Thursday, 6 August 2009

LandBank posts record profit for first haLandBank posts record profit for first half of 2009lf of 2009

Erik de la Cruz
Business Mirror

STATE-owned Land Bank of the Philippines posted a record net income of P3.58 billion for the first half of 2009, as interest income on loans and investments increased.

The bank on Wednesday said the bottom-line figure was up 40 percent over the P2.56-billion profit for the same period last year.

In a statement, LandBank said its regular loans increased by 38 percent to P160 billion from P116.5 billion last year, while annualized return on equity, a measure of profitability, improved to 18.3 percent as of end-June from 15.4 percent a year ago.

Deposits held by the bank increased by 27 percent to P362.2 billion.

LandBank, which ranked fourth- biggest by assets among local banks as of end-March, had total assets of P470.2 billion as of end-June, representing a 27-percent expansion over last year.

After raising P6.9 billion in fresh capital in June through the issuance of Tier 2 notes, the bank’s capital adequacy ratio improved to 17.7 percent, way above the minimum regulatory requirement of 10 percent.

“The continued strengthening of our financial position will further benefit our priority sectors as this will allow LandBank to continue pouring in more credit assistance to the small farmers and fisherfolk, microenterprises, small and medium enterprises, and local government units across the country,” its president Gilda Pico said.

LandBank was previously looking to grow its loan portfolio this year by 7 percent to 10 percent from a base of P184.7 billion as of end-2008.

In May Pico said the bank was likely to beat its full-year 2008 net income target of P5.5 billion.

PNB’s first-half net income at record P1.53 billion

Erik de la Cruz
Business Mirror

PHILIPPINE National Bank (PNB) said on Wednesday it had a net income of P1.53 billion in the first half of 2009, surpassing its 2008 profits, reflecting strong gains in both lending and trading businesses.

PNB, one of the two local banks controlled by tycoon Lucio Tan, in a statement said the bottom-line figure was up 88 percent over what it earned in the same period last year and 37 percent higher than the full-year 2008 net income of P1.12 billion.

The bank, which had been burdened in the past by a huge volume of bad loans, also said it had brought down its nonperforming-loans ratio to a single-digit level this year.

The ratio dropped to 8.2 percent as of end-June from 12.2 percent a year ago. Despite an improvement in key financial ratios, the bank said it continued to make additional provisions for impairment losses to conservatively position itself for possible deterioration in the quality of credit for some accounts which may be affected by market conditions.

Net interest income surged 40 percent to P4.2 billion, with income from loans and investment securities growing by an average 39 percent, outpacing the increase in interest paid for deposits and other borrowings.

The bank said its lending grew across all segments—corporate, consumer, and small and medium enterprises—with new loan releases in the first half totaling over P43 billion.

Deposits held by the bank, meanwhile, held steadily at the P200-billion mark, with the deposit mix improving in favor of low-cost funds, it said.

Noninterest income grew 24 percent.

PNB ranked fifth-largest by assets as of end-March among the more than 30 commercial and universal banks in the country. By end-June, its assets totaled P274.6 billion, contracting by 0.8 percent from end-2008 level after the bank redeemed P3 billion worth of Tier 2 notes in February.

Its capital adequacy ratio, a measure of capital strength against risk-weighted credit exposures, stood steady at 18 percent but remained well above the minimum regulatory requirement of 10 percent.

Although its merger with another Tan-controlled bank, Allied Banking Corp., has encountered delays due to some regulatory issues, PNB said the integration process has been started.

Assets of 3 biggest Philippine banks increased 4 percent in Q2

Erik de la Cruz
Business Mirror

TOTAL assets of the country’s three biggest banks—Banco de Oro Unibank (BDO), Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank) and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)—expanded by around 4 percent in the second quarter of this year to P2.257 trillion.

Figures from the banks’ published balance sheets showed their assets expanding from P2.176 trillion as of end-March, despite the contraction in assets of BDO, which, however, remained the biggest.

