COLUMN: THREE CHEERS FOR THE PESO!
MANILA, OCTOBER 4, 2006 (STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco - Okay… okay… I will try to resist being the spoil sport. I am hereby joining the wild cheering for the peso. Last Monday, it broke the psychological P50 to the dollar barrier to P49.95 in mid-day trade and closed at P50.01. Of course I am happy. After all, I have dollar-based mortgage payments to meet for the townhouse my daughter is using in Anaheim. And since what we have is an adjustable rate mortgage, the rise in interest rate is quite disheartening.
So, on purely personal reasons, I am ecstatic about the strong peso. I will need less pesos to pay my dollar debts. But if I take the national perspective, there is perhaps, less reason to cheer. For one thing, we have to worry about the impact of this strong peso on our export sector, that hardworking sector of the economy that is penalized every time the peso appreciates. Families of OFWs will also find out that they are getting less pesos with the padala from abroad.
The other thing that has to be pointed out, as we have done so time and again, is that the strong peso is not an indicator of a strong economy, as Toting Bunye would make you believe. For one thing, the peso is not strong because our economy is strong but more because the dollar is weak. And for those who say that the peso is the best performing regional currency, Dr. Ciel Habito showed me a graph that indicates the peso has a long way to go to catch up with the comparative value of the baht and other currencies vis a vis the dollar.
Since Ate Glue is an economist, I am hopeful that she knows what the real score is. While she is entitled to float the spin that the strong peso is good economic news, I just hope that she does not believe this propaganda line herself. She should know better that the situation is more complicated than that. But because there is a scarcity of good news, siguro puede na rin.
I will concede, still from the perspective of personal interest, that a strong peso and the sharp decline in the price of oil should be good news for all of us in terms of lower pump prices. That may be bad news for long term energy stability but that is another story. We are getting used to the price of gasoline above P40 a liter but we definitely welcome a faster reflection of the positive impact of the strong peso and decline in oil prices. The oil companies should be just as quick in reflecting these changes.
Those noisy jeepney/bus drivers and operators who strike and cause all sorts of trouble when they are demanding an increase of fare due to rising pump prices are now trying to stop any downward movement in fares. Some are claiming higher living expenses but that’s everyone’s problem these days. The point is, the fare increases were given to account for higher pump prices. When pump prices go down, so should the fares.
Hopefully again, Ate Glue does not believe the propaganda about the strong peso to the point of losing focus on what matters for long term economic stability. She should look at declining import figures as potentially bad news in terms of future exports. She should look at the sharp decline in domestic investment, even if foreign investments are starting to flow in. It is too early to rest on laurels that are not really there. I just hope the professional economist in her would see the warning signs even as the politician in her is leading the cheering squad for public consumption.
I understand every hotel room in Metro Manila was occupied over the last weekend. Hopefully, the tourism department will not include those refugees from the power blackout as part of its tourist arrivals. I was told that there was no room in any inn. I guess it wasn’t so bad for the rest of us who had no choice but to go to sleep at 8 in the evening. I took that as an opportunity to catch up with my sleep debt. But for two nights in a row?
Luckily power was restored in our neighborhood midnight of Saturday. I had already slept at least two hours by then, but I was so excited to have the juice back that I immediately fired up my computer and started surfing the net. Good thing PLDT’s DSL service was working, intermittently but working. Surfed for two hours.
The problem I have when situations like this happen is that people call me in the mistaken notion that I am a call center agent for Meralco. I may know people in Meralco’s senior management but that doesn’t mean I carry any clout. I didn’t bother any of them to prioritize my own house and neighborhood because I know the magnitude of the problems they have.
The only time I did call them was on behalf of this paper so that we can get the machines to run on schedule. But that call wasn’t at all necessary because they already prioritized newspaper and other media offices, the way they prioritized hospitals and other critical installations. There was just so much to repair and it didn’t help that those fallen billboards aren’t easy to untangle from the power lines. Some of the power lines were also pilfered by some idiots out for a fast buck at the junk shop.
So, to the guys I disappointed with my failure to intercede for them with Meralco, so sorry but that just couldn’t be done. We just have to wait for our turn to get our lights back.
According to a news item in the Financial Times, the Greeks boosted their GDP figure 25 percent by estimating the contributions of the service sector including those in the practice of the oldest profession. The surprise upward revision of its gross domestic product is the fruit of a change designed to capture better a fast-growing service sector – including parts of the underground economy such as prostitution and money laundering.
The country’s newfound wealth raised eyebrows in Brussels, the Financial Times reports, because it means Greece will find it easier to bring its budget deficit below the European Union’s three percent of GDP ceiling. Greece was previously found guilty of underestimating the size of its budget deficit.
Wow! That should give Ate Glue and Romy Neri some idea, assuming that Greece can get away with it. But I also just got the information that in fact, our local statisticians are already guesstimating the contributions of our informal economy in the GDP figures we now see. We have done it even before the Greeks thought of it. So sorry Romy… sagad na pala!
Our own underground economy is estimated to be anywhere from one half to even as large as the reported economy. I wonder if we have included in our input such things as the illegal drug trade, jueteng, fruits of official corruption and assorted organized crime from kidnapping for ransom to smuggling. But if we are already doing that, how come we still don’t look like a China in the making?
Oh well… they sure can deliver any number they want these days and make it sound legit.
Postcard to Grandma
Norbert Goldie sent this one.
A man moves into a nudist colony. He receives a letter from his grandmother asking him to send her a current photo of himself in his new location. Too embarrassed to let her know that he lives in a nudist colony, he cuts the photo in half but accidentally sends the bottom half of the photo. He is really worried when he realizes that he sent the wrong half, but then remembers how bad his granny’s eyesight, hopes she won’t notice.
A few weeks later, he receives a letter from his grandmother. It says: "Thank you for the picture. Change your hairstyle? It makes your nose look short. Love, Grandma"
Boo Chanco ‘s e-mail address is email@example.com
First Shanghai Airlines flight lands at DMIA By Ric Sapnu The Philippine Star 10/04/2006
CLARK ZONE, Pampanga – The first flight of Shanghai Airlines with 227 passengers from the Chinese mainland arrived at around 1:30 p.m. on Monday at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) here.
The flight was among three chartered flights that would be landed at the DMIA, said Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president and CEO Victor Jose Luciano.
Officials of the Shanghai Airlines said there are nearly 40 million Chinese tourists traveling each year and they are considering tapping the tourism area of Clark ecozone, taking into consideration the "hospitality" of Filipinos.
Luciano earlier announced that three chartered flights carrying Chinese tourists are scheduled to arrive at the DMIA this month. The two others are expected to arrive on Oct. 6 and 27.
"This will be the first that will arrive from mainland China," the arrival of more charter flights and budget airlines are good indications." We are expecting more low cost carriers to utilize DMIA in a bid to spur economic growth," said the CIAC head.
Shanghai Airlines officials have also indicated plans to start using DMIA as a permanent entry point to the Philippines in the future as CIAC undertakes the improve—ment of the existing Terminal 1.
Xie Jin Yi, Shanghai Airlines Co. Ltd. general manager and operations control center manager, earlier noted " a very bright future" for DMIA. Xie along with Ding Xingguo met with CIAC officials led by EVP Alexander Cauguiran and executive assistant to the president Ritchie Nacpil last month.
Shanghai Airlines is based at the Shanghai-Pudong International Airport, which is located in the eastern part of Pudong District in Shanghai, China.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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