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.
My team of researchers recently uncovered a key patent that exposes a major chink in Tesla’s armor…
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We’ve managed to uncover the tiny company
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Over the next several years, I believe the value of this firm could absolutely explode… by my calculations, upwards of 4,600%.
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Here’s what I really want you to take away from this story…
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,
luke signature
Luke Burgess
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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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Trading plunges at China’s bitcoin exchanges

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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Be wary of these four types of financial predators


REGRETTABLY Malaysia seems to be fertile ground for all sorts of scammers. Just yesterday I received a text message from Bank Negara Malaysia, warning me not to open emails that claim they are from BNM and ask for payment verification.

The newspapers report every month on hundreds of Malaysians losing millions of Ringgit to all sorts of financial predators.

These are the four types of financial predators you should be aware of.

Financial predators that are selling you something amazing (for them). Some financial predators are trying to sell you something and only later you find out that the item is not the best use of your money at all.


Watch out for these financial predators
:

* The pyramid scheme operator who is selling you products which sound expensive and technologically sophisticated, but are worthless.

* The shop owner, who recommends expensive or high margin products, which turn out to be unpopular or old products to increase his profit or clear his inventory.

* The property agent, who pushes you to purchase a house despite knowing that there is a price correction coming. He just cares about getting his commission.

* Financial predators that want to make you rich (but make you poor instead).

Other financial predators are not selling you a product, but a dream: to be rich one day. You would be amazed to find out how much people are willing to spend in their pursuit of this dream. You can get rich in many ways, but not nearly as many, as ways in which you can get scammed.

For instance, consider:

*The investor or trader that is selling you currency, gold, stock or property with the promise of extremely high returns. Sometimes they don’t sell the assets, but a “secret” formula or (software) tool to always make a winning trade. Don’t fall for it!

* The prince, minister, lottery winner, retired general and other personalities which will reward you with a slice of their wealth. If first you pay some legal / custom fees.

* The fake lottery / contest predator, that tricks you into thinking you won a sizeable sum of money. You just need to pay up some administration fees before you can redeem your prize.

* The scratch & win agent and casino operator. “The house always wins.” You will bring more to the casino operator than he will give back.

* The (soccer) bookie, who extends upfront credit for you to place more bets and win back your losses. But if you keep losing, his friendly helpfulness will quickly vanish.

Financial predators that “just” want to help you (into bigger problems)

Some financial predators pretend they just want to help you – some may even say they have nothing to gain from it. Be aware of these sophists!

* The financial planner that gets more commission the more financial products you buy. Never mind whether you really need all that insurance and other financial products.

* The loan shark that will give you better rates or quicker disbursement than the bank, but asks much higher interest rates in return.

* The salesman that is selling you expensive insurance on top of your car / phone etc that already have guarantee from the manufacturer.

* The car dealerships and stores who encourage you to take their own (more expensive) financing plans instead of your bank’s instalment plans.

* The financial predator that is in love with you (or is it your money)?

* And then finally, the financial predator that lures you with dreams of romance. This one is the saddest of all, because doesn’t everyone deserve more genuine love in their life?

And isn’t it heart-breaking to see how scammers toy with people’s strongest desires, just for monetary gains?

Be aware for online girlfriends and boyfriends that contact you out of nowhere. Don’t be surprised when you find scammers that try to deceive you with romantic talk in the darkest of alleyways on the Internet (or just around the corner on Facebook and other social media apps).

Especially be wary if you have never seen your new love in real life or (s)he is a foreigner and needs your money in order to pay for visa or flights or to pay off local debts before (s)he is allowed to leave.

As you can tell, Malaysia and the world are full of financial predators. Don’t fall prey to them and become their lunch.

By Mark Reijman The Star/ANN

Mark Reijman is co-founder and managing director of https://www.comparehero.my/dedicated to increasing financial literacy and to help you save time and money by comparing all credit cards, loans and broadband plans in Malaysia. Keen on joining the team as a writer, then email mark@comparehero.my

Wira Dani, son of former Finance Minister Daim, declared a bankrupt


PETALING JAYA: Datuk Md Wira Dani Abdul Daim, who just recently got appointed as Reliance Pacific Bhd executive director, has been declared a bankrupt by the high court of Singapore.

According to reports, the son of former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin failed to settle some S$1.65mil (RM4.9mil) in debts that he owed Maybank Kim Eng Securities.

Following the court order, Wira Dani stepped down as non-independent and non-executive director of Singapore-based gold company LionGold Corp Ltd.

He had also ceased to be the executive chairman of investment and investment advisory firm ISR Capital Ltd since Monday.

In a statement filed with the Singapore Exchange, Wira Dani indicated that he intended to settle personal affairs following the court bankruptcy order, which he intends to resolve within the next 30 days.