Their combined assets as of end-March accounted for about 40 percent of the domestic banking industry’s total resources. As of end-March, total resources of the banking system were valued at P5.9 trillion, based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

BDO, the bank of retail magnate Henry Sy, had total assets of P793.47 billion as of end-June. It previously reported total assets of P801.05 billion as of end-March.

BDO has projected a 19-percent expansion in its asset base this year to P950.8 billion.

BDO’s latest balance sheet showed net loans and receivables of P455.48 billion compared with P453.98 billion as of end-March. Deposit liabilities dropped to P625.19 billion as of end-June from P634.8 billion three months ago.

Metrobank of tycoon George Ty increased its assets by 1.6 percent to P767.67 billion from P755.65 billion as of end-March.

The second-largest bank by assets had net loans and receivables of P400.1 billion and deposit liabilities of P555.7 billion as of end-June, compared with P388.6 billion and P554.8 billion, respectively, three months ago.

BPI remained the third-largest with total assets of P695.97 billion as of end-June compared with P620 billion as of end-March.

The Ayala-controlled bank reported increases in net loans and receivables to P367.2 billion from P321.01 billion as of end-March, and deposit liabilities to P567.16 billion from P517.95 billion.

BPI, partly owned by DBS Bank of Singapore, registered the highest return on equity (ROE) of 17.08 percent among the three banks in the first half of the year.

Metrobank’s ROE—which measures a company’s profitability by revealing how much profit it generates with the money invested by shareholders—stood at 9.42 percent, better than BDO’s 6.43 percent.

Philippine inflation hits 22-year low

Cai Ordinario
Business Mirror

PHILIPPINE commodity prices posted a 0.2-percent growth in July 2009, a 22-year low, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

The agency said the inflation rate in July was the lowest since April 1987 when inflation was down to 0.99 percent. The low inflation in July also represented the fifth-consecutive month of decline in commodity prices.

Dennis Arroyo, Neda National Planning and Policy Staff director, said the inflation in July may not be the lowest for the year. Arroyo said that in July 2008 inflation was at 12.3 percent while in August 2008 inflation peaked at 12.4 percent.

With that, Arroyo said it is possible that inflation in August 2009 will continue to decline at the same 0.2-percent level or even lower. Arroyo said inflation will continue to be benign owing to the base effect.

“August may post the lowest inflation rate this year due to the base effect. It is possible that inflation in August will be at 0.2 percent also or lower,” Arroyo said in a telephone interview with BusinessMirror.

The inflation data, released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) on Wednesday, indicate that the continued decline was due mainly to the decrease in the food, beverages and tobacco (FBT), fuel, light and water (FLW), and services indices.

Inflation in June was at 1.5 percent. Year-to-date inflation or January to July 2009 slowed to 4.3 percent. Excluding selected food and energy items, core inflation at 3.6 percent was still lower than the 3.9 percent in June.

“This was mainly due to the continued slowing down in the inflation rate of the heavily weighted FBT index and the declines in the annual price movements of FLW and services index. Moreover, slower annual price increases were observed in all other commodity groups during the month,” NSO said in a statement.

“Measured from a month ago, the general level of consumer prices increased at a slower rate of 0.3 percent in July from 0.6 percent in June. This can be attributed to the decrease in the prices of selected food items such as corn, fish and rice,” the NSO added.

The NSO said declines in the year-on-year inflation rates were noticed in all commodity groups. FLW and the services indices recorded a negative rate of -4.8 percent and -3.8 percent in July from -5.4 percent and -1.1 percent in June, respectively.

Data also showed that inflation for FBT slowed to 1.6 percent from 3.1 percent; clothing, 2.3 percent from 2.5 percent; housing and repairs, 2.4 percent from 2.8 percent; and miscellaneous items, 2.6 percent from 2.8 percent.

“At the national level, annual inflation rate for food alone further went down to 1.5 percent in July from 3 percent in June [2009],” the NSO added.

