Singapore: World’s richest country by 2050?
August 15th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Singapore: World’s richest country by 2050?

By Patrick Winn, Global Post

Editor’s note: The following text is from Global Post, which provides views – importantmoving or just odd – from around the world. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

If you enjoy peering inside the minds of the world’s super rich, take a look through the 2012 “Wealth Report.”

Compiled by Citibank, and a property consultancy called Knight Frank, it’s a lengthy analysis based partly on interviews with the super rich. (Definition: people with more than $25 million in investable assets.)

Yes, the report contains musings on why yacht sales are down and the pros and cons of buying a sports franchise. But that’s not the most interesting part.

The study predicts that Singapore – that little Southeast Asian city-state with loads of Type A zeal – will be the world’s richest nation by 2050.

And by that, they mean its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity. (For those who skipped economics class, this attempts to more accurately measure the average income by considering inflation, cost of living and exchange rates.)

According to Citibank’s 2050 prediction, the top five countries by this measure will be:

1. Singapore: $137,710

2. Hong Kong: $116,639

3. Taiwan: $114,093 (Congratulations, Taiwan, Citibank analysts think that you’ll make it 2050 without being consumed by China.)

4. South Korea: $107,752

And sliding in at number five, the only non-Asian nation, the United States: $100,802

But there are some glaring questions about these numbers, which are based on Citibank’s own analysis.

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According to the report, Singapore is already the top GDP per capita champ with a figure of more than $56,000. But that doesn’t account for tiny, oil-rich Qatar, which leads most rankings with an average of more than $92,000 according to the World Bank. And there’s no mention of super-affluent Luxembourg either.

Regardless, Singapore is genuinely affluent and the report suggests why.

In interviews with “high net worth individuals” around the globe, the Wealth Report asked the super rich about their “favorite things.”

In response, Indians said cars and gadgets, Latin Americans said traveling and Africans said safaris.

The favored items of extremely wealthy Singaporeans?

“Books and reading materials.”

Post by:
Topics: Economy • Singapore

soundoff (277 Responses)
  1. ffc

    Fareed is always a patriot. For me, I am sticking with the West, and the value we place on each and every human life.

    August 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
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      October 19, 2013 at 8:09 am | Reply
  2. Jack 3

    I saw an interview of Singapores leader. What a sharp man, he's a very wise leader. He has no love for China but loves the USA. I saw Charlie Rose interveiw him. I was very impressed. English is the nations dialect and he won't let one ethnic group assimulate in one area. they have to spread out to keep the peace. I would go there for Vacation and feel at ease.

    August 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
    • Gordon

      I would be careful about labeling Lee Kuan Yew as a U.S.-lover or China-hater. It's not that simple and frankly, wholly inaccurate. While it's true that he personally admires certain aspects of the west in general, he has also dealt with China in a friendly manner. As an example, after meeting with Deng in the 1980's, he advocated for many joint-development deals in China such as industrial parks and export zones during the 90's and early 2000's. China gained some much needed developed world techniques and expertise during the process. Fact is, he has maintained a very cordial relationship with the Chinese leaders through out the years.

      A more accurate description of Lee would be that he is a pragmatist through and through. To suggest that he is going to take America's side against China is a pipe dream.

      August 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Reply
    • Gordon

      I forgot the mention that despite loving America as a whole, Lee strongly dislike our corporate practices and the political aspect of our government. He's also quite frank when it comes to biaseness in the western media. All in all, the guy is very smart and observant. Although he's no longer wielding direct power in Singapore, he still hold considerable influence is responsible for mentoring the next generation of its leaders.

      August 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
  3. Bill

    I can see all of the above except South Korea. That would be a pretty large leap.

    August 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Reply
    • Gordon

      I would say it's actually quite plausible. South Korea is an export heavy industry and like Taiwan, their main focus is the high-tech, higher profit margin products. South Korea government also regulates monopoly more loosely, allowing for mega-conglomerates (Chaebol) to be formed which has the effect of cutting overhead cost. For example, a subsidiary company of the Chaebolwouldn't have to pay nearly as much to acquire technology/methods that was developed/patented at another subsidiary under the same umbrella. I guess it is also no surprise that the leaders of these conglomerates have also successfully ran for political office. This is one of the reasons how companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai made the leap from being merely minor players during the 90's to the dominant sector powers of today.

      August 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  4. jcvet33

    They must be expecting Obama to get re-elected

    August 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  5. A. Quatroni

    Well, it won't be America. By 2050, America will be the United Republic of Mexico the way we're going.

    August 20, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  6. AaronT3

    I don;t think America will even be in the Top 10 if these GOP Republican Koch Brother Tea Bagz get their way. They already have property in these other counties and continuing to send more jobs over there.

    August 20, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Reply
  7. Joe

    Asia is rising but like one writer notes it's really hard to predict that far ahead. Many things could change this forcast. I actually thought the U.S. still being in the top five was great. But I still have to say these folks just don't have all the facts correct when you factor in the possible obstacles to Singapores rise. Bottom line is this prediction will be blown apart by future events. I stillhave the United States in the top three and perhaps still at the very top. I just have that much faith. Good Day!

    August 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  8. chappers

    I enjoyed seeing this article. One of the most dynamic and successful entrepreneurs i know recently gave up his US citizenship for full citizenship In Singapore. Whenever he does something, I know he's got good reasons for doing it. He claims that the ease of doing business and financial laws are what attracted him. I'll be keeping my eyes on Singapore to be sure.

