Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Singapore IT Jobs Market Trends

In just 5 years, job market for Information Technologies (IT) professionals has changed dramatically. As of 2011, two thirds of the world's biggest 100 IT firms' Asia-Pacific (APAC) head quarters are based in Singapore and Singapore has been ranked as the single most competitive country for Asia Pacific region ahead of Australia and Hong Kong.[1] According to Sam Baxendale, Division Manager for Technology in global boutique recruitment company Ambition, this transition has benefited IT professionals by increasing salaries and scope of opportunities:

"Breaking the IT market down by job title, we can see the most significant demand and therefore the
biggest hikes in salary (as much as 10%+)  in  Project Management, Software development/Consulting and Infrastructure on the mid side. Such roles make up the building blocks for any IT implementation, so the best of the best will always be fought over. Allied to this, as the IT market in Singapore evolves and new business lines are attracted to the area, a bounty effect arises for those candidates who carry both technical and specific business domain knowledge"[1]

According to Ambition, a typical mid-weight IT project manager would be paid S$75k per year in 2007 and this salary is now close to s$80K in 2011. National average salary in Singapore is S$35k annually. In Singapore, IT salaries in banking/finance and in everything else has a huge difference and average IT project manager in financial IT can expect much more than $80,000 per year. This unfortunately also means that you may well be below the $80,000 per year if you are a non-financial IT project manager. As we have written before top 27 per cent of IT professionals are earning more than 100K+ per year and this percentage is much lower than finance, banking and law professions.

An obvious lifter for IT salaries in Singapore in 2012 and onward will probably be the reverse in immigration policy which has started in 2009 but accelerated in 2011. Cheaper IT foreign talent import from India is getting harder with tightening in Singapore PR criteria as well as Employment Pass criteria. This is bad news for professionals who want to migrate to Singapore and work here but good news for IT professionals already in Singapore as a citizen, permanent resident or a valid work pass holder. The immigration door was wide open in the last decade mostly thanks to Singapore's ambitious IT plans in the first place and it is still open for people who can bring skills which is not readily available in Singapore.

[1] - Right skills can land High Pay 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some thoughts on expert opinions on economy and property

It looks like the property investment party in Singapore is coming to an end, at least forecasts are becoming more pessimistic week on week. Back in September 2011, UOB Kay Kian has been the first party breaker by announcing that it forecasts a 8 - 10 % fall in Singapore residential property prices in 2012. A month later, Daiwa Research has revealed that it forecasts the property prices could fall 22 - 23% in the next 3 years. And recently, Standard Chartered announced a bigger forecasted fall: 30 % fall in both residential rents and mass market private residential prices in the next 3 years.

Today, in The Straits Times, Esther Teo has written article on this issue: Will Singapore property market soften? I would like to comment on many belief driven assumptions she has mentioned as "expert thought":
  • "The local property market is also known to be resilient, experiencing just a short blip during the global financial crisis before a sharp rebound at the end of 2009, Mr. Seah noted. - Comparing 2008 to the next crisis and predicting the same scenario after the crisis is not logical. First, 2009 rebound was not a rebound, it was just cheap, printed money flowing from West to East. The West does not have the same fire power now, although overrated FED head will probably print money for a 3rd time to open up a safe exit for his buddies in Wall Street and create a short term asset bubble inflation. Second in 2009, there was a very bad residential property supply crunch in Singapore due to under construction in public housing sector. Just look at the graph here, you will understand what I mean. Just 10,000+ flats were completed in 2009. Double that amount is expected to be completed in 2011 and more in the next 3 years.
  • "On the other hand, while another global crisis might also dampen sentiment, Mr. Tan noted it might lead to more money being pumped into the market as governments act to salvage their economies." - This is actually true, but since first 2 rounds of money printing in US did not work and Western governments do not have so much buffer to accept more debt, I suspect this would be something to rely upon. Sure, there is room for governments to fuel the global asset bubble a few years more but then it will only mean to push prices higher to crash from a higher level. These people relying on printing money misses the fact that if printing money was a working solution all third world would be wealthy now.
  • The article says "these high levels of liquidity flooding the market might find their way to Asia and continue to support property prices" - First, printed money supported prices are doomed to crash since they need constant supply of printed money to just keep their level. So they do not "support" prices, they "inflate" prices. Second, as we have mentioned, with this high levels of sovereign debt it will be politically very difficult fore governments to print money and transfer debt to state from bankers to save them.
  • "However, some experts note, any decision by the US Fed to raise rates will mean that its economy is finally on the mend and that could signal that the global economy is out of doldrums, which is good news for investors - The most laughable experts are of these kind, simply be very very careful about them :) For them, some institutions have god like powers and nothing can happen to them. You know what they said before: "Yes we know if Lehman Brothers bankrupted these investments would be junk, but we have never imagined that Lehman could default". These people put so much faith on FED and they can easily be classified as bigots, not experts. For them, USA and Europe can continue to spend more than they earn indefinitely, FED and its ultra overrated bureaucrats can print money as much as they want without creating inflation, FED has ultimate power to define interest rates so there is no such scenario that USA will be forced to increase interest rates due to its inability to sell new debt like Italy, Spain, France and even Germany are forced to borrow with higher interest rates. So in short, USA may well be forced to increase interest rates before its economy is out of doldrums. When making investment decisions, avoid these bigots at all cost. They will eventually say "nobody thought this can happen" and leave, but you may well be burned. Everything can happen. USA and Europe does not have any god given status to protect them from results of overspending, over borrowing and under-investing. And FED does not have magical powers to play with interest rates against market forces as it wishes. Remember that just 5 years ago in 2006, they had to gradually increase interest rates which they have kept ultra low after 2001. And everyone who bought flats in USA with the belief that the party will last forever was burnt in 2008.
  • "The population growth is expected to be halved to 1.5 percent" says Standard Chartered. But AmFraser Securities equity analyst Lau Wei Chong noted that although the intake of foreigners slowed, the government maintains its open door policy for talent, which will see population continue growing". - The worst case scenario of these experts, population growth slow, is not the worst case scenario. No foreign talent can come here, rent a place and join the population without a job, even he is guaranteed to have a visa to work. In other words, ease or difficulty of immigration is not very important if there is no decent paying job for an immigrant, this is especially true for an expensive place to live like Singapore. Experts tend to skip two scenarios (1) Population of Singapore can actually shrink if foreign talents lose their job. They can probably better hold on in their relatively cheaper countries than holding on here without a job. Please not that, the unemployment rate of Singapore will not significantly go up if foreign talent loses job because they will probably not join unemployed people here at all but leave. (2) Wages, especially the packages and bonuses supporting private property prices can shrink. We all know that expat packages are shrinking since 2008. Banking and finance job bonuses, which are usually 100% of basic annual salary(!) are too exaggerated for an industry which does not create that much value to support the earnings. So they will have to come down, of course after several rounds of bank (bonus) rescue packages paid by everybody else, but they will come down. These packages and bonuses are main supporters of 6K+ condo rents. Job / bonus loses this time can reach high levels for Asia and Singapore, especially if Europe and USA decides the do what they should do long ago, spend less than they earn to pay out their debt instead of borrowing more. All Asian growth in the last 2 decades, including Singapore's, have a large portion which solely is supported by European and American debt driven demand. When debt driven demand goes, that portion will also go.
  • "However, Dr. Chua Yang Liang, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle South East Asia, noted that the population has expanded 2.8 per cent a year over the past 10 years while number of completed homes has increased by 2.1 per cent a year. Given the way the growing population has outpaced the housing stock, this has led to a backlog of demand for houses. If the economic crisis is not too severe, this will help to mitigate the sharpness of any price correction - I agree with him about the back log. There must be a lot of people out there dreaming a property of their own. But do not forget, sharp increases like 18 % in 2010 alone, priced them out I do not think mild price corrections will just enable them to buy! Think about it, 1 million SGD, a norm for a mass market condominium now, is 5.5 times the annual gross income for a family making 15,000  per month. In other words, an average  private property is in severely unaffordable region even for a very high income of 15,000 SGD.
See alsoe Can foreign professional demand take up Singapore private property oversupply?

