Monday, November 30, 2009

A European Union that "works" for people and SMEs

IMO the EU is (and has been for many decades) like a road that is always under construction or maintenance hence problematic for its users (ie citizens), thus this irritating approach to EU construction has to be abandoned and the final design has to be shown to people and voted upon, no fuzz, clear!

If the wise men of Europe design an EU that works for the average person and the small company, then that will be a really deep + real "EU"

Key design criteria: a single EU "space" for small companies and average people to live, work, do business, with simple and EU-wide laws only.

In other words, a real European "Common Market" that works for small companies and real - average people is a much deeper EU than the one we have now or will have as the Lisbon EU Treaty goes into force.

PS. IMO the USA is not a good model for deeper EU. The design must be simpler, less bureaucratic + with direct access of EU institutions to the people and vice-versa.

The global trade of EU Services in 2008

These days, people in the US, most of the EU and some other countries live in economies that are dominated (more than 7 or 80% of GDP) by Services.

So let's look at today's press release by Eurostat re the EU's trade balance in Services in 2008. It is quite insightful, IMO, as to the role of Services in the EU.\

In 2008, EU (27 members) external trade in services recorded a surplus of 78.4 billion euro, compared with a surplus of 86.9 bn in 2007 and a surplus of 71.4 bn in 2006.

In 2008 compared to 2007,
1) smaller surpluses were recorded in
a) financial services (+30.7 bn euro in 2008 compared with +33.3 bn in 2007) and
b) "other business services", which includes miscellaneous business, professional & technical services (+33.1 bn compared with +35.6 bn)

2) increased deficits were recorded in
a) royalties & licence fees (-13.8 bn compared with -8.5 bn) and
b) travel (-20.3 bn compared with -18.7 bn).

Their negative effect on the trade balance was partially offset by increased surpluses in:
* transportation (+24.1 bn compared with +19.9 bn),
* computer & information services (+17.3 bn compared with +14.8 bn) and
* insurance services (+7.6 bn compared with +6.8 bn).

In 2008, the EU (27 members) continued to record a surplus in trade in services with all its main trading partners.

An increased surplus with
a) EFTA (+26.0 bn in 2008 compared with +23.4 bn in 2007)
b) Brazil (+3.0 bn compared with +2.0 bn) and
c) China (+4.9 bn compared with +4.0 bn).

Smaller surpluses were registered with:
a)the USA (+1.7 bn compared with +9.0 bn),
b)India (+0.6 bn compared with +2.6 bn) and
c)Japan (+4.7 bn compared with +5.7 bn),

Stable surpluses with:
a) Russia (+7.5 bn compared with +7.9 bn),
b) Canada (+2.0 bn compared with +2.2 bn) and
c) Hong Kong (+0.9 bn compared with +0.6 bn)

Initial estimate for November Eurozone inflation: +0.6%

According to a "flash estimate" issued today by Eurostat, Eurozone annual inflation is expected to be 0.6% in November 2009.

Note that inflation in the Eurozone part of the EU ran at an annualised rate of -0.1% in October 2009.

A better estimate for November Eurozone (as well as EU) inflation will be issued on December 16, 2009.

Friday, November 27, 2009

EU language industry's turnover estimated at Euro 8.4 bn

Many people around the world, especially in the US and most EU countries live in economies that are mostly Services. Services of various types or sectors or "industries".

The language industry is a case in point.

According to a study carried out for the European Commission, the EU language industry has been less affected by the economic crisis than other industries.

The study, which is the first to analyse the size of the language industry EU-wide, covers language related services such as translation, interpreting, localising and globalising, subtitling and dubbing, language technology tools, multilingual conference organisation and language teaching.

The study estimates the industry's EU-wide turnover at Euro 8.4 billion (for 2008) with an annual increase of at least 10% over the next few years: to between Euro 16.5-20 billion by 2015.

This is one of the highest growth rates among EU industries - sectors!

European Commission President announced the portofolios of his Commissioners-designate for 2009-2014

Less than 3 days after receiving the final nominations by the governments of the member countries, the European Commission's President Barroso has just announced, 12:15 CET (Europe) the responsibilities of the Commissioners-designate (the team is now to be interviewed and approved or rejected as a whole by the European Parliament until end of January 2010)

- Joaquín ALMUNIA (Spanish): Competition. Vice-President of the Commission.

- László ANDOR (Hungarian): Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

- Baroness Catherine ASHTON (British): High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security and Vice-President of the Commission.

- Michel BARNIER (French): Internal Market and Services.

- Dacian CIOLOS (Romanian): Agriculture and Rural Development.

- John DALLI (Maltese): Health and Consumer Policy.

- Maria DAMANAKI (Greek): Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

- Karel DE GUCHT (Belgian): Trade.

- Štefan FÜLE (Czech): Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. *

- Johannes HAHN (Austrian): Regional Policy.

- Connie HEDEGAARD (Danish): Climate Action.

- Maire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN (Irish): Research and Innovation.

- Rumiana JELEVA (Bulgarian): International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. *

- Siim KALLAS (Estonian): Transport. Vice-President of the Commission.

- Neelie KROES (Dutch): Digital Agenda. Vice-President of the Commission.

- Janusz LEWANDOWSKI (Polish): Budget and Financial Programming.

- Cecilia MALMSTRÖM (Swedish): Home Affairs.

- Günter OETTINGER (German): Energy.

