Saturday, 12 March 2011
WILL IT AFFECT THE PHILIPPINES?
National Inflation Association
The National Inflation Association (NIA) announced in its November 5th, 2010, food price projection report that food inflation would take over as America's biggest crisis in calendar year 2011, surpassing the mortgage crisis and high unemployment, which were the top economic concerns of Americans in 2010. NIA's food price projection report received worldwide media attention including being featured by Glenn Beck on the FOX News Network. NIA's prediction about food inflation was strongly reiterated by NIA's President Gerard Adams on November 12th when he was a guest on the FOX Business Network. NIA then included this prediction as one of its 'Top 10 Predictions for 2011' released on January 4th, 2011. We are less than two months into 2011 and already massive food inflation is beginning to affect American citizens in a major way, but not the way most people expected.
The Federal Reserve has held interest rates at near zero percent for over two years, which has flooded the world with trillions of dollars in excess liquidity. The world first saw our rapidly accelerating monetary inflation through rapidly rising gold prices. Gold is the best gauge of inflation and predictor of future inflation. It comes as no surprise to NIA members that gold prices were the first to see major gains as a result of massive inflation.
In late-2009 with gold prices soaring through the roof, the mainstream media wasn't smart enough to figure out that inflation was the cause of rising gold prices. In fact, all of the economists that the mainstream media follows were forecasting deflation. On December 10th, 2009, with gold at $1,100 per ounce, Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University's Stern School of Business said, "all the gold bugs who say gold is going to go to $1,500, $2,000, they're just speaking nonsense". Roubini went on to say ,"I don't believe in gold" and "gold can go up for only two reasons." Roubini pointed to inflation as being one of those reasons, but said, "we are in a world where there are massive amounts of deflation because of a glut of capacity, and demand is weak, and there's slack in the labor markets with unemployment above 10 percent in all the advanced economies.”
NIA recognized from the very beginning that despite adverse signs from the bond market, gold and U.S. stock prices were rising solely due to inflation, and there was no economic recovery. In fact, in an article released on December 28th, 2009, NIA wrote, "In 2009, we saw the monetary inflation created by the Federal Reserve's zero percent interest rates drive up the prices of U.S. stocks, without dramatically increasing the prices of U.S. consumer goods. We consider 2009 to have been a brief period of euphoria, before a rapid increase in the prices of food, energy, clothes and other necessities Americans need to live and survive."
NIA first warned about food inflation in our October 30th, 2009, article entitled, 'U.S. Inflation to Appear Next in Food and Agriculture'. In this article, NIA said, "Prices are rising all around us, yet agricultural commodities have for the most part been left behind and remain at historically depressed levels. Fundamentals for agriculture are improving on a daily basis. A worldwide shortage of farmers combined with food inventories falling to record lows is setting up the perfect storm for an explosion in agriculture prices." From the release of this article on October 30th, 2009, to their highs this month, we have seen an explosion in agriculture futures with wheat gaining 52%, cotton gaining 177%, corn gaining 72%, soybeans gaining 49%, coffee gaining 86%, orange juice gaining 37%, and sugar gaining 86%.
Luckily for the U.S., because of the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency, the U.S. has been able to export its food inflation to the rest of the world. America's food inflation crisis is so far manifesting itself in Arab nations. It started out early last month with citizens in Algeria marching to the capital chanting, “Bring us Sugar!” It then spread to riots in Tunisia, which saw 14 civilian deaths when protesters clashed with police. Afterwards came the Egyptian Revolution, which saw 365 civilian deaths and thousands more injured, leading up to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11th. In recent days, the civil revolt has reached Libya, the third largest oil producer in Africa and holder of Africa's largest oil reserves.
Although the U.S. is largely self-sufficient when it comes to the production of food, oil is a very important commodity used in agriculture production and the U.S. needs to import most of its oil. With oil prices soaring through the roof, Arab nations are getting their revenge on the U.S. for the food inflation they are suffering from. Oil is the second largest expense that affects retail prices of food in our supermarkets after the cost of agricultural commodities. The reason a 50% increase or more in nearly all agricultural commodities hasn't caused food prices in U.S. supermarkets to rise by 50% or more in recent months, is because Americans have been blessed with cheap oil. The surging price of oil means that America's food inflation crisis is now imminent.
All American citizens need to be ready for nationwide civil unrest, rioting, looting, and protesting later this year, even worse than what is occurring in Arab nations. The Arab world will survive this crisis because they have oil reserves that they can export to Asian countries when the U.S. can no longer afford to import oil. However, America's survival is dependent on the world's confidence in a piece of paper that has no intrinsic value and is being debased as fast as humanly possible.
The Federal Reserve is 100% responsible for the world's political turmoil and upheaval of governments. As NIA continues to educate the world about the Federal Reserve's destructive monetary policies, we are witnessing surging anger over the Federal Reserve's ability and willingness to steal from the incomes and savings of the American middle class by printing money and transferring this wealth through cheap and easy credit to bankers on Wall Street who produce nothing tangible for the U.S. economy. At the very least, NIA believes this anger will lead to large "End the Fed" protests later this year, which NIA first predicted would occur last year (we overestimated America's eagerness to learn the truth about the U.S. economy and inflation). Worst case scenario, by the end of 2011, we will see the world rush to dump their U.S. dollars and an outbreak of hyperinflation.
Our good friend Gerald Celente first forecast the current North African crisis in an article he wrote in his autumn 'Trends Journal' entitled 'Off With Their Heads 2.0'. In fact, Celente wrote another article just days before the riots in Tunisia entitled 'Youth of the World Unite', which accurately predicted with precise details the deadly riots we now are seeing in Arab nations. Celente will be a guest in NIA's upcoming must see documentary about the U.S. college bubble that is getting ready to collapse.
