The opportunity to be rich despite Trump

February 3, 2017

Q: Tell me. There is a rumor circulation in the mercantile Guild that you. You see opportunity despite Brexit and the Trump win – how true is this?

A: Would you prefer that I answer this in German or English? I feel German would allow me to express myself in a concise manner without necessarily indicting myself….if you really want to know ich habe die Nase voll davon…that is to say I don’t give a shit what the guilds think.

Q: I don’t mean to come across as a corporal interrogating a general – but if you could do us all the courtesy of responding in standard English. I assure you many of our readers would appreciate it.

A: If you like. The way I see it is prosaic. Brutal. Like a boot pressed on a face of man. Let me put it this way whenever the status quo ante is threatened with change – there is both strife and opportunity.

Herr Kompf. We don’t do this for fun! There is the investment of time, intellectual capital and resources to attempt to beacon out the murk.

I want to be clear. This is not about a group of bored intellectuals sitting down over tea and scones and discussing the world as a general past time – we all without a single exception see this as a very serious and significant turning point in history and we would all like to be a meaningful part of this change.

There is opportunity where there is chaos Kompf. As it is. I know most people can only seem to see a lot of nervous and anxious people – I much prefer to see this as an opportunity for an opportunity of a lifetime.

Q: How would this opportunity present itself to the average Singaporean?

A: Don’t talk as if the IMG conduct it’s affairs in a cave – look what’s happened in the last week alone. Most people just see an executive order to impose a travel ban on certain Arab countries – but I see this as an interruption in the flow of intellectual capital along with a reorientation of how people and possibly goods flow from point A to B.

Q: What is your assessment of the political rationale for the imposition of the travel ban – do you agree with it?

A: I am neutral. I only concerned about the opportunity cost that may create other opportunities.

Q: Again how might the average Singaporean benefit from this travel ban?

A: Try to see it from my point of view – intellectual capital is like petroleum that fuels firms to do whatever they do. Whenever that flow is interrupted for whatever reason – it creates a deficit or imbalance that needs to be addressed. If you look at firms nowadays – they’re all like mini United Nations.

To me it’s an opportunity when the US decides to do something like impose a country specific travel ban – especially for Singaporeans.

But bear in mind how that may translate into an actual opportunity is entirely on whether you choose to take my advise seriously or regard it as just rhetorical – for me, if I am working in a specific field where many of these nationals have been banned from entering the US – I would be surfing day and night for maybe an internal transfer within a firm or even prospecting to offer my services. After all let us be realistic – not everyone who comes from the Arab world is stupid – they’re a lot of sublimely clever and well educated people in those countries. So whenever there is a summary ban – there is always opportunity.

Q: Why would the US look elsewhere for those skill sets which they would usually procure from those countries that have a travel ban?

A: Its not the US per se – it’s the firms within the US, especially those who are at the leading edge of technology that constantly need intellectual transfusion. What is your politics? That’s highly negotiable in the US. Truth is the US is not like Singapore. No one gives a shit how many times you have posted a Facebook like on Mini Lee’s page – that counts for zero in the US. The only thing that matters is the flow of intellectual capital cannot be constricted in such a way where it may militate against corporate interest.

The US as I see it is a very apolitical work environment – they don’t care about your political leanings…you as an individual can believe or not choose to do so in any object of interest ranging from politics to religion. But so long as you’re not making bombs in your basement kitchen or present a clear and present risk to society – you’re good to go!

And this attitude is very much part of the US corporate culture that even US politicians have to live and accept – you know during the final days on WW2. The Americans secretly recruited Nazi rocket scientist – it was known as the paper clip project.

Now let me you ask you a question – do you actually believe the people who tasked to grow rocketry really care whether Werner Braun was a major in the Waffen SS? If you look at the Apollo documentaries today – do you see anyone quibbling that this was the same chap who once rained intercontinental missiles on London from Penemunde? No one cares – as the demand for intellectual capital is what makes America…America.

Keep it clear – it’s business and never ever personal.

Q: The Singapore Prime Minister recently set the tenor of the new economic prospects for Singapore. He expects us to lower our expectations for future economic growth. Do you think this US travel ban can reverse this trend?

