Cranky Capital

So widespread public grumbling aided and abetted by class-conscious reporters, continues (the symbolism of things like the by-now-famous Rockwell photo made it irresistible). Jessica Zafra’s friend baptizes the metropolis as “The Big Queasy.”

Overseas, a backgrounder on the new Thai prime minister-designate. Bangkok Pundit says the story that the coup was meant to head off Thaksin-led violence is finally being challenged. It’s not an official lie, apparently, but a lie made up by people embarrassed over their support for the coup.

In the punditocracy, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ has what seems to be the last word on the debate over how the Supreme Court will decide things -and what constitutes constitutional amendments versus revisions.

Filomeno Sta. Ana III on the scale of Philippine corruption.

Sylvia Mayuga and Bong Austero also take a look at the typhoon and the way people reacted to it.

The China Post editorial urges People Power to continue in Taiwan.

In the blogosphere, Tamabayan ni Paeng has a bone to pick with bosses who made their workers go to work during the typhoon -and docked the pay of those who stayed home. To the Tale kept working and working.

There was a sudden blossoming of blogs last night, as most homes that still hadn’t had power restored finally had their electricity restored. Some, like 404 No Find and The Idiot Board recounted their electricity-less days; others posted photos (including some of the damage in the University of Santo Tomas campus); quite a few young bloggers asked for prayers for those affected by the storm. Some, like Sanyata, felt Manila’s over-exposed in terms of sympathies:

The next day, my room mate (Carmel), my sister and I went home by bus. We passed by other barangays of Los Baños and Calamba and were met by mud, floods and traffic. We left at about 10:30am and got home by 3pm. Talk about cramps. I really felt sad because there were landslides and people whose homes and business were destroyed. I saw this lamp shop in LB where most of their lamps were damaged and the owners were just sitting around looking very dejected and helpless. We also passed a bus sandwiched by those big steel billboards. Seeing all these made me very annoyed with other people in Manila who made it seem that what they experienced was the end of the world – because I had seen worse.

fried neurons is shocked UP charges the same amount per unit, it was charging 17 years ago. And anyone wonders why the deterioration of education’s accelerating? We were contemporaries at UP and let me tell you, even then the full tuition was ridiculously low: I remember at the time my father (while signing the check for tuition) would grumble that if UP were really serious about socialized tuition, it would raise the full tuition to the same level as the private schools, so that the subsidy would really have an effect (considering my being a chronic absentee, I think he also wanted more of a justification for scolding me). The blog entry also suggests a collateral issue from the government’s redefining poverty -poor state scholar’s suddenly aren’t classified as poor, and thus, can’t continue their scholarships.

Comelec AKO reminds everyone to register to vote.

Foreign Service Insider suggests the elderly have permanently taken over the Department of Foreign Affairs.

A political hybrid individual is what Pajamas Media says of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (see the interview in video, podcast, and transcript form). William Bradlee writing for Politics Central, in a similar vein observes what he describes as the Autumn of the Partisans in California.

Meanwhile Slate looks at Bob Woodward’s new and devastating look at the Bush Administration. More from the New York Times and Washington Post. And there’s the startling story of Arial, the impostor-font!

Coconuter has a touching story with pictures. And this is such a pretty blog: kitchen cow.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

43 thoughts on “Cranky Capital

  1. We get what we pay for. Although the UP Administration has made great strides in fundraising, revising tuition fees is definitely going to have an impact on the level of resources.

    The next step should be exempting UP from the standardized salary system so we can stop the hemorrhaging of teachers to better-paying positions in Ateneo and La Salel.

  2. A milestone has recently been reached. For the first time in 80 – 90 years the value of U.S. foreign income has gone below the amount the U.S. pays on its total foreign debt. On top of its current account deficit the Empire now depends on the savings (to keep its interest rates down) of the developing world to sustain its growth and the war effort.

    The next few years will probably be the most interesting period for the so called world economy.

    Its funny it was not announced on any major news outlet.

  3. The damages and destructions left on the path of ‘Milenyo’ were not all its fault. Faultless and blameless nature’s fury had wrought, most of the destruction are man-made. The Billboards-why would the billboards built close to the roadways where its failures or destruction however caused will predictably result in more property damages and casualties? Think..On flooding-most flooding are caused by clogged drainage and neglect of drainage systems. The storms didn’t even pour that much precipitation to cause major flooding had there been proper drainage. Where do you suppose the water to go? Up? Eventually when the sunlight sucks it back, And pour it down again.

