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No signs of bubble in property sector, say two bankers

SINGAPORE’S buoyant property market shows no signs of a speculative bubble, two leading bankers said yesterday.

DBS Group Holdings chief executive Jackson Tai said home prices may have risen but this simply reflects the strong fundamentals of a balanced economy.

Mr Philip Lee, senior country officer of investment bank JPMorgan Chase, echoed Mr Tai’s views.

‘There’s no bubble in Singapore…while luxury prices have soared recently, mass-market prices have not gone up yet.’

They were among five corporate bigwigs from the thriving finance and property sectors who discussed Singapore’s booming economy at an annual Leadership Forum organised by newswire Bloomberg.

Four other speakers from sectors such as consulting and asset management spoke about the global risks at the 90-minute session held at the Ritz-Carlton Milennia Hotel.

Singapore does not face the same problems as the United States, where the US Federal Reserve has created ‘a housing bubble, inducing people to refinance their homes’ with ‘spicy loans’ and ‘artificially low rates’, said Mr Tai.

In contrast, 90 per cent of people own their own homes in Singapore, so ‘the culture here of protecting one’s home is very different from that in the US,’ he noted.

While acknowledging that ‘speculation is always in the marketplace’, Mr Tai said Singapore is ‘not a one-trick pony’ but has a well-diversified economy.

Property prices and broader economic growth will be sustained by a ‘rising population’ and more diversified economy, added Mr Chris Fossick, South-east Asia managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle, pointed to a ‘rising population’.

Singapore will enjoy new booster engines to its growth with the upcoming integrated resorts which will boost tourism and attract more high-networth clients, said Mr Kenneth Sit, chief executive of Bank Sarasin-Rabo (Asia).

Even in the event of a downturn in Asia or globally, Singapore may benefit from a ‘capital flight to quality’ because it is a reputable Asian financial hub, noted Mr Lim Cheng Teck, chief executive of Standard Chartered Singapore.


Source: The Straits Times 15 Sept 07

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