Reflections – 2011

This year is drawing to a close. Reflections are in order.

Economy

This had been a good year. Singapore economy is expected to grow strongly at 15.0 per cent pace to become the fastest growing economy of the world after the global recession in 2008/09. The economic environment is less than rosy going into the New Year. As a consequence, economic growth is expected to moderate to 4.0 to 6.0 per cent. The Straits Times Index (STI) had factored this with year-to-date rise of just 8.6 per cent for this year. (2009 saw STI jumped 64 per cent. Money was made that year.)

Investments

I took the opportunity to reduce my equity portfolio, halving it and took money off the market. Profits made on sales were 18 per cent on cost, which worked out to 9 per cent per year. My current portfolio was 2.54 per cent down.

I was under the impression that our Lehman Minibond investment was a total write-off. But we managed to recover 42 per cent of investment this year. (no bad) So much for trusting an established investment bank – Lehman Brothers Inc. This is history best forgotten. We are more skeptical of structured investment products now and avoided them when we do not understand the product.

As a family, we re-balanced our investment portfolio. We took less risk and moved money to lesser risk investments, such as DBS 4.7% Preference Shares, SIA Bonds and endowment insurance plans.

Travel

We visited Tokyo in August during their hot summer. This was our first trip to Japan. Our fear of not knowing the language will hinder our trip. But that was not the case and we enjoyed the trip soaking in their culture and way of life.

This week we crossed Johor Strait and spent 4 days in Kuala Lumpur (KL). It was a shopping trip since KL was having its Year-End-Sale (YES). Days and nights were spent shopping, eating and resting in hotel.

Personal level

I continued with part-time work and spent more time at home and with my family. This is my fourth year having this arrangement. I am better off and thankful to my employer and friends in the institution for making this possible. There are more time for personal pursuits, such as reading, writing and spiritual development.

Hopes for 2011

My wish list includes less turbulence in the global economy, no new wars, more peace, less human tragedies and less natural disasters. I hope Singapore continues to prosper with less fortunate people taken care of. We can lend a helping hand to these people in whatever ways we can. It needs not be donations.

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