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U.S. Financial Crisis

“Kathleen, just so your readers aren’t left with the impression that nobody but Doug Casey-Bill Bonner libertarians are welcome in this particular expat community, I have to reply to Michael B.’s letter in which he claims that the current economic malaise is due to government intervention in the economy.

“Anyone looking without ideological blinders can see that the problems stem from a de-regulated financial sector pillaging the real economy. We don’t have money to buy goods and services or to fund state and local government, because it all goes off to Wall Street as debt service, chips in the casino capitalism that the big boys play.

“But I am in agreement with Michael B. about one thing: The U.S. economy will be in a depression for the foreseeable future…”

–Gordon J., United States

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“I don’t understand your pricing, as Pinoy houses in the heart of Manila can go for as little as 2,500 pesos a month rental and not much more for decent flats in Makati City, the financial hub of the Philippines.”

–Peter A., United States

Philippines Correspondent Victoria Clair responds:

I have rented three places now. The first was in Cebu City, in a six-room Philippine house lacking Western-standard amenities like hot water, for 17,500 pesos a month. At today’s exchange rate, that’s about US$450. My second house was in Tisa, a suburb of Cebu City. That was 13,000 pesos a month. I am now living in Olango and have two large rooms and one smaller one. My rent is 3,800 pesos (just under US$100 a month).

I don’t know about housing in Manila firsthand, but I’m surprised to hear that you could find something so cheap. Of course, I don’t know where in Manila you’re referencing, the size of the place, or anything about what it is like. I have a friend who rented a three-bedroom, “Western-style” condo with three bathrooms for 17,500 pesos. When I look in the papers today I see new condos, intended for Westerners, advertised for 20,000 pesos and more. Again, though, these are brand-new, in the heart of the city, in very good locations, and with all amenities. Those that are already furnished can go for as much as 30,000 to 40,000 pesos a month.

I have seen a few “Pinoy” rentals. Most Westerns would not be interested. In my reports, I’m providing prices for housing that would attract middle-income Filippinos and that would be acceptable to most Westerners.

I’ve read blogs by some Western men, usually disabled vets, who were nearly broke when they got here. Until they got better situated, they stayed in what are referred to as “bedstays.” They are very cheap, but all you get is a bed. Some of these men have talked about how they lived on about US$300 a month. However, they also admit that they ate “Pinoy” style (lots of white rice, a small piece of chicken, fish, or pork, and maybe a spoonful of vegetables). I don’t write about this because I don’t believe our readers are interested in this lifestyle.

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