Financial Freedom Notes from Asia

I recently returned from a Rich Dad/Rich Woman Asia tour with Robert and several members of our Rich Dad team. There is nothing better to truly understand what is going on in different parts of the world than to see it with your own eyes.

This tour took us to Tokyo Japan, Shanghai China, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, and Singapore. One thing is evident – the news we get in the U.S. is in many cases not what’s actually happening in certain parts of the world. This may not be news to many of you who do not live in the U.S. or who travel outside the U.S. regularly.

Here are just a few things I picked up on this trip.

CHINA – The China economy was in the news every day. When you think of the economy of China what do you think of? What is you perception of China’s financial status? Is their economy booming? The U.S. headlines I’ve read and the news programs I’ve watched regularly refer to the “constant and ever-growing economy of China”. China is the next “great economic growth boom.”

But that’s not what I hear when I’m in China.

Richard Duncan, a brilliant economist who consults with major financial institutions around the world and has consulted with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) explained it this way to me –

If you look at China’s imports and exports, they tell you a much different story. The facts are that in the last year, China’s exports slowed to only 5% growth — Their slowest in years. What that means is that the goods and products manufactured in China and shipped to other countries have slowed tremendously. People in countries outside of China simply aren’t buying as much made-in-China product.

What’s even more important is that China’s imports have slowed to 0% growth.

What does that mean to you?

If you directly or indirectly work in a company that’s involved in manufacturing and shipping items to China, then your company may very well be affected. This includes everything from food, cement, and steel to shipping companies and airlines.

The Chinese economy has slowed so much that there are approximately 64 million vacant apartments in the country. New towns or CBDs (Central Business Districts) that have been recently built are deserted.

That is what’s really happening with the Chinese economy.

Yet if you read The New York Times last month it reported, “In China growth remains robust by Western standards. But concern is rising over the possible end of a property boom.” Possible? That property boom is already burst.

SINGAPORE – In Singapore the country is referred to as “Singapore Inc.” because the country is run as a business. Back in the 1960’s Singapore’s visionary leader, Lee Kwan Yew, approached the top business leaders in Singapore’s private sector and offered to pay them what they were making as CEO’s, presidents and managing directors of their companies if they would work for the Singapore government.

As a result, the key positions in the government were filled with experienced and proven business people who were now running Singapore. That was the start of Singapore Inc. Today, the Singapore economy is strong and the country is very well managed.

They have an abundance of water, where once they imported almost all of their water. They have an unending stream of private money flowing into Singapore from overseas investors who do not trust their own economies or governments but do have faith in how Singapore is managed.

They also have an oversupply of jobs. Singapore continues to grow and needs more people to fill the jobs…Something to think about if you know someone who has been laid off recently.

The complaint I hear against Singapore is, “Yes, but Singapore is a dictatorship. That is terrible!”

Ladies and gentleman, how do you think businesses all over the world are run?

The successful companies have one leader who makes the final decisions. It’s not decision by committee. The smartest leaders have very bright people around them who they refer to and consult with, but the final say is made by the person at the head of the company.

Look at Apple, Oracle and Dell computers. Do you doubt that Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Michael Dell called the shots? I’m not saying that Singapore doesn’t have its share of flaws as every country has. I’m saying there is something to be learned from what countries are doing right.

MALAYSIA - Malaysia who, similarly to Singapore, did not get caught up in the frenzy of the sub-prime scam, and the disastrous investments that other countries did, and therefore has not been affected too much from the fall-out of that crisis.

Malaysia today offers foreigners two positives: 1) Jobs – companies are hiring, and 2) Low cost of living. (Granted, Malaysia’s standard of living is not that of Manhattan or San Francisco but it is a friendly country with opportunity.)

It was in Malaysia where the people are so eager to learn and looking for new answers that we actually had to turn away five hundred people from our one-day seminar because the venue was filled beyond capacity.

It was also in Malaysia where I found the two greatest polar opposites regarding women and financial freedom. You’ll love this, women. On the one hand, I met women, single and married, who were actively investing as well as building businesses. You could see their eyes light up when they told me their stories.

And then… I learn of another woman… with a different point of view. This woman started The Obedient Wives Club. Yes, really. Now, I don’t have first-hand knowledge of this organization (the name alone says it all for me.) but what I understand is that the purpose of this organization is to teach women to be submissive to their husbands and to first and foremost please their man. I guess I won’t be sending her a copy of Rich Woman any time soon.

Get the Real Story

My point of this blog is this – You certainly do not have to hop a plane and visit every country to get a true picture of what’s happening throughout the world. BUT if you do want to be successful with your money and be a step ahead of the pack, then it is important to get as accurate a view as possible of the world economies.

You will not often get that through traditional newspapers and magazines. Yet, there are many resources, especially online, that you can seek out.

Here are two resources you may want to check out:

What world economy news resources can you recommend to others to learn more about their journey to financial freedom?

For additional information, check out our free, financial education community here.

Original publish date: July 19, 2012