Thoughts on stillborn revolutions

mabini

What, Apolinario Mabini asked, is a revolution?

By political revolution I understand a people’s movement aimed at producing a violent change in the organization. and operation of the three public powers: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. If the movement is slow, gradual or progressive, it is called evolution. I say people’s movement because I consider it essential that the proposed change answer a need felt by the citizens in general. Any agitation promoted by a particular class for the benefit of its special interests does not’ deserve the name (of political revolution or evolution).

But let me suggest that it is equally valid to define a revolution as simply the replacement of one government, with another, against the will and in defiance of the institutional processes, of the government that falls. This means that whether that forced change is peaceful or violent, the process is the same: a the government that falls and by so doing, has its institutions repudiated.

Mabini said that by instinct and temperament, most people prefer change through evolution rather than by revolution, but that if development is blocked by the government, then a revolutionary situation arises:

But evolution is not possible where the social organization is not adjusted to it, just as a plant grows and flourishes only in suitable soil. When the government takes measures for the stagnation of the people, whether for its own profit or that of a particular class, or for any other purpose, revolution is inevitable. A people that have not yet reached the fullness of life must grow and develop because otherwise their existence would be paralyzed, and paralyzation is equivalent to death. Since it is unnatural for a being to submit to its own destruction, the people must exert all their efforts to destroy the government which prevents their development. If the government is composed of the very sons of the people, it must necessarily fall.

There continues to be a debate concerning public approbation of martial law. It is said Marcos himself was surprised by the docility of the public and the manner in which he successfully rounded up the opposition, padlocked the legislature, and cowed the courts. Metro Manila -his own political creation, a throwback to the Greater Manila established as a temporary wartime measure- erupted in protest by 1978, the famous noise barrage on the eve of the elections for the Interim Batasang Pambansa; yet 1981 would mark his apotheosis as dictator and his proclamation of a New Republic, officially burying the old Third Republic; by 1984, however, close to a third of the Batasang Pambansa was oppositionist, with bailiwicks in Batangas, Cebu, and places like Cagayan de Oro City. He was unpopular in large swathes of the sugar-producing regions, and the coconut-producing ones, where his efforts to establish monopolies under Benedicto for sugar and Cojuangco for coconut had spectacularly ruined those once-lucrative industries.

Still, opposition, perhaps, percolated upwards and not downwards until Marcos’ economic mismanagement eventually led to a pincer movement, with the majority and the elite both edging towards the same conclusion: the dictator had to go.

Marcos’ mistake was to galvanize opposition among those with a means to oppose him, by eventually seizing and engaging in extortion, the property of those who left well enough alone and had never engaged in politicking in the manner of his wealthy opponents.

To be sure, he’d already alienated the majority of people much earlier than that, as demonstrated by the noise barrage in 1978; but in 1983 he finally lost the middle class and in 1984, when he famously threatened the Makati Business Club, he finally lost the upper class as well. He lost major urban centers, too: Baguio, Cebu, Davao became even more firmly esconced as anti-Marcos bailiwicks of the opposition.

Over the past few years, I heard veterans of the Marcos era express the firm conviction that sooner or later (and sooner rather than later) it would duplicate Marcos’s mistake and start muscling in on the corporations of its enemies, then muscle in on the corporations of its critics, and finally, start gobbling up the corporations of the uninvolved; at which point, the tide would turn against the government. This is, incidentally, a mistake Estrada made, surrounding by many of the same crowd that had porsued similar tactics during the Marcos era.

This is significant because of how tightly intertwined our society is; the upper class relies on the middle class for its mananers and they manage the masses who are employed; and all are tied, up and down, by ties of church, club, and school, the whole compadrazgo culture strengthened by the rituals of births, graduations, weddings, and funerals. Declaring war on a so-called oligarch is a declaration of war on a cascade of families belonging to the middle class and the masses. Which is why the goings-on among the higher political and business echelons of this country are avidly followed by everyone else -each one having a stake, major or minor, in the outcome.

