Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dealing with the Financial Crisis

Many of us, especially from here in Asia, will remember that the last 10 years have been a journey wrought with bitter memories ...of 1997 with the Asia Financial Crisis ... of 2003 with the Sars epidemic and of 2007 till to date of the current Global Financial system meltdown.

This time round, the bearish stance of the financial markets have proved to be a long drawn seige, holding hostage everyone globally - from the banking to the manufacturing to the property to hospitality. Every single day, I hear and see around me, with a both saddened heart and numbed shock the on-going uncertainties of the macroeconomic outlook. Governments all around are putting their best foot forward to stabilize the sentiments of their people with economic stimulus programs - some short term like giving out cash vouchers in Taiwan, others mid term like the Singapore government putting in place Profession Conversion Programs to help facilitate professionals' mid-career switch (e.g. to pre-school education, pharmaceutical manufacturing, health care, workplace safety and health etc).

In the wake of all these upheavals, have the priorities of Singaporeans changed? According to 10-JAN's article in the Straits Times, it appears that it is back to basics for the Singapore Dream.

The top 10 Singaporean dreams and goals in 2008 were:
1. Seeing the world
2. Self-improvement
3. Making money
4. House and home
5. Good Health
6. Family and children
7. Charity and volunteering
8. Automobile
9. Starting a business
10. Retirement

In 2009 however, we have as the new top 10:
1. Family and children
2. Settling down/Starting a family
3. House and home
4. Making money
5. Retirement
6. Seeing the world
7. Automobile
8. Good health
9. Starting a business
10. Self-improvement

From a focus on personal luxuries and ambitions, Singaporeans are re-evaulating their priorities in life and focusing on home and family.

Stories in the Sunday Times papers have shifted their focus more on the man on the street - how people are coping with the uncertain working environments and the accompanying credit crunch, how some have managed to found renewed hope in new jobs centered around hobbies they have had over the years - I remember there was one story about a head of legal who had been attending Tony Buzan's mind-mapping courses and actually found a job in the Tony Buzan's training center as a trainer cum legal aide, after months of unsuccessful searches in the job market.

Whatever the road ahead will bring us in, 2009 will certainly be, like what Obama's campaign been all about, like what the cool frequent winds blowing past Singapore these days, be all about CHANGE.

Change in the make up of the financial markets, change in our mentalities towards professions, change in priorities, a realization, a pricking of conscience that no one in this world is omniscient - that we are all human after all in our ways.

Til Later,
Nelson Wee

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