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Foreign Exchange for Expats in Singapore

Submitted: April 2014

Singapore’s official currency is the Singapore dollar (SGD). Its commonly used symbol is S$. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is responsible for monetary policy.

Singapore does not impose any exchange controls, and there are no restrictions as to the holding of foreign currency in Singapore.

Monetary policy

The Singapore dollar is subject to managed exchange rate regime. The MAS aims at maintaining a stable exchange rate versus an undisclosed basket of foreign currencies. This policy has been in place since 1981.

There is, however, a general objective to maintain price stability as a sound basis for economic growth. Hence, the managed exchange rate regime can be said to be a managed float.

Because of the exchange rate targeting policy, it’s hard to give a clear direction as to how monetary policy is going to be over the coming years. The same goes for the inflation rate, as well as the interest rates on SGD-denominated investments.

Since the 2008 crash, interest rates have been keeping close to zero, which is an ultra-loose monetary policy. As interest rates tend to be below Singapore’s inflation rate, this is bad for savers. The justification for this loose monetary policy is today’s loose “global monetary conditions”. Should the world’s central banks revert to tighter monetary policy, Singapore should follow.

 

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