The Philippines Has The Highest Tax Rates in Southeast Asia – But The Quality of Government Services Is One of The Region’s Worst

Despite optimism for development, the Philippines continues to lag other major Southeast Asian countries in terms of infrastructure, per capita income, and other economic indicators. Could it be due to corruption? Security issues? Government instability? Overpopulation? The answer is probably yes to all; but other countries fare much worse with the above issues. Thailand and Malaysia, in recent years, have higher profile corruption scandals. Security perception had always been worse for most other countries. Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar suffered from years of war and turmoil. Indonesia has more than double the Philippines’ population.

Association of South East Asian Nations - Flags of Countries
Guess which has the highest tax rates? Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries. Image from sminvestments.com

 

Could it be due to taxes? The Philippines has the highest income tax rate in Southeast Asia. Is the country lagging behind because the citizens are being taxed too much?

The highest tax bracket in the Philippines is 32% for taxable income PHP 500,000 and above. If you live in another ASEAN country, how much will your marginal tax rate be if your taxable income (annual) is PHP 500,000?*

Continue reading The Philippines Has The Highest Tax Rates in Southeast Asia – But The Quality of Government Services Is One of The Region’s Worst

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#ParaSaEkonomiya : Philippine Finance Social Media Roundup

Social media is in everything this days, even in finance and investments. Unfortunately, finance related stuff doesn’t really trend in social media; at least here in the Philippines. The hashtag #ParaSaEkonomiya (For the Economy) is often used these days, but most of the posts don’t really relate to the economy. Sadly that hashatag has become a punchline.

Beginning with this post, Finance MD will regularly feature social media posts related to Philippine finance and investments. #ParaSaEkonomiya indeed.

 

Balikbayan boxes Change.org petition - Confirmed Victory
Confirmed Victory! – Change.org petition to stop new Customs rules on Balikbayan boxes. Screengrab from change.org.

First up is the petition against the new Bureau of Customs rules on “Balikbayan” boxes. Why are a lot of people opposed to these new rules?

Continue reading #ParaSaEkonomiya : Philippine Finance Social Media Roundup

Are We “Bear” Yet?: The Assets That Have Entered the Bear Market in 2015

The markets are not doing good right now. The Philippine Stock Exchanged (PSE) just experienced “Bloody Monday” on August 24 (news here). A down market doesn’t necessarily mean that it is already in a bear phase. Unfortunately, there are investments that have already entered bear territory in 2015,

 

Bull and Bear Statues near Frankfurt Stock Exchange
The bear seems to be winning in 2015. Bull and Bear Statues near Frankfurt Sock Exchange. Image by EvaK from wikipedia.org

 

What does “Bear Market” mean anyway?

Continue reading Are We “Bear” Yet?: The Assets That Have Entered the Bear Market in 2015

Reality Bites: COL Financial Downgrades 2015 Yearend PSEi Forecast

COL Financial, the Philippines most popular stock brokerage firm, has just downgraded its 2015 yearend forecast for the Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) to 7,950 from the 8,300 it predicted in January.

COL Financial downgrades 2015 yearend forecast
Sorry! COL Financial downgrades 2015 yearend forecast. Image from COL Financial Facebook page (see here)

 

Someone very important made an even bolder PSEi prediction — will he downgrade it as well?

Continue reading Reality Bites: COL Financial Downgrades 2015 Yearend PSEi Forecast

To Celebrate EDSA 2015, Philippine Government “Recreates” Traffic Jam Scene from World War Z

Today is the 29th Anniversary of the People’s Power Revolution (also known as EDSA I locally, there are EDSA II and III revolutions as well) in the Philippines. The government decided to close a significant and centrally located part of EDSA (it is the main and busiest thoroughfare in Metro Manila) to celebrate the anniversary. Being a regular weekday, many people going to work were stuck in traffic for hours. The pile up of cars became similar to the traffic jam scene in World War Z  or that in The Dark Knight, whichever was worse.

EDSA Traffic during the 2015 People Power Celebrations
Are these people fleeing from a Zombie apocalypse, or residents escaping from Gotham after the Joker threatened to blow up the city? Sadly. It’s the effect of someone closing EDSA. Image from @hvacajilog at Instagram

 

To celebrate the anniversary of the EDSA I revolution, somebody had the bright idea of closing up a significant stretch of EDSA – on a busy workday! Continue reading To Celebrate EDSA 2015, Philippine Government “Recreates” Traffic Jam Scene from World War Z

Chinese New Year: Investment and Money Tips for The Year of The Goat

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Today, February 19 is the start of the Year of the Wooden Goat / Sheep / Ram according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. In this post, I will list some investment and money tips from experts in Feng Shui and Chinese Astrology.

 

2015 Year of the Goat
Goats and sheep are totally different creatures, but that’s not important, right? Image from fengshuiben.blogspot

 

I searched online for feng shui experts, those who are usually hired to advice business executives and financial professionals on money matters. Here they are and what they had to say.  Continue reading Chinese New Year: Investment and Money Tips for The Year of The Goat

The Big Mac Index and Purchasing Power Parity: Which Big Mac is Actually the Yummiest?

The Economist invented the Big Mac Index in 1986 to better demonstrate Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). But does The Economist actually eat the Big Macs in their study? The Big Mac Index assumes parity in value; but I disagree, because Big Macs around the world are not equal in yumminess.

What is PPP? Investopedia defines it as:

An economic theory that estimates the amount of adjustment needed on the exchange rate between countries in order for the exchange to be equivalent to each currency’s purchasing power.

In layman’s terms; if a basket of goods and services is worth US$100 in the United States and an identical basket of goods and services is worth only US$ 77 in the Philippines at current exchange rates, then the Philippine Peso (PHP) is undervalued by 23 %.

Unfortunately, many people in the world no longer use baskets, and deciding which good makes it to the basket may be contentious. Since McDonald’s (see MCD:US latest stock quote), the company that serves Big Macs, can be found in most countries, using the burger as a proxy for the “basket of good and services” makes sense. Of course, the Big Mac method is not accurate; but according to The Economist, this makes the PPP theory more “digestible”.

Digestible? Did The Economist staff actually eat the Big Macs? Do The Economist writers actually eat at McDonald’s? In my opinion, some Big Macs are yummier than others.

 

Here is a rundown from Big Macs from around the world, and a depiction of the countries’ under/ over-valuation against the US Dollar:

 

Big Mac from New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America. Average Price: US$ 4.79

Big Mac in New Haven Connecticut USA
Do students in Yale eat this New Haven Big Mac while debating the merits of the Big Mac Index? Image from spaceofjase.com

My friend spaceofjase liked this burger from New Haven. My opinion: I ate an American Big Mac in Chicago. As the city is the location of franchise no.1, Chicago didn’t mess this up for me. The US Dollar is our base currency here by the way. Continue reading The Big Mac Index and Purchasing Power Parity: Which Big Mac is Actually the Yummiest?