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Who’s responsible?

July 13, 2014

THANK GMA: Talking of DAP as a stimulus for development, there are many analyses saying that the country’s remarkable growth is not so much the fruits of Aquino’s governance as a result of the adroit economic management by the previous Arroyo administration. Read the rest of this entry »

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Close the loop

June 29, 2014

Famous American comedienne Lily Tomlin says: “Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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June 21, 2014

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The grim reality behind the Philippines’ economic growth

May 20, 2014

The country is being heralded as the new Asian success story, but only an elite few reap the rewards.

In a neighborhood of so-called “Asian tigers,” the Philippines has quietly emerged as the region’s newest economic darling. At 6.6 percent, the Filipino economy’s current GDP growth rate is the second highest in Asia, behind only China’s. That growth is projected to continue over the next few years, in part because Filipinos are in a “sweet spot” demographically: the Philippines has the youngest population in East Asia, which translates into lower costs to support a younger workforce and less economic drag from retirees. Last month, Fitch Ratings (one of the world’s three major credit rating firms) upgraded the Philippines to a “BBB-” with a stable outlook — the first time the Philippines has ever received investment-grade status and a huge vote of confidence in the Filipino economy. And last year, the World Economic Forum moved the Philippines up ten points to the top half of its global competitiveness ranking for the first time in its history. These economic improvements are in part due to President Benigno Aquino, whose steps to increase transparency and address corruption sparked renewed international confidence in the Filipino economy even during the global slowdown. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anti-China activists torch factories in Vietnam

May 15, 2014

HANOI — Anti-China demonstrators set more than a dozen factories on fire in Vietnam, state media said yesterday, in an escalating backlash against Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in contested waters. Read the rest of this entry »

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The power of dignity in the workplace

April 28, 2014

Imagine that you’ve been working in your job for a while. You enjoy your work, know how to do it well, and take pride in the results you produce. And then one day things change. Perhaps a new boss is hired from the outside, who doesn’t talk to you or your colleagues in sufficient depth to understand what works well and what challenges you face. When you offer suggestions about how to improve performance, she ignores them. New policies and procedures are introduced — perhaps ones the boss applied in a different context or read about in a business school case. But they subvert the control and autonomy you have enjoyed in the past. They weaken opportunities for you to apply your expertise and rob you of the investment you’ve made in your work. Your ability to produce value for the organization is diminished — and so is your morale. Read the rest of this entry »

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Where’s the real political and economic power?

April 23, 2014

AN oligarchy is defined as a form of government in which economic and political power lies in the hands of the few. Countries with this kind of government are often controlled by a few prominent families who pass on their influence from one generation to the next. Inheritance is not a necessary condition for an oligarchic structure to exist.

Some commentators have called the Philippines the worst example of an oligarchy.

Deng Xiaoping, the former Chinese leader who transformed his country into a market-oriented economy, once said, “Let some people get rich first.” Assuming that the overwhelmingly majority of Chinese during Deng’s time were almost universally equal in their poverty, his statement could not be a better example of pushing for an oligarchic economy.

Interestingly, income inequality has steadily increased in China over the decades, thanks to the widening gap between urban and rural people. India, too, has seen a sharp and steady rise in inequality, but there, it’s been between different classes of workers in the cities.

Power for the members of the oligarchy comes from political control. A 2007 study showed that 60 percent of those elected to Congress had a relative who once served in the Legislature. Political dynasties create an oligarchic environment.

But while the conventional wisdom is that countries like the Philippines are the model of an oligarchic structure, a recent academic study shows that the United States may be on the top of all oligarchies.

In that study, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” authors Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University examined data from 1981 to 2002 and found that even when 80 percent of the people favored a particular public-policy change, it was only instituted 43 percent of the time. For example, the US Congress passed the bank bailout in 2008, despite overwhelming public opposition.

From the study: “Economic elites stand out as quite influential—more so than any other set of actors studied here—in the making of US public policy.” However, “this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically elite citizens who wield the actual influence.”

The US elites’ financial well-being depends on corporate banking and Wall Street, even if Main Street consumers suffer. But in the Philippines, the elite depend, for the most part, on consumers. The list of the Philippines’s richest make their money from retail, real estate, shipping and casinos, power, food and beverage, insurance, and banking, which supports these other industries, all consumer-driven.

Oligarchies can generate benefits if and when the elites’ needs match those of the majority. That is the difficult part. --BusinessMirror Editorial

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Nice work if you can get out

April 19, 2014

Why the rich now have less leisure than the poor

FOR most of human history rich people had the most leisure. In “Downton Abbey”, a drama about the British upper classes of the early 20th century, one aloof aristocrat has never heard of the term “weekend”: for her, every day is filled with leisure. On the flip side, the poor have typically slogged. Hans-Joachim Voth, an economic historian at the University of Zurich, shows that in 1800 the average English worker laboured for 64 hours a week. “In the 19th century you could tell how poor somebody was by how long they worked,” says Mr Voth. Read the rest of this entry »

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2 UP grads who studied LP-Akbayan alliance honored

March 12, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – Two students from the University of the Philippines who looked into the apparent conflict of interest in the alliance between Akbayan party-list and the Liberal Party bagged the top award in the recently held Chit Estella Journalism Research Awards. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why work is lonely, especially at the top

March 5, 2014

There is an old cartoon I often show to the managers I work with. It portrays a smiling executive team around a long table. The chairman is asking, “All in favor?” Everyone’s hand is up. Meanwhile, the cloud hovering above each head contains a dissonant view: “You’ve got to be kidding;” “Heaven forbid;” “Perish the thought.” It never fails to provoke awkward laughter of self-recognition. Read the rest of this entry »