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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

terça-feira, 20 de novembro de 2012

TEc - Moody bleus - France's rating

The second sister has just caught up with the first.
It won't be long before the third joins the two.
There and then the three will increasingly decide France's fortunes in bond markets.
Such is the logic of the system, the natural order of things, the déjà vu setting that has carried every peripheral country to its present plight. Risky debt warrants risk premiums on top of rates in an upward spiral eventually driving entire nations/economies to the wall.
The most unfortunate circumstance is governments relied on debt to finance expenditure way above basic rules of prudence.
Once rating agencies - the sisters (3 of them, all US-based) - determine what financial markets should do and both gain the upper hand, politicians and governments look hapless, dejected, thorn between a crude systemic function and their peoples.
Who wins the contest?
The system, the very system they ought to know inside out.
To the detriment of countless millions among their own citizens.
I would like to believe that France will be different for all its underlying strengths and pivotal role in the EU and Eurozone.
Its strengths should, on balance, outweigh weaknesses and rigidities.
The tug-of-war has just begun.
There are now only 4 triple As remaining in the Eurozone.

domingo, 18 de novembro de 2012

TEc - Making great strides - Bangladesh's gains

An impressive video report that does justice to what has gone right with Bangladesh. And it is not little for an overpopulated huge flood plain whose natural challenges are permanently as demanding as those posed by man.

I have been pleasantly surprised by improvements reported here not least because they were achieved despite overwhelming multiple odds the country has faced since birth in 1971.
Empowering women as agents for economic and social change seems to have been the root cause of gains made.
In a Muslim society this strikes as of great relevance.
It does show countries need to tackle their problems with ingenuity and inborn/inbred solutions.

Despite grinding poverty afflicting the vast majority, there are pointers turned firmly upwards Bangladeshis can genuinely feel proud of.

quarta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2012

TEc - Battling French decline - France steps up to the plate?

No political leader aspiring to do the things that need doing can give more than a sigh to popular ratings.
No matter how important to remain in touch with the populace, government is about running day-to-day business with a clear view to the future. To that end any responsible French President backed by responsible advisors could no longer ignore the real issues explaining France's underperformance and new challenges posed by the global economy.
France has a long tradition of enlightenment, culture, human rights, values, innovation, savoir-faire and state-of-the-art technology.
However, it cannot go unnoticed that the country has slipped in industrial competitiveness vis-a-vis next door Germany. A relative decline it has been for which adequate measures must be enacted now that will arrest and reverse the slide.
Home to such world-famous names as Mirage jets, Exocet missiles, Areva nuclear reactors, Airbus commercial aircraft, Carrefour retail chain, TGV/high speed trains (itself a brand-name), Renault-Peugeot-Citroen cars, Total oil, perfumes, champagne, etc, France must ensure it retains all of these by providing a business-friendly environment for them to prosper and invest in.
To my mind this will be Mr. Hollande's most critical test.
His administration has already given due relevance to Louis Gallois' report. It has started out in great style acknowledging the need of the hour as pin-pointed by one of the country's greatest managers.
Changes to VAT rates seem to me generally well-balanced between a desired increase in overall revenue and a cut to the reduced rate on essentials.
Many governments across the developed world face similar problems to varying extents. Most are underpinned by excessive State spending over many years now demanding adjustment in line with tax revenue.
Turning France's fortunes around will require time, reform and boldness.
First steps in the right direction appear to have been taken.
More will follow but balance must remain the keyword.
The stakes are high enough for France, the Eurozone and the wider EU.

TEc - A new Atlantic alliance - Brazil reaches out across the South Atlantic

A natural environment to work in as any number of commonalities would spring to mind between Brazil and Africa. Lusophone Africa featuring prominently for reasons that do not need telling.

Also, if Brazilians can make a real difