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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

quinta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2011

TEc debate motion (1) "This house believes that immigration is endangering European society" - Uncontrolled, limitless immigration does. Not otherwise.

Another great debate but one that easily stirs up sentiment based on personal experiences dealing with 'the other'.
There are many ways to look into the topic ranging from indifference to outright opposition. Yet, I believe this is mainly about human values first. Those same values call for realistic and rational thinking. Especially on the part of officials who are obliged, by virtue of their position, to think collectively - from a State perspective. At least for as long as States prevail.
European countries are not equally faced with an immigration problem. Immigrants as a percentage of total populations vary widely. So do cultural, historic, linguistic and religious backgrounds of immigrant communities.
It would therefore be rather poor, if not misleading, to have a one-size-fits-all approach to the challenges each society needs to rise up to.
In common, however, a notion that volumes do matter should develop. Or else we'd all consider that the world is going fully global to the extent that nations, common identity, cultural values, languages and other traits generally shared by indigenous populations are not relevant any more.
One may also argue that the world has always been a place of migrations. Dominant populations across many lands are themselves the result of many peoples and tribes who once settled in them from many origins. True enough.
The fact is that eventually a national identity was born bonded by language, religion, costumes traditions, architecture, etc.
I do not think most people belonging to one such majority population are prepared to dilute that entirely just yet. It simply does not make sense.
You may stand up for liberal values while still embracing the nation-State concept that came to be over many centuries of 'house-building' .
To my mind runaway immigration - unchecked under the pretense of generosity or sheer irresponsible political correctness - is undesirable and defeats the very human values everyone should strive to uphold, States as well as individuals.
Such type of immigration flows do pose too many unanswered questions until it is too late to properly address them.
Potentially it does store up future misunderstandings ultimately leading to trouble.
To sum it up I do not think controlled immigration endangers European societies on the whole.
Europe does need most immigrants already in and will likely take in some more in decades to come.
Uncontrolled immigration certainly does endanger societies anywhere, especially if communities espousing radically different values become so entrenched as to attempt to overwhelm local values - latus sensu.
Totally unacceptable by any reckoning.

segunda-feira, 8 de agosto de 2011

TEc "An under-performing President" - Barack Obama rides an erratic wave?

On the face of it this may look like a chess game being played by Republicans and Democrats on an American board - at least in part a borrowed one at that!
Politics at its worst may have triumphed over sensible calls for reforming America. For now default has been averted but what if sometime down the line another debt ceiling raise is needed?
And yet another?
Under-performing or not Obama has tried his best to lead Americans into a more sustainable path.
I will not venture into the tax increases he bargained for and failed to get. I lack knowledge on the specifics and overall revenue figures on the table.
But, any fair-minded observer would likely consider tax-breaks granted by past Administrations to be overgenerous.
Especially in the current context.
That said, there is overwhelming evidence to America's increasingly becoming a dual society with its massive middle-class having to cash down a disproportionately larger share of recent financial troubles.
Restoring key balances is as much the responsibility of the acting President and his Administration as it is Congress's both Houses.
Americans may like a winning President.
They would better like a winning America first.
Broadly, a winning America is a balanced America.
Presidents come and go. The people's voice will be heard next year when the microphone is handed back to them.
Obama has had a plateful since day one in office.
On election day, despite all shortcomings and failures, most Americans will judge his Administration on balance.
So I believe.