Wednesday, 28 April 2010
IMO, Greece needs a very innovative - tailor made business, socio-economic, competitiveness model that probably defies the conventional thinking in IMF, EU, ECB, etc:
A model that will capitalise on year round tourism services as well as intellectual products & services, driven by uber flexible micro firms.
Complete overhaul & simplification of public sector, laws & regulations re everything; relatively low but simple taxation; decent welfare (NHS, etc) for all; inside the Euro of course. But for, that Greece should ask for urgent creation of a real EU Single Market (as opposed to the existing not-so-well working one) for goods, services & work, for all sectors; and improved EU competition law to protect micros in the EU Single Market. As well as lead most others in demanding new Euro policy vis-a-vis USD, Yen, Pound, etc.
Plus, as Howard Schneider wrote in the Washington Post last Saturday, April 24, 2010, "For nations living the good life, the party's over, IMF says", referring to the US and the rest of the developed world.
Thus, it is time for back to basics?
Then, dust off the togas, stock on grapes, start writing poetry and philosophising, take the dumbbells out of the closet, get a new mattress, we are going back to (the) basics (of "Western civilisation")! Wave goodbye to material possessions and other post-industrial revolution "perks" , for an austerity that is austere in some ways and more fulfilling in others.
Saturday, 24 April 2010
Comparative (and complimentary) Systemics EU-USA:
Let's consider first the World Systemics (population):
China 1.3 bn
USA+EU27 = 0.8
USA+EU... = 0.6-1.0 (ie large enough for balance of 3)
Population US has 300 mn in 50 states
The average state population is 6 mn
3 states above 20 million: CA 39, TX 25, NY 20
7 states with less <1 br="br" mn="mn">35 states between 1 and 10 mn!1>
Population 500 mn in 27 states
The average MState pop is 18.5 (USA: 6)
7 MS above 20 million: GER 81, FR 64, UK 62, IT 60, SP 46, (CA 39) PL 38, RO 21
The other 20 MS under 16.5 million pop (NL)
A breakup of the EU that some Cassandras "see", would allow the US and Russia and maybe others to play geo-econ "chess" on Europe!
In such scenario (!), some European countries may expect to be the queen, king, knights, rooks or bishops, but they may be surprised (pawns)
That is why IMO a European Political Union is a systemic "must", with 27+, 27 or 20, 15 or 10 countries.
IMO the current level of European unity makes no sense!
Either a) full union (USA or FRG style) or b) simple EFTA (would) make more sense (and be more stable systemically).
Is EU and Euro "architecture" structurally unstable due to faulty (step-by-step) design (compare eg with the federal USA or the Federal Republic of Germany)?
IMO the fundamental issue is whether majority of 500++ million Europeans have the esprit to unite into a single (federal) entity. If they do, then full Union (a la USA) must be next step, if hey do not then the current wishy-washy "EU" is max or beyond max?
EU already has 50+ years of step by step, the US may have had its share of step-by-step but it had a Constitution and it was built in different era (when events moved slower in general) and was still "faster" (eg Constitution) in the key areas than the European Integration. Hence, the EU IMO needs to take into account the US experience in federalism instead of dismissing it as irrelevant (eg the "we do not want a USE")
Now, as per EU lesson from the so called "Greek crisis": Build real Union (political, economic, fiscal, monetary, military/security) as originally intended after WWII. Let us recall that a European Political Community and a European Defense Community were considered in the 1950s and vetoed by France! I am not blaming France for the non creation of EPC & EDC in the 50s, just pointing that such unions in Europe were and are not unthinkable.
So, eg what can the EU do to help members like Greece reduce their high annual military expenses (Greece is No. 1 in the EU as a % of GDP (eg 4.3% of GDP in 2005))? A European Defense Community or Union would create economies of scale and that do that. How many of the 27 member states had implicit national security reasons for joining the EEC or EU? Well, let us not forget why the 3 ECs were created back in the 1950s by the founding 6; the fundamental reasons were not economic or nuclear or carbon and steel. These were "vehicles". Plus at least 10 other countries, 1 in the 1980s, 1 in the 1990s and 8 (6+2) in the 2000s had IMO very strong national security reasons for joining a European "union".