- Andris PIEBALGS (Latvian): Development.*

- Janez POTOČNIK (Slovenian): Environment.

- Viviane REDING (Luxemb.): Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Vice-President of the Commission.

- Olli REHN (Finn): Economic and Monetary Affairs.

- Maroš ŠEFČOVIČ (Slovakian): Vice-President of the Commission for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration.

- Algirdas ŠEMETA (Lithuanian): Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud.

- Antonio TAJANI (Italian): Industry and Entrepreneurship. Vice-President of the Commission.

- Androulla VASSILIOU (Cypriot): Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

* In close cooperation with the High Representative/Vice-President in accordance with the treaties.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

EU: Now European Parliament and Council of Ministers "co-decide"

With the Lisbon Treaty coming into force December 1, the so called "Co-decision procedure" between the Council and the European Parliament applies to the EU's Budget and almost all legislative issues!

The European Parliament: From infanthood to full rights as an "adult"

Rapporteur David Martin (S&D, UK) on Nov. 25 on the new rights of the EP with the entry intoforce of the Lisbon Treaty:

"the Single European Act took the Parliament from being a baby to infanthood, Maastricht took us through puberty, the Nice and Amsterdam Treaties took us into adulthood and I believe the Lisbon Treaty takes this Parliament into the full rights of an adult Parliament"

UK Q3 GDP declined 0.3% (instead of 0.4%)

According to the latest ONS data (November 25), in Q3 of 2009 (July-September) the UK gross domestic product (GDP) in volume terms fell by 0.3% compared with the previous
quarter, revised from a fall of 0.4 per% published in the initial estimates for Q3 last month. Growth was last positive in 2008 Q1 (0.6%).

(Meanwhile in the US, Q3 annualised GDP growth was also revised, yesterday, downwards, from 3.5% to 2.8% see

Compared with the same quarter (Q3) of 2008, GDP now shows a fall of 5.1% from a fall of 5.2% published last month.

Growth in the volume of output in the production industries in Q3 of 2009 has been revised down to show a fall of 0.8% from a fall of 0.7% published in October.

Manufacturing output was revised up to show a fall of 0.1% from a fall of 0.2%
published last month.

Growth in the volume of output in the service industries in quarter three of 2009 has been revised up to show a fall of 0.1%, from a fall of 0.2% published in October.

There were upward revisions to output of distribution and transport services since the preliminary release as a result of more complete survey returns.

A full set of quarterly national accounts for Q3 of 2009 will be published on 22
December 2009, while the preliminary estimate of GDP for Q4 of 2009 will be
published on 26 January 2010.

In more detail (source: ONS):

Production, Manufacturing, etc: The volume of output in the production industries fell by 0.8%, within which manufacturing fell by 0.1% (prelim estimate had been -0.2%). Gross value added excluding oil and gas fell by 0.2 per cent over the quarter.

Production output fell by 0.8 per cent in 2009 Q3, in comparison with the fall of 0.5 per cent in the previous quarter and is down 10.5 per cent compared with 2008 Q3.

Mining and quarrying output fell by 4.7 per cent, driven by a decline in oil and gas extraction. This compares with a decline of 0.6 per cent in 2009 Q2. This component contributed 0.1 per cent to the decline in GDP in the latest quarter.

Manufacturing output fell by 0.1 per cent in 2009 Q3. Substantial increases in production of motor vehicles were offset by continued declines in paper and publishing, and manufacturing of machinery and equipment.

Electricity, gas and water continued to decline with output falling by 0.8 per cent over the quarter.

Services: Output of the service industries decreased by 0.1% compared with the
decline of 0.6 per cent in the previous quarter.

The output of the distribution, hotels and catering industries rose by 0.3 per cent over the quarter compared with a decline of 0.4 per cent in 2009 Q2. There was a recovery in motor trades which was supported by additional registrations as a result of the Government’s
car scrappage scheme. There was continued growth in retail trade, although activity in hotels and restaurants continued to decline.

The transport, storage and communication industries rose by 0.5 per cent, compared with a decline of 1.8 per cent in 2009 Q2. The rise was driven by a recovery in land and water transport, while air transport continued to show increasing activity.

The business services and finance industries declined by 0.3 per cent, compared with a fall of 0.7 per cent in 2009 Q2. While there was a continued decline in output of financial services, this was partly offset by increases in computer services, management consultancy, legal and
architectural services.

Government and other services fell by 0.2 per cent over the quarter. Health and social services increased by 0.8 per cent. Education services output was down by 0.6 per cent as a result of a decline in private sector education and training. Other services fell by 1.1 per cent largely as
a result of a reduction in output of recreational services.

Construction: Output is estimated to have fallen by 1.1% compared with a fall of 0.8% in the previous quarter.

Household expenditure: In real terms, in Q3 it was broadly unchanged from the level of Q2, while gross fixed capital formation fell by 0.3%

Nominal GDP: GDP at current market prices rose by 1.0% compared with a fall of 0.6% in 2009 Q2.

Growth in household expenditure remained flat over the quarter, compared with a fall of 0.6 per cent in 2009 Q2.

There was a strong increase in expenditure on motor vehicles and higher spending on recreational goods and services. These increases were offset by reductions in
spending on clothing and footwear, energy, and restaurants and hotels.

Government expenditure rose by 0.2 per cent and the volume of spending is now 1.9 per cent higher than in the same quarter of 2008.


The deficit in net trade increased to £7.2 billion from £6.5 billion in 2009 Q2, trimming GDP growth by 0.2 per cent as imports rose faster than exports.

