Growth trackers miss; equal before the law

The law is never finished. It is a work in progress, and ever will be.  

– On The Basis of Sex

Even professionals can be way off the mark

Sometimes they hit, other times they miss.

There simply is no such thing as a sure fire – yes, even for economists.

If economists had a hard time getting a correct reading of  the country’s economic performance last year, how much more difficulty would they encounter this year on account of back-to-back debacles starting with the Taal eruption, the still raging 2010 coronavirus, the US-China trade war, and the resulting global economic slowdown?

Get this: Only three forecasters have accurately predicted the 6.4 percent gross domestic product expansion for the October-December 2019 period, according to an analysis by the Department of Finance of the quarterly growth projections by 20 private sector experts.

“Economic growth accelerated to 6.4 percent in the 4th quarter of 2019, which remains among the highest in the region, and should be sustained into the next quarters based on strong fundamentals,” said Finance Undersecretary and department chief economist Gil Beltran.

Beltran reported that “as growth picked up, three analysts were able to accurately forecast this development beforehand. They are Alex Holmes of Capital Economics, Emilio Neri Jr. of Bank of Philippine Islands, and Ruben Carlo Asuncion of Union Bank of the Philippines.”

“These three analysts got the Q4 2019 GDP growth exactly right, so it follows that their full-year estimates will also be correct because GDP growth figures from the first three quarters were already reported by the PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority),” Beltran said.

He added that three more analysts have made forecasts that were close enough to the official estimate to make their 2019 full-year estimates correct, at 5.9 percent.

“These are Jefferson Arapoc of the University of the Philippines, Romeo Bernardo of GlobalSource Partners, and Alvin Ang of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development,” Beltran added.

The DoF analyzed the growth forecasts of 20 analysts from institutions that regularly release their estimates via Manila’s media.

Last year, the economy failed to hit the government’s six-percent to 6.5-percent target band after expanding by only 5.9 percent due to the impact of the delay in the approval of last year’s national budget.

Bangko Sentral Gov. Benjamin E. Diokno said monetary authorities  were projecting Covid-19’s hit on domestic growth to average at 0.3 percent in the first half of the year, with the impact placed at 0.2 percent in the first quarter and 0.4 percent in the second quarter.

In a report dated February 18, S&P Global reduced its 2020 growth projection for the country by 0.1 percent from 6.2 percent because of the projected impact of the viral disease that started in Wuhan, China, but kept its 6.4-percent projection for next year.

Fitch Solutions is currently keeping its 6.3-percent growth forecast for the economy this year, the six-percent outlook for next year, and the 6.2-percent projection for 2022.

ANZ Research has maintained its 6.2-percent growth forecast for the  economy this year, pending incoming data for the first quarter vis-à-vis the impact of Covid-19.

An executive of the International Monetary Fund has forecast the Philippine economy to expand by 6.3 percent in the first quarter of the year despite the impact of  Covid-19.

***

Can’t be bright, warm, and sunshiny all the time; there ought to be a little rain sometimes.

And so the rain did fall on the guy’s parade.

It must have been a crushing blow to someone used to getting his way.

It’s hard to discern the mood behind look on the face of a certain G. Yap as he entered a courtroom in Pasay City on February 21 to accompany a certain A. Obregon, who filed an estafa case against one L.M. Nuevo.

It was definitely not his day.

For starters, his lawyer failed to appear even after the case was called three times, after which the irate judge had to push through with the hearing as under the new rules on continuous  trials, absence of private counsel in a criminal case is no longer a ground for suspension.

Even more excruciating was the fact that the judge dismissed the case filed by Obregon on the ground that there was "no probable cause" as the evidence presented during the  preliminary investigation was insufficient.

Sources said (the accused) Nuevo had  presented a compromise agreement  signed by Yap and Obrego wherein they waived all further actions against Nuevo for an allegedly substantial amount, but the case was nonetheless filed.

Worse, Yap came to town in several newspapers, accusing Nuevo of being a "scammer".

The dismissal of the case left him with  proverbial  egg splattered on his face considering that he also belittled the legal prowess of Ferdinand Topacio, Nuevo's counsel and lawyer for a host of key political and celebrity personalities, including  two former Presidents.

Ped Xing sources said Yap and Topacio never spoke during the hearing, but a slight smile crossed the lawyer's face when he looked towards Yap's direction after the order of dismissal was issued.

Undefined, undeserved privilege can get into the big heads of some  people in media when they are subject to the same rules as everyone else.

Indeed, we may not be equal in all things, but before the law everyone is – even members of the press.

Let no one forget this.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people