Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pinay DH wins HK residency case


Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/336185/pinay-dh-wins-hk-residency-case

HONG KONG (AFP) – A Hong Kong court on Friday ruled a law banning foreign maids from settling permanently in the city was unconstitutional, in a landmark case for domestic helpers (DHs).

The legal action, brought by Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a Filipino domestic helper who has lived in Hong Kong since 1986, has cast a spotlight on the financial hub’s treatment of its army of 292,000 maids.

The High Court ruled that immigration laws barring domestic workers – mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia – from applying for permanent residency violated Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law.

“My conclusion is that on the common law interpretation approach the impugned provision is inconsistent with (Hong Kong’s Basic Law),” Judge Johnson Lam wrote in a ruling issued Friday.

“The mere maintenance of (a) link with her country of origin does not mean that (a maid) is not ordinarily resident in Hong Kong.”

Vallejos’s lawyer Mark Daly hailed the decision as “a good win for the rule of law.”

“We spoke to Vallejos – she said she thanks God and all the people who have helped her, including her employer and her lawyers,” he said. “She is busy working so she has no time to be here today.”

Activists said the legal challenge would entrench domestic workers’ right to equality, but opponents fear it will open the floodgates to new immigrants in an already overcrowded city.

A pro-government political party has warned there would be an influx of as many as 500,000 people – including children and spouses of foreign maids – that would cost HK$25 billion ($3.2 billion) in social welfare spending.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong forecast unemployment could jump from the current 3.5 percent to 10 percent.

The government has declined to say how many maids would currently be eligible to apply for permanent residency.

Under Hong Kong law, foreigners can apply to settle in the city after seven years of uninterrupted residency, but maids were specifically excluded.

Vallejos challenged the restriction, saying it was unconstitutional and discriminatory, but the government argued in court it was “appropriate” and that it is empowered to define who is eligible for residency.

Another court hearing will be held on Oct. 26 on whether Vallejos can now be declared a permanent resident, but government lawyers have already said they would appeal any ruling in favor of the maids.

The case could also have implications beyond Hong Kong for other Asian economies that rely on cheap imported labor for cooking, cleaning, and care of the young and elderly.

Foreign maids in Hong Kong are entitled to better working conditions than in other parts of Asia – they are guaranteed one day off a week, paid sick leave, and a minimum wage of HK3,740 ($480) a month.

But rights groups say they still face general discrimination and a lack of legal protection. A maid’s visa is tied to a specific employer, leaving her vulnerable to domestic abuse, the activists say.

Without the right to permanent residency, if dismissed by her employer, she must find another job in domestic service or leave Hong Kong within two weeks.

Vice President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns Jejomar C. Binay said the Hong Kong court decision was “a step forward in recognizing the rights of migrants.”

Friday, 30 September 2011

Govt to ditch PPP, resort to ODA


Darwin G Amojelar
Manila Times
http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top-business-news/8322-govt-to-ditch-ppp-resort-to-oda

THE Aquino administration may ditch its stalled public-private partnership (PPP) scheme and instead go it alone in pursuing key infrastructure projects, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

On the sidelines of a forum on Thursday, DOTC Secretary Manuel Roxas said the government is tweaking the PPP policy in funding the agency’s “unviable” infrastructure projects to avoid having to issue state guarantees and subsidies to the private sector.

“We are reconfiguring the financing of many projects so that we can avail of the long-term low-interest capital that is available to the government. As originally conceived, several of these projects could have been concession agreements with the private sector. We have reconfigured the projects so that the large basic hard infrastructure will be undertaken by the government availing of low-interest 30-year money that is in official development assistance,” Roxas told reporters.

He said the government would still bid out the actual construction of the infrastructure, after which the operation and maintenance of these projects would be transferred to the private sector. “In short, the area where the private sector is good, which is in operations, maintenance, disciplines, timetables and so and so forth, we will avail of that by having them operate it through the concession agreements,” the DOTC chief said.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd last year launched the PPP scheme, a revival of a program first implemented by his late mother, then President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino. The PPP involves pursuing big infrastructure projects by tapping private-sector funds because of the government’s fiscal straits.

Many of the projects lined up for PPP fall under the DOTC.

“We expect more reasonable user fees” if the government funds the construction using ODA, Roxas said, as this would no longer involve the private sector recovering its capital expenditure.

