Economics of a Wasteland

Economics of a wasteland and about a year ago, an odd advertisement came out of a major daily in the Philippines and it read something like this: “In the land of the blinds, a one eyed man is king!”

Those of us in the office who saw that ad tried to put heads and tails together and decided that the ad was actually a derogatory remark made by one company to belittle the achievements of another company (their competition).

The ad was ignored by the targeted company and it was soon forgotten.

Anyway, in our office (where very few people play the market) every question on news stories related to the stock market almost always end up with me.

That abysmal drop of the DJIA a few days ago (almost 400 points) sent another shiver up the spine of some of our colleagues who are now on the verge of giving up on the idea of making their millions by betting on the market.

“Well, just look at how bloody red that screen is. And now, this?” one of them quipped. Funny, I thought, there was only one thing green left in that setting. Me. And they chose ME to ask the questions! In essence, the question goes something like this: “What in the world are we doing in this mess?”

It wasn’t me who got them into the market. 2006 was a good year and they went in on their own volition. So, I thought, I wasn’t about to get lynched by my own officemates. But it is I who is always urging them to learn more about the goings on in the market, and thus, I am the usual victim of interrogation.

I suppose their stocks received so much beating in the latest crash (just like everyone else’s) and they are licking their wounds. “Hey, why waste time learning about a market that’s practically on its knees begging for mercy, eh?” asked another.

I cannot argue with these guys. Not when they are in that state of mind. So, I digressed and talked about a large track of land that used to be considered a wasteland. Nobody wanted it. The story goes that it was so useless you can’t grow anything on it. You cannot even bribe or take your clothes off to seduce anything edible to sprout on the ground.

Well, that was the time when every piece of land can only be deemed valuable if you can plant on it and harvest from it.

Still, an affluent family from Spain’s mountainous region of Alava bought a rather big chunk of the entire badlands sometime in the 1800’s and turned it into what is now known as the Makati Commercial District. Maybe it was true that nobody can germinate a good seed in that place before, but look at what sprung out of every square inch of it eventually!

salcedo village

Sorry, can’t grow corn stalks here.


And guess what? One of the buildings there is housing the Makati side of the Philippine stock Exchange (there is another trading floor at Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong but they are integrated).


makati at night

Makati at night. Pics source: Wikipedia

So, okay, it is a bad year and you cannot even make a cross-eyed penny out of your stock market investments. So what? Is that an excuse not to learn the intricacies of investing in securities? Say, how many market crashes and economic crisis and recessions and stagflation and bubble bursts have there been, put together? And isn’t it true that, every time, the market recovers, and in the recovery, millionaires and billionaires are made because of their market shares?

Now, would you rather that you still don’t know how to make your money in the market in the next Bull Run?

Admittedly, it’s like a “winter wasteland” in the stock exchanges right now. The shares are shedding prices like they carry some deadly communicable diseases. So, what? Would you rather check them out when the whole planet is scrambling to snatch them up?

Boy, if I only have a big box full of those crisp 100 denominated greens…



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