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This administration hasn’t engaged in Marcosian engulf and devour tactics with one exception, the Lopezes; with all others, it has bared its fangs in public while showing every inclination to reach a mutually-profitable accommodation in private. But what sets it apart from the dictatorship is that instead of engulfing and then devouring, it seems to have hit off on a novel scheme: to leave everyone pretty much alone, and instead, carve out new financial territories for itself and its friends. In this case it left only one traditionally entrenched opponent, the Lopezes, while leaving everyone else, hostile or not, alone. Transco, for example; and even its assault on Meralco has been better camouflaged by restricting most of the action to the boardroom, the use of government shares as a battering ram and when that was thwarted, the sale of those shares to San Miguel Corporation which then floated, for public consumption, the rather tantalizing possibility that San Miguel can lower electricity costs by engaging in data transmission through electrical lines: establishing a new monopoly on virgin commercial territory and incidentally, driving a wedge in the otherwise united front presented by the existing telecoms companies.

History is never repeated; circumstances neither emerge nor combine in the same way at different times; for this reason, one argument perpetually put forward as some sort of mitigating factor in judging the present administration’s political maneuvers has always left me skeptical: the President is no Marcos, the times aren’t at all like Marcos’s time, you do not see, for example, the outward manifestations of the New Society and its methods for thought and crowd control.

But of course. Every generation learns from the one that came before. And even the same players learn from the past.

According to some accounts, the Palace is hedging its bets and going slow on Charter Change, because of the public perception that it is in bad odor in Washington; one interpretation goes as far as suggesting the Palace is spooked by the possibility of Washington tacitly blessing a coup should any effort to prolong the President’s stay in office proceed. Others suggest that the Palace all along prefers to be in “legacy mode,” all the better to improve its chances in 2010, while maneuvering for a succession it can control.

The same accounts suggest that a modus vivendi between the President and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. was ratified in Qatar, and that the President’s visit to San Miguel Corporation’s headquarters was the public manifestation of this agreement. At the very least, it kills two birds with one stone (knocking the Lopezes off their perch in Meralco, and placing the capstone in the carefully-built electric, power, and energy fiefdoms the administration’s made possible), while keeping all others, including Charter Change, at the very least on the back burner and in play.

Some links to past readings by way of a backgrounder on the Marcos years and the anniversary of the Edsa Revolution: Marcos in retrospect, part 1 and part 2; the enduring strength of the idea that one can create a New Society; and some observations on the Philippine political culture.

To come full circle, though, as the Inquirer editorial Veto power suggests, the ultimate lesson might be, that if a revolution, and its acceptable manifestation in our country, People Power, is to succeed, it requires, at the very least, the repudiation both of the government People Power topples, and of its institutions including its constitutional rationale.

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    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm
      Author

    there has only been a major deviation between the two because of the cebuanos despising estrada and adoring gma. but before that, cebu was even more anti marcos, and earlier on, than metro manila. the political attitudes of most urban areas outside metro manila -and, since the 1980s more filipinos are urban residents than rural- is not so different from metro manila, either. but indeed, this president has more effectively mobilized rural *leaders* than her predecessors, in the manner of thaksin, with much the same emphasis on the urban-rural divide.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm
      Author

    cjv, there was no middle class resistance to land reform, because the middle class cannot resist the coercive powers of the state. in a sense, the poorest and the richest are in a position to resist the state, but not the middle class. but what ended up was the middle class resenting the state, and the larger society which seemed poised to bring their social economic and political status down, they, being after all, the front liners at edsa. and so, they started to leave and have been leaving for a generation now.

    • J_AG on March 1, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    On MLQ3 post at 2:26PM, Sun. Mar. 1st.

    The fact that the so called professional class thought it wise to put their savings in land is clear indication of a land based culture and not a savings culture based on industrial capitalism’s productivity gains denominated in savings invested in capitalist structures and systems. It is mostly non-existent.

    The clear institutions of capitalism almost thoroughly absent backed up by a tolerable system of justice that is most critical in commerce and industry. A clear and unequivocal trust in institutions of the state. Here most people are already taking up positions to be close to the perceived next President to benefit from government largess’s directly or indirectly. The Danding or Joe Con model for business development. The Chinoy model being, simply wait for the winner and buy him or the people around him. They the more experienced merchant class in the country. In the PRC the state went into partners with the old established merchant class and produced the private capitalist in China. Failure in business there would mean imprisonment or execution.

    It is a wonder that in spite of the loss of trust in capitalist structures in the advanced economies it falls to government to restore the faith and trust in the economic system.

    Here in the Philippines the trust extends mostly to family mostly and not to community. Hence a few families control the state. elections are about the competition amongst the few. That change will come with the change required in economic system and will take generations.

