'Overrated' monetary easing policies won't help Asia overcome slowdown, says MAS chief Ravi Menon

(From left) McKinsey Global Institute director Jonathan Woetzel; Mr Michael Milken, chairman of Milken Institute; and Mr Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the Milken Institute Asia Summit 2016 at Four Seasons Ho
(From left) McKinsey Global Institute director Jonathan Woetzel; Mr Michael Milken, chairman of Milken Institute; and Mr Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the Milken Institute Asia Summit 2016 at Four Seasons Hotel.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - The monetary easing that central banks have pursued will not address the fundamental issues that are ailing the global economy, Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon said on Thursday (Sept 15).

Weak investment in the private and corporate sector, as well as stagnant trade growth are the real challenges that countries including Singapore are facing, and the ability of interest rate policies to solve these problems has been "overrated", he cautioned when speaking in a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Asia Summit.

These challenges reflect a shift of investment focus to more agile and asset-light solutions driven by digital and cloud technologies, while international supply chains are increasingly shortened and consolidated by onshoring in major economies like the United States and China.

Amid the changing landscape, Singapore is working hard to maintain its advantage, akin to a swan peddling its legs furiously beneath the serene lake surface, Mr Menon said.

One of Singapore's top priorities now is to invest in and facilitate lifelong learning for the workforce, as the skills learned at schools are likely to be outdated just within a few years after, he said.

Mr Menon also called for more public investment on infrastructure, particularly digital infrastructures, in order to restore the confidence for business investment and growth.

The onset of terrorism and the impact of pandemic diseases such as Zika in Asia also requires attention, Hang Lung Properties chairman Ronnie Chan warned at the panel discussion.

The two-day event, held at Four Seasons Hotel, gathers key thinkers in the public and private sectors to discuss Asia's challenges and opportunities.