Faltering Economy, Shell of a Democracy

Features Philippines Jan 25, 2019 at 4:12 pm


Yearend Birdtalk 2018 Executive Summary

Adverse economic and political trends since the start of the Duterte administration intensified last year. The risk of combustion in 2019 has become much higher. The administration has tried to project an image of economic progress and strongman-driven stability, peace and order. But if the year 2018 has shown anything it is that, halfway into the current administration, the systemic crisis of the Philippine economic and political order remains.

The economy is faltering. More and more macroeconomic indicators turned unfavorable last year. This was only a matter of time given long-unresolved imbalances and unsound fundamentals. The government’s infrastructure and spending offensive has so far kept economic collapse at bay. Fiscal stimulus will however become less and less effective as macroeconomic conditions worsen and as infrastructure bottlenecks are reached.

Neoliberal policies still prevent real and inclusive agricultural and industrial development. Domestic elites and foreign capital continue to profit but the poorest majority grapple with rising joblessness, low incomes, high prices, burdensome taxes and decrepit public services. Growing global protectionism, trade wars and brewing financial turmoil make reforms all the more urgent.

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