Since the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2016 Brexit and Trump votes, the continued viability of the extant model of shareholder capitalism in advanced post-industrial societies has come into question. The “neoliberal” world order driven by private capital and market forces is accused of causing financial crises, inequality, and slow growth in GDP, productivity and wages, contributing to populist electoral backlashes and a retreat from globalization.
Accelerated technological advances disrupting many industries has led to concerns that the increasing monopolization of business hurts entrepreneurship and innovation, with a “winner-takes-all” capitalism enriching capital-owners and educated elites while ordinary workers lose from automation and artificial intelligence in an impending “world without work”. Competitive beggar-my-neighbor state industrial policies and global threats to cybersecurity and intellectual property protection, add to these fears.
What do these trends imply for Singapore’s economy and Singapore-based businesses? Do they portend an end to incentives-based policies of attracting multinationals? A reorientation from the public sector and GLCs to domestic private enterprise as the driver of growth and employment creation? A shift in state activism from industrial to social policy? A restructuring of education, housing and labor systems? What can we learn from the experiences of other developed and demographically ageing countries? What should we watch out for as capitalist business models and the capitalist system itself change? And how should we deal with the inevitable social consequences?