WILLIAMSTOWN, Massachusetts: Singapore's Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong visited his old college campus in the US state of Massachusetts, as part of a panel discussion titled "The Financial Crisis: Lessons from developing countries to the US".

Mr Goh received a Master of Arts in Development Economics from Williams College in 1967.

Along with fellow alumni from the World Bank, financial institutions and other foreign ministries, Mr Goh stressed the need for proper financial reserves and resources to be place before a crisis happens.

Many of the school's alumni, after very successful careers, re-united to discuss lessons learnt from the global economic meltdown.

Speaking at his alma mater, SM Goh said nearly US$7 trillion of wealth were wiped off Asian stock exchanges during the economic crisis.

Despite Singapore being the first Asian country to slip into recession in 2008, the double-digit growth in the first half of 2010 set the stage for a solid recovery.

According to the Senior Minister, this growth was due in part to the measures implemented following the crash, such as risk-sharing incentives.

"The government shoulders the risk of up to 80 per cent of the loans, and the banks taking only 20 per cent of the risk," said Mr Goh.

He also used his visit to Massachusetts to say that the government also took measures to safeguard employment by subsidising skill upgrades and providing grants that helped employers keep workers' wages level

"Our approach of cutting costs to save jobs, rather than cutting jobs to save costs, worked," said SM Goh.

"I like the senior minister's comment. What you have to do is train your workers to do new things. That's how they'll get jobs," said John Wadsworth Jr., a Williams College alumnus from the class of 1961. He is also the advisory director of Morgan Stanley, and had spent many years in Asia.

He believes there is a lot that America can learn from examples set in the region.

"What I would say about the Asian experience is that regulation is important. Financial intermediaries are designed to serve as clients and provide that critical function of providing scarce capital to the economy to make it grow, and we lost that," said Wadsworth.

SM Goh's words in an auditorium on the campus of his old college were ones of optimism.

In the next decade he believes Asia will continue its forward projectory - one that will hold many opportunities for America.

And in concluding, he also said that "it's better for Asia to be coupled to the US".

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