    You cannot redistribute wealth which does not exist. As it is the total per capita income in real terms is only Php 15,000 per anum. Changing the historical distribution of factor endowments is primary but so is the change in mindset required for individual opportunity to blossom.

    Land is still seen as the best inflation hedge against the profligacy’s of government abuse of monetary policy.

    • cvj on March 1, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Carl (12:20 pm), in terms of moving forward, we have the same positions, i.e. addressing the unequal distribution of wealth.

    One thing you’ll notice though (as exemplified by UPn Grad’s comment after yours) is that those who favor the status quo are also afraid of ‘surge-the-gates’. So one tactic they use is to emphasize the urban-rural divide (i.e. Metro Manila versus the provinces) to distract people from the division between rich and poor (regardless of which province they come from).

    Elitists sense that the next people power would be against them and the Middle Class is afraid (rightly so) that it would be collateral damage in such an upheaval. So which side to take?

    • cvj on March 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    ah, i see that manolo has already made the point about GMA emphasizing the rural-urban divide (just like UPn Grad).

    ok manolo, perhaps not outright resistance but more of tampo i.e. exit over voice.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm
      Author

    more than tampo essentially political and economic refugees is what they ended up, cjv.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm
      Author

    there is no reason why officialdom couldn’t learn from the british and the japanese in finding a way to remove political power from the upper class without resulting in a revolution. inheritance taxes are the answer, and a view that aspires to change conditions in a generation, which allows the currently wealthy to enjoy the fruits of their labor without permanently trapping their wealth in their hands. in one generation the british destroyed the political power of the landed aristocracy and the generation after that, went after the power of the business moguls. it can be done here and avoiding the kind of immediate distributive vendetta-mentality that causes panic and distributes poverty and not wealth.

    • Madonna on March 1, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    “the aquino government was an example of the perils of too much open dialogue and democracy, too many contending voices -but it’s what the public wanted.”

    Wrong, Manolo. What the public wanted, then and now was/is results. Period.

    Cory listened to her big business posse, the Teddy Boy Locsin/Joker-ian paean to rights/freedoms for their own sake. What are rights and freedoms for if they could not empower the individuals truly? — freedom and rights in general arise from economic power. And there she failed. And failed miserably. Ramos was better — he knew the middle-class mindset, being from the same class — looking back, it would not been too bad had we given a longer shot at the position. He was a good leader and could unite the warring politicos, the Right and the Left, even the Muslim insurgents. It was Ramos who was ready to widen the “democratic space”. And I participated in rallies to shot down Steady Eddie’s move towards Charter Change — brainwashed out of Edsa I’s (non)-vision

    BrianB,

    Marcos was a social revolutionary. I am just re-discovering him. Marcos was a middle-class guy, just a great failed one — his enemies were too powerful. In the end, he had to resort to state power and authoritarianism to bail him out.

    Marcos’ great weakness also was economics — he had a great vision for the country before he declared Martial Law. He should have consulted more political economists — not dyed-in-the wool technocrats steeped in laissez fair economics which is premised on societies already out of feudalistic structures.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 1:51 pm
      Author

    Marcos was not middle class, did not see himself as such, listen to his own description of himself and his origins. He saw himself as part of the provincial political baron class. And later on, winked at references to his being a descendant of Limahong.

    http://kyotoreviewsea.org/interviewspotlite.htm

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm
      Author

    ah, ok makes sense you are investigating marcosian thinking if you’re disilussioned with post-edsa, madonna. such are the origins of most fascistic thinking.

    • Carl on March 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    cvj, regarding the fear of “surge-the-gates”. Ironically, it seems that the middle class can be even more paranoid than the upper classes.

    It must be a universal attitude because during the U.S. elections, when Republicans trashed Obama for wanting to spread the wealth around, a guy who was probably a lower-middle class individual gave himself the moniker of “Joe the Plumber” and attacked Obama for being a socialist.

    I found it odd, because here was a guy, making less than $50,000 a year, attacking Obama for wanting to impose higher taxes on those making more than $250,000. I thought that it was preposterous.

    Republican strategists were trying to capitalize on middle class aspirations to emulate the upper class when they portrayed Obama as the enemy of the rich. Republicans were, in effect, trying to tell the middle class that Obama wanted to prevent them from getting rich. Those Republican strategists didn’t think it was preposterous at all.

