100 ZAX = 1 USD: Why Duterte should push for ASEAN’s common currency

NOW is the best time to pursue radical changes. Why? Because we have a strongman (iron-fisted visionary) at the helm. So if you want something done with expediency, now’s the time to take action – while we have a Duterte around.

It was during the golden age of the Pharaohs (powerful visionary leaders of Northern Africa) that Egypt built lofty monuments to the zenith of their civilization. Do the citizens of the regional bloc known as ASEAN believe that it’s their time? Then we should jettison petty nationalistic differences that serve as fetters to advancement and gear ourselves towards forming a regional bloc equipped for propelling the age of copper-tone Malays to greater heights.

There is great strength in unity. When united, we can become an impregnable fortress. When nations come together as a singular entity, they can become greater than the sum of its parts. The United States is a hegemonic force to reckon with because they are practically 50 nations banding together as one (note: just one state, like California, is economically and geographically superior to most countries in Africa or South America).

The way forward in this age of globalization is increased integration among member countries of a particular region. To be recognized as a major power in the world, we need to first become an economic behemoth. Respect is earned, not demanded. What currencies do you see in foreign exchange counters of major airports across the world? You’ll find those of the financially respected: USD, JPY and Euro.

Poverty is a mentality, a state of mind. Why can’t we imagine the Philippine peso (PHP) listed among those major currencies? It’s because we have been so accustomed to seeing ourselves as the little guy among giants. The same would be the attitude of Vietnam or Thailand. To grow out of this mindset, we need a new strategy: one which requires banding together for a shared destiny. Why can’t we imagine having an ASEAN common currency being recognized as a major unit of exchange by people across the world?

Whereas there will always be the naysayers, there are also those who dare to dream, and do so with some modest audacity. That’s why this article proposes to push for a common currency for ASEAN. Let’s call it the ZAX (Zenith of ASEAN integration and eXchange) with an initial exchange rate on the order of 100 Zax = 1 USD. ASEAN members are already visa-free in crossing each other’s borders; why not take it to the next level by making business/trade even easier?

Having a common currency can usher in new perks and opportunities:

  1. Vending machines and payment systems (kiosks, buses, trains) that work seamlessly all over ASEAN accepting the Zax.
  2. Tourists getting better attracted to visit ASEAN owing to the convenience of travel brought about by the Zax common currency.
  3. Greater resilience to economic storms by having a strong regional Zax currency backed by a colossal 600M-strong ASEAN market.
  4. Increased trade among ASEAN nations without the hassles of forex. 100 Zax worth of Philippine mangoes for 100 Zax of Malaysian palm oil.
  5. The “pride” and convenience of having one’s own ASEAN Zax currency available at foreign exchange counters all over the world.

There are ways to counter the resistance to adopting a common currency. For a start, it could just be used among ASEAN’s beach boys (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam) since we pretty much belong to the same league. Note: The problem usually cited for the Euro was that weaker economies were pooled together with the strong.

If you visit a country like Poland, you will see them using their local currency (Zloty) as well as the Euro. This can also be done so as not to make the shift too drastic.

Then we can also first introduce the new currency to mainly online and electronic transactions, which would mitigate the impact of having to supply hard currency (minting coins) to an enormous population across a vast region at its launch.

Finally, what’s in a name? Why coin a new currency name called the Zax, when there are already names such as the crony, the krup, and the anwar that have been brought to the fore?

It’s simple: when choosing a currency name, it’s best to not need to differentiate between singular and plural – like how 1 Yen and 100 Yen are both simply “Yen” (not 1 Yen and 100 Yens). So, can anything be more convenient than the “Zax”?

PS: China does not want a strong ASEAN. So don’t ask China for advice on this subject. The better question would be: where should we have the ASEAN central bank?

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7 Comments on “100 ZAX = 1 USD: Why Duterte should push for ASEAN’s common currency”

  1. That was an admirable, but ultimately pointless solution.

    Poverty is NOT A STATE OF MIND. Poverty is simply the lack of money and the means to acquire it. In short, poverty is a lack of economic opportunity. It’s an economic problem.

    This is what most Filipinos get wrong, and what most oligarchs would like us to believe.

    1. I disagree. I don’t think the single-currency idea would work (for any number of technical reasons) but poverty really is in your head, not in your wallet. Having no money is a CONSEQUENCE of thinking the wrong thoughts.

      Of course anyone can be temporarily short of cash – by becoming unemployed, say, or by being caught up in a war zone. A transient lack of money does not make you “poor”. A penniless man in shabby clothes has the potential to be wealthy (again) if he is a decent, honest, and hardworking person, with a skill to offer. It is IMPOSSIBLE for someone like that to be destitute for his entire life; and even if he finds himself in the worst of circumstances, he will still carry “wealth” around in his head – a basic ability to make the best of things, to depend upon himself, and to do whatever small things he can to make life better. One way or another, he’ll find a way to get himself out of his predicament, or at least ensure his children aren’t trapped in it.

      In contrast, the perennially-poor Filipino has no such potential. Fundamentally he does not WANT to be wealthy – or more accurately he doesn’t want to put aside the behaviors that prevent him becoming wealthy. He wants to carry on being ignorant. He wants people to feel sorry for him and give him stuff. He wants to spend his days drinking, singing KTV, and playing with his cock.

      If you want to do these things, you will never, ever be anything other than poor. And your children will also be poor, because they will adopt your bad habits and repeat the whole sorry cycle.

      I won’t disagree that the government of the Philippines encourages poverty by removing every possible opportunity from those who WANT to better themselves. Nevertheless, even within that dysfunctional framework, good people can prosper if they simply refuse to remain poor. They might not prosper MUCH, but they can certainly achieve better than the hand-to-mouth, “can I barrow 500 pesos for the carabao medicine sir” mendicant existence that the average Filipino aspires to.

  2. Too early and there’s barely any infrastructure and the people manning it to make this work, and you might want to take a look at the Euro’s entire history, right now it’s pretty much bankrupting a lot of EU member states.

    1. Greece’s bankruptcy is a result of its own fiscal mismanagement/incompetence: basic spending beyond one’s means. It doesn’t really matter what currency is used. Now if all a country is know for in the marketplace is yogurt, could you really expect it to be blazing with the rest of the stallions?

      We can learn from Greece though. The future ASEAN single currency zone should exclude the weaker countries (Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar) up until they reach NIC-hood. Otherwise, they might pull the value of the currency down.

  3. I don’t believe that : “poverty is a state of mind”. It is a reality, among most Asean nation, due to lack of economic opportunities; lack of needed skills and education; lack of initiative to improve oneself.

    Common currency, it seems not working well in Europe. Britain had pulled out from the Euro. The U.S. is economically strong, because, it is a fully industrialized nation.

    I am not educated as an economist; so I cannot discuss well on this topic of common currency.

  4. If the leader is filled with high ambition and if he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles.

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