In addition, the NSO said the annual price increases in July were slower in all the food groups except for fish, whose annual inflation rate was higher at 6.7 percent from 4.8 percent.

On a year-on-year basis, the price increment in rice and corn correspondingly fell to -5.7 percent and -8.6 percent from their respective last month’s rates of -0.6 percent and -2.1 percent.The NSO said price increases in cereal preparations decelerated to 5.6 percent from 6.7 percent; dairy products, 6.1 percent from 6.7 percent; eggs, 7.1 percent from 7.4 percent; fruits and vegetables, 2.3 percent from 3.9 percent; meat, 3 percent from 3.3 percent; and miscellaneous foods, 2.7 percent from 3.1 percent.

Meanwhile, inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) contracted by 1 percent in July from -0.1 percent in June as the services and FLW indices posted negative year-on-year rates. The NSO added there were also slowdowns in the annual price increases of FBT, clothing and housing and repairs also contributed to the downtrend.

Similarly, the negative annual rates recorded in the FLW and services indices and the slowdown in the inflation rates of the rest of commodity groups resulted in a lower growth rate of 0.7 percent in Areas Outside the National Capital Region.

The next Philippine president is not prepared

Outside the Box
John Mangun
Business Mirror

THE image that I keep of Cory Aquino is one of the late President at the New York Stock Exchange on November 8, 1989. Her appearance on the trading floor marked the launching of First Philippine Fund Inc.

This closed-end mutual fund traded at $13.75. The total value of traded shares of the fund that day was $12.7 million. As a side note, First Philippine Fund was liquidated in 2003 for a total value of less than $25 million.

As it turned out, investing in the Philippines in 1989 made great sense; investing in the fund was a financial disaster.

As a visiting head of state off to see then-US President George H. W. Bush, going to the stock exchange to ring the opening bell in celebration of the launching of the Philippine Fund was appropriate. Having the President of the Philippines mingle on the trading floor with brokers was disrespectful to her and showed poor judgment on the part of Mrs. Aquino’s advisors.

Looking back on the events that brought President Aquino to the highest position of political power in the country, her ascent not only replaced Ferdinand Marcos, but brought down the government. I doubt that on February 25, 1986, anyone believed this was anything more than a transfer of power. But in fact, it was first the destruction of virtually the entire Philippine government and then the rebuilding of that government.

It was not that the faces had changed but that also there was little left of the traditional institutions of what we call a “government.” President Aquino began her term with very little left of the “infrastructure” of government. People honor her for having restored democracy to the Philippines. In my opinion, in a sense, that task was easy in comparison to her having to create a government from what amounted to the ashes of Edsa.

The government is not all about political power but the power of the public sector to protect and deliver vital services to the people.

Cory Aquino was constantly criticized for not being politically astute. That may have been true and was probably a good thing. The Philippines, at that time, did not need a politician. The Philippines needed a “housewife.” You see, housewives and mothers are the ones with the ability and capacity to prepare food, bathe the children and keep the family safely together when the typhoon has knocked out the electricity, the roof is leaking and the floodwaters are threatening at the front door of the house.

Her advisors were ready to assume the political power of the government but only Cory Aquino was ready to restore the functions of the government. For that, the Philippines cannot honor her memory enough.

I fear, though, that similar to President Aquino’s advisors’ lack of preparedness, those who have expressed the desire to be the next president of the Philippines are not ready for anything more than to assume political power as opposed to managing the government and the country.

As the signs were clear in 2008 that there were fundamental economic changes ahead in the US that required bold and creative thinking, now also 2010 and beyond looks even more eventful globally, requiring more creativity.

Make no mistake. The Obama administration is not creative. Its policies are a replay of strategies that did not work in the 1930s, the 1970s or the 1990s. The only difference is the current scope and size of past policy failures of government spending and government economic control. Their idea is that if a little government debt and economic control did not work successfully in the past, maybe massive government debt and control will work now. It will not.