    J_AG, you are correct about Che Guevara being too radical even for Fidel Castro. But passion in any field of endeavor is contagious. I think that is why he continues to be romanticized. I wonder if Che would be amused about the following developments:

    • 40 years after his death in the jungles of Bolivia, a kindred spirit in the person of Evo Morales has ascended to become the President of Bolivia.
    • 40 years after his death, Capitalism has been dealt its most critical blow, not by any Communist country or organization, but by Wall Street.

    • Madonna on March 1, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Naku, Manolo, kaw naman — fascistic? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Let me be open by my political ideology — humanist, democrat, nationalist (in that order please!). Where’s fascism in that????? I am a humanist, first and foremost, remember that.

    My positive doff to Marcos, if you carefully cared to examine my comments was his social vision — before he instituted in Martial Law. If reading our history as people should be wholistic, then why restrict it to Edsa and “democratic restoration” as the fixed basis.

    Hope you are not censoring my right to do my own historical studies. Who’s the fascist here?

    I not not disillusioned with Edsa I — just judging it in an objective light. What kind of revolution is that with no vision. Edsa I was not brought about by solid planning, thus it was no revolution — it was re-active to the forces that chipped away at the carcass of the dying days of the authoritarian dictatorship.

    • cvj on March 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Manolo (at 1:39pm), what are the odds that officialdom comes to its senses in the manner you envision? Also in Japan, i believe the Meiji had to kill-off the Samurai so it’s not as peaceful as the British experience.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 2:56 pm
      Author

    well, hence my concern with creating a reform constituency. it happened in the uk because labor came to power because of growing demand for reforms.

    • J_AG on March 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Carl the collapse of free market capitalism in the so called metaphysical (futures) markets once again proves that the rise of the free market doctrinaire practitioners after Reagan Thatcher have crashed and burned with devastating effects for the world.

    State intervention is ascendant once again but they were already there in a moribund state after the Reagan/Thatcher years.

    The fact that the Western economies simply dusted off the same institutions created during the 30’s prevented a repeat of the Great Depression. The main issue today is the generations today have no memory of those earlier tough years. Even the Europeans who are very aware of the aftermath of the depression and the subsequent war are moving to prevent societal collapse in the weaker European states.

    The recent meeting of ASEAN plus three are also putting measures in place all under the supervision of the multilateral financial institutions to prevent economic strain in any of the groups economies. Naturally our own GMA is pushing hard for the stabilization fund. Asset markets are leaner by $20-$30 trillion. The process of liquidation and restoring balance will take time.

    The difference today is the realization that no state is strong enough to go it alone. Financial integration has proceeded so far into the systemic fundamentals of states that if a pullback were to be made the weak states like the Philippines would simply collapse. Not even the OFW flows would help.

    We are in a de facto common currency arrangement with the U.S. but do not have the ability to formulate fiscal policies that are counter cyclical – (when personal and business consumption drops in a down cycle the government steps in to counter the downward cycle.) If and when OFW flows drop substantially we go down and we have to go under a new IMF program once again.

    When Hillary Clinton was in Indonesia the President of Indonesia bluntly told her that Indonesia wanted a currency swap arrangement for them similar to the one given to Singapore.

    I wish the leftists of this country would understand the whole reality of the state of the Philippines. Those guys in the hills are closer to the Pol Pot model than anyone might think.

    Sovereignty requires power to back it up. All we have are ideals and bare feet. That simply will not do.

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/soros48
    You have no idea how important Mr. Bond market is today to states. Most especially those living on debt like the Philippines.

    The time is perfect for declaring a sovereign bankruptcy process…. Which of the Presidentiables can pick up this advocacy.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 3:00 pm
      Author

    glad you clarified, because i do sense a swing to the right, and it begins with rehabilitating martial law. what i dispute is how anyone can consider that social vision as genuine. i do think it was genuine on the part of those whose intellectual abilities he harnessed. but the danger in otherwise rehabilitating martial law is that it ignores the essential bedrock of the whole project, which was the elimination of democracy and its replacement with absolute monarchy. regarding edsa, perhaps if you insist on being “objective” then it might be that you are not satisfied with the *limited* vision of edsa, and what’s more, the inability of what emerged to continue the reforms and expand them. but i’m also hard-put to find any revolution that was solidly-planned as you want; they all involved general theorizing, specific political lobbying, but a hell of a lot of ad hoc reaction and action with results often far different from what any of the protaganists had at mind at the start. the american, french, and russian revolutions are good cases in point.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm
      Author

    this reminds me of the chapter on bonds in niall ferguson’s book where he asks why more countries don’t realize defaulting might be a better way to rebuild than staggering along -pointing in turn to the limits on the otherwise iron grip the bond markets have on government policies.

