2012 ended on a Friday at Straits Times

Straits Times report
Straits Times website report

The year 2012 ended on a Friday, according to this Straits Times report which appeared on the Singapore newspaper’s website. My calendar shows January 1, 2013, is a Tuesday. So December 31, 2012, was a Monday. But it was a Friday, according to this Straits Times report on the Prime Minister’s New Year message. What a story to get the day wrong! And on New Year’s Eve, of all days.

“Singapore’s economy grew at a lackluster (sic, US spelling) 1.2 per cent in 2012, slightly lower than the official forecasts of around 1.5 per cent,” the report began.

“Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the figures in his regular New Year’s Message on Friday (sic), saying that Singapore is now in a new phase of slower growth.

“For 2012, he attributed some of the lacklustre numbers to weak economies in the US, Europe and Japan that had dampened growth in Singapore.”

Actually, the US economy is expected to have grown by 2.2 per cent in 2012, according to the “ouput, prices and jobs” data published in the holiday double issue of the Economist magazine.  The International Monetary Fund estimates the US growth rate at 2.17 per cent. That’s higher than the Singapore growth rate.Continue Reading

Singapore’s economic growth and population increase

Singapore is unusual in deliberately adopting policies that will slow down economic growth. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his 2012 New Year message that the government expected only 1 to 3 per cent economic growth this year down from 4.8 per cent last year because it is tightening the inflow of foreign workers.

Singapore's economic growth rate

This chart shows Singapore’s growth rate from 2000 to 2011. The next chart shows how the population has grown during this period.  All the figures are from Singapore’s Department of Statistics website. The population data are midyear estimates.

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Straits Times’ GDP goof-up

How can Singapore's leading newspaper make elementary mistakes in economics? It goofed up on the very first day of the year in its report on the Prime Minister's New Year message.

In a sidebar on the front page, it reported:

Quarter on quarter, the Singapore economy grew by 3.5 per cent from October to December, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his New Year message for 2010.

Quarter on quarter, the Singapore did not grow by 3.5 per cent from October to December. On the contrary, it shrank 6.8 per cent, as the government announced today.

So where did the Straits Times get that figure from?

This is what the Prime Minister said in his New Year message:

Our fourth quarter growth is 3.5%, although for the whole year our growth is still negative, at -2.1%.

By that, he meant the economy had grown 3.5 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the same period the previous year.

But the Straits Times took it to mean the economy had grown 3.5 per cent since the previous quarter.

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