This blog article is to provide general information only and should not be treated as an invitation to buy or sell any property or as sales material.  Users of this report should consider this report as a one of the many factors in making their investment decision. Users should make reference to other sources of information and specific investment advice to obtain a more objective view of the property market. Asia Singapore shall not be responsible for losses suffered.

Private property prices may fall 30% 2012 onwards

A few weeks ago, a research house released a forecast that predicts a 22-23% fall in Singapore private property prices. Now Standard Chartered analysts says that the the residential rents as well as private property prices in mass market could fall 30% over the next three years as supply ramps up amid falling demand:

"Standard Chartered sees problems ahead, including slower population growth due to stricter immigration policies and the unprecedented supply of completion of homes coming on-stream" says Esther Teo from The Straits Times[1]

Current mass market private property prices are equilibrium prices between an anemic supply and an artificially low interest rate fueled demand of last 8 years, following the 2001 dot com bubble. You actually do not need to look at any chart or report to figure out that this "price" level is not fair: Just remember that a 1 million dollar flat became mass market condo here in Singapore! The main reason was the ultra low supply, take a look at the chart here and see yourself. What the reporter calls "unprecedented supply" is actually back to normal levels of home production.

Standard Chartered also warns about the interest rate increases after 2013. Interest rates, the price of using someone else's money, are artificially low to force savers to spend for nearly a decade now and they are creating a dangerous illusion of affordability. Even with these rock-bottom interest rates, private home buyers in Singapore are estimated to spend more than 38 per cent of their monthly gross income on mortgage payments which is higher than the Singapore Government's target of 30 per cent to 34 per cent.

Standard Chartered property analyst says "if interest rates normalize to 10 years average of 4 per cent, we estimate the proportion of income spent on mortgage repayments to rise to 50 per cent". In fact, interest rates need to hike well above 4 per cent to bring up the average to 4 per cent, which is very likely after an artificial low interest rate period. Interest rates are quite powerful to dampen property demand as we have seen in Hong Kong and China. No other cooling measures combined worked to bring down the property prices in these 2 countries but just increasing the interest rates (or shrinking the money supply) started to bring down the prices. This is because, I guess, many investors loose desire to invest in property when cash flow of rent minus mortgage payment goes to negative levels.

[1] - Will Singapore Property market soften?

See also:
This blog article is to provide general information only and should not be treated as an invitation to buy or sell any property or as sales material.  Users of this report should consider this report as a one of the many factors in making their investment decision. Users should make reference to other sources of information and specific investment advice to obtain a more objective view of the property market. Asia Singapore shall not be responsible for losses suffered.

Singapore's First Dating Academy

There is no more excuse to not be a master in art of dating and love and sleep alone night after night. Singapore now has her first dating academy, directed by a retired National University of Singapore professor, David Tian. Aura Dating (cool name for a dating academy), directed by Dr. Tian, offers 4,500 SGD courses as weekly classes but there are practical assignments (Welcome to the fight club).

Dr. David Tian had his Ph.D. in University of Michigan on Asian Cultures and in 2008 moved to Singapore to teach philosophy in NUS before starting the academy. He says that his academy is different than other dating teaching academies because his academy develops a client's skills with a relatively long course while others usually offer boot camp style short courses:

"There is a one year follow up program, where we take a guy and help him to grow skills in each stage like learning social intelligence, emotional intelligence, creating a relationship and succeeding in that area." [1] Aura Dating Academy’s main clients are male currently, and has more than 60 students from Singapore and around the region. There are plans expand its curriculum to serve women.[2]:

“We’re different from the ‘pick-up artists’ and dating coaches that try to teach men how to have one-night stands. And we differ from the dating agencies, which mainly act as matchmaking services,” says Executive Director and Master Mentor David Tian, Ph.D., a former professor at the National University of Singapore. “Our mission is to equip people with the social skills, social intelligence, and social confidence to succeed in their relationships. Being good at dating is just one aspect of being good with people in general.”

A dating and lifestyle consultant for over five years, Dr. Tian’s one-on-one coaching programs cost up to S$25,000 (US$20,500). Aura Dating Academy also boasts female dating mentors on its staff, some of whom have over three years experience helping clients get dates.[3]

You can listen to a detailed interview with David Tian, by Will X on 938 LIVE radio, 1/4, 2/4, 3/4 and 4/4.