Exports of goods rose by 2.4 per cent. The main contributors to this rise were motor vehicles and chemicals.
Imports of goods rose by 3.2 per cent, due mainly to motor vehicles, fuels, intermediate goods, and capital goods.

Exports of services fell by 2.1 per cent on the quarter due largely to reductions in travel to the UK and reduced earnings from royalties and license fees.
Imports of services decreased by 3.7 per cent; driven by reductions in spending abroad.

Salaries: Compensation of employees decreased by 0.4 per cent in 2009 Q3, compared with an increase of 0.8 per cent in the previous quarter. This reflects flat earnings growth and declining employment over the quarter. Compensation of employees was 0.9 per cent below the
same quarter of 2008, the biggest decline on record.

Note re statistics and their revisions:

Common pitfalls in interpreting series: Expectations of accuracy and reliability in early estimates are often too high. Revisions are an inevitable consequence of the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy. Early estimates are based on incomplete data. Very few statistical revisions arise as a result of ‘errors’ in the popular sense of the word. All estimates, by definition, are subject to statistical ‘error’ but in this context the word refers to the uncertainty inherent in any process or calculation that uses sampling, estimation or modelling. Most revisions reflect either the adoption of new statistical techniques, or the incorporation of new information which allows the statistical error of previous estimates to be reduced. Only rarely are there avoidable ‘errors’ such as human or system failures, and such mistakes are made quite clear when they do occur.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

EU: Some stats re the 27 candidate European Commissioners

Political affiliation:
(the political affiliation is mostly a result of the nominating government parties or coalitions thereof).

13 (including Pres. Barroso) are of Christian Democratic - European Peoples' Party - right of center political affiliation.

8 are of ELDR - liberal democratic - centrist political affiliation.

6 are of Socialist - PES political affiliation.

Gender Balance:

Of the 8 ELDR affiliated candidate Commissioners, 4 ie 50% are women! 3 of 13 EPP (23%) and 2 of 6 PES (33%)


Of the 27, 14 are continuing from the 2004-2009 Commission. Plus 1, the French M. Barnier was Commissioner in the 1999-2004 Commission (under R. Prodi).

Note: The candidate new College of Commissioners

Last update: Nov. 24

Below is a list of the Commissioners who were nominated by their respective countries' governments. I am including notes (work in progress)

The European Parliament will interview each one of them separately (the EP Committee(s) which cover(s) the same policy area(s) as each Commissioner's portfolio). The EP in Plenary can approve or reject the whole Commission team, not a particular Commissioner, at least officially.

Once, appointed, the Commissioners do not represent their countries (at least in theory). Yet most nominating governments push for "their" Commissioner to get a "crucial" portfolio. In some cases, nominating a person of different political affiliation if that will get him/her a strategucally crucial portfolio. Complicated?

JM Barroso has already been approved as President for 2009-2014 by the EP.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso (Portugal, ex-PM, EPP, second term)

European Peoples' Party political affiliation: (12 + 1 (Barroso); 10 men, 3 women (23%))

Johannes Hahn (Austria, ÖVP, former Minister for Science and Research)

Rumiana Jeleva (Bulgaria, Foreign Affairs Minister, ex-MEP)

Connie Hedegaard (Denmark, Minister of Climate)

Michel Barnier (France, was Commissioner before in 1999-2004)

Günther Oettinger (Germany, CDU, PM of Bade Wurtemberg)

Antonio Tajani (Italy)

Andris Piebalgs (Latvia, 2004-2009: Energy)

Algirdas Šemeta (Lithuania, 2004-2009)

Viviane Reding (Luxembourg, LCV, 2004-2009: Information Society and Media, for her 3rd term as Comm)

John Dalli (Malta)

Janusz Lewandowski (Poland)

Dacian Ciolos (Romania)

ELDR: 8 (4 men - 4 women (50%)):

Karel De Gucht (Belgium, returning)

Androulla Vassiliou (Cyprus, United Democrats, 2004-2009)

Siim Kallas (Estonia, 2004-2009; Administration)

Olli Rehn (Finland, 2004-2009: Enlargement)

Maire Geoghegan Quinn (Ireland, former Minister, Court of Auditors)

Neelie Kroes (The Netherlands, 2004-2009: Competition)

Janez Potocnik (Slovenia)

Cecilia Malmström (Sweden, until now Minister of European Affairs)

PES (European Socialists Party): 6 (4 men - 2 women (33%))

Stefan Fuele (Czech Republic. CSSD, European Affairs Minister, ex-UN ambassador)

Maria Damanaki (Greece, Ex-leader of the Synaspismos Party, now member of PASOK (Soc),
ex-Candidate for Athens Mayor)

László Andor (Hungary)

Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia)

Joaquín Almunia (Spain, 1999-2004: ECOFIN Affairs)

Catherine Ashton (UK, ex-House of Lords (Baroness), Trade Commissioner since last year, replacing P. Mandelson)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Leadership and policy results

Pondering what press and commentators will be saying re Van Rompuy, Ashton, H. Clinton and Obama 1 year from now!

Economic modeling UK, Germany, EU, etc

Some more thoughts on economic and general "modeling" (socio-economic, etc) in view of current trends and dynamics:

a) Do countries in our era need to be large enough to have a sufficient internal market for economic sovereignty?

