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Biggs on Finance, Economics, and the Stock Market: Barton's Market Chronicles from the Morgan Stanley Years by Barton Biggs

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Section 3F: East Asia

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The Best-Managed Country in the World

November 22, 1983

The Singapore stock market, at 17 times earnings, has the highest price/earnings ratio in the world, and once you've been there, it is apparent why. Singapore is the most squared-away, well-managed, fastest-growing country around, yet, except for its prime minister and its people, this city-state has no natural resources. Its only domestically produced export is orchids. However, the island of Singapore at the tip of the Malay peninsula does have a strategic location in the middle of Southeast Asia.

Singapore's real GNP growth has averaged 9 percent per annum for the last 15 years and, in the face of the world recession, has been about 7 percent in each of the last two years. Its 2,472,000 people have the fastest-growing per capita income in the world and the second-highest behind Japan in Asia. Its port is the third busiest in the world, its airline is far and away the best, and in the last decade it has, through land reclamation, expanded the island from 586 to 618 square kilometers. There is no unemployment, and, in fact, there are over 100,000 guest workers. As the Financial Times recently pointed out, Singapore achieved this record of growth by offering—apart from its well-developed infrastructure of airport, seaport, banking, and telecommunications—a stable government that is pro-business, pro-profits, ...

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