As attention yesterday was focused on the Aquino interment, two business stories were ignored. Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. reported that its second-quarter 2009 net income rose an astonishing 15 percent. Further, Philippine inflation fell to 0.2 percent in July, the lowest level since 1987. Put these together and consider that 22 years ago, inflation was so low because the economy was comparatively so bad.

Corporate-profit growth combined with very low inflation creates a wealth-building scenario perhaps unprecedented in Philippine history. But how is that going to be accomplished?

The point is you cannot apply past policies to a world that has changed so much. And from what I read, none of the presidential aspirants have a single new economic idea to deal with a radically changed economic environment here and abroad.

What ideas have been offered to deal with a world economy where the US role is significantly reduced? How does the next president suggest the Philippines handle foreign investment that triples, not declines, as cash rapidly flows to emerging economies? Any ideas from the presidential wannabes that, if high inflation starts in the US, reducing purchasing power for millions of American retirees desperate for a safe haven, how we can benefit?

The one who wants to be ready to lead the Philippines in 2010 should already have formed a team of practical economic thinkers to prepare realistic scenarios and creative responses to those scenarios to make this economy stronger. Business-as-usual politically inspired thinking will not work in 2010 and the Philippines will miss perhaps the greatest opportunity in its economic history.

2010 may ultimately be the most important transfer of authority of government in the Philippines on the same scale as when Cory Aquino stood inside Club Filipino in 1986. The Philippines was never the same and, I believe, it well could be true again.

PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc. E-mail comments to mangun@email.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

GMA makes brief stop at Cory’s wake

Recto Mercene
Business Mirror

THE estimates vary, but it took about 10 minutes for President Arroyo to stay at the wake of former President Corazon Aquino at the Manila Cathedral. She cut short her planned 30-minute stay so as not to provoke a long line of mourners waiting for their turn to see the late President.

From the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where she flew in at 2:50 a.m. from San Francisco, Mrs. Arroyo went straight to the cathedral followed by a convoy of Palace reporters who were not allowed to come into the church as a request of the Aquino family.

Since Monday, however, television crews, reporters and photographers from several networks were already stationed at the cathedral.

Mrs. Arroyo entered the rear entrance reserved for priests, where she was met by Sen. Benigno Aquino III, only son of the former President. Also present were Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, Mrs. Aquino’s sister-in-law and Arroyo’s image builder.

President Arroyo could not enter through the main entrance as a 10-wheeler truck to be used for Mrs. Aquino’s funeral procession was already positioned there and the road was closed.

Wearing black pants and blouse underneath a beige suit, the President glanced at the coffin and was ushered to the first row to join Senator Aquino; Kashiwahara; Jackie Aquino, daughter of Butz Aquino; the President’s son and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Ignacio Jose Maria “Dato” Arroyo; Marikina City Mayor Maria Lourdes Fernando; and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando.

At 3:49 a.m., Arroyo approached Mrs. Aquino’s coffin for the second and last time and made the sign of the cross. She left the cathedral at 3:50 a.m. and motored back to Malacañang.

Before Mrs. Arroyo arrived at the cathedral, there was an advance party composed of presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. and Philippine National Railways chairman Michael Defensor.

Presidential Management Staff head Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Metro Manila police director Chief Supt. Roberto Rosales were also present.

Arroyo took with her to the Manila Cathedral many members of her delegation to the US, including Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, and the Fernando couple.

Remonde, in a press briefing later in Malacañang, said Mrs. Arroyo appreciated Senator Aquino’s civility toward her and her entourage.

Remonde said the President was supposed to stay for 30 minutes but she learned that the long line of people waiting to view the former President’s body had to be stopped due to her presence.

He admitted that while Mrs. Arroyo was in the US, there was a debate among her Cabinet secretaries and supporters on whether she should attend the wake and risk being embarrassed or treated badly by Mrs. Aquino’s sympathizers.

