Singapore needs better statisticians

Posted: October 16, 2009 by fievel in Labels: ,

I read with utter disbelief 3 days ago on the Straits Times that Singapore's inflation for 2009 is heading for a big fat zero. [See Link]

My disbelief stems from the fact that I have felt ever poorer by the day for the past 3 years, all due to housing inflation.

I have always been bewildered when yet another news article on Singapore's inflation pores over the prices of food, but neglects the costs of housing.

Let's face it. Singapore does have very cheap food. If you cannot afford food prices in the newly opened upmarket japanese or italian restaurant, why not hop over to the food court? And if you cannot afford the food court prices, why not hop over to the hawker centers? (Better heed this advice or else a certain Minister Vivian might tick you off ;)

A solid delicious piece of roti prata in its purest kosong form still costs less than 0.1% of your monthly salary (assuming you earn $2k a month, which is just for the sake of this discussion) . Let's inflate its price by 300%, it should now cost you $3 from the original $1. For convenience sake let's say you are a roti-prata-monster and you eat it 3 meals x 30 days. How much is that? 90 x $3 = $270 per month.

You used to spend $90, now you spend $270 per month on your pratas. That's an increase in spending per month of $180 in the ultra unthinkably horrible event of a 300% inflation in food prices

Now let's look at our reality's version of inflation - the one that does hit us. We all know HDB prices went up like its suddenly made of gold in the past months. How much did it inflate by? I'm sorry I do not have the accurate data to support an average dollar amount claims here. But I can safely drop a ballpark figure of $50,000 at the very least, for the normal HDB flats, not those in Tanjong Pagar or Boon Keng or Marine Parade.

Now how does this $50,000 increment hit us in comparison? Let's say you take out a 30yr loan at HDB's 2.6% rates, this increase of $50k translates to an increase of $220 in mortgage payments per month...for 30 years!. I don't need to illustrate that $220 is slightly greater than $180. What does that mean? This means that the dollar equivalent parallel universe of what has happened to us Singaporeans in the past few months, is as if our pratas suddenly shot up to $3 a piece, or our teh-O became $3 per cup, or our "mee-siam mai hum" *made famous by a leader of ours* became $9 a bowl !

You can downgrade from Lawry's to Food Republic western food to "downstairs' kopitiam", but you cannot downgrade from HDB! Because that one is already the "upstairs" of the downstairs' kopitiam.

Zero inflation? Singapore needs better statisticians.