Re the common currency: In 1990 at INSEAD, my American Economics prof explained that a currency union in absence of a strong federal budget is doomed by design.
What has been the effect on Eurozone exports to the world from POR, GR, SP, FR, BEL, FIN, IRL etc of ECB interest rate policy in the last 10 yrs? And services such as Tourism? Note the relationship between the Euro and the USD, the Pound, the Yen and the Yuan these years!
To what extent is the Euro 2002-2008 a "victim" of
a) China's 2001 WTO entry and
b) ECB Euro parity policy 2002-2008? (food for thought)
In 90s were firms from SP, POR, GR, FR, BEL, IRL etc warned they would have to become "German" in order to be able to export after 1999/2002?
A more general question (ie goes beyond the Eurozone), for the whole EU: Is the main conflict of interests in the EU
a) between national economies or
b) between multinationals+large intl exporters & micros-SMEs?
Is departure from the WTO the only viable way for the US & EU to regain #manufacturing and for the EU to make the Euro viable?
When CSU suggests that Greece should leave the Eurozone (see article "Conservatives suggest Greece leave Euro currency union" April 24 2010, in The Local (Germany's news in English)
one can ask:
Should GRE or GER leave? Not a taboo topic, richtig!
The Euro needs an inflation & central interest rate policy that makes the Euro competitive vis-a-vis USD etc ie conducive to exports
Who decided to make the Euro so hard vis-a-vis USD etc, 2001-2008? Did anyone consider effect on exports and tourism of GR, SP, POR, IT, IRL, FR, BEL, and other members that do not produce products and services that have US and world that is inelastic to price (assuming most German products and services are)?
Kein taboo, right?
I propose as food for thought the article "The Coming European Debt Wars" by prof. Michael Hudson, in GlobalResearch,ca
In an interview to the SPIEGEL English edition, April 19, the German Finance Minister W Schäuble told it like it is re Greek crisis etc
April 16, 2010: "Greece May Spur German Rethink, Morgan Stanley Says" BusinessWeek
Comments on the above article: For the sake of argument, let's assume that there were to be 2 Euros:
a) One in traditional DM mentality (min inflation at all costs)
b) a softer friendlier to exports one.
How many of the 15 (26) would join the first one (other than GER) and how many the other? Food for thought!
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
IMO 2010 citizens "deserve" laws, regulations and policies that were designed for them, not 1810, 1910 or 1960 citizens & problems!
Which begs the question: How many countries do not need a major overhaul - modernisation of their existing bodies of legislation, regulations & policies?
I think that a "money" is, with all due respect, faulty.
IMO it is youthful curiosity (the one that Einstein attributed his scientific success to) and the immigrant mentality that make the World go round; as per the Earth, it is Physics (and its laws) that make the planet go round (see what happens in 2012??? I am not really buying the related theories, but who knows, I like to keep an open mind, my bad)
IMO we need to learn to love not only our neighbours but all fellow humans and respect the immigrant, we are all either immigrants or descendants of immigrants which is very well captured in the well known "Wir sind alle Ausländer" motto.
IMO every human has a "human birthright" to live and work legally any place on this planet he/she chooses to. Absence of this right constitutes IMO a form of global apartheid that future historians and generations will look down upon.
Example: IMO the Unites States lost its competitiveness edge in the world when it started putting restrictions on immigration. The immigrants that still managed to enrich the US (eg asylum seekers, etc) still manages to some of it. See eg the book: "Immigrant, Inc" (http://www.immigrantinc.com) by Richard T. Herman & Robert L. Smith that includes the inspiring motto "Think Like an Immigrant". Kudos, gentlemen!
Friday, 16 April 2010
Thursday, 15 April 2010
(or even merge with the US in a United States of America and Europe! but is that too Sci-Fi?)
