Thursday, 17 September 2009

Philippine Central Bank forecasts on track -- JP Morgan and Citigroup

‘Tetangco was right after all on OFW flows’
Jun Vallecera
Business Mirror

SOME of the most influential financial analysts previously disbelieved the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) when it insisted on keeping a positive view on the remittance flows generated by millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

On Tuesday two of their more prominent members recast their dim views and said BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. was correct all along in keeping faith with the work ethic and tenacity of purpose of OFWs.

Citigroup analysts in Asia, which once said the flows would contract this year in the manner projected by the International Monetary Fund, is now even more bullish than Tetangco.

In its latest assessment on OFW flows, Citigroup held these should expand by 4 percent this year to around $17 billion, or faster than the most optimistic BSP forecast of 2 percent up to only 3 percent.

“We have revised our OFW forecast to a total $17 billion for a modest gain of 4 percent. We assume a low of $1.38 billion in September and a high of $1.48 billion in December,” the Citigroup analysts said.

As for analysts at JPMorgan, the similar recast their outlook on OFW flows this year.

“We began the year expecting remittance inflows to contract by 6 percent from 2008 compared with most other market forecasts of around 10 percent contraction.

“We have revised it up to 3 percent and we are now raising that forecast higher to 6 percent,” its analysts said.

They noted the remittance flows have been resilient all year and the latest BSP remittance report showing a 9.3-percent growth in July marked “just one more upside surprise.”

Citigroup and JPMorgan analysts acknowledged that July is historically an “off-season” month when remittances are not particularly strong.

OFW remittance volumes rise significantly just before the school year begins in June and again in December, as Filipinos celebrate one of the longest Christmas season on the planet.

And yet the BSP reported on Tuesday of a 9.3-percent rise in OFW flows of $1.5 billion, surpassing expectations of only around $1.2 billion.

Citigroup said the remittance flows have “defied seasonal influence,” suggesting that OFW deployment continues to rise particularly in countries specifically targeted by government as non-traditional OFW destination like Qatar.

Deployment in those places was in services-oriented jobs in the medical, entertainment and even sales fields that proved less vulnerable to the global downturn, it added.

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