As accurate as Celente was about the North African crisis, we believe even he was surprised by just how fast the upheaval took place. Absolutely nobody in the mainstream media saw this crisis coming at any time during the recent weeks and months leading up to it. It is shocking just how quickly Egypt went from having peaceful times to their President being forced to resign from office. There were absolutely no warning signs in the weeks leading up to the Egypt unrest. NIA expects U.S. hyperinflation to break out in exactly the same fashion. The only warning signs to prepare for hyperinflation will be the warning signs that are already here today. Americans need to learn how to recognize them for what they truly are, and that is why NIA is here. Please trust us that by the time it becomes obvious to the average American that hyperinflation is right around the corner, there will be no time to prepare.
National Inflation Association
China this morning reported 4.9% price inflation for the month of February, exceeding analyst expectations of 4.8%. With China now mimicking the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and taking steps to artificially manipulate their consumer price index (CPI) numbers as low as possible, it is likely that real price inflation in China is now closer to 10%. China was at least smart enough to raise interest rates last month by 25 basis points to 6.06%, while the Federal Reserve continues to leave interest rates near zero with there being absolutely no talk of the Federal Reserve ever raising interest rates again. China will be successful at containing inflation, as U.S. inflation spirals out of control and becomes the greatest economic crisis in American history.
China this week reported a $7.3 billion trade deficit for the month of February, its largest trade deficit in seven years, which surprised many global economists. NIA believes China's trade deficit is temporary and that China will quickly return to having a trade surplus. The Federal Reserve's QE2 along with China's destructive monetary policies, which artificially devalue the yuan, have led to a massive rise in China's raw material costs this year. NIA believes that in the upcoming months, Chinese manufacturers will raise the prices of their products that get exported to the U.S., to counteract rising commodity prices. With most products used by Americans today having been manufactured in China, this will mean Americans will soon see massive price inflation in just about all consumer goods they use. NIA projects that by the end of 2011, we will begin to see the U.S. CPI increase by 4.9% or higher on a year-over-year basis, with real U.S. price inflation rising north of 10%.
The mainstream media is proclaiming that China's trade deficit will silence calls for the Chinese to allow their currency to strengthen against the U.S. dollar. The fact is, China's government has for long been making the major mistake of printing too many yuan in order to artificially prop up the U.S. dollar. Their fear was, if the U.S. dollar was allowed to decline too rapidly, prices of Chinese goods would rise in terms of U.S. dollars and Americans would no longer afford to import them.
The truth is, if China allowed the yuan to strengthen, the Chinese would have enjoyed a much higher standard of living. Sure, prices would rise in dollars and Americans would import less, but the Chinese would have the ability to consume more of their own products. Now, as a result of China expanding its own money supply in order to keep the yuan pegged to the U.S. dollar, Americans will be forced to pay a much higher price for Chinese goods anyway. The same higher prices Americans were going to pay as a result of exchange rate appreciation, Americans will now pay as a result of inflation. For the Chinese, the exchange rate appreciation route would have been a much better route to take than the inflation route, because now the Chinese will also be forced to pay higher prices. In the very short-term, China might actually suffer more than the U.S. because they lack the social safety nets that have been implemented here in America.
The U.S. government has been successful at temporarily paying off Americans into not rioting in the streets like in Arab nations. It was just announced a few days ago that the number of Americans on food stamps in the month of December of 2010 was a record 44,082,324, up 13.1% from one year earlier and 1.1% from one month earlier. That is more than 14% of the total U.S. population! Combined with President Obama extending unemployment benefits up to 99 weeks, American citizens are too busy and distracted playing with their iPad 2s and gossiping on Twitter about Charlie Sheen, to have any time to protest in Washington, DC.
NIA believes the U.S. government's entitlement spending is currently having the unintended consequence of making Americans dependent on government. It is like when you take wild animals into captivity and you feed them, teach them to do tricks and take care of them for a period of many years; if you just dump them one day back into the wild, it will be very difficult for them to survive. Americans who have become dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps will likely soon abruptly find out that they must begin to fend for themselves without any help from the government. The result will be many Americans turning into wild animals and becoming so desperate that they will have to rob and burglarize their fellow neighbors who were smart enough to prepare, or else they will risk starving to death.
As a result of QE2, the Federal Reserve is now buying 70% of U.S. treasuries, up from previously only buying 10% of treasury bonds. Foreign central banks are now buying just 30% of U.S. treasuries, compared to previously buying 50% of treasury bonds. The U.S. budget deficit in the month of February reached a record $222.5 billion or $2.67 trillion on an annualized basis. With the Federal Reserve now monetizing our debt in full swing, a complete and total loss of confidence in the U.S. dollar could be imminent.
Just like how nobody in the mainstream media was calling for the collapse of Egypt's government a few months ago, almost nobody in the media believes a collapse of the U.S. dollar could possibly take place anytime soon. NIA members are educated enough to see that the writing is on the wall. The Federal Reserve can deny all it wants that the U.S. is experiencing inflation, but with the cost to print a single U.S. dollar paper note rising by 50% since 2008, massive inflation is here right under Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's nose. Every day that goes by, China is quietly implementing more and more steps that expand the yuan's use in cross border trade, in order to position the yuan as the world's next reserve currency.
So few Americans are presently preparing for hyperinflation that if hyperinflation broke out today, approximately 90% of Americans won't have the means to put food on the table or put fuel in their automobiles. During the upcoming hyperinflationary crisis, food stamps will no longer have any value at all and all U.S. entitlement programs will come to a complete halt. Americans will take to the streets like the world has never seen before.