IMO the first step towards a European identity is a thorough study of European history
In criticising or stereotyping South-Eastern and Central-Eastern European countries, how many are aware of their history (eg 1400s to date)?
There is no "old " and "new" #Europe; there are "older" and "newer" members of the #EU
His "Doha Lite" proposal seems OK to me, but an ambitious new agenda should be much more far-reaching, IMO.
Maybe it is time for either
1) a 2 speed WTO; The Mach2 WTO to include WTO members willing to move towards a US or EU type system of democratic (federal) government (not G20), or
2) How about a World Community or Union (a la EC/EU) with a WFTA (a la EFTA) for those not wishing to join the WC/WU?
The WTO's Director-General. M. Pascal Lamy, addressed facts and "fictions" about international trade economics economic myths when he spoke to the Paris School of Economics on 12 April 2010.
"Comparative advantage is dead? Not at all, Lamy told Paris economists" is the title that headlines his speech as posted in the WTO's site (wto.org).
Among others, he said:
"... In my comments today, I wish to identify and address some of these fallacies. We need to bring sound economic analysis to centre-stage in this debate. Secondly, I want to locate trade policy in a wider policy setting because it is at our own peril that we take trade policy and all its political complexities out of their proper context...."
He covered the theory underpinning trade economics, what trade statistics show, how trade deficits should be tackled, the impact of trade on jobs, the “race to the bottom”, and why liberalization needs regulation (link to his full speech on the WTO,org site)
And he ended his speech with a direct challenge to trade-skeptics and pro-protectionists:
"Let the public debate commence now"
Here are my initial comments to Mr. Lamy's speech:
IMO neither trade nor protectionism can hold the intellectual - theoretical high ground.
The economic reality around the world today, not the economic theories, show, IMO, that the current situation is worse than both a) protectionism and b) a real globalization (see also my post: "the cases for a) more and b) less globalisation!!!!" (Tuesday, 3 February 2009) which contains two audio analyses of mine, one arguing for more and one for less globalization!
A global economy needs global laws and a global democratic government IMO. Else it becomes survival of the cheapest.
In any case, I agree that a public - world debate on trade vs protectionism and globalization vs regionalization vs localization must take place and let the people decide after that.
BTW, IMO, free trade of goods etc w/o free migration of people is economically, socially and above all, humanly unfair.
Plus it's the failure of WTO as a whole to close a Doha DA deal that is quite responsible for the protectionist fashion (and vice-versa, the two feed on each other).
More contributions of mine on the trade vs protectionism coming up. But I propose you also check out my existing posts on this blog under the "labels":
a) "on globalisation and its pros and cons" as well as
b) "WTO", "Trade" etc
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
February exports were $0.3 billion more than January exports of $142.9 billion.
February imports were $3.0 billion more than January imports of $179.8
In February, the goods deficit increased $1.9 billion from January to $51.3 billion, and the
services surplus decreased $0.8 billion to $11.6 billion. Exports of goods increased $0.1
billion to $98.5 billion, and imports of goods increased $2.0 billion to $149.8 billion.
Exports of services increased $0.2 billion to $44.7 billion, and imports of services increased
$1.0 billion to $33.1 billion.
In February, the goods and services deficit increased $13.2 billion from February 2009.
Exports were up $17.9 billion, or 14.3 percent, and imports were up $31.1 billion, or 20.5
Goods (Census basis)
The January to February increase in exports of goods reflected increases in capital goods ($0.4
billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.2 billion); and industrial supplies and
materials ($0.2 billion). Decreases occurred in foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.5 billion) and
consumer goods ($0.2 billion). Other goods were virtually unchanged.
The January to February increase in imports of goods reflected increases in consumer goods ($1.1
billion); industrial supplies and materials ($1.0 billion); other goods ($0.4 billion); and
capital goods ($0.4 billion). Decreases occurred in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines
($0.8 billion) and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.1 billion).
