About Per SE

Commentary and research on current events and public policy by economists from the University of the Philippines
Monthly archive May 2012

So far, so nothing

The real impact of another global recession on the Philippines is not on Philippines banks, but on the real economy. Its impact will be loss of jobs, economic slowdown, and the worsening of the economic well-being of Filipinos. The impact of another recession could be much worse than the 2008-2009 recession. It is likely to...

Inclusiveness and income inequality

Inclusiveness and income inequality are two related salient themes in the current development discourse. Inclusion is one of the twin ideas (the other is order) highlighted by the current doyen of macro narratives "Why Nations Fail" by Acemoglu and Robinson.

Why some nations succeed: the US human capital in perspective

We can learn a lot from the example of other countries. The United States of America demonstrates that economic freedom is as important as political freedom. Such choices imply the importance of competition, merit, and dependence on markets. Also, a nation is the sum of the institutions that make it up, perhaps even more.

Behind April’s budget surplus

The national government incurred a budget surplus of P31 billion in April and for the first four months of year, it had a budget deficit of P2.9 billion. With a full year deficit target of P286 billion, should this expenditure-tax performance be a cause for glee or gloom?

Crude oil prices (III): new supply discoveries and the future of oil prices

n the last review of oil prices , I tried to give a historical framework as well as a review of more recent evolution of oil prices. This capricious evolution of prices has put pressure on the Philippine economy to adjust to higher and higher prices.

Bottlenecks and catch ups

If you think the Aquino administration has learned its lesson from its serious underspending in 2011 and is now spending and implementing projects much faster, think again. The numbers appear impressive. But it is only because it is compared to a dismal, rock-bottom performance last year.


The first quarter of 2012 is history. Based on more recent data and economic twists and turns, here and abroad, I think the Philippine economy grew by slightly less than 4%in the first quarter. In order to meet the optimistic 5-6% GDP annual growth, the economy has a lot of catching up to do.

We can’t turn tail and run

If countries were people with their heights determined by land area and their weights determined by population, China would certainly be a Goliath to the Philippines’ David—except that the physical differences between the two would be much, much greater than those of their biblical counterparts

Are improved water supply and sanitation always safe for children? Implications for attaining the MDGs in the Philippines

(with Carlos Antonio Tan, Jr.) In pursuit of Millennium Development Goal 4, the government expands its provision of water and services to more households. Using propensity score matching, we find such interventions reduce the incidence of child diarrhea, a persistent top cause of child mortality, though not always.

Crude oil prices (II): producer and consuming interests clash

The wide fluctuations oil prices in the past few decades were caused by a struggle between oil producing nations and the power of the international oil companies, which mirrored the need of the producing nations to get a higher price for their product. Eventually, this had to be waged against the interest of consuming nations....

Culture of impunity

Although PNoy’s included a commitment to end the culture of impunity, associating it solely with the Arroyo administration, the culture of impunity goes beyond the Arroyo administration. It was alive and well long before Arroyo, and is still very much alive and well under PNoy.

Happy or miserable?

Tired of using gross domestic product (GDP) as a way of ranking a country’s performance? There are other ways of ranking a country -- competitiveness index, governance index, freedom index. Here comes a new list of ranking countries -- Happiness, based on Gallup polls taken from 2005-2011.