The biggest question NIA has today is, will the U.S. government resort to firing at its own citizens, if major riots take place in Washington, DC. On Thursday, police in Saudi Arabia shot and wounded three protesters. The price of oil rose by a few dollars per barrel as soon as this news hit the wire, which shows just how nervous the world's financial markets have become in recent weeks. The fact that the Dow Jones has declined significantly in recent days, in our opinion means that the odds of QE3 being launched as soon as QE2 is over, are now much higher than they were several weeks ago.
The other big question NIA has today is, if in the unlikely event there is no QE3, who will fill in for the artificial buying demand currently coming from the Federal Reserve. After all, with no QE3, the Federal Reserve will go from buying 70% of treasury bonds to being a seller of U.S. treasuries. NIA is 100% sure that foreign central banks aren't itching to jump back in to fill the hole. While in the past, the private sector may have picked up the slack, we believe individual investors will now be more reluctant to jump into government bonds, especially with bond king Bill Gross reducing the government bond holdings in his Pimco Total Return Fund down to zero. The bottom line is, no QE3 means interest rates will fly sky high and destroy the phony so-called "economic recovery".
From April to August of 2010, the last time the Federal Reserve allowed its balance sheet to shrink, the Dow Jones fell by over 1,000 points. If Bernanke doesn't soon begin to leak out the strong likelihood of QE3, we could see the stock market decline by 1,000 points or more, which will force Bernanke into launching QE3. If we see a major sell off in stocks, NIA doesn't necessarily think that precious metals prices will follow. In fact, we could see gold and silver rise along with the Dow Jones falling. NIA projects the Dow Jones to gold ratio to decline to 6.5 in 2011. This means even if the Dow Jones fell to below 11,000, we still believe gold is likely to rise to around $1,600 to $1,700 per ounce this year, with silver soaring to around $42 to $44 per ounce. NIA believes the worst decision any American can make is to sell their gold and silver and go long U.S. dollars, hoping to buy their precious metals back at a lower price in the future.
It is important to spread the word about NIA to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, if you want America to survive hyperinflation. Please tell everybody you know to become members of NIA for free immediately at: http://inflation.us
Friday, 11 March 2011
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
OUTSIDE THE BOX
History repeats itself, as expected, and no one is ready, also as expected.
Three years ago (less two months), on May 6, 2008, the title of this column was “Why P100 gasoline might be good.” At the time, crude oil was trading at $122 per barrel.
Investment house Goldman Sachs had then just predicted that oil would reach $200 per barrel. Although the oil price peaked two months later just below $150, inflation in the Philippines hit 9.3 percent in 2008. And what was the reason for this high inflation rate? On January 6, 2009, the Philippine National Statistics Office said “The Philippines’ inflation rate increased to 9.3 percent for 2008 as high oil and food prices battered the economy.” See what I mean about history repeating itself?
From the 2008 column: “When two years ago, oil was $50 and Goldman forecast $100, the Philippines’ political leaders did nothing to prepare for $100. Now they have the opportunity to prepare for $200 a barrel.”
Let me rephrase that statement to make it current and applicable to 2011. When two years ago (May 2009), oil was $70 and Goldman again forecast $100, the Philippines’ political leaders did nothing to prepare for $100. History repeats itself.
I also wrote this in 2008. “No one is confident that solutions will be sought until the problem grows bigger. And that is why P100 gasoline might be good for the country. At P50, the pain is still bearable. When the situation deteriorates and the pain hurts badly enough, then the leaders might finally take some constructive action.”
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, gasoline did not hit P100 per liter in 2008 and absolutely nothing was done to prepare for crude oil going above $100 in the future. Now we are in that future.
The call to action in that column of 2008 was this. “Who wants to be the next President? Raise your hand. I have the guaranteed political strategy for making you the overwhelming landslide choice in 2010. Tell the people what you are doing today to handle a doubling of oil prices in two years.”
When the 2010 elections came, none of the candidates talked about oil. But then again, they were never asked about oil and fuel prices.
Now that gasoline prices are above P50 pesos per liter again, the government is clueless on what to do again to keep high inflation from “battering the economy.” How clueless you might ask. All basic-commodity prices are dependent on the price of fuel to transport those commodities to the public. The Trade secretary said this on Monday as quoted by the Philippine News Daily web site: “As a last resort, we can impose price controls but that will be upon the approval of the President.” This statement was in response to a question from the Senate about the possibility of “artificial spikes” in consumer prices.
The administration then backed down from the idea of price controls. Perhaps someone looked up the history of price controls on the Internet and discovered that a government controlling prices has a 5,000-year history of failure, unless, of course, creating artificial shortages of goods is the purpose of the government price intervention.
And as to there being artificial price spikes, there is nothing artificial about Brent crude-oil prices going from $80 to $112 in the last five months. Or the United Nations index of global food prices at the highest level in history.
But that is what political leaders are most qualified to do—find someone or something to blame for a problem rather than try to find a practical solution. There is one great advantage to playing the blame game—you can never lose.
Local commentators understand clearly how deficient the government is to deal with high oil prices. You will notice that several are talking about “supply” rather than “price.” Allow me to assure you that no matter what happens in the Middle East, there will not be a shortage of oil if you can afford to pay the price.
The idea that if there is a major disruption of supplies of oil from the Middle East, fuel rationing might be imposed, is about as dangerous as price controls. Here again, anyone who has lived through a period of rationing knows that rationing creates a black market, where the rationed goods are freely available for the right price.
