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Lisboa, Portugal
Nasci no dia 11 de Junho de 1964 na cidade da Beira, MOÇAMBIQUE.

A Estação dos CFM, Beira

A Estação dos CFM, Beira
Ex-libris da cidade, 1966

The Euro, as a single currency, should be abolished

Another black and white motion statement leaving me no option but to choose No.
While I agree to the first part I am not prepared to contemplate the idea that the Euro should get abolished.
Abolished? Then what?
All 17 countries now sharing the single currency would revert back to their old monies?
Or a new version of yesteryear's currencies?

Simplistic as I made it out to be packed in a few odd questions, every single serious economic, financial and social consequence is inextricably wrapped up within each.
That is where the stakes are high enough to ensure that the Euro is given a new lease on life.
It calls for closer European integration.
What form and shape this will take is for policymakers and far-sighted politicians to grasp and propose.

It would seem to me that the Euro has many underlying strengths but will not - contrary to the founder's beliefs - assure convergence between all the economies it services. How could it?
The divide has been felt acutely lately (1-2 years) the logical consequence of relevant economic under-performance among member-countries.

There has obviously got to be a political solution rooted in realistic economic fundamentals.
The road traveled so far proved artificially smooth during the first 10 years I dare say but unsurprisingly very bumpy in the last 1-2.
It could not have been otherwise given the structural differences setting these countries apart. And excessive spending pursued mostly by a few Southern European States who could not see beyond the present.
Adherence to the Maastricht criteria never again seemed to be taken seriously once countries landed themselves inside the Euro club. Not to mention Greece that never fulfilled the criteria in the first place or ever bothered to balance its books.

Very disappointing to admit but the Euro Zone is indeed right in the middle of a storm testing its main crews to the limit.
The latest summit decisions seem to indicate that where there is a will there is a way.
It may have just been one first small step in the right direction.

The specifics are very hard to work on.
Yet it would seem to me that the 17-member Euro Zone and the larger EU can hardly afford shooting down the Euro.
The broader picture needs to come into full view.
An hypothetical demise of the single currency would deal another severe blow to Europe's economic fortunes.
Its relative decline vis-a-vis the rest of the world would get a further boost.

I do not like misplaced calls for solidarity from Southerners but would rather see the stronger half of the dividing line realize where their medium-to-long interest lies.
To that end many balances across the Euro Zone need to be restored at the earliest.

Europe agrees a "shock and awe" bailout for Greece

A rescue package of epic proportions, epic challenges for the Greek government and people, epic uncertainties and epic stakes for the single-currency.

It was the Euro's defence that ultimately forced politicians from Germany to Malta to perform a hard balancing act whose overall success is far from assured.Each finance minister has enough reasons to fret and grumble about.It being the Euro as a common currency, because of Greece despite Greece.
Up to now every 'least damaging' approach failed miserably to cool down the financial markets that remained as unimpressed as ever throughout.
For its part Greece is effectively the main winner in this high-finance gamble.The country bought time the markets were not willing to give it once confidence vanished.Precious time desperately needed to restore credibility and good governance at home.
A daunting internal fix with daunting external implications.
Three full years is what the government and Greek society top-down and bottom-up now have to set the record straight in so many ways.
Literally and figuratively.

For the other 15 Eurozone countries - each facing own troubles to varying degrees - keeping fingers crossed would be mild to describe the monitoring of Greece's performance over the coming 36 months.Potentially they are all losers, starting out by losing simply to avoid bigger losses!
There are so many relevant questions that might be asked to which full answers ought to be provided.
They won't get asked or get answered.
Tellingly, each and every single one of them would now seem rhetorical or at best an exercise for academia.

The spectre that haunts Europe

I am still hopeful that Greece will not require a bail-out in whatever form pinning my hopes on the PM's own words.

He did sound very bold and brave in the face of such overwhelming odds but until a deal is actually in place I would rather believe the Greeks can and will take care of themselves.

My stance is wholly based not on immediate needs triggered by the Western financial meltdown that led to the economic downturn.This in turn led to a collapse in tax revenues across countries caused by economies shrinking badly.

To a large extent Greece is indeed a one-off case-study for the worst reasons, its latest fiscal deficit the sum total of profligate spending, widespread cultural-rooted tax evasion, underbudgeting, creative accounting, weak notion of public service and duty, etc - all conspiring over decades to bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy.