The February 2009 to February 2010 increase in exports of goods reflected increases in industrial
supplies and materials ($7.2 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($3.2 billion);
capital goods ($1.9 billion); foods, feeds, and beverages ($1.1 billion); consumer goods ($0.5
billion); and other goods ($0.4 billion).
The February 2009 to February 2010 increase in imports of goods reflected increases in industrial
supplies and materials ($14.3 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($5.9 billion);
capital goods ($4.0 billion); consumer goods ($3.5 billion); foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.4
billion); and other goods ($0.2 billion).
Services exports increased $0.2 billion from January to February. The increase was mostly
accounted for by increases in other transportation (which includes freight and port services)
and other private services (which includes items such as business, professional, and technical
services, insurance services, and financial services). Changes in the other categories of
services exports were small.
Services imports increased $1.0 billion from January to February. The increase was more
than accounted for by increases in royalties and license fees (which included payments for the
rights to broadcast the 2010 Winter Olympic Games), other transportation, and travel. Changes
in the other categories of services imports were small.
Services exports increased $3.7 billion from February 2009 to February 2010. The largest
increases were in other private services ($1.7 billion), royalties and license fees ($0.7
billion), and other transportation ($0.7 billion). Within other private services, the largest
increases were in business, professional, and technical services and financial services.
Services imports increased $2.8 billion from February 2009 to February 2010. The largest
increases were in royalties and license fees ($1.0 billion), other private services ($0.9
billion), and other transportation ($0.7 billion). Within other private services, the largest
increases were in business, professional, and technical services and insurance services.
Goods and Services Moving Average
For the three months ending in February, exports of goods and services averaged $143.1 billion,
while imports of goods and services averaged $181.9 billion, resulting in an average trade
deficit of $38.9 billion. For the three months ending in January, the average trade deficit
was $37.7 billion, reflecting average exports of $141.5 billion and average imports of $179.1
Selected Not Seasonally Adjusted Goods Details
The February figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with Hong Kong $1.6 ($1.6 for
January), Australia $1.0 ($0.9), and Belgium $0.7 ($0.3). Deficits were recorded, in billions
of dollars, with China $16.5 ($18.3), OPEC $6.4 ($7.2), European Union $5.3 ($2.8), Mexico $4.8
($4.6), Japan $4.3 ($3.3), Canada $2.8 ($3.9), Germany $2.3 ($1.1), Venezuela $2.1 ($1.6), and
Ireland $2.0 ($1.6).
Advanced technology products exports were $19.7 billion in February and imports were $23.6
billion, resulting in a deficit of $3.9 billion. February exports were $1.6 billion less than
the $21.3 billion in January, while February imports were $1.0 billion less than the $24.6 billion
For January, goods exports and goods imports (not seasonally adjusted) were virtually unrevised.
Goods carry-over in February was $0.1 billion (0.1 percent) for exports and $1.2 billion (0.9
percent) for imports. For January, revised export carry-over was virtually zero. For January,
revised import carry-over was $0.3 billion (0.2 percent), revised down from $1.1 billion (0.8
Services exports for January were revised up $0.2 billion to $44.5 billion, mostly reflecting an
upward revision in travel. Services imports for January were revised down $0.1 billion to $32.0
billion, mostly reflecting a downward revision in other private services.
Sunday, 11 April 2010
1) "How the Economy is Killing the Liberal Arts"
2) College: Making The Case For Useless Degrees
IMO, when one analyses the value or usefulness of a college degree and a college" major"/content, one has to factor in the very high cost of 4 yrs college.
In addition, it is primary rather than higher education that makes the difference in career and life. IMO everyone needs quantitative & qualitative analysis tools and IME/IMO these tools are best taught at the primary education level.
Yesterday, Yi Xiaozhun, vice-minister in the Chinese Ministry of Commerce had hinted that China is likely to announce a trade deficit for March.
But these are a good reason behind that: The growth of China's imports that is largely due to rising prices for commodities as well as the huge demand for raw materials to power China's economy. In the last few months China has been importing huge amounts of iron ore, copper, crude oil, coal and steel!
