Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Left and Right, but where is the Center?

S&D Group President Hannes Swoboda said:

"Monti as next Italian President could be a good choice. But let first Italians choose between right and left politics.”

My comment:

Left and right politics? Where are the centrist ones, in Europe in general?

Once upon a time I used to think/hope that ELDR/ALDE member parties were close to being centrist. An MEP candidate with The Liberals, an ELDR member new party in Greece, in 1999, I thought I had found the centrist home I had missed since the demise of the EDIK party after the 1977 elections (I was 15 then but my father was a voter of EDIK). I soon found out that although there were centrist people in the party, it was albeit more dominated mostly by libertarians including ones that argued that taxation was theft and admired Thatcher and Ronald Reagan!!! More recently, I have come to realise that the Liberal Democrats in the UK and even more so the Dutch VVD and the German FDP were not really centrist. Although especially in the UK's LibDems there is a definite centrist element that was in my opinion frustrated by the Tories-LibDems coalition.

It is convenient for political party game theory for voters to have to choose between left and right ideologies, agendas and policies. But it is the center that has the natural ability to address real people's needs and problems by choosing the right policies without left vs right dogmas and prejudices. It is no surprise that many voters auto-label themselves as centrist or middle of the road. If credible centrist parties existed, they would break those voters' "left vs right" dilemma.

So the issue remains: Who expresses the centrist POV at EU and at EU member states' level? Or the US.

PS. Of course there is a slight difference between middle of the road and centrism, but in practical terms it's kind of a detail.


Friday, 21 December 2012

2012 Review: US vs EU models (dreams vs quality of life)

Even in 2012, US and EU systemics point to:

US best to pursue your dreams, EU best for quality of life.

In 2012, quality of life in the EU27 took a further beating and the European Social Model (with its variations) is under threat, with the "excuse" of austerity. As I have pointed out before, various private sector interests are eyeing the "filet" and other parts of the EU27 health "market"/pie, encouraged, inter alia, by the block of the Obamacare public option in the US in the first 2 years of the Obama admin.

The US, in spite of the continuing bureaucratization of US life and economy (to some extent one could label it, Europization), by comparison to EUrope, the US continues to be a better place for one to pursue one's business, tech, entrepreneurial, artistic, sports, etc dreams, and succeed or fail (and wind up even homeless) when doing so (hence the relative absence of safety nets compared to EUrope).

In 2013?

2013: What the times call for is for governments to ...


Topic (summary):

What the times call for is for governments to get their act together and govern, via better planned and implemented policies.

Topic (introduction):

In countries such as the UK, one has seen a rise in voters and parties that are anti-Brussels and increasingly anti-Whitehall, in a way resembling the Tea Party ideology and dynamics. They challenge the role of the state as well as of governments.

How can this dynamic be addressed? In my opinion, what the times call for is for governments to get their act together and govern, via better planned and implemented policies. Policies that address the real issues faced by citizens in their daily lives, in policy/comprehensive ways not in theoretical or crisis management manner. There is an urgent need for better public policy rather than PR/image making by governments and political parties.

My reference sample is the EU27 (EU and national levels) and the US, two regions I monitor closely.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

From my personal diary; Thinking is hard work

Two people in real life today impressed by my argumentation skills. A result of many years of experience. thinking and practice online.

I always had a "talent' for argumentation. I won prizes in Impromptu Speaking in English as early as high school. I used my argumentation skills when discussing complex issues in policy committees at a European organisation in Brussels.

But I developed my ability to say/argument/syllogise on policy, business and many other issues, only in the last 10 years, after intensive daily monitoring of world developments, reading, watching films, hard systemic/analytical and creative thinking and practicing the ability to put those in action, to argument in a way that is both meaningful and "catchy", via years of training in online forums and in the last three years, on Twitter.

Now I have it down to a skill that I can deploy day in, day out, as a Twitter/blogpost follower and real life friend recently observed.

Is that a skill that is market needed?

Not sure. Not applying for politician jobs. Maybe it even gets in the way of me being appealing for a think tank/research and analysis job. Maybe.

Will get back to you on that one.

PS. What the friend noted the other day (recently) is that the point I make after all this hard work, are a) to a larhe extent "pre-produced"/"pre-thought" as in "pre-cooked" and b) that they are appealing or even funny/humorous but they contain much essence, Yeap, that is the "product" I work hard for years to develop!

Lobbying is so 20th century


The analysis of the effect of public policies on the strategy of companies is a key task of public/EU affairs and an often missed (undervalued) dimension of Corporate Strategy. There is a need for closer ties between public/corporate affairs and corporate strategy.

That is the key value of public/EU affairs imo, not "lobbying". And second is engagement in public opinion debate. Hence there must be much closer links of public/EU affairs with a) Corporate Strategy b) Communications (via old and new media).

Plus, EU Affairs is EU27 Affairs, not Brussels and Strasbourg Affairs.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

End of what?

Now I am puzzled! Which will come first? a) end of the world b) end of euro c) end of Monti's government?

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A serious fundamental flaw of the EU single market

Language inter alia prevents the EU27 from being a single market for advertising. And that is a serious fundamental flaw for a single market and an entity like an EU.

The key to the EU and its single market

The key to the EU single market and the EU in general is making SMEs and people feel at home in "it". Has not happened yet.

And I do not mean just trade of goods or freedom of capital movement.

The Euro was/is an element of a single market and a single "space", not a goal in itself or the tool for bankers and central bankers (and speculators) it became. After all is said and done German/BuBa and their European disciples' philosophy undermined the Euro via the inflation obsessed policy allowed and its impact on the Euro exchange rate and hence its trade balance with the rest of the world. The EU/Euroland is inter alia a victim of China exports more than the US and a more "fortress Europe" Eu or Euroland will not happen (for better or worse) because certain European interests will not allow it.

Competitiveness: In search of balance?

Everyone (almost) understands that a consistent deficit in trade undermines an economy and eventually a state.

Look at Greece.

But also look at the UK, France and the US, some of the world mature yet champions of trade deficits economies in the world. Can they consistently make up their trade deficits via borrowing no matter how attractive they try to be for foreign investors (look at eg the UK)?

But is exporting "beggar thy neighbour" after all? Are too export driven economies not that stable after all? Look at Germany and China for example.

It is about a dynamic balance after all?


Euro Fringe

Life in the Euro Fringe is not much less weird than life in the Fringe US TV series.

Mittelstand

Along with the advantages and management/business/policy techniques of complex goods manufacturing ..

Is German Mittelstand under-studied by US, European and international business gurus?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Merkelian logics

Merkel's Euro policies qualify for a saying: It's all German to me (compare with the origin of the original saying).

In other words, "Europe" is not "speaking" German, as Volker Kauder of the CDU hoped/argued/boasted at a CDU conference one year ago.

Note: He meant German (CDU) policies not German per se.

Btw, Merkel today said that she does not rule out another CDU-SPD coalition after next year's elections. With FDP doing the way it is, of course not.


Scylla or Charybdis in modern economics


National oligarchs or international oligarchs and corporate and other bureaucrats? Scylla or Charybdis? Where/who is "Ulysses"?

Oligarchs or free grazers? I remember a Kevin Costner cowboy movie on this type of dilemma!


11 day (fin) virus

I feel selectively de-faulted tonite.

I hear it lasts 11 days.

No antibiotics needed, doc said.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Management and HRM: Chains, links and what's wrong with biz/work/econ systemics today!


Rough day at the dentist and then electric fuse blew when I returned to the flat where staying temp and not feeling at home in. What a day! But the building owners' rep energised her wits and local connections when I called her, so the fuse that was busted, the one at the basement, not the flat, was fixed very quickly!

She's a master of her work. Gotta love that!

Which brings me to the point of this post:

People who master the work they do in diverse and somewhat complete ways make life for all of us better! Kudos! She has been doing this work for years but I know many who do a job for many years yet still too "casually". They make our lives worse off, I propose.

People have to try to master the work they do out of respect for themselves, their job & the people involved. No room for zombies in management and workplaces today.

What I am saying is that no job is w/o value when the person who does it respects himself, the job, the clients and all ppl involved in general. No job!

And that is where work/econ systemics are failing today imho. The rating of jobs tends to devalue many and systems fail due to 5 cent screws or low pay and what is worse, low valued/rated jobs, economically and societally, ie jobs that thus attract people who, alas, do their job as if they are "zombies"! Or to put it differently, they are simply there (and just that). They are the real "bureaucrats" of not only the public but also the private sector? Their personal fault? Maybe to some extent, but also the management's, the "HR's", and systemic faults, I argue. And these are the ones where priority must be placed, to improve things!

So even jobs that are rated low are valuable if one realises that chain is a strong as its weakest link! 1 has to look at marginal benefit/cost. When one does that, one realises that no job is of low value to the "system" if the system is to work.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Decision making in 2012: Plan vs Strategy

Do not mistake boring and static thinking for good thinking. Or quips for wisdom.

In today's over-complicated systemics+dynamics one has to either beef up the analysis or give it up altogether.

Over-analysis is not a symptom of too much analysis but of faulty analysis, usually with faulty tools.

Plus if your analysis is often off, take another look at your information sources. Time to try new ones maybe?

Trial and error and celebrating failure are OK but not excuses for under-valuing analysis and strategy.

If you are not comfy with analysis, then go with gut feeling. But best of luck then. You are out there on your own, no support equipment!

Thinking is not boring, merely some people's way of thinking is.

So, John Lennon was right: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

But that is why strategy instead of mere planning or having plans or a plan is the key.

Because strategic thinking is not about a prediction and a plan based on it but based on many alternative scenarios.

Do not mistake over-thinking for too much thinking, it actually is faulty thinking that's the real problem.

In this complex and uncertain era, analysis and strategic thinking are after all is said and done also a matter of philosophy. 

So in this zany era, you can either throw strategy out of the window or do it properly.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Should all economists live in Greece of 2012?