Singapore's First Dating Academy Aura Dating
Dr. Tian
[1] - The Hot Seat Radio Show with Will X.
[2] - Aura dating teaching Singaporeans how date success
[3] - Singapore's first dating academy revealed

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cheaper Flights from Singapore to Beijing with Jetstar

Good news for the ones looking for cheap flights between Singapore and China; Jetstar Airways, the budget unit of Qantas, has became the first airliner to offer budget long haul flight from Singapore to Chinese capital of Beijing and according to the budget carrier, this is just the beginning. China will be their prime growth market in 2012 and Jetstar is determined to add more cities to its budget long haul flight destinations from Singapore.

Jetstar operates a fleet of Airbus A330-200 aircraft on all our long haul routes, such as Auckland - Singapore, Singapore - Beijing, Sydney - Honolulu or Melbourne - Phuket.

Jetstar offers Business Class and Economy Class options on these budget long haul flights. Unlike short haul budget flights, food and beverages are included in the fare but you will need to pay extra to buy in-flight entertainment system access. There is a fierce competition between Jetstar and AirAsiaX for long haul flights in Asia market and Singapore Airlines has also recently announced that he is in this market segment with a new budget airliner named Scoot.   Add Lion Air's aggressive capacity expension cheaper and better flights can be on the horizon for Asian travellers. But we also need to be cautious since this aggressive expansion plans from airliners reminds me of the aggressive, cheerful expansion of Insian Airliners few years back. That ended up badly with an excessive capacity and airliner crisis. I hope this does not end like that.

Jetstar Budget Long Haul Flight Destinations
Jetstar Budget Long Haul Flight Destinations - Source: Jetstar Long Haul
[1] - Long haul flying on Jetstar's Airbus A330-200 Aircraft

Singapore Hong Kong Expatriate Packages are shrinking

Banking and Financial job cuts by 2011 are in the news around the world. Western banks are aggressively cutting jobs to prepare themselves for the new normal and any future global scale financial problems especially in USA and Europe. The job cutting axe has also started to fall on banking and finance jobs in Asia, particularly the financial centers Hong Kong and Singapore. But the cuts were not aggressive here and has mainly been the problem of western bankers. But the aggressive job cuts in the west are having a direct and very important effect in Singapore: shrinking expatriate package.

Expatriate packages for bankers and financial services industry high fliers from West have been very generous until recently: housing and car allowances, job for spouse, club memberships on the top of free tickets every year back to homeland, free relocation as well as 1 month free service apartment stay in the first month of employment. But since 2008, the expatriate packages are shrinking and luxuries like housing allowances are not included in the standard package any more. This is because the excessive bonuses as well as job opportunities are shrinking in Europe and USA and there are many who would work in Singapore or Hong Kong for only(!) a monthly salary and bonus.

Housing allowances in the expatriate packages for "foreign talent" are one of the main drivers of rents in Singapore, especially the luxury segment of the city centers. In the past a banker or financial services high flyer would expect 100% housing allowance in luxury condominium rentals. This is shrinking and the effect is already felt in Singapore as District 9,10,11 rents fell first time in 4 years.

Singapore private home sales fall 24.5% in Q3 2011

Private home transactions in Singapore declined 24.5% in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the second quarter of the same year.[1] This is based on the analysis of Urban Redevelopment Authority's REALIS system conducted by DTZ. The fall in property investment was sharper, according to DTZ, investment deals in properties in Singapore fell 55% in Q3 2011 compared to Q2 2011.[2]

The fall would be more dramatic if mainland Chinese did not go on a property bubble mission as did Japanese in 1980s. Percentage and number of Singaporean buyers are declining every month but percentage of mainland Chinese buyers are increasing fast:

"THE share of mainland Chinese buyers of private homes among all non-Singaporean buyers hit a record high in the third quarter, as property-cooling measures in China drove home hunters here.

A report by DTZ Research said the Chinese bought 30.6 per cent of the private homes sold to non-Singaporeans between July and September, up from 26.1 per cent in the second quarter.

Singaporeans still made up the majority of buyers, with 64.8 per cent of all private home sales in the third quarter made to locals. But this is a drop from 67.9 per cent in the previous quarter."[3]

Saver punishing high inflation - low interest rate environment as well as the lack of innovation to channel artificially huge amount of money earned by Chinese thanks to Western debt driven over-spending, directed many Chinese to bury their money into a property bubble. Cooling measures as well as lack of private property rights in China is forcing many Chinese out of China to shop for properties overseas, including Singapore.

According to DTZ, number of private homes purchased by Singaporeans has fallen to 4,279 units in Q3 2011 from 6,167 units of Q2 2011. And number of private homes purchased by Singaporean PRs has fallen to 919 units in Q3 2011 from 1,257 units of Q2 2011. Meanwhile, number of private homes purchased by foreigners has fallen to 1,233 units in Q3 2011 from 1,449units of Q2 2011.[4]

Singapore private property sold per quarter per buyer nationality
Source : [4] 
[1] - Private home sales fall 24.5% in Q3: DTZ
[2] - DTZ Research: Investors in real estate more cautious in Q3 2011
[3] - Share of mainland Chinese buyers of Singapore private homes rises
[4] - Subsales lose their pull, especially with foreign buyers, The Business Times.

Singapore PRs own 48,700 HDB flats as of September 2011

48,700. This is the number of HDB flats owned by Singapore Permanent Residents as of September 2011, according to the latest figures released by Ministry of National Development (MND).[1] There are currently around 530,000 Singapore PRs according to the latest Singapore population figures.

In Singapore, Singapore Permanent Residents are allowed to buy HDB flats, public housing flats in Singapore named after the Housing & Development Board, from secondary market. These HDB flats are called resale HDB flats and enter the resale HDB flat market after 5 years of minimum occupancy period by their original buyer. Singapore PRs compose 20% of the demand for resale HDB flats [2]

High intake of Singapore PRs between 2005 - 2008 period with relatively relaxed eligibility criteria has caused a public out cry since PRs compete with citizens in public and private housing, public transportation, schools, etc. Their demand for resale HDB flats has been a hot topic recently and triggered tightening in Singapore PR eligibility criteria. Singapore PR rejection rate, for example, went up from 22% in 2008 to 70% in 2010.

