WhyItMatters

Sobering call to invest cautiously

If anyone needed any further signs that the economy is headed for some grim times, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) provided them earlier this week with its latest Financial Stability Review.

Aside from giving a sobering outlook on the global economy, the MAS highlighted that now is a good time for Singaporean households to review their investment portfolios and be extra cautious when making new investments, especially in assets such as property and corporate bonds.

The timing of the advice points to the maelstrom of economic factors facing the world economy.

The United States Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates later this month. This means interest rates here are likely to follow suit soon after, making it costlier for borrowers to pay off their debts. At the same time, the Singapore economy faces another difficult year ahead, especially if rising opposition to globalisation affects international trade.

Risks such as increasing corporate debt in China and uncertainties over the timing and nature of Britain's exit from the European Union could further weigh on prospects.

The MAS pointed out on Tuesday that slower growth could weigh on earnings, which could then make it harder for some households to service their debts, especially if they have overextended themselves.

It sounded a note of caution on real estate especially. "In particular, before investing in property, investors should be aware that rising vacancy rates, declining rentals and impending interest rate increases mean that they may not always be able to rely on rental income to service their investment property loans."

The MAS' advice? Keep your retirement in mind before making such financial decisions.

With dark clouds looming ahead, there has never been a better time to think hard about how best to secure your financial future.

Yasmine Yahya

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2016, with the headline 'Sobering call to invest cautiously'. Print Edition | Subscribe