My first two university degrees were focused on decision sciences as applied to transport(ation) systems: traffic, public transportation, trains, corporate logistics and of course, at least in my case, airports and airlines. I have not really practiced the trade, except for policy analysis of EU transport policy. I used to say and I believed it that any transportation analyst/planner should spend some time working as a taxi driver. I have always been inspired by international (long haul) tracking as well. Maybe I should have practiced one of these two professions anyway. Maybe.

But my point, by some analogy, is that any economist should spent significant time living the life of "people in the streets" of economies such as the Greek economy in 2012 (the econ stats of which are, they say, comparable to the ones in the US during the great crash 80 years ago). How long for? I would say at least 4 months, maybe 6. Maybe even a year.

The values of wisdom and stamina and the danger of too financial times


My 12 weeks in the UK, NL, BEL, FRA, ITA were full of hard knocks. Tweeted much re that. So have the 2 weeks (back) in GRE. It has been a hard 7 days because I thought there was something wrong with my health. Turns out I am fine but I keep the lessons learned! We tend to think we are like companies, ie we live in perpetuity. Being aware every day that we are not, leads to better life management, ime.

Since the 17th I keep a daily ledger of all my daily expenses. Good discipline. My mom did same til she was 81! Some think that success in life is maximizing revenues. It is also, if not more, to manage/minimize cost (of living for persons/households).

Today I heard that another one of my bosses (good and bad times) in the 1990s passed away, this one this week. I shall miss him too.

Some years ago a friend accused me that I care too much about old people compared to young ones. Not true. I care much for both. But I feel that in this hard day and age, society has somewhat abandoned old people. I think old people, 80s+ are very cool and interesting. I also think that old people are very cute and lovely humans. And full of memories and wisdom to share with us.

My generation used to complain that old(er) people held the power (in biz, politics, the job market, etc). Now power seems to have shifted to those in their 30s. Nowadays the stamina of the 30plus decision makers has largely replaced in market value the wisdom of the 50plus of past decades. Both are bad trends

Why both are bad trends? Because IMO there shld be a healthy mix, Plus today's trend not good news for humans in general!  The current high market value for stamina reflects a de-humanization of work and the economy in general.  Are we headed towards IRobot humans?

My MBA with heavy electives in Finance does not prevent me from considering our times as too financial. A new type of middle ages.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

From my personal diary: My own "systemics" and London rain

Back from the third trip to the dentist in 10 days. 8 extractions down (3 today), 6-7 more to go. It's raining like London the taxi driver claimed. Not it's not, I thought, but I did not say anything, I still had cotton in my mouth pressed again the empty gum. Was raining cats and dogs though and my shoes were too low to keep my pants from getting wet. Did make it to a mini market near the flat though and bought some basic stuff, was surprised the bill was 8 euro! The tuna can alone cost 2.5! The juice boxes each 1.2! Next time, supermarket. This was just to cover needs for tonight and tomorrow am, mostly.

Back at the flat, I washed my jaw with salty water, turned on the heater to reduce the dumpness,  edited my LinkedIn profile.

Looks like my denture will be fixed by end of January at the latest. Then I will decide re location, it seems.

Still exhausted from the last 3 months, the last 1 year, the last 10 years. But especially the 12 weeks of the NW "fact-finding" trip. And as a friend put it during the trip "you quit your home, smoking, lost 20+ kilos, etc etc, your system must be out of balance looking for a new one". Seems so. I analyse world,, European and other systemics and dynamics and their effects on policy making and business strategies. My systemics are systemics too. But not a believer in self analysis. Because a lawyer who represents himself in court has a fool for a client.

Dynamics (Europe): Only Greece is Greece!

In the aftermath of Monday night's Eurogroup decision on Greece (a very complicated package/deal the elements of which and their between the lines not clear to the writer, still, 24++ hrs later, but my MBA does help, to a certain extent, to begin to try to understand this complex financial deal), some in Ireland (and I am sure in Portugal too) are wondering "what does Greece have" that they do not have (implicit in that is the working assumption that the deal Greece got was, after all is said (and analysed) a good one).

Well, for one, with all due respect, Greece did not have politicians arguing that their country is NOT Greece. That is if I recall well the case for Ireland and Portugal, at least. I only call it as I remember it, vividly with we "are not Greece" political chants of sorts still in my ears from many many months ago).

Yes, Ireland does not have sunshine. I love Ireland and I wish it did. Not a fan of humidity. Greece never had or claimed to have a Tiger, either. Nor does it benefit from a corporate tax regime that via transfer pricing seems to suck corporate taxable income from other national tax systems, in the EU, Eurozone and beyond (in a very "our taxpayers" age, eg in Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, UK even USA - see other blog posts for the folly of that "out taxpayers" argument though, at least inside the EU and Eurozone).

What Ireland and Portugal do not have, either, is a huge pile of mud that has been thrown at them in the last three years, in the form of "lazy" and other epithets.

It was almost clear to most from the start that the first deal Greece got ("Memorandum 1") was meant to be punitive and, what is more, discourage Ireland, Portugal and other Euro members from ever asking for one.

It also seems clear to at least some commentators of the Eurogroup decision that Greece got a good enough deal considering the potential events re Spain, Italy, increasingly (?), France. And the German political timing/scene (elections next autumn). One that may be revised when the time (in Euro and German politics) is "right". At least that is one way to look at things. There are others.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

South European systemics


The South Europe life systemics and dynamics need to fit the South, in a way the South was more systemically sound some decades ago than today. Eg Spanish siesta made lost of sense.

Being in Athens is not that different frm being in LON, BRUX etc. Basically alone BUT less cost/day AND much easier to engage with "strangers"

About the Universe and its "conspiracies"


Sorry folks, but the Universe does not conspire for or against you when you really want something. So resist the (understandable) temptation to think so, when things are going well or badly. It's too convenient, among other things.

Reminds me of a scene in "The Day After" when a woman who sees the nuke mushroom says something like (was ages ago, in the 80s when I watched this TV movie): Does that mean my appointment with my hair dresser for tomorrow is off?


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

For global and EU systemics to work they need more than trade flows. Or less

Here are some systemics and dynamics thoughts (written and tweeted Nov 24, 2012):

What libertarians seem to forget imo is that any group of more than 1 person constitutes a "society" or polis etc. Laws are part of explicit and informal "social contract" between members of a society/group/polis (politics comes from polis). The economy is also a dimension of a social contract when families stopped self producing everything and started trading w/ each other. Intra-polis trade between families created need for prices (even in barter trade) and thus money. But in basic intra-polis/village trade no one was really left "jobless", was mostly specialization benefits.

I am sure economic theories/models (be they of 5000 BCE or 2012 CE) worked much better in 5000 BCE! In a way, extra-polis trade (see eg explorers to "new worlds") disrupted the social/econ contracts/balances of de facto closed societies. Not to mention that lack of competition rules probably had created warlords and other oligarchs inside closed systems/cities/villages.

Why do I say probably? Cos I was not there to see for myself, at 5000 or something BCE. Were you?

Opening up and allowing trade between families in a polis came as part of social and legal contracts/laws/balance. But but inter-polis (ie inter-national) trade/exchanges were not coupled by common laws and a social/econ contract! Were they? No WTO etc.

That is still in 2012 the underpinning element of trade and other inter-state exchanges of all kinds: They fall outside national scopes. Of course so many are in favor of free trade without unification, it sort of allows them to have the cake and eat it too!! Think about it!

Trade between entities not bound together the way a country is bound together is sort of having a cake and eating it too! Sort of "dumping".

That is also part why most economic models/theories have failed. They deal in principle and de facto with closed systems. Look at GATT and the WTO: It regulates basically trade but fails to deal with many other dimensions thus systemically unbalanced. What I am saying is that trade, investment, migration and other flows need to happen within a "system". Is such system compatible with any sub-global/earth sovereignties? In other words is even trade compatible with national sovereignty since separate social contracts?

Can comparative advantage really exist in a league (competition) between 200+ national economies where there is no actual "league"? Does this mean that the world needs to become a federal political entity for "fair" trade to exist? Is it otherwise an "animal farm"? Can national social contracts exist at the same time as free trade exists? Much like libertarians who want to exploit imo the benefits of a society (econ is a social activity) w/o the "costs" of a society ... Or look at how some in the UK want to free-ride Europe and the world w/o any associated social contracts or rules! Pick and choose only!

Thus no wonder that many of the arguments used against the EU are actually prompting localism/separatism in many EU member states!To use absiloute logic, either sovereign states need to become like eg Cuba or North Korea or join together in a federal entity!!

But in any case, imo trade was, back when it started in human history, the first opener for more open systems. But that was thousands of years ago. Not in 2012! The systemics to work need more than trade flows. Or less.

The idea that one can be a sovereign state (city, national, etc) and still engage even in trade with others is imo challenged in this era!  It worked in 1200 BCE or 1400 CE or even 1949 (GATT era) etc but not in the systemics and dynamics of 2000s!

Thus it should come as no real surprise that European and US and world systemics and dynamics are out of control in the 2000s and 2012 and that globalization, regionalization (EU, UNASUR, ASEAN), nationalization (UK), localisation/separatist dynamics do co-exist in 2012!  Because systemically speaking the system is out of whack! Freedom of trade and investment cannot work systemically for long w/o full system integration.


Note: Available for research and analysis for think tanks, NGOs, civil society orgs, firms, policy makers, media, academia anywhere in world.

12 points on Greece, crisis, austerity, growth, new national sport, etc

These are some thoughts I tweeted last night before and after the Eurogroup decision on Greece:

1) What is the elephant in the Eurogroup presser room? GDP growth!

2) Reminder: The best way to bring down any debt/GDP ratio is GDP growth. Not rocket science, is it, except for the Euro austerians!

3) The Euro crisis is now in its 4th season! So is Fringe, but it's its final season (for Fringe).

4)  If Greece had 1 cent (Ok, maybe 1 euro) for every time int'l media have mentioned Greece in connection to crisis 3 yrs now, it would have no debt by now!

5) In 2004, I wrote an article "after 2004, what?". Tonight I ask, after tonight, what? Greece always needs a real growth model, above all. As again I wrote before, in 2004, Greece needs to make exporting its new national sport.

6) Greece has been extremely loyal to the EU Single Market and the WTO. But alas mostly on the imports side! Needs growth and exports.

