Subject: My Appreciation for Your Theory
I had another look with your book, Hyperwage. And it was really very
entertaining. I do understand how completely you are endeavored with
the idea. I would also say I am a convert too.
Back in 2008, I took another stand when I was trying to see it on the
other side. I was very much skeptical about your theory.
I think it as a wishful thinking. I was a critique on it.
I posted a lot of opinions against it. I even had a debate with someone in the DYAB thread on it.
And so it happened that I completely ignored it and went into a deep hibernation especially last year.
I was in fact, one of your avid listener and trying to discredit the practicality of your theory.
And fast forward to October 2010, it took me 2 years to give your theory another try. I read your book for the second time around.
IT was then that I found out that I missed a lot.
being a critic at first took me no regret. We need critics in our life to look
at the other side.
The second time I took the book seriously, I find out many of its application
that is so vast that it really makes you worthy to get a Nobel Prize for it.
The idea is so good. I don't know if there are already some people embracing
the idea, but it is universally a very good idea that even seculars and clerics
must embrace it. It is an idea far greater than Marx.
It is the gospel that Christ preached! It is the golden rule!
Let me share my own view of your idea. We need a leverage in our
income in order for us to create another opportunity of doing economic transaction.
With 20% of our income pegged at basic needs, we can contribute the vast 80% of the
remaining income circulated in the economy.
A lot of people did not realize this fact.
Most of them are hired by rich people wanting only to enrich themselves.
It is sad to note that some of our so-called economic experts like _______
did not even consider your idea a far greater one.
Well, it is expected that they would not even consider it.
These guys are just plainly, intellectual prostitutes. They are prostituting their so called expertise to the rich people and yet no matter how experts they are, they have not even given a good theoretical foundation on how our economy must be based on.
I made this email to tell you how I embraced the whole idea so much.
Currently, I am working with the biggest bank in the world which attracts some talents here in Cebu.
And realizing how important it is to leverage our income, I could say, there is no other economist that the world must listen to and that is JT Bents, and there is no other program in radio to listen to and that is your program.
Also, thanks for sharing the Howard Schultz story. I had listened it one time and the whole series of it.
I share your views on democratizing economic ideas as well as democratizing wealth.
Wealth I think is not just a material wealth but knowledge also.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Why Filipinos Are Not Rich
The Street Strategist has arrived at the conclusion that the poor Filipinos are not rich because they do not have money.
This is a very simple concept but it takes a genius to appreciate its simplicity. You may notice that I am trying to explain “why Filipinos are not
rich” in contrast to “why Filipinos are poor.”
Is there a difference? Yes, there is.
In asking “Why Filipinos are not rich,” the implication is that the normal state of events should be that Filipinos are rich and we have to explain if ever they are not in the normal state, that is, we have to explain why Filipinos are not rich when supposedly they should be rich.
Anyway, let us proceed.
The Street Strategist has arrived at the conclusion that the poor Filipinos are not rich because they do not have money.
The Filipinos have no money because the country’s wealth is inequitably distributed in favor of a few rich.
Wealth is inequitably distributed because the labor sector does not have a bigger share of the wealth.
Labor does not have a bigger share because they are mispriced and undervalued.
Labor is undervalued because they do not have an equal footing to enter into a fair contract with the rich employers.
A hungry stomach does not last one day of bargaining.
To gain a stronger footing, the government should step in and prescribe a higher minimum wage.
But the government does not want a higher wage because they are afraid the businesses would have lower revenues as a result of higher labor wages.
The businesses cannot maintain their revenues in the faces of higher costs because the demand for their goods and services do not increase.
The demand for goods and services do not increase because the labor class are not rich, therefore they have lesser disposable money.
The people have no money because the wealth is inequitably in the hands of a few rich.
Thus, we are locked in an ever diminishing circle.
Community of inequality
Let’s view this from another perspective.
According to a World Bank study, 1/3 of the wealth of the Philippines is owned by only 5% of the Filipinos.
This is a huge disparity.
This is an egregious distribution of wealth.
In economics, the Gini coefficient is the measure the gap between the rich and the poor.
What does this statistic mean?
Try to visualize a community of 100 of your friends.
For every PhP100 spent within this community, after all is said and done, these expenditures and incomes will eventually settle as asset or wealth distributions.
Of every PhP100 in asset, PhP33.3 goes to only 5 of your friends (PhP6.70 per pax).
