The Singapore economy shrank 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008 despite posting an annual growth of 1.1 per cent for last year.
For 2009, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is maintaining its forecast of minus 2-5 per cent, though others think it could be more than minus 5 per cent if the global economy worsens.
The IMF is projecting a global recovery next year – but that looks more than a little optimistic, perhaps wishful thinking. Truth be told, no one knows for sure how long this worldwide depression will last – certainly not the so-called economists who never saw all this coming 18 months ago. Any recovery is unlikely to be quick as the biggest consumers in the world by far are in the United States – and we all know they are in deep trouble.
A global cooling off may not be a bad thing, given the climate chaos expected to descend on us. We cannot rely on governments to cut emissions as many of them are too closely tied to business interests and have shown no political will in that direction.
Last night, over the news, it was reported that more of the Antartica is melting – which will lead to rising sea levels.
This global depression therefore may be God-sent in saving our planet from the unbridled corporate greed and materialism that was destroying it.
In the process, though, a lot of people are going to suffer unless we come up with stronger social safety nets, a retrenchment fund and universal health care.
It is up to us to come up with a fairer, more just economic system from the ruins of global capitalism all around us.