So only around 5% of all HDB flats in Singapore are currently owned by Singapore PRs. The percentage looks small compared to total units available. But 48,700 is a large number compared to resale HDB supply of 2000 - 2010 period. Around 5,000 units were built per year between 2000 and 2010 and 48,700 is nearly equal to the 10 years of supply (Also keep in mind that actual number of HDB flats bought by Singapore PRs is more than 48,700 since some PRs convert to Singapore Citizenship eventually).

[1] - 48,700 HDB flats owned by PRs as of Sept
[2] - Who buy resale flats?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Freddie Mercury 20th anniversary of his death

"How would you like to be remembered?"

"Oh I don't know. I haven't thought about it yet ... dead and gone. I don't really think about it. It is up to them. I am dead who cares? I don't".[Freddie Mercury]

It has been 20 years this Parsi boy from India, born as Farrokh Bulsara, lived as a stage god named Freddie Mercury, the best live performer and probably the most colorful man ever walked on the earth, died. His legendary gig of Live Aid 1985, where 72,000 people clapped, sang and swayed with him, was the greatest live performance in the history of rock music. Today is 20th anniversary of his departure, he died at the age of 45 in 24 November 1991 from the complications of AIDS.

It has been years since I have listened to Mercury's great voice, dancing all over four octave range. I do not know what made me suddenly remember him and listen to Queen's greatest hits today, 20 years after his death. I have found this Official 65th Birthday video in YouTube.

Freddie Mercury - The Official 65th Birthday Video

"The Show Must Go On" (below) was written by Brian May and the song chronicles the effort of Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life (Mercury died short after it's release as a single):

"In October the band released their single The Show Must Go On, with the B-side Keep Yourself Alive. As Freddie expected, the press weren't slow to report its questioning, haunting lyrics. They speculated on possible hidden meanings in lyrics like "What are we living for? and "I'll soon be turning round the corner now" at a time when he looked so frail. To me, the most autobiographical line was: "My make-up may be flaking but my smile still stays on." That was true. No matter how ill Freddie felt, he never grumbled to anyone or sought sympathy of any kind. It was his battle, no one else's, and he always wore a brave face against the ever-increasing odds against him."[1]

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Private Apartment Rentals In Singapore

How much should you pay for an private apartment or condominium flat for rent per month? This is something you need to check before going into any rental agreement. If you browse the web to have an idea what you would only see are the asking prices for individual flats, which are highly inflated by a large premium over actual contract prices you can get. So you should check Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) web site directly to have some idea on real rentals. URA quarterly publishes rents in private residential rents by individual condominium project. This data is compiled based on (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore's (IRAS) records of rental contracts for such properties where leases commenced in referenced quarter.The rental data released are for private residential projects with at least 100 units where there are at least 10 rental transactions in that quarter. So the numbers are much reliable compared to asking prices of greedy property agents in useless but celebrity online property websites related to Singapore.

Rentals for Private Residential Developments (refer to terms and conditions of URA web site for the usage of the data)web site has a simple selection box for you to select the quarter you would like to check. After making the selection (i.e. 2011Q3, latest available data at the publishing time of this article) press the PDF icon labelled as "Download". You will need a pdf reader but most browsers also support pdf for you to read.

The rental data in the pdf file for selected quarter is for non-landed residential projects, known as private houses or condominiums here. The data is presented in a table with project name, postal district the project is located, and dollars per square foot per month info in 25th percentile, median and 75th percentile.

Median means, half of the rentl transactions in that quarter were above the median number and half of them are below the median numbers. So if the median rental is 3.0 $ per spf per month, it means half were transacted below 3.0 $ per sqf per month and half were above. So median rental price for a 1,000 sqf unit is around 3,000 SGD per month in that development.

25 percentile score gives you the a rental level where 25 per cent of the transactions are below that level and 75 per centile score gives you a rental level where 25 per cent of the transactions are above that level.
HDB flats are public housing flats unique to Singapore and they are the cheapest units to be found for rent in Singapore. Especially the newer HDB flats which had some renovation are in very good shape to rent. Newer HDBs do not having corridors on the outer faces of the building which is typical in older HDBs. Residents (citizens and Singapore PRs, Employment and S pass holders, student, dependent, professional visit pass holders and long term social visit visa holders can rent an HDB flat.

By end 2011, effects of restrictions on foreign skilled worker intake by the government, job cuts in banking and financial services (number one source for foreigners with enough income to rent a private development), uncertain economic future, slowdown in growth and large number of private residential units coming to rental market is started to be felt and if you are looking for a flat to rent in Singapore, you will have more bargain power compared to 2010 - 2011 period. Do your homework, check the asking prices against these URA transactions and bargain hard.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Singapore to KL for a business trip day

I have flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Singapore last week for a single day business trip with Air Asia. It may sound weird to use a budget airliner for a business trip but it is becoming a norm here for businesses to find ways to cut cost. Anyway, the flight is only 45 - 50 minutes and Air Asia flies from Singapore Changi Terminal 1.

It has been 2+ years since I have visited Kuala Lumpur, referred simply KL in Singapore and Malaysia. I have always visited here for a day long business trip and never had a chance to come as a tourist. So my knowledge about the city is very limited. This time I had 5 hours between my arrival and the conference I was attending so I have decided to take the train instead of a taxi from KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport).

I have decided to take KLIA transit to the KL Sentral, the central train station of KL. KLIA Expres and KLIA Transit link KLIA directly to the city center and it is a very convenient and cheap way to go to the city from the airport. But Air Asia arrives to Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) so I will first had to find a way to access the train from there. Look for the Express Rail Link in the LCCT and buy a ticket from there. The ticket, I paid 25 RM, includes a bus service from LCCT to Salak Tinggi station where I have taken KLIA transit to KL sentral. In KL sentral you can either take Mono Rail (MR) or Light Rail or a taxi. I have taken mono rail because my company's office was 5 minutes walk from a MR station. Unfortunately, they are constructing a large building next to KL Sentral and I needed to walk around it about 500 meters from KL Sentral to MR station.

If you want to take a taxi from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to KL, you need to note that only Airport Limo limousines and budget taxis are allowed to pick passangers at the airport. Outside the domestic and international arrival gates, find the Airport Limo counter and buy coupons from there. A budget taxi is perfectly fine and will cost a fixed price, something around RM 75 to get to Kuala Lumpur. If you do not ask for budget, they will give you a premier car which has nothing to be called premier but is RM 25 more expensive.