"Large" enough in terms of what?


b) Is it prudent for a developed + Services based economy to rely too much

1) on the Financial Services sector of econ activity? (is the UK one of them)?

2) On exports (eg Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, China, etc)?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where are the EUropeans and the Single Market?

Where are the EUropeans who view the whole EU as their living, working, job searching, doing biz "area"? What real problems are they facing?

J. Delors et al created the European Dream of a real Single Market and European Union but where is the EUropean reality in 2009?

In the EU, real people + real (SME + micro) companies need a real economy and real policies to create real growth and real jobs, not virtual ones.

Instead of leading the #EU into a more meaningful. better working, less interventionist union that works for ppl and SMEs, the UK public opinion is dominated by forces that propose an antiquated version of sovereignty (instead of a modern version of it).

The EU Single market was officially kickstarted on 1/1/2003, almost 17 years ago (not to be confused with the Eurozone).

Can a Single Market (or even Common Market, as some people, especially in Britain, continue to call it, meaning its predecessor) for services and work be Real w/o common taxation for company and personal income? And how does that bode with "national sovereignty"? A catch 22? Or is the new exit-clause, provided by the new EU Treaty, the ultimate protector and guarantee of the "national sovereignty" of the EU's member countries? I think so.

So 17 years after the start of the EU Single Market, can anyone really claim that it "works" for the average EUropean worker or job seekers or SME or micro firm? Are, for example, SMEs and micros in the EU targeting and accessing EU Single Market niches? Why not? What are the real barriers? These are IMO crucial questions that anyone who wants the EU to "work" should be asking these days. IMHO.

On the G8, G20, WTO and "world governance"

IMO either a) more or b) less globalization make sense, not the current level.

Real people and real (SME + micro) companies need a real economy, local, national, regional (eg EU, ASEAN, Mercosur, etc) and global (WTO area) and real policies to create real growth + real jobs, not virtual ones.

Who "elected" the G20 as a new world economic "government"? IMO neither the G8 or G20 have the political legitimacy to formulate world economic policy and make decisions - global democratic deficit.

Should the WTO instead of the G20 assume the role of the G8 in "world governance"?

There are many legit ways to achieve a democratic governance system that will include most of the world (Earth), but the ones being put forward are not them.

Maybe the EU or the US are models for a World Union or a United States of the World. Other, more complicated models exist too, IMO. But any legit model can to entail the participation of the people (democracy) concerned.

8 or 20 or 50 countries cannot formulate policies or make decisions that affect the rest of the countries and their people (members of UN or at least the WTO).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

OECD projections for Eurozone GDP

In its Economic Outlook No.86, the OECD ( makes the following projections re real GDP growth for the Eurozone:
2009 -4.0%
2010: +0.9%
2011: +1.7%

Read the
Editorial and summary of projections, especially the risks associated with these projections in:

Social Media: The video Chat revolution?

I a) live chat b) blog c) vlog d) tweet therefore I am?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

UK inflation up in October

According to the ONS, in October 2009:

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose to 1.5% from 1.1% in September
The Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure, which includes mortgage interest payments and housing costs, rose to -0.8% from -1.4% in September, the biggest rise in almost 20 years.

1) The temporary reduction in VAT expires in January 2010.

2) The government's target for the CPI is 2%.

EU trade stats for January-August 2009

EU January-August 2009 detailed results by Eurostat:

The EU deficit decreased for
a) energy (-152.3 bn euro in January-August 2009 compared with -261.1 bn in January-August
b) raw materials (-12.1 bn compared with -27.5 bn).

The EU surplus fell for:
Machinery and vehicles (+68.6 bn compared with +100.9 bn),

The EU surplus rose for:
Chemicals (+53.6 bn compared with +51.0 bn).

EU trade flows with its major partners

EU trade flows with all of its major partners fell!

The largest decreases were recorded for exports to:
Russia (-40% in January-August 2009 compared with January-August 2008)
Turkey (-28%)
South Korea and Brazil (both -23%)
the USA and Norway (both -20%), and

The largest decreases for imports were from:
Russia (-43%)
Norway (-31%)
Japan (-29%)
Brazil (-28%) and
Turkey (-26%).

The EU trade surplus decreased with the:
* USA (+26.1 bn euro in January-August 2009 compared with +42.6 bn in January-August 2008)
* Switzerland (+8.6 bn compared with +12.2 bn).

The EU trade deficit decreased with:
China (-86.4 bn compared with -102.5 bn),
Russia (-29.1 bn compared with -55.2 bn),
Norway (-21.9 bn compared with -36.5 bn ) and
Japan (-13.0 bn compared with -22.9 bn ).

Member States

The largest surplus was observed in Germany (+81.3 bn euro)
followed by Ireland (+25.9 bn) and the Netherlands (+23.2 bn).

The United Kingdom (-61.3 bn) registered the largest deficit
followed by France (-34.5 bn), Spain (-31.4 bn), Greece (-19.0 bn) and Portugal (-11.6 bn)

EU and Eurozone trade balances for September

The first estimates by Eurostat for September 2009.


A trade surplus with the rest of the world of 3.7 bn euro
(-6.0 bn in September 2008, -2.3 bn in August 2009, -10.8 bn in August 2008)

In September 2009 compared with August 2009, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 5.5% and imports by 1.1%.


A 11.2 bn euro trade deficit with the rest of the world
(-24.5 bn in September 2008. -12.0 bn in August 2009, -28.5 bn in August 2008)

In September 2009 compared with August 2009, seasonally adjusted exports rose by 3.4% and imports by 2.2%.