7) Greece has a great econ model. It's called Tourism. And assets such a climate. No sense being "Wall St yuppie" in "Jamaica" imho

8) Whether with euro or drachma, Greek economy has to grow. And that means more industry and much much more tourism revenues! And exports.

9) It also needs to develop the companies that will produce products that will replace imports, trade balance is one of the keys to GR growth.

10) Now, and always, Greece needs a growth model that fits it, not imports of models or parts of models from Ireland, Finland, Germany etc! The same applies to every country/economy imho.

11) For Greece, PIIGS and others to achieve growth, a key issue is: What will the Euro exchange rate v-a-v USD, Yuan etc be like 2012-2020/22

12) Romney-Ryan lost and now there seems to be accord on Greece. Seems the world moves in right direction after all!



From my diary: Marathon Man?

Sunday, Nov. 25:

Yesterday I was expecting a good day and it turned out a not so good one, today I expected a bad day and it turned out better!

Monday Nov. 26 (day 14 in Athens)

Today was the first time I went out of the flat for last 9 days except for the 2 visits to the dentist (last Monday and last Thursday). I am still tired from the 12 week voyage but less than before and eager to sight-see in an Athens I feel I have been away from for years!

Shopping new antivirus at Stournara St and pants on Patission near Kaningos Square (15 euro) and a cap (5 euro), passing by my lawyer, bought food at sandwich shop (6.5 euro, 2 spanakopittas and 1 sandwich), topped up my mobile (20!), went to a funeral of a friend's father, visited my mother's grave (could not help crying, very rare for me), went to a supermarket (15 euro), back to my flat (total taxi spend 12 euro), watched the news re Eurogroup, now in bed tweeting and the like.

Tomorrow I will walk, some, in Athens aimlessly, the best kind of walking around Athens! lol Tired of roaming around London, Brussels, NW Europe trying to decide if to stay or not.

Too much thinking, that was! And feeling.

Tuesday, Nov. 27 (day 15 in Athens)

Woke up very late, was online til late last nite doing the kind of things I like to do (friend suggested that as a way to chill after trip). Then, today, put on my new sweat pants and went walking aimlessly around the hood. Slowly, like a new arrival, re-discovering the place which is very multi-culti and prices are in free fall. Bought 2 units of underwear for 4 euro. Can of sardines for 1.5. Chicken for 8 (full chicken, cooked), Bottle of water (small) for 0.5. Talked to a friend of a friend who owns a local restaurant. Neither used to do take-outs. Now, cos of the crisis, they kinda do.

But above all, walked, more of that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

How to bring a debt/GDP ratio down

Reminder to IMF and all: The best way to bring debt/GDP ratio down is, you know, GDP Growth. Not rocket science.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Living in too financial times

We do live in (too) financial times! Ie cursed interesting times. A combo of high finance and China effect, that is.

The oxymoron with/ modern finance is that if your rating is undermined in/by any way, you are thrown down a cruel spiral. Good luck getting out.

Does it make systemic or logical sense? In my opinion, no!


"Love Europe, Hate EU"? Really?


"Love Europe, Hate EU",, quite a frequent argument by Eurosceptics, especially British ones, is imho opinion analogous to "Love Women, Hate Marriage".

I Love Logic, Hate BS, btw.

Also syllogismically analogous to "Love Free Markets, Hate Competition Law"

In effect, it sort of means that one likes a quaint loose group of countries, some 60-80+ million in population,  some less than 1 million, many between 1 and 5 and 5 and 10, operating together at best as a free trade area ie for goods and capital, but keep "Polish plumbers" (remember May-June 2005 in France and NL) and other citizens job seekers of EU member states out, or at best, let's make sure that the rules and the game is run by Britain and that only high fliers or high skilled are let in. That kind of love!

Never mind that the wild spirits of Schumpeter (Unternehmergeist) do not necessarily have formal skills or degrees (and that is what imo US immigration of last few decades has grossly missed, see eg Think Like an Immigrant book on entrepreneurship).

That kind of love. For divide and rule by big European or world powers. A Europe of nation keepers (to paraphrase the British saying)?




The UK - Ireland tie, post EU UK


If UK leaves can Ireland keep the free access to UK? Well, should be No, but see the Norway situation with EU Scandics. But NOR is member of the EEA and of Schengen.

But if UK is part of EEA then it will still have to let Greeks, Poles, Spaniards et al work in the UK! Are Cameron (and even Miliband after his recent apologies and other views re intra-EU migration) aware of that?

CAP this!

So you want to cut CAP? Do not whine then if food shortage hits the world or Europe in the future and your meal is left to market forces!

Does anyone care to recall the 2008 staple food prices crisis? Or have memories become too short in this day and age?



So, Greece, Spain and other PIGS, do not lose your humanism!


When you use the same taxi company for years the drivers know you and are even nicer. Today one got meds from pharmacy after the dentist! That is merely an example. The systemic: I didn't come to Greece because I have many more friends than in other places, I came because here I can feel the humanism of strangers compared to... (you know).

So, Greece and other PIGS, do not lose your humanism on account of Merkel etc. It's the biggest competitive advantage/asset you have!

Strangers in Greece ,Greek and foreign, generally give a sh*t that I have a problem with my neck. Very few in other countries I visited those 11 weeks, did.

PS. Do humanism things like that happen in NW Europe, in your experience/POV? If they do, feel free to tweet it. If they do not, ....



Moody?

Now France is Greece, at least for those who are moody?

I could reply to tweeps I often unfollow or block

Philosophise on this:

I could reply to tweeps I often unfollow or block. But that would mean my mutation into something I have the skill to be but I am not. Why let myself be mutated by a stranger's tweet? No point. Not even an employer, client or friend. Think of what I am saying here in terms of life management

Monday, 19 November 2012

My cost of doing nothing on Nov 19

Tomorrow, after quite some time, I can afford to do nothing and have it cost me only 13 euros (my all inclusive rent divided by 30), 13 instead of 60, 82, 70, and especially 80 or 100 or in some cases 150! Oh yes, hotel rooms cost, around Europe. That will contribute to my rest - peace of mind while doing nothing. Dolce far niente, right?

A dentist, a marathon thinker and a philosoph reminder!

I have let my teeth go, for years now, when I was taking daily care of a sick, bedridden relative. After those three years, my teeth that suffered a lot from the abandon, but did I really care, my mother had just died. More teeth left until a few months ago 2 in front, upper jaw! That shook me, I looked like a seal! I did not have time to take care of that though even then. Then I was off to the NW Europe endevour. Until today, after one postponed appointment due to exhaustion last Thursday (yes, I had scheduled that one the minute I stepped on Greek ground in Patras!). By 4 pm I had 2 fewer broken teeth (extracted) and some 7-8 to go,. Yes, I think I am getting a good old style denture, No implants, no partial dentures using my 3 remaining teeth on the upper jaw. I heard that option. But I want a clean solution. After all, both my late mother and my  uncle had dentures by the time they were 45. I am 50 and I want to have to remove my denture to clean it every night (now they put it back on, my dentist said), as a reminder that a) life is not perfect and b) life is not  forever.

Oh come on, you did not expect a philosophical twist at the end?
Why on earth would I have engaged you in a story about teeth then? Not that vane!

The UK EU debate is over! Europhiles were largely a no show!

The UK EU debate is in its 88th minute and the Eurosceptics are ahead 5 nil. It's over. Has been for long. Eurosceptics have for many years almost unopposed, dominated the British current/public affairs scene on Europe in the UK. With or without of referendum, the UK has by now effectively "turned" anti-EU. A surprising Yes to EU vote in a ref would not change that, at least until younger, pro-EU Brits become the norm, if ever. The EU26 have a lot to lose from a UK that remains in the EU, eg preventing the rest to move ahead, eg via an IGC. At the late stage, the EU 26 would, alas/I am afraid, be better off with an non-EU UK than more years of UK whining re "Europe" or "Brussels". I call them as I see them not as I want them to be, UK!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Diary of a traveling thinker

Since my last blog post, November 6, in St. Maxim, France, I have paid brief visits to St. Tropez (to check out the place for tourism industry systemics, last visit in 1991), St. Rafael and Frejus, Cannes, Nice then via Genoa to La Spezia, Pisa, Florence, Bologna. Then Ancona. Then ferry boat to Patras, Greece, arriving in Athens, Tuesday evening, November 13. Had to stay in a hotel (lucky to have run into a cheap deal by a downtown posh hotel), found a furnished studio to rent for a month at my old neighborhood in Athens until I make plans. Lots of fatigue and trying to resync my intellect, psyche and body. Not that easy. 11 weeks on the road (must have slept in over 20 hotel beds, 2 couches, 1 floor mattress, etc) have been extremely educational and very tiring. See my tweets in these last 12 days (@npthinking).
More thoughts soon.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

NP Live Blog - November 6: Omabaland

To follow the flow, start from the bottom and read up:

Afternoon:

Obama-Romney:
What happens if there is a tie? Extra time or penalties?
Nothing to fear but Romney being President.
America will come "roaring back"? With a Chinese engine?


Morning: EU: The euro's credibility was built on an in-credible inflation minimization dogma that pushed the euro skyhigh. Hence the resulting vertigo.

Governing Dynamics: Capital is vagabond and homeless, so are companies, services and products. Can humans do it, though?

Governing Dynamics - Competitiveness: Only the homeless will survive?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Thinker's Diary - November 5: At St. Tropez!

When you are woken up early by a maid's knock on your hotel room door, rent a car that goes bust after 10 minutes and have to wait for assistance for 90 minutes in a busy street aided by a homeless fellow Balkan, witness a car upside down on a highway, cannot find the place you slept out in the open when 17, 33 years ago, find out that the restaurant you had dinner with your late mother 21 years ago is now part of a parking lot, and realise the area around St. Tropez looks a lot like many Greek tourist places (esp Nature), plus have a wifi connection that is less stable than the euro, I guess then you know you have had a full day. November 5.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Systemics and Dynamics Live NP Blog, October 31, 2012

Read bottom up to follow the flow:

Evening:

Euro crisis/Troika:
I thought memorandums were supposed to be brief, not as brief as executive summaries, but brief.