The balance of P66.6 is distributed among the reminding 95 friends (PhP0.70 per pax).
Can you imagine how inequitable that is? That’s a ratio of 9.5 to 1, or 950%.
And did you forget something?
Those 5 friends of yours were actually not doing any work at all. They were playing golf all day, while your other 95 friends were the ones toiling under the hot sun, fighting against each other, backstabbing each other, and knocking on doors at night to sell products.
Is that fair?
What is really callous is that your rich 5 friends have billions of money that they could not possibly consume in ten lifetimes.
And yet you ridicule me for proposing a single solitary action, that is, a legislated minimum wage of P20,000 ($400 at $1=PhP50)?
Please remember, I am not advocating communism, socialism, or confiscation of property.
I am only advocating the correct valuation of labor, the world market price for labor.
Why can’t our teachers be paid like the teachers in Singapore? And Singapore has zero natural resources to rely on unlike the Philippines?
Myth: The Filipinos are poor because they squander money.
I heard so many upper class people say this. I even heard on radio somebody who cited their rich neighbor whose children squandered their inheritance.
But many Filipinos are fortunate enough to inherit wealth? A few thousands? We have about 35 million workers, and that’s the majority. They have nothing to squander.
Myth: The Filipinos don’t look for jobs.
I find this too simplistic. Filipinos are looking for jobs so much so that millions of Filipinos in search of work worldwide.
Maybe there are too few jobs here in the country. I have repeated many times why is there only a few jobs around.
That is why I wrote several chapters on the topic of job creation as a result of the Hyperwage Theory.
Maybe the jobs are not paying well enough.
If the actually wages are lower than the threshold reservation wage (the point at which the worker is indifferent if he has a job or not), then maybe that’s the reason they do not apply for jobs.
Remember if you work in the US for one year that is equivalent to 10 years in the Philippines.
Myth: The Filipinos are lazy.
You must be kidding me. Give each one a minimum wage of PhP20,000 and you’ll see. Currently, among the best workers abroad are Filipinos. And you and I both know that.
Myth: The Filipinos don’t save.
Of course, the savings rate in this country is low.
Of course, the Filipinos don’t save. We have half of the country living below the poverty line and you expect savings?
But the top 5%, yes, they do save. Save for what?
Should that money be shaved off a little bit and shared back to the workers in form of higher wages that will be used to buy the goods and services owned the same top 5%?
It will all go back to the businessmen anyway.
The Filipinos are naturally rich.
If we monetize the value of our entire natural resources nationwide we would have a higher per capita wealth than Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore.
But why is it that these city-states have a higher per capita income than the Philippines given that fact that they have no natural resources?
Simple. They put a value to their intellectual capital and human capital.
In Hong Kong, if you can’t afford to pay about PhP25,000 for a domestic helper, then don’t have one.
If you can’t afford to pay PhP30,000 for a sales clerk, then don’t be in business.
But do you know that happened?
And they have domestic helpers who are nurses or principal teachers from the Philippines.
Hong Kong is the 4th or 5th largest financial center in the world and it is only about 1/5 the size of Cebu province and it have zero natural resources. It imports water from China, can you imagine that?
Singapore imports vegetables from Indonesia or Malaysia.
Why aren’t the Filipinos rich when in fact they should be?
It is because the minimum wage workers are paid slavery wages, very far from the world market price for labor with is the US price.
Since they have slavery wages, they have little purchasing power. With little purchasing power, there is little domestic market.
When there is little domestic market there are few businesses. When there are few businesses, then there are fewer employees, and since there are fewer employees, there is little purchasing power.
And if there is little purchasing power there is little domestic market and so on and so forth.
Few rich, thin middle class
The Philippines has a very thin middle class, as with any other Third World country.
It is the middle class who provide entrepreneurship, the small businesses that is 95% of the number of establishments.
Again, this thin middle class is due to the egregious concentration of wealth in the top 5% of the population.
How do we then solve the inequitable distribution of wealth?
With only one stroke.
A legislated minimum wage of about P20,000 ($400) probably staggered over five years.
I am tempted but would not discuss here all the economic benefits and non-economic benefits of Hyperwage Theory because I had done that in my 33-chapter book.
Before anyone criticizes Hyperwage Theory, it would do justice if you read it first.
In the same manner that I read as much economic textbooks and journals before I finally set into writing my idea of Hyperwage.
What I am saying is this: The Filipinos are not rich but that is not what is supposed to be.