“The President was willing to take the risk.... In the end, the President said we would just do what is right.... She made a lot of sacrifices during her term as president and she’s willing to endure one more. She did what was proper,” he said.

He said First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was not around because he was left behind in New York for a scheduled medical checkup. He said Malacañang coordinated the President’s visit with the Aquino family through Claudio and Lourdes “Deedee” Siytangco, the Aquino family’s spokesperson.

Asked why Palace reporters were not allowed to join the convoy to the Manila Cathedral, he said: “There was an agreement that we will not bring any media because some people felt it might aggravate the situation...But I knew that was not possible because there were many media members who were on stake out at the Manila Cathedral.”

He said Ermita and Romulo would be Mrs. Arroyo’s representatives in the funeral rites.

He said President Arroyo canceled all her engagements for the day, except for the 8 a.m. Mass for Mrs. Aquino at Malacañang’s Heroes’ Hall.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Fresh from US, Arroyo visits Cory wake

AR Sabangan and Robert Basilio

She shortened her working trip to the US only to cut short again her supposed half-hour visit at the wake of former president Corazon Aquino, a political supporter who later sought her resignation.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo paid a brief seven-minute visit early Wednesday morning at the Manila Cathedral where the body of Mrs. Aquino lay in state. The President arrived at 3:42 a.m. and left at 3:49 a.m. She headed straight to the wake after her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. She gave no statement to the media both at the airport and at the church.

Mrs. Aquino’s only son, Senator Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III, who welcomed President Arroyo at the church, was informed by his aunt and an Arroyo adviser, Lupita Aquino Kashiwara, that the chief executive was supposed to stay for 30 minutes, but left the church earlier than expected.

According to Kashiwara, President Arroyo wanted more people to view the remains of Mrs. Aquino. Public viewing of Mrs. Aquino’s remains was stopped for President Arroyo’s visit. Kashiwara, Mrs. Aquino’s sister-in-law, accompanied Mrs. Arroyo during her visit.

Pero nung nalaman nga raw nila na hihinto yung pila ng tao, minabuti nang tumuloy (But when they learned that the lines were stopped, they decided to proceed)," said the senator, who was at an arm’s length from the President while both were sitting on a church pew. Mrs. Arroyo, who wore an offwhite white blazer and black slacks, twice viewed Mrs. Aquino's remains.

Nonoy earlier said he would be polite to the chief executive but was not looking forward to the visit. Noynoy was the only child of Mrs. Aquino to meet with the President. The senator has been one of Mrs. Arroyo’s persistent critics in the Senate.

“We managed to treat each other civilly," Sen. Aquino told reporters who witnessed the encounter. “Wala naman kaming masyadong pinag-usapan, inaccompany ko lang siya... Ako’y masaya dahil natupad ko ang mga pangako ko sa aking mga magulang, yung tamang asal. Siguro naman di ako nagkulang sa tagubilin."

His sister Kris Aquino had left the cathedral hours earlier.

Three days ago, during the wake in La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong City, the youngest child of the democracy icon created a furor when she claimed that the Arroyo administration had pulled out the state security personnel assigned by the government to guard her mother when she was still alive.

The military claimed that it was only for “accounting" purposes and later restored the security.

In 2005, during the "Hello Garci" controversy, Mrs. Aquino called on President Arroyo to resign for allegedly rigging the results of the 2004 presidential elections. In December 2008, Mrs. Aquino also expressed regret for her participation in the 2001 uprising that catapulted Mrs. Arroyo to power.

When the President arrived at Mrs. Aquino’s wake, lines still snaked around the cathedral, with crowds soaked by the rain still hoping to catch a last glimpse of Cory Aquino.

She will be laid to rest later today after a funeral procession that many expect will rival her husband’s in the size of the crowd and intensity of the emotion.

Long live Cory!

While some in the media highlight political conflicts and intrigues as the nation grieves, we recall some words Cory must surely have dwelt on.