I am sure many Greeks will have seen it coming and warned their governments in years past.To no avail as even the present government was elected as recently as late 2009 on a platform to increase spending.

According to EMU rules public finances were clearly to remain national responsibilities.A considerable chunk of sovereignty for States to manage through their democratically-elected governments of the day.
Would the Greeks have liked their Finance Ministry to be ruled or dictated to from Brussels or Frankfurt just so the Maastricht-agreed criteria could not have been so despondently ignored?

Current turmoil is the Euro's hardest test ever but one that will also represent a defining moment in the single-currency's future.

It is a fact that Southern European countries are faced with similar issues though not on the same scale and urgency.Others in Northern Europe, the US and Japan also recorded their biggest fiscal deficits and added up noticeably to their debts in 2009.
Each one has its own track-record, however.
This is exactly what sets Greece apart from the rest.
Each country is unique in its own way, there being obviously overlapping between them.

International rating agencies must make the effort to closely monitor and register those differences and then advise financial markets.

After all it is sovereign countries and sovereign debt one is dealing with.

There is much more at stake than strictly soulless bundling of nations.

Arquivo do blogue

segunda-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc asks "Is this a new oil shock?" - Early days to confirm

Too early to say this is a new oil shock.
It is of course a shock to look at oil price charts and realise a roller coaster ride mingled with sudden spikes and clearly an underlying upward trend since long.
I would rather qualify it as extreme oil price volatility as market sentiment remains overwhelmingly nervous.
It shudders and overreacts to the slightest hint or actual news coming in from wherever sitting on black gold.
The market may now be tighter than it has been in years past.But there is enough slack and spare capacity to plug even a prolonged shortfall by one or more of the minor producers.
A fact not mentioned often is that OPEC accounts for little over a third of the world's oil supply these days. Nearly two-thirds of oil comes onto markets from an array of major, medium and minor producers scattered around the world.
OPEC's relevancy stems more from its dominant share of proven oil reserves than actual production to meet current demand.
The other key player from within the bloc being Saudi Arabia as a stand-alone oil superpower. With its big spare capacity and huge reserves it can single-handedly outmanoeuvre the markets on short notice.
If only Saudi leadership decides to do so.
It has recurrently done just that coming to the rescue of stricken consumers around the world.
Will Saudi Arabia do so again?

domingo, 27 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc "No jobs, boys" South Africa's uphill struggle to boost employment

The issue of jobs is likely to remain top of the political agenda in South Africa for decades to come.
No amount of goodwill in government and business circles can make a significant dent in the economy's ability to create new jobs on a large-enough scale.
The stakes are indeed high for expectations were driven to a point - justly so - that demands faster delivery.
But the eternal question pops up: how to balance labour needs demanded by a free-market economy with those of society whose political calls have to be heeded too?
The structural imbalances of South African society are only too well known. Pointless then to brush them over every time.
What may work and has perhaps not been tried to full effect yet is an all-out innovative policy generated in-house to specifically employ manpower in large numbers.
Building housing units, fixing decaying infrastruture, improving general conditions in impoverished neighbourhoods, cleaning up roadways, roadsides, trimming excessive vegetation, taking education to every community across the length and breadth of the country, etc.
There would certainly be many more areas to identify and work on that might add to employment at relatively low raises to overall government expenditure.
It is the case that in developed countries unemployment rates remain stubbornly high due to a host of unresolved issues new and old plaguing each economy to different degrees.
The closing paragraphs of the article show there are grounds for guarded optimism.
South Africa scores solidly on a fair number of areas.
These might propel it forward faster provided other factors playing into the context are right as well.
The government's determination is there but will not, as has been evident, produce desired outcomes unless creative measures are designed and implemented.
Calls to the private sector are useless given that it will take on employees only to the extent that its operations demand.
The way forward is for South Africa's economy to grow at ever higher rates driven by a combination of sound government policy, increased public and private investment and a further boost to exports.
None of this seems out of bounds for a country that has against all odds fared rather well.

quinta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc debate motion "This house believes that the internet is not inherently a force for democracy" Why not? Why yes?