We have the natural resources that should have given us the power of the purse, the power of wealth.
The Filipinos are supposed to be rich. And there is one solution to correct this anomaly. Give labor its true value.
Suppose the businesses give back PhP100 billion in wages back to the people.
Assuming a propensity to consume of 80%, the economic multiplier is theoretically 5 times, and the entire nationwide economy will be richer by PhP500 billion.
This is the beauty of Hyperwage Theory. Instead of business annihilation, there would be economic redemption. Again, I have discussed this fully in my book on Hyperwage.
I hope I can meet my Henry Dennison, the multi-millionaire that Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith called crazy but who eventually caused the latter to reverse his economic thought.
If you recall in my Hyperwage book, Dennison argued that the rich few like himself have a bigger share of the income stream which sucks the economic wealth away from the economic system.
Dennison argued that the income stream to the poor should be increased.
Who will be my Dennison who would believe the Street Strategist’s Hyperwage Theory and become its advocate?
And who will be my Galbraith?
As I narrated previously, the famous Galbraith was once a Harvard professor who flipped his economic thought and reversed his ideas and finally adopted the very radical, ridiculed, and controversial ideas of John Maynard Keynes.
Will there be hyperinflation under Hyperwage Theory?
I have discussed this fully and the answer is that there will asymptotic hyperinflation, that is a hyperinflation with a ceiling, and that ceiling is the world market price.
Let’s take a look at this illustration. This is a simple one but if we analyze common products (vegetables, cooking oil, paper, newspapers, etc.) in this manner, we will have a clear idea of what asymptotic hyperinflation is.
Assume a person eats half a kilo of rice a day. With a domestic helper’s wages of P2,000 per month, then a person earns PhP76.90 daily.
Assuming the current price of rice is PhP30/kg then he will consume PhP15 of rice daily. He will have a net on only PhP61.90 per day.
On the other hand, under Hyperwage, is monthly rate is PhP20,000 and his daily rate is PhP769.
What will be the price of rice under Hyperwage? About PhP50/kg? Where did we get this price?
We assume a comparable quality of rice in the expensive city of Hong Kong which is priced about PhP50/kg.
Surely, we could not be above Hong Kong’ price under our Hyperwage Theory.
Thus, after spending for a half kilo of rice, the helper obtains a net of PhP744.
Net disposable income
So which is better, a net of PhP46.90 under our current low wage regime or a net of PhP744 under Hyperwage Theory? What if rice surges up to PhP100/kg? This means our rice will be higher than that in the US or Singapore or Hong Kong? That’s seems impossible. We could not be above these expensive cities, could we?
Even assuming it is PhP100/kg, but how much rice can one eat? Still half a kilo so that will cost him PhP50 daily, and his net is PhP719 daily.
Now, apply the same to a can of Coke, a kilo of cabbage, an IBM Laptop, an Ericsson cellphone or a Sony TV.
How do we know what will be the prices when we adopt Hyperwage? Simple, call the US or Singapore prices, and you can use these prices as your reference prices.
IBM pricing policy
Do you really think the price of an IBM laptop will rise 100% once minimum wages are raised 1,000%?
It may rise by 5% to 15% but never by 100% because the world market price for an IBM laptop is our reference point.
If laptops are being sold in this country at P100,000 each, do you really think it would be sold at P200,000 because the minimum wage is now P20,000?
Why should we pay double than US prices?
See my point?
At any rate, I have discussed all these issues in my 33-week discourse on Hyperwage Theory in 2005.
There are several factors of production in an economic system. Our economic theories emphasize the benefits of using the market price of each of these factors.
Our theories frown upon subsidies because they distort the allocation and efficiency of capital.
Yet, there is one factor that is not merely an inanimate factor of production, a factor that cannot be made to wait for market forces to determine its price.
This is human capital.
In the Third World countries, if we wait for market forces to determine the market price for labor, such time may never come in our lifetimes.
Why? Because a hungry stomach cannot wait for market forces. If First World countries value labor at $7.50 per hour, without government intervention, do you think human capital in Third World countries will stop working unless paid the market price of labor?
They cannot survive half a day without food. They will accept anything to survive.
Why aren’t Filipinos rich?
What makes a country or its people rich?
Education? We have a literacy rate that is one of the highest in the world at 95% or more, yet we are belong to the poorest of nations. Can we econometrically say that education is what makes a country rich? Statistics says no.
