Everything we need to know about the future is right before our eyes. Granted we must know where to look but even that is not as challenging as it may seem. The past leads to the present and the present to the future.
For virtually all of the 20th century, the Philippines was tucked tightly under the wing of the American Eagle for better or worse.
By all accounts, “philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, critic of political economy, and socialist revolutionary” Karl Marx would perfectly fit into 2022 Western society.
Start at SM City Bicutan going to Festival Supermall Alabang, with a side trip to SM City BF Parañaque and Alabang Town Center, and you will have fairly well covered the consumer-spending sector of Metro Manila. Certainly, you need to drop in at Shopwise Sucat, now owned by Robinson’s, and Talipapa sa Sucat to see the full picture. And it is not pretty.
IT started with Mt. Gox in 2010 when Bitcoin was trading at $0.09. By late 2013 MtG was handling over 70 percent of all BTC transactions worldwide and the price was $1,000. On February 24, 2014, Mt. Gox suspended all trading, closed its website, and its exchange service, with its website returning a blank page. Withdrawal requests were also met with a “blank page.”
Our local economic forecasters are reasonably accurate—some more than others, of course—when the numbers stay within an established trend. Most do a terrible job at predicting—as they did with the latest inflation numbers—when there is major shift out of the trend.
Often the conversation about the stock market/economy is more appropriate for the show business/entertainment section of the newspaper.
All zombie movies have one thing in common. The zombies are relentless. Virtually all zombie movies have another common factor. The zombies win.
Contrary: not being in conformity with what is usual, perversely inclined to do the opposite of what is expected. Contrarian: a person who rejects popular opinion.
You have undoubtedly experienced a traffic gridlock where “lines of vehicles block a network of intersecting streets, bringing traffic in all directions to a standstill.”
Making reasonably accurate predictions—or projections —about the future is relatively easy if we use the necessary tools and know what to look for. Tarot cards and tea leaves have a somewhat mystical quality, but we do not need even a whiff of the supernatural to see beyond tomorrow.
Several weeks ago I shared on social media something from a psychologist who answered the question of what a child should do with a parent with dementia who talks about the past as if it were the present.
There were many victims of the nearly two-year long Covid lockdowns. The proverbial “Poster Boy” in the Philippines might be Mr. Dennis Ang Uy, whose financial and business “empire” was thwarted by the nation’s economy coming to a grinding standstill.
IN September 2009 Typhoon Ketsana, known in the Philippines as Tropical Storm Ondoy, crawled through Metro Manila at a snail’s pace and as a result, brought historic rainfall. The Quezon City Science Garden recorded 18 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, an amount expected to occur only once per century.
The world is in a mess right now, and make no mistake, for want of a better term, we are in “World War Three.” Europe has shown that their civilization probably peaked during the Ancient Roman Empire when Rome conquered all but the rather barbaric Germanic and Slavic tribes.
Eighteenth-century English poet, classical scholar, and Cambridge professor Thomas Gray wrote “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” recounting his long-past student days. It tells of the university journey from innocence to maturity and ends with these famous lines of English literature: “Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise.”
Fear is not to be trusted. But shouldn’t we be fearful of venomous spiders, earthquakes, and being kidnapped?
Sociopathy is another term for Anti-Social Personality Disorder. “It’s a mental health condition where somebody persistently has difficulty engaging appropriately with social norms.” The science says that “they often break rules or laws and can behave aggressively or impulsively.”
Facebook is a good place to find people from your long-ago past, commemorate significant personal events, and share the passage of time. However, for up-to-the-moment news I turn to Twitter.
President John F. Kennedy is said to have remarked after his razor-thin victory (Kennedy 49.7 percent vs Nixon 49.6 percent): “If I see 10 people on the street, I know that five did not vote for me.”
“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in your mind that doesn’t agree with reality. This can result in some combination of hallucinations and delusions. Paranoid schizophrenia was once a subtype of this condition because paranoia commonly happens with schizophrenia where a person feels distrustful and suspicious.”
‘IN those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.”—Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The newspaper headlines have been steady with “Peso Hits Record Low” for the past week or two. A little over a month ago—August 8, 2022—Bloomberg ran this story. “Bulls Bet Philippine Peso Will Extend Rebound From Record Low: Currency to reach 54 to dollar by year-end, Maybank, ING says as remittances poised to increase because of year-end holidays. The Philippine peso’s rebound from a record low is set to gain momentum amid expectations of higher remittances and as lower oil prices curb import costs.”
