Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What are the "Wooden Walls" that will save the Eurozone?

What are the "Wooden Walls" that will save the Eurozone?

a) Is it EU exit from the WTO, and reliance on bilateral trade and socio-economic partnership agreements (eg EU-China, EU-USA, EU-Mercosur, EU-ASEAN, etc)
b) Is it a less obsessive approach towards inflation in the Eurozone?
c) "Firewalls" to contain contagion from Greek crisis
d) EU political union?
e) An SME friendly Eurozone?
f) Other

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can the modern Europeans succeed where the Ancient Greeks failed?

"The Delian League was turning from an alliance into an empire" (source: Wikipedia)

Could have led instead to a United States of Greece in the 5th century BC.
Had that happened, history, at least European one, would have been quite different.

Can Europeans and their states, via the EU, form the federal state that the Greek city states were unable to do? What difference can this make to the future of Europe and the world (Earth)?

Failure? The Greeks were occupied by the Romans, the Byzentines and the Ottomans, forming a state only in 1831, 2200+ years later!

Will a United European state take 2200+ years, ie will Europeans have to wait until 4212 and beyond? And who are going to be the Romans, Byzantines, et al in Europe's case?

Which is the most "conservative" government or gov coalition in the EU today?

What is the difference,, in policy agendas, between the Conservative-LibDem coalitions in a) Germany and the b) UK today? Because in spite of the disappointing stances of both FDP and the LibDems, the former are much closer to becoming a 2nd conservative party!

What would the difference be, in policy agendas, between a Lib:Lab (Labour+LibDems) coalition and a SDP-FDP one?

Would I be wrong if I started to doubt whether the SPD can provide the progressive alternative EUrope needs so desperately these days? See also my post today: "Germany's coalitions "boutique": "Traffic Light:, "Jamaica" etc!"

It should be noted that as far I can think of, only Denmark and Cyprus have purely non-conservative governments or government coalitions in the 27 of the EU today! Maybe 1-2 more in those 27.

Austria has a grand coalition government. Portugal and Spain are governed by EPP members. France and Germany too, of course. Sweden too. Poland and Slovakia. And of course Hungary. And the Czech Republic. For Greece and Italy, to paraphrase Facebook sttatuses "it's complicated".

With Belgium, it is always difficult to know since Flanders and Wallonia have different parties, all in one Belgian government. The Finn "almost anyone but the True Finns" coalition is also hard to label.

Then there's The Netherlands with probably the most conservative (to put it mildly) government coalition in the EU today: CDA (EPP member) + VVD (ALDE, ELDR) with the support of PVV! Can a government get more "conservative" than that in modern EUrope (who knows, maybe it can)?

PS1. Of course the Dutch VVD seems to have moved towards the right way more than even the German FDP!

PS2. Which begs the question: How many truly centrist - liberal democratic parties in terms of policy agendas are there in ELDR and ALDE today?

PS3. OK, OK, of course I am not forgetting the Hungarian government. But if one were to choose between UK, Germany and NL?

PS4. Not to add: How many PES labour - social democratic parties in the 17 EZ and; 27 EU have got it together today?

Chatsworth Estate vs. trailer park vs. the Eurozone1


a) Chatsworth Estate

b) trailer park

c) Eurozone.

Compare and contrast.

People in glass economies should not ....

People in glass economies should not throw stones at Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Euromyth busting: It's rich for an economy to sit pretty in between 3 mega markets, piggyback on them and then boast how competitive & hardworking it is (when it is pretty high in the OECD list of least hours worked per worker).

How would that economy "perform" if it was in the geo position of Greece or Portugal?

The political situation in Europe is sad but in the US it is ....

The political situation in Europe is sad but in the US it is creepy!

1) Rick Santorum's views, including the (non) separation of state and religion.
2) Seven states sue government over contraceptives mandate

What Greece really needed was ...

