Welcome to the fourth edition of GIC Insights. We are delighted to host all of you, friends of GIC, at our headquarters today.
Insights Theme: “Finding the Middle Ground”
We are at a turning point. Witness the profound challenges spanning geographies, businesses and capital markets. Starkly, the geopolitical mood has soured. We have seen rising populism, societal divisions, trade protectionism and decline in the ability of governments and markets to deliver broad-based prosperity. Greater income inequality, which has reached a 50-year high in OECD countries, is said to be responsible. In particular, the stagnation of real income in developed Western economies in the last 3 decades has ushered in voter strife, hollowing out conventional mainstream politics. This, coupled with the corresponding gains by many open trading economies such as those in Asia, has raised geopolitical tensions. Globalization has borne much of the blame, even though these developments reflect more fundamentally domestic policy failures to cope with technological and economic changes. Is there a Middle Ground that we can settle on? How much can we count on the high inter-dependency in this globalized world?
In these factious times, investors are hard put to find their footing. They face rising uncertainty but falling returns. By some measures, uncertainty about economic prospects is currently highest on record. Further, policy makers seem to have limited ammunition to reflate economies. Interest rates are already at depressed levels. Negative yielding bonds are no longer a market oddity. As at mid-August 2019 they accounted for 1/3 of the global tradable bond universe or a valuation of US$17 trillion. Does this development, with investors essentially paying a fee for holding less risky assets, portend a deep deflationary spell for the world economy? Yet, faced with potential opportunity costs of missing out on positive returns, investors have also been moving into more risky assets. It is a quandary.
Nevertheless, amidst the spate of worrying developments there are also new investment opportunities. Technology, for one, offers immense investment possibilities as the pace of innovation here is breath taking. Breakthroughs in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, blockchain, internet-of-things (IoT) and even those that are not yet known today will be disruptive but will also create new industries, satisfy unmet needs and solve the problems of tomorrow. This is also where we already find the middle ground, between technology and traditional companies. The convergence of their business models are producing many interesting investment opportunities in the overlaps.
How will GIC seek to deliver on its mission in this complex environment?
As Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC’s singular mandate is to preserve and enhance the international purchasing power of the reserves under our management over the long term. As we pursue our mission, we also aspire, through our long-term capital and partnerships, to contribute to the communities that we invest in all over the world. Our capital and expertise help to build enterprises and infrastructure in these communities, enhancing their well-being.
Our approach to attaining these goals are shaped by three guideposts.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are seeing big challenges and opportunities in global politics, economics, technology and markets. GIC faces up to them by focusing on our mandate, being long-term, and building capabilities and partnerships.
We are honoured to have you join us here today. I look forward to the discussions and wish
you all a fruitful and insightful day. Thank
 Edelman Trust Barometer 2019; McKinsey Report June 2019: Inequality: A persisting challenge and its implications
 OECD Social Inequality Database http://www.oecd.org/social/inequality.htm
 WUI (World Uncertainty Index) was developed by Hites Ahir (MF), Nicholas Bloom (Stanford University) and Davide Furceri (International Monetary Fund). They construct quarterly indices of economic uncertainty for 143 countries from 1996 onwards using frequency counts of “uncertainty” (and its variants) in the quarterly Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) country reports. The EIU reports discuss major political and economic developments in each country, along with analysis and forecasts of political, policy and economic conditions. They are created by country-specific teams of analysts and a central EIU editorial team. WUI as at 2Q 2019 based on GDP weighted average from 1996.
 Calculated as percentage of total outstanding bonds in Bloomberg Barclays Global Agg Index at 15/8/2019