Posted tagged ‘future’

SCARCITY VERSUS ABUNDANCE: THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

December 10, 2014

SCARCITY VERSUS ABUNDANCE: THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The Continental Divide—between Euro-America (Europe, North America, Latin America) and Asia-Pacific—is no mere geographical cleavage, but more importantly cultural-civilizational. In economic doctrines, the division lies in the core premise that underpins all other economic variables and the social class arrangements that constitute the base for appropriating the values of the totality of efforts of production, distribution, consumption and exchange. While Western thinkers premise economic realities on scarcity, the Eastern thinkers notably sages presuppose the same on abundance.

The foundational doctrines of Western political economy—mercantilism and physiocracy—were both premised on scarcity. All other doctrines that emerged thereafter, inclusive of socialism, neo-classicism and marginalism, proceeded from the same premise. The most popular socialist thinker, K. Marx, envisioned a society of abundance, rationalizing such a vision on the presumed reality of scarcity (of resources) and its attendant effect, mitigated by social structures, of pauperization on the proletariat. This ‘scarcity premise’ is indubitably a hallmark of Western discourse.

Eastern discourse raises questions about such a premise. Among all Eastern thinkers, it was Gandhi who most succinctly articulated the difference. To the folks of the East, daily living is a reality of abundance, such an abundance abetted by continuous resource materialization and allocation as graces from the transcendent spheres. With the caveat, to note, that people live according to their needs. Accordingly, the planet has more than enough for everyone’s needs, but not enough for everyone’s greed. What could be wiser today than the said dictum, so simple in structure yet so profound in substance? (Review also Buddhist economics, Sarkar’s ‘progressive utilization theory’, Sri Aurobindo’s vedic economics, Baha’i economics, Vivekananda’s socialist visions.)

I couldn’t but agree more with the Eastern discursive stream than with the Western ones. Why, let us query, do Filipinos keep on eating the whole day, sliding inputs down their stomachs as much as five (5) times a day? And why don’t the Filipinos save surplus money at all (many folks don’t even maintain back accounts)? That is because deep within their psyche, in the antechambers of their ‘collective unconscious’, resides the presupposition of abundance. Mother earth provides, the country provides, so why save for tomorrow, and why not consume that which is offered unto you when you arrive as a visitor amongst the town & country folks, such offerings being graces from God and His most divine minions?

Among ancient islanders, it was a vice to store resources (savings) for oneself, as this is a hoarding practice. Reciprocity then was the economic norm of behavior. When a household cooks nilupak, and a surplus of the delicacy is gathered after the eating, then the virtuous behavior is to share the excess nilupak among neighbors and kins rather than hoard it; and, conversely, it was a vice (read: very bad behavior) to throw away (surplus) that which has been provided for by Bathala and the anitos.

Surely, economic theorizing that is so deeply steeped in Western streams will never get to the bottom of the reality of Filipino economic behavior. Flawed premises breed flawed models that consequently produce flawed explanatory constructs and flawed practices on the developmental sphere. To a great extent, the Filipinos continue to retain, rather unconsciously, the reciprocity-based ‘systems’ of antiquity, contributing in no small measure to their bayanihan mode of adaptation. This reciprocity helps them to survive disasters and permits them to adapt quickly to new environments that are strongly cash-based, such as urban centers. It is also the basis for creating Filipino ‘social capital’ (Peter Evans had articulated well on the principle) as human asset accretions arising from networks of volunteer social groups (civil society), the kind of capital that is a catalytic factor in various development endeavors.

New Nationalism may have to find an effective bridge between the two. What is sure for now is that the exchange systems of redistribution (feudalism) and markets (capitalism), both imposed upon the islanders by Western empires, have undermined the Asian or ‘Islander Way’ of reciprocity premised on abundance. During the time of Gat J. Rizal, the islands were able to provide more than enough for everyone else, no matter how harsh the Latin-Hispanic feudal system was to the folks who were subsumed in its enclaves. Today, with over eighty (80) million people populating the archipelago, reality had assumed the scarcity mode, making us believe that scarcity has been the premise since antiquity.

The bridge between the East and West will be institutionalized through the popularization of a needs-based philosophy. However, the consumerism that is the hallmark of a revivified market strongly erodes a needs-based discourse. There surely is a dynamic tension between ‘basic needs’ and consumerism, and such a tension will be a chief definer of the premise’s compass in the succeeding decades.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

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ECHOING THE NEO-NATIONALIST THEME

December 5, 2014

ECHOING THE NEO-NATIONALIST THEME

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

This paper echoes the emerging discourse referred to as New Nationalism. Note that various writers have formulated theories anchored on New Nationalism. Their theories out-rightly impact on public policy and development practice, such as the framework articulated by Robert Reich (see The Work of Nations). Here at home, economists such as Emmanuel De Dios have begun to echo themes of harmonizing nationalism and globalization.

The framework base of this paper will be (a) political economy combined with (b) institutionalism. The current approach of comparative political economy had proved to be a very instructive one, this being the most central framework in development studies and public policy studies, with its analytics carried out through cross-national methodology. This approach will also be integrated with the emerging cross-disciplinal trend of institutionalism, a framework that was actually started by sociologists, and is particularly strong in studies on civil society & development, state-society synergy and organization theory.

Being an Asian, this analyst will also liberally subscribe to core tenets of Asian thinkers, notably Mahatma Gandhi’s. New Nationalism should as much as possible integrate the Eastern and Western theoretical streams to be able to find meaningful anchorage in the whole of the Asian continent.

It is hoped that the article will be of use to various end-users for reflective purposes, particularly to advocacy groups and state agencies that are in the process of rethinking paradigms & issues revolving around public policy.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

EMERGING MARKETS: GLOBAL GROWTH DRIVERS, FIREWALL ECONOMIES

January 8, 2014

EMERGING MARKETS: GLOBAL GROWTH DRIVERS, FIREWALL ECONOMIES

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Global economic growth has shown a sputtering pattern over the last couples of years. The EU-USA-Japan 1st World corridor has particularly been the lackluster topguns, mired as they are in vicious cycles of recession, near zero growth, and ‘virtual economy’ strategies that only deepened their entrapment in the cul de sac they’re in.

 

Salving the global economic health since the opening yet of the new millennium are the Emerging Markets. Learning the lessons from the 1st World’s mistakes, the Emerging Markets instituted regulatory measures and related strategies that enabled them to build ‘firewall’ economies.

 

A ‘firewall’ economy is sealed from the global economic turmoils emanating from the 1st World countries. Remaining unaffected as such, they are able to sustain growth patterns that are impeccable manifestations of their trajectories of ‘virtuous circle’ of growth & development. Growing in unison, though at variance in total aggregate growth, they altogether keep the global economy afloat, thus saving many workers in the developing world from the devastating blows of market conflagrations which the 1st World countries are tragically situated.

 

Emerging Markets are largely 2nd World or Middle Income economies, a fact that many blind simpletons in their own backyards and the 1st World fail to see nor understand. Once an economy breaches the U.S. $1,000 per capita, it qualifies as 2nd World economy. Another criterion is the population composition: over half are in services and industries. Industrialization is, of course, rapid.

 

Emerging Markets are unique in that (a) each one of them has large populations and (b) very significantly large percentage of Middle Income earners among their people (i.e. family earning $6,000-$30,000). Large populations fulfill their labor needs at all times, and the total aggregate values of goods produced by such large populations make total national income consistently large, assuming sustained significant-to-high-level growth.

 

Top qualifiers that are recognized as ‘lead countries’ of the Emerging Markets are the BRIC:

  • Brazil
  • Russia
  • India
  • China

 

Following closely behind the BRIC are the Next 11, namely:

  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • Turkey
  • Vietnam

 

South Korea is the only odd one out, as it’s economy is already 1st World or ‘overdeveloped’ in stage. It is one of the Dragon Economies of East Asia that includes, to recall, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. It’s close ties to the Developing Countries or DCs, from which it came from, remains though, as exhibited by trade and cultural interactions with the DCs.

 

Other DCs that are smaller in populations, though nonetheless part of the developing world and contributors to global growth, are the Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Africa, Argentina, and Chile. Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore are engaged members of ASEAN that will unify into a common market next year, which will make the entire region a gigantic growth corridor that is indubitably among the world’s topguns.

 

To sum up the broad strategies of the Emerging Markets + Tiger & Dragon Economies that enabled ‘firewall’ against global turbulence, these are:

  • Putting breaks on predatory finance via monetary and capital controls.
  • Consistent, persistent, yet resilient reliance on the ‘physical economy’ as basis for wealth production—agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, transport & communications, science & technology—that are their domestic economic drivers.
  • Shoring up their Foreign Exchange Reserves at levels sufficient to effect elasticity against global turmoils and buy several months worth of imports.

 

Needless to say, the Emerging Markets will be graduating to 1st World economy status one by one across the coming decades. By 2030, their collective wealth put together will more than surpass the combined wealth of the EU-USA-Japan. Enabled to aid other developing countries move up the ladder of success, they are exemplars of ‘inclusive growth’ that hopefully will eradicate poverty across the globe well before 2050.

 

Contrast that to the ‘exclusive growth’ of the North 1st World (EU-USA-Japan) powers that industrialized and enriched themselves at the expense of the developing countries or DCs that the former encumbered via investments, trade, and aid. The Northern powers in particular have histories of destroying nations and populations via two (2) world wars and many more conflicts, or using coercive instruments disguised as “soft power” or maintaining “peace”.

 

As the Emerging Markets have been showing the way, new models of development are now available for the poorer DCs which the West/North just can’t destroy any longer via IMF austerity programs (IMF is a stooge institution of predatory financiers). Rest assured there will be wider breathing spaces for comfort & prosperity in the long run by the working peoples of both Emerging Markets (& DC allies) and those of the 1st World as well who seems to have been excluded from prosperity by their own greedy politicians and elites.

 

[Manila, 08 January 2014]

PHILIPPINE ECONOMY TOPS ASIAN GROWTH, FIREWALL AMIDST POLITICAL TURMOILS

November 2, 2013

PHILIPPINE ECONOMY TOPS ASIAN GROWTH, FIREWALL AMIDST POLITICAL TURMOILS

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

For this particular note, I will go back to my reflections on the Philippine economy, while I look forward to expand to ASEAN concerns as ASEAN integration nears by 2015. Philippine economic growth tops ASEAN, which makes it the leading ‘tiger’ of the region today.

 

For a recall, Philippine economic performance showed past 7% growth for the last four (4) quarters already. As of middle of 2013, PH growth was at par with China’s which seems to show some sputtering after past two (2) decades of double digit growth. China’s very own growth pattern may decline even more in the years ahead, thus permitting the PH economy to be on top if it shows a sustained trend over the next couples of years.

 

Economic performance can only be as good as the economy players themselves. While economic policy environment, which is the terrain of politicians and bureaucrats, plays a very vital role in stimulating economic development, in the last instance it is the performance of economic players that counts most.

 

As a matter of fact, it is on the side of the state—with poor expenditures for infrastructures during the first two years of the Aquino administration—that produced a lackluster economic growth. Bad governance stalks the Philippine state, which ends in an overall Weak State, though governance reforms are in order.

 

Incidentally, across the decades, the Philippine economy built a ‘firewall’ that protects it from political caldrons here and abroad. Along with other Asian economies, the Philippines also built a ‘firewall’ against turmoils in the global economy that are caused by the economic weaknesses of the North (Japan, USA, EU).

 

As economists put it, the Philippine economy just entered a ‘virtual cycle’ of growth, thus ending a long arduous history of ‘boom & bust’ cycle. Much of the growth comes largely from the domestic demand itself, showing the great purchasing power of domestic institutions, households, and individuals when combined. Income from international trade plays only a secondary role in the country, which enables it to outsmart the vagaries of the unstable global economy.

 

In the past decades, so much of ‘organization re-engineering’ and corporate governance were infused into the Philippine business structures and processes. Business culture was also properly addressed by internal stakeholders, chambers of commerce, and management professional societies. The result, of course, is better adaptive capacity thru better competitiveness and higher productivity.

 

The trend in Philippine manufacturing had so far shown a consistent generation of high value-added by its labor force, followed by services. The two sectors have shown dynamism so far, thus making them the big drivers of the domestic economy. Agriculture is very sluggish in this respect, which challenges food producers to make up and move up their labor force’s value-added capacities.

 

Note also the trend of consistently high Net Factor Income from Abroad, which will continue to grow in absolute terms over the next decades. Remittances from overseas Filipinos (workers/professionals) continue to grow, contributing past $20 billions annually to the national income. Furthermore, overseas Filipino investments are growing by the year, in highly diversified concerns, so let’s anticipate the repatriations of profits from such business concerns to surpass remittances from overseas workers in the foreseeable future.

 

So far the credit standing of the Philippine economy has been moving up. Fitch’s, Moody’s, Standard & Poors’, and other institutions have been optimistic about the Philippine economic performance and good governance measures, which made them shore up the credit ratings nearer and nearer to the triple A mark.

 

The Philippine economy is still a Middle Income economy as of this moment. It if grows consistently at 7% per annum for succeeding years, then it can double its size in every 6 years. By 2025, PH economy will be 4 times its present size. At the end of that year, PH economy will have entered a ‘mature’ developed economy, and joins the club of 1st world nations.

 

[Manila, 28 October 2013]