What Greece really needed was an econ "Gregory House" and his team to get the diagnosis & treatment right (instead of the Troika and the tsunami of world analysts and commentators)

Germany's coalitions "boutique": "Traffic Light:, "Jamaica" etc!

My avid readers on Twitter recall that 12+ months ago I was arguing that Germany and Europe would be better served by an CDU/CSU-SPD rather than the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition.

(Actually, here is also an excerpt from my blog post "Various Thoughts on EU, US and other affairs, June 1-5", June 7, 2010 (ie 18+ months ago): "I re-iterate my view that it would be in Germany's national interest & the EU's for Mrs Merkel to re-do the grand coalition with SPD (2005-09)")

What do you think, 12+ months later? Would it have made a difference these past 12+ months?

1.5 yrs to go for fed GER elections btw!

By the way, on Sunday (Feb 26),  SPD's Steinmeier suggested inter alia the possibility of a "Traffic light" coalition (SPD-Greens-FDP) after the next federal elections! (source: Welt Online)

It should also be noted that in "coalition-speak", a "Jamaica coalition" (politics) would be: CDU/CSU + FDP + Greens! Oh my!

So which other arrangement would be less "weird", in your opinion?

Traffic light coalition (SPD-Greens-FDP) or SPD-Greens-CDU/CSU (Jamaica) or national unity or technocratic?

Mr. Steinmeier's comments are troubling and in my opinion put into question the SPD readiness to govern Germany but formulating and presenting a policy agenda and philosophy of progressive type. Add to that concerns as to what effective changes a F. Hollande win on May 6 can bring to France and the Eurozone, and you have .....!

At present, I can only think of Denmark and Cyprus as EU member states with purely non-conservative governments. Maybe I am forgettng 1-2. But the UK, France, Germany, NL et al are in the hands of either conservative or conservative-liberal democratic governments (see other blog post of mine today).

PS1 What would the world 2day be if: Angela Merkel had studied economics, sociology or at least psychology instead of physical chemistry?

PS2 Merkel (CDU leader) is a physical chemist and Rösler (FDP leader) a medical doctor. Analyse this (philosophically and politically)!

The CDU/CSU-FDP way vs the Tory-Eurosceptics way in Europe

a) The CDU/CSU-FDP way in Europe:

 "(You do things) My way or (take) the highway (out of the EZ)" 

b) The Tory-Eurosceptic way in Europe:

"(You do things) My way or I take the highway (to exit the EU)"

Neither is constructive vis-a-vis the European espit!  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

An emerging symbol of inspiration for the progressive social and political forces of the EU and the EZ is ...

The following thoughts were prompted by an interesting blog post by a fellow tweeter (@pubphilosopher) that I read today:

"Are the Ottomans to blame for Europe’s poor South-East?"
Posted on November 2, 2011 in Pub Philosopher

I offered the fellow tweeter the following as food for further thought:

1) I think John Reed's 1916 book "The war in eastern Europe" has insightful narratives from his trips through the 1910s Balkans

2) My own npthinking blog post "Zeus, Ulysses, Pericles, Merkel and central bankers" of Nov. 5, 2011 where inter alia I propose that:

"IMO the paradox is that Zeus and other Greek gods and goddesses, legends such as Ulysses and Achilles, real life ancient Athenians and mostly politicians even of the Pericles era would probably be considered more "unruly" and "less EUropean and EUROpean material/stuff" than modern Greece/Greeks, in the eyes of "purists" (to say the least) such as A. Merkel, central bankers, conservative US and European media, etc etc etc and of course "some" modern Greeks"..