There seem to be 2 divergent views re the effect of Sandy on US economy: a) disruption of the recovery b) growth stimulus effect by money spend on the damages, multiplied by a greater than 1.0 factor. As per electoral effects, some think it may prove beneficial for Obama and Dems if seems presidential in his dealing with Sandy effects is deemed effective. Or could backfire. Will it also restore some faith of people in "government" and make collective esprit (eg health care) more popular. Guess we shall see.

Early morning:

EU/Euro/econ/fin crises:
Many admire the Iceland "model" of dealing with it. But they should recall it has a population of 320,000, a total area of 103,000 km2 out there in the Atlantic and a volcano!

More philosophical:
The problem with parents raising their kids with prince/princess aka noble values is that unless they also give them a Principauté, they are in for a rough ride in the "streets" of life.

Philosophical:
Hard times for "princes" and "princesses" (not the real ones, the other ones). Also hard for vagabonds, though. Unless in warmer climates.

Jobs/Career:
For decades now, searching for a job had become a job. In recent years, it has become a career.

Systemics and Dynamics Live NP Blog, October 30, 2012


Read from the bottom up to follow the flow:

USA:
Time for allegiance between people > Obama to the Rescue | The Big Dog Barks | No Time for Politics? http://t.co/bZw1okwP Nature is showing who is the real boss, and should make lots of people think about human-to-human allegiance and the role of  government in the US. May thus help the Dems + Obama

Greece:
Had the Greek gov't in the 1980s established a real unemployment benefits system, like other EU, maybe Greece would be different today.

Econ:
No kidding! RT @ForexLive: Merkel/Lagarde: Global Economic Recovery Remains Uncertain http://t.co/B3yRytd6 Oct 30, 2012

Info, what info?
What unrest(s) in ATH/GRE? Most if not all events have taken place on/near 1 square. Intern media have made it seem wider.
 
Roesler/FDP:
Roesler "strikes" again re Greece, but will this campaign save his FDP "Empire" in next GER elections? #EuroWars #EmpireStrikesBack

Greece:
Now all Greece needs is a Tea Party. #stoicgeek
Was it a 2-way call? Mobile or landline? Roaming fees? Smartphone or not?

Merkel:
She is a politician too, But that is why she gave GR such a hard time, to make sure, she thought, no one else would ask 4 for same. So she thought,

Banking Union:
The EU or Euro or Euro+ shouldn't be banking on banking union as a facility towards political union. The road is different, political/civil

Labour Market (EU27):
Call me again when the #EU gets a labour market, instead of 27. By that time, there will be no labour, only robots and stepford workers.
For labour market reforms to have a raison-d-'etre, there has to be a labour market, dear Troika! #EU\

News vs Opinion:
Who cares what someone said about anything? That's not news, that's opinions. Cool but not real news, is it?
Sandy left death and damages, some member wants to leave EU, EU squabbles, GR is complicated, etc etc. The news? Oh c'mon, you know the news (EU, UK, US, etc). Same old, same old.

EU27:
If the 27 cannot agree on EU budget, why not make it a federal one with 26, 20, 17 or 10? Anyway, not the budget but the policies that count

Caprica:
NYSE re-opening tomorrow! Sure, finance does not need humans anymore! #Caprica #Sandy Oct 30, 2012

Troika/Greece:
I don't care what Troika says, the Greek competitiveness-growth-employment model has to be based on free lancers, and exporting micros+SMEs
For whom are the labor market reforms many in GR oppose??? Most of the "private sector" was always free lancers and even more so today!


EU Regional Policy:
EU funds diverted the attention of Objective 1 (PIIGS) from EU policies and effects. PIIGS would have been, I know it's a heretic view, better off w/o them

EU?
Let's face it. EEC/EU has not really been a union, more of a FRA-GER-UK thing with associate members the rest
Maybe EU better off w/o GER, FRA, UK, tho. A more real union.

EU and PIGS as family:
Some would even say a family is not real unless there are internal fights. Look at ancient Greeks! lol Oct 30, 2012
Greeks fight each other all the time they r still a family.The best of families do. But they unite when needed
3//3 Or Germans., Dutch, Finns, Slovaks, Austrians et al can move to the PIGS now and enjoy real life! #MoveToTheMed4RealLife
2/3 Of course they can wait 50-100 yrs, global warming will turn Euro core etc into PIGS and PIGS into Sahara
1/3 The truth is that many other EUROpeans envy the PIGS cos of their sun, sea, sand, zest, instead of rain, cold, esp Humidity.
 EUROpeans want(ed) a stable currency but not the extra hard EURO-DM it turned out to be (at 1.4, 1.5 times USD etc) Oct 30, 2012

About the UK:
It's complicated: Everything is simple. So simple that it's complicated.

Not quite. "Other" economies had been spoiled by Eurozone's impors from them. RT @MStarDirect: Eurozone's troubles hurting other economies, chiefly E. Europe & Latin America. Latin America also feeling pinch fr ...

My take on Greece:
My main "take" on Greece is that no one's take, including mine, is accurate. That's Greece. Un-takeable. That's my main take on Greece.

Personal live blog, October 29, 2012


Read bottom up to follow the flow:

Vlogs:
For fans: Have you watched: My Brunswick Vlogs (parts 1-3) http://t.co/TGd0B4EQ 3 vlogs total 10 minutes. Recorded: Oct. 1, 2012.

20+ yrs of monitoring and analysis:

If your following my tweets is conditional upon my following your account then inter alia you're in the wrong social medium. Friend me on FB
And value my thoughts (tweets, blogs etc) enough to follow my tweets whether I follow you back or not. Or don't! SVP.
So pls show some respect for my thoughts, and if you disagree argument/syllogise why. Else, don't follow. Oct 29, 2012
You think my thoughts and takes on things EU, UK, US, etc is NOT a result of 20+ yrs of monitoring of and thinking on them? Oct 29, 2012


Followers, friends and connections:
Are tweeps who are following you and 5000, 20000 or 50000 other tweeps really following you?
To connect on FB and/LindkedIn, use https://t.co/TwB1CWoG and  http://t.co/GGvVG5Ey (use npan@alum.mit.edu)
If you operate on follow you-follow me then imo you are in the wrong social medium! Try Facebook. Maybe LinkedIn too.
That's the trouble w/ still following 1900+ tweeps! An interesting tweet passes by my Tweetdeck and disappears before I have chance to RT it. So cutting down, further.
If you take my tweets at face value ONLY, better unfollow. They are not "good" for you.
Dear followers, I am doing to you something analogous to what many financiers are doing to "you". Downsizing and re-vamping my "portfolio"! ie do not read and think of any of my tweets superficially, no matter how dramatic the tone. THINK beyond any hype by media or social media
2/2 But: If you are out to prove that EU is bad for the UK and related, do not (follow my account). Oct 29, 2012
1/2 If you are interested in my views of systemics and dynamics that affect our life. work, biz decisions, stick around.




Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Systemics and Dynamics Live NP Blog, October 29, 2012

Please read from the bottom up to follow the flow:

Schauble says EU needs the UK at Oxford:
Or Schauble simply playing "good cop" on the UK to Merkel's "bad cop" on the UK? The reverse roles compared to Greece, that is! lol
Maybe Schauble's call on the UK to stay in EU = sign EU getting unstuck between German exceptionalism and UK Euroscepticism?
So Schauble is playing "bad cop" on Greece and "good cop" on the UK? lol Oct 29, 2012
In reference to Schauble's EU call to the UK today, read my 2005 analysis: Britain and the heart of Europe http://t.co/P4jge3ty
Re UK in Eu read "The EU and the UK in a prisoner's dilemma!" in my: How many countries committed "economic suicide" http://t.co/5ycd7VxB
Or a desperate call for help on how to deal with a feasibly emerging ESP+ITA plus FRA (?) "alliance" in EU/Euro matters? #SchaubleNeedsUK
An admission EU doesnt speak Cauder's German? RT @ReutersWorld Germany's Schaeuble tells skeptical UK "EU needs you" http://t.co/AuqM74tq
Seems to me GER needs UK to debate FRA ideas RT @ReutersWorld: Germany's Schaeuble tells skeptical UK "EU needs you" http://t.co/AuqM74tq

Italy and EU:
When Italy became a country in the 1870s, the North imposed its laws + policies on the South. The effects linger. Lessons for EU - Eurozone?

Capitalism:
Matthew 19:24 and related passages directly contradict Calvinist predeternination. Imho.

On direct vs rep democracy:
So you think the concept of elected reps of the ppl and civil soc orgs with time and staff to KNOW the draft laws can be replaced? By what?
U think direct democracy, IRL or on the Net, is easy? Was it not for slaves work, u think Ancient Athenians wld have enuff time 4 politics?

Greece:
My main "take" on Greece is that no one's take, including mine, is accurate. That's Greece. Un-takeable. That's my main take on Greece.

Centrism:
When will the main parties in the US, UK, etc converge to the center in ideas + policies and compete in their ability to implement them?

On humanity in 2012:
The main disease that is turning so many of us into real zombies is greed. Oct 29, 2012
Does it take Natural disasters or will it take a comet from outer space threat for ppl to realise we all humans and shld stick together?

Why so difficult?
Why is it so difficult for so many to realise the difference between speculative and entrepreneurial risk? Even Sarkozy did!
People in at least The West know the ratrace is ravaging them. Instead of calling it off they want everyone in to suffer like they do? Why
Why is it so difficult for so many Europeans to realise that austerity and crash of GDP does not foster growth?
Why is it so difficult for so many American voters to realise the need for a public option in health insurance?
Why so difficult for many to realise a balance of individualism + collectivism, instead of 1 of the 2, is best? Not simplistic enuff 4 them?
It's ideologies tht focus on the individual or collective instead of balance of the 2 that unbalance the world
I guess Nature is reminding American voters who's the real boss and why allegiance between humans a good thing! Will they get the msg? And vote for the Dems?

Greece:
What is the worse that can happen Nov 16?

Mantra:
Rationalize, Simplify, Economize. A good mantra for 2012?