Monday, November 16, 2009

UK: Some sectors need more regulation, but many need much less

In the UK (but this is also relevant for many other countries and more the capitalism - regulation - needs of micros and SMEs discussion (see post), there is much debate going on regarding heavier supervision and regulation of banks and other financial services. Eg the government's Financial Services Bill and the issue as to whether a watchdog (eg the FSA) should have a word over top exec pay in banks.

IMO, whereas banks may need to be more heavily regulated due to their "too big to fail" nature as part of the economy and their involvement in the daily lives of most people (as far as retail banking is concerned), radical deregulation IMO is urgent for SMEs and micro companies in many other sectors of the UK economy (and other economies).

Not to mention that IMO a radical re-think of the total model of financial services and banking would be in order in the UK, the EU, the US, almost everywhere. A comprehensive re-think of what is the reason of being of banks, their business model (especially the presence of many different and some difficult to appreciate types of risks), all aspects, in parts and as a whole, would be in order, in the aftermath of the crisis.

But in any case, banking is not a "business as usual" or "business" in general. It has complex systemics and structures that are far reaching and cut to the bone of any economy and the people.

So, what about top exec pay in banks? Should anyone "interfere" in those "contracts". Well, for one, the Plenary of the stockholders should, but that applies to any company in any sector whose shares are traded (publicly quoted, see "Corporate Governance" or what I prefer to call "Corporate Democracy"). Should a retail bank have the pay of its top execs approved or vetoed by "the state"? Only when and while it has borrowed money from the state or the state is a shareholder? Or in any case, because banks "need" to be bailed out in case they may fail because they are "too big to fail"?

By the way, more than 100 banks have failed or been "closed" by the authorities in the US this year. Of course FDIC reimburses all deposits of up to a certain level (the rest was part of a depositors "risk"). But banking and its systemic role and effects in an economy as most economies are today, especially in the UK and the US, are much more than just the deposits, isn't it?

Oh we do live in interesting times. Quite a curse.

The entrepreneurship vs regulation oxymoron within the context of global socio-econ trends and dynamics

What oxymoron?

Well, if you have been reading this blog or following my tweets in the last few weeks, you should know what I mean:

a) Free market capitalism seems to be losing popular support, all around the world, even in the US.

b) Much of public opinion around the world again is in favour of more regulation on business.

So, while micro firms and SMEs are suffocating in over-regulation and red tape, world public opinion is asking for more business regulation.

Analyse this!

As I have pointed in numerous posts and tweets in recent months, many people (be they men in the streets or policy makers or media etc) when they think "business" they continue to be "tied" to states of the past (large industry, esp. international), whereas, at least in the US, EU and orher OECD at least countries/economies, 70-80% of the economy is Services and the companies ("business") is mostly SME (small and medium) or even micro (0-9 employees).

Hence: they could be talking of different business, but that is IMO lost in .....

Plus I ask you to consider this:

1) IMO globalization will gain popular support only when most micro and small companies can feel the global market + its niches as "theirs"/ Plus, IMO the EU will gain popular support only when most of its micro + small companies can feel the EU Single Market as their market.

2) Many young people are opting to start a business rather than become "corporate material": An "Entrepreneur or corporate manager" dilemma? Yet, corporate bureaucracy may be bad these days but the red tape a #micro company faces is not cool either.

3) Real capitalism vs. pseudo (fake) capitalism? Which of the two is prevalent in your part of the world? Many people cannot tell the difference!

4) IMO we need either more or less of "Europe" + either more or less globalisation, current levels of both EU and globalization make no sense (and do not work for the micro and small firm and the "man in the street").

EU or Asia is more key for US interests at the mo?

Some commentators are noting that so far in his Presidency, as well as in recent days, Obama (and Hilary) seeem to be focusing their international relations energy on Asia much more than on Europe - the EU.

To the extent that this is so, IMO Obama is right to focus on Asia than the EU at the moment.


There are many reasons, most of them purely practical, realpolitik or actually "real-ecokomik". Let me merely mention a few, in passing:

a) The yuan and its effect on Chinese exports and thus the US trade deficit (bad news for September).

b) The 1.5 trillion USD in T-bills held by China (800 mil) and Japan (700 mil) at the end of August

c) Chinese investment in the US and the issue of sovereign wealth funds

d) The ASEAN potential, especially after its decision to pursue an EU like model for 2014, potentially along with other Asian "powers".

It is no secret that many investment banks have in recent weeks and months focusing their main efforts in Asia: Because it is Asia that is where there best new clients are. Because it is in Asia that industry is flourishing.

Now, in addition to that, IMO, EUropeans must IMO realise that the current level of EU integration does not make the EU a serious entity in world affairs, more (intergration) is needed (IMO).

Friday, November 13, 2009

EU and Eurozone out of recession in Q3

According to flash estimates of the Eurostat re the third quarter of 2009

Q3 2009 compared to Q2 2009
Eurozone: GDP increased by 0.4%
EU: GDP increased by 0.2%
In Q2 2009, growth rates were -0.2% in the Eurozone and -0.3% in the EU.