Remember that the vast majority of our imported fuel purchases are used for transportation. The sad truth is that the Philippines has nothing coming close to a rational and practical national (or even just in Metro Manila) transportation policy. Legislators whine about increasing prices for using the light-rail system that will cost commuters an average of P8 per day more. That fare increase could provide more light-rail trains and improve the existing systems. But that would mean having to make far-thinking decisions and that are not politically expedient.
No, it is much easier to wait until the problems become serious and then hold a committee hearing to try and push the solution farther into the future.
Perhaps the only consolation is that those who drive high-priced exotic sports cars may be hardest-hit as fuel prices increase.
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Practice Makes Perfect
Dr Jeff Mirus
The alarm clock sounds. A young man rises and makes a morning offering to his Lord and Savior. He will mark the rest of the day with remembrances of God: Mass in the morning, the Angelus at noon, grace before each meal, a brief prayer whenever it is time for a new appointment, or whenever he goes out or comes in. He will do some spiritual reading after dinner, and say a Rosary as well. Before retiring, he will examine his conscience and offer some final prayers. He has not only habituated himself to certain devotions at certain times; he is also practicing the presence of God.
Or take another image. A mother of three young children tries occasionally to take them to Mass, and she makes a point of her daily Rosary too. But she has also developed a number of “holy tricks” that help her keep a proper spiritual focus throughout the day. Each time she is interrupted, she uses it as a reminder to invoke God’s blessing. As she attends to her children’s needs, she asks Mary to help her to respond in union with her Immaculate Heart. When the phone rings (always at the worst of times) she prays for patience. At nap time, she takes a few moments deliberately to recollect herself, placing herself before the infant Jesus at one with her child, and gazing on Him with love.
Or perhaps each time a plumber is called to a home, he prays that the grace of baptism will reach and cleanse each member of that household. A loan officer at a local bank may ask God on behalf of each new client for the wisdom to use resources prudently and for His glory. A road worker might offer quick petitions for the safety of the motorists who must navigate the work zone. An elderly man could choose to invoke Saint Joseph every time he feels his age in the pain of muscle or joint.
Few of us live in religious communities in which the hours of the day are marked by calls to prayer, or in small villages in which a church bell reminds everyone of the divinely ordered passage of time. The rest of us need to do things all on our own. First, we must schedule certain regular patterns of prayer and meditation, set periods in which we deliberately place ourselves in the presence of God in an extended way. Second, we must take advantage of little things that occur in the normal flow of our day and make them “Church bells” that remind us to raise our minds and hearts to God.
As the examples above suggest, these little things can be anything we want to use—small triggers to which, with some effort, we can learn to respond by emerging from the business at hand to acknowledge God. Some people set regular alarms on their computers, cell phones or wrist watches. But others use the normal pace-changers of the day: Opening or closing a door, getting up from one’s desk, going to a meeting, shifting from one task to another, and so on. The key is to let something pull us out of our normal concentration from time to time so that we can take a moment to offer everything to God, ask his blessing, pray for any special intentions, or simply reaffirm our wish to live always in His presence.
When such calls to honor the supernatural world come to us from some source that affects everyone within a larger group—a family, a club, a company, a political entity, and above all the Church—they have an added value. The preeminent traditional example is the ringing of church bells. These bells are associated with God’s work, and so they have a special power to remind all willing hearts that this temporal order is subordinate to a higher order. When the bells toll, we pause to acknowledge this deeper reality in prayer.
A truly rich and healthy culture will have such signs, such symbols of and occasions for the impenetration of grace into our daily round of duties. But amid the flat secularity of our own day, the traditional signs have largely been lost. It is up to us, then, to restore or reinvent such signs in the institutions over which we have some influence—in private schools, to take just one example—and also, again, to arbitrarily designate certain spiritual triggers in our own daily activities.
These inventions and designations may not carry the full power of inculturation. They may not serve for anyone else as potent signs of the primacy of the life of God in all human things, but that does not make them unworthy. For no matter how wonderful it is to live in a culture marked by widely-understood reminders of God, the more important purpose of such particulars is to help a person form the habit of practicing the presence of God. That is, they serve their best purpose, no matter what they are, when they enable us to remember God’s active presence in our own lives, so that we might live at every moment in accordance with His will—and in continual supplication, gratitude and love toward Him.
Practicing this awareness of God’s presence is always a work in progress. How easily are we distracted from our loving Father by responsibilities or even flights of fancy! How hard it is to be aware of Our Lord’s role in all that we are and do! Because of our tendency to forget, we may make a firm resolution to remember God at the start of our day, and then become so immersed in the requirements of our occupation that we emerge at the end of a hectic and taxing day only to realize we have not turned toward God even once.
But it is precisely the purpose of these seemingly artificial “tricks”, this selection of specific triggers, at intervals to lift us out of our mundane absorptions and awaken us to opportunities to turn to God. It really does take practice to make these things work, lest we too frequently fail to notice the signs we have chosen, and so only rarely pause in moments of deeper recognition and simple prayer. We must habituate ourselves to the stimulus and the response, so that whether by pre-programmed alarms or other tokens randomized by the changing events of a busy day, we may be always ready to turn toward the One who made us.
This effort never ends, but it does grow easier. Gradually we learn to focus frequently on the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, whether directly or through the intercession of Mary or one of the saints. This is a school of sanctity. In this school, we become ever more perfectly oriented toward God, and ever more finely tuned to His will. In the end, we become almost continuously aware of God’s presence, providence and love. The distance between earth and heaven grows short. We become ready, at last, for something more.
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN
MANILA, Philippines - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor-in-Charge Juan de Zuñiga Jr. yesterday said the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) climbed to a new record high of $63.947 billion as of the end of February, boosted by strong inflows from remittances and a $389 million revaluation gains from gold holdings.
Zuñiga said in a press release that inflows also consisted of receipts from foreign exchange operation and income from investments abroad. Total gold holdings as of February amounted to $6.97 billion while foreign exchange transactions yielded lower gains of $333.64 million from January’s $433.75 million. In the meantime the total foreign exchange investments of the BSP increased to $55.149 billion from $55.032 billion in January.
The GIR level is sufficient to cover up to 10.5 months worth of imports of goods and payments of services and income. It was also equivalent to 11.1 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 6.1 times based on residual maturity.
For this year the BSP forecasts GIR will reach $70 billion. In 2010, reserves amounted to $62.4 billion.
To improve its income from investments abroad, the central bank was planning to raise its investments in emerging market debt (EMD) by $300 million this year.
However sources said BSP was concerned about "constraints" to investing in EMD, such as that EMD currencies are not considered as reserve eligible, which means the additional $300 million investments in EMD will not be considered part of the GIR.
BSP said investing in global EMD would still entail extra returns for the BSP's portfolio, but betting on their creditworthiness may not be appropriate at the moment, said sources.
As of September 2010, only $300 million of the $45 billion investable foreign assets were invested in the Asian Bond Fund (ABF), such as the EMEAP (Executives’ Meeting of the East Asia-Pacific Central Banks) ABF1 which have exposures in a basket of dollar-denominated bonds issued by sovereigns in Asia, and the so-called ABF2 which the Philippines was also investing in. ABF2 was a Pan Asian bond fund with several single market funds or bond exchange traded indices.
Sources said under current review include plans to invest $300 million additional funds to existing ABF or the new bond fund to be put up by the Bank for International Settlements, and another $200 million to be placed in inflation-linked bonds or treasury inflation protected securities.
MANILA, Philippines - Exports growth from Clark Freeport Zone is expected to accelerate to $6 to $7 billion in the next three years versus its roadmap target of $2 billion exports by 2014 following the start of operation of two giant electronics firms in the freeport.
Clark Development Corp. president Benigno N. Ricafort told reporters at the sidelines of the recent forum on “Philippine Public-Private Partnership: Rising to the Challenge” in Makati that exports of TI Philippines and Phoenix Semiconductor of the Philippines, which is owned by the Samsung Group, exports commitments of $3 billion each annually once they come into full commercial operation.
TI has opened the first phase of its operation and has started initial exports. Phoenix, which is owned by Korea’s electronics giant Samsung, expects exports to hit between $300 million to $400 million by end this year.
“So, easily Clark could hit annual exports of $6-7 billion in 36 to 40 months or three years from now,” Ricarfort said.
Last year, Clark freeport exported $1.34 billion exports.
In terms of investments, Ricafort said that aside from Yokohama’s $600 million tire manufacturing project they have other project proponents.
“We are working on several projects pharmaceutical and support companies for semiconductor manufacturing,” Ricafort said.
. He said the committed contracts alone are expected to bring in around $1 billion already including that of Yokohama.
“It takes time to negotiate and investors would like to keep negotiations under wraps,” Ricafort said.
Investments are also expected to hit $1 billion this year largely due to the $600 million investments of Yokohoma Tire Philippines Inc. for a tire manufacturing facility in the freeport zone. (BCM)
OUTSIDE THE BOX
The government “Speaks with forked tongue.”
According to one 1859 account, the Native American proverb that the “White man speaks with a forked tongue” originated as a result of the French tactic of the 1690s, in their war with the Iroquois, of inviting their enemies to attend a peace conference, only to be slaughtered or captured. Say one thing and do another.
One of the most important aspects of government policy and the perception of that policy is consistency.
During the protests and uprising in Egypt, the Obama administration bought new meaning to the concept of “forked tongue.” On Saturday, February 5, the Obama White House reversed itself no less than three times with regard to the official US government policy position on Egypt and Mubarak. At 3:45 a.m., “President Barack Obama said Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak should do the statesmanlike thing and make a quick handoff to a more representative government.” By 10:20 a.m., the policy had changed. “Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must stay in power for now to steer the political transition, President Obama’s special envoy for Egypt told reporters.” But wait. The policy changed again that same evening when the White House repudiated its own special envoy’s statement. And by late night, Obama was calling for a clear timeline for Mubarak to step down.
No wonder a month later in Libya, Reuters was reporting, “‘Bring Bush! Make a no-fly zone, bomb the planes,’ shouted soldier-turned-rebel Nasr Ali, referring to a no-fly zone imposed on Iraq in 1991 by then-US President George H. W. Bush.”
Consistency of policy is crucial and one of the most important jobs that a government, through its leaders, must accomplish. One of the purposes for a government being made up of more than one branch is not only for a check and balance on power, but also for a check and balance on policy. A government ruled by a single voice, either by an individual dictator or an authoritarian committee, often changes policy on whimsy.
In 2008 Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez decided that a multimillion- dollar mall nearing completion and one of Caracas’s biggest investments should be stopped after passing by it in a car. After obtaining all the proper and necessary permits and totally complying with all regulations and laws, the mall was expropriated by the government. Some 3,000 workers lost their jobs. Venezuela is not high on the list of places private companies want to do business.
But then again, the Philippines ranks only slightly higher than Venezuela as being business-friendly.
The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public-policy research center that examines the relationships between government policy and economic success. Over 300 academics, policy analysts and economists contribute to the institute’s research and publications. Recently, Fraser published its “Survey of Mining Companies 2009/2010.” The results are not encouraging for the Philippines.
