15 things that I learned from the 2009 mid-year economic briefing on the Philippine economy

Last July 30, 2009, I announced in my blog that the University of Asia and the Pacific will be holding a mid-year a economic briefing in Cebu on July 31, 2009.

I attended the said half day event and was quite happy that I attended said briefing. I learned a lot of things and corrected certain misconceptions that I had. I was also able to gain more knowledge about the Philippine economy.

The first lecturer was Dr. Emilio Antonio who was the former dean of the University of Asia and the Pacific school of Economics. He was followed by Dr. Victor Abola a Professor at said University and head of the Strategic Business Economics Program.

I’m sure I learned a lot of things and there are lots of things that can be said. However I will just be discussing the top ten very interesting things that I learned in the mid-year economic briefing on the Philippine economy.

1.) Contrary to what the critics say, it is not true that we have not grown as a nation for the past 20 years. The cold facts reveal that indeed from a macro economics perspective we have achieved a certain level of growth if we compare ourselves where we were 2 years ago. Figures like average annual inflation rate, interest rate and the percentage of change in Peso versus the dollar have been at it’s lowest for the past 20 years.

2.) Economic indicators seem to indicate that we are back at the growth path the we used to traverse in the 50s and 60s.

3.) Believe it or not, income per capita is higher today than what it was 20 years ago.

4.) Even if one of the main delta faucets of our income seems to be dripping (exports) and that the difficulties faced by exporters are likely to continue, we are still holding up in the financial crisis because of two major sources of income, OFW remittances and revenue from Business Process outsourcing.

5.) The main culprit in the decline of export revenues is not the lack of global demand nor the global crisis. The more likely culprit seems to be the erosion of the nation’s competitiveness which has been undermined by the long term decline peso-dollar rate.

6.) Lack of confidence is holding back our growth. Investors continue to hesitate to bet on our future. In other words, the nation’s fundamentals are sound, but foreign investors and creditors are still hesitating to pour in money into the country.

7.) The Philippines will most likely weather the current global turmoil but when the recovery comes in, we might not be ready to take advantage of such unless reforms are addressed. It is most likely that the Philippines is in recess (A slowdown) but will definitely not go into a recession.

8.) According to the IMF on the average a banking crisis will last 3.2 years.

9.) The global crisis seems to be easing; the stock market has bottomed out.

10.) Despite what the critics say, the government has done a great job in terms of infrastructure. The Philippine Nautical Hiway (RORO-Roll on, Roll off port) has almost been completed. The Subic-Clark-Batangas expressway and other supporting infrastructures will decongest Metro Manila and will bring economic activity to other parts of the country. (Through the RORO) A high speed rail system will soon connect NAIA to Clark. (The plan is for international flights to be in the Diosdado Macapagal International airport) Believe it or not the government has managed to clear all “homes-along-da-riles” paving the way for the activation of a more modernized and competitive North and South railway system. Metro Manila Infrastructure project are blossoming including expansion of MRT and LRT lines. This infrastructure boom is not limited to Luzon, but has can been seen in other parts of the country as well. Government heavy spending in infrastructure will aid in pump priming the economy.

11.) There seems to be some truth when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo claims that the economic fundamentals of our economy are sound.

12.) Despite recognizing that the “. . . Cute economist is the most likely president to have her economic legacy felt by future generations . . .” Dr. Emilio Antonio insists that he has been misquoted by some papers. He never meant to say that the genius behind the current state of our economy is President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. According to him the facts indicate that it is during the time of President Arroyo that all the economic indicators for the road leading to a healthy economy seem to be in place. However he cannot conclude that it is President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is responsible for all of this as no extensive study on this matter has been done yet. This seems to be in line with my conclusion. I’ve explained this in my post entitled “Guerilla Blogger’s take on President Arroyo’s 2009 State of the Nation Address

13.) The middle class in the world has nearly doubled in 15 years. Most are now found in Asia. (We are certainly in the right place and the right time)

14.) The biggest bulk of OFW spending is miscellaneous 29 % followed by Food which is 25 % followed by housing 24 % and then education 10 %. (No wonder real estate companies are still exhibiting positive growth!)

15.) Their advice to ordinary people? and I love this ! Don’t listen to the doomsday economists. (Especially those from U.P hehehehe):-)  We are a nation who is not really sick, but is insisting that we are sick. Don’t let rely too much on the government. Do what you can as an individual; your future will largely depend on what you will do and not on what the government can do for you.

So that’s it. Invest in the Philippine economy (Invest in the Philippine stock market today ! hehehee) :-) and let us be proud of our nation. Let’s do our part in nation building. Let’s not be obstinately and unreasonably critical. Let us be more constructive in our criticism and let us do something good not only for ourselves, our nation, but the future generation of Filipinos.

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