In the boom, they did not seem to boost the welfare of ordinary Singaporeans as much as the GDP growth numbers implied, and they are not hurting Singaporeans very much on the way down, either.
Local economist Manu Bhaskaran presciently explained so back in May 2009: We have one part of the economy that, judging by ownership and employment, is largely foreign and another part largely Singaporean.
For example, manufacturing is largely foreign — MNCs produce the bulk of exportable manufactured goods and a huge fraction of the workforce comprises foreign workers.
Our back-of-the-envelope estimates suggest that roughly half of the economy is foreign.
Interestingly, the parts of the economy that are currently in free fall — manufacturing and key parts of finance — are largely foreign.