3) An article by Stathis Kalyvas in the New York Times of 11/11/2008: "Why Athens is burning". Dr. Kalyvas is a professor of political science at Yale and the author of "The Logic of Violence in Civil War". A key excerpt from his opinion article at the NYT is IMO: "After Greece's transition to democracy in the mid-1970s, a public discourse of resistance against authority emerged and became dominant"


I tweeted the following thoughts of mine on the subject in two long (twitlonger) tweets but then another fellow tweeter from the UK suggested that I create a proper blog post out of them. Here they are, merged into one analysis (note that my first paragraph has no full stops!!):

A challenge towards authority "culture" can be expected to be a trait of a nation that was organised in city states in Ancient times, then survived (including keeping its language) from long term occupation by Romans, then Byzantines, then Ottomans, started independence war against all odds and European trends in 1821, became a state in 1831 (same time as Belgium, way before Italy and Germany), fought as British ally in both wars, defied Mussolini, survived and resisted the Nazi occupation, wound up at the border of the Iron Block after Yalta, went thru a very painful and bloody civil war 1946-1949, the effects of which lasted until recently, and a US-supported junta 1967-1974 (Bill Clinton apologised officially for that US role) and is forced to maintain very high level of defense spending bc of threat from a NATO ally (bc NATO does not protect a member from invasion by another member).

(Plus joined the EEC and then the Euro/EMU more due to geo-strategic defense reasons that economics. And as I have tweeted a few, is one of the main "victims" of the so far absence of political (and thus also military/defense) union in the EU!)

Does not only the EU but the Eurozone need a member like this? 

Thinking systemically and in terms of group dynamics, my answer is:

Desperately, as a check and balance against sclerotic thinking that often raises its ugly head in Europe.

The Euro needs the "unruly" Greeks as badly as Germany needs Merkel (but for the exactly opposite reasons).

Of course, can only afford only one Greece (ie only one such member), but there is only one Greece. It's very simple.

But Merkozy does not have the guts and maybe the wisdom to openly acknowledge that!

Ireland and Portugal are also needed and unique addition to a Eurozone that is working and not "boring", but in different ways. Their leaders were right to claim that their countries are not Greece. They are not Greece.

Merkel, CDU/CSU-FDP, the Dutch and Finn governments and others, are trying to "punish" Greece so blatantly as to discourage Ireland, Portugal and others from daring to ask to be treated as Greece.

In treating Greece this way, these continental Europe neocons are doing Greece, their countries, Europe and the world a disservice. But their treatment of Greece is starting to bite back on them. Like the Spartans in Thermopylae, the torture of the Greeks by Merkozy et al may be what will help the EU/EZ acquire a common identity. Greece is becoming a symbol for the progressive social and political forces of the EU and the EZ.

You disagree with my analysis? Keep this text and read it again in 1-2 years.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

To export products and services to a "foreign" market you have to ....

To export products and services to a "foreign" market you have to understand, research, be interested in that market or produce a product or service that your native/local market likes and be lucky that other markets "like" it too! Or be R&D driven & hope.

A company that does not "care" what people think about its products or services be unsuccessful in either foreign or "native" market(s

It can get "lucky" if its in a by nature or geography "captive" or oligopolistic market. Or someone grants it monopoly rights to a market.

Work for companies that produce products or services you like. Produce products and services for "people"/markets you like. Biz is not chore

Proximity to a foreign market is a competitiveness factor. Either geographical or "mental" proximity or both.

Is business (including exporting) about beating your competitors or about capturing the hearts and minds of potential consumers?

The mantra of top business schools has been the latter, for years now!

Yet how many CEOs and biz owners feel that way?

In effect, products and services must create "mental monopolies" in consumer minds!! Be considered :"the only one". Much like dating!!!!

Next Tuesday is Valentine's Day. But every day's Valentine's Day IRL! How many people think your product(s)/service(s) are "unique" to them?

How many people or companies think your products/services are unique in satisfying a certain need or want they have?

Or are you relying on old style mass media ad blitz to convince people that your product or service is something they "really" need or want?

Producing and delivering a product or a service is a creative, artistic, non chore like process! Or should be.

Still stuck in the industrial age

Too many focus on the issue of physical laziness, not enough on intellectual laziness. Still stuck in the industrial age.

Instead of the UK arguing for fewer EU laws and more national laws it should ..