KL City Center (KL Tower on the left and Petronas Towers on the right)
Does it worth to visit KL? In my opinion, it worths to visit Kuala Lumpur. It offers great value to price in hotels, very good food and very good shopping opportunities. I decided to come back next time for a weekend with wife, after all these business trips and 6 years in Singapore it is shame I have not paid a proper visit to KL yet.

While going back to airport in the night, my Malaysian colleagues insisted me to stay more and then I had to take a taxi to LCCT. They have dropped me by one of these premier taxi counters, next to Shangri La Hotel Kuala Lumpur from where the taxi meter wrote RM 154 to LCCT.

See also How to go from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Private property prices are forecasted to fall 22 - 23%

After all these economic bad news from Europe and Singapore industrial output, which strongly points to a contraction in Q4 2011, where will the property market head to? Daiwa Research forecasts it will go downwards:

"The housing market in Singapore is heading for a prolonged downturn and overall private home prices are forecast to fall between 22 and 26 per cent in the next three years, Daiwa Research said. "We believe the residential property market could remain depressed for several years, triggered initially by a likely forthcoming gross domestic product slowdown (in 2012) and lingering global economic uncertainty," it said.

From late next year, Daiwa said, structural issues such as the rapid build-up in unsold inventory in the primary market and vacant rental units will take centre stage and keep home prices and rents in check for several years."[1]

Daiwa based its prediction on the currently high unsold inventory levels and forecast an influx of new supply that together will flood the market. Already, new housing supply at the end of September hit the highest level since pre-global financial crisis levels at 86,322 units noted Daiwa. It added that just 43 per cent, or 37,114 of these units have been sold.[2]

Actually, only 11,480 of these unsold units are under construction while rest are planned. This as well as near-zero borrowing costs to refinance their operations give flexibility to property developers to "hold" development instead of lowering the prices. But they cannot hold indefinitely since they cannot hold the land they bought empty more than 60 months because of penalties imposed by government for slippage.[2]

Daiwa is the first research house which seems to take the surge in number of completions per year seriously. If you look at the total net completions graph here, you will see what really has been driving the property prices high: an anemic new HDB and private house building pace from 2002 to 2010. These 8 years there were less than 10,000 units of private properties were completed while population was growing with high numbers of immigration. Now completion phase is going back to pre-2002 levels of around 30,000 per year. This simple chart supports what we have written before here: Current price levels are not resulted from a healthy supply - demand balance.

See also Private property prices may fall 30% 2012 onwards.

[1] - Housing market set for prolonged downturn: Daiwa
[2] - Daiwa Downgrades Property Outlook

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What Chinese women want?

What Chinese women want? Love? Romance? Yes, these may be accepted as bonus. But the must have's are, if we will take the endless stream of money minded Chinese women in the Chinese media as benchmark, a man with a house, with a car and with enough money left for Gucci, LV, etc. Remember the famous decleration by one of this money minded Chinese women: "I prefer to cry in a BMW rather than smiling on a bike. Well, let's hope she gets what she wishes for.

Do not get me wrong. I do not believe all women in China are like this. And you can find many women, whether in China or somewhere else, with this mind-set. What amuses me is the fact that China has a society know in which these women can shamelessly make these open declarations. Take a look at this for example:

"I have had 20 to 30 mothers come up to me with their son's telephone number," said Ms Liu Xiuling, a 23 years old marketing consultant. "I suppose I would rather meet someone through a friend or at a party but who knows? I am looking for a man with a house and a car. I do believe in love but I also believe you have to balance your feelings with some sense of what is practical".[1] This is from a "Marriage and Love(!) Expo" in Shanghai.

I again repeat that I have no intention or right to judge a money honey who wants material riches from her husband. We all have one life and we should be free to choose how we will live it. And no one is forcing a man to marry or date one of these girls. Indeed, these type of people are quite conservative and extremely boring and a man should avoid one of them at all cost. But the situation of many Chinese men, especially the ones in the bigger cities is very sad. A woman, whether a date or a wife, from dating to marriage is a huge financial strain for a Chinese man. It is very shameful that this money minded honey behavior is quite acceptable in Chinese society:

"When my husband, who is Chinese, and I started dating, he was at first a bit bothered by the fact that he would not be able to shower me with gifts, or later, when we got married, to buy me an apartment. These were not important to me and neither I nor any of my immediate peer group had ever chosen men based on the size of their wallets. I soon learned, however, from friends, that many of my Chinese male friends had experienced being dumped by girls for not ponying up gifts from the start. The girls expected to go out to eat every day and have their new boyfriend foot the bill, expected new cell phones, and expected gifts for their parents upon a visit home. One of my Chinese male friends put it to me bluntly that he could not afford a girlfriend right now, girlfriends were simply too expensive!"[2]

But I do judge men, who will go and marry a woman openly putting money first! Well, there may not be enough woman in China to marry but a man does not have to marry anyway!

[1] - Love, Practically
[2] - Money honey: The cost of dating in China

Monday, November 14, 2011

(Over) Working in Singapore

The work environment, salaries as well as living conditions in Singapore are much better than the other Asian countries but all these advantages come with a price. Working hours in Singapore are usually very long and work among all industries are demanding and stressful. According to a recent survey by Regus, 20 per cent of the employees in Singapore are clocking more than 11 hours a day:

"Out of 95 employees polled in an online global survey by international business company Regus, 19 per cent of them said they have worked eleven or more hours a day. This is 9 percentage points higher than the global average and 5 percentage points more than Japan, which took the second spot. Most Singapore respondents were professionals, while the 19 per cent comprised of senior corporate professionals and business owners.

The month-long survey held in September cuts across 85 countries and interviewed 12,000 employees in total."[1]

Findings are not surprising for anyone working in Singapore. And statistics are also inline with these findings. For example, according to The United States Department of Labor, Singapore has the highest average annual hours worked (total hours worked in an economy divided by number of people employed) among all the develop nations listed in 2010!

Average annual hours worked, 2010 - Source : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Michelle Lim, chief operating officer of the JobsCentral Group, attributes this tendency to over-work to Singapore employees’ career-driven attitude and values such as being hard-working and competitive in the workplace. She is unfortunately too optimistic, this phenomenon can be very well related to problems of working life such as feared redundancy, job security, and relatively low productivity, especially the low productivity. Just take a look at the numbers from GDP per hours worked and Singapore as well as the other 2 over working nations South Korea and Japan, dive far down to the bottom of the list!

