The worst is over

"I share the BSP chief’s optimism."



The worst is over for the Philippine economy, says Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin S. Diokno. Last Friday, he highlighted the recent balance of payments, dollar remittances, and foreign direct investment numbers to back his claim of an impending rebound in growth, from an 8-to-10 percent drop in economic output (GDP) this year in 2021, the worst in the last 30 years.

For next year, ADB projects GDP growth of a hefty 6.5 percent from -7.3 percent in 2020, while the IMF sees growth at 7.4 percent from -8.3 percent.

For his part, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda sees a strong recovery next year for two reasons: one, there is a new President at the White House and two, the AstraZeneca vaccine will come to Manila by March 2021. President Duterte, he notes, has raised P73 billion to procure vaccines good for 60 million Filipinos, enough numbers to create herd immunity. Herd immunity is when a COVID-19 patient infects no more than one other person. This stops the virus in its track (because 1x1 equals one).

I share the BSP chief’s optimism. Ben Diokno knows his marbles. He is good. He is pro-people, pro-inclusive growth. To resurrect a battered economy, he has injected nearly P2 trillion in stimulus money to the system, enough to infuse life into at least half of the economy. Also, the economy has underlying strengths that insulate it from any further devastation by COVID.

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Finally, it is my birthday today, Nov. 25. And the milestone is a good-enough excuse to be optimistic. I feel good at being 72. Aside from bouts in the past of vertigo (maybe due to frequent lack of sleep to meet deadlines) and gout, I haven’t had any serious illnesses. I did meet with a serious accident two years ago when my supposedly high end Discovery SUV lost its brakes and slammed onto two electric posts. The SUV was declared a wreck but I was unharmed without any fracture or bruises. I have thus survived the worst health and economic crisis of the past.

My magazine, BizNewsAsia, the largest of its kind in the country, has also breezed through this once in 100 years crisis. In the first three months of the pandemic that forced the longest and strictest lockdown in the world, BizNewsAsia lost a couple of regular advertisers. But by the third quarter, as the pandemic razed to the ground major businesses, BizNewsAsia gained a number of new advertisers. Many of them pre-paid their ads to take advantage of a well-designed multiple-placement package, enabling the magazine to raise enough cash for operations (the weekly never stopped printing), retire or prepay debts, and build enough cushion to cart itself into 2021 which if you believe Diokno and Salceda is a boom year.

The year 2021 will be BizNewsAsia’s 20th year. It also marks my 50 years of professional journalism.

Here is what my BizNewsAsia house ad, “Tough and sharp,” says about me:

Lopez is the founder, president, chairman and CEO of BizNewsAsia, the Philippines’ largest and most influential weekly business and news magazine. Its pass-on circulation is as high as 350,000 readers.

He is one of the most senior and prominent journalists in the country today.  He has 50 years of journalism experience here and abroad covering business, the economy, politics, and world affairs. 

He has worked for the largest, oldest and premium news organizations here and abroad, including Asiaweek of Time Warner, Mainichi Shimbun of Japan, ARD and ZRD TV stations of Germany, and the Roces’ Manila Times, Lopez’s Manila Chronicle, and Romualdez’s Times Journal and Manila Standard.  In 2001, he put up his own magazine, BizNewsAsia.

Tony began his business journalism in 1970, becoming senior business reporter of the Manila Chronicle, acting business editor (the youngest) of the Manila Times, and business editor (the youngest) of The Times Journal.

As a business writer of nearly 50 years, and editor of BizNewsAsia weekly, he has interacted with and interviewed many of the Philippines’ leading tycoons and taipans. He thus can write about them and their enterprises with urgency, immediacy and authority, as well as with balance, fairness and sympathy.

Lopez is the first honorary member of CREBA, the largest and most prestigious association of developers, builders, property owners and real estate professionals.  He is a governor of PHILCONSA and current chairman of Manila Overseas Press Club. He is a member of the Management Association of the Philippines.

His BizNewsAsia is remarkable for its incisive and in-depth reporting on business and the economy and for chronicling the achievements of the country’s leading enterprises and entrepreneurs.

Lopez writes a column, Virtual Reality, every Wednesday and Friday for Manila Standard and has hosted for seven years the award-winning business-oriented weekly PTV talk show BizNewsTV.

Tony finished journalism, magna cum laude, from the University of Santo Tomas, on a four-year full scholarship.   He also finished global journalism from the University of Stockholm, Sweden and three semesters of MBA at Ateneo de Manila.

He was for 25 years senior correspondent of Time Warner’s Hong Kong-based weekly Asiaweek.  He made Asiaweek the largest international news magazine in the Philippines.

His Asiaweek work helped put the Philippines on the world map, writing on events that shaped one of Asia’s largest economies in population and economic size, both during its moment of great peril during the martial law years and its re-emergence as a bastion of democracy, economic revival and good governance today.

Lopez won the TOYM in 1985 for international journalism, the Outstanding Manilan in 1989 for international journalism, and the Gold Medal as Hero of EDSA from the Philippine Star in 1987. The Pilipino Reporter Magazine made him “Journalist of the Year.”  The Rotary Club of Manila has given him six awards—for distinguished foreign correspondence in 1987, for lifetime achievements in journalism in 2015, and for BizNewsAsia as the “Business Magazine of the Year” in 2015 and 2016,  “Journalist of the Year” for 2019, and “Centennial Journalist of the Year” when the Rotary Club of Manila, Asia’s oldest Rotary Club, celebrated its centennial last year.

The UST College of Arts and Letters made him one of its Most Outstanding Alumni in Arts and Letters in the last 100 years.  UST itself made him one of its Most Outstanding Thomasians in the field of arts and letters.

Tony is a founding member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, long-time member of the National Press Club, and the only six-time president and six-time chairman of the Manila Overseas Press Club, Asia’s oldest press club.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , Philippine economy , Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas , BSP Governor Benjamin S. Diokno , GDP growth
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