Thursday, 13 March 2014

Athens vs Sparta, 2014

Management/politics/Life: The main choice has always been: Athens or Sparta. In Ancient Greece, in USSR vs USA, in US vs British Empire, Germany vs USA, Panathinaikos vs Olympiakos, Barcelona vs Real, Celtics vs Lakers, Celtic vs Glasgow Rangers (duopoly). But sometimes there is a third party, eg Ancient Thebes, AEK, the EU, etc that comes in and sometimes wins the day.

Monday, 24 February 2014

We are still living the effects of the criminal subprime crisis.

The economy is an ongoing system. Current problems in Greece, EU, US and world stem from old habits and scleroses. But some of the remedies are alas faulty. And a major shift was caused in the 1990s and 2000s by the further shift of much of western economic activity into an "unreal" real economy away from industry into not high end but basic services that have cut the real income of western citizens and shifted much activity into rather "useless" activities (an "unreal" economy). A major case of that is my native Greece (which, yet, has just managed to move into positive territory in trade balance for the first time since 1948 when records started being kept).

The dotcom bubble was followed by major mistakes of the US Fed in central interest rate policy (a rapid rise in early 2000s) that led to the subprime crisis that spread from the US to much of the rest of the western economies that, due to their own de-indurialisation and other structural problems, some due to inefficiencies in their welfare states AS WELL AS their product and services markets (leading to lack of sufficient competition and unreal "market" prices and costs). As a result, many banks and other organisations even in Germany had heavily invested in the dotcom bubble. The Hartz concept, Hartz IV being a prime product of it, was an ernest but faulty response (by the German SPD government of Third Way devotee R. Schroder). The Greek and PIGS austerity regimes, driven by the CDU-SPD (2005-2009) and later CDU/CSU/FDP coalition (2009-2013) and now a new CDU-SPD coalition are a) too German-centric and b) ill-conceived and harsh.

Photo: A dumpster in the red lights district of Athens, Greece (Fylis Street, near Agios Panteleimon and Victorias Square), one of the epicenters of the Greece, EU and western economies' crisis, January 2014, photo by Nick Panayotopoulos (InsideEUCrisis: Greece series). Properties in such areas have reached a low of below 300 euros per square meter (for late 1950s and early 1960s flats, as on location research by Nick Panayotopoulos has found).  

Greece, now at -20 pc GDP since the crisis started and on 28% unemployment, had its own perennial systemic problems (econ, social, policy, political/state) that compiled with the aftershocks of the subprime crisis and the Bubba driven by ECB interest rate policies in much of the 2000s (tolerated by the PIGS and other Euro nations and their reps in the ECB) have led to this crisis.

In the meantime, China's December 2002 entry into the WTO (a strategic mistake by the US and the EU), and the rise of other economies (eg ASEAN and others), fueled by investment from western bankers and companies (outsourcing of production to these countries) has created a dynamic that has further exacerbated the problems for the western economies. Greece is a key test case.

On top of that, speculative (casino like) investment in derivatives, especially on food related goods (commodities) has further blown up a more fundamental bubble that has not yet burst (the rise of bitcoins being one side-effect). When it does....

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Inside EU Crisis: Greece

With a whopping 28% jobless rate and a 20 p.c. dip in GDP since 2009, Greece is a special case or a view of things to come in the western world?

What is global?

In this day and age of globalisation, there are certain things that are more global than others. As I wrote in an analysis back in 2004, global are things that six different people of different nationalities and walks of life on a long distance flight can talk about.

Most things global, in 2004 and still today, are of course, Anglo-American. Courtesy of the language.
Movies such as When Harry Met Sally and You Got Mail, both with Meg Ryan, are part of global pop culture.

Paris is global too. The French language, not. Sorry M. Shirac!

To become part of global markets, pop culture and other dimensions of it, is not easy, of course. One either inherits it or works hard and smartly to achieve it.

Ancient Greece did.

Also read:

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The tuition issue will probably always haunt Nick Clegg

Paddy Ashdown's 2012 decision  to lead on the LibDems' General Election campaign is great but I am afraid that the damage done to the credibility of the LibDems due to the tuition issue will, alas, probably always haunt Nick Clegg.