Real Returns

Meals at Manila's Malacañang palace are a modest affair. at a recent lunch, the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and some guests from TIME were fed scrambled eggs, bacon, burgers and fries. It was a menu with a message—that Arroyo is scrupulously guarding the nation's scant resources. It's easy to see why her kitchen is engaged in this game of culinary p.r. Despite a solid growth rate of around 5%, the economy is a mess, hobbled by 11% unemployment, 8% inflation, and a crushing $70 billion in national debt. Adding to the perception that the Philippines might come apart at the...

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