CIELITO F. HABITO
NO FREE LUNCH: Keeping away from K
October 06, 2020
Pundits argue over whether our recovery from the pandemic-induced recession will have an L, U, V, or W shape, describing the graph showing how the economy would rise up again after lockdowns killed millions of jobs. When I wrote about it months ago ("LUV after COVID-19," 4/24/20), I expected it to look more like a U, possibly with an extended bottom. An Ateneo colleague calls it a "swoosh" recovery, shaped in the logo of a popular sports brand.
But another letter has joined this alphabet soup of recovery shapes, and it's the letter K. A K-shaped recovery, explains James Chen in a recent Investopedia article, occurs when different parts of the economy recover from a recession at different rates, times, or magnitudes.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/134201/keeping-away-from-k
NO FREE LUNCH: More than stimulus
September 29, 2020
What we really need, and the Vice President had it right, is Kumpiyansa, or Confidence with a capital C, for economic activity to more quickly move back toward its pre-pandemic state. That means confidence that government has a good plan for containing the pandemic, and the plan is being executed and is working, evidenced by declining infection rates (not just declining deaths from it). This leads on to confidence for people to go out and engage in their usual activities that bring life to the economy. But it inspires no confidence when people see a government lacking single-minded focus and competence in containing, controlling, and curing the virus that ails the people and the economy - but instead wandering off into costly distractions like pushing an anti-terrorism law of dubious ends, window-dressing a short strip of Manila Bay seafront, buying a presidential jet, persecuting critics in media, and more. Indeed, not only do these fail to help improve confidence in government; they actually undermine it.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/134004/more-than-stimulus
NO FREE LUNCH: 'Strong' peso, weak economy
September 22, 2020
Reports describe the Philippine peso as the "best performing" currency in Asia this year so far, having appreciated against the US dollar by 4.3 percent since the year started, thereby "outperforming its regional peers." I have a basic discomfort with statements like this, because the economist in me knows that a currency rising in value yields both winners and losers. I studiously avoid using the words "strong" or "strengthening" for the appreciating peso, or describing it as "outperforming" other currencies, because of the misleading notion these convey. A falling peso-dollar exchange rate is both good news and bad, depending on who is affected. In our case, it's probably even more bad news than good, hence nothing to be glad about. Let's see why.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/133805/strong-peso-weak-economy
NO FREE LUNCH: Who lost their jobs?
September 15, 2020
After the deep decline in jobs last April that brought our unemployment rate to a record 17.7 percent and the number of jobless workers to 7.3 million, the July jobs data gave a bit of a relief, but there's hardly reason to celebrate just yet. It appears that much of the jobs lost with the immobilization of the economy through the COVID-19 lockdowns had been regained in July, after quarantines were relaxed in June. The unemployment rate had eased to 10 percent, and the number of unemployed workers was down to 4.6 million, but still about twice the number at the start of the year. I invested some effort doing some calculations from the Labor Force Survey data, to better see the profile of jobs lost between January and April, then partly regained between April and July.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/133579/who-lost-their-jobs
EDILBERTO C. DE JESUS
NO FREE LUNCH: Dancing with the virus
September 08, 2020
At a time of great uncertainty on when the pandemic crisis will blow over and what further threats lie ahead, I've seen heartening examples of how firms and households are coping with and adjusting to the severe disruption COVID-19 has brought. These would ultimately define the nature of the changed economy shaping up in the midst of all the adjustments transpiring and yet to transpire around us. There's a great deal of resilience out there, and I witnessed it recently in conversations with various firms with whom I sought to obtain a feel of the pulse in their respective lines of business.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/133398/dancing-with-the-virus
BUSINESS MATTERS: Dangerous distractions
September 05, 2020
Two recent initiatives distracted from more urgent national concerns: the movement for a revolutionary government (RevGov) and Charter change, launched at Clark Freeport on Aug. 22; and a bill giving the President the power to appoint a Cabinet member who would assume the presidency until the next election, in the event of the incumbent's death or disqualifying disability.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/133318/dangerous-distractions-2
JC PUNONGBAYAN, LUIS ABAD, ZY-ZA SUZARA
[ANALYSIS] Why you should be alarmed by Duterte's 2021 budget
September 04, 2020
With the pandemic likely to rage on next year, the budget should authorize much-needed funds for the government's continued pandemic response, as well as a decent stream of economic aid for our people. The budget should also fund various adaptations to the so-called "new normal," especially in certain sectors like transportation and education.
On the face of it, the proposed 2021 budget looks decent enough. At P4.506 trillion, it's 10% larger than this year's P4.1 trillion budget. It also rests on 3 pillars: "Reset" (responding to the pandemic), "Rebound"(reviving infrastructure development), and "Recover" (adapting to the post-pandemic life).
But upon closer inspection, the proposed 2021 budget is, in fact, a badly crafted budget.
Read more: https://rappler.com/voices/thought-leaders/analysis-why-you-should-be-alarmed-duterte-2021-budget
NO FREE LUNCH: Rubbing salt on the wound
September 01, 2020
One too often gets the feeling, and I've occasionally written about it, that our so-called public servants in government can be such experts in constantly finding ways to make life more difficult for us Filipinos. Filipino nurses, now hailed overseas as heroes and profusely thanked in countries they serve in, are yet another group badly mistreated by their own government, especially at this time that they are literally forced to offer their very lives, and for so little at that.Early in the ongoing pandemic crisis, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) suddenly prohibited health workers from leaving the country, spanning repairmen of medical and hospital equipment, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, molecular biologists, and more. The single biggest group affected was nurses, of whom there are an estimated 500,000 in the country, with about 38,000 added annually.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/133199/rubbing-salt-on-the-wound
NO FREE LUNCH: Social bonding, not distancing
August 25, 2020
I know I'm not the only one who feels uncomfortable with the phrase "social distancing," which suddenly became part of our daily vocabulary since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, even though it's actually an unfortunate misnomer. "Physical distancing" is actually the better way to refer to the prescription to keep a distance of at least 1-2 meters (or six feet) from other persons in order to prevent spreading the virus through person-to-person contact. How "social distancing" became the phrase of choice somewhat puzzles me, but I guess people liked the more peculiar ring to it after someone first coined it.
Now, more than ever, I would argue that we need the exact opposite, that is, more social bridging and social bonding, if we are to get through this unprecedented crisis of global proportions with the least harm possible. Yes, we should distance ourselves physically from one another to keep healthy and safe, but we would also do well to reach out to one another in a stronger spirit of caring and sharing at this time that the needed solutions call for coordinated collective actions.
Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/132993/social-bonding-not-distancing