We started our Q4 2011 market update by stating that "Business hates uncertainty". Not much has changed since then!
In particular we highlighted the Euro situation, Sovereign debt, China and Financial Services regulation, as being significant risk factors.
Since then the Euro crisis has simply drifted on, sovereign debt (not just European) remains an issue, China appears to be slowing and any discussion of FS regulation must really await the outcome of the US November elections.
The net result of all this uncertainty, is that Asia as a whole is beginning to slow. Singapore, as a small open economy on the one hand, and a very significant base for multinational corporations and banks on the other, is naturally feeling the effects.
The outlook, across sectors, for the next couple of quarters is not overly positive.
Having said that, Singapore's unemployment rate continues to be 2.1%. Negligible in western terms and, one suspects, essentially frictional. It is certainly the case, that there is next to no unemployment of professionals. In some cases, skills shortages persist.
The specific comments in our last market update regarding the outlooks for Banking and non-Banking recruitment, continue to apply. In summary, the Singapore recruitment market, while softening somewhat, remains reasonably stable.
Obviously this would change very rapidly if China, Europe or the US were to suffer a sharp slowdown. Let’s hope that some sensible policies emerge to fill the vacuums!