Relationship psychologists have concluded that couples/partners—regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or identity —argue about three topics: sex, money, and children in that order.
OF course I take it too seriously. But it is disappointing to see the lack of knowledge by people who should know better about the world beyond the 7,000+ Philippine islands. The 21st century has given us not only a rush to judgment, but also the chance to swallow distorted and incomplete information not seen on a scale since 16th-century witches were burned at the stake.
Vladimir Putin—and by extension all Russians past, present, and future—are Lucifer’s minions, on earth for the purpose of destroying God-fearing people as evidenced by the attack on Ukraine. That could be true.
One of the most annoying words in the English language for me is “anything.” “What would you like for dinner?” “Anything.” “What movie would you like to watch?” “Anything.” “Would you prefer I beat you over the head with a stick or a bigger stick?” “Anything is fine.”
IT is neither unkind nor grossly inaccurate to say that the average government official—and average pundit—has only a little understanding of the overall historical perspective and even less understanding of historic global geopolitics.
Here in the Philippines, there is as much attention on China as there is on the US, a fundamental shift in the past decades.
You put a pot of water on the stove, turn on the heat and wait. How can you determine if and when the water reaches the temperature to turn from liquid to gas?
IT was a pleasure to speak before the members of the Rotary Club of Makati Central last week about the lessons learned from cycles and what happens when those cycles change particularly in regard to 2023.
The Global Debt Crisis, and to a lesser extent the Asian Financial Crisis, was caused by people like you and me. Well, actually not by me because I am old and learned my lesson 45 years ago, and not by you because you are the Philippine economy.
“Minsky Moment” refers to the onset of a market collapse brought on by the reckless speculative activity that defines an unsustainable bullish period. A “Minsky moment is when the fecal matter finally hits the fan.”
Disastrous economic policies for more than 30 years led to the political chaos of 2016, which led to the economic chaos of 2020. The cycle moved in January 2022 to another stage in increased upheaval in both arenas. When bad politics meets bad economics, it creates a breeding ground for war.
“The Iceman” mummy lived around 5,000 years ago on the Austrian–Italian border. Among his possessions was a complex fire-lighting kit that included tinder fungus, flint, and pyrite for creating sparks. All our ancestors had to know how to make fire. It was not until much later that there was a licensed “fire-maker” for the whole village.
While I am sure you think that it is merely the ramblings of a “pre-pre-dementia” Boomer, I cannot over emphasize the idea that you cannot genuinely understand anything without a historical perspective. And this lack of a historical perspective is only one of the human intellectual deficiencies.
The two most valuable courses to take to learn how the financial and asset markets function are history and physics. In fact, take these two courses to learn how life works.
The past 10 days have seen the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) make it to the front pages, the headlines, and the columns from local pundits.
The world that we live in makes it hard to believe that anything makes sense. While I adhere firmly to the idea that nothing is what it appears to be, even that concept is stretched to the limit sometimes.
There is a Chinese idiom, in Pinyin kūxiàobùdé, that describes the confusing feeling of not knowing whether to laugh or cry, to be frustrated and amused at the same time. In fact, that phrase shows up in many languages, but unlike in Mandarin, it usually means the hypocrisy of “wanting to laugh but feeling obligated to cry” at another’s misfortune.
There are basically two kinds of people in the world. There are those who first complain and grumble in frustration and anger at the problem/s. There are those who first complain and then do take direct action against the problem/s.
Ludwigshafen, a German city across the river Rhine from Mannheim, was founded in 1844. With a population of less than 200,000, it is home to the largest chemical plant in the world. The facility is owned by German multinational company BASF (founded in 1864), the largest chemical producer in the world.
From the dictionary: “A free market is a system in which the prices for goods and services are self-regulated by buyers and sellers negotiating in an open market without market coercions.”
This is an optimist. “Everyone knows that there is a pot buried at the end of the rainbow. If you are first and get there before the rainbow disappears, you will find a pot of gold.”
Humans are different from other animals. There is one particular factor that separates us from the bear in the wilderness, the eagle in the sky, and the shark in the ocean.
Maybe it is a characteristic of my generation, but I am naïve or dumb enough to give the benefit of the doubt to experts and people in authority to tell the truth. People have been lying since the Garden of Eden. But it has been my experience that people lie to serve their own self-interests. Only people with mythomania tell lies ‘just because’ and it is rare.
People ask me how I can conclude and then say publicly that the global economic situation is marching towards falling off a high cliff and yet also advise T.G.Y.F.—Thank God you’re Filipino.
