The Philippines’ economic situation in Asia has always been unique. Prior to the regional financial crisis in the late 1990s, the country had been the odd man out, constantly labelled as ‘the sick man of Asia’, with output never really growing as fast as that of its neighbours. During the crisis, it was again the East Asian exception, albeit in a more positive sense. The country suffered only a mild recession in 1997–8 and, primarily because previous capital inflows had not been very large in previous years, the country was relatively unscathed.
Ten years after the region-wide crisis, Asian economies – particularly the so-called economic tigers – are again moving into a position of strength. Their export levels have steadily risen, leading to strong output growth and trade surpluses. Consequently, and as part of a broad strategy to maintain competitiveness, they have accumulated
substantial foreign exchange reserves and achieved robust savings rates.