“We also expect not to be able to have to guarantee as previous governments did. In MRT 3, they had to guarantee ridership and returns regardless of what would actually happen,” he said, referring to the Metro Rail Transit Line 3, which the government had to take over to trim its financial hemorrhage.

“So in this way, the government knows exactly what it will pay and what it is going to get for the
resource and the private sector then bears the market risks for undertaking the O&M,” he said.

Roxas said ODA is a good complement to the PPP program in fast-tracking projects lined up by the government.

“The ODA loans would benefit the consumers as well since there is no rush in recovering costs. It is a cheaper yet effective option because of the sovereignty of the partnership since governments of foreign donors are involved,” the DOTC chief said.

With ODA, the government would pay low interest rates spread over 30 years. In contrast, the private sector is subject to commercial rates of 7 percent to 8 percent for the same period. The existing Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2 were funded by ODA.

Roxas said the Japan International Cooperation Agency is keen on participating in the government’s PPP scheme using such a hybrid model. With the hybrid model, foreign donors can come in and fund heavy infrastructure projects such as airport and railroad developments, he said, adding that counterpart funding will be provided by a private sector consortium once operations commence.

Among the infrastructure projects that will be funded using ODA are the 11.7-kilometer railway project that will expand the length of LRT 1 from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite, as well as the development of new airports in Misamis Oriental, Bohol and Puerto Princesa.

Besides JICA, the Korea International Cooperation Agency and the government of China are interested in the LRT Line 1 Extension, Roxas said.

Both JICA and Koica are also interested in the extension of LRT 2.

The terms of reference for the privatization of the O&M of LRT 1 will be issued next month, whereas the O&M of MRT 3 would remain in government hands, he said.

In a telephone interview, Cosette Canilao, deputy executive director of the PPP Center said the DOTC’s hybrid model is still aligned with the government’s PPP initiative.

Canilao said the ODA funding is meant to make mega-infrastructure projects financially viable.

Marubeni and Aboitiz to invest $600M in power project


Pagbilao expansion sealed
by Alena Mae S. Flores
Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideBusiness.htm?f=2011/september/29/business1.isx&d=2011/september/29

Aboitiz Power Corp. and Marubeni Corp. of Japan will jointly invest $600 million to $700 million to build a 400-megawatt power plant beside the existing 700-MW Pagbilao coal-fired station in Quezon province.

Aboitiz Power and Marubeni signed the agreement in Tokyo Tuesday after President Benigno Aquino III visited Japan.

Marubeni is part owner of TeaM Energy, which owns and operates the Pagbilao plant under a build-and-operate contract with National Power Corp.

TeaM Energy is composed of Marubeni and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Team Energy also owns and operates the 1,200-MW Sual coal plant in Pangasinan.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras confirmed the signing of the deal, adding that Marubeni was also looking at expanding the Sual coal-fired power plant.

“Discussions are going on... They are discussing the possibility of increasing the expansion, they might increase it up to 600 MW [for both Pagbilao and Sual],” he said.

Almendras said Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., which acts as administrator of the Sual plant, was also in Japan during the President’s visit.

Therma Luzon Inc., a unit of Aboitiz Power, handles the fuel procurement and sale of the electricity output as administrator of the Pagbilao power plant.

The new power plant in Pagbilao will also run on clean coal generation technology using the circulating fluidized bed system to produce power with considerably less adverse effects to the environment.

Signatories of the memorandum of agreement were Aboitiz Power president and chief executive Erramon Aboitiz, and Marubeni executive managing director and board member Shigeru Yamazoe.

“We are very pleased to work with Marubeni at optimizing the capacity of the Pagbilao power station. This is part of our overall goal of providing power solutions that are competitively priced,” Aboitiz said. “We expect to complete the power plant within 2015.”

4 Pinoy students win math, science medals in int'l tilts


By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD
Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines — The medal haul of the Philippines in the most prestigious mathematics and science competitions in the world continued as four high school students bagged gold, silver and bronze medals in the recently-concluded 5th International Earth Science Olympiad, the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DoST-SEI) disclosed Thursday.