"You have heard that it was said,
'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;
for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you,
what reward have you?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you salute only your brethren,
what more are you doing than others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

(Mt 5:43-48)

"Love is patient and kind;
love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends..."

(I Cor 13:4-8)

Long live Cory, long live the country, long live unity, long live charity!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Agri to wrap up 21 priority projects bared in 2006


The Agriculture department is completing 21 priority irrigation projects in line with the government's goal of food security and increasing farmers’ incomes, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) administrator Carlos Salazar said.

NIA administrator Carlos Salazar said these ongoing projects laid out in the 2006 State-of-the-Nation Address include the Banaoag pump irrigation project in Ilocos Sur; Agno River integrated irrigation project in Pangasinan; Casecnan multipurpose irrigation and power project and the Aulo small reservoir irrigation project, both in Nueva Ecija.

The other SONA-identified projects are the Addalam river irrigation project in Quirino; Libmanan-Cabusao irrigation project in Camarines Sur; Balog-Balog multipurpose project in Tarlac; Bago River irrigation system and Rehabilitation and improvement project in Negros Occidental; Bohol II irrigation project in Bohol; Help for Catubig agricultural advancement project in Northern Samar; Southern Philippines irrigation sector project for regions 6, 7 and 13; and the Dolores irrigation project in Eastern Samar; Basey irrigation project in Western Samar.

Also in the priority list of SONA-identified projects are the Balingasag irrigation project in Misamis Oriental; Talakag irrigation project in Bukidnon; Sta. Josefa pump irrigation project in Agusan del Sur; Malaig river irrigation project in Lanao del Sur; Rugnan River irrigation project also in Lanao del Sur; Kabulnan II multipurpose irrigation and power project in Sultan Kudarat; Malitubog-Maridagao irrigation project stage 2 in Maguindanao; and the small reservoir irrigation projects, which are being implemented nationwide.

So far, NIA has rehabilitated 103,568 hectares existing communal and national irrigation systems and restored 122,909 hectares since 2006 using funds it has received totalling P7.27 billion.

This year, the government has allocated P8 billion to the agency to restore facilities servicing 133,000 hectares and rehabilitate those covering 68,000 hectares.

Salazar said NIA is also implementing a three-step approach to increase irrigated areas of farmlands besides rehabilitating and restoring irrigation systems.

It involves quick turnaround program, which encourages farmers to plant three times a year or adding one more in between the regular dry and wet crops; adoption of water management practices to maximize the available water supply; and organization and development of farmer-beneficiaries to increase their capability to manage and operate irrigation systems.

Focusing on irrigation and other rural infrastructure has already yielded positive results with palay production expanding by 5.1 percent or double its average growth a year ago, Yap said.

The NIA’s rehabilitation and restoration work has allowed farmers to plant an additional 69,000 hectares of farmland or 5.7 percent more than last year. -GMANews.TV

Bongbong, Imee Marcos visit Cory Aquino's wake


Saying they were there only to sympathize, two of the children of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos came to the wake of former president Corazon Aquino, who had accused him of plotting the murder of her husband Ninoy in 1983.

Ilocos Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his older sister Maria Imelda "Imee" Marcos stayed for less than 30 minutes and chatted cordially with Mrs. Aquino's eldest child Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, who greeted them beso-beso, and grandchildren Jiggy Cruz and Kiko Dee.

Bongbong and Imee declined to be interviewed extensively by the media and said that they went there only to “sympathize" with the Aquinos. Accompanying them were Bongbong's wife Lisa and Louie Tutaan, former Kabataang Barangay executive director during the Marcos regime.

"Wala, nakikiramay kami (We are only condoling with them)," Bongbong said when asked by reporters what their visit meant.

Liars and fools

Outside the Box
John Mangun
Business Mirror

Anyone who says the US economy is bottoming out and/or ready to recover is either a liar or a fool. Perhaps both.

On Friday, July 31, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, released its benchmark revision of the national income accounts. The revised data show that 1) the USA is in a depression, 2) the roots of this depression started years ago, and 3) it will be longer and deeper than anyone has said.

