• June, 2017
  • Watching Asia Take Its Place

    Singapore is small. In fact, it’s really small. It’s only about 270 square miles. When you compare that to the smallest of the 50 states that make up the U.S.A., you really see how small Singapore is.

    Rhode Island is around 1500 square miles in total area. That’s almost 5 times the size of all of Singapore. Crazy!

    So, when you think about how much impact a small place like Singapore has on the world economy in this modern era, it’s pretty amazing. But, in regards to what’s really been happening, one must look to bigger Asian economies.

    Enter China.

    China is a giant in many ways. First, it’s a huge country. Second, it has a massive population. And third, its economy is booming.

    Many of the biggest world economies, like the U.S.A. and Brazil, and India, source products from Chinese manufacturers. A large part of this is due to the enormous cheap labor force that China has.

    This does lead to a couple of questions though. For one, doesn’t a country like India also have a very large cheap labor force?

    They indeed do. But what India lack that China doesn’t is a very organized top down government structure with a major focus of improving the economy through infrastructure.

    That focus has resulted it an unimaginable boom of giant well-built factories all over China, and as stated earlier, there’s no shortage of cheap labor to work within these large factories.

    The countries mentioned earlier don’t have all of those aspects. The U.S.A. is big and can create very sophisticated factories, but they have a smaller and much more expensive labor force. India and Brazil have large populations and cheap labor, but they have not had the leadership to steer them into upgrading their infrastructure to become a global manufacturing powerhouse.

    The next question though usually is about logistics. While labor is cheaper in China than it is in the U.S.A. for example, there is the added cost of getting products sourced from China into American warehouses and retail outlets.

    That need has spawned a boom in yet another industry: shipping and logistics.

    Aside from a long-lived Chinese manufacturing boom, there has been a boom for logistics companies focused on shipping from China to the U.S.A. This is truly a result of industry blossoming due to a market need.

    What’s amazing is that while this extra expense of shipping cheap products half way around the world might very well erode any financial benefits of using the cheap labor from that region, the competition that this industry need has created has made the shipping costs more affordable.

    With those affordable shipping costs, and the cheaper labor from China, along with other Asian countries like Indonesia, the bottom line ends up working itself out for Western re-sellers and retailers.

    The big economic boom in many parts of Asia was birthed not from the need of their own people as far as luxury goods, but from sound economic growth plans by their leaders to target the needs of other large economies and then create affordable competitive solutions.
  • Looking Out From Singapore

    Growing up and living in Singapore is normal to residents, but for those that grew up elsewhere, some aspects of life might seem odd. The lifestyle, the laws, and the general culture is unique and unlike most other advanced cultures.

    In Singapore we live a very special life. We are a country, and state, and a city all in one. We are a trading hub for all of Asia. We are both westernized and not westernized.

    We enjoy some amazing benefits but at the same time, some of those come with a cost. For example, many people notice how clean of a city we are when they first visit. They don’t see trash on the streets on graffiti on the brides.

    It makes your day-to-day life very nice. However, it’s not without sacrifice. We have very strict laws made and enforced by our government that help achieve this way of life.

    Like, these for example. We cannot feed pigeons in public. If we do, it’s a $500 fine. For feeding birds! And if we sell gum, we can go to jail. You can get a huge fine if you smuggle chewing gum into Singapore.

    These laws are very extreme. You can see why the overall cleanliness is higher than most other places you visit.

    Another big difference many people notice is that there are so many cultures. You can go into one food court and see food from a dozen countries and hear five different languages. In fact, most residents speak much more than one language. Spend a few hours in public and you will hear many of them.

    You will almost definitely hear English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and a mix of all three. We have a large amount of Arabic speakers too, and you will hear the prayer calls from the many beautiful mosques.

    To some visitors from other mixed countries, it’s not a big deal. But many visitors from less integrated places like Japan, it’s a lot to take in and can be overwhelming.

    For being a fairly small place, the amount of variety from people, to food, language, and culture is amazing. It’s a bit of a paradox, as the very strict government somehow has created and allowed a very open and accepting culture.

    Having these experiences since my youth makes me see the world a little differently than many people who did not grow up here. It’s easy for me to see the differences that more closed cultures have. It makes me see the differences that larger countries have and the problems they face due to their sizes, like the U.S.A. and China.

    Looking out from this small but amazing part of the world, exploring different cultures, lifestyles, businesses, religions, and opinions is amazing. It allows for an open mind. Let’s explore the world together.

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