Archive for May 2008

IMF-WORLD BANK MERGER’S A HIDEOUS MONSTROSITY!

May 27, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Plans are now afoot at merging the World Bank and the IMF, the two economic pillars of the post-war alliance of nations to foster cooperation and development. They came straight out of the Breton Woods agreement, and were rightly called the ‘Breton Woods Agencies’ then.

The merger is among the responses of the technocratic-financier-political elites of the North to the crashing global economy. The ‘virtual economy’ based on financier speculation and worthless bubbles, or otherwise ‘casino economy’ of the wealthy, had burst so badly. The implosion of the financial system had seen the closure of big banks and the alarming loses of others most specially those that had enormous exposures to the subprime realty market in the USA.

The question is whether this merger is really the appropriate response to a system problem. Many experts and quarters the world over have been clamoring, since way back 1990s yet, for the convening of a ‘new Breton Woods’ and the institution of a new global financial architecture. I was among these experts on the Philippine side, and many of us are inside government as executives and legislators.

However, an IMF-World Bank merger is farthest from our mind. The IMF particularly has this notoriety for prescribing shock treatment on economies in crisis, particularly the developing countries or DCs, that do not at all mitigate the long term impact of structural problems. On the contrary, the austerity pills of the IMF were shown to have caused further contraction, depression, and deterioration of once thriving emerging markets.

Let’s face it, the IMF and World Bank are largely the institutional agents of the global financial cartels. They do not represent the true interest of sovereign nation states, do not exercise any accountability at all except to the financier sponsors behind the backs of the IMF-World Bank boards and leadership, and are instruments to encumber nations into perpetual debt peonage. The IMF-World Bank group represents the forces aimed at destroying sovereign nation-states and no less.

The North does not have a monopoly of wisdom in salving the ailments of the global economy, and so we peoples of the south  may just have to push for actions that would see how the catastrophic impact of the global economic implosion will be mitigated. Let the OECD propel their own oligarchs’ self-aggrandizing actions, while we patriots of the South move on to save our people, nations, environments and institutions from further predatory onslaughts by the greedy global oligarchs.

The IMF-World Bank merger is a hideous monstrosity. Be forewarned!

[Writ 26 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

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PHILIPPINE ECONOMICS: BOP SURPLUS, INVESTMENT-HEALTHY

May 23, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza y Delago

 

The Philippine macro-economic fundamentals remain alright, bright and positive.  So says the official report from the central bank. I myself opine in the affirmative regarding RP’s economic health.

 

The Philippines has been hit lately by inflationary waves in rice and petrol. These alone were sufficient to slow down growth a bit. But the factors behind these problems in grains and oil go beyond the domestic, they’re global and have to do more with the manipulations of financial speculators in the overseas markets. As a result, the overall inflation rate moved up.

 

The exact figures released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas are: US $499 million for the month of April (08), and a total of $2.13 billion for the first four months of the year. Hefty sums! Not bad!

 

The fiscal situation is the one that is now being threatened by the volatilities in the rice and oil prices, or should we say spot markets overseas. The news about rice price being subsidized should the crisis worsen is surely a bad one, as it will crash down the ‘balanced budget’ target supposedly achievable at the end of the year.

 

Yet even that seemingly shaky fiscal situation isn’t sufficient a force to dampen the overall macro-economic health. The BOP surplus indicates the positive compass of the economy for the rest of the year, rendering this country a lucrative haven for investments from both domestic and overseas investors.

 

So, fellows out there, the Philippines is much in tune with the Asian growth trend amid the latest rounds of inflation and the problems in oil and grains. The prophets of gloom & doom better find something else to do, such as to bash the corrupt oligarchs, as the economy is within the right compass of growth.

 

[19 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

FILIPINOS COMPRISE 1/3 OF FRIENDSTER END-USERS

May 22, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

I just came from the gym at this moment, and surfed a bit before my lunch break. Among the first news that greeted me was this one about Filipinos comprising 1/3 of Friendster users.