Many of us may be swayed into believing the Internet in and as of itself working out countless wonders.
Latest events unfolding in the Arab world point to just how powerful a tool the Internet has become.
I would not wish to go with the flow preferring to take a deeper thought instead.
None of turmoil lived right now in many Arab streets would happen were it not for the fact that objective social and political conditions riped for them.
The Internet has made contact easier, quicker and faster but to say it is inherently a force for democracy reads like an overstatement.
Truly it broadens the mind by opening up the larger world to competent users.
In this sense - by allowing widespread access, the flow of ideas, the exchange and clash of views on multiple subjects - there is a democratic overtone to the Internet no doubt.
Across the fence it is a fearsome tool to single-minded autocrats who'd rather not have information and opinion exchanged freely over a country-wide-web let alone a world-wide one.
So far it may be said the Internet has paid a role pushing political change in many a country. Including societies that are already democratic such as the US.
While agreeing to the Internet being democratic it may not be considered as inherently so.
The case is yet to be made of it being full-proof to government censorship, manipulation or even complete shutdown.

quarta-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc "When luck ran out" - On Christchurch's tremors

Natural disaster struck New Zealand's second largest city yet again this time causing considerable material damage and human loss.
While nothing can humanly be done to prevent such events a great deal may be achieved by the timely planning and allocation of resources to mitigate the consequences.
Going by reports out of Christchurch from officials to commoners Emergency Services responded swiftly and efficiently. They remain on top of the search and rescue operation as we write our comments.
The final toll in lives and property loss will emerge over the coming days and weeks.
Some of the comments posted here raise issues related to New Zealand's social problems that are largely unknown to the outside world.
New Zealand belongs - by all standards and yardsticks - to the group of developed countries.
The Christchurch earthquake could now be one way to stimulate economic growth.
This will require public and private investment to go into its fast rebuilding.
The best way to pay homage to the victims and families of all directly affected would be for Christchurch to quickly get back on its feet again.

terça-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc "The shoe-thrower's index" - A creative chart that delivers

Quite a mathematical approach to gauge the potential for unrest in the countries shown.
I find it a useful exercise to learn more about each country.
And to check its relative standing regarding each of the indicators.
The weighted combination of all is bound to produce rather tricky if not meaningless totals and inferences.
There are certainly other factors that play into any society - or a large enough section of it - reaching boiling point.
Importantly, the yearning for freedom is a universal aspiration once a relevant section of society has seen its basic needs fulfilled.
Lastly, there is the unknown factor too.
No-one can quite predict what may trigger protest that then blows up to mass-protest.

segunda-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc asks "Will the Euro-zone economy shrink in 2011?" - No, though Greece's definitely will.

While Greece seems set for contraction most other economies should pull through 2011 growing if only modestly.
I believe the euro-zone economy as a whole will not shrink unless current assumptions are upset by events unforeseen as yet.
It would be ominous if the depressive state of Greece's economy were exported to other euro-zone members.
Fortunately it doesn't work out that way, each Euro country facing own challenges from bullish Germany to newly arrived stabilised(?)Estonia.
The 17-member club is sufficiently colourful that nothing currently known suggests a similar fate befalling them collectively.
The Portuguese government remains bravely defiant that Portugal might narrowly avoid recession when all figures are tallied up by year's end.
Whether this is down to outright political stubborness, wishful thinking or a genuine desire - borne out from action - to prove everybody else wrong is unclear.
There have been some remarkable results on the export front which is the only way forward for Portugal anyway. Diversifying away from the EU to get a foothold in markets further afield both in volume and value.
The Euro-zone being so uneven multifold is not out of the woods yet.
Far from it, but to anticipate a drop in overall economic output seems to me a bleak overstatement.

quinta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc "Crude arguments" - Taxing oil

The striking reading from the main 2011 chart is how cozy European governments have become with high levels of duty and tax on petrol.
That the only two countries with the least taxation are outside Europe shows the depth of a long love affair.
Raising revenue to meet State spending has been a foregone priority to every European government. Petrol at the pump having over the years been targeted mercilessly on grounds not always fully explained.
Conversely, the US stubbornly keeps taxes excessively low for fear of an electoral backlash at the polls. Sending the wrong message to the average consumer who remains privileged compared to most elsewhere.
It is obvious that fuel price changes depend on the price of crude oil, currency movements as well as on tax and duty surcharges.
In latter years a different tale may be told of different countries.
Greeks have faced a double whammy at the pump.
The Japanese, on the other hand, can blame mostly higher crude oil prices partly offset by a strong yen despite taxes having gone up too.
As in the past Americans will likely have only crude prices to fingerpoint to as taxation remains nearly unchanged at very low levels.

terça-feira, 15 de fevereiro de 2011

TEc "Threatening a sacred cow" - The US defence budget comes under scrutiny and a light axe.