GDP per hours worked, 2010 - Source : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The statistics say that the countries with low levels of GDP per hours worked, such as Singapore and South Korea also often have a high number of average annual hours worked per employed person. This means we work more hours compared to developed world but we do not produce a lot in the end because we produce less per hour. Again not surprisingly, we top all the wrong lists:

"However, throughout the region as a whole, Singaporeans seem to be the most discontented. They topped the lists for dissatisfaction with their jobs (37%), their pay and benefits (41%), work-life balance (25%) job security (24%) and feared redundancy (41%) more than others."[2] 

[1] - 1 in 5 S’pore employees work more than eleven hours daily: survey
[2] - Monday morning blues

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It makes more sense to rent HDB instead of Condominium

I see many foreigners from Europe, USA and Australia coming to Singapore to work as an executive in various sectors and just jumping straight into renting a condominium flat as if they cannot rent a public housing flat (called HDB locally after the state body building them). If it would be OK for them financially of course private housing flats or condominiums are fine to rent but I also see many actually either stretching their budget too much or shrinking into shoe boxes just to stay in a condominium.

HDB flats, or public housing flats, are built by government and sold to Singaporeans for housing. But when an HDB flat passes 5 years of occupancy period, the owner can sell it or rent it with an approval from HDB. Surprisingly many new comers even do not know that they can rent an HDB flat with their work visa such as Employment Pass or Work Pass. And since the friendly property agent they find in Singapore would like to milk the new “ang mo” as much as possible, he/she will do his best to guide them to condominiums instead of HDB. In fact, you can rent an approved HDB flat from its owner with a valid working pass like Employment Pass. Doing so has many advantages over condominium flats. A large, 6-7 years old HDB flat in a very central location and good condition can be rented for 2,500 SGD per month while that money will not even rent you a mickey mouse condominium box smaller than a hotel room and in the middle of no where.

First, you can enjoy a healthier rent to income ratio. I have a friend who pays 3,500 SGD per month to a condo with a family gross income of 8,500 SGD. He can live with the rent but experts agree that if you are paying more than 25 – 30 % of your gross income to rent, you are paying too much for it and this is bleeding out blood from your personal financial health. Actually, 25 per cent is a better upper limit since 30 is usual mortgage limit and unlike rent, that money goes into your equity. So by nearly 40% of rent to income ratio my friend is financially bleeding out. Since a condominium flat rental starts from 3,500 SGD per month, if you are not earning gross 9,000 SGD+ per month, you should avoid renting condominium units. Note: I know, there are many who have no choice but to overstretch their rent budget since rentals are very high even for HDB flats. I write this for people who rent condo while they actually have alternatives like HDB. This is not financially healthy.

Second, you get more value for your money. Many expats rent condominium units a little larger than hotel rooms, called shoe-box apartments here, and still paying 3,000 SGD+ per month while they can easily rent a fully furnished, very modern, 3 - 4 bedroom HDB flat for than amount. And also I see many renting private units very far away from an MRT station to just keep rental budget lower, while they can rent a very good HDB flat just next to an MRT station with less than what they pay. 

These new HDB blocks near Bedok MRT Station are examples of new generation
HDB buildings which provide more privacy and condo like finishing.
Third, you will be near best eateries, cheapest super markets when you rent an HDB flat. Best food in Singapore can be found in these hawker centers and coffee shops in relatively mature public housing estates while the cheapest supermarkets like Shop-n-Save and Sheng Shiong are usually near HDB estates.
Many new comers unfortunately are just directed to private condominium flats as if they are the only alternatives for them. I know it because I have been through that process. 

Unfortunately, some property agents make you believe that as a new comer it is not suitable for you to rent an HDB especially if you earn a high salary. But believe me, Singaporeans, especially the majority living in HDB flats, are very friendly people and Singapore is a very safe place. It is fine if you earn more than 10,000 SGD per month combined salary, else there is absolutely no need to overstretch your budget, pack your family in a very small private unit or live far away from public transportation.  You better rent an HDB and save the difference or spend it for your entertainment in Singapore and South East Asia.

Grim outlook for banking jobs in Singapore

"There are plenty of resumes going around in the market right now, just not too many takers," says Joe Neitham, a recruiter at TRC Group in Singapore.[1] He is talking about the grim prospects of banking jobs in Singapore where job axe started to fall a while ago, especially in the global banking and finance companies:

"Nomura is said to be looking to shed about 700 staff. Credit Suisse has outlined 1,500 layoffs. Even Jefferies' Asia build-out and generous pay offers seem set to be reined in while the bank struggles with investors worried about its exposure to Europe.

Virtually every foreign bank in Asia is cutting staff, as the news keeps getting worse. Societe Generale issued weak earnings on Tuesday .

Deal volumes have fallen in Asia, with IPO proceeds totalling about $67 billion up to October this year, barely half that of the $130 billion clocked during the same period in 2010, according to Thomson Reuters data.[1]

"Major banks worldwide announced 109,000 planned job cuts so far this year and every week announcing more job cuts.

Bank [2] Job cuts announced in 2011 Total Workforce
HSBC 30,000 295,995
Bank of America Merrill Lynch 30,000 287,839
Lloyds Banking Group 15,000 103,859
UBS 3,500 65,707
Credit Suisse 3,500 50,700
Barclays 3,500 146,100
Intesa Sanpaolo 3,000 101,169
ING 2,700 98,169
ABN Amro 2,350 26,161
Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena 2,200 31,201
Nordea 2,000 34,169
Danske Bank 2,000 21,567
Royal Bank of Scotland 2,000 148,300
Bank of New York Mellon 1,500 48,900
Rabobank 1,200 59,000
Banco Popolare 1,120 19,209
Goldman Sachs 1,000 35,500
JPMorgan 1,000 239,831
Nomura 1,000 35,697
Deutsche Bank 500 102,062
TOTAL 109,070 1,951,135

Foreign banks cutting jobs here are frequently in the news nowadays:

"Foreign banks in Singapore may be reluctant to disclose numbers but industry observers note that jobs are being cut at these lenders. Mr Gary Lai, managing director of recruitment consultancy Charterhouse, said most of the banks that had reduced staffing here had done so to consolidate operations in countries like the Philippines or India.

