Sunday, December 19, 2010

Economics @ Home © Volume 2 Issue 26

Time to Celebrate?!

2010 is the first full year that Economics @ Home has been successfully published pretty much consistently. Except for one minor bump along the way, which I made up for with a special edition double post (Issue 14 and 15), I think the year went pretty well.

For those of you who missed some of the more serious stuff that I talked about, there was a two-part analysis on taxes and expenditure which details how it affects the country at the macro-level as well as how it affects us, as individuals and how we should perceive taxes.

Also there have been countless issues on human behavior and communication. Some of the topics discussed have borderline dwelled on relationship issues but the goal was to explore alternate ways of looking at a particular situation so that we can broaden our perspective (see Issues 4, 7, 8, 11, 13). Sometimes, we forget about the bigger picture and are too focussed on our wants and needs. I even ventured into discussing about why men (or women) have affairs. That is why communication matters in every relationship, whether it is in your career, among friends, or with your loved ones.

Apart from that, I gave some basic analyses on the Malaysian economy and its dire state. There are problems at the macro-level that sometimes we don't see or experience personally, but then this will then trickle down to affect everyone of us as individuals (see Issues 17, 22). Particularly, this story which relates a girl's experience with the Malaysian education system. I have also shared a video about why Singapore is a world leader in mathematics. 

For the most part, Economics @ Home is about applying the right mindset. A lot of times, in our overeagerness to preserve our self-interests, we forget the greater good. There are times when we forget that the world is bigger than ourselves. In our crazy world today, common sense is becoming less and less common. It helps to take some time to stop and stare at what the issues really are before we act. This is what Economics @ Home is about. Sometimes, it really helps to just have the right mindset and attitude (see Issues 6. 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25)

There you go, the briefest of recaps of the year in Economics @ Home for you. That said, I have a special announcement. In view of this special achievement of consistently publishing Economics @ Home for one year, I would like to increase the frequency of the newsletter back to once per week. Furthermore, I would also like to improve the content by adding an investment section to the newsletter. The new investment section may deal with simple or intermediate investment concepts and from time and again, include stock analysis of public listed companies that are possibly worth investing in.

Because of this, I may have to change the name of the newsletter, but continue with Volume 3 starting from the first week of 2011. I am also working on a new layout and labels to facilitate easier search. Until then, Merry Christmas to all readers and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Economics @ Home © Volume 2 Issue 25

First World Thinking

Whenever we talk about trying to transform Malaysia from a third world country to a high income nation, we often equate this to becoming what is normally termed as a "first world country". However, being a first world country is much much more than just being a high income economy.

What do I mean? Just read the letter below written by a Singaporean woman to the Straits Times newspaper in Singapore about the great service provided by the staff of a cinema in Singapore.
Wrong cinema, right service

MY TWO sons, aged 12 and nine, are big Harry Potter fans and have been waiting for the latest instalment of the movie to screen.

When it was finally released, my husband bought tickets online, and my family made its way to the Golden Village cinema at VivoCity shopping mall last Thursday evening.

However, when we reached the place, we were told that he had booked tickets for the cinema at Great World City shopping mall instead. We would not be in time for the movie, even if we rushed down to the correct location.

A Golden Village staff member called Faizul saved the day. After checking if there were available seats, he got back to us with four tickets.

Also, as my husband was late - he was coming directly from work - Faizul volunteered to hold on to his ticket, so that my sons and I could go in and watch the movie first.

I am impressed by the service attitude of Faizul, and urge Golden Village to commend and recognise his efforts.

Raihan Ismail (Ms)

The point I am trying to make here is that being a first world economy is not just about high income. It involves the right attitude. What then, is the right attitude? While this is broad and very subjective, the above example sheds some light on what this could be. It is highly likely that Faizul, the TGV staff, is not a high income earner. At least, not by Singapore's standards. Yet, he went out of his way to help four complete strangers get tickets to watch Harry Potter. It was simply a mistake by Ms Raihan's husband and TGV had no obligation to help these people. But in doing so, Faizul had probably gained TGV some valuable loyalty from these people.

To briefly surmise what first world thinking is, one should ask this question: "To what extent are its people willing to go out of their way to help others?"

If this kind of attitude is prevalent among all Malaysians, there is no doubt that Malaysia will have no trouble in becoming a first world country. In contrast, let us look at some of the ugly side of Malaysians. When we talk about MAS (the airline), we often complain about their unreliability and lack of punctuality. We often complain when another party's lack of punctuality affects us. Now, think about how often we are late for appointments with our friends? Many of us would arrive late at an appointment without a care in the world despite agreeing on a specific time. When our friends complain to us about our late arrival, we just brush it off and forget about it. When we have this kind of attitude, do we have the right to blame MAS for not being punctual? Can MAS just brush it off and laugh about it?

So, in essence, to think like a first world citizen, one must not only expect first world service from others, but impose the exact same standards on oneself. If we demand MAS to be punctual with their flights, then we ourselves must not slack off in our appointments with other people.