A reader, Larry, sent an e-mail asking when the United States started borrowing money from foreign countries. In 1982, the US economy went into a recession. At that point the United States was a net-creditor nation, meaning the world owed them more than they owed the world. The USA borrowed its way out of that recession and by 1985, the United States owed more money to foreigners than it was owed, therefore becoming a debtor nation.

The roots of this current depression began in 1999. Every economy needs to create new wealth-building “machines.” At the start, they do not have to have a major impact on the overall economy, but they must show steady and increasing growth, similar to what the outsourcing business has been to the Philippines these last five years. Capital is attracted to the sector and generated profits fuel its growth. The United States moved toward the “new” industry of the Internet business. It failed and became known as the dot-com bubble.

For a decade, the United States has not created any new wealth-building sectors. The only way that the United States has sustained its economy without new wealth-building drivers is through massive private and public borrowing, hence the explosion of US debt during the last 10 years. And most of that debt, 45 percent, is held by the two major exporters to the United States, China and Japan.

The revised economic numbers show the incredible depth of the current depression. The contraction of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the last three quarters reveals nothing as to the severity of the depression.

Because this depression is in the early stages, comparisons with the 1930s depression are difficult. Other factors such as global trade and economic interconnection, the size and diversity of the US economy, and the amount of economic activity in sectors not created (technology) in the 1930s all make comparisons unrealistic.

However, comparisons with the last 50 years of economic activity are possible, and the data is horrible. The year-to-year contraction of the GDP is unprecedented, nearly three times as large as any other contraction in the postwar period. And the shrinking of the components that make up the US GDP is startling.

Industrial production has fallen by nearly 15 percent in 2009 from 2008. The previous worst was in 1958 with a 12-percent drop. Capacity utilization of manufacturing facilities is now below 70 percent, less than the Philippines. Nonfarm payroll employment has never been any worse since the troops returned home from World War II. Retail sales are at a 50 year low.

The future? Very bleak. The only solution is massive amounts of cash to repair the damage, create new businesses, and to get the economy moving again. The problem is there is no way that the United States can borrow its way out of this recession. The solution that the Obama administration is using is to infuse at least a trillion dollars of newly printed money into the system. Two problems. It is not being directed a wealth creation, and there is no wealth backing that new money. This is the foundation of hyperinflation where all that new money is spent on goods and service without a corresponding increase in production. And this inflation will hit in 2010. The US stock market is telling us that right now.

US stock prices should be going down to reflect the contraction of the economy. Further, all that money going into shares should be being used for wealth building, not buying speculative paper.

Stock prices should reflect the growth of company earnings and growth of earnings should reflect GDP growth. The GDP is shrinking yet stock prices are rising. That makes little sense, unless stock prices are forecasting future inflation.

You own a retail store that sells shoes. If you knew that the next supply of shoes you are going to buy from the manufacturer would be 20-percent higher than you paid last time, you would raise the selling price on your current inventory. If you think that inflation will be 10 percent in 2010, then you bid up the price of shares today in 2009 to reflect the lower future value of cash.

The 1997 Asian crisis was the training ground for 2009. Thailand and Korea got into trouble, bringing down the rest, because of over-borrowing and bad polices. But in Asia, nations took the hit, lowered lifestyle and standard- of-living expectations for a couple of years, and properly fixed the damage through prudent practices, creating wealth and reducing debt.

The United States and Obama, with arrogance and without a willingness for real sacrifice, have tried to “buy” the depression away with valueless funny money. It will not work, given the severity of the situation. They are liars and they are only fooling themselves.

On a personal note, the first issue of the new Stock Market Update was sent out last Sunday. If you would like subscription details and have access to the web site, e-mail me now. Participation is strictly limited.