Maybank secured a high court judgment against Wira Dani in March to reclaim a debt of $2.459mil (RM7.3mil) that he owed.

This was said to have been borrowed by him to buy LionGold shares on a leveraged account.

Wira Dani, together with Daim’s wife Toh Puan Mahani Idris, emerged as substantial shareholders of Reliance Pacific, which operates the famous Avillion Hotel in Port Dickson, at end-July 2016 through their private vehicle Ibu Kota Developments Sdn Bhd.

Ibu Kota owns a 30.96% stake in the company that has extensive interest in the tourism, property development and hospitality sectors.

Wira Dani was named the executive director of Reliance Pacific on July 27.

At present, he is also a non-executive director of GCM Resources PLC, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange and chairman of Astute Capital Ltd, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

LionGold was among the three companies whose drastic decline in share prices in October 2013 wiped out some S$6.9bil of their market capitalisation in three days.

The event led to an official probe on suspected irregularities, and lawsuits were filed by various parties.

LionGold and the other two companies, namely Blumont Group and Asiasons Capital, claimed they were unaware of the reasons for the plunge of their shares.

LionGold’s market cap stood at S$26.9mil as of June 2015, compared with S$1.59bil at its peak in August 2013.

Wira Dani had reportedly agreed to pay the bank via instalments. However, by August 2014, he had repaid only S$100,000.

Maybank in April accepted the offer from his lawyer, Woo Tchi Chu, to settle the debt, with S$1mil to be paid in two tranches within the month and the rest by end-June.

Maybank’s Allen & Gledhill lawyer Vincent Leow had made clear that bankruptcy was an option in the event of a default by Wira Dani.

In the event, Maybank received only about S$835,950, leaving a shortfall of S$1.65mil and triggering the bankruptcy move.

Wira Dani is said to have property in Singapore, according to court documents filed.

Maybank refused to comment when contacted last night, citing client confidentiality.

– The Star/Asia News Network

Related stories:

Daim’s son resigns as Reliance Pacific executive director

Daim’s love affair with banks
Change of ownership: Alliance Bank’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. The change of ownership of Langkah Bahagia marks the end of the era of Daim and his interest in banking in Malaysia.

The end of the Daim era

Daim: 'We are entitled to some answers'Daim: 1MDB should not keep funds overseas

 

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Malaysia no longer stuck in middle-income trap?
Stuck in the middle-income trap  Attributing the positive

development to the various reforms undertaken via the multi-year
econom…

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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Investing in minds to stop brain drain


Beijing lures back foreign graduates with lucrative offers

BEIJING: As a young biologist at the University of Michigan, Chen Xiaowei had plenty to like about life in the United States.

He was paid well as a researcher and enjoyed raising his family in Ann Arbor, a town he remembers as beautiful, friendly and highly educated.

But an offer from a Chinese university for him to return home to Beijing was too generous not to consider.

In addition to a comparable salary, he was promised enough startup research money that he wouldn’t have to worry about pursuing grants.

So in 2014 he moved back with his wife and two children.

“I feel freer to pursue my best ideas,” Chen said.

He said he has received such generous support that he’s able to study a disease through symptoms in both the liver and muscles simultaneously – something he said he would not be able to do in the United States because of limitations on grants, which are often tied to projects instead of researchers.

Chen, who earned a doctorate in physiology at Michigan in 2008, has joined thousands of high achieving overseas Chinese recruited to come home through the 1,000 Talents programme, one of many state efforts to reverse a decades long brain drain.

China, the world’s second-largest economy and one of the fastest growing, sees a need to bring home more of its brightest as it works to transform its largely labourintensive, lowtech economy into one fuelled by innovation in science and technology.

More than 300,000 Chinese studied in the US alone in the 2014-2015 school year.

Most of those students return to China, but the country has had difficulty regaining the most coveted graduates – those with advanced degrees and experience in science and engineering.

A 2014 report by Oak Ridge Institute shows 85% of the 4,121 Chinese students who received doctorates in science and engineering from American universities in 2006 were still in the US five years later.

The 1,000 Talents programme offers recruits salaries several times more than what a Chineseeducated local hire would receive, as well as heavily subsidised education for children and millions in startup research funds. The signup bonus alone can be as much as US$150,000 (RM605,850).

Chen, now an assistant professor at Peking University, was given a US$1.5mil (RM6.05mil) research fund.

“In the States,” he said, “it’s very hard for young people to get money when they need it the most.” — AP

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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

Top Story -market insights
An outlook on Malaysia’s property market

May 26, 2016
According to PropertyGuru’s Malaysia Property Market Sentiment
Survey Report H1 2016, things are expected to improve in 2016 as people
are warming up to the idea of purchasing properties.  

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