Q3 2009 compared to Q3 2008:
Eurozone: seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 4.1% (was -4.8% in Q2 2009 vs. Q2 2008)
EU: seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 4.3% (was -4.9% in Q2 2009 vs. Q2 2008)

These are flash estimates by Eurostat and are subject to revision with the two regular estimates of GDP for Q3 of 2009 scheduled for 3 December 2009 and 8 January 2010.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EU and Eurozone industrial production in September

According to Eurostat

Industrial production in September 2009

Compared with August 2009, seasonally adjusted industrial production grew by 0.3% in the Eurozone and by 0.2% in the EU. In August production had increased by 1.2% and 0.8% respectively.

Compared with September 2008, industrial production was 12.9% lower in the Eurozone area and 12.1% lower in the EU27 .

A) In September 2009 compared with August 2009:

Production of capital goods increased by 1.7% in the Eurozone and by 0.4% in the EU. Non-durable consumer goods grew by 1.1% and 0.6% respectively.
Intermediate goods rose by 0.6% in the Eurozone and by 0.1% in the EU.
Production of energy fell by 2.1% and 1.4% respectively.
Durable consumer goods declined by 6.0% in the Eurozone and by 4.8% in the EU27 .

Among the 19 member states for which data are available, industrial production rose in seven, fell in eleven and remained stable in the Netherlands .

The highest increases were registered in
Ireland (+11.2%), Germany (+3.0%) and Sweden (+1.6%)
The largest decreases in
Italy (-5.3%), Portugal (-3.3%) and Bulgaria (-2.6%).

B) In September 2009 compared with September 2008:

Production of non-durable consumer goods fell by 0.4% in the Eurozone and by 0.5% in the EU.
Production of energy decreased by 7.8% and 8.4% respectively.
Intermediate goods declined by 16.0% in the Eurozone and by 15.5% in the EU .
Durable consumer goods dropped by 17.3% and 15.1% respectively.
Capital goods fell by 18.2% in the Eurozone and by 17.4% in the EU.

Industrial production fell in all Member States for which data are available!
The largest decreases were registered in:
Estonia (-29.5%), Finland (-23.2%) and Bulgaria (-19.3%)
The smallest in
Ireland (-0.7%), Poland (-1.3%), and Romania (-3.6%).


UK electoral considerations - grand coalition a la Germany?

How can a +10% lead over Lab lead to a mere +2 majority in MPs? It's the winner takes all per district electoral system.

Kenneth Clarke has said in an interview that a hung parliament would be worse than a Labour victory in next year's elections because the country needs a strong government to address tough problems.

Yet, the grand coalition did not fare too badly in Germany, 2005-2009, did it? So not a potential disaster for the UK, or not? Can one imagine a Tory-Lab grand coalition government under Cameron (in Germany it was CDU's Angela Merkel)? Why not?

UK Sovereignty considerations

I don't understand why Tory Eurosceptic Douglas Carswell doesn't want Lisbon to come into force and then call for a referendum on UK EU membership.

If the Common Market is indeed what the majority of the British voters want why not use the Lisbon exit-clause and then join EFTA - EEA?

The Lisbon exit-clause provides the UK with the most powerful national sovereignty tool, so why all the fuss re the effects of EU laws on UK sovereignty?

Food for thought:

Should David Cameron also propose referendum for the UK's WTO membership and/or any agreement in the Doha WTO trade talks?

Should David Cameron also propose referendums for every new sovereign fund investment in the UK?

UK unemployment rate steady but jobless up in Q3

UK unemployment figures are out for Q3:

The growth of the number jobless people has decelerated, "only" +30,000 but LT (<12 months) jobless is up by 71,000!

UK trade with the rest of the EU in September and Q3

Trade in goods – with the EU (seasonally adjusted)

In September, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries widened by £0.4 billion to £3.4 billion, compared with the deficit of £3.0 billion in August.

EU exports rose by £0.6 billion (6.2 per cent) to £10.9 billion, and EU imports rose by £1.0 billion (7.8 per cent) to £14.3 billion.

In the third quarter of 2009, the deficit on trade in goods with EU countries widened by £0.1 billion to £9.1 billion, compared with the deficit of £8.9 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

EU exports rose by £1.8 billion (5.9 per cent) to £31.5 billion, and EU imports rose by £1.9 billion (4.9 per cent) to £40.6 billion.

UK trade deficit up in September

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s seasonally adjusted deficit on trade in goods and services was £3.5 billion in September, compared with the deficit of £2.2 billion in August.

In the third quarter of 2009, the deficit was £8.4 billion, compared with a deficit of £8.6 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

The seasonally adjusted deficit on trade in goods was £7.2 billion in September, compared with
the deficit of £6.1 billion in August. This is higher than analysts expected. Imports of cars was 30% up due to Britain's scrappage scheme.

The seasonally adjusted surplus on trade in services was £3.7 billion in September, compared
with the surplus of £3.9 billion in August.


Excluding oil and erratic items, the seasonally adjusted volume of exports was 0.2 per cent
lower but the volume of imports was 4.1 per cent higher in September, compared with August.

Export and import prices of goods both rose by 1.1 per cent, compared with August.

Value of total trade in goods (seasonally adjusted)

In September, the UK’s deficit on trade in goods widened by £1.1 billion to £7.2 billion, compared
with the deficit of £6.1 billion in August.

Total exports rose by £0.7 billion (3.9 per cent) to £19.4 billion, and total imports rose by £1.9 billion (7.5 per cent) to £26.6 billion.

In the third quarter of 2009, the deficit on trade in goods narrowed by £0.1 billion to £19.8 billion, compared with the deficit of £19.9 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

Total exports rose by £2.0 billion (3.6 per cent) to £56.9 billion, and total imports rose by £1.9 billion (2.5 per cent) to £76.7 billion.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Is free market capitalism fatally flawed?