The US military establishment gauged by its human and material resources remains the most visible projection of American power worldwide.
That it's annual budget edges on a whopping $700bn bears testimony to the expensive nature of running a mammoth military-industrial complex.
As a slice of GDP money spent on it - (5%) - is not excessive. America's massive GDP makes the absolute value impressive on its own. Let alone if compared with that of the next biggest spender. Plus the 19 others combined.

Such direct currency-only comparisons, however, disguise the fact that $1 in China goes much further than the same $1 in the US.
Therefore a better standard for international comparative analysis might be made using the military equivalent of the PPP measure.
Except for hardware priced mostly in US$ in world markets, China does much more at home than their comparatively low military budget suggests.

The case to spend taxpayers' money on defence in the US spills over strictly the military.
Important sectors of America's industrial base, some of which at the cutting edge of technology and technical prowess rely partly, if not wholly, on purchases from or orders-to-specification made by the US Armed Forces. Not to mention military-driven R&D expenditure upstream.
This in turn has had an upward pulling effect on other leading civilian sectors of America's industry.
Best case in point underscoring how critical these investments are/were is the aerospace (aircraft plus spacecraft plus ancillary) industry and its amazing evolution following the end of WW2.
Sacred cow or not the defence budget set against a staggering public debt - clocking up every second - is enough cause for concern that any responsible Administration cannot overlook any more.
An immensely rich and resourceful nation must know its finite limits too.

Peacetime - despite the US still fighting a costly war far-away - is the best time to finetune sector budgets.
Rationally allocating public resources to every department including defence.
In defence of the US defence budget is the overall balanced share of every component going into it - from pay to investment in weaponry.
A remarkable exercise in management and balanced housekeeping.

TEc debate motion "This house believes that the global elite serve the masses" - A few thoughts.

Yet again a motion statement too rigid that I cannot vote for.
To begin with what comes under elite?
Is it about a small share of the population in a given society holding the most money?
Or is it a broader concept that covers the rich as well as many influential groups who by dint of their profession/social position are critical making society they're a part of work better or worse? These people while being well-to-do are not necessarily rich.
Or do both go hand in hand?

Whatever definition is picked fact remains every society has had its elites and will continue to have them. Just as well.
It is a natural consequence of the pyramidal shape of any human grouping since long.

To decidedly write-off elites blaming them for the woes of the world is as factual as it is grossly innacurate.
There are many successful countries where a fair level of social balance has been achieved. It makes a favourable case for the elites of those countries.
The reverse is also overwhelmingly true.

That said, my point is that working elites are required and are generated naturally in every society. From the US to Scandinavia to the poorest African or Asian country.
They are present in all areas of human activity too, from politics to football.
They can, should and in many cases do make a positive contribution to the advancement of the masses.

The problem in many countries/societies is that no-one quite knows who the elite are.
Whoever they are would not like to be closely associated with the small privileged group concept. Yet many would like to be seen to be a part of it by flashing and flaunting their wealth around.
Indeed they are the local elite but certainly not the type who will make any effort to serve the masses.
If asked most wouldn't even know the correct meaning of 'to serve'. To serve?

In other societies a stigma is attached to the elite that has set them back on the defensive. Causing them to recoil to a shut-in position within their own world.
Others still have seen elites generally do the right thing over many decades. To their own gain first - as is inherent of the human condition - but doubtless bringing in a net gain to society as well.
It is therefore a multilayered strata reality.
On balance I believe it cannot be said that global elites serve the masses. But such a view is unfair on those from the elite who really do make a powerful difference.
Generally speaking they (global elite) - if 'they' should all be classed as one - pursue self-interest first and foremost.
Many definitely impact larger society positively as a result of their competence and values.

To wind up it may now be said matter-of-factly that the world's top financial elite failed the 'masses' miserably.
In many societies but not all.
For them the masses were never there nor would they ever care to spare a fleeting thought. Their actions became a feature ingrained in the system.
But who on earth re-designed the financial system and pocketed politicians?

TEc "Never had it so good" - Profits surge but will they get re-invested?