Sandy:
Who names storms and hurricanes? After ex-GFs? For revenge?

Merkel:
Merkel has been conducting Ein Experiment on 330 million. She leads the way. But remember Das Experiment movie? Did she ever watch it? Oct 29, 2012

Pop Cult:
Walking Nationless: A new TV series coming soon to a European TV station near you! 500,000,000 wandering aimlessly.
Walking Jobless. A horror drama series coming soon! Oh my, the jobless disease that taken over their minds! #media

Centrism:
I am a geek and my audience is people and decision makers (biz, pol) of moderate but progressive/innovative mentality in Europe. US, world.

Libertarianism:
Other than than, no one really bothers me, even libertarians or nationalist or anti-EUers. as long as they are not in my T/L.
Libertarianism is as unrealistic as communism. Only works when one alone on an island. Liberal Democrat: is another thing.
In short: Rand is as irrelevant as Marx. Had enough of libertarians when I ran with a libdem (I thought) party in Euro-1999.

US of E:
My support for a US of Europe is not ideological, it is practical (and constructively critical). Why? I lived in a US (of A) for 5.5 yrs! Oct 29, 2012

EU and the SMEs:
A real EU single market would have led to pan-EU niche markets for SMEs. But not a real single mkt yet, is it? #Marketing

PIGS and EU Animal Farm:
Are we on the verge of experiencing a rise of the PIGS (+FRA) in EU/Euro politics/decision making? Just askin. Reading signs?

Mark his words or not?
Rajoy: Spain, Italy Back Greece Remaining In Euro "one down will be all down.

Systemics:
The biggest "fights" people have are not with other ppl but group-think as well as systemics and dynamics. Much harder than person-on-person. And karate won't do.

From USSR to the EU to ....:
From good bye Lenin to good bye Merkel?

EU:
Athens in the Delos Allaince, Germany in the Eurozone or EU. Compare and contrast!

Memories:
Memories were meant to fade for a reason (from one of my poems)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Merkelian consistency!

So now Merkel is starting to allow for special circumstances (eg Irish bank debt)? The box is now open!

Which box? Pandora's, biensur!

Which inter alia means that it also ppens up the way/box for eg a Greece special circumstances. Expected and reasonable, but quite a game changer for her.

Merkel used to argue for consistency but she is more of "the do as I say not as a do" kind, it seems. Ie a politician like most.

Her well promoted axioms have fallen flat on their faces in the face of EU and Euro reality and now she has to abandon them, in a hurry! 

Or not?

On the third Obama-Romney debate

So Obama won the foreign policy debate.

But how many undecided American voters really care about US foreign policy?

Just asking!

My take on Obama

My take on Obama:

1) His election to the Presidency was a milestone in US history.

2) But the dynamics of the US 4 years ago (including GOP+Tea+Fox) were more in need of a running game under heavy rain rather than a passing game (to borrow a US football analogy) and thus called more for a Hillary type of President. Think for example ofthe watering down of Obamacare due to Obama's efforts to bring GOP in, to no avail.

3) Overall, his presidency is maybe a victim of expectations maybe too high by his electorate.

4) Mitt Romney and his ideology and policy views, or any other less "moderate" republican (is there such a thing) do not deserve the presidency. Especially with someone like Paul Ryan, and his ideology/policy views, as VP. Only a really moderate GOP would, a GOP that is unlikely to emerge any time soon, alas.

That's why Obama still in the running, in spite of high unemployment. And why Mitt is still in the running too, in spite of being, well, Mitt!

5) Thus: Between Mitt (esp plus Ryan) and Obama, the choice is, clearly; Obama. In any case, not Romney.

The West in 2012 and Ancient Athenian culture


The we pay therefore our views count more than others' is emblematic of a departure from the roots of Western World philosophy.

Which begs the question(s):

How far and since when has The West departed from the roots of Ancient Athenian culture?

Since Rome?

Or has The West become like Athens post 5th century BC, ie in 4th century BC?

On the British EU debate (and on Germany)

In the Telegraph today, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes that: "Britain has left the European Union in all but name". Worth a good read.

Here is my take on the subject:

1) Are these self-fulfilling prophecies promoted as fact? But if it happens, it's a great opportunity for a continental EU member to become an English speaking hub of Europe.

2) But is the UK indeed on its way out of the EU? The UK's main philosophical objection to the EU is: Too many laws = no laws. But is the UK that different? The UK's real main problem imo it that it is (still) used to making its own rules/laws and applying them on others too. A trait Germany has picked up, too, in recent years. Both suffer imo from lack of confidence in using logic and western world style syllogistical argumentation to convince others re their POV (point of view).

That absence of syllogistical/argumentation style is imo reflected in the comments by some with respect to the style and content not only of the UK EU debate but also the Scottish UK debate.

3) Imo, British voters need to be asked if the EU27 is a place they feel part of (in many ways) or not.

If they would rather work/live/do business etc in/with the USA, Canada, Australia+NZ instead of Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, etc, then imo, the,UK should leave the EU. It is in effect a psychological, philosophical and strategic question, not a matter of static numbers, eg how many Brits live in the rest of the EU or how many non-British EU citizens live and work in the UK. That line of thinking misses imo the dynamic issue and the essence of the debate.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Time the UK elites stop badmouthing the EU if ...

Reality check: Merkel et al finally realised it was time they stopped badmouthing Greece to the German people. Time the UK elites stop doing the same with the EU/Brussels to the UK voters, if they realise this:

With a Euro in crisis, the UK may be able to market itself on its own merits to world investors (as opposed to as a gate to the EU Single Market until now) but, if the EU/Europlus pull off some kind of political union step forward, then where will that leave a non-EU UK in the world investors' map?

Those who sow wind, reap storms. Merkel realised that. Cameron and Hague know it too. But do they have the long term interest of the UK at heart to try and possibly pay the price of telling the British people the truth re "Europe"? Or maybe they do not have confidence in their ability to influence UK media and public opinion the way Merkel?

More analysis on this topic and strategic implications available upon request.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

European myths and real fears: Time to face the truth

Applying logic consistently can lead to some very hardcore argumentation in European Affairs. Especially when coupled with humanism.

Here we go (based on thoughts originally posted via my Twitter account, today):

Xenophobia and "paymasterism" are evidence of insecurity due to policy failures by mostly national policy-makers.

E.g. Angela Merkel and Co. blamed Greeks and other South Europeans to cover up for her own policy failures in 2005-2012. Except for very recently.

Plus,  the EU has always been used by national politicians as a scapegoat for their failures but not their successes.

So who should be in more fear of losing their jobs and who should lose them? People or policy makers. Desperate policy makers produce even more desperate policies. Not to mention desperate (for ratings hence ad revenue) media.

So, for voters, focusing at national and local level is in a way a natural reaction, whereas the wise reaction is to focus at Euro, EU level and beyond.

Instead of helping the man/woman in streets feel a tad of stability via their policies, policy makers have been doing the opposite.

Note also that 2 months of somewhat positive propaganda by Merkel and friends re Greece seems (see polls in Germany) to have managed to partly counter 2+ years of negative propaganda. Is that scary or good? Or both?

That is the real state of the EU in 2012. It is time we start discussing those things, not only the agenda the mainstream traditional media and social media set.

Example:

People in NW and North Europe are panicking and blaming foreigners because, imho, they know their national exceptionalisms are a hot air result of propaganda - narratives. They are in real fear. Because they feel/know that their economies are way more un-competitive and cruel than anyone would admit. They are scared of losing their accumulated privileges and fear more than South Europeans, because they know their societies are more cruel than in South Europe.

Yes what I am proposing, after roaming around the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands (NL) in the past 5 weeks and lots of talking with people from all walks of life, observing systemics and dynamics and lots of thinking, is that the real reason Dutch, Finns, Germans, Belgians, Brits are reacting the way they are is: they are scared. Even more scared than South Europeans.

Take a good look for example at the "streets" of any UK, NL or Belgian city. People are "bowling alone" (much more than Greeks or Spaniard are "bowling alone") and they know it.

That is I propose the main way to interpret eg the local results in Antwerp.

So whereas Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy need real policies badly, the NL, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Finland need real policies even more badly. And more humanism (and that is a matter/task for society and thought/opinion leaders, not policy makers per se).

On the other hand, imo what Greeks and Spaniards should really worry about is not labour market reforms but of having lost part of their traditional humanism. Because once that is lost, no laws or rules can after all restore that. And liberalism needs humanism in order to work. Every system does, but liberalism (in the European not US sense of the term) does even more (that is of course why Romney and Ryan should not win the elections in the US, the country where the term "bowling alone" was invented).

The Greek and Spanish labour markets are already a "Kaiadas" (see Ancient Sparta) even without labour market reforms, so what worse can reforms do than admit that reality?

Plus Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians should look at their national and local "champions" and elites and ask them: What have you done for me lately? In a way they are. In a way.

Being pro-EU doesn't mean being pro European Commission, pro EU Council, etc. It means being pro the common interests of 500,000,000. Because in the world systemics and dynamics of the epoch, mainly at continental and world level can effective solutions be formulated and implemented. But with a systems analysis approach that looks at the forest and at the trees at the same time. These are indeed testing times for policy makers.

The European media and social media should not focus on the symptoms (they do make for good copy, true) but at the diseases. I know it's hard.

Even more analysis on this complex topic and implications for policy makers, the civil society and economic operators at EU, Euro, national and local levels, is available upon request.

The paymasters of democracy and one person, one vote

The "we are the paymasters" so our opinions carry (more) weight because of that is being used by some member states of the EU.

But consider possible logical extensions of this rationale:

Does that mean wealthy citizens of a country can "spin off" from it? Or ask for more votes per person?   In other words, that people should have number of votes in proportion to their (declared) income?

Of course not, imho.

But watch for some politician, at national or local level, in Europe making that argumentation. And when you do, think of this post.

I already read somewhere that in some country, they say, there is a thought to give minors (children) voting rights, via their parents of course (the parents would be the ones to vote on their behalf). If that is so, then is that not a Trojan Horse for the one person, one vote core idea of democracy (recall of course than in the US, it is he/she who gets the most electors who wins the Presidency, not the one who gets most votes at national (federal) level - and most member states have decided long ago (each on its own, they have that right) to give all their electors to the winner of the state's vote).