Instead of the British arguing for fewer EU laws and more national laws they should be arguing for fewer laws in general! Secular societes/polities have become too over-legislated and bureaucratised. Instead of the British arguing that, they want to leave or have the EU revert to a mere free trade area! Well, there is always EFTA for that, and of course, the WTO.

The EU is a single market and a real single market means uniform laws in everything, a single currency and a single polity (aka political union).

But uniformity of laws across the EU while it means virtually no national (member state) laws, it does not mean an overkill in legislation (which whether national or EU is a result of an interventionist culture).

Libertarianism treats people as supermen without need for laws, tax or state. Communism treats people are minors, with a state to protect them in everything. Neither is appropriate. The optiomal is somewhere in between, in the middle. That is what the UK should be pushing the EU for.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Since Germany relies 59% on the EU for its exports then ..

How much of a market for Germany's quality products is there in the whole planet outside the EZ and EU? 433 bn Euros in 2011 (41# of total).

Since Germany relies 59% on the EU and its Single Market (40% Eurozone) for its exports then Angela Merkel shoudn't have a problem with the idea of the EU leaving the WTO and (thus) dealing with the flood of China imports in the EU and EZ (especially given the still expensive Euro)! Time for the EU to raise the trade barriers and lower the immigration barriers (we need immigrants due to ageing)! 

By the way, since many talk of benefits and costs to their taxpayers, how much tax revenue did Germany get from 421 bn Euro business sales/exports to the other Euro members in 2011? How many jobs?

So is it the Eurozone that needs Germany or German the Eurozone?

In more detail:

1) So let's see: 1060 bn Euro exports in 2011! +11.4 from 2010!

2) 420.9bn of those 1060 bn euros went to the rest of the Eurozone, a "small" rise, +8.6%, but > 40% nevertheless! So even in crisis, the other 16 in the Eurozone bought 40% of German total exports! 40%! The 245 mio ppl of the EZ16 bought 40%!

3) 245 mio EZ people bought 40% of German exports, while the other 6900 60%! And there's more!!

4) While the 245 mio of the EZ16 bought 421 bn of German exports, the 10 EU non EZ, 190 mio only bought 206 bn German exports!

5) The rest of the world, 93% of the whole world, bought 432.8bn euros exports, +13.6%, yet only slightly more than the EZ16.

So, again: Time for the EU to raise the trade barriers and lower the immigration barriers (we need immigrants due to ageing)! 

A free trade area is not the same thing as a Single Market, so ...

A free trade area is not the same thing as a Single (or Internal) Market. Thus those who cannot understand or do not wish to understand the difference should have remained in the EFTA or the rely only on the WTO (or the Commonwealth).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Real EU pluralism will come out of ....

Real EU pluralism will come out of uniform laws across the EU and diversity in customs, not the reverse!

Friday, February 3, 2012

If GDP per capita in USA, EU, China, India was to converge then ...

2010 GDP (PPP)(1) Population (2)
$ billion                     in billion ppl
EU 15,203                0.500
USA 14,526             0.313
China 11,300            1.340
India 4,058               1.210
Total 74,385             6.992

(1) IMF data. Source Wikipedia
(2) Wikipedia

What do these rough numbers tell us? That assuming the total sum GDP of the first 3 remained constant, then
for the GDP (PPP) per capita to converge, the convergence level would be at about 19000 USD. Given that the per capita is now (2010) 46400 in the USA, 30400 in the EU and 8400 in China, that would mean a loss of 27400 per US citizen (in GDP per capita) ie 59% loss, 39% for the EU and +125% for China!

Obviously some of the gains of China will be absorbed by GDP growth but the previous figures give you an idea of the reductions in GDP per capita the EU and especially the US will have to absorb as the GDP per capita of China converges towards the EU and US ones.

Should I add the scenario where India is included too? The level of convergence then becomes 13400 USD, ie 6000 less than the previous scenario. And an even bigger reduction  for the GDPs per capita in the US and the EU!