If America Inc. has bounced back and is again generating big profit, then going forward its decisions will reveal how it redresses the US or shifts wealth and wealth-creation abroad.
There's a lot at stake in boardroom decisions made at each and every corporation.

US wealth was built up mainly around private-sector companies. From a strong domestic base they grew to become household multinational names operating worldwide.
In latter years many opted to retain near-skeleton services at home - warehouses and a sales department - to sell to American consumers that which they produced elsewhere. i.e. - outsourcing just about everything else.
Such a massive reversal of activities is the root cause of imbalances from trade to employment.
It now demands much better insight and longer-term vision.
Whether or not corporate America has matured to a level inducive of greater focus on the home front too is an open question.

It is, nevertheless, good news indeed that management has achieved its primary goal by turning around the fortunes of many companies. Some of which seemed on the verge of going under only a couple of years back.
If a share of those profits should get re-invested it won't be long before unemployment starts falling relevantly.

Is American business back in business?

TEc "Reforming Zapatero" - Spain's tough predicament is not insurmountable

Spain has taken a very hard knock from being one of Eurozone's star performer to a laggard barely scraping by.
This is the result of a single sector - the construction industry - having swollen to account for over 12% of GDP. Excessive supply giving rise to a bubble set to burst anytime. Only brought forward by the US triggered financial meltdown that then gutted Europe's financial sector and economy.

Spain is not an overly indebted country, which should a priori spare it from the perils of the sovereign-debt crisis.
Indeed when the word contagion is used nowhere does it find fuller meaning than in Spain's case.
That being the logic of the system - pointless to blame anonymous investors worldwide - there remains little else for governments to do besides balancing public accounts and promoting economic growth.
Spain's business community leading its large and diversified production base must now seize the moment to propel forward every sector across the full spectrum of the economy.

There won't be changes overnight but it will pay off in the longer run. It may just be that Spain's return to meagre growth in 2011 signals the bottoming out of 2 very harsh recessive years.

Policy-related structural adjustments should be pushed through by politicians to put Spain's growth on sounder footing.
And to bring down that shameful unemployment statistic.
As soon as healthy growth resumes to deftly dodge a future recurrence of the type of bottleneck Spain was squeezed into as a result of multiple factors.

I was never in any doubt that Espana can do much better than that.
Hopefully it will with or without Zapatero at the helm.

TEc asks "Was George Bush right?" - He was moved by his Administration's interests of the day.

Former President George Bush was neither right nor wrong. He was only pursuing America's interests in the region according to the political context of his (recent) day. Having messed up badly in Iraq his Administration tried to deflect attention from WMD's (which were never there in the first place) to advancing Democracy in the invaded country.
Then he could also be seen to be concerned with different shades of long-standing authoritarian rule in nearly every Arab State. Perhaps a way to appease an incensed Arab street without taking too many risks with their rulers.

Nonetheless, promoting Democracy, basic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law wherever is to be welcomed wholeheartedly. Especially if pressed on by the country that founded itself on such universal values, remaining to this day a beacon of Hope and Freedom to millions.
Realpolitik working in many guises is likely to have been the main driving force all along. It cannot be criticised or praised wholesale.

Let's be straightforward about it: is every Arab or Islamic-majority society ready for Western-style Democracy?
What all-encompassing lessons can now be drawn - following years of strenuous efforts - of the fledgling 'democracies' in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Despite major differences between them can either be gauged as mostly a success or mostly a failure?

Are Arab or Islamic societies with every known idiosyncrasy inherent to them ripe for democratic rule as commonly understood and accepted in every other existing democratic State?
These are tough questions to which answers may not be as straightforward as one would wish for.
History in each Arab or Islamic-dominated State, social backgrounds, religious divides within Islam, level of economic well-being and imbalances all need be accounted for.

I agree with President Obama's view that America "does not presume to know what is best for everyone".
The Middle East, the larger Arab and Islamic world is riddled with complexities of its own.
To an extent it would be best if left alone to sort out its affairs, each country choosing the way it is to be run.

If the country is undemocratic in the narrow sense but a stable and prosperous kingdom that might one day evolve into Democracy why stir unwarranted troubles now?
Maybe it is too crude an assessment but I believe time and maturity are key factors making Democracy work meaningfully to the benefit of the greatest number.
Anywhere. More so in societies beset by any number of woes...