Bringing honor and pride for the Philippines from Modena, Italy where the competition was held were gold medalist Williard Joshua Jose of Philippine Science High School (PSHS) Main Campus, silver medalists Christoper Jan Landicho of PSHS Bicol Region Campus and Charles Kevin Tiu of St Jude Catholic School in Manila and bronze medalist John Allan Olesco of Aquinas University Science High School. Jose earlier won a silver medal in last year’s IESO held in Nigeria.

The winning team was mentored by Prof. Miguel Cano of Bicol University and Dr. Marietta de Leon with PSHS Main Campus Director Dr. Helen Caintic acting as an observer.

IESO, held September 5-14, 2011, is the premiere international earth science competition for secondary school students, 17 years old and below. It was the first time that the competition was held in Europe and in Italy. The Philippines hosted the IESO in Bicol in 2008.

The competition covers areas such as astronomy, geology and geophysics, atmospherics and meteorology.

DoST-SEI Director Dr. Filma G. Brawner extended her congratulations to the team, urging them to venture into science careers.

“The IESO is a good starting point for students to look at the earth from a different point of view and explore it. There is still so much more to be discovered and we are hopeful that the IESO winners will take the lead in looking for new information about the world we live in,” Brawner said.

Brawner said contests, such as the IESO, is a good venue for students to be competitive and to excel in the fields they want to pursue.

“Competitions make pupils go beyond what they learn inside their classrooms. With time pressure incorporated in competitions, students are trained to work with grace under pressure. But, more importantly, exposure to international competitions should translate into entry into science careers,” she said.

Brawner said that beyond the medals, math and science competitions also raise public awareness on how science affects lives and moves the country forward.

“The IESO is intended to raise student interest in and public awareness of earth science, to enhance earth science learning of students, and to identify talented and gifted students in earth science,” she said.

Cano, meanwhile, expressed its gratitude to Philex Mining Corporation, Rapu Rapu Polymetallic Project, Geological Society of the Philippines, Hope Christian High School, Bureau of Mines and Geo-sciences, Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Vibal Publishing House; and APO Central Italy for making possible the trip of the team to the contest venue.

Yuan, rupiah, peso most resilient


The advantage of big populations
By LILIAN KARUNUNGAN (Bloomberg)
Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/336127/yuan-rupiah-peso-most-resilient

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese yuan, Indonesian rupiah and Philippine peso are likely to prove the most resilient of Asia’s emerging-market currencies as large domestic economies help China, Indonesia, and the Philippines withstand a global slowdown, Western Asset Management Co. said.

“They are more domestic-demand driven,” the fund manager, part of Baltimore-based Legg Mason Inc., said in a press release that didn’t identify the authors. Policy makers in China and Indonesia favor appreciation to help contain inflation, while the Philippine peso will be supported by remittances from overseas workers, the statement said.

The Philippine peso strengthened 0.7 percent to 43.54 per dollar today in Manila, according to Tullett Prebon Plc.

Remittances sent home by Philippine citizens living abroad amounted to $1.7 billion in July, boosting this year’s tally to $11.35 billion, the central bank said on Sept. 15. The funds account for about 10 percent of the Philippines’ $200 billion economy and help fuel consumer spending.

The yuan has strengthened 1.1 percent against the dollar this quarter, making it the sole gainer among Asia’s 10 most-used currencies excluding the yen. The rupiah fell 4.2 percent and the peso slid 0.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. South Korea’s won is the region’s worst performer, having tumbled 9.2 percent.

Indonesia is the world’s most-populous Muslim nation and has Southeast Asia’s biggest economy. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said last month that economic growth may reach 6.5 percent this year, the fastest since the 1998 Asian financial crisis, even with recent shocks to the global economy. Domestic demand accounts for about 56 percent of gross domestic product.

The rupiah gained 0.4 percent to 8,870 per dollar today in Jakarta, following a 1.7 percent advance yesterday, according to prices from local banks compiled by Bloomberg. It fell 3.1 percent on Sept. 26 and retreated in each of the last three weeks. Bank Indonesia said as recently as last week it’s been selling dollars this month to support the rupiah.

The nation’s inflation rate rose to 4.79 percent in August from 4.61 percent the previous month, official figures show. Data next week are expected to show consumer-price gains accelerated to 4.9 percent this month, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Is Manila Asia’s new concert capital?



by Nickie Wang
Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideEntertainment.htm?f=2011/september/28/entertainment1.isx&d=2011/september/28

Leading music channels MTV Asia and Channel [V] are based in Singapore and Hong Kong, respectively, hence it is easy for them to claim that they are the Asia’s music capitals. But why is that foreign artists are flocking to the concert venues of Manila to stage their performances instead?