Natural resources? We have one of the richest natural resources in the world, yet we belong to the Third World. Surely, natural resources is not what makes a nation rich, is it? Statistics says no.
English? We are the third largest English speaking country in the world, but we wallow in poverty not wealth. Is English what makes a country rich? Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong don’t have half of our English skills, yet why are we mere domestic helpers to them, rather than being their rich employers? Or is there a possibility that English is not such a relevant factor we think it is? I admit the BPO industry has employed hundreds of thousands but do you really expect us to become a First World country with this? This is Third World mentality. To attract call centers to the Philippines, we need to slave our college graduates as phone operators? Isn’t it possible that we will perpetuate our status as Third World workers for First World businesses?
Low wages? For the last hundred years our strategy has always been low wages but why are we poor? Maintaining low wages means that you want the people to earn less than their US counterparts and therefore keep the people in check under the strategy of poverty. Yet, how come low cost of labor did not help our businesses become world-class players like Nokia or Intel or Samsung? Isn’t it obvious that maintaining low wages has kept us in Third World status? Can you economically argue that low wages are what makes a country rich? Statistics says no.
Low purchasing power? Low wages means low purchasing power. Answer me this: Does SM or Ayala go to Maasin Leyte because of low wages? No. The big businesses go to places where the people have purchasing power.
Purchasing power is due to high wages of the people.
Isn’t it obvious that Jollibee goes to the US because of the high purchasing power despite the high labor cost?
Why is SMC in Australia? Why is ABS-CBN in Saudi Arabia?
Economically, what makes a country richer, low purchasing power or high purchasing power?
Yes, indeed, why aren’t Filipinos rich? Why is there a huge gap between the rich and the poor? Why is management paid 100 times higher than the lowest employee in this country while in some countries it is only 10 times?
What is your solution to correct this situation?
As I have pointed out, it is not high education, it is not natural resources, it is not command of English, and it is not low salary that makes a country rich. It is how you value the poorest of the poor. It is how you value least of the least. It is how you value human capital. It is giving labor its true world-market value. It is Hyperwage.
( * * * * * Thads Bentulan January 18,25, 2007 * * * * *) [D1]
This article summarizes some ideas contained in the book "Hyperwage Theory," which discusses a new theory of improving the wealth of individuals and nations.
To obtain a free copy of the e-book "Hyperwage Theory" send an email to "email@example.com"
To view a list of books (with sample chapters and table of contents) visit
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Nobel Prizes should be awarded for originality of ideas. A professor may be very famous because of his expertise on Keynesian economics but that alone should not qualify for a Nobel. Give him a summa cum laude, if ever. The award in this case should go to Keynes and not to the person who has mastered Keynesian economics? Furthermore, the award should be given to something that is not very obvious almost everyone knows it. The Agency Problem for example is an "obvious" idea. Not worth a Nobel. The pricing of options in Black-Scholes is an example of a Nobel idea. Recently, the ones making rounds in the global crisis today is Keynesian. Govt intervention via pump priming methods are Keynesian. That is a good economic theory. (There was no Nobel yet in 1936, only in 1969) In our internet times, the people are so rich, they have forgotten about poverty in the poor countries. The embarrassing black eye of the economic theories today is the rising poverty and the absence of a specific solution to poverty. If you read the textbooks, the solution to poverty is education. But what about the people, the greater number of the populations who are just workers with no education? They are the general rule, they are not the exceptions. Are they hopeless? They cannot get the education that will make them richer. The greater number of the people will always be poor, and as a group, they will always be there even if some member of the group will go up the economic ladder via education. What is the solution to the poorest of the poor who will be domestic helpers for life? Telling them to educates themselves is giving them a solution for the few, not the many. This must be addressed by economics. There is wealth in this world but the distribution is very inequitable and this is demonstrated in Third World countries. Poverty will always be there but there must be a wholesale way to reduce it. Why is it that being poor in a First World country is still desired by people from Third World countries? Engineers in Third World countries go the First World countries to work as dishwashers. Teachers do the same and work are domestic helpers. This is a reality that so far has not been addressed by economic theory. Enter Hyperwage Theory.