Kiasunomics©: Stories of Singaporean Economic Behaviours


Authors : Sumit Agarwal (NUS, Singapore), Swee Hoon Ang (NUS, Singapore), Tien Foo Sing (NUS, Singapore)

Publisher : World Scientific

ISBN : 978-981-3233-36-2 (Hardcover), 978-981-3234-53-6 (Softcover)

"Penned in an appealing, conversational style, Kiasunomics© provides deep insights into how we can make better decisions in a complex world, if we knew what research has found. It provokes readers to reflect and pose questions of their own. I'm delighted that research at National University of Singapore has created practical impact for the nation and beyond."
-- Professor Tan Eng Chye
Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and
Provost, National University of Singapore

"I marvel at how the NUS professors can weave their research findings into a storybook. It's enlightening to see how much Economics can affect us. People will find this book interesting to read and benefit from their research."
-- Dr William Fung
Group Managing Director
Li & Fung Group

"Everyone interested in the value of big data can benefit from this book. The authors have been able to marry deep data analytics with empirical observations to come up with extremely interesting insights. In addition, the storytelling nature of the narrative makes it easy to follow and relate to. For non-Singaporeans, this is a ready primer of many behaviours that drive our country!"
-- Mr Piyush Gupta
Chief Executive Officer and Director
DBS Group

"This book is a delight to read. Interestingly, it coincides with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences awarded to one of the founding fathers of behavioural economics — an area of Economics adopted in this book. Kiasunomics© resonates with the broader impact of Singaporean behavioural traits, kiasuism being one. The authors cleverly tell a number of stories, drawing on the findings of their rigorous academic work, to illustrate the economic consequences of seemingly innocuous or irrational decisions made by individuals. They have chosen a narrative style which allows serious academic literature to appeal to a broader readership."
-- Dr Seek Ngee Huat
Chairman, Institute of Real Estate Studies and
Practice Professor, National University of Singapore;
Chairman, Global Logistic Properties Ltd

"Economics affects our daily lives profoundly. Yet, so few of us are aware of this. This book is a great gift to Singaporeans as it cleverly integrates research with storytelling to show the impact of Economics on our lives. I highly commend this very readable book to Singaporeans and others. You will have fun as you learn."
-- Professor Kishore Mahbubani
Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and
co-author of The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace
Have you ever wondered whether individuals born in the year of the Dragon are truly blessed? Or why you can't find a taxi when you need one? What about the effects of superstitious beliefs on housing prices? Kiasunomics© explores these issues and more in a series of stories through the lens of Teng, the protagonist of this book. Told in a conversational story-telling style yet grounded on rigorous research, the book explains the influences and outcomes of the decisions we make, using simple economic logic.

The book follows the life journey of Teng — from birth to adulthood — and examines how seemingly innocuous decisions bear economic consequences on his life. It starts with the decision by Teng's parents to have him as a Dragon baby and shows how this decision affects not only his education but also his career and spending in the long term. The grown-up Teng in later chapters, is a taxi driver who learns that the daily budgeting of finances from many of his taxi-driving friends has proven to be poor financial planning. The story also shows how his purchase of a flat based on superstitious beliefs, and its location near a primary school and a Mass Rapid Transit station influences prices, and with some surprising results.

This book touches the man on the street with issues that many Singaporeans can identify with. These include how Singaporeans' shopping in Johor affects their spending and savings; how different shoppers respond variedly to predictable promotions such as the Great Singapore Sale; how the haze or a mere nearby construction site affects water and electricity consumption; how playing golf elevates women's opportunities to sit on corporate boards; how Singaporeans' travel patterns are affected by their opinion towards public transportation; and how retirement poses financial challenges in silver years. These and many more are unravelled in the 20 stand-alone chapters through the authors' application of their research findings to day-to-day issues.

Kiasunomics© brings to light that research can be made relevant to our daily living. Research helps us make sense of what we do and with that, we can learn to make better decisions for a smarter thinking nation.
Sumit Agarwal yoga fanatic and economics wiz, can untangle complex economics problems as adeptly as he can do most mind-boggling yoga poses including head stands. Who would have thought that this Visiting Professor of Finance from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School is as enthusiastic about financial economics as he is about fitness.

Previously, as the Vice-Dean of Research and the Low Tuck Kwong Professor at NUS Business School, Sumit had to take frequent taxi trips for his various meetings but he could never find a taxi when he needed one. That piqued his interest and the genesis of his research on Singapore.