TEc "When allies tumble" - President Mubarak's downfall has begun

Which way Egypt's not-so-quiet-revolution(?) in the making is headed for looks like an unknown variable.
To me this is indeed the most critical aspect of the ongoing popular outburst bringing so many out on the streets.

Authoritarian leaders never seem to realize when to step down on their own. It generally takes a coup d'etat enacted from within by the military or a people-power triggered upheaval to eventually push them out.
President Mubarak - who's not known, to the best of my knowledge, for being ruthless or despotic - seems himself surprised that his country should have come to this.
The coming weeks or months will provide new facts but Egypt is not likely to go back to old-style politics again.

The American Administration, wisely enough, is taking a cautious approach.From a stance that accounts for every other regional political implication. An uncontrolled process in Egypt might ripple across the Middle East in multiple ways. Undesired at the very least.
Lastly, Mubarak stayed put in Cairo interacting with successive Administrations over 30 years as America's key ally in the region.
He saw them in and out of office in Washington as only Democracies may deliver.
I wonder whether any American President since 1986 (or 1991) ever hinted Mubarak that he should move Egypt towards genuine democratic rule...

BBC Have Your Say "Can China become the world's biggest economy?" Not a thesis question anymore.

Perhaps the question ought to be rephrased.
China can certainly become the world's biggest economy. That is no longer an academic thesis type of question.
So much so that for many analysts it is a matter of when not if, less so of possibility.

First theoretical hurdle leapt over a reminder that the latest milestone caps a decade of breakneck speed and overtaking.
China sped past Italy, France, the UK, Germany to now elbow out Japan from second spot.
It is the world's most populated country - by a long shot when compared to the US.

The current growth rate is astounding. More so when set against the historic record spanning nearly three decades.
There is of course no certainty as to such strong growth continuing unhindered.
Large untapped potential, trends and ongoing dynamics point to a predictably hefty rate for many years to come, however.
A slight rate drop does not significantly alter an already big economy growing ever bigger.
For many years China's economy benefited from having got off from a narrow base. Not anymore. Now the country continues to expand at 10%
from a broad base which will inevitably make it increasingly harder to sustain.

China's growth has already impacted the global economy in multiple ways.
From East to West, North to South no country/society has failed to witness first-hand the effects of that impact. While sectors of some economies have been crushed by Chinese competition others have held their ground by facing it head-on.
Or exporting high-end goods to China's burgeoning markets. Or supplying soft and hard commodities the country hungers for.

China has been exercising its financial muscle by buying sovereign-debt from a host of debtor-nations, the US top of the list. Investing only a share of the country's vast stash of accumulated foreign-currency reserves.
Insiders to financial markets - primary and secondary - are likely to know who investors are, on whose orders and wherefrom.

For all the media hype surrounding China's rise the country faces many daunting internal challenges. They cannot be underestimated. Old and new ones too as a result of the country choosing the fast-track to development.
Those challenges will keep it busy creating wealth to meet the needs of hundreds of millions.

Chinese leadership views the nation as poor despite rising average incomes. Rightly so, per capita levels of consumption and social indicators still fall relevantly short of the poorest countries of the developed world.
Real incomes have been rising and even low paid workers can realistically expect improved pay packets in the years ahead.

China's export-driven boom has led to export-market diversification following decoupling from excessive reliance on mature markets.
A positive fallout from the Western world's financial meltdown.
A greater shift to internal consumption is also likely to take place rather effortlessly.

I believe China is moving towards three-engine-driven growth:
Investment, exports and internal consumption.
If it should achieve fair and manageable balance between the three the country is poised for another decade of success.
Provided no major hiccups undercut current assumptions and trends.

As China's profile strengthens and sharpens so will its global role.
But focus will primarily remain on the home front for the foreseeable future.

BBC Have Your Say "President Mubarak resigns: Your reaction" - Positive and mindful

Not in Egypt, geographically a fair distance away, but tracking events there closely from day one mass-protest was begun.
Mubarak finally made the right decision bowing to the only authentic power that brings legitimacy to rulers.
When the tide against is overwhelming nothing can hold it back except illegitimate means that may only set reckoning day back a little while.
As it is Mubarak showed himself wise enough to have weighed in correctly how unpopular he'd become.
The Cairo street as well as Alexandria's, Suez's and every town large or small that rose up against a long-sitting-incumbent displayed just how powerful people-power can be.