More analysis of the topic and policy and business implications available upon special request.

A new EU industrial policy? Can the EU be re-industrialised?


I read on Twitter yesterday that the Cyrpus presidency of the Council of the EU, is focusing on a new EU industrial policy.

These are some of my thoughts on the subject (fuller analysis available upon special request):

New EU industrial policy? Horizontal (Bangemann) or sectoral? Inside or outside the WTO?

The EU cannot be re-industrialised w/o a different trade policy and/or w/o radical EU integration into a single force. The rest is wishful thinking, imo.

The EU2020 "strategy" was naive to begin with plus was undermined by austerity (see cuts and/or privatisation of education in many member states (eg UK, Spain, Greece, etc) and cuts in R&D spending due to austerity).


Who will be the EU's "Romans"?

Judging by some of the arguments being used around the EU27 and the Euro17 today the EU could wind up with city-states or 500,000,000 states of one!

While the best interest of the 500,000,000 imo is ONE country of 500,000,000. (1/14th of world population) able to stand tall next to China (1,300,000,000), India (1,200,000,000) and USA (310,000,000).

Or maybe Europe has "too much" history while not enough wisdom to survive as anything and soon may be taken over (become economic or other subsidiary or cantons) by others! 

Ancient Greece did not have the wisdom to unite into a political union. And paid the price. Does Europe have to wisdom to avoid same price?

Ancient Athens was acting like a primadona (in the Delos Alliance, Sparta left early). Then Sparta beat Athens and acted like an even bigger primadona-bully to the other Greek city-states. Then Thebes eliminated Sparta as a power. Then Macedonia took the lead (reminds one of the EU, with Germany, UK, France playing corresponding parts).

Then came the Romans and engulfed all Greek city states under the Roman Empire. Then others. Greece became a country 180 years ago. So: Who will be the EU's "Romans"? The Russians? China? America? All three? Someone else?

Oh Europe, wake up and see what is going on in the world!

More analysis of the above topic available to clients and close friends

More on separatist dynamics in Europe - a case inside Barcelona!

To some extent it's natural that paymasters at national (eg Flanders in Belgium) and local (eg Sarrià, part of Barcelona) level are sort of echoing the EU/Euro rationales of GER, NL and FIN. The EU's and Eurozone's bailouts' "paymasters" have opened Pandora's Box!

Example: Read from 20minutos.es the news story  'Sarrià is not Barcelona': la misiva de vecinos del barrio rico de la Ciudad Condal.  By analogy, in this case, Barcelona is rhe EU/Eurozone and Sarrià, part of Barcelona, is     Germany or maybe NL or Finland!

This post is a follow-up to my post Is more Europe the answer to separatist dynamics in Flanders, Catalonia, Scotland?

More analysis of this topic is available to clients and close friends.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Europe's social volcano: NW Europe compared to Athens

Until when are NW Europeans going to continue living their lives in quiet desperation? Policies must alleviate pressures now! Imho that is.

Greeks and Spaniards are more extrovert, but if an already active social volcano erupts in NW Europe, I am afraid that Athens will seem a paradise by comparison.


Europe: In the old days there was America and its Ellis Island. In 2012, Mars? This time Europe must solve its problems w/o emigration to America, America or (intra-European or another Europe caused World) war.

PS. To what extent has war been replaced by trade and finance? Food for thought.

More analysis on this topic and implications for policy are available upon request. Contact me.


Is more Europe the answer to separatist dynamics in Flanders, Catalonia, Scotland?


I believe so.

European unification imo partly alleviated separatism pressures.

Lack of it fosters them, More Europe is the answer.

My take is that many of these separatism pressures/dynamics (must read: a very thought provoking analysis on current separatist dynamics in the EU, "Separatism is in the air as EU leaders prepare to meet in Brussels" today by Stephanie Gruner Buckley in qz.com) are due to lack of concrete unification progress at Euro/EU level.

Applying a systemics and dynamics approach, one could go as far as to speculate that, in a way, if Europe does not unite better, the next equilibrium in many cases may be not the national but the local almost city state level!

In any case, Europe's systemics are not working, at various levels (EU, Euro, national, etc). They need systems analysis fast!

PS. That inter alia means that national champions and elites that are fighting against European integration may soon find their status threatened by local ones. They have to consider joining the EU-wide competition even if that means more competition than they are used to, or decide how to compete with the local champions and forces. Food for thought.

PS2. The European Commission was imo right to "duck" questions on separatism in EU states today. It is not in its "competences" to have a view on the topic.

More analysis and strategic options (policy, business, etc) in  dealing with this dynamic, are available upon request.


Saturday, 13 October 2012

On the competitive advantages of countries (and USPs)

Athens has never had a Manhattan (like NYC) and imo it never should.

Or a City (like London).

The solution is for those who want a City to move to London and for those who want Acropolis, Greek, islands, and a different way of life to stay or move to Greece. Especially true in an EU context, since intra-EU freedom of relocation is high (not perfect or as high as within the USA, but high). That same rationale could apply globally if global freedom of relocation of persons was anywhere near a descent level, but it is not (the WTO and capital freedoms are not enough, humans' freedom is the key premise in my rationale here, because humans are the basis for all econ/fin, biz and other dimensions, w/o humans what the point of economics, biz etc, not a Caprica (see US TV series)).

Trying to import US, UK, German and other models to Greece and other PIGS (and vice-versa) is wrong Strategy (and wrong philosophy).

One does not give up one's USP (unique selling proposition) to try to copy another's. In spite what many think re the success of copycat products in recent years (aka survival of the cheapest).

For example, US and other foreign educated Greeks (and tdes me) have the challenge to develop suitable original models for Greece not try to copy or transpose other models or patches of the UK, US, German, Dutch etc models.

My scepticism includes study of best practices, not in principle, but in practice. Imo, at best, best practices should be examined as a mere part of a brainstorming process, not as an excuse to shortcut original (and systemic) thinking in models of competitiveness.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Those who live by exports ....


Funny how heavily export dependent economies, emerging (China et al) and mature (eg GER) are being hit by the recession in their export markets

Debunks the myth of export exceptionalism. And points out the value of consumption rich economies (USA and many in the Eurozone).

In other words, where are the US, Spain, Greece, France, UK, Italy consumers when you need them, Germany, China et al? Austerised.

Let's face it, it's the US and many Eurozone consumers that make/made the world economy/trade go round!


Thursday, 11 October 2012

When capitalism goes on auto pilot

The self fulfilling nature of ratings shows what happens when capitalism goes on auto pilot!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tolerating vs embracing Diversity

The key is not to tolerate diversity.

The key is to embrace it and treat it as an asset.

How many countries or societies do that, though?

What do the liberals and the Leninists have in common?

What do the liberals and the Leninists have in common, in iterms of ideology?

Their distaste for private monopolies & cartels. But whereas liberals think that they can be avoided via competition, anti-monopoly and antitrust legislation, Leninists prefer the state ownership model, for monopolies and business in general!

Employability and (geo) mobility

The key to 2012 employability in Europe is geo-mobility but regional, national and EU admins do not foster that. On the contrary!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Re Brain Drains

Some countries should not worry about a "brain drain" since their econ/work models do not employ brain intensive competitiveness.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A legacy of Bill Clinton?

Watched the Clinton documentary on  BBC 2 tonight.  I am always amazed how Gore managed to blow the 2000 election and gave the world Dubya!

The GOP fiercely tried and failed to bring Clinton down. But it did have effect on US and world events later.

The GOP really hated Bill Clinton. With good reason. He had the highest rating of any other outgoing President.

The GOP did not manage to bring Clinton down but to affect some of his decisions as President that later had effect on US and world.

In spite of all his scandals, Bill Clinton was so popular when his presidency ended. All Gore had to do was ride the wave, the way Bush Sr had done. But no, he had to distance himself from Clinton due to Monicagate. And got off the wave. And Dubya won.

Many in the GOP failed to grasp that Clinton had and still has charisma few politicians did/do.

Obama in 2012, Hillary in 2016 and 2020. That is in a way a legacy of Bill Clinton
.
Had Gore not messed up in 2000 (and in 2004), it could mean 32 years of Democrats in the White House (Bill, Gore, Obama, Hillary).

But I am less of a fan of the GOP, especially in the period after the Bush Sr. Presidency to date
.
I am not particularly a fan of Bill Clinton, but this is my analysis!

The GOP has the potential to do good, but it has to turn towards the center, instead of the right (tea, libertarians, austerians etc).

Why a single market needs a single currency


Tonight I found out my debit card give me 75 BP for 100 Euros. Not as bad as 70 I got elsewhere but some Oxford St tourist shop give me 80 and a well known department store 82!

That means 750 vs 820 BP per 1000 Euros, or 70 BP per 1000 Euros or 7%. That's 1.333 Euros per BP. Compare with central rate!

That is why a real single market - space also needs a single currency. The rest is hot air. Europe, unite or let yourself decay!


Saturday, 29 September 2012

From Euroland to US of E?

So the Tories are saying that the want the Eurozone to become United States of Europe but w/o the UK?

That is what Churchill said too, right?

What is the EU, really?

The EU is not Monti, Juncker, Barroso, Merkel, the European Parliament, the Commission etc, but 500,000,000 in one entity.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Market jungle survival skills

It's a tough market, the job market, especially nowadays.

But if it was not tough, it would not be a market, would it?

They should teach job market survival skills at school.

London and NYC: Quality of life vs zest for life?

Some 14 million live in the London metropolis and 19 in the NYC one. Other than the rich and the hopeful, why do they? A "Hollywood" effect? In other words, do people stay in places that offer the feel/perception of opportunities even in the face of different experiences?

Are people willing to tolerate much more hardship of all kinds when the situation has an "opportunities" aura? And how does that play in today's systemics and dynamics in London, UK, Europe, USA and the world (as we perceive it, ie Earth). Quality of life vs zest for life.