When it comes to mineral development, this is what Fraser discovered. “The bottom 10 scorers are Venezuela, Ecuador, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mongolia, Bolivia, Honduras, and Guatemala. Unfortunately, these are all developing nations which most need the new jobs and increased prosperity mining can produce.”
Here is the sad part. When it comes to “Current Mineral Potential assuming current regulations and land use restrictions” (meaning the laws and regulations on the books), the Philippines scores quite high, 38 out of 72. However, when it comes to “Policy Potential,” we score 70 out of 72. And what is “Policy Potential”? One word: uncertainty.
Here is the bottom line for those companies that are willing to spend literally billions of dollars investing in the Philippines: uncertainty over which areas will be protected as wilderness sites; uncertainty over the administration, interpretation, and enforcement of existing regulations, uncertainty about future trade barriers, and uncertainty of potential restrictions on profit repatriation.
The existing law, the Mining Act of 1995, spent 10 years before the Supreme Court. It has existed through four presidents and their administrations. At least 10 environment secretaries have had administrative control of the Act. Hundreds of members of Congress and the Senate have had the opportunity to review, amend and change the law.
After 16 years, successive Philippines governments have not been able to create a regulatory framework to develop the natural resources, the wealth of the Philippines, in a way that protects the interests of the indigenous peoples, the environment, the government and all the stakeholders involved.
For those who are “antimining,” their arguments are worthless unless and until they are willing to propose an alternative to the 1995 Act. Unless, of course, what they are actually saying is to do away with all products made of metals. In other words, to return to those happier times of nipa huts without electricity, running water and, of course, their cell phones and computers upon which they make statements to the press.
It is an absolute disgrace that the Philippines puts itself in the same sentence as Venezuela, Zimbabwe and the Congo. We should be up there with Mexico, Chile, Tanzania, Botswana and Mali, other developing countries that have met the challenge of sustainable economic development through proper mineral development, beneficial to all concerned. And what is different about those particular countries? They had leaders who led and took charge on this vital economic issue.
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By Steven W. Mosher
Population Research Institute
This past year has been one of personal loss for me. This past April our founder, Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., Ph.D., passed away in the odor of sanctity. Now we have lost another great pro-lifer—and personal friend of mine—Dr. Bernard Nathanson.
I first met Dr. Nathanson, fittingly enough, at a 1985 conference in Washington, D.C., organized by Father Marx. Dr. Nathanson had just released his groundbreaking video, “The Silent Scream,” which shows exactly what goes on in the womb during an abortion. As the abortionist’s scalpel reaches the unborn child, the child pulls back, then begins writhing in pain as it is dismembered. No one who has seen the video will ever forget it—and millions have seen it. It premiered on the television program, “Jerry Falwell Live,“ and aired five times on major television networks shortly after it was released. It was even shown in the White House by our most pro-life President, Ronald Reagan.
Nathanson, of course, knew what he was describing, because he had personally performed, by his own admission, some 15,000 abortions. But he had not merely practiced abortion, he had promoted it as well. He was a founding member of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Thus he was privy to all the lies that were used to justify the legalization of abortion in the U.S., up to and including the preposterous claim that 10,000 women were dying of so-called “back-alley” abortions each year. “We just made that number up,” he later said to me, “for propaganda purposes.”
He was not, at that time, a believer. He had concluded that abortion was wrong in precisely the same way that I had, by reflecting on the irrefutable fact that life begins at conception and that the fetus—“little one,” in Latin—is nothing if not a human being. There was, because of this, a natural bond between he and I from the beginning.
In the years that followed, our paths often crossed at pro-life conferences. These conferences had the same effect on him as they were having on me: we came to respect the principled pro-lifers who were giving a voice to the voiceless with no thought of personal gain and, in many cases, at great personal sacrifice. By 1990, Father Marx was warning those of us who worked with him not to attempt to catechize the man he had come to call “Bernie.” He’s not ready yet to talk openly about matters of faith, Father said. We found out later that Father himself was already giving his friend Bernie instruction in the faith, and gradually bringing him to an understanding of the beauty of the truths that it taught. It was a long process, since as a one-time secular Jew Dr. Nathanson was not at first inclined to view the Catholic Church as a natural home for someone of his background.
Then came Father’s 1994 World Conference in Irvine, California. We knew by then that Dr. Nathanson was moving away from the atheism of his earlier years. After all, the talk that he was scheduled to give was entitled “Reflections of an Ex-Abortionist and Ex-Atheist.” But we had no idea that during the course of that talk he was going to drop a bombshell. He was going to swim the Tiber, and make his way to Rome sweet home. When he announced that he had decided to become a Catholic, the audience, which must have numbered 1,000 people, erupted in cheers. Father Marx knew all along, of course.
Dr. Nathanson received his formal instruction in the faith in the New York Archdiocese where he lived and had his medical practice. He was baptized, confirmed, and received first Holy Communion in December 1996, at a Mass celebrated by the late Cardinal John J. O'Connor in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I was on a pro-life missionary trip abroad, but Fr. Marx, his dear friend and spiritual advisor, traveled up to New York to be on the altar with the Cardinal that great day.
In later years the good doctor went on to get an advanced degree in bioethics, so as to be better equipped, he told me, to argue against those who were cheapening human life in other ways. He continued to speak out against abortion, of course, but now spoke out against euthanasia, stem cell research, and in-vitro fertilization as well. The course of his studies took him to the very cutting edge of science, where experiments that rival those in the novel Brave New World—or of the Third Reich—were taking place.
