo cited low-cost housing in areas that were not accessible to the proper target audience.

“For instance, there are low-cost properties built in Bukit Beruntung. But the daily toll and fuel cost of travelling to Kuala Lumpur for work is heavy for the type of people living in such homes.

“Also, there are so many high-end shoebox units now and Malaysia is unlike Singapore or Hong Kong. We still have plenty of land. If you’re putting the right property in the right location – you’ll still see a long queue of people attending the launches.”

CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm and a Fortune 500 company, announced yesterday that it had acquired a significant interest in Malaysia’s largest real estate service provider, WTW, WTW Real Estate Sdn Bhd and WTW Property Services Sdn Bhd.

The business will rebrand as CBRE|WTW effective immediately, with WTW holding a 51% stake in the JV. WTW network of 13 offices in Peninsula Malaysia.

CBRE Asia Pacific chief executive officer Steve Swerdlow said the collaboration was consistent with the firm’s strategy to grow in South-East Asia.

“At a time when planning is underway to link Malaysia and Singapore via high speed rail and with the Asean Economic Community and the Trans Pacific Partnership facilitating greater collaboration for both countries and their wider partner countries, this offers many opportunities for cross border activities when they arise.”

With CBRE as a strategic partner, Foo said the firm can now help its clients expand their activities beyond Malaysia, providing them with more options through a diverse means of expertise. “Conversely we can be a party to help bring greater meaningful inbound investments into the Malaysian market via the CBRE global network.”

By Eugene Mahalingam The Star

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