Well known for his research relating to financial institutions, household finance, behavioural finance, and real estate and capital markets, Sumit brings a wealth of experience beyond intellectual rigour. He was a senior financial economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and a senior vice president at the Bank of America.

With the ability to speak to the man on the street, Sumit is often quoted or featured in BBC, CNA, CNBC and Fox on issues relating to finance, banking, and real estate markets. His research is widely cited in leading newspapers and magazines like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist and The Straits Times. As he is passionate on sharing his knowledge, he also runs a blog on household financial decision making called Smart Finance.

Ang Swee Hoon lives and breathes marketing. As an Associate Professor of Marketing at NUS Business School, her students are often enthused by her passion in marketing. It comes as no surprise that Swee Hoon has been recognised on three consecutive occasions as an outstanding educator with the university's Teaching Excellence Award, putting her on the honour roll.

Her marketing mojo is evident in the leading textbooks Marketing Management: An Asian Perspective and Principles of Marketing: An Asian Perspective now in their 7th and 4th edition, respectively, that she co-authors with Philip Kotler, as well as in commentaries and media interviews. Swee Hoon also lends her expertise as advisor to several government boards.

Since obtaining her Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of British Columbia, Swee Hoon enjoys eclectic research including consumer happiness, counterfeiting, superstitions and advertising creativity. Her diverse research interests got her into reading on research outside marketing. This passion for acquiring new knowledge connected her with Sumit and Tien Foo, resulting in this book, Kiasunomics©.

Sing Tien Foo is the trivia king on all things related to Singapore real estate. Being a Dean's Chair Associate Professor and Deputy Head (Admin & Finance) at the NUS Department of Real Estate, and a Director at the Institute of Real Estate Studies, Tien Foo is likely to have no problem answering any questions on Singapore's property market. He serves in various capacities at government agencies including the Land Appeal Board, Ministry of Law, and the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), Ministry of National Development.

His keen interest in real estate has seen him work on topics relating to options, real estate finance and securitisation, REITs, and housing price dynamics. One of the highs in Tien Foo's illustrious career is when his pet project on Singapore's NUS–REDAS real estate sentiment index received wide media coverage. He is a co-author of Singapore's Real Estate: 50 Years of Transformation.

An outstanding scholar with a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, Tien Foo's expertise in real estate goes beyond Singapore's shores. He lends his knowledge and expertise by serving on the board of the Asian Real Estate Society as its secretary, and on the board of the Global Chinese Real Estate Congress. He has also been invited as an expert witness in the review of land prices in Greater Taipei metropolitan area.
"Penned in an appealing, conversational style, Kiasunomics© provides deep insights into how we can make better decisions in a complex world, if we knew what research has found. It provokes readers to reflect and pose questions of their own. I'm delighted that research at National University of Singapore has created practical impact for the nation and beyond."
-- Professor Tan Eng Chye
Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and
Provost, National University of Singapore

"I marvel at how the NUS professors can weave their research findings into a storybook. It's enlightening to see how much Economics can affect us. People will find this book interesting to read and benefit from their research."
-- Dr William Fung
Group Managing Director
Li & Fung Group

"Everyone interested in the value of big data can benefit from this book. The authors have been able to marry deep data analytics with empirical observations to come up with extremely interesting insights. In addition, the storytelling nature of the narrative makes it easy to follow and relate to. For non-Singaporeans, this is a ready primer of many behaviours that drive our country!"
-- Mr Piyush Gupta
Chief Executive Officer and Director
DBS Group

"This book is a delight to read. Interestingly, it coincides with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences awarded to one of the founding fathers of behavioural economics — an area of Economics adopted in this book. Kiasunomics© resonates with the broader impact of Singaporean behavioural traits, kiasuism being one. The authors cleverly tell a number of stories, drawing on the findings of their rigorous academic work, to illustrate the economic consequences of seemingly innocuous or irrational decisions made by individuals. They have chosen a narrative style which allows serious academic literature to appeal to a broader readership."
-- Dr Seek Ngee Huat
Chairman, Institute of Real Estate Studies and
Practice Professor, National University of Singapore;
Chairman, Global Logistic Properties Ltd

"Economics affects our daily lives profoundly. Yet, so few of us are aware of this. This book is a great gift to Singaporeans as it cleverly integrates research with storytelling to show the impact of Economics on our lives. I highly commend this very readable book to Singaporeans and others. You will have fun as you learn."
-- Professor Kishore Mahbubani
Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and
co-author of The ASEAN Miracle: A Catalyst for Peace

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