Let me quote the news below:

“Filipinos still make up big chunk of Friendster users,” Erwin Oliva, INQUIRER.net, First Posted 09:39:00 05/22/2008

MAKATI CITY, Philippines — A third of the traffic going to social networking site Friendster are contributed by Filipinos or at least the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are from the Philippines, an executive told INQUIRER.net.

Of the 39 million unique visitors recorded in March 2008, about 13.2 million unique users are from the Philippines, said David Jones, vice president for global marketing of Friendster, in an interview.

Jones said that if there are 14 million Internet users in the Philippines as of 2007, about 98 percent are going to Friendster.

These figures indicate that Filipinos make up the biggest population of Friendster users in the world, even surpassing the United States, where the service was originally launched.

Such numbers have prompted the social networking site to consider the Philippines as a major market for its services, including its mobile service, Jones said.

Typically, Filipino Friendster users are in the age range of 16 to 30 years old, with 55 percent of them being female. {End of quote)

Whether the news is good or bad is something to reflect on. For someone like me, who’s among the 13.2 million users from the Philippine end (there are also Filipinos overseas, remember?), the news is worth noting.

It means, first of all, that millions of fellow Filipinos now surf the internet, whether they their own DSL or wireless at home, or access cyberspace through commercial internet shops. This is already good news.

The 2nd point to observe is that Filipinos do love to connect to people. We are a relationship-conscious people. And so our social networking is indicative of our contribution to make a high-tech world into one that is ‘high-touch’ at the same time.

I just hope that the Friendster company will provide some dividends to Filipino end-users for this meritorious behavior (as far as the company is concerned). Some other sites provide dividends based on the traffic of any user’s site alone, so why can’t the Friendster do the same.

Failing to do so, there would be reason later for the smarter newcomers (young ones) to skirt off Friendster altogether and proceed to the more reward-oriented sites. It’s already happening.  May the tribe of these smarter ones increase.

[Writ 22 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

BURMA’S LEADERS? CALLOUS!

May 19, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Callous! Mad and utterly callous up to the end!

This is what I can say of the praetorian leaders of Burma. The country has been clearly devastated by the powerful typhoon that razed through the Irrawady area recently, killing past the 100,000 death mark as of a couple of days ago. Humanitarian work had almost halted as the praetorians have focused their efforts more on preparing the electorate for the democratization process and forthcoming polls.

Sure, there is no lack of merit for democratizing Burma and widen the political stream to include state players from among the other competing political parties and interest groups. But to over-focus on  vote-gaining democratization issues at a time of catastrophe, contingency and national mourning for the dead escapes our comprehension and will only lead to a cul de sac of greater catastrophe. For sure the great men U Thant and Aung San must be squirming in their graves right now.   

By ‘more catastrophe’ we don’t only mean deaths on the victims. We mean that, after the typhoon relief tasks are over, and the country indeed moves on to that phase of public choice of new political forces and leaders, the military will be crashed by its own callousness in the relief operations days. Then, unwilling to admit the results of the polls, the praetorians would again move on to crash legitimate efforts to replace the military in power.

Sad! How tragic and sad are the affairs of life in Burma. This once citadel of growth right after Britain left the country in cognition of its full sovereignty, turned into a developmental nightmare of unfathomable poverty when the praetorians took over power through the might of the gun.

“Political power comes from the barrel of the gun,” Mao once declared. Following such a dictum, we may add that “perpetual violence from the barrel of the gun causes more vicious cycles of misery.” That’s my line, fellows, and I’m citing the dictum based on experiences in my own country and elsewhere wherever ceaseless violence happens: more misery and economic collapse.

Meantime, we can only hope that the international pressures on the Burmese praetorians to open up the gates for humanitarian work by international players will be heeded. Strategically, in the long run, the ASEAN may have to equip itself with a regional armed force that can serve as equalizer against any tyrannically abusive political group—topped by the Burmese praetorians and the Khmer Rouge—that only knows how to bring down their respective country to graveyard status after centuries of glorious High Culture and greatness.   

