Philippine peso and stocks lose value

Oct. 9. 2016

 

LIKE THE HUMAN BEING, with body and soul- the Philippines has also two sides of its anatomy: the political and the economic.

As human beings – sometimes the body and the soul pull in opposite directions- the body wanting pleasure and the soul saying the carnal pleasure could be morally wrong. It is a perpetual tug of war.

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This seems to be the unfortunate situation  as well of our nation today. The Political Face operates independently regardless of what happens to the Economic Face..  

Unfortunate since being of one anatomy-one’s fault can hurt the other. As the saying goes an ingrown nail in a small toe in the foot and one tooth gum aching can affect the general well being of the entire anatomy.That’s how the body works. 

Politically, the government has attained full control of both houses of Congress ensuring passage of key government bills. From all indications based on the scarcity of drugs and P25,000 price per gram of shabu nowadays -the drug menace resoundingly lost the first round to Digong’s team.

There are indications that the crime rate has also  gone down significantly and there is relative peace in the war fronts versus the Muslim separatists and the New People’s Army due to peace process initiatives by the government.

Digong, in his effort to display an utterly independent foreign policy- has gone ballistic in his pronouncements against the United States , the United Nations and the European Union. 

The new and old US Embassy hands in Manila assure RP-US ties are strong despite the belligerence of Heil Chief   perhaps because they (Americans)  have more to lose than RP if the umbilical cord is severed -as the RP economy has grown superbly in the last 6 years of the Aquino government- and continues to do so.Without any direct help from the USA.

Unfortunately that is not a world view. For one, they see “diminished policy stability” citing the bid to cut the current EDCA agreement. And the apparent contradictory voices of the Palace and some  the president’s Cabinet members. 

The SP Global think tank quotes, the RP “undermines the respect for the rule of law and human rights  with direct challenges to the legitimacy of the judiciary,media and other democratic institutions.”

These political underpinnings struck hard versus the Philippine peso which slid from P45:US$1 to P48.25:US$1and the Philippine Stock Market, once the best performing in the region, slipped from index levels of 7,800 yo 7,600.

That is a resounding thud of a 7.2% depreciation of the peso and a 2.56% slide of the stock market. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rationalizes that if one takes the January to September basis, the Philippine peso did not fall down as badly as all of the Asean currencies including  major currencies like the Japanese yen, the South Korean won,  British pound, Australian dollar and the Swiss Franc,among others- against the green buck.

Budget secretary  Ben Diokno-in assuaging Washington’s feelings said America is not plotting the fall of the peso and that  it is the gathering strength of the American economy that has strengthened the dollar against most foreign currencies. 

There is also that unspoken fear that the US Fed might increase interest rates by December after the USA  November elections,sensing their local economy can sustain the increase and to attract investors  back to American shores. 

Political commentary do have economic impact. Although the Palace denies vehemently, the prestigious “Miss Universe” pageant in 2017 which would have spurred incalculable tourism gains for RP might be scuttled by the organizers. The reasons.?

William Morris, Franchise Owner  , cites political instability and security concerns while co-CEO Ari Emanuel (a Jew) was gravely offended by the anti-Semitic comment of Digong ,though he has asked forgiveness for the racist comment.

BSP Governor Tetangco, however,  also assured that although the government would generally allow the peso to seek its own level, it has the power and willingness to intervene if the slide is excessive.

Our  Chronicle forecast is that when the peso falls to P50: US$1 , the BSP will intervene to stop a downward spiral.  That would already signify a significant 11.1% drop in the peso value. 

While that would benefit the OFWs ,exporters and tourism- it will hurt the country more because we have more import than exports and our major outflows like foreign debt payment and oil receipts are based on dollars. 

The Philippine stock market has long been the “darling” of Asian stock markets for many years . At the beginning of Duterte’s term it was hovering at 7.800 – aching to break through the 8,000 barrier in the euphoria of a new government with a powerful majority vote of 41%.

In two months ,however, August and September- it was the worst performer in the region  aside from Vietnam. Believe it or not- the outflow of foreign investments in the stock market these days  is more than one billion a day.

If the stock market breaks the support level of 7,600 -analysts think it will be a free fall to God knows where levels. 

Former Makati Club chairman Bill Luz partly blames media in general (local and foreign) for emphasizing the political (80%) to the economic (20%) news in their coverage.  He is seeking for a 50-50% balance.

Because there are economic ideas from the government that are buried in the inside and business pages and  are seldom  in the front pages. Among them are: tax reforms (tax the rich shield the poor), infrastructure (boom in construction in 6 years) , streamlining of red tape (three days) and the long moribund Freedom of Information Bill that Pnoy paid “lip service” for 6 years and did nothing substantive.

There are unforgiving critics who label Digong as a “grumpy old man- who is one tracked mind and hates being advised” even by  in well-meaning people. But his co-Mindawanon – William Lao, chair of the powerful Mindanao Business Council  bravely stated  that Duterte’s “inexperience” in the national form of governance is showing and he should change. 

If he truly cares for this nation, Digong should accept that there are also as many patriotic individuals as he is who do not agree with his policy statements. After all – even the best leaders have their “blind side” since we have different exposures and tendencies. 

Even the leftist society -who Digong unabashedly identifies with- represented by the “Partido ng Manggagawa” urged the president for “Kabuhayan bago Patayan” and cites the 40 million underemployed/unemployed Filipinos and the 25 million living before the poverty line that represents a constituency needing full attention of a national leader. 

The lesson to be learned here is that we are one nation, one people. If what the right hand does will hurt the left- it is best to make  sure  that every policy statement and direction should involve the consultation of both the Political and the Economic teams of the Government. 

This is our ten-cent unsolicited advice to the Palace -speaking from a province that gave Duterte a smashing provincial victory with nary a political party here.  We mean well, Mr President. 

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

 



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