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Commentary and research on current events and public policy by economists from the University of the Philippines
Monthly archive February 2013

Why this eagerness to please Malaysia?

The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, now headed by Jamalul Kiram III, who can trace his lineage at least 500 years back (the sultanate was founded in 1465) still strikes me as a tragic institution, the victim of greed, opportunism, and indifference particularly during the second half of its history.

Wimpy kids

Why do our economic managers continue to underspend for public infrastructure given the poor state of our airports, seaports, roads and bridges, urban mass transport, and the flickering power supply, and given that the cost of public borrowing is at its historic low? Is it because they’re so obsessed with the credit upgrade? But why?...

The employment objective and the profit-sharing bills in Congress

In spite of the recent positive economic news for the country, it is essential to create quality jobs in industry, agriculture and commerce. Good news does not bring in the jobs automatically. Around one-fourth of the country’s labor force is desperately in search of quality jobs that provide them steady income and a hopeful future....

Rightful claim

How can Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, 33rd Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, expect Malaysia to take him seriously, when his own country doesn’t? Let’s face it, until the so-called "Sabah stand-off" occurred, the Sultanate of Sulu certainly did not form any part of the public’s consciousness. But more importantly, he has been ignored --...

Accuracy, safeguards, and transparency

Keeping the “trapo” in line with respect to campaign posters and other materials is like concentrating on a couple of trees while ignoring that the entire forest is catching fire -- I mean the increasing possibility that our automated election system is about to implode.

How to raise employment quickly and reduce poverty

Among the most important proposals that could change the employment landscape are those directed at labor market policies. This is a major area that the government has been shy to move into.

Currency wars

The growing strength of the euro, accompanied by Japanese authorities’ moves to push down the yen, has rekindled talk of "currency wars." With Europe still in search for new sources of growth, a strong euro could make euro zone exports look more expensive and unattractive. A weaker yen may provide relief for Japanese exporters...

God’s choice

Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement -- the term he used was "renounce" -- has given rise to all kinds of speculation, even before the initial shock waves started to recede.

FDIs: the promise and the reality

Last November, I wrote about the huge gap between the promise and the reality of foreign direct investments. After Davos, President Aquino boasted that foreign investors were lining up to talk to him about the prospect of investing in the Philippines. Well, nothing has changed.

3 instances of hand-washing in Celdran case

There definitely is a Pontius Pilate flavor in the Catholic Church’s stance on the conviction of Carlos Celdran, who was sentenced to a prison term of two months and 21 days to one year and 11 days for “offending the (sic) religious feelings”.

Joblessness: how deep, what needs to be done

The strong economic growth in 2012 has missed terribly in addressing the most serious problem of the economy: the big and rising number of unemployed and underemployed. Even as the gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6%, some 882,000 jobs disappeared, while another 799,000 people of working age lost interest in looking for a job....

NEDA’s beginnings (a memoir)

2013 marks the 40th year of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as the country’s national planning agency for economic and social development.This set me to reminisce on its origin and early years.