[Writ 19 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

OLIGARCHIC CRIMES UNPUNISHED: LUCIO TAN

May 17, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

The politico-economic structure of Philippine reality never seems to change at all. It’s still the oligarchic system that lingers here, as it is anywhere in the planet. Oligarchs are simply in control of every strategic sector of life, both economic and political.

That’s why they are above the Law, that they can pay anything worth their pockets to meet their objectives, bribe their way to continuing hoarding and accumulation way beyond their daily needs. The Law adjusts to them, not them to the Law.

Take the case of the long-time Marcos crony Lucio Tan. Tan is almost everywhere in Philippine business life, name it and he’s there. The once state champion Philippine National Bank is in his control now, and so the former state champion Philippine Airlines. And his business concerns continue to expand, both here and overseas.

But one thing glaring about his behavior is his non-payment of taxes that date back to the 80s yet or maybe even earlier. The consummate tax evader, he is the exemplar in this regard here in Manila.

As of last year, estimates put his back tax arrears at P26 Billion. If all we know, this could be an underestimation. This could just be but the top of the iceberg, the real back taxes running probably in the hundreds of billions of pesos. We can’t say anymore. That is because documents can be doctored, and there are always ‘doctor of forgery’ everywhere including the state bureaucracy.

Perhaps we may have discovered, in the criminal behavior of oligarchs, a new universal law, the “law of the bending of the Law.” It’s like the pattern about the ‘bending of light’, this time we substitute Law for light.

Which means that Law is relative, or is of no value to oligarchs save that they serve oligarchic interests. This is true everywhere, and it won’t be long when even those colonies to be installed in other planets and the moon will face the same reality: the ‘bending of the Law’ to make oligarchs happy.

TESTING NEW EARTHQUAKE-CAUSING WMD ON CHINA

May 15, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

As I was browsing through the pages of the newspapers this morning, my eyes immediately caught the item about the China earthquake update. The latest quake flattened many towns to ground level, killing over 22,000 folks, and destroyed infrastructures thus cutting off the affected areas from outside relief operations. The quake registered 7.9 magnitude on Reichster.

That quake was 2000 times more powerful than the Big One that struck Luzon in the early 1990s and caused extensive damages across couples of regions and cities. Obviously much bigger, the China quake must be expected to wreak greater destruction than Luzon’s (Philippine’s) big tremor.

The difference between the Luzon and Sichuan (China) quakes is not just magnitude and damages however. The Luzon quake was natural, as it had got to do with tectonic plate movements. Past the Luzon quake came those secret innovations on building a new weapon of mass destruction or WMD, the leading one being the Tesla Earthquake Machine or Tesla-EM (my own term for it). China’s quake has got to do more with the latter, though its own authorities may keep mum about their findings.

Remember the big quakes that struck Japan and Indonesia lately, killing thousands and flattening towns and cities? The Indonesia quake even ignited tsunamis that devastated coastal towns and establishments across many countries? These two Asian countries were the first to taste the Tesla-EM, and Establishment media did what it can to deodorize and cover up the story, the byline being that it is ‘natural’ (sic!).

The great mind Tesla, world-class physicist and inventor-wiz, left behind so many of his innovations and R&D materials without formal publication. That is because he feared the implications of his findings, and so he rather chose to shut his mouth about them. The documents were then secured in the archives of the US Library of Congress (X1) and elsewhere (X2), leaving them largely unnoticed, until some techie-savvy   ‘Indiana Jones’ would appear to immerse in them and find out for themselves the practical uses of those innovation designs.

One such design innovation has got to do with inducing earthquakes so powerful that even in areas without histories of quakes or located far away from quake fault lines, high magnitude quakes will be generated. Certain countries silently conducted their R&D about the matter, and must have been horrified about their outcomes that they kept the results (and the product prototypes) highly secretly guarded.

It was obviously the most promising WMD (in the perspective of madmen), as it pathetically downgraded the thermonuclear devices into kids’ toys. This is the real one, and the “beauty” of it all is that a prototype machine is so small it can be loaded entirely in a mere passenger luggage.

Aware of such a possibility, the leaders of the Aum cult of Japan did their own surreptitious networking and found some contacts (possibly yakuza and overseas mafia) to procure the new WMD. They then sent their guys to Australia  that became their initial lab. Possibly realizing the unquestioned efficacy of the machine (after doing a micro-test down south), they reported the results to their central bosses in Japan… Onwards till the leadership was captured, allegedly for poison gas attacks in a railways area that killed thousands. The gas attack was possibly a mere cover up, to mask a possibly heavier onslaught—the big quake that struck Kobe.     

After the Japan quake came the Indonesia quake & tsunami. Remember the 300,000+ dead and millions left without homes by this incident? The sinking of the affected island too? ….Then here’s the China quake, which came right after (1) the Tibetan fiasco and (2) the US discovery of an underground submarine base in the southeast (along sea lanes).

Just exactly what group unleashed this WMD on China? Was it the same group that struck both Indonesia and Japan? Were they the intelligence agents of certain powers that possess the WMD? Or is it a terrorist group, such as the Aum cult in Japan that may have been the culprit behind the big quake there?

Meantime, let us watch for more frequent big quakes to come whose magnitude and damage scales will boggle our minds. Every interest group will use the event for their own filthy propaganda for sure. But let us please watch and record, and do our research homework. My own country could be next.

[Writ 15 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

ANY OLIGARCH JAILED AFTER SUBPRIME BUBBLE BURST?

May 14, 2008

Erle Frayne  Argonza

Hail the financial cartels! Hail the Grand Oligarchs of the North! Thus spoke Zarathustra.

They came, they saw, they looted…and got unpunished. This is the fact of all facts, the ‘praxiological core’ (to use a philosopher’s thesis here in Manila), of the oligarchy’s gargantuan looting of the public purse everywhere. “We are children of Zeus, reside in Olympus, and are beyond the Law,” said they.

Let’s go back to the subprime bubble in the USA, and the post-bubble burst stage. As soon as the housing bubble began in the aftermath of the recession in the USA (2001-02), I was among those analysts who were alarmed at the flawed strategy that the US state officialdom to shore up an ailing economy.

The strategy was no different from the dot.com speculation of the previous years. So much propaganda hype was done to intensify the tenor of the dot.com revolution, which led to massive financier speculation in this sector. Result: the bubble burst, almost bringing the entire US economy down with it in 2001.

Seemingly unmindful of the bad economics that took place, the fed and monetary authorities permitted the bubbling of another sector, housing this time, to ‘prime up’ the ailing economy, coupled with ‘tax cuts’. I’m sure if Franklin Delano Roosevelt were alive yet, he will be squirming at the terribly flawed strategy and would prefer to just die pronto rather than see voodoo economics destroy his nation in the short run.

Bubbles burst in due time, and so the oligarchic game is that before the burst happens, fatten your purse in as rapid a manner as possible. The derivatives market is the best purse fattener, all other instruments being secondary.

Soon enough, the bubble did burst, and banks across the Atlantic (USA, EU) squirmed the most over the bankruptcy-inducing crash from the burst. Horror of all horrors, once mighty financier groups such as Bear & Stearns got badly bankrupt overnight, was sold for cheap dirt price, and simply evaporated.

And to add horror to the horrors, no oligarch or exec was ever jailed for that crime of massive looting of the consumer purse. Holy Maria!

My God! Oligarchs are the Holiest of all Hollies! We ordinary consumers are the filthy pariahs, the Damned Outcastes who are treated as mere members of an amorphous ‘Eater class’ by the Holiest. Hail the Oligarchy!

[Writ 13 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]