(605 words)
While the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
is saying that major economies across the world are showing strong signs of recovery, 23% of 29000 people in 27 countries who participated in a BBC World Service poll feel free-market capitalism is fatally flawed.

Here are my observations and comments re the scope of the above analysis (OECD) and poll (BBC World Service):

1) The BBC World Service's poll is not global (covered 27 countries, WTO has 152 and UN over 190)
2) Neither do major economies constitute the "global economy"
3) Nor do the G20 constitute the global economy, even if they represent some 70-80% of its GDP

And here are my observations and comments re the essence:

I) The current (economic) system in the 27 countries surveyed may be either "fatally" or "very" flawed but has to consider: In how many of them is the system real "free market capitalism"?

Communism vs Capitalism (and people's memories from the former and experience with the latter): Aren't the good old times due to bad or selective memory? Plus, again, in how many countries do people experience a real - genuine "free market capitalism"?

II) What is equally if not more worrying IMO is that the BBC World Service poll in those 27 countries (as well as other surveys that have come to my attention recently) indicates there are majorities almost everywhere (in those 27 countries) that want government to be more active in regulating business!

More active in regulating business? Does that mean more regulation or better regulation, one may ponder?
Of what business? What do they respondents have in mind when they express or agree to that view? Large and small or micro business? In general or specific sectors (eg financial)? Domestic or foreign ?

The above are very crucial IMO, if one is to get any useful conclusions out of the popular view for regulation that seems to exist.

III. Thus, IMHO:

a) The economic system in many countries today is flawed but that system is not free market capitalism

b) A key factor leading to the flaws and resulting popular dissatisfaction with the current economic systems are major flaws in competition laws and related supervision of the markets.

c) the BBC World Service poll results show need for better functioning free markers and better welfare state, both!

d) The BBC World Service poll results show the need to secure peoples' basic needs and for giving people more freedom in pursuing wants and dreams in their work/economic or social or other aspects of their lives.

e) Neoliberalism and conservatism tend to underestimate the fundamental human "need" for basic needs including the security of social security

f) Most political parties and platforms miss the concept that some things are better done by the market, some better done by the public sector. Each sector has activities where it is stronger.

Instead we are flooded by ideologies that either theologise the markets and demonise the state and its public sector (eg most Libertarians) or, to an increasing again level, the opposite, ie theologise the state and its public sector and demonise the private sector.

Modern systemics and dynamics are complex and volatile thus they are difficult to grasp. Thus some resort to the aforementioned and other simplistic models that have IMO confused the public opinion.

What is the solution? Not simple, but a basic element of any model I have in mind is:

To have the state/Society guarantee all its members that rain or shine their basic needs will be covered and then let them go out to real free markets to pursue their wants.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Upcoming Events of EUropean interest

My selection of events of EUropean interest (partial, unofficial)

November 9
Eurogroup, Brussels
The un-official "ECOFIN" of the 16 Euro member EU states

November 10
EU ECOFIN Council, Brussels

November 11-12
European Parliament mini Plenary session, Brussels
Will discuss nominations of the 2 new top EU appointments (Pres. - Foreign Sec)

(tentative) November 12 or 20 or ...
Extra European Council, Brussels
To discuss again and maybe appoint Pres of European Council and Foreign Affairs High Rep., after the relevant discussion in the mini EP Planery session on Nov. 11-12

November 12-13
International Regulatory Reform Conference, Stockholm

November 16-17
EU General Affairs Council, Brussels
Development and Defense issues

November 16 and 19
European Parliament Committee Meetings, Brussels

November 19-20
EU Agriculture & Fisheries Council, Brussels

November 19
EU ECOFIN/Budget Council, Brussels

Special ECOFIN meeting to discuss EU budget issues

November 23-26
European Parliament Plenary session, Strasbourg

November 26-27
EU Education, Youth & Culture Council, Brussels

November 30 - December 3
European Parliament Committee meetings, Brussels

November 30-December 1
EU Justice & Home Affairs Council, Brussels

November 30-December 1
EU Employment and Social Affairs Council, Brussels

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer issues

November 30 - December 2, 2009
World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference, Geneva,

Theme: “The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment”
2 Working Sessions will run in parallel to the Plenary Session.
1) “Review of WTO activities, including the Doha Work Programme” for the first day
2) “The WTO's contribution to recovery, growth and development” for the second day

December 2
EU ECOFIN Council, Brussels
Economic and Financial issues

December 3-4
EU Competitiveness Council, Brussels
Internal Market, Industry, Research & Development

December 7
European Parliament Committee meetings, Brussels

December 7

EU Transport, Telecoms & Energy Council, Brussels

December 7-8
EU General Affairs & External Relations Council, Brussels

December 7-18, 2009
United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15),
It's the 15th Conference of the Parties under the United Nations’ Climate Change Convention

December 10-11
European Council, Brussels

December 14-17
European Parliament Plenary session, Strasbourg

December 14-15
EU Agriculture & Fisheries Council

December 17-18
EU Transport, Telecoms & Energy Council, Brussels

December 22
EU Environment Council, Brussels

Current EU Council Presidency (July-Dec 2009): Sweden
Next EU Council Presidency (Jan-June 2010): Spain

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The UK's problem is not "Europe" but ....