WE have a global economic situation and the potential consequences cannot be ignored or underestimated. I have been through every “Black Monday (through Friday)” in the past 50 years, including the first oil shock in 1973. This time it is different.
I keep saying it, no one wants to believe it, but I know that you know more about economics than the experts.
It’s tough out there in the real world and getting depressed about the situation is perfectly justified.
The relationship between the Philippines and Foreign Direct Investment is complicated, maybe Johnny Depp/Amber Heard complicated.
WE have this idea that “we are all in the same boat” and usually that boat is the Titanic.
IF you want to be realistic about it, international trade has been a tale of misery. Shall we make it personal to the Philippines? Two words: Ferdinand Magellan. He was not in search of the healing waters of Binaliw Spring.
Words do not mean what they used to mean. For example, the word “awful” used to mean “worthy of awe” like “the awful majesty of God.” “Nice” used to mean “silly, foolish, simple.”
I take a positive approach about the future. Perhaps I am genetically hard-wired that way. Maybe it is from my life experiences.
Having a discussion about cryptocurrencies with some investors is like discussing polygamy with some followers of Islam or homosexuality with some Christians. It is a place that you do not want to go, especially if you are talking with a “religious fanatic.” And cryptocurrency is a religion for some.
Humans are a strange species. Soon after we stopped dragging our knuckles and started walking upright, we have found pleasure jumping on the back of some other animal and racing to victory. From elephants to ostriches, if the beast was large enough to carry a human, we used it for sport racing and gambling.
There must be something in the DNA of all earthly animals—from penguins to people—that requires that we look for connections. Maybe it is a survival mechanism.
IN the biblical book of Matthew, Jesus of Nazareth tells the story of the king who gives three “servants” some money to take care of while he is gone. Two of them doubled his investment while the third gained nothing.
Looking at the economic numbers coming out of the United States might make you less depressed about the Philippines. Or maybe not, since there is a large group of Filipinos that supported Biden.
Running one of those programs designed to catch plagiarism, I ran an analysis of my own writings over the last 25 years. One idea appears more frequently than I would have first thought. It is embodied in a phrase I used in an editorial yesterday: “Just as you think you have it all figured out, everything changes.”
IF we are going to look six months down the calendar, we are going to have to make two assumptions that are critical but not simple.
There will be a hard learning curve this year and it is not the presidential candidates’ fault that they are unprepared for the issues the new administration will face after Inauguration Day 2022.
Every election is always for the “soul of the nation.” It is because of SocMed where we hear something to that effect over and over and over. But it is always the same.
IN a world where “fake news” or “misinformation” is treated as if it were an STD, we often embrace it as if “getting it” was as much fun as getting an STD.
The war in Ukraine has upended what we assumed was cast in concrete. By that I mean in part global financial transactions, sovereign debt payments, and what we considered normal trade between nations.
West of Paris is Poissy, what we would call a municipality of 37,000 people, its population basically unchanged since 1970.
One of my favorite maxims is, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” It is one of those things particularly in science where we look for something that we think should be there and we cannot find it.
Right now, you are probably asking yourself, “What the hell is going on and what can I do about it?”
There have been a couple of notable observations that I have made recently.
There is—or should be—a special section in hell for someone making this statement. But here goes. I do not care even an iota about who you are going to vote for to be the next president of the Philippines.
The comments from both the candidates and the pundits on the war in the Ukraine—“standing in admiration of the Ukrainian people’s courage to defend freedom”—would probably be much different were this not a prelude to the national election in May.
“A new study has “discovered” the world’s most boring person in the world. According to new research from the University of Essex in the UK, the most boring person in the world is a religious data entry worker who likes watching TV and lives in a town. The most boring hobby is sleeping.”
Combining the “Roman Republic” and the “Roman Empire,” they had a good run of almost 1,000 years. It is the Empire that gets all the publicity as the Republic spent most of the time subduing the locals into what became the Empire.
Driving up East Service Road from Muntinlupa to Bicutan this past Saturday morning, I realized something. The amount of traffic was pretty much like pre-Covid. Things always get sloppy at Sucat interchange and again at Walter Mart. But there was something missing.
While some are trying to calculate how many political “angels” can fit in 1 square meter at an election rally and others are trying to determine how many Facebook “Likes” it takes to win a presidential election, what is happening in the financial and asset markets defies adequate description.
IN the Age of SocMed, people have been made to believe—by design or by chance—that they as individuals and their opinions are important. That is not true.
