Singapore: The Safest Route to Asia's Riches by Kopin Tan
Summary: Singapore's stock market is on fire: The iShares MSCI Singapore Fund ETF (NYSEARCA:EWS) rallied 42% in 2006 and is up 8.7% in 2007; The Singapore Fund CEF (NYSE:SGF) climbed 64% last year and 8.7% in 2007 -- vs. 16% and 10% gains for Taiwan (NYSEARCA:EWT) and South Korea (NYSEARCA:EWY). Felix Zulauf, head of Zurich-based Zulauf Asset Management sees it becoming the "offshore financial center of Asia" and picked the Singapore ETF as "a classic way to play the rise of Asia and the mania I see coming." It compensates for its lack of natural resources by its location: its bustling port is surrounded by China and Japan to the north, India to the west and Australia to the southeast. Its generous tax breaks, educated workforce (95% literacy), negligible corruption and crime, and renowned pro-business stance account for it being rated by the World Bank as "the world's easiest place to do business." It also topped Standard & Poor's fiscal prudence ranking of Asian countries; the government plans to lay away 5% of its 2007 GDP. Inflation is below 1% and unemployment under 2.5%. Its export-heavy market could come under pressure in a global recession, and its heavy weighting in electronics and IT are subject to tech slumps, but if Asia is destined to become an economic powerhouse in the coming decades, Singapore will be one of its leaders.
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