USA – Business and Politics

Opinions Unlimited

by Atty. Tony(APA) Acyatan (Atty. APA – chairman of Acyatan & Co., CPAs-DFK International is president of PICPA in 1990 and ASEAN Federation of CPAs (1998-2000) and Accountancy Hall-of-Famer (2006).

“PROMISING”:  Financial experts here say that the US economy is on the “road to recovery” – but we have observed, it may be long in coming.  The business growth barometer – Retail Sales, is still sluggish.  Fewer people have funds with which to buy necessities and extras – while those of the middle class keep their money close to their chests, anticipating further problems lurking ahead.

The small and medium industries that first suffered as the economic downturn came about – are still in the doldrums.  Big businesses continue with their organizational restructurings– wherein the biggest victims are the staff.  All these result to unemployment or under-employment rate increases.  The uptick in jobless statistics reduces further domestic consumer spending – hence the slowdown in business and industry activities.

GOVERNMENT:  Pres. Barack Obama is gradually being faulted for his inability to push the right “buttons” to stimulate the nation’s economy.  We witnessed here in California that the government itself (Federal, State and counties) – is at the forefront of the manpower lay-offs or reduction of working hours.  The “casuals” were the first to go – followed by those with redundant functions.

Services are being kept to the minimum.  We opined before that health services will not be affected by the downturn – but we are proven wrong.  Filipino health workers here suffer from reduction of working hours.  The resultant vacated workloads have to be shouldered by the retained ones.  They are willing, albeit complainingly, to tackle the expanded duties so long as they keep their jobs.

HOUSING:  The real estate and construction industries are still awaiting the improvement of the housing market.  Inventory of housing units for sale are in excess – augmented by those held by banks from foreclosures or repossessions.  There is no urgency to construct new ones (more so those for the middle class) – so labor and material providers have anemic sales and bleak growth prospects.

Sales by big US banks of mortgage loans are going on at discounted rates – meaning financiers are shouldering losses (on principal and accrued interests).  The set-up is similar to what was done in the Philippines under the Special Purpose Vehicle Law – results of which are still for evaluation by our monetary authorities.  They will find out that save for the “window-dressing” of the banks’ financial statements – positive effects on business and finance were minimal.

POLITICS:  Very early next month – the US mid-term elections will be conducted.  Informal surveys tend to show that the GOP (Republican) candidates are leading administration bets for governors, state senators and congressmen in the areas where elections will be held.  Key issues are on financial developments, environment and taxation.  Candidates’ past records are also on the evaluation board.

Campaigns are largely through media, particularly television ads which obviously have wider reach. Personal attacks on opponents are open and frank.  The big difference between US and Philippine political “mud-slinging” is in the admission of authorship.  The accusers here announce to all and sundry that he or she has authorized the media attacks.  Statistics and historical records are used as evidence – unlike the Pinoy-style “na pinupwede, kahi’t mga tsismis lamang”.

WISDOM:   Gratitude should not just be our momentous feelings; it must be our lifetime attitude.

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