A: Frankly I’m not confident that mini lee and his crew can even achieve lower growth – as so far from what I am able to make up the bulk of what accounts for growth is Singapore leverages heavily on a massive infusion of labor inputs from abroad. That unfortunately is diametrically against real and sustainable growth that should be premised on enhancing productivity, which has always been the axiomatic gold standard for quality and sustainable economic growth – this has remained largely flatline in Singapore for the last 4 years. The main thing that’s propping up growth these days is labour inputs.

There is definitely a very strong correlation here between labor inputs and growth – the very fact that last year’s economic growth was only 1.8% — which incidentally is significantly lower than all our neighbors to such an extent where journalist are now labeling Singapore as the new sick man of Asia has to coincide with the reduced inflow of foreign workers – it is an indication that our economy has been overly dependant on foreign labour force growth.

The way I see it, PAP governments need to migrate further beyond just as gate keepers along the value chain – so far they have just focused on rubber FDI’s and what happens thereafter is really something that they don’t seem to want to get involved in – this to me is a great omission. As when no one in the economic development unit understands the dynamics of what goes on in a firm to make it work – then it’s really a nonsense to talk credibly about investing in natives by equipping them with the necessary skills, especially stimulating an entrepreneurial or merchant class to off set the inexorable reality that job cycles are shortening – in the past we speak about forty year old PMET’s being put out to pasture as they are largely seen as liabilities in this technological age. But in the foreseeable future we may even see workers as young as possible 35 to 40 reaching the end of their utility value – this of course is all driven by market forces.

My personal opinion is government should be less fixated on getting the best to join the civil service – they should instead turn the whole on the idea on it’s head and ask whether That is wise – instead we should try to get people to work elsewhere and return after a couple of years to start new enterprises – this is of course a reversal of sorts. Because we have always seen this idea of growth as government led. But in reality it has never been that way to me – enterprises will always be the drivers of growth. As for governments I just see them as traffic police. So if you’re configuring the so called best to work in the civil service and after a while they get programmed into only working in that kind of environment – then I see it as a great waste of human resources.

Many things will happen with the Trump travel ban – as you must understand people are like walking and talking repositories of information, not unlike thumb drives – so if you so much as even interfere with the equilibrium of that flow – information will degrade, blank spaces will develop and most importantly new pathways will emerge.

A good example is tourism – it will thru a radical revolution – so far I don’t think the Singapore tourism board has put much effort in encouraging tourist from the gulf states, so that’s one illustration of opportunity generated by the travel ban.

On a broader scale – trade and commerce will also be affected. After all if people from the Arab world can’t travel freely to the US without having to jump thru hoops – that also means they can get many things that are needed from the West and again there is opportunity there as well.

I think it’s important to understand the imposition of this travel ban is not just on countries where people live in mud huts, commute to work on a camel and communicate only in sign language – Trump has a very poor feel of that region. If you go to some countries like perhaps Syria – they have the highest per capita satellite dishes in the world. Not only do they consume transponders like bread. But they are also import the highest volume of co-axial cables in the world along with the ancillary equipment to support that sort of infrastructure. So again there is opportunity there as well for Singaporeans to venture out and tap.

But I think you first need to know the region and have a feel of it – for me personally, this travel ban is great for agricultural opportunities.

Always remember a travel ban is not unlike a trade war – you do this and those countries who are affected with problems recognizing capital the financial rammifications from a capital in and outflow will be dramatic – so if you ban an Arab don’t do for one moment think it’s a one way street – they will hit back! And one way to do this is by saying, I don’t want to do business with you!

This is where the wise man comes right in and uses that sort of negative sentiment to create opportunity.

Q: As I understand it these travel ban is limited to only a few Arab countries – they don’t seem to have a far reaching effect…what is your comment on that?

A: I don’t think that is an accurate assessment – as what you need to prioritize is how will it come across to most people? I mean if it’s North Korea talking about stopping certain people from coming in or erecting walls with piranhas in the moat and man eating dogs – that’s OK. Because most people will say that is North Korea.

But when America starts broadcasting that sort of message then don’t for one moment believe it applies to only those countries that currently fall under the travel ban – as there is not only the commonality of ethnicity, share values, identity, tribalism and to some extent even solidarity whenever you talk about restricting movement in laws or other physical means like walls.

What needs to understood in the psychology dynamics is for every act – there is an equal reaction. Even the soviets despite their pineappled eye efficiency of the KGB could not stop the samzidat movement from eventually undermining totalitarian rule.

So please don’t think this whole issue of a travel ban only applies to those countries affected – it is really much bigger than just that.

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