Philippines still the ‘sickest man’ of Asia

In a year of depressing economic stories in Asia, none arguably is more of a downer than the relapse of the region’s “sick man”

Granted, the Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte had been an economic car-crash-in-slow-motion since 2016. But it took the pandemic to really drive the nation off the path toward Asian tigerdom it was on prior to his arrival in the presidential palace.

In recent years, “the Philippines was one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” says Brookings Institution economist Ronald Mendoza. “It finally shed its ‘sick man of Asia’ reputation, obtained during the economic collapse towards the end of the Ferdinand Marcos regime in the mid-1980s. After decades of painstaking reform — not to mention paying back debts incurred under the dictatorship — the country’s economic renaissance took root in the decade prior to the pandemic.”

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