    Hope the government, at all levels should at least learn something from “ milenyo”. Be prepared for the next visit, otherwise we will picking up the pieces again after every one of them.

  4. Comelec Ako,

    When can we have our OAV Voters ID? I registered 4 years ago pa in NYC pero wala pa rin yung voters ID .

  5. hvrds, What is the significance of US foreign income below amount US pays on its foreign debt. Maybe this is not making the news because it means squat.

  6. A (financial) question to ask is why anyone would deposit dollars into Philippine banks that pay about 1%-a-year interest when ING-direct pays 4.3% (and 2-year Treasury yields around 4.7%)?

  7. I was disappoined in the Filomeno Sta. Ana III/Uniffors blogpiece about Philippine corruption. After a few paragraphs on “academic stuff” and sentences in the Wolfowitz/Bush genre, and that is it!!! One would think that after saying “an anti-corruption program cannot remain
    general. A spray-gun approach won’t do.” the author would specify 3 or 4 action-items. Alas, the article fell way short.

  8. UP tuition should go up, but a one-time 200% increase? without fixing first the STFAP system? ayusin muna yung STFAP income bracket levels at saka itaas ang tuition.

  9. Paeng, As you know, there are 9 steps in socialized tuition, and families in steps 1 thru 5 pay no tuition at all. Families with income below P130,000/year will pay no UP tuition even if the tuition goes up by 200% (or 300%). Families earning P200,000/year get 50% tuition discount. Families earning more than P250,000/year are in step9 and pay 100% of tuition and fees.
    Alo, UP should adjust its tuition every 3 or 4 years so that the tuition-increases are less painful. The 200-300% increase being asked for is because UP has not raised its P300/credit tuition rate since 1989.

  10. I think a better idea would be to index the UP tuition to inflation so that we get rid of the tedious politics behind it (obviously once the 300% increase has been effected). That way maintaining UP’s resources won’t be a hostage to political will and campus demonstrations.

    UP student (and I wish you’d get something more unique, I’M a UP student too) what hvrds said is significant because it means the US is earning less foreign income than it’s paying out in interest to its foreign debtors. In short, lugi na ang US if you look at its external assets and liabilities.

  11. B-pfiend : That idea — indexing — may not be wise. Allowing a cost-item to automatically rise with inflation removes the motivation to manage, and if you give too much slack, you may get a slacker/lazy bum. You want the Paeng’s to raise hell if UP-administration mismanages the assets of the institution (or if UP does not get its “fair share” of the government budget).

  12. Had UP indexed its tuition, then 2006-tuition-per-credit will be P2,100-plus.

    UP President said UP economists estimated that the P300 per unit tuition since 1989 was worth about P42 today.

    This is a 7.14 increase. Had UP been allowed to automatically raise tuition based along with inflation, 2006-tuition per unit would be 7.14 x P300 or P2,142.87.

  13. UP S. – I think the nature of a university is such that even if tuition was indexed to provide a constant level of resource endowment, there would still be people asking/demanding/rallying for more and better from the University administration. In the same manner that Harvard’s $27 billion endowment has never stopped it (or other Ivy League unis) from trying to raise more money and better manage their assets.

  14. At P2,100 per unit, a normal 18-unit load will cost somewhere around P40,000 per semester, factoring in miscelleneous fees. I think that’s still less than what more well-off students should be paying, but better than the P6,000 they’re paying now.

  15. UP Student, i actually liked the Filomeno Sta. Anna piece as the info (i.e. the four types of corruption) was somewhat new to me, but i suppose you’re right. He could have developed the topic further in terms of clearer action items and maybe could have given more real-world examples. For example, i think legalizing jueteng and repealing anti-smuggling laws would actually minimize corruption, but i’m not clear under which of the four categories these would fall under, if at all.