Should I also add Brazil and Russia? The Asian tigers?

Fasten your seat belts!

Of course this convergence will take time. But how much?
Mind you, GDP adjusted for PPP was used, which is not necessarily the correct approach.

The effects of this convergence are already being seen. The fact that China has so far used its "profits" from trade to invest them in US T-bills, other binds as well as other assets in the US, the EU and elsewhere, has partly eased the effect so far. But is it not delaying the inevitable?

One approach is to say that convergence is only fair. And that what needs to be managed is the transition, the shock for Americans and EUropeans.

Now do you feel a tad more allegiance to the Greeks?

Of course this analysis is based on rough estimates, rough calculations and rough assumptions. But the future is also in any case rough for Americans and EUropeans.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kiss the European Social Model goodbye!

Fellow EUropeans and EUROpeans, if Greece "falls" we can all kiss the European Social Model (eventually) goodbye.

For the per capita GDP of USA, EU, China and India to converge, guess who is going to kiss his/her quality of life goodbye.

Factor in the fact that China+India=2.5+ bn people & EU+USA =0.8. So point or zone of GDP per cap convergence will be ... (do the math)

The German people need and deserve ...

The German people need and deserve to be exposed to alter points of view! To realise what is doing the German taxpayer good and what not.

One could argue that the reasons that the Greeks must be austeritised is to justify the past and future "social" policies that CDU/CSU and FDP have in store for the German people and what the banking, financial, insurance industries have in mind for EUropeans & esp EUROpeans. Already happening in the UK anyway, in spite of its non membership of the Euro.

Because the main target of the Euro crisis is the European Social Model, one that the US does not have and failed to get with the austeritised Obamacare.

Germany 2012 AD - Athens 470 BC

The role and effect

a) of Germany in the Eurozone and

b) of Athens in the Delian League.

Compare and contrast.

Instead of the EU using its 500,000,000 Internal Market ...

Instead of the EUrope using its 500,000,000 Internal Market (albeit a tad internally dysfunction 19 years after launch) as a huge negotiations chip in bilateral trade deals it's engaged in intra-EU blame each other "games".

Instead of Merkel soliciting money from China ...

Instead of Merkel soliciting money from China, she should be proposing EU exit from WTO which China has flooded with cheap prdocts via inter alia a Yuan policy and focus on existing and new bilateral deals of the EU with other countries or free trade areas (eg Mercosur/UNASUR, ASEAN, etc)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Liberal democracy in the UK and the Netherlands - LibDems and VDD - D66

In the Netherlands, the VVD part is a member of a very "conservative" government coalition between CDA-VVD with the support of the PVV. Some argue its the most conservative government in the Netherlands in 60 years.

The UK's Liberal Democrats are also in a coalition government in the UK (albeit without UKIP or BNP support).

In the Netherlands though there is another liberal democrat party, D66. Both VVD and D66 are members of ELDR and ALDE. So are the Liberal Democrats.

Which brings me to following thoughts:

The future of the UK's Liberal Democrats? The Dutch analogy-case.

There are 2 parties in the Netherlands that are members of the ELDR and ALDE: VVD and D66

The D66 (in its former name, Liberal Democratic Centre) spun off from the VVD, in 1962, formally in 1966 (hence the 66 in the D66).

The VVD was founded in 1948 and were joined by the Comité-Oud, a group of liberal members of the Labour Party (PvdA), led by Pieter Oud.

So the formation of the VVD resembles that of the UK Liberal Democrats by a merger of the Liberals and the SDP (which had spun off from Labour a few years earlier)!

In view of the cgov oalition of the LibDems with the Tories which was against what the grassroots of the partu wanted, maybe a split as in NL (in 1962/1966) is in the cards (of fate) for the LibDems too. Maybe. Maybe not. Only food for thought (call it an intellectual exercise if it makes you feel better about it).

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