Batuhan: Happy New Year-A A +A
Friday, January 14, 2011
THE year 2011 is barely upon us, and unfortunate events have already taken center-stage.
Once more, lax gun laws in the United States are in the spotlight, after a crazed gunman shot people inside a grocery store in Arizona, killing six of them, including a nine-year-old girl. Among his other victims is a US legislator from the state of Arizona, although she is fortunately alive.
If not the work of some crazed man, then nature gone mad has also left its deadly mark to the start of the year. Floods in Brazil have left some 500 people dead so far.
And although the one in Australia has killed far less at 19, the damage and destruction it has caused are no less catastrophic.
On the economic front, things are a bit mixed, if not totally depressing.
Japan, it seems, will still be unable to fulfill its role as the engine of growth for the Asian region. Saddled by the highest debt-to-GDP ratio of any developed nation in the world, and handicapped by a very strong yen, there is no end in sight to its economic woes.
Recovery, it seems, is a word that has yet to find a translation in Japanese.
China? Well, China will always be China. Which of course means that it will think of its own welfare first, before it will any of its roles as engine of any growth of whatever region it may be part of. Which is really not a change from the China we know.
Things are not as bad for it, just because of the huge economy that is yet to be satisfied in terms of basic material wants. But how much of this activity really translates to benefits outside its borders is a big question mark. Or small, depending on your perspective.
The West? News out of Wall St. seems to signal a return to the ways of old, with bonuses at top investment banks returning to their “normal” levels. It does not mean, though, that the US economy has managed a complete turnaround. Far from it.
If anything, all this proves is that investment banks are able to make money in good times and in bad, and on this occasion, it seems to be from the latter.
As far as Europe goes, not much pleasant news coming out from there, either. Emerging Europe, where the continent derived much of its growth from, is seen to slow down in its momentum. This is not surprising since its output is directed pretty much at its developed cousins and across the Atlantic. With those economies anemic at best, then the illness becomes contagious.
Perhaps the single piece of news to take heart from, is what is happening within our borders.
At the end of 2010, Filipinos seemed to have been very bullish about the outlook for the year ahead. Ever the eternal optimists—even during the darkest gloom of the Marcos dictatorship—our countrymen seem to think that this year will be better than the last, and that they are confident in the prospects for the days ahead.
And indeed, there are reasons to be.
The government, by and large, still has the support of the majority of our countrymen. And in a nation where political strife and partisan politics have harmed more than benefited the economy, this is a welcome relief.
It seems like the government does indeed know what it is doing. Crooks and embezzlers from the past dispensation are being brought to justice. The right people are being placed in the right positions. And the traditional politicos that have damaged this nation almost beyond repair are keeping their heads down, to avoid being brought to task for their sins.
Perhaps 2011 is not going to be that bad for us, after all?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 15, 2011.