Someone has to start telling the British people the truth re the value to the UK from EU membership.

The UK's problem is not its EU membership but the faulty socio-economic and competitiveness model of the UK in recent decades.

The UK's interests are not in leaving or holding back the EU but in leading the EU into a deeper and working Union for all

Another factor that is failing the UK in its ambitions is the quality of the primary education, the basic skills it provides

The English Premier League and its success, at home and in #Europe, is an excellent example of what the UK 's model should be

Thursday, November 5, 2009

EU and Eurozone retail sales in September

Source: Eurostat

September 2009 compared with August 2009
Volume of retail trade down by 0.7% in euro area
Down by 0.4% in EU27

September 2009 compared with August 2009
Eurozone the volume of retail trade fell by 0.7% (-0.1% in August)
EU the volume of retail trade by 0.4% (-0.3% in August)

September 2009 compared with September 2008
Eurozone the volume of retail trade up by 3.6%
EU the volume of retail trade by 2.5%

ECB keeps Euro interest rate at 1%

The European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to keep its central interest rates on the Euro at 1%. Since October 2008 the ECB's rate has gone from 4.25% to the current record low rate of 1% in May where it has remained since.

Lisbon guarantees member states' Sovereingty!!!

Sounds strange?
Well, it is simple.
Please consider:
When a member of a Union (in this case the EU) shares its decisions but holds the option to exit any time it wants (which the new (Lisbon) EU Treaty provides for, then said member has full Sovereignty!

Why? Because it can dis-engage itself from all ties and return to "full independence" (for the EU) any time it wants. When one has such power, then IMO one has Sovereignty when while in the Union.

Makes sense?

"Tories vs the EU", season X episode Y!

Post ratification of the EU Lisbon Treaty, a new chapter in the Tories vs EU soap opera is on.

Here are some points and observations re the events of the last 2-3 days:

1) Anti-EU Europeans and "Eurosceptics", in the UK and around the EU, should love instead of fear the new Lisbon Treaty, because of its Exit-Clause that allows and provides for the process by which a member state may leave, on its own will, the EU (such clause did not exist in the EC and EU before)!

2) Why would they not to? Only if one was to assume that they prefer the EU to turn back into a mere Common Market, and that they realise that if #UK leaves the EU, it will lose much in investment and many other ways.

3) The "strategy" of many political parties in the UK re the EU reminds me of an episode of the good old "Yes Minister" (or YPM) TV series: Stay in the EC to make sure it does not succeed! lol

Now re David Cameron's speech re the EU:

4) David Cameron, if the Tories win the spring general election, will propose a UK Sovereignty law. But that begs the question: How does one define the term in 2010? Will it include sovereign wealth funds, for example?

5) Philosophical: Sovereignty or "National Interest"? (compare and contrast)

6) Cameron: The Tories will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum!

7) Cameron: At the general election, the Tories will challenge the other political parties to accept the "referendum lock" and pledge never to reverse it!

8) What steady and unaccountable intrusion of the EU into almost every aspect of British lives is David Cameron talking about? Does the UK not get effective representation of its interests and views via a Commissioner (usually with a key portfolio), so many MEPs as well Ministers with many votes in the Council of Ministers?

9) Cameron: ".. unlike many other EU countries (Ed. Note: that have a national Constitution), we have no explicit legal guarantee that the last word on our laws stays in Britain ..". Well, then maybe it is high time for the UK to establish its own Constitution and solve part of Cameron's et alteri sovereignty loss fears/concerns?

10) Can a UK "Sovereignty Law" replace the absence of a UK Constitution?

11) Cameron to negotiate the return of Britain’s opt-out from social and employment legislation (aka the Social Protocol" of Maastricht Treaty) that Tony Blair accepted during his PMship!

12) The Tories want a complete UK opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights!

13) The third area where a Tory government will negotiate for a return of powers is criminal justice

14) Key question: How does Mr. Cameron plan to "convince" the other 26 to give back those powers to the UK (Social, Justice, etc)?

15) Cameron: "European integration is not a one way street and that powers can be returned from the EU to its member countries.." Indeed, the best way: use the exit-clause provided by the Lisbon Treaty!

16) LibDems/Ed Davey: Cameron has already lead his party into the lunatic wilderness in Europe (Ed. Note: by leaving the EPP group in the E. Parliament) now he wants to take Britain there too!

17) The way Cameron is setting things up would seem to me that a vote for the Tories in the next election = vote for exit from the EU?

18) Philosophical: Real Sovereignty vs the perception of Sovereignty

and finally:

19) IMO the ability of a member to leave the EU (exit-clause) that the ne Treaty offers is the Ultimate Tool of Real Sovereignty of the UK and all 27 members!

PS. According to the Guardian, the French Europe minister, Pierre Lellouche, one of the most Anglophile members of Sarkozy's government according to the Guardian, says David Cameron's pledge to reclaim EU powers is 'pathetic' and will leave Britain isolated (and much more). OMG, the next episode is built up as most "dramatic".

Boa vinda Lisbon - adieu Nice (and good riddance)

The President of the Czech Republic has ratified the Lisbon EU Treaty.
Boa vinda Lisbon - adieu Nice (and good riddance)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

More or less Europe or .....(the real dilema)?

IMO the EU - European dilemma is not "more or less Europe" but "less and better or sloppy legislation (both EU and national levels )?

Yhe real EU divide is between those who believe in regulating everything and those who believe in reasonable and good regulations.

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