  16. cvj, The Uniffors/Sta. Ana article is based on the Khan paper. (Filomeno Sta Ana just repeats the Khan propositions while add ing commentary on GMA, JDV, Wolfowitz and Bush). The Khan paper is focused on reducing corruption (and proceeds to recite observations that support his claim that the maintream (including Transparency International along with the United Nations and World Bank) are not fully successful in reducing corruption.
    The World Bank is concerned more with economic development. Wolfowitz is pushing the World Bank bureaucrats to look at corruption if the level of corruption gets in the way of a successful project (costs go up, or benefits intended for the local population are threatened by bribery/thievery/financial shenanigans). The difference in focus can be seen in regards Cha-cha/electoral reforms. While Khan/Sta. Ana will probably be very interested in cha-cha, Wolfowitz (last week in Singapore) explicitly said that electoral reform is out-of-scope for World Bank activities.
    Khan says (and Sta Ana repeats) that predatory corruption is the most harmful. Predatory corruption is best-exhibited by extortion by corrupt government inspectors or the corner traffic cop asking for bribes. Khan and Sta Ana will want things done to reduce predatory corruption. The World Bank will not fund projects directed at Cubao LRT tation traffic cop.
    The ADB or the UNDP or World Bank are more likely to encounter Khan type-1 corruption — the rent-seekers. Japan may fund dikes/water-distribution project for Central Luzon. The type-1 rent-seekers are the crooks who deliver goods/services that do not conform to specifications (e.g. concrete that crumbles after 2 years) or who charge the project for “extension to barrio XYZ” without delivering that portion of the project. The World Bank will NOT fund projects in countries where such level corruption is endemic. As Wolfowitz has said, the World Bank does not have enough funds to fund all the economic development projects needed (in sub-Sahara, Central- and South America, East Asia, etcetera), so the money for a project cancelled in the Sudan will simply be used in another country with less corruption.
    The World Bank is now also trying to engage the media so that the population gets informed of the benefits that they are supposed to receive from a project. The World Bank seeks to augment their projects with informations systems so that there in effective mechanism for the yelling and screaming from a population that is being short-changed to be heard by project managers.

  17. The deficit in trade accounted for most of the total current-account imbalance. One effect of this imbalance is a possible drop in the value of the US dollar. Philippine Peso will rise in value and exporters would get fewer pesos for every dollar they get for their exports to the US. The imbalance is not really a problem for the US unless investors diversify to other countries. This is very unlikely to happen because US economy is still growing faster compared to other countries.

  18. The Philippine government should implement a student loan program instead of controlling the tuition fee in the state schools. No subsidies. Everyone pays the same interest rate. Student starts paying after graduation. The burden of paying is now on the student not the parents.

  19. will someone explain how the ombudsmen decided that NO ONE is liable to the billion peso anomaly on comelec’s contract with a computer firm. how is this now related to the ruling of the sumpreme court and other cases pending?

  20. i think tuition fee should be a burden of the student, government and ngo thru endowment funds. this should be income and grade dependent. the problem which i can see is that in rp, alumni are not very willling to help the alma mater after graduation even after they became financially successful. take for example the major universities in usa, they have huge endowment funds dedicated for scholarships of deserving students. this endowments were funded for years by alumni and their friends mostly in gratitude to their alma mater. in rp, how many universities have endowment funds and how many support them? how do they support them? not many and not much support.

  21. ***A (financial) question to ask is why anyone would deposit dollars into Philippine banks that pay about 1%-a-year interest when ING-direct pays 4.3% (and 2-year Treasury yields around 4.7%)?***

    The money in this case is not in the interest rate but the difference in the exchange rates.

    Consider these exchange rates
    1 US Dollar = 50 Philippine Peso in the US
    1 US Dollar = 51 Philippine Peso in the Philippines

    Anybody who sees this opprtunity would just bring their US dollar to the Philippines to get 51 Philippine pesos AND bring back that P51 to the US and get back US$ 1.02. That’s 2 cents back on a single day instead of US$1.045 (1 X 4.5% per annum) in one year at ING.

  22. UP Student, thanks that was very informative. I downloaded the Khan paper and it is only there that i understood that what Sta. Ana was referring to as the ‘four types of corruption‘ are more appropriately described as the ‘structural drivers of corruption‘. From this passage, i believe that the legalization of jueteng is a form of ‘state intervention’ that could be categorized as a remedy to the Khan type-1 rent-seeking driver of corruption:

    “all developing countries can significantly reduce corruption by identifying these critical state interventions, legalizing these interventions where they are not already properly regulated, and this will allow the legalization and regulation of the associated rent seeking as well.”

    It also seems to me that the WB-IMF should interest itself in addressing the second structural driver i.e. fiscal constraints because it is in this area where debt relief will have the most impact. Repealing smuggling laws can also fall under this category on the recognition that the State needs to prioritize the use of its limited resources (e.g. into inspecting for drugs or weapons instead of spreading itself too thinly checking up on all sorts of consumer products).