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Another shot at the Filipino this time by Alec Baldwin on David Letterman's show. I prefer Jay Leno's show because Letterman is very obnoxious even for a satirical talk show like his. So Baldwin's comments are nothing compared to what Letterman has said about Pres. George W. Bush, for example. And the "mail-order" Filipina bride has SOME basis in reality --- exactly why the Philippines has enacted an anti-mail-bride law. After two weeks, this thing will be forgotten. In the meantime, the Philippine government allows Filipinas to work like modern day economic slaves at P2,000 per month (yes US$40) or even less. And don't forget, the Philippines imports about 42% of its economy therefore, the prices of at least 42% of our economy reflect the world market price, and even higher because we need to pay the VAT, import duties, transportation, and profit of the importer. And don't tell me, the other non-imported component of our economy do not reflect the cost of the other imported items found in a particular product or service? If you are a bakery operator and your equipment is imported, and your flour is imported, and the electricity you use has imported coal or crude oil, and the computer you use is imported, and the cellphone you use is imported, don't tell me you are not going to include those imported factors in your pricing of your domestic product, the pan de sal? We should focus our energies on what matters most. Is it Alec Baldwin in a satirical show, or is it the purchasing power of the domestic helpers? Think.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
The idea for Hyperwage Theory came to me sometime in 1995 when I was working among US and British expatriates in Hong Kong and was assigned to several world capitals (New York, London, etc) as a result. The central idea of course is Purchasing Power to the lowest worker. However, at the time, I did not have the full backing of economic principles to back up my discovery. Since then I have read many textbooks and history of economics with the eye of somebody going against conventional economic wisdom. The first time I wrote about Hyperwage Theory (it was not called Hyperwage Theory then) was on May 2, 2002 in my BusinessWorld column. That was the Part 1. Therefore, officially, Hyperwage Theory is 7 years old today. However, part 2 was actually written in 2005 (three years after Part 1). It was in Part 2 that I settled on the name Hyperwage Theory. I actually wanted to call it "High Purchasing Power Theory" but this phrase was too wieldy, too long, too generic, and lacking the originality of an freshly invented word. And people will be referring to it as HPPT Theory? I settled on Hyperwage Theory although this term alone scares away first time readers. I figured, Hyperwage is a controversial term, but, hey, I invented it and its catchy and short. Part 1 by itself is self-contained, it described the theory and principles behind the theory. It should prove to be self-evident. Part 2 and the series was serialized for 33 weeks (whew!) in 2005 and the series was the detailed explanation of the basic tenets mentioned in Part 1. For all intents and purposes, the economic policy makers and the government executives were exposed to Hyperwage Theory in 2005 (four years ago). Hyperwage Theory made the term "purchasing power" fashionable, and I am happy that I achieved my first goal with my theory, and that is "awareness." And you can read so many accounts purporting to debunk Hyperwage Theory but look at their arguments: Do they stand on solid ground or are they just repeating the ideas of the authors of textbooks. And why do Third World people still line up at US embassies looking for that golden visa if not in search of Hyperwage? As long as they cannot answer you that with common sense, don't easily believe those detractors. They are not saying anything new, they are repeating the same economic ideas that have perpetrated and actually worsened the poverty conditions in Thirld World countries. Keep these in mind as your read the articles of the opponents of Hyperwage. (But remember, the government and the politicians have started to catch on: Purchasing Power is not a popular soundbite for them. Isn't that a signal, they are beginning to see the value of Hyperwage Theory?) Now, Hyperwage Theory has become a byword, (the butt of jokes), and Purchasing Power is the economic jargon of the times. Have you heard about "consuming power", "spending powers" "buying power" spoken by the senators, congressmen and economic advisers to the President? Before 2005, purchasing power was hardly a word, they uttered. Now, that they have dipped their feet in the pool, are they ready for US$1.50 per hour (or P20,000 per month) salary for the domestic helpers? Whatsoever you do to the least of your workers, you do unto the economy.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
After Chip Tsao, What now? The Philippine immigration authorities have lifted a travel ban on Chip Tsao. My question is: Where are the so-called "heroes" of the Philippine servant who shouted invectives at Chip Tsao? Have you noticed that those who felt insulted by the satire were not the helpers, but those who are actually rich Filipinos (those who have servants at home)? Do you recall that the organized migrant workers attacked those who deny that the Philippines is a nation of servants? There are 130,000 Pinay servants in Hong Kong, how many of them complained and rallied? What are these rich Filipinos, who were insulted by Tsao's satire, doing now? Have they done something to uplift the Pinays? Or, have their so-called "heroic defense" of the maids faded away in just a matter of weeks? Pinoy elite, the hypocrite. Where art thou? And then I'm alone down the lonely road of Hyperwage Theory.