And whereas the US and European markets for Chinese goods are still weak, even though Chinese exports are recovering, they are not recovering, yet, as fast as China's imports are growing.
What is also noteworthy is that according to Mr. Yi Xiaozhun, China doesn't want a trade surplus or a trade deficit.
Finance is, naturally, an element or rather a dimension of life, in the same way laws, policies and regulations, economics (work, savings, revenue, taxes, etc), culture and pop culture, health and health coverage, entertainment, etc are.
Yet, in the last few years, has the share of finance is the "systemics" of the world and our lives become too big for balance (departed far away from what would be an "equilibrium")?
IMO yes. Too much reliance on consumer credit by individuals is maybe one of the reasons. And other entities, organisational that is (from companies to political ones (states)).
IMO finance has a valid and useful role to play in the systemics of the world and our lives. But IMO a stable equilibrium has to be found again.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
But what is a "free market"? I have had many discussions and debates with various people on this issue in the last few years, be it in online or "real life" situations/discussions/forums.
Here is my definition.
IMO a free market is a market that has the following characteristics:
a) Freedom to enter - access
b) Freedom to exit
c) Freedom of each single seller to sell or not to sell, ie withhold his/her sale (ie non-desperate sellers).
d) Freedom of each single buyer to buy or not to buy, ie withhold his/her purchase (ie non-desperate buyers).
e) No concentration of power in either the sellers', buyers' or intermediaries side (ie no oligopoly, no oligopsony, etc).
Plus, of course,
f) effective competition legislation and authority observing the adherence to the rules that the competition legislation entails.
In my opinion and in my experience, a large majority of markets do not meet the above criteria.
Firstly, especially in inter-national trade/activity, be it goods or services or even work, market access may exist in theory but in practice it is not that feasible, especially for the "average citizen" and the "average company" (ie the small or micro company).
Secondly, and even more importantly, in my experience and perception, there are many "desperate" buyers and sellers (and intermediaries) in many markets. For a variety of reasons or causes.
If you wish, take this model of free market I have proposed that try to apply it to the various markets for goods, services, work, etc, that you are in (as a buyer, seller or even intermediary), as a person, household or organisation (company, etc). Especially the "non desperate" factor.
Eg how many people in how many types of jobs or sectors do not "need" or are "desperate" for the (salary or social security of the) job they are interviewing for?
And why (what other parameters make them "desperate", is it eg the need to provide for their family via their monthly salary).
Eg think why Germany got out of the recession relatively fast? Why were so many Germans not in debt but, the opposite, had savings in the bank could thus "afford" to stay jobless for a while or not fear so much losing their job (in addition to the German legislation and customs re dismissals in the private sector)?
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Eurozone: Zero (0%) GDP growth in Q4 of 2009 (+0.1% in 1st estimate) compared to Q3 of 2009.
EU: GDP growth in Q4 of 2009 +0.1% (same as in 1st estimate) compared to Q3, -2.3% compared to Q4 2008
Compared to Q4 of 2008, only Poland (+2.8%) and Lux (+1.4%) saw positive #GDP change in Q4 of 2009 in the EU
a) Local (a2) for US, Germany, etc: state) b) National c) Regional d) Global (or WTO - 153 countries?)
Which is the above is the so called Optimal level for an individual or a household to "operate on" in the following types of "activities"?
1) Buy 2) Work (including seek work) 3) Be aware (via news etc) and Think 4) Invest/Save 5) Feel 6) Study 7) take Vacations 8) Date 9) Live (the "experience" of life in general)?
Equivalently, IMO, global trade, economy & rules need a global democratic government.
Does the G20 have the political - democratic legitimacy to decide any laws or rules for participating members (not to mention non-participants)?
How come many/most Eurosceptics, especially those very concerned about sovereignty, for consistency, aren't also skeptic of the G20, WTO, any international agreement, plus SWFs?