PSE stock-market information and technical-analysis tools were provided by Inc. E-mail comments to mangun@email.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Monday, 3 August 2009

Coca-Cola to expand Philippine investment

NEW YORK (via PLDT) – World beverage giant Coca Cola has joined the billion dollar club of investors in the Philippines in an expansion plan expected to further boost the investment climate in the country amidst the global economic downturn.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo relayed the good news to the Filipino community during a dinner meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Newark on Saturday night.

The President had earlier met with the private sector, including financial leaders in New York at the Waldorf Hotel, among them executives of the Coca-Cola Company who had just brought back their plant in the Philippines with a $100 million dollar investment.

“But today they announced their expansion plan that will total, including what they put in since they bought the firm and what they had to put in the next few years, they announced that their total investment is going to be $1 billion dollars,” the President said.

As part of their corporate social responsibility, Coca-Cola Philippines has also partnered with the Food and Nutrition research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to help address iron-anemia deficiency in the Philippines by providing malnourished schoolchildren since 2005 with NutriJuice which is fortified with iron, zinc, lysine and vitamins A and C.

For 2009-2010, Coca-Cola Philippines will distribute NutriJuice to some 30,000 schoolchildren for 120 feeding days in the provinces of Quirino, Zambales, Palawan, Davao, Bukidnon and the cities of Tacloban, Marikina, Taguig and Pasig.

During the media briefing Saturday morning at the Waldorf Hotel here, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the Philippines continues to enjoy a conducive investment climate due to the President’s timely reforms and masterful steering of the economy.

He said the President met with Dr. Vassils Morfopoulos of Basic International Development Corporation, one of the prospective investors in the Philippines

Remonde said a number of hedge fund managers based here in New York, the world’s top financial market, also discussed with the President various investment prospects in the Philippines.

The President, according to him, had a lunch meeting with hedge fund managers in the US “who are looking for a safe and attractive investments abroad to ensure the growth of the capital entrusted to them.”

“And because of the upgrade Moody’s gave us, very rarely during the time of the global crisis, the Philippines is now emerging as an attractive investment destination,” Remonde said.

Philippine President to cut short US trip, declares Aug. 5 special non-working holiday

NEW YORK (via PLDT) (PND) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has decided to cut short her trip in the United States and has declared Wednesday, August 5, as a special nationwide non-working holiday to give the entire Filipino nation proper time and opportunity to grieve and honor the late former President Corazon Aquino.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said former President Aquino, who succumbed to colon cancer early Saturday in Manila, will be laid to rest on August 5.

Remonde read the proclamation which the President signed Saturday (Sunday in Manila) during a media interaction with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel here.

“I, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo do hereby declare August 5, 2009, Wednesday, to be a special non-working holiday nationwide in honor of the late former President Corazon C. Aquino,” Remonde quoted the President in her proclamation.

Under the Proclamation, the President said it is but proper to give the entire nation “the opportunity to honor and show their respect, appreciation and gratitude to the beloved former President in their own respective ways.”

Before leaving Washington, D.C. the other night, the President also issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1850 declaring a 10-day period of national mourning from August 1-10.

During the period, Ermita said the Philippine flag in all government offices nationwide will be flown at half mast.

In due respect to the death of former President Aquino, Ermita said President Arroyo also decided to cut short her itinerary to meet with investors and overseas Filipinos in Chicago and Guam.

“The President made the decision to cut short her trip so that we will be there in time for the day of interment of former President Aquino,” he said.

Ermita said the President and her official party will leave here tomorrow, Sunday (Monday in Manila), and will arrive early morning of August 5 in time for a chance to visit the remains of former President Aquino.

Upon their arrival, Ermita said a mass would be held in Malacanang in honor of former President Aquino.

The Aquino family, according to Ermita, has decided to forego the offer of state honors in Malacañang and “politely wished that the interment of President Aquino be as simple as much as possible.”

At the start of her speech during the meeting with the Filipino community at the Sheraton Hotel in Newark on Saturday night, the President also offered a minute of silence in honor of former President Aquino.