Great news for Egypt, the region and further afield.
The nation at the heart of the Arab world has chosen a new path.
Once the dust kicked up by three dizzy weeks - that shook the country's power structures to foundations - settles down Egyptian civilian and military leadership will have to provide the country with representative government. And decide its constitutional future.

Power bickering and brokering is inevitable but I am confident Egypt will find a way forward.

BBC's Gavin Hewitt Blog "Democracy-lite won't do for Egypt" - what I can add to it...

Most of what needs writing on Egypt's ongoing struggles has been written by GH in this article.Angela Merkel's one-line comment quoted here is as wise as it gets on how Western leaders should view events in that country.

Of course no-one with basic grasp of geopolitics would ever contemplate a large nation, a pivotal country sliding into a theocracy - an Islamic one at that.
There are hardly any pointers as to how a majority of Egyptians feel regarding their representation in government.
I would therefore stop short of any remark. I simply don't know how popular religious-based groups, or any other, are that the people might actually vote them into office in free and fair elections.

The situation is pretty tricky but again exposes the fragility of positions dealing with rather complex societies such as Egypt's.
I do not think Turkey and Indonesia are quite comparable with most Arab States.
Those countries are working democracies now but the military have in the past played vital roles too.
Still do to this day in each country's internal set-up.
In Turkey the military institution has long been looked up to, trusted and respected by the majority. Especially when politicians have failed the country.

Egyptians will have to find a path to their future.
It will be a path of their choosing.
Western-style democracy is not a one-size-fits-all ready to be worn over by every society overnight.
Democracy is about much more than casting a ballot on voting day.
It takes time and process to root itself in the spirit of the masses who often face much more pressing concerns.

To hasten Mubarak's departure from the outside would run counterproductive to transitioning to a new order, still unfathomable.
If he gets toppled from within Egyptians will bear the full brunt for replacing his autocracy.
Western interests are likely to be safeguarded throughout.

Egypt, however, will be shaped by the Egyptians.

quinta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2011

BBC Have Your Say "What next for Egypt?" - A trying time that runs to an unknown outcome.

Momentous events is the least I can say of the unfolding situation in Egypt.
The land of the Pharaoes is seemingly delivering the clearest of messages to the current leadership: your time is up, time for change.

There isn't much I could write about President Mubarak's rule except that it is well beyond the sell-by date.
As with every other regime whose top hierarchy overstays in power, people simply get fed up for any number of reasons. Add to that objective social conditions and Egypt looks ripe for a change of guard.
What it will change into falls in a shaded area for little is known of other influential forces and personalities in modern-day Egyptian society.

Mubarak rose to power following the tragic shooting of Anwar el Sadat - a courageous leader who brought renewed tangible hope to the region. His endeavours marked a watershed in Egyptian politics especially concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In the decades since it would seem that Mubarak has ruled the country in ways most Egytians have now grown tired of - a muscled type of democracy that no longer fills the aspirations of ordinary citizens.

If the popular outburst continues I do believe President Mubarak should resign from office sparing his country further turmoil.Disruption Egypt can ill-afford given the many challenges faced particularly on the social and economic front.
Announcement that he would not be standing for (re)-election in September is too little too late.

The international community should keep a watch but refrain from any overt meddling in the internal affairs of a large, strategically vital and proud nation.
Pulling out nationals or providing humanitarian assistance is one thing.
Quite another would be - for example - to attempt a direct intervention if only to keep the Suez Canal open.
That would be objectionable to most Egyptians under any circumstance. Eventually striking a sensitive nationalistic chord.

Let the Egyptians sort themselves out in their land where the Sun shines every day of every year!

This is my view from Lisboa, Portugal.

TEC chart under "Camera obscura" - Are speed cameras effective improving road safety? - I think not if compared in this way.

Not a useful chart that compares continental-sized low population-density Canada with tiny overcrowded Israel plotting number of deaths per '000km of road network against speed camera density.
While Britain has the most speed cameras and the Ukraine, China and Canada the least, nothing significant can be said of road safety as a result.
Cameras are likely to have a domestic - local, regional, national even - impact and do make qualitative reading compared to when they were not there.
International comparisons such as this one are deeply flawed by not taking into account other relevant data.
These are generally mentioned by The Economist.

Which leaves me wondering what the point of this particular chart is.(?)