My Preliminary conclusions re London systemics and dynamics

After 11 days in London (17 in UK) here are my preliminary (working) conclusions (up for discussion):

a) London is best for young professionals (eg under 35) and for rich people (high net worth or high earners). b) Compare with NYC London is huge and somewhat chaotic (NYC is even more huge, 19 million).

The Tube is imo overrated as a mode of transport (too many staircases - compare and contrast with Paris). London buses may be an underrated factor in London mobility systemics. Maybe the no-stairs mobility alternative to the Tube. Other cities, eg Brussels, Manchester, Berlin, etc (Paris? Systemics like London's?) may provide better quality of life. But opportunities?

 Thus: Does London give to the Londoners or to the newcomer (from Europe and the rest of the world) the opportunities it seems to offer (via an everything is possible feel)? That is an expensive question, considering London's cost of living while searching for a good job, not any job (plenty of labour intensive service jobs in London, it seems, by the way).

 These are some preliminary conclusions, or rather, thoughts!

PS. In a relevant discussion on Twitter tonight, my fellow tweep Lars Pellinat ‏(@Lars9596) offered a bery insightful piece of info:
"@npthinking The big riddle: Average salary in greater London below 30K per year, but 2 bedroom flat IN London can cost 2.500 a month"
Analyse this!

PS2. Maybe London's biggest asset is what I have described as a "Babylon 5 feel" to London, in the sense that people who everywhere (on Earth) live and work in London. But is that asset, by itself, enough to sustain London? I don't know.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

More Europe, but how much more?

How many EUropean business owners..

How many EUropean business owners (corporations, SMEs, micros) think of the EU27 as their market?

Not nearly enough!

Euro-parochialismus

How many people in the EU are born and spend their lives within 5-10 kilometers?

Too many, for a real union to flourish.

Parochialism (not Euroscepticism per se) is the main factor holding back Europe. In spite of the short distances between the EU's states.

For real estate, location, location, location! For integration, mobility, mobility. mobility!


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Is the Bundesbank living in the past?


Wolfgang Münchau (FT) is right (See FT's "Draghi is devil in Weidmann’s euro drama"). While the ECB is evolving into a Fed, the Bundesbank lives in the past. Hence it is not Europe that has to "speak" German as CDU's Kauder said a year ago, but the German policy/econ elite that must start "speaking" American!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Is capitalism inherently faulty? Lessons from the Euro crisis

Is capitalism in a marketing crisis? Is the product inherently faulty? Read Max Weber, I propose.

Is capitalism in a marketing crisis? Yes. IMO the so called Euro crisis shows that Capitalism is not only not absorbed by the rest of the world, but also a major part of the West - Europe.

Is the product inherently faulty? Weather Capitalism, as a model or (intellectual) "product", is, inherently or not, faulty is a complex discussion. But in any case, it seems to warrant a major rethink, especially re "credit capitalism". Capitalism in its present form neither works nor is it popular in most of the world. Not that communism is a solution, of course. Communism has failed, bigger than capitalism, in spite its revenge (China).

Read Max Weber, I propose. 100 years ago, he identified the roots or DNA of Capitalism, thus shedding light into its root philosophy. And think of the 2010s Euro crisis.

Is YOUR capitalism working? Is American capitalism working? The German? The British? The French? The Japanese? The Greek? The Spanish? The Italian? The Dutch?

German capitalism may or not be working in/for Germany but it is certainly destroying the Eurozone and potentially the EU. That is one of the lessons from the Euro crisis, for those of course who are looking for real lessons from the Euro crisis instead of stereotypes, opportunities for mud throwing or scapegoating the Greeks.

EU, European (UK, German, Dutch, other), US and global affairs

@npthinking (http://www.twitter.com/npthinking): 50,000 tweets on EU, European (UK, German, Dutch, other), US and global affairs in 36 months!

LibDem enough (UK, NL, Germany)?

Is VVD libdem enough to work with Labour in an NL coalition govt? Can the LibDems revamp themselves enough to survive in 2015 and join Labour in a UK coalition govt? Can FDP revamp itself enough to get 5% in 2013 and join SPD and Greens in German coalition govt?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

If some in the Eurozone did not suffer from inflation phobia

Maybe one needs to remind Mr. Axel Weber and Mr. Jens Weidmann that if the Trichet led ECB hadn't driven Euro systemics/dynamics out of whack due to inflation phobia ie a 2% inflation target, bond purchases would not be needed today by the Draghi led ECB, would they? What the Eurozone really needs is softer Euro to stop flood of imports & promote exports plus a more realistic EU trade policy (which German mega exporters don't want,do they). Otherwise sooner or later even Germany will have to adopt India/China wages to survive. Good luck with that. Greece and other PIIGS merely Ein Experiment.

When you find 100 Euros worth 70, 75, 76 and 80 BP around London

When you find 100 Euros worth 70, 75, 76 and 80 BP around London on same day, you realise the need for a real single currency, not a CBs one

On the Dutch elections result

I don't consider the NL election results of September 12 a victory for "Europe". No outcome in these elections would, alas, have been imo a victory for Europe.

When will Europe start "thinking" European?

The way for "Europe" to survive is to stop "speaking" German, French or UK and start "speaking" (ie thinking) "European". Til then, pain. Lots of "Tough Love" to EUropeans by German, French and British elites. Until Europe decides to think European, instead of that. Again, the euro was supposed to help Europeans live, work and trade across the EU/EZ not become a power toy for CBs, fins, politicos, elites. So what Europe needs is a euro currency by the people for the people, not by banker/fins for bankers/fins.

Either she does not get it or she is pulling everyone's leg

Re Angela Merkel's interview in Berlin. Merkel either does not get it or she is pulling everyone's leg (or both).

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The governing dynamics for capital and labour


Is capital nowadays a) migrant b) homeless or c) vagabond?

Thus, in these weird times which thinking is more in line with the general dynamics?
(Thinking) Like a) an immigrant b) a homeless person c) a vagabond?

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Too financial?

Our times are definitely too financial. From the credit card a hotel asks you to register you to the fin news that dominate media and social media.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

7 points in defense of Greece

1) Greece does not use nuclear for energy thus does not risk the safety of others, as many other EU/Eurozone states (and others) do.

2) Greece does not use ultra low corporate taxation, thus does not take taxable income away from other EU/Eurozone and other countries/states.

3) Due to geo position (and lack of a US of E), Greece has to spend for defense per capita more than anyone in the EU. EU/Eurozone "paymasters" Germany, France, NL are among the main sellers of arms.

4) Greece has been too loyal a believer in the EU Single Market concept (but alas only on the imports side)

5) Greece joined the EEC and then the EMU/Euro primarily not for economic but other (especially security) reasons (many others did too).

6) Greece's geo location (no land borders with the rest of the EU until 2007 and none with the rest of the Eurozone even today) affects the competitiveness of its exports (existing and potential).  

7) Greece's geo morphology (islands etc) breaks its internal market into many local ones thus hindering economies of scale and competition.

The Euro was supposed to ...

The Euro was supposed to help intra-EU trade (EU Single Mkt).

Instead, it became a toy for CBs, MInFins (bonds etc) & fin speculators

EU Regional policy effectiveness considerations

The EU Structural Funds were supposed to help eligible regions of the EU better prepare for the EU Single Market.

Have they?

The Cohesion Fund for the EMU/Euro.

Has it?

Have these funds acted as an excuse or rather a diversion from incorporating regional policy in all other  EU policies?


US states: Winner-takes-all

Did you know that it's up to each US state to decide what allocation system for its electoral votes to use?

Most choose winner-takes-all.

That system heavily distorts the US popular vote in the results.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Faulty premises leading to faulty analysis and policy


As issues such as the Euro crisis have shown, many analysts & commentators treat economies or societies or states as a human person.

I propose that this type of analogical analysis is flawed and thus leads to faulty policy conclusions.

Countries, economies, societies, states etc are not persons. they are systems and the suitable analysis is systems analysis. That's my view.



Austerity, marathons and high jumping

German and other commentators are now arguing that Greece has not shown enough progress.

On the other hand, stats from Jan-July 2012 have shown that the Greek budget has performed better than targets/expectations.

So is the claim of the commentators valid for the pre-2012 period?

Well, my view is the following:

Austerity is like (I usually don't like to treat for analysis purposes states or economies etc as persons but making an exception only for the purpose of demonstration of a point via an eloquent metaphor) starving someone, then making him/her run a marathon and accuse him/her when he/she faints at the 5th km from starvation and fatigue!

In my opinion, the goals set by the two Greek MoUs (MoU = Memorandum of Understanding) were too high/unrealistic/punitive. When this happens then even the achievement of lesser goals is hampered. To use another metaphor, from track and field. when the bar is set too high, this causes counter-productive "stress" to the athlete, thus can lead to very poor results! More realistic bailout terms/goals would have caused less "stress" thus could be reached if not at 100% at least near that.


Monday, 20 August 2012

If a member of the Euro trades mostly outside the Eurozone ...


1) If a member of the Euro (whichever these members are) trades mostly outside the Eurozone, does it make sense for it to be in it?

2) If a member of the EU and its single market (whichever these are) trades nostly outside the EU, does it make sense for it to be in the EU?

3) Membership of the EU single (or even common EEC) market "means" a state has focus inside the EU mkt (short though of a Fortress EU mentality)

4) The rationale of the single/internet EU market of 500,000,000 is for it to be (oh well) internal/single. And for members to trade mostly inside.

5) Global mega exporter Germany sells 40% in the Eurozone and 60% inside the Single EU Market. Makes sense!

6) If most EU members trade(d) mostly outside the EU, then what's the point a) of the EU Single Market? b) of the EU?

7) But then again quite a few of the 27 joined the EU/EEC primarily for security rather than economic reasons.


Euro irrational

What defies logic (and other things) is that even those who know that Austerity is not the solution insist  that Austerity commitments are honoured as is, not even adaptable.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Real policies for the real economy

Real policies for the real economy

And real regulations for the financial economy/matrix.

They are both urgent needs.


Saturday, 18 August 2012

The key to a well working capitalism

The key to a well working capitalism lies in the balanced mobility of financial vs human capital.