    The third structural driver for corruption – ‘weak property rights and prevalence of non-market asset transfers’ covers the high transaction costs and unstable property rights that are a fixture in developing countries. The Paper points out that while these conditions are common across the Third World, countries like China are able to mitigate its effects by allaying their entrepreneurs fears about uncertainties surrounding their investments. I also remember Hernando de Soto taking a stab at addressing this issue of property rights in order to release dead capital, but as the Paper warns, this itself is a costly and far from trivial undertaking.

    I can understand why Wolfowitz is unable to involve himself on matters concerning the fourth and ‘most damaging’ driver of corruption as the government officials that he interacts with are also most likely the incumbent predators-in-chief. Khan’s policy recommendation which is to “…focus on constructing a Hobbesian state in a context where the state is falling apart rather than to focus on Adam Smithian reforms of limiting the freedom of the state…” also goes against the Bank’s ideology.

  23. amadeo, which one is better for a fil am to do if he has two accounts in rp, dollar and peso account…

    1. send the dollar from usa via bank to bank and deposit it in rp as DOLLAR

    2. send the dollar from usa via bank to bank and deposit it in rp as PESO

    he will spend the money in rp when he goes on balikbayan trips, for gifts to relatives and maybe for some emergency donations during calamitites.

  24. tbl,
    Carry the cash if you can. The exchange rate in the Philippines is usually better. Banks and money changers in the Philippines are usually hungry for US dollars. If you feel safer doing bank to bank then just bring the ATM/debit card and withdraw the money in the Philippines. Withdraw money from the ATM when the exchange rate is good. You still have to pay ATM fees in the Philippines and in the US but that would be negligible.

  25. The best colleges and universities in the U.S.–Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, etc.–are still recruiting the “best and the brightest” from all over the world, most of them offering full scholarship and grant (i.e, housing, tuition, books, including airfare) to poor students. Those interested should go to the school website. Of course, it is very competitive, they have to excel in school and pass the required tests.

    But of course, the Philippines will be the loser in the end–after they graduate, they will be offered lucrative jobs in the U.S. and will never go back home.

  26. Harvard’s “definition” of poor student: household annual income of US$40,000 or less.

  27. Maraming sa salamat Comelek Ako….I have been sending emails to COAV and they did replied to me once but I did 3 follow up emails already. No one is replying now….

  28. Rego,

    None that I know but ask Citibank if you can withdraw US dollars in their Philippine branch. I know it’s available to their extremely rich clients.

  29. elinca,

    Harvard’s definition of poor is accurate. A $40K salary won’t get you a decent house in the US.

  30. I wonder why everybody focus on those billboards. Whole houses in Sorsogon where blown away and nobody seems to take note…

  31. Amadeo.. Commission-cost — the bid/ask spread — will eat into what you think is a profitable opportunity moving money back and forth between Manila and US-of-A to take advantage of the 50-versus-51 peso-per-US-dollar. In my opinion, the reason to move $$$ from US to Manila is to fund a business a business opportunity in Manila (or to hide assets from your spouse).

  32. DAMN MERALCO !!! Is this the price of MONOPOLY in the Electricity or power supply in our country ?

    While other countries took pride in REPAIRING via 24 hours or less RESPONSE-TIME. Here in the Philippines it could take more than a WEEK to repair a fallen MERALCO post ?

    Is Meralco undermanned ? I thought to repair the damage and to
    accomodate good and prompt services they try to SUB-CON every repair work. Baka naman pati sa BIDDING may ANOMALY ?


  33. TBL, it’s not that rich alumni don’t want to give. I also think universities are weak in fundraising for themselves (take UP for example), with a few exceptions (Ateneo and La Salle come to mind).

  34. Tony,

    I’m talking millions or billions of dollars not chunk change. Think Soros and the 1997 Asian Financial crisis.

  35. yes, there are exceptions. take for example FEUNRMF, its campus was in morayta before and was later transferred to quezon city in a big modern campus. i heard that it was supported by alumni especially those from chicago area. i think dr. chua of malaya spearheaded the fund raising. congratulations tamaraws!

    another alumnus worthy of mention is mr. fajardo of dlsu, he organized a foundation and funded scholars by the hundreds, mostly teachers from public schools. congratulations also, co- arellanite!

  36. Amadeo, Cant’ argue with your opinion. My understanding, though, is that the Quantum Fund position against the ringgit was based on Soros’ belief that Malaysian Central Bank had priced the ringgit 100% too high. Quantum shorted the ringgit and Mahathir started shouting “dirty capitalist Jew” when Soros collected on his bet as the ringgit fell.

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