"So while you may have one person that they let go here, they might be hiring one more in a lower-cost country," he said. Foreign banks and financial institutions like Credit Suisse, Macquarie Group, Bank of America Nomura Holdings and Daiwa Securities are some of those that have retrenched staff in Asia recently.

Reuters also reported last week that South Africa's Standard Bank had cut three jobs at its oil trading desk in Singapore."[3]
[1] - Banks stop hiring, bankers face grim job prospects
[2] - Reuters
[3] - Foreign banks cutting jobs here

F1H2O Nations Cup Race in Marina Bay Reservoir

2 months after 2011 F1 Grand Prix of September 2011 on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore is preparing to host another kind of F1, this time in the large water reservoir of Marina Bay; F1H2O Nations Cup. in November 19 and 20 2011, F1H2O powerboats, which can hit 200 km per hour on water thanks to their cutting edge hulls and engines. F1H2O Powerboat World Championship Series is similar to F1 on the circuit for cars as similar rules apply. Every year the series is held in various parts of the world where teams of different nationalities compete in the Grand Prix[1]:

"On the first day of the two-day race, the drivers will race one-on-one against each other until there are only two drivers left in the final. A boat draw ensures that there is pure equality between the teams- each team picks their boat numbers out of a hat. This is done to make sure that no team makes major changes to the boat, and is to show that the best driver will win. The second day sees the boats competing against the whole field in a group race."[2]

This is not the first time The Powerboat World Championships was held in Singapore. The races were held here in 2003-2005 and now it is coming back.[1]

F1H2O Powerboat - Source : F1H2O Singapore
The Powerboat Racing on the Bay will be held on the 19-20 November, 2011 in Singapore. but there will be activities on November 18th, 19th and 20th such as powerboat free practices, water ski shows and a match race. You can see the program and the activities of the event from here. Singapore will be holding F1H2O NATIONS CUP for 3 years, from 2011 – 2013.

Tickets are available for 35 SGD per person on site and free for kids below 12 years of age.

[1] - F1H2O Singapore
[2] - 20 F1 powerboats to face off in Marina Bay Reservoir

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Singaporean women want?

You can roughly divide the list of "qualities women look for when choosing a man as a partner" into three categories:
1 - those qualities women think they want,
2 - those qualities the man on the street thinks the women want,
2 - those qualities women say they want,
3 - and those qualities women really want.

First group of qualities are listed by media and "specialists" again and again in the press or on the TV. Second group of qualities are those you will hear from man without any clue about the woman psychology. Third group will come directly from women if you ask the question. The last list, the one that really matters, is usually thought to men by "school of life" with occasional hearth breaks.

If you rely on the answers to the survey of dating agency Lunch Actually, Singaporean women want taller, well-built man, who is also earning more than them (of course they probably also tick, "kind", "honest", "romantic", etc.):

"It was also found that Singaporean men were more likely to date women who have a higher level of education, with 81 per cent of respondents indicating they would. Among men in Hong Kong and Malaysia, only 73 per cent and 77 per cent respectively would do so.

Only 30 per cent of Singaporean women, on the other hand, would date a man who is less educated, while 46 per cent of women from Hong Kong and 27 per cent of Malaysian women would do the same.

When asked if they would date someone who earns less than them, 27 per cent of Singaporean women indicated they would, while 76 per cent of men would date a woman who earns more."[1]
Singapore women
Source : TrekEarth.com
Asian women in general are relatively conservative compared to western women. I am not talking about the sexual life, I am talking mindset. They tend to see a man as a provider and their salary as complementary, even if they are earning quite well. So these findings, all associated to man as a better provider, are not very surprising. But it is also quite encouraging that a lot of woman also do not care about these traits, since woman caring too much about all these also tend to be very close minded and boring.

On the other hand, ask a man on the street this question, that man will probably say "Singaporean woman want rich man". Although some women in Singapore as some woman in the other parts of the world would put money first to be a honey, you can go out in a normal day and count many woman hand to hand with ordinary, not-so-rich man. As long as the man is cool enough, these media listed "what women want" list, as well as the money, are not very meaningful features.

[1] - Singaporean women still prefer taller men 

What would you do for creating jobs Mr. President?

Every time I hear these stupid words from someone I cannot take myself to feel deep disregard to him/her and the institution or country he/she is representing. But it seems like all those narrow minded but well-connected small elites of money managers, called “investors” in the economy news, and money markets they control, called “markets”,  are looking right into the mouths of political leaders to hear an answer to a question containing these words: What would you do for creating jobs Mr. President?  And they cheer when Mr. President announces new plans to create more job half of which to open holes of all kind and rest fills them back in without creating no net positive goods and services!

On the other hand ordinary US citizens tend to think that the jobs are lost because they are moved by evil corporations to China, India and the rest of Asia. More and more turn their anger to free-markets since they think the ultra-corporatist, to buddy to fail clowns in The Wall Street are free market. They occupy the Wall Street and demand many things which would be summed up as: “Bankers suck the blood of tax payers, throw them out and let us suck the rest”.

West seems to look like they have forgotten its past. People there have forgotten that accumulated savings of the generations of their grandfathers, converted into capital and investment under capitalism and efficiently allocated to its best use by free markets, has created hundreds of millions of jobs for generations. They are now trying to fool themselves with Keynesian tales: They believe capital can be created by printed money instead of real savings and job creating investments depend on spending not savings!

US economy does not generate enough jobs because (a) US households, companies and governments does not save enough and (b) they do not let market forces to clear out too big to fail suckers so that all those resources misallocated would be reallocated to productive jobs. It is getting worse not better because the wealth-destroying and highly out-dated financial services giants hand to hand with US government are not allowing free market forces to rearrange the misallocated resources to their best use.

Imagine all those too big to fail financial services suckers has been let to fail, then all those bright alpha males wasting hours to make trades which would eventually destroy wealth like they did repeatedly past few decades will be out of work. Do not fool yourself, these people are bright, they always do wrong bets not because they are all idiots, it is because they have big bonuses when they do those kinds of bets.

Once US realizes that “too-big-to-fail” giants are actually “too-rotten-to-live” many competent and fresh financial services companies deprived of sunlight under thick canopy (and million dollars thick lobby power) of too big to fail suckers will flourish. Many of the bright minds of finance will be employed by these better financial services companies which would survive and grow. And many would be absorbed by other productive industries. And yet many will be entrepreneurs and develop new industries.   

