Everything In Moderation For 2023

Gerard Ee 2023

Retired accountant, Gerard Ee puts things in perspective as he weighs the impact of the pandemic against the desire to get on with life.

Coming out of a pandemic, and into a series of challenging global and local situations — logistics issues, inflation, rising costs, workforce evaluation, disruptive technologies, clouded judgement etc. etc. — how will 2023 shape up?

STORM-ASIA talks to industry players about their observations and approach to the new year. The interviews will be featured over the month of December.

Gerard Ee
Gerard Ee, Retired Accountant

No Guarantees

The biggest shock for industries must be the demise of the darling IT sector.

This sector looked so promising just a few years ago, but massive layoffs are happening; many of them highly paid young entries to the sector. This will get worse in 2023 and I believe that many of those laid off will be shell-shocked.

This sector will also face heavy competition from the emerging countries like Vietnam where the operating cost is much lower. Of course India was and remains a major player in this market.

Overall, no job is assured and individuals have to be mentally tough to accept shocks, yet be nimble enough to pick up new skills and adjust. More importantly, individuals have to manage their life expectations and moderate their expectations of an ultra high standard of living. Avoid unnecessary expense like new cars, bigger apartments, expensive lifestyles such as frequent dining out at classy establishments and clubs.

Until the world sorts itself out and the sputtering economies around the world stabilise, moderation in all things must be the survival mantra.

Ultimately, it is a closed economic cycle — higher wages chasing after inflation but resulting in fuelling the inflation itself. We all have to go back to living more simply at least until the world economic order is restored. It does not look hopeful as the US and its closest allies are bent on more military expenditure whilst their citizens suffer in silent acceptance.

2023 may well see the world in a self-destruct mode unless Europe decides to ignore the US hegemony and work with the rest to improve economic activities and move towards a better life for all.

Indeed cash is king and caution in spending will be the survival strategy.

Singapore — Remain Neutral But Be Adventurous

The good thing is that Singapore has succeeded in its neutral world stance (except where it’s a matter of principle), and be friends with all. Although the days of easy rich picking are over, Singapore can ride on the successes of rapidly emerging countries like Vietnam, the African continent, South America and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). We must be nimble and adventurous enough to be able to plug into new world financial systems and operate successfully with both the Western and Eastern economic models such as maintaining SWIFT whilst plugging into any alternatives.

Singapore is still a safe haven and can continue to attract capital. But this only magnifies the lifestyle gaps between the rich and others. 

We will have to find a way to uplift the lives of Singaporeans in the lower economic quintile and moderate the expectations of the middle-income milieu. The rich must be conscious that any perceived arrogance by them will turn the rest against them. If we are not careful with this then large numbers will begin to support populist views and erode the formula for our economic success. Whilst our nation’s economic success may not appear to be evenly spread it does provide the framework for a better life for all Singaporeans especially in areas like healthcare, education, overall safety, etc., which we all have taken for granted.

Moderate expenses and save more. It is just not worth paying exorbitant prices for air travel yet Singaporeans flock to the skies whilst speaking about environmental issues and carbon emissions.

Perhaps it’s a good time to also reflect on how we are living our lives and to evaluate what are our key priorities.

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