I remember one chilling conversation that I had with him—the year must have been 2002—in which he told me that researchers using private funds had succeeded in growing 14-week-old fetuses in test tubes. “What happens then” I asked. “They all die,” he responded, “but it may only be a matter of time until the researchers refine their techniques and are able to bring babies to term.”
The last time I saw him must have been in Auckland, New Zealand, at a conference held by Family Life International. He was by that time quite elderly, and had a cast on his foot from a medical mishap, but had nevertheless suffered through the 14-hour-flight Down Under to attend. He was determined to continue his fight against the evil of abortion.
Dr. Nathanson was painfully aware of how many lives he had extinguished—how could he not have been, since it was a constant feature of his talks—yet he continued to publicly confess his great sins in this way until the end of his life. It was, for him, a kind of atonement. And it went on for 25 long years.
Those of us who trust in God’s mercy understand that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. And Dr. Nathanson’s future is, I am sure, with his Father in Heaven, where he will rejoice in the company of those little ones on whose behalf he worked—once he realized the truth—so long and arduously.
Monday, 7 March 2011
By MIKE U. CRISMUNDO
BUTUAN CITY – “Expect economic growth in Northern, Southern and Northeastern Mindanao regions when a multi-billion-peso road construction project will be completed,” a top official of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) said Monday.
DPWH Undersecretary Romeo S. Momo said the project, when completed, will create economic activities in Mindanao.
“This flagship project of the national government is under 24/7 ground works and we are hitting the target timeline of completion by early next year,” the DPWH Undersecretary who hails from Caraga region said.
He said the project will cut across Regions X, XI and XIII. It is considered an important section of the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway traversing Butuan City to Davao City and that of the Sayre Highway along Valencia City in Bukidnon going to Cagayan de Oro City.
The DPWH looks at it as a key alternate road when major incidents would cause road bottlenecks along Sayre and Phil-Japan Friendship highways.
Travelers will be able to save two and a half hours in going to Cagayan de Oro City from Davao City and vice versa, should they take the Talaingod-Bukidnon Road, much lesser than the time they spend traveling through Davao-Calinan-Bukidnon Road, Momo said.
“When completed, a lot of business opportunities will come about due to this highway,” he said.
The Kapalong-Talaingod-Bukidnon road project spans a total length of 57.79 kilometers. The project also includes the construction of six bridges.
Some finishing touches of bridges crossing the Pulangi River in Bukidnon are still under ground works and catching up their timeline of completion. One is a bailey bridge for small vehicles; the other one is a secondary bridge with a six-kilometer road component. A third bridge, said to be the one to connect to Talaingod, stretching 180 linear meters long, with seven-kilometer road component, is set to hit its timeline of completion come June, this year.
Officials in Bukidnon and Davao del Norte and neighboring areas are hoping that these bridges will be completed soon because as soon as that would be up and completed, the Davao del Norte-Bukidnon road will spell economic activities in both provinces as the distance of traveling to northern Mindanao from southern Mindanao will be cut by about 40 percent.
Sunday, 6 March 2011
(A Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines)
Our Filipino Brothers and Sisters:
The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights (Art. II, Section 11). The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception (Art. II, Section 12).
We begin by citing the Philippine Constitution. We do so because we intend to write you on the basis of the fundamental ideals and aspirations of the Filipino people and not on the basis of specifically Catholic religious teachings.
We are at a crossroads as a nation. Before us are several versions of a proposed bill, the Reproductive Health bill or sanitized as a Responsible Parenthood bill. This proposed bill in all its versions calls us to make a moral choice: to choose life or to choose death.
At the outset we thank the government for affording us an opportunity to express our views in friendly dialogue. Sadly our dialogue has simply revealed how far apart our respective positions are. Therefore, instead of building false hopes, we wish at the present time to draw up clearly what we object to and what we stand for.
Moral Choices at the Crossroads -- at EDSA I and Now
Twenty five years ago in 1986 we Catholic Bishops made a prophetic moral judgment on political leadership. With this prophetic declaration we believe that we somehow significantly helped open the door for EDSA I and a window of political integrity.
Today we come to a new national crossroads and we now have to make a similar moral choice. Our President rallied the country with the election cry, “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap.” As religious leaders we believe that there is a greater form of corruption, namely, moral corruption which is really the root of all corruption. On the present issue, it would be morally corrupt to disregard the moral implications of the RH bill.
This is our unanimous collective moral judgment: We strongly reject the RH bill.
Commonly Shared Human and Cultural Values – Two Fundamental Principles
Far from being simply a Catholic issue, the RH bill is a major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial.
Simply stated the RH Bill does not respect moral sense that is central to Filipino cultures. It is the product of the spirit of this world, a secularist, materialistic spirit that considers morality as a set of teachings from which one can choose, according to the spirit of the age. Some it accepts, others it does not accept. Unfortunately, we see the subtle spread of this post-modern spirit in our own Filipino society.
Our position stands firmly on two of the core principles commonly shared by all who believe in God:
(1) Human life is the most sacred physical gift with which God, the author of life, endows a human being. Placing artificial obstacles to prevent human life from being formed and being born most certainly contradicts this fundamental truth of human life. In the light of the widespread influence of the post-modern spirit in our world, we consider this position as nothing less than prophetic. As religious leaders we must proclaim this truth fearlessly in season and out of season.
(2) It is parents, cooperating with God, who bring children into the world. It is also they who have the primary inalienable right and responsibility to nurture them, care for them, and educate them that they might grow as mature persons according to the will of the Creator.
What We Specifically Object to in the RH Bill
Advocates contend that the RH bill promotes reproductive health. The RH Bill certainly does not. It does not protect the health of the sacred human life that is being formed or born. The very name “contraceptive” already reveals the anti-life nature of the means that the RH bill promotes. These artificial means are fatal to human life, either preventing it from fruition or actually destroying it. Moreover, scientists have known for a long time that contraceptives may cause cancer. Contraceptives are hazardous to a woman’s health.
Advocates also say that the RH bill will reduce abortion rates. But many scientific analysts themselves wonder why prevalent contraceptive use sometimes raises the abortion rate. In truth, contraceptives provide a false sense of security that takes away the inhibition to sexual activity. Scientists have noted numerous cases of contraceptive failure. Abortion is resorted to, an act that all religious traditions would judge as sinful. “Safe sex” to diminish abortion rate is false propaganda.
Advocates moreover say that the RH bill will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. This goes against the grain of many available scientific data. In some countries where condom use is prevalent, HIV/ AIDS continues to spread. Condoms provide a false security that strongly entices individuals towards increased sexual activity, increasing likewise the incidence of HIV/AIDS. “Safe sex” to prevent HIV /AIDS is false propaganda.
Advocates also assert that the RH Bill empowers women with ownership of their own bodies. This is in line with the post-modern spirit declaring that women have power over their own bodies without the dictation of any religion. How misguided this so-called “new truth” is! For, indeed, as created by God our bodies are given to us to keep and nourish. We are stewards of our own bodies and we must follow God’s will on this matter according to an informed and right conscience. Such a conscience must certainly be enlightened and guided by religious and moral teachings provided by various religious and cultural traditions regarding the fundamental dignity and worth of human life.
Advocates also say that the RH bill is necessary to stop overpopulation and to escape from poverty. Our own government statistical office has concluded that there is no overpopulation in the Philippines but only the over-concentration of population in a number of urban centers. Despite other findings to the contrary, we must also consider the findings of a significant group of renowned economic scholars, including economic Nobel laureates, who have found no direct correlation between population and poverty. In fact, many Filipino scholars have concluded that population is not the cause of our poverty. The causes of our poverty are: flawed philosophies of development, misguided economic policies, greed, corruption, social inequities, lack of access to education, poor economic and social services, poor infrastructures, etc. World organizations estimate that in our country more than P400 billion pesos are lost yearly to corruption. The conclusion is unavoidable: for our country to escape from poverty, we have to address the real causes of poverty and not population.
In the light of the above, we express our clear objections:
1. We object to the non-consideration of moral principles, the bedrock of law, in legislative discussions of bills that are intended for the good of individuals and for the common good.
2. We are against the anti-life, anti-natal and contraceptive mentality that is reflected in media and in some proposed legislative bills.
3. We object strongly to efforts at railroading the passage of the RH bill.
4. We denounce the over-all trajectory of the RH bill towards population control.
5. We denounce the use of public funds for contraceptives and sterilization.
6. We condemn compulsory sex education that would effectively let parents abdicate their primary role of educating their own children, especially in an area of life – sexuality – which is a sacred gift of God.
What We Stand For
On this matter of proposed RH bills, these are our firm convictions:
1. We are deeply concerned about the plight of the many poor, especially of suffering women, who are struggling for a better life and who must seek it outside of our country, or have recourse to a livelihood less than decent.
2. We are pro-life. We must defend human life from the moment of conception or fertilization up to its natural end.
3. We believe in the responsible and natural regulation of births through Natural Family Planning for which character building is necessary which involves sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of the spouse.
4. We believe that we are only stewards of our own bodies. Responsibility over our own bodies must follow the will of God who speaks to us through conscience.
5. We hold that on the choices related to the RH bill, conscience must not only be informed but most of all rightly guided through the teachings of one’s faith.
6. We believe in the freedom of religion and the right of conscientious objection in matters that are contrary to one’s faith. The sanctions and penalties embodied in the proposed RH bill are one more reason for us to denounce it.
As religious leaders we have deeply and prayerfully reflected on this burning issue. We have unanimously made the moral judgment – to reject the RH agenda and to choose life.
1. We call for a fundamental transformation of our attitudes and behavior towards all human life especially the most defenseless, namely, human life being formed or being conceived. The cheapness with which many seem to consider human life is a great bane to our religious-oriented nation.
2. We call upon our legislators to consider the RH bill in the light of the God-given dignity and worth of human life and, therefore, to shelve it completely as contrary to our ideals and aspirations as a people. We thank our legislators who have filed bills to defend human life from the moment of conception and call upon all other legislators to join their ranks.
3. We thank the great multitude of lay people all over the country, and particularly the dedicated groups who made their presence felt in the halls of Congress, to defend and promote our position. We call upon other lay people and adherents of other religions to join the advocacy to defend and promote our commonly shared ideals and aspirations.
4. We call on our government to address effectively the real causes of poverty such as corruption, lack of social and economic services, lack of access to education and the benefits of development, social inequities.
5. We call for the establishment of more hospitals and clinics in the rural areas, the deployment of more health personnel to provide more access to health services, the building of more schools, the provision of more aid to the poor for education, and the building of more and better infrastructures necessary for development.
6. We echo the challenge we prophetically uttered 25 years ago at EDSA I and call upon all people of good will who share our conviction: “…let us pray together, reason together, decide together, act together, always to the end that the truth prevail” over the many threats to human life and to our shared human and cultural values.
We commend our efforts against the RH bill (or the Responsible Parenthood bill – its new name) to the blessing of our almighty and loving God, from whom all life comes and for whom it is destined.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
January 30, 2011