According to a prominent publicist, around 200 concerts and performances are being staged in the country every year. That’s enough to make Manila’s music scene alive almost every day. So, will it be safe enough to say that Manila or the Philippines in general has become the music and concert capital of the region?

Last week the Idols Season 10 Top 11 staged a two-night concert at the Big Dome. It made a lot of buzz since the concert was the only live appearance of the Idols in Asia and of course that reinforces Manila’s claim to be the preferred destination of foreign acts when staging shows and concerts.

Not a single month was a lean season for concert promoters as the first half of the year saw sold out concerts of big music acts like Taylor Swift, Justine Bieber, Kylie Minogue, Maroon 5, Super Junior, and Bruno Mars to name a few. Activity areas in the malls and concert venues (big and small) were all full of action with visiting artists that either promoted a CD or staged a live show.

To top that, the beginning of 2011’s second half was even more explosive with returning acts like Incubus, David Archuleta, and Korn. And that’s not the end of superlative treats to concertgoers in Manila because they need to brace themselves up with another lineup of forthcoming concerts by Westlife, Black Eyed Peas, and Foster and Friends.

Staging a concert that features foreign acts is a lucrative business. The country has enough people from the middle class and nouveau riche sector who can buy pricey tickets that are up for sale. One performance can rake in somewhere between 10 and 20 million pesos. That is if the show is staged in a venue like the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and that amount can double if the show is staged at the Concert Grounds of the SM Mall of Asia where 100,000 fans can squeeze in to see a live performance.

Last year, Justine Timberlake was warmly welcomed by 80,000 screaming fans while David Cook and David Archuleta were watched by around 100,000 people. With that size of attendees, who wouldn’t be enticed to visit the country? No wonder even the oldies musicians from the past decades revive their glorious musical panache on the concert stage because Filipinos still watch them. Generally, Filipinos are nostalgic audience, meaning they prefer familiar songs rather than paying attention to new unfamiliar sounds. That is why retrospective concerts are very much in demand in Manila, just so you know.

While the bands and musicians from the ‘70s, the ‘80s, and the ‘90s are reviving their music career in the Philippines, virtually unknown independent music acts also find a home in the country. There are foreign bands that have not experienced performing before a huge audience right in their hometown, but in Manila, they are big music stars.

The influx of foreign acts, however, is not healthy for local musicians. Unfortunately, with the dominance of foreign music in the country local singers and musicians directly suffer, from the sales of their CDs to the number of people that attend their concerts. Thus, we are not surprised that most local acts play in the sidelights performing in smaller concert venues (as they can hardly fill big venues anyway).

For the country to claim such title, like what have been mentioned, The Concert or Music Capital of Asia, we should also consider the condition of local music industry. Unlike Japan and South Korea, or Singapore and Hong Kong for that matter, the Philippines, sad to say, does not have a thriving local music scene. The country does not have enough supply of commercially attractive performers that can lure music consumers to watch or listen to their music. In the aforementioned territories, foreign musicians have a stiff competition with local artists. Hence, naturally, they would opt to finding a place where they will experience massive reception.

Manila has become a favorite concert destination, and we would want to sustain that reputation as it also gives locals the privilege to see foreign acts performing live. But then again that does not maintain the balance. It is bizarre that we can’t generate the same interest on local artists, it’s the only missing link.

Belgian firm files P4-B suit vs PH



By MARVYN N. BENANING
Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/335929/belgian-firm-files-p4b-suit-vs-ph

MANILA, Philippines — A Belgian firm is seeking P4 billion in damages from the Philippine government after suing it for scrapping the P18.7-billion Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project (LLRP).

The P4-billion damage suit filed by Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC) threw a monkey wrench at the P400-billion Laguna Lake Master Plan (LLMP) that Malacañang wants to implement over 20 years.

BDC executives said the company waited since April, 2011 for the Palace to respond to the offer for renegotiations by the Belgian government but said “Malacañang did not respond formally and neither did it explain why it was scrapping the project.”