    • cvj on March 1, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Because defaulting is supposed to be a communistic idea?

    • cvj on March 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    To form a reform constituency, the EDSA Dos and EDSA Tres crowds must arrive at a set of ideas and actions that they can agree on. For example, ideas like wealth redistribution and debt default should no longer be dismissed as being communistic. Otherwise, the Oligarchs can play off both classes against each other.

    • Madonna on March 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    As a humanist, it is my belief that the ultimate reality is not in ideas themselves — but the human condition — and I do not mean this with pretensions of high-brow sensibilities. Geehaw, we only have to look around to realize this. Instead, we all cower in the comfort of ideas as shields from the crush of reality.

    Correct, Manolo, I do not disparage democracy itself — but how Edsa I failed to provide a vision. I do not approve of a Martial Law-like return — the people are overwhelmingly against it.

    Post-Edsa, the overwhelming sense is that we lack a unifying vision for the country — we do not lack of ideas (they are everywhere and we are not short of intellectuals and patriots — what we have is a grand failure of leadership — we have failed our own people). We are on a ship without a rudder.

    As for the French, Prussian, American, Soviet experiences — of course they reacted to “inevitable” events and forces. However, we need not be hobbled with their experience or over-analyze everything. We could learn from them — but ultimately our basis needs to be our own history and how our country connects to the rest of the world in the scheme of things.

    To create a vision we need to blend in the Western ideals of democracy, our prehispanic history (communalism as Marcos tried to revive — before the Spaniards came, we thought in a community mindset and I think it’s still there, just suppressed by religious zealotry), the best of our Spanish heritage, the aspirations of the constituencies of the Left and the Right.

    Whew. Tall order. But must be done. Otherwise, we’ll just flail along and Filipinas will just be a figment of our strained imagination.

    • mlq3 on March 1, 2009 at 5:10 pm
      Author

    thanks very much, this is why i enjoy discussions with readers like you, something to learn always. i do believe one reason theres no unfiying vision is the rules themselves dont foster consensus or majority rule. but now we’ve learned that it’s not enough to weant change, but to have a plan people can sign on to otherwise the status quo with all its defects will have to do. i’d quibble on the religious zealotry though, i think we’re increasingly finding out our prehispanic culture survived more strongly than anyone assumes and that includes what passes for christianity in this country. that being said, it also suggests we are not a thoroughly democratic culture but one that prefers to assign responsibility to leaders after ritual consultations have been made. in that sense, the insights of thinkers during martial law are useful.

    • BrianB on March 1, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Hey, MLQ3, stop patronizinf Madonna.

    Madonna, it’s not lack of vision but a prejudice against the majority, what conos now call the baho masa, or orcs in UP-speak.

    These lawyer harvard, chinese-business-class look down on the common tao, I’m certain of it. Even now, the prejudice pervades among intellectuals and academics, and especially among the middle class.

    • BrianB on March 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    I’m betting one of my balls the sickness of the RP is racism. Our disease is a common disease, not as unique as the intelligentsia describe it.

    • BrianB on March 1, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I mean lack of vision when it comes to the future of this country where the brown people must dominate in numbers and, supposedly, influence.

    • Carl on March 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Ah, the bonds market. How adequately is the Philippines covered for any eventuality? How resilient will the inward remittances from OFW’s continue to be?

    Will those be the points to ponder in the next few months? U.S. and Japanese GDP’s are crashing, Europe is spiraling downward. Even India is dropping fast. Only China remains as a ray of hope. If everyone runs to the bond markets for assistance, what are the chances that we will get crowded out? For those unable to avail of credit, default becomes a genuine option.

    • UP n grad on March 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Philippines is on CORRUPTION WATCH LIST (via Global Integrity, an international non-profit organization).

    Mangahas reports:

    The Philippines has a Global Integrity Index of 71, meaning “moderate,” in the new report (www.globalintegrity.org) released last Feb. 18th by Global Integrity (GI), an award-winning international nonprofit organization that tracks governance and corruption trends globally.

    The moderate integrity index of the Philippines is the composite of the country’s being relatively: (1) weak in Civil Society, Public Information and Media, (2) very weak in Elections, (3) weak in Government Accountability, (4) strong in Administration and Civil Service, (5) moderate in Oversight and Regulation, and (6) moderate in Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law.
    .
    .
    Grand Corruption Watch List. The 2008 GI report also introduces a new Watch List that “identifies countries where the lack of effective conflicts of interest regulations, unregulated flows of money into the political process, and poor oversight over large state-owned enterprises combine to pose a systemic risk of large-scale theft of public resources.”

    The countries on the GI Watch List are Angola, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Iraq, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Serbia, Somalia, the West Bank, and Yemen. But not the Philippines — that’s a little relief!

    • rego on March 2, 2009 at 12:57 am

    i dont but I canot consider EDSA a faliure at all, ButI do consider Cory a total failure

    • rego on March 2, 2009 at 1:15 am

    i dont know but I dont consider EDSA 1 and 2 a failure at all. Cory is a dismal failure. yes! I beleive she is the biggest mistake in EDSA.

    • BrianB on March 2, 2009 at 1:24 am

    rego, don’t forget her cabinet that were supposed to be her learned advisers. Were they conniving accomplices or just plain housewives too.

    • Carl on March 2, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Thanks for the links, Manolo. From the looks of it, our leaders may have been crowing too early about dodging the bullet.

    The microchip and the furniture export industries were the early casualties and they didn’t cause a large-enough ripple. But they may have been the canaries in the coal mine, because I also read how coconut oil demand has dropped drastically and that how local coconut prices are dropping. Sugar has also been dropping. These would impact the countryside. One of the reasons the rural areas were relatively quiet the past few years is that prices for agricultural products were at all-time highs. Corn, coconuts, sugar and even palay.

    If remittances drop significantly, the peso will take a hit. It’s already trading at around P49 to the $. Will get worse if remittances slow down. That will mean inflation for the ordinary citizen.

    The problem will also be refinancing loans. If there are long queues for bonds, we’ll have to compete and raise interest by so many basis points. That would mean a much larger debt service burden.

    Our leaders should begin warning the people to prepare for more difficult times instead of talking about being “blessed”.

    • J_AG on March 2, 2009 at 10:03 am

    The issue on the bond markets is based on deflation. In the industrialized economies overnite rates are going to be close to zero. Personal consumption and Business consumption is collapsing. That would mean more savings. For the U.S. that is not a bad idea. However all those savings are flowing into banks and banks are not lending as much so they instead lend it to the government. Hence government bonds are rising in price as yields are collapsing. Banks are also bringing back capital to raise their capital adequacy ratios as assets continue to deteriorate.

    Our BSP is then forced to match these deflating times by also moving to reduce our overnite rates which they have just done and will continue to do so.

    That in turn makes money cheaper but since confidence is low banks will tend to also park their funds with the government further reducing bond yields.

    Interest rates go down and foreign money that look for arbitrage on yield will also leave and this in turn will slowly affect the exchange rate.

    The whole question today is will the deflationary forces abroad counteract the sure to be slow deterioration of the peso which might be caused to deepen by reduced OFW flows.

    The variable in this equation is the degree of deterioration in OFW flows. That is the big question mark.

    Our ace in the hole remains to be the foreign workers. There is no doubt that the growth in flows have been reduced…

    So far so good. Check in at the end of the first quarter that is March.

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Some quarters say that the economy is now bouyed up by “corruption” of course much of the disposable income from microchip and furniture industries made a dent but there’s substantial spending coming from people who like to spend – at least not hard-earned money that is. Just take a cruise along favorite spots at night and you’ll see the parking lots are still packed with Expeditions, Fortuners, Troopers, etc (big boys with their toys).
    …and the spas, high end cosmetics botiques are still okay it seems…but one things for sure, these type of consumers buy a lot but they also throw away stuff a lot – one man’s garbage is another man’s banquet. So life goes on in our uniquely Filipino urban food chain…

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Would somebody tell me why our local real estate industry as well as office, residential rentals are seem unperturbed by the current recesssion? Colleagues in Singapore advise that their’s is substantially down already, I’m still waiting for our version of the story…
    Would this be indicative of the economy’s capability to dodge the bullet? If so hurray for Gloria and Ralph Recto!

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I don’t consider the EDSA’s failure either. If we’re looking for failure, its our apparently inability to learn from our experience, to change, and these “closed mind” or “narrow-mindedness” mental state.
    I don’t mind being consistent but we have to open our eyes and ears at one time and look up every now and then…

    • J_AG on March 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Makitid, Mababaw and Ampaw is how Habito describes the Philippine economy.

    In Asia except for S. Korea which has a very high debt ratio (more short term)we stand in good stead. The major problem in emerging economies is almost exclusively in Eastern Europe. They are not part of the Euro zone but they basically borrowed in Euros while keeping their own currencies. The Euro zone does not have a true Central bank and a Euro bond market. Fiscal policy is still in the hands of national governments.

    Real estate comprises here a very small share of the economy and is still in its infancy. There is no overhang of inventory as units are built only when money is already committed. Also realty finance is a very small portion of the total assets held by banks.

    People are still clueless that this banking crisis started in the the wholesale level of banks. We do not have that much savings to speak of hence the country had very little exposure to wholesale banking.

    Singapore through Temasek and GIC were hit hard as they placed wholesale funds in the global asset markets and got burned badly. They have no choice but to wait out the storm.

    Just watch the price of crude in the next six months. If it starts to go up that would mean the downturn has hit bottom and is adjusting for its new slow rise over the next two to three years.

    The main or root cause of this is the supply of the world’s currency the dollar. The U.S. has to fix their financial system and fast. That means the whole world will have to take its lumps. Holders of stocks and bonds in distressed companies will have to take the hit.

    The U.S. financial system is in a state of bankruptcy process. They can delay to take the hard medicine required that will drag this crisis for a longer period or they can end it mercifully….

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

    “The countries on the GI Watch List are Angola, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Iraq, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Serbia, Somalia, the West Bank, and Yemen. But not the Philippines — that’s a little relief!” – UPn

    I’m glad we’re not on this list too, but did they bother to quantify? I mean, if we based corruption on the amount of money being used for personal gain (public funds that is). Of course, these things are hard to quantify, hard to trace, and almost impossible to prove – exposes don’t hold water in any court…
    Then again, what if unproven allegations are really just that, chizmiz?

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 10:43 am

    If we take our cue from Carl here.

    Keep our cash safe. Don’t speculate. Spend wisely. Save, save, save!

    If someone would ask you if this is a good time to buy a condo (mid Makati – Mandaluyong area) would you say “yes” or “no?”

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

    My dear friends.

    If I were to monitor and analize importations like paper and board into the Philippines where should I go to get fairly accurate data? Is there an office doing this already? I’ll pay cash or steak lunch (wagyu)…seriously.

    • Madonna on March 2, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    “it also suggests we are not a thoroughly democratic culture but one that prefers to assign responsibility to leaders after ritual consultations have been made.”

    I wouldn’t want to use the term “democratic” — better to use the typology of “individualistic” versus “communal way of thinking” — most of our leaders, Western-educated are predisposed to think in the former and apply it in management and when people don’t respond the way these leaders they expect, they think that people are apathetic or are irresponsible — which I think is a big mistake.

    “communal” can be democratic too in that people defer to leaders or representatives, that is, so long as they hold these leaders as legitimate representatives or as long as people trust them. We are not individualistic in making political decisions. Which leads me to think that a parliamentary form of government I think is more suitable to the Philippines, and perhaps be its right time is near in the future.

    • Carl on March 2, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks for your insights, J_AG. However, what do you exactly mean by: “The U.S. financial system is in a state of bankruptcy process. They can delay to take the hard medicine required that will drag this crisis for a longer period or they can end it mercifully….”

    Are you referring to the zombie banks?

    Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman have, for some time, been advocating that the U.S. government nationalize zombie banks (particularly Citibank and Bank of America).
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/opinion/23krugman.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

    While I have no doubt about the wisdom and integrity of economists like Roubini and Krugman, I would like to know the reasons why the Obama administration continues to drag its feet on the issue of nationalization.

    So far, Obama has moved swiftly and decisively on so many things. Faster than any U.S. President in history. He has moved on wealth redistribution, healthcare, energy. He has really shown what an activist government should be. He is undoing the trickle down policies of the past 40 years, barely a month after taking office.

    Obama and his staff are no saps, I’m sure that they have taken into account the opinions of Krugman et al. His measured response to the zombie banks is uncharacteristic. Could there be other factors to consider that have not been taken into account by esteemed academicians like Krugman and Roubini?

    • ramrod on March 2, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    “I wouldn’t want to use the term “democratic” — better to use the typology of “individualistic” versus “communal way of thinking” — most of our leaders, Western-educated are predisposed to think in the former and apply it in management and when people don’t respond the way these leaders they expect, they think that people are apathetic or are irresponsible — which I think is a big mistake.” – madonna

    Not too long ago I would have diaagreed with you.
    I don’t believe we can make any theoretical roadmaps in leading Filipinos based on “canned” models in economy, social psychology, poitical science, etc. Intelligent discourse is an interesting pastime but when you need to “actually” lead Pinoys you have to open your eyes, ears, and heart and be prepared to be flexible enough to dump the textbooks.`

    Whatever course our people will take (as represented by our leaders), from now on I will take with a grain of salt, after seeing the other side, I’ll hazard to say that the current leaders, Gloria most especially, are are best bets for now. I for one have decided to put down my battle axe and melt it into a plow and go to work…

    • mlq3 on March 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm
      Author

    theory and roadmaps are useful and sometimes necessary if the goal is to institutionalize and depersonalize the functions of the institutions. of course there is no decreeing or force-marching people, they are people and eq is required. and behavior can be changed.

    • UP n grad on March 3, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Side-topic : current-events : Some survey on Law-and-Order and outsourcing :

    The 25 Riskiest Outsourcing Hubs in the World

    February 26, 2009 — CIO — After a year that saw terrorist attacks in Mumbai, kidnapping for profit in Mexico, and the unexpected meltdown of Satyam, one of India’s biggest IT services firms, corporate America’s cries for the CIO to get things done “better, faster, cheaper” offshore may begin to be drowned out by the more moderate mantra of today’s outsourcing customer: “safer, more stable, more secure”

    The trend emerging today, he says, is for IT outsourcing customers to seek out solutions closer to home—near shore or in the same country—where potential problems can be more closely managed.

    (Editor’s note: Rankings based on mean scores in ten areas of risk as reported by The Brown-Wilson Group’s “2009: The Year of Outsourcing Dangerously”.)

    1. Bogota, Colombia
    2. Bangkok, Thailand
    3. Johannesburg, South Africa
    4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    5. Kingston, Jamaica
    6. Delhi/Noida/Gurgaon, India
    7. Manila/Cebu/Makati, Philippines

    8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    9. Mumbai, India
    10. Jerusalem, Israel
    11. Curitiba, Brazil
    12. Dalian, China
    13. Juarez, Mexico
    14. Brasilia, Brazil
    15. Chandigarh, India
    16. Colombo, Sri Lanka
    17. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    18. Quezon City, Philippines

    19. Accra, Ghana
    20. Pune, India
    21. Chennai, India
    22. Hanoi, Vietnam
    23. Bangalore, India
    24. Hyderabad, India
    25. Kolkata, India

    =============================
    Hmmmmm….. Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore/India or Hanoi is “safer, more stable, more secure” than Manila/Cebu/Makati.

    • Carl on March 3, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Manolo, speaking of road maps, the late Monching Mitra, during his heydey with the Aquino administration, used to quip in private that the formula of his political success was asking the people to show him the road map so that he could lead them.

    While that may have a populist ring to it, it showed a lack of vision and ideas. A very “trapo” attitude that can be visualized as sticking one’s finger to the wind. People very much like Mitra were all over the Aquino administration.

    I agree that there should be flexiblility and a certain amount of ad hoc reaction and action. But I believe that there should be an underlying ideology that will anchor and guide policies. Otherwise it would mean going adrift.

    None of our political parties have an ideology. I think that the bottom line for our political parties is winning elections, by any means.

    • mlq3 on March 3, 2009 at 9:19 am
      Author

    the commonist party has an ideology and winning elections is an ideology. which is why lakas is one of the most succesful parties in our history and with a genuine grassroots network.

    • mlq3 on March 3, 2009 at 9:21 am
      Author

    this is quite shocking.

    • Carl on March 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I agree, Manolo. The communist party may be the only one that has an ideology, in the normal understanding of the word.

    I also agree about your comments on Lakas: shocking!

    • BrianB on March 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

    UPn’s post was what shocked MLQ3. UPn, probably includes legal and political risks as well. Legal being that outsourcing may not be as protected here as in other places.

    • BrianB on March 3, 2009 at 10:21 am

    UPn, I find it nbelievable… Juarez, Mexico

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29404699/

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