I found an interesting and telling survey conducted by the retired CEO of our biggest insurance company, NTUC, Tan Kin Lian. The results are based on 100 participants who responded within 8 hours.
Tan Kin Lian has interesting thoughts about Singapore having the world’s highest proportion of millionaires. I like that he appeals to the average Singaporean. He brings up an interesting point that most people are burdened by housing loans and even when the property prices are up they cannot sell them as it is the roof over their heads. He says:
It showed the number of households that have an assets more than 1 million dollars (USD). This could be due to the sharp increase in property price last year, which is good for owners of multiple properties, but make no difference to those who own only one property for own occupation. Furthermore, I think that the study measures the value of assets and do not take away the liability (i.e. loans to purchase property).
The growth rate of millionaires was 35% in Singapore, but for China and Indonesia, the growth was 31% and 21% respectively. The report does not measure that proportion of the population that can be classifed as millionaires – but the growth in the numbers of these rich households during 2008.
In one respect, it probaly reflects the widening disparity in income in these countries. For each person to be rich, there must be 100 people that has to be relatively poorer.
The report does convey the impression that the economy is doing well, when in reality, more people are suffering from the high cost of living – driven by high property and asset prices.