The complaint against the government was firmed up as early as May, 2011 but BDC waited for what had been dubbed as the “final study” on the project by Malacañang but nothing came out of it.

BDC officials reached for comment confirmed the filing of the suit before the International Center for the Settlement of Investments Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, D. C., the very same forum that decided against the Philippines in three of five suits lodged before it.

With the suit, it would be hard for the Aquino government to pursue the LLMP, which has 54 sub-projects that include the construction of 100-kilometer road dike from Taytay, Rizal to the last town of Laguna, eco-tourism ventures, the clearing of navigational channels, impounding dams for rivers and creeks that drain into the 94,900-hectare lake, reclamation of 5,000 hectares of foreshore areas for industrial and commercial centers, and even an international airport.

Much of the funding for the LLMP, as envisioned by the Palace, would come from the Public Private Partnership (PPP) program that has not attracted investments from the 27-member European Union (EU), whose envoys had urged an amicable settlement of the dispute.

Originally, BDC wanted to demand damages of P6 billion from the government but this was scaled down to P4 billion, aside from the P500 million due from the Pasig River Rehabilitation Project (PRRP) that BDC completed two months ahead of schedule.

Eleven days ago, a top BDC official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the company was open to reconfiguring the LLRP but said the government must communicate officially with the company.

As in the past, what BDC knew about the government position came by way of press briefings by Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and presidential spokesmen.

There was nothing in black and white, the Belgian executive said, and the company cannot act on the basis of press statements and not official communication.

Strong confidence will save PHL


JOHN MANGUN
OUTSIDE THE BOX  
Business Mirror
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/17173-strong-confidence-will-save-phl

THE world is entering the next phase of the global financial challenge. It sounds like a new reality show and it is. There is a new reality coming and we are already in the first episode of the third season.

The first season of the “Global debt death race” meltdown began in 2008 where economies and conditions deteriorated rapidly. That was followed by Season Two that saw some stabilization and the illusion of financial recovery that ended in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Since the beginning of 2011, the situation has gotten worse up to the present point of the strong likelihood of a sovereign default in one form or another by Greece and a systemic change in the way the European Union functions.

The first quarter or two of 2012 will either see a false hope of things becoming better or a sad realization that things are going to be very hard for a fairly long time to come.

The bottom line is that even after several years of worsening economic conditions, an increasingly more fragile global banking system, and a devastating debt picture for too many nations, nothing substantial has been done to solve the problems.

The economic/financial system in the West is like a patient with blood poisoning and gangrene. At some point, the illness becomes so severe that the doctor says amputate the leg or you die.

In this case, amputation means allowing some major banks and financial institutions to fail, causing wealth loss by shareholders as well as lenders. It means countries like Greece must stop living on borrowed money and spend a generation rebuilding the wealth of the nation that was abused. It means for lenders to countries like Greece not being paid back in full if at all.

The policy of continuing to create false wealth from money backed only by promises will not work. That is what got the West into the problems and you cannot solve a problem by doing the same things that created the problem in the first place.

There is general belief that all nations will be burned by this fire enflaming the West. I do not buy into that. While the economies of the world are more “globalized” and connected, there are more centers of economic power than perhaps in the history of the world. Further, the economies of smaller nations are more diversified and less dependent on the majors than before.

For example, the Asian financial crises created an environment that forced banks such as in the Philippines to grow much stronger while the Western banks grew much weaker. A nation’s economy cannot be any stronger than its financial system.

However, the fear of contagion is growing and the fear itself may cause economic problems.

Business confidence in the Philippines is beginning to fall. Business confidence deteriorated to 31.8 in the second quarter of 2011 from 47.5 in the first quarter of 2011. Justified? Perhaps. Imports are growing at a much slower pace. As much of these are raw materials to be turned into exports down the road, we will see slower growth of exports in the months to come. There are a variety of other data that may signal a slower growth of economic activity.

Yet HSBC President Tony Cripps presented a forecast for the Philippines over the next two years that was optimistic despite bearish views for most of Asean and that Western conditions are going to get worse.

Perhaps the greatest danger to this country lies within each of us. A lack of confidence in the country’s ability to weather the storm may create the very problems that we are worrying about.

