In 1998, Estrada was elected president. He had a strong economic team that helped in significantly improving on the poor performance of the previous administration. The earlier Ramos administration left Estrada with a bankrupt treasury and a zero-zero agricultural growth rate, and a high inflation rate of 12%. By the time Estrada was ousted, he increased the growth rate in agriculture to 6.6% and reduced inflation by 3%. He also increased the Gross National Product by 3.6% despite the fact that the country was also affected by the Asian economic crisis.
The mainstream media severely criticized the Estrada administration for cronyism, incompetence, and corruption, supposedly causing it to lose the confidence of foreign investors. However, such negative treatment/reports are apparently part of the anti-Estrada demolition PR campaign reported by Manila Standard' s Emil Jurado and Daily Tribune's Ninez Cacho-Olivarez It is thus debatable whether some charges as to investor confidence being damaged by accusations of exerting influence in an investigation of a friend's involvement in stock market manipulation has any basis at all. Economic performance was hurt, however, by climatic disturbance that caused extremes of dry and wet weather. By the end of Estrada's administration, debt supposedly reached P 2.1 trillion in 1999. Domestic debt supposedly amounted to P 986.7 billion while foreign debt stood at US$ 52.2 billion. The fiscal deficit had reportedly doubled to more than P 100 billion from a low of P 49 billion in 1998. Despite such setbacks, the GDP by 1999 posted a 3.2 percent growth rate, up from a low of −0.5 percent in 1998. Moreover, domestic investments started to increase from 18.8% of GDP in 1999 to 21.2% of GDP in 2000.