Currency speculation, in particular, the speculation of the Singapore dollar, can take place with or without knowing the full size of our reserves. When Jamus called for the revelation of the full size of the Singapore reserves, what he is really asking for is a more ‘efficient’ speculative attack on the Singapore dollar.
WP Jamus Lim said that the market is efficient and will correct itself in the long run. But how long does it take for the market to correct itself? How long is ‘in the long run’? He also seems to think that the market corrects itself without governments’ intervention.
The extent to which a government is able to intervene in the market also depends on the resources at their disposal, all of which Jamus appears to have glossed over. And in the meantime, in the short term, what about the people hurt by the volatile speculation? What about its ramifications on the economy? On people’s jobs and livelihoods? During the Asian Financial crisis, many people lost their jobs. Many businesses went bankrupt or almost bankrupt. Notice that in these conversations, not once did he address the question of impact on people’s lives and livelihoods in the short term.
I might already be dead
Recovery can take a long time.
Does Jamus think Singapore bounced back without strong Government intervention during the crisis?
The Government used the full power of its strategic reserves to protect the Singapore dollar.
It’s about the impact on people’s lives and livelihoods
In Parliament, DPM Heng Swee Keat said:
“To put it simply, foreign exchange speculations have been and will continue to be a threat to economies, especially small, open ones like ours. As an international financial centre, portfolio and banking-related flows in Singapore amounted to S$294 billion last year, or 63% of GDP. Just last year, we saw extreme capital flow volatility in global financial markets due to the uncertainties and risk sentiments associated with the pandemic.
MAS kept the Singapore dollar nominal exchange rate stable during this period backed by the full power of our reserves, giving banks and businesses certainty to make decisions under very trying circumstances.
“The Singapore dollar is one of the most actively traded currencies in the world relative to our GDP with daily turnover estimated at US$37 billion globally, or annual turnover of US$9.5 trillion. Our nominal GDP is just about US$350 billion. So you are comparing trillions and billions.”
Don’t play with fire!
“I was very alarmed when I heard Associate Professor Jamus Lim citing theoretical literature that speculation could be stabilising.
As a practitioner at the frontline, who tries my best to understand the intricacies of the system, I must caution Associate Professor Jamus Lim – let us not play with fire. This is about the lives of our people, not theoretical musings.”