President Aquino has a leadership problem in the sense that many are not confident in his abilities. The next three months will prove that correct or false. The administration’s drive against corruption has been mostly all fanfare until now. The appointment of Rep. Ruffy Biazon to the customs bureau is the first tangible and concrete step to change the system. There are probably a few other Cabinet members who will be replaced by people of Biazon’s character and integrity.

The greatest problem in the West is that the people do not have faith in their governments to be problem solvers and not problem makers. More important, the people are losing faith in themselves. We must not do that.

On a personal note, I invite you to visit mangunonmarkets.com. Did your stock-market investments lose value last week? Are you prepared for profit openings that will come along? Now is the time to protect capital and get ready for moneymaking opportunities.




E-mail to mangun@gmail.com and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Are PSE investors shallow?


JOHN MANGUN
OUTSIDE THE BOX
Business Mirror
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/17072-are-pse-investors-shallow

PRICES on the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) took another massive hit yesterday with the blue chip index down 164 points, or 4.24 percent. The All-Share Index fell 2.94 percent. Interestingly, we started this week as the worst-performing stock market (except for Thailand) in Asia yesterday.

The same thing happened on Wednesday when we were down much more than the rest. I wondered aloud on Twitter if we were overdoing the selling or if Philippine investors were more accurate in predicting a gloomy future than the rest of the markets. As it turned out, the PSE was right, as the rest of Asia caught up with the drop on Thursday and Friday.

This is a new week and our stock prices are still going down in a big way.

Are PSE investors unsophisticated about how bad things really are and should prices be going so far down?

Or are PSE investors ahead of the curve, not shallow at all?

The move that took the PSE index from below 2,000 to over 4,000 began in the fourth quarter of 2008. That was about the same as for the other regional exchanges. It took a few months longer from the stock markets in the West to bottom up. But through the bull market, both Asia and the West have pretty much tracked each other’s performance.

However, in terms of economies, there is now a divergence that should be seen in the performance of stock-market prices. Asia’s economies, particularly the smaller ones, are growing; the Western ones are not.

Of course, we are led to believe that all the world’s economies, big and small, developed and underdeveloped, Western and Eastern, are on the same potentially sinking ship. That may be true in a general sense, but is it true for the Philippines?

When looking at how stock prices could move, we need to examine the broad national economic picture, look at the projected financial performance of the companies, and then figure what the stock prices should be.

I believe it is at this point, that the Philippines will move off the road that the others are passing on.

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) released its latest monthly economic research on September 15. Normally I am hesitant to accept this type of analysis because there is often a disconnect with the total range of economic activity. Official numbers often do not show the full extent of what is going on in the economy.

However, BPI accurately forecasts lower-than-expected growth through the rest of 2011. But it also says the Philippines is in “a better position to withstand another global economic downturn and financial shock waves.” Allow me to quote a portion of BPI’s report:

“We could hardly conceive the Philippines falling into recession should the world’s economy contract once more, given our relatively minimal exposure to global trade, while most overseas Filipinos are deployed in critical, recession-proof industries and still provide a historically reliable stream of foreign inflows. What was true in 2009 is still true to this day.”

That last sentence is the key to the deal. If 2011 is a repeat of 2009 (and it looks like it will be), we came through that period well and we should do even better this time in relation to most of the world. The macro looks good.

Now if the macro is acceptable, then corporate revenues and profits will be even better than in 2009 as local companies are now leaner (less debt) and meaner (more adaptable to changing conditions) than before.

Now to stock prices. At this time, stock prices are historically low in comparison to corporate financial valuations and in comparison to other countries. That should be favorable for future price movements.

However, I see the potential for prices to fall even further. Not guaranteed but possible. But at some point in the near future, prices will begin to move significantly higher than they are today.

PSE investors, local Filipino investors, are very sophisticated because they are accustomed to moving quickly and they do recognize investment value when they see it.

The one missing piece that I did not mention above is government policy. This is one-note tune administration; corruption. That is not bad but it is not complete. Deteriorating global conditions may force policy-makers to address the government’s direct role in the economy. Once that happens, you will see greater economic action and that will translate into higher stock prices.

On a personal note, I invite you to visit mangunonmarkets.com. Now is the time to protect capital and prepare for opportunities. You can gain access to the PSE Strategy Guide for stock-market investors, as well as other content.


E-mail to mangun@gmail.com and Twitter @mangunonmarkets.PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc.