Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From financial awakening to revolution

In just a week’s time, many Filipinos have transitioned from financial innocence to maturity, finally gaining considerable insight into the vitriol this column has heaped on “free market” economics. Many of them had previously held on to the authority of Western financial institutions, particularly “ratings agencies,” in judging our country’s financial performance -- institutions which have now had their credibility shattered for not having warned the world about the impending collapse of Lehman Bros. and a score of US and British financial houses.

So as bad as their once almighty dollar and economy have become, the commanding prestige of US financial authorities is now in tatters -- just as there are many red faces among Filipino “economists” here who have parroted the Chicago school of economics “free market” ideology.

I am writing this column for the new national leaders of this country who will find themselves at the helm of government sooner than expected. I am referring to detained General Danilo Lim, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and the Bagong Katipuneros, and those in opposition political circles preparing to take over from the neo-colonially enslaved and corrupt Gloria Arroyo regime -- the most viable of which include PMP’s President Joseph E. Estrada, as well as, UNO stalwarts Mayor Jejomar Binay and Senator Ernesto Maceda.

The looming economic tsunami will precipitate calls for change even before the 2010 election as the severity of the crunch is already felt -- and growing -- even though the holiday season may distract us for a while.

Other countries are already changing gears. Bloomberg, in a report entitled “ China Shuns Paulson’s Free Market Push as Meltdown Burns U.S. ,” quotes former adviser to China ’s Central Bank Yu Yongding: “The U.S. financial system was regarded as a model… Suddenly we find our teacher is not that excellent, so the next time when we’re designing our financial system we will use our own mind more.”

Over a year ago, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said to the Shanghai Futures Exchange, “An open, competitive, and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than governmental intervention…”

Yet now Paulson is using $700 billion in US funds to save “the markets.”

As a former chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Paulson contradicts what the US prescribed Asian governments like Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (which was seconded by Solita Monsod et al.) to let unviable banks and their countries’ respective currencies fall.

Shanghai-based Andy Zie, formerly with Morgan Stanley, now has this to say:

“It’s the end of an era… In 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, socialism was discredited and the whole world turned right. Now financial capital has been discredited and the whole world, including the U.S., is turning left.”

Although China has selectively liberalized since joining the WTO, it had never allowed “margin and derivatives trading” -- something that the likes of our Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Tetangco approved last year.

Slowly but surely, Filipinos are learning. In the new, post-Gloria Philippine government, the first financial and economic action must be the removal of the Chicago Boys in the finance and economics offices of government.

Government financial policy-making must be freed from AIG’s Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, Philamlife, Citibank, Royal-Dutch Shell and other local subsidiaries under the Ayala umbrella. Of course, Gloria’s “Board of Economic Advisers” including Greenberg (again), Sycip, CIA men Wisner and Bosworth, and other corpo-rats must be junked as well.

It will have to recruit from socially-oriented and nationalist economists and finance experts, such as former national treasurer Norma Lasala, SOLAIR academics, patriotic businessmen and religious comrades from Katapat, KME, et al.

Pro-people, pro-nation state financial and economic policies will naturally flow from this fundamental change.

To visualize this reversal of financial and economic direction, think of: (a) Putting in place what Norma Lasala has long advocated -- that so-called dollar reserves be put into active use in the economy; (b) Nationalist economists paving the way for the re-nationalization of public utilities, resulting in the reduction of power, water and road toll rates to revive the economy and consumer confidence; (c) Patriotic businessmen and Church leaders reviving import-substitution industries and the “Buy Filipino” movement; (d) Jumpstarting the Freedom from Debt Coalition’s special mission of debt audit and renegotiation; and (e) Assigning Laban ng Masa, which has close ties with South American leftwing governments, to negotiate for low priced oil from countries like Venezuela.

For sure, there will be enormous resistance from foreign financial exploiters, making efforts to foment instability inevitable. But this is where the Bagong Katipuneros (a.k.a. Magdalos) will step in, tasked with the special mission of securing the nation from the “enemies within,” i.e. the US-British agents within the military and police establishment.

Of course, barring the total wipe out of any residual treasonous colonial mentality from incessant calls for patriotism and nationalism, the threat to be reckoned with can only be subversion from within as none of our neighbors will prefer to threaten us frontally.

Given this, top foreign agents in the Arroyo government should naturally be arrested posthaste like Norberto Gonzales, Archie Intengan, et al. Traitors in the military, meanwhile, who are known to military nationalists, are best left to the latter to dispose of in their own manner.

After securing the nation and stabilizing its financial and economic direction, the next step is establishing energy independence through immediate tapping of geothermal resources, which are more than sufficient for the country’s needs for the next decades. With the country’s improving negotiating position from the initiatives of the new government, optimal deals for the opening up of natural gas and oil reserves from the Liguasan Marsh and the Sulu Sea will make the Philippines one of the newest “rich boys” in the Asean neighborhood.

Filipino per capita income in 2007 ranked 15th at HK$16,675 (ADB, 2007), compared to China at 10th place with HK$23,267 and Malaysia at 6th with HK$65,217. But with financial and national revolution, we can move up to the top six too.

Then, the Philippines can dream of building the “PetroPhil” towers rivaling Malaysia ’s own Petronas. Our OFWs can come home and be with their families again. US- and European-based OFWs can likewise retire in our shores and contribute even more to the growth and strengthening of this nation. These are all possible today as the Filipino nation awakens from the collapse of the US economic and, consequently, geopolitical myth. The time to be free is NOW!