    August 21, 2012 at 1:38 am | Reply
  9. normsw

    In terms of overall wealth, the US will still be #1, if we can get the spendthrift Socialists out of

    The U.S. will remain the overall wealthiest, if we can remove the spendthrift Socialists from D.C. and allow Capitalism to run the nation's economy. Otherwise, all bets are off.

    c. and let capitalism run the economys

    August 21, 2012 at 3:55 am | Reply
  10. normsw

    Thanks, Yahoo, for botching my post. The 2nd paragraph is the correct one.

    August 21, 2012 at 3:58 am | Reply
  11. normsw

    I meant CNN, got my sites mixed up! LOL

    August 21, 2012 at 4:00 am | Reply
  12. creamyguy

    Will we still have national borders in 2050? That would shock my socks off.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:46 am | Reply
  13. von Bartsch

    It's amazing what a business-friendly environment will do. I hope we try it in Europe and America again one day.

    August 21, 2012 at 7:44 am | Reply
    • bronxite10

      Per Wickipedia, Singapore has a non-modified universal healthcare system where the government ensures affordability of healthcare within the public health system, largely through a system of compulsory savings, subsidies and price controls. As this is a part of Singapore's business friendly climate, surely you are a fan of universal health care with a high degree of governmental involvement? Surely your chief complaint against Obamacare is that it is too timid in its approach out of an unfounded fear of government over-reach. Surely you're not one of the muddle headed hypocrites who say "business friendly" when they really mean "what happens to people without money is none of my concern."

      August 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  14. David

    Goodbye America. It was nice while it lasted. Time to move to a country that has more liberty, freedom and choices. I shall remember the good ole times in the U.S. I will always cherish them. But you know, as they say, every good thing must come to an end.

    August 21, 2012 at 9:17 am | Reply
    • Steve

      Agree, but you won't find more freedom in Singapore, rather much less. Have to look elsewhere.

      August 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  15. DexPointer

    Too bad Singapore will be under water by then.

    August 21, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
  16. Mike

    I like to play dota its a really fun game!

    August 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  17. MNTaxpayer

    I have no idea what this article means, but predicting what anything will be like in 2050 seems rediculous to me. But I'll likely be dead anyway, so go for iit.

    August 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  18. Mike


    August 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  19. Planetary

    Singapore is successful because it believes in collective welfare. IT is one of the most highly socialized country and the government has learned to find the right balance between progressive socialism and sustained capitalism. The government of Singapore controls many of the industries and it allows private companies to thrive in a very smart and controlled manner. Housing, along with taxes etc is very high in the country, but it provides some of the most advanced and welfare needs to the whole country, from education to healthcare etc. It is absolutely a genius model. This whole crap about Right wing fools who think government is not capable of anything is hubris. Politicians in singapore are giving comparable salary to top CEO's in the country, thus attracting smart ppl in office. Does singpore have domestic issues, absolutely, so does every country, but its is a great model of how a country thrives on collective welfare of its citizens, just liker Germany. Think about these two countries, Germany and Singapore, both are heavily socialized and yet they thrive. So yes, sustained socialism can succeed. It is a new world order. United States cares too much about capitalism and wall street and thats why we suffer. Nobody is advocating a pure socialist economy or communism, it wont succeed, but neither does pure capitalism. Those days are gone. The new world economic order is a balanced mix of all these elements. You have to protect your interest, ,keep manufacturing inhouse, penalize companies that ship jobs, invest in education and science and technology and infrastructure. Create a balance tax code that does not favor the rich, but also make them pay fair share of taxes. Keep Capital gains tax low, but not a loophole where investment banking and rich people can shift all their income into capital gains and pay 10% to 15% while the middle class shells out 25% or more. US is still a great country. The law protects corporations the most in any world. Apple will dare not move its HQ to India or China because when stuff hits the fan...those countries will destroy private yes still the best country overall and that is why you can bully companies to protect its own interest and keep jobs here. Every single country in the world does that. US needs to learn from how good socialism works in Germany and Singapore and how sustained capitalism works as well.

    August 22, 2012 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • Alex

      Do not worry, Apple will move its domicile overseas soon enough. Or at least set up a subsidiary to handle non-US business and keep the cash offshore indefinitely. Plenty of companies already did. Microsoft did.

      August 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  20. Geoff

    Will CitiCorp be around in 2050?

    August 22, 2012 at 6:32 am | Reply
  21. John Smith

    And we trust CitiCorp because..........

    August 22, 2012 at 7:21 am | Reply
  22. ranye

    Ironically, when I leave Singapore this year, two major bookstores there were going to be closed down for not making enough profit. I really doubt the last conclusion.

    August 22, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
  23. forthelulz

    We should say they have WMD's or something and pillage them for their riches. Here here!

    August 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  24. PG

    I wish journalists and so called experts would really come and live in Singapore , and live like the majority of Singaporeans. Most of what is said is government hype , the economy is delicate , as its export based , has no natural resources , not even water or food . Is also subject to possible sea levels rise and already there have been floods in the city centre .
    This is a city state not a country , and its rich people come from countries all around , with little or no questions asked about where the money comes from.
    Also the statement
    The favored items of extremely wealthy Singaporeans?
    “Books and reading materials.”

    Then tell me why most of the bookshops in Singapore have shutdown , even in the city centre

    November 21, 2012 at 1:01 am | Reply
  25. PG

    CNN just went down in my estime for producing a report like that , just shows what people really know

    November 21, 2012 at 1:02 am | Reply
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    March 3, 2013 at 3:16 am | Reply
  27. PG

    Unsustainable countries will not be around in the near future , already countries like China and India have realised that without their own food and unpolluted water they will go nowhere , especially as climate will change and countries which are food exporters today will no longer be . Singapore survives on trade , and as anti pollution legislation and restrictions kick in to stop global warming , there will be less trade , otherwise the planet is doomed and major climatic and sea level changes will wipe out large areas of the planet .

    December 29, 2014 at 12:25 am | Reply
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