Reallocation of resources by free-market forces is sure painful. But that is the only way for a prosper future along with private saving and investment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rent a Supercar in Singapore - 15 minutes of the prancing horse or the raging bull

I was waiting for the lights today when these two super cars roared their way towards Marina Bay Sands Hotel and caught a lot of attention. From the faces of the crowd, most of which were tourist, I understood that they think 2 rich guys are just out to have fun with their super cars. But actually, you can also feel the control of these two beasts for a price. They are rented out.

If you want to know how would it feel like driving a super car in Singapore and some money to spend on the answer, Ultimate Drive is just for you. Instead of waiting to be a millionaire or a little less rich to rent a super car for $4000 per day, you can rent a Ferrari or a Lamborghini for 15, 30, 60 or 90 minutes starting from $182 per ride. It may actually be an expensive but surprising present to a loved one or just to satisfy your side demanding a little luxury.

Ultimate Drive, which has started operations in December 2010, offers 15 minutes of drive with a driver for $182. If you want to taste what would it feel like to self-drive a "Rosso Corsa" red Ferrari F430 F1 Spider, or "Giallo Midas" yellow Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder around the infamous Singapore F1 track for one hour, you will need to pay 588 SGD. The company offers 10 per cent discount for pairs to rent two beasts at the same time and drive side by side. It is expensive but indeed the cheapest way to drive such a car without worrying about its cost and maintenance. There is a growing number of supercar joyriders who sign up for packages with Ultimate Drive, a company here that rents out cars like the Ferrari F430 F1 Spider and Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. Clients can choose to either drive these open-top supercars or be driven around by a professional driver.

Ultimate Drive Rent a Supercar in Singapore - 15 minutes of the prancing horse or the raging bull

In a video named Driving Lamborghini in Singapore, a satisfied customer of Ultimate Drive says that he has paid around 248 Singapore Dollars + 40 Singapore Dollars for Video and he feels that it is worth it. "It was amazing experience to drive this Car." You can watch the video of him driving one of these supercars in Singapore streets.

Tip: If you want to drive a super car in Singapore's F1 track, you should note that the track is closed for the race a week before the event and a few days after the race.

See also:
Luxury Car Rental in Singapore Prestige Car Rental Bangkok

New Solar Projects In Singapore

Singapore start to have promising solar energy related news recently. After announcing Singapore's first solar leasing project in September 2011, Housing Development Board (HDB), the largest residential building owner in Singapore, has announced that it will run a $4 million test project of solar power with more efficient Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) thin-film technology. HDB will install these solar panels in 20 to 25 HDB blocks and expects to generate 1 MWp (megawatt peak) of electricity from them.

CIGS based solar cells have better absorption rate then traditional silicon based solar cells and they may have better throughput in Singapore. Although it is always summer in Singapore, this tropical sun is mostly behind thick clouds.[1]

Currently electricity generated from solar panels costs 30 to 35 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared to prevailing tariffs of 27 cents but this cost is falling fast. With the current falling price trend of solar panels, which forms the bulk of the cost, it may well catch grid parity soon:

""While it can be debated whether the initial support from governments for the solar industry was essential to its development, the world is now much closer than it was 10 years ago to grid parity, with some local experts even forecasting parity in Singapore by 2016."

Grid parity means electricity from non-renewable sources will cost the same as renewable's."[2]

Yet another news on the solar front came from Economic Development Board (EDB) and water agency pub. They have announced Singapore's first floating solar project which will be located at Tengeh Reservoir:

"The $11 million pilot project is the first of its kind in the region and has a system size of 2 megawatts (MW).

The project aims to assess the viability of installing floating solar photovoltaic systems on water as an alternative to rooftops."

Floating solar systems can be a better fit for Singapore where land is scarce and tropic heat radiating from the ground can decrease the efficiency of the solar panels.

Increased used of solar energy, albeit some form of support from public bodies like HDB, is something which should be carefully watched. If solar parity is reached in Singapore where the government does not waste taxpayers money to subsidize unsustainable green technologies and do not have feed in tarrifs, then rest of the developed world can turn to solar power as a viable alternative.

[1] - HDB to test solar technology in 6 precincts
[2] - S'pore solar industry still fledgling
[3] - Singapore gets first floating solar platform at Tengeh

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Private property supply in pipeline supply reaches record high in Q3 2011

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has recently released the real estate statistics for 3rd Quarter 2011. According to URA private property supply reaches record high of 76,255 uncompleted private residential units in the last quarter, 7.2% increase in just one quarter (compared to 71,111 units of Q2-2011). URA says that 76,255 units are the highest ever recorded since such data is available in 1999.

39,111, or 51 per cent, of these units have not find a buyer yet. In the 3 months of Q3-2011, developers has launched 4,673 uncompleted private residential units for sale, and 4,192 of these uncompleted private residential units were sold.

URA also releases the estimates of number of units receiving Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP) in this and following year quarterly. And as Ku Swee Yong from International Property Advisers wrote in Today, the estimates are revised upwards again:

"The expected supply of homes getting the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) for this year and next year increased yet again, surpassing previous forecasts; and the vacancy total of non-landed properties at 12,975 units is just shy of that during the Lehman Brothers crisis peak in 3Q2009 at 13,084 units.[1]

URA Supply Estimates
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Q42010 estimated no of units receiving TOP 8,430 8,116 17,565 21,680 22,518
Q32010 estimated no of units receiving TOP 10,889 12,043 12,882 20,550 34,373
Change 2,459 3,927 -4,683 -1,130 11,855
%Change 29.2% 48.4% -26.7% -5.2% 52.6%

If you look at the table above, the total number of increase for 2011 and 2012 is 6,386 units while total number of decrease in number of units for 2013 and 2014 is 5,813. It looks like developers are rushing out to  complete units before global economic outlook deters more.

"The huge supply hitting the market will arrive earlier than official forecasts. In the interests of operational efficiency, including collecting progress payments, developers and construction companies are generally ahead of planned schedules, especially for projects that are by and large fully sold. We believe that, over the next few quarters, expected TOP numbers will continue to grow for 2012 and 2013 stock. We have revised our estimates for completions in 2012 to 2015."[1]

[1] Supplies, supplies, supplies!