My mantra for several years now has been T.G.Y.F.—Thank God You’re Filipino—and I make no apology for it. There are better places certainly, and James Hilton described one in detail in 1933. It is located at the western end of the Kunlun Mountains, and he named it Shangri-La.
The Behistun Inscription is a multilingual (three different cuneiform languages) inscription and rock relief at Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran. It measures 15 meters high by 25 meters wide and is 100 meters up a cliff on the major road between the capitals of Babylonia and Media.
“WE know that 2,500 years ago, a Babylonian astronomer realized that eclipses come in cycles that are 6,585 days long. Babylon is long gone but the eclipse cycles, which we call the saros, continue to beat.”
“Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop in the region of Lycia in Turkey. Nicholas was known for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes.”
Trying to explain inflation is like trying to explain conception, gestation, and birth to a five-year-old. It is much better to use the “You came out of mommy’s belly” and hope that there is no follow up question.
Pick a topic and it is easy to find raging hysteria. What shall we start with first—the election, inflation, Ukraine?
The three broad issues for this election season are, in alphabetical order, corruption, economy, and foreign policy. All the rest are either side issues (Covid) or motherhood statements including “National Unity.”
MY trip to the mall this weekend was most revealing. This mall “has a gross floor area of 400,000 square meters and is the fifth-largest mall in the Philippines with over 1,300 stores.
Maybe it comes with advancing age and simultaneously increasing crankiness, but this election seems different to me than all the previous cycles. Perhaps it is also because of the pandemic but the campaign season looks to be bringing out the worst of the “democratic process.” This includes supporters and candidates, and now government officials.
The Covid-19 pandemic taught us many lessons, probably least of which is in health care. When a candidate says, “I will personally manage the day to day Covid-19 response,” you know you are seeing a lack of seriousness. In the US, you could say that Covid “czar” Anthony Fauci was the person put into that position, and 75 million cases later, it was not a success.
Winston Churchill said in 1947 that “many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
Humans may be much “smarter” today, but they may also have been much “wiser” in the past. Much of the “smart” of the past was the understanding and acceptance of the way the world works. The “wise” of today is the result of immense advances in technology.
Joseph Overton was a senior vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and is known for conceiving the idea in the 1990s—posthumously called the Overton Window—classifying the range of policies politically acceptable to the mainstream public at a given time.
There are three major components to an economy. These are “economic growth” or the amount of increase or decrease in output and production/consumption. The second is “inflation” or the amount of change in the prices of goods and services,
again higher or lower. Finally, the amount of “employment/unemployment” as the number of workers that create the economic growth.
These are dark times. We have the two forces of the pandemic and politics pulling us into the darkness.
Two years ago on January 8, 2020, the Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index was at 7,736. We are about 8 percent lower today. We were four days away from the 2020 Taal eruption. My first editorial about the newly discovered virus in Wuhan, China was two weeks away.
My grandmother was seven years old when New York City had a population of 100,000 horses producing around 2.5 million pounds (1.1 million kilograms) of manure each day. She lived to see the first man walk on the moon and the original Macintosh all-in-one personal computer.
The Philippine Stock Exchange Composite Index ended 2021 virtually unchanged, down 17 points from the 2020 close. The year turned out to be a roller coaster ride. In another sense, we started the New Year 2021 with the hope that the worst of the pandemic was behind us when in fact 2021 became the year of “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was a 17th century French lawyer and politician, who, as the author of The Physiology of Taste, gained fame as an epicure. His book has not been out of print since it first appeared in 1825.
“Globalization has created this interlocking fragility. At no time in the history of the universe has the cancellation of a Christmas order in New York meant layoffs in China.”—Nassim Nicholas Taleb
AN iconic television commercial from the 1970s shows Mother Nature in a gown of white, adorned with a crown of daisies, sitting in a flowered forest surrounded by birds and woodland animals. She samples a spread saying, “Oh, that is my delicious butter straight from nature, so creamy and sweet.” The narrator informs her: “That’s Chiffon Margarine, not butter.” “Impossible,” says Mother Nature. The narrator responds that the margarine is indeed so close to real butter that it could fool even Mother Nature.
Political Chaos followed by Economic Chaos followed by Panic Chaos. The first two are inevitable. The third depends on how deep and wide the first two were and who is running the circus.
Medilines Distributors Inc. (MEDIC) listed its shares on the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The offering of 825,000,000 common shares came at a price of P2.30 as the company raised approximately P1.265 billion. The “Sole Issue Manager, Lead Underwriter and Sole Bookrunner” was PNB Capital.