A catch 22? US economic optimism rises after last Friday's job stats in the US and as a resut the price of oil rises!
Competition law and policy: Should the "relevant market" in some sectors today be the sum of 153 WTO member economies?
Policy: How does competition law apply in the financial markets - industry? a) National b) global?
Competition law is supposed 2 protect from big brothers in the markets. But what protects from big brothers in public policy?
Pseudo-dilemma: Big brother government or big brother biz?
The lessons of the 2009 world prices crises in oil and staple foods. It hiked up the cost of inputs and became an economic crisis. Then came the unrelated subprime led financial and then economic mega-crisis - tsunami! But let us not lose sight of that crisis and lessons from it:
IMO, it makes a case for national (or regional, eg EU or ASEAN) self-sufficiency in energy and basic foods. In other words, the ability of a country to not depend on imported energy (oil, etc) for its energy and basic nutritional needs.
IMO the US and European countries need to re-design their taxation systems and philosophy of taxation from scratch in order to fit the new systemics and adapt to this era.
Is free trade dead or in decline? IMO, no, because real (global) free trade has not been "born" yet! What we have these days is merely trade that more less un-free than 30, 60 years ago.
Plus as long as free trade and mobility of capital are not coupled with immigration freedom, system is unfair and unbalanced.
Plus IMO, an international - world trade and economic system that does not empower SMEs (small + med size companies) cannot enjoy world popular support. Thus, it has to empower them (see: redesign the system).
Should the (old) political-economic theory that trade promotes democracy be re-examined in light of modern age data? As well as David Ricardo's "comparative advantage" theory?
In the US there is a lot of fuss re China's policy via its currency in the last decade (since WTO entry of China) and its effect on US exports and US jobs. My thought is: If one looks at Yuan vs USD vs Euro in 2001-2008 charts, what does one see, from an EU - Eurozone point of view?
Do "some" of the major players in global trade provide sufficiently "free" market access to foreign companies in their own markets. Eg when a company is forced, either officially or de facto (or even, in some cases of country/ies) assigned a "native" partner in order to be allowed into a national market, is that consistent with a so called "free trade"? Do existing WTO rules adequately address market access issues - barriers?
Each type of economic activity - "industry" has its own characteristics; thus political theories or ideologies that explicitly or implicitly treat all economic activities as the same are IMO too simple and thus faulty in addressing real world problems and situations. For example 1) some "industries" need more regulation, some less, much less than the status quo 2) some activities are better done by the public sector, some (more) by the private one (ie supply and demand).
Thoughts after the FC Barcelona - Arsenal games:
The beauty of football: To come back from a 0-2 deficit in the first leg by scoring 3 in a row (2 at home and then 1 away, at the return game) and then concede 4 in a row for a 3-6 aggregate.
The beauty of business and the beauty of politics are .... (ah, nevermind)!
Sunday, 4 April 2010
Saturday, 3 April 2010
IME what is key is for single EU voice and/or mouth to reflect a position that's representative of all 27 or decision reached by 27.
Is having a single mouth boring? No, IME that is not the case with European PMs and Presidents (eg Sarkozy) or Obama when they speak re national interest
Thus IMO the challenge is to define "EU interest" in an inclusive way for all "parts" of the EU, in the same way that eg Angela's voice is inclusive of all 16 laender & Obama's of all 50 states & Brown's of England, Scotland, Wales and NI.
All policy issues have an economic dimension but no policy even econ has only an econ dimension 25 minutes ago via we
IMO economic policy decisions cannot be left to the "market" or supply and demand, they should not replace elected political governance.
For a market to be truly free it must also be "democratic" and rule of law does not mean rule of market rules or #economic theories.
Even common markets and free trade areas need political governance, IMO. Hence EEC Common Market naturally led towards EU Political Union.
IMO, we see the same thing happening with world free trade, ie for political governance to balance multilateral economic activity.
IMO all policy decisions must be approved by the people or their elected reps and economic, monetary and fiscal policies are no exception.
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