Since in the last few decades at world (GATT then TO) and regional (EEC/EU, Mercosur/UNASUR,  NAFTA, etc) freedom/mobility of not only capital but goods as well has increased strongly, while legal ("economic") migration has actually decreased, no wonder for Capitalism's imbalance and thus crisis.


EU Single Market and the EU's SMEs

The EU Single Market was supposed to lead to EU-wide market segments and niches thus

a) helping niche micro/SMEs

b) consumer niche tastes!

Did that happen?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Personal liberty is a noble goal but ...

A comment on the occasion of Ryan's entry in the race (and his budgets):

Personal liberty is a noble goal but cannot act as an excuse for social non-empathy and lack of human solidarity.

Paymasters, in the EU and the US

Why is no one talking of "paymaster" states among the 50 US states?

Because the US has a real union, unlike the EU/EZ!

What some people don't seem to get re the hard Euro

In the years of the hard Euro, ie when the Euro was (until relatively recently) quite high compared to the USD, the Yuan and other currencies of major trade partners (and tourist origins eg USA),  that  suffocated much of EZ business because it not only had a hard time exporting to non-Euro markets but also faced (when eg Euro was 1.4 or 1.5 USD) more fierce competition inside the Eurozone and even their own "national" markets.

So while interest rates for Eurozome member states were lower than past thus allowing them to borrow more (via sovereign bonds) than the pre-Euro years, they were still high enough (in order to stick to the 2% inflation target of the then ECB directorate) compared to US, UK and other central bank interest rates, for the Euro to be expensive Euro vis-a-vis USA, China, etc.

So while the budgets of Euro member states benefited from cheaper money, and maybe companies too, the price competitiveness of many Eurozone businesses (including tourist ones) took a severe, IMO, beating.

Guess whom (which country) I have in mind today?

The Eurozone's hard Euro policy (explicit or implicit, as a result of inflation "phobia"  thus interest rates higher than UK and US that pushed the Euro up) benefited a lot of non-EZ and lots of non-EU countries' exports! Even "spoiled" some of these countries' exporters and leaders.

Germany and Robert Redford in the Candidate!

Germany in the last few years reminds me of Robert Redford in The Candidate. It became the undisputed EU's leader but then asked, "And now what?"

The truth, alas, about the EU is ..

The truth, alas, about the EU is that none of Germany, France and the UK know how to lead and the others do not know how to work as a Team!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

All in (centrist) moderation?

Some say that the political center has no ideology. Well, for one, "all in moderation" is a key centrist philosophy, made in Ancient Greece.

Moderation, or if you prefer, a balance, between individualism (as opposed to the libertarians) and collectivism (as opposed to socialists and of course, communism).

Moderation between austerity and Keynesianism.

Moderation - balance in regulation and legislation. No zero state (libertarians) but not over-legislation, over-regulation and red-tape labyrinth (statists).

No worship or dogmatic attachment to either a) the public or b) the private sector. To each their own, depending on the structure of the industry/sector/economic activity.

Understanding that neither the markets nor the state are "wise".

How many political parties in Europe would be define as centrist based on the above? Which?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Games, in sports and in business

Seems that some have it all wrong. You actually compete in business but you participate in sports.

Is Germany a bull in the Eurozone's China Store?


Some thoughts of mine on PressEurop's very interesting report: Berlin still selling too much (14/8/2012)

1) The FAZ comments IMO, at best, show (let's call it) "non-systemic thinking".

2) Is Germany exporting too much or importing and in general consuming too little? Too little from the Eurozone?

3) In terms of trade surplus, Germany is a bull in a China Store. Funny thing is, Germany's inflation phobia makes China another bull in the Eurozone and EU's "stores"/mkts for goods.

4) Germany saves "a lot" which means it has to find outlets for its investments. No wonder Germany had invested "a lot" in the PIIGS (while selling "a lot" to them too). The rest is not "rocket science"!

5) But the strategic/systemic question is: Is Germany too big to be part of the EU/EZ but too small to be a power on its own? And if Germany is too small to be a world power on its own, what do that say for eg UK's ambitions? France, sometimes arrogant, nevertheless knows it needs "Europe". UK and Germany (and others) act as if they do not.

6) Marketing: What exactly is Germany exporting that the Eurozone (40%), EU (60%), the world, a) cannot substitute or b) always need/want?

7) So with Germany having cornered the high quality market, China the low price one & US the new tech one, what's left for (most of) the rest?

8) Problem not only that Berlin still selling too much but its policy/philosophy not selling (in many parts of Europe/EU/Eurozone)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Where are the philosophers when we need them?


Where are the philosophers and other thinkers to speak in public (USA + Europe) about the values of Humanism and Enlightenment in these new Middle Ages?

These new Middle Ages when solidarity is branded entitlements, when the taxpayer interest is the political premise rather than citizen's?

The new Middle Ages when a mother of 5 is told she should have borne fewer children (instead of government/societal bonus, especially in seriously ageing countries like most of Europe)?

The new Middle Ages when "foreigners", especially economic immigrants, are the scapegoats for the problems in so many countries?

Where are they? In the media? In the social media, eg Twitter? Where are they?


Saturday, 11 August 2012

The number one impairment towards competitiveness for Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece is

Neither Austerity not Keynes is what South Europe needs the most, It's radical curbing of "polynomia" (over-legislation).


To put it differently, the number one impairment towards competitiveness for Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece (and others) is a culture of over-legislation that suffocates people and small and medium size business.

Living in most societies today is like living in a condo with 100000 pages worth of rules or using a TV with a 100000 pages manual.



I am not sure whether it's bureaucracy that creates over-legislation or vice-versa, but the solution starts with curbing the latter first.

Products are tested for side-effects etc before they are released. But legislation is not.

Of course over-legislation is a global problem (even in the UK) but it suffocates Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece the most.

The raison d'etre of politics is to produce public policy, not public relations. Political parties need to become policy making "factories"


But it should be noted that a fewer and better laws philosophy does not mean no laws, ie it's not a libertarian's wet dream.


The UK should leave the WTO instead of the EU!

The UK's June trade balance (goods and services) from £ billion -2.9 in 2011 to -4.3 in 2012! Without services, it would be worse!

The deficit in goods trade of the UK is greater with the rest of the world than with the EU (June 2012): -5.2 vs -4.9 (£ billion, source: ONS).

Also: June UK exports to EU fell 7.2%, but to rest of the world they fell 9.6%, thus debunking the myth that the UK is better off outside the EU and focusing on trade with the non-EU rest of the world!

So maybe the UK should leave the WTO instead of the EU!

Actually, since the UK is a member of the WTO directly and via the EU's membership, the UK should stay in the EU and convince it to leave the WTO (and replace it with existing and new bilateral agreements).

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Their way or the highway?


Countries with large trade surplus take pride in their capabilities.

They sound like entrepreneurs who think they succeeded on their own.

They also sound like the scorpion in the Scorpion and the Frog.


Monday, 6 August 2012

Some @npthinking follower stats

2256 followers. 143 in Brussels (Belgium 160), 120 in London (UK 307), 33 in Paris (84 in France)

The following stats are based on tweepsmap.com raw data per country (Aug 6, 2012):

Based on 2256 followers:

1) The Eurozone followers are (only %s 0.05% (corresponds to 1.128 follower) and above listed)
13 of 17 Euro countries yield 0.05% or higher. Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta and Estonia yield less than that.

Greece 10.67%
Belgium 7.11% = 160 
Ireland 4.81%
France 3.72%
Germany 3.12%
España 2.74%
Netherlands 1.64%
Italy          1.15%
Portugal 0.77%
Finland 0.33%
Cyprus 0.22%
Austria  0.11%
Lux          0.05%
Total EZ:   36.44% = 822

2) Rest of the EU (EU minus Eurozone):
7 of the 10 clock 0.05% or more:


UK        13.62% = 307
Other non-EU 1.64% = 37
Analysis:
Sweden 0.71% = 16
Denmark 0.33% = 7 (7.4)
Hungary 0.22%
Latvia 0.16%
Bulgaria 0.11%
Czech Republic 0.11%

Total non EZ EU: 15.26%, 344 tweeps

1+2 (total EU27): 51.70%, 1166 tweeps

3) USA 22.05%, 497 tweeps

4) Rest of the world (world minus EU minus USA): 25.8%, 582


Cities:

Athens, Attikí, Greece 6.73%
Brussels, Brüssel, Belgium 6.35% = 143
London, England, UK 5.31% = 120
Somewhere, UK 2.74%
Somewhere, Greece 2.46%
Somewhere, USA 2.3%
NYC, New York, USA 2.3%
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland 2.08%
Los Angeles, California, USA 1.59%
Paris, Île-de-France, France  1.48%
Somewhere, Ireland 1.48%
Somewhere, England, UK 1.2%
Berlin, Berlin, Germany 0.98% = 22
Somewhere, California, USA 0.98%
Thessaloníki, Voria Ellada, Greece 0.82%
Madrid, Madrid, España 0.82%
Chicago, Illinois, USA 0.71%
Toronto, Ontario, Canada 0.66%
Washington, District of Columbia, USA 0.66%
Barcelona, Catalonia, España 0.6%


Some things are not the Greeks' fault!


The Greeks/Greece have in the last 2.5 years been blamed by many analysts, commentators, media etc for the Eurocrisis. The main premise for the blame is their perennial government deficits and resulting national debt. One can debate that, but that's not the point of this post.

The point is:

So many allegedly "successful" country (national) economic models are actually based on gimmicks, "piggybacking" on other countries, myths/stereotypes, etc!

For example:

Some countries over-rely on exports (trade surplus). While some exporting is of course a very good thing, there are limits. A country cannot and should not rely too much on the consumers of other countries (that a perennial trade surplus indicates). All in moderation.

Some countries rely on tax competition (too low tax rates, off-shore tax heavens, etc). Nothing to be proud of. On the contrary.

'Some countries' economic model takes advantage of nuclear energy, putting into risk their neighbours and the whole planet!

The same, but to a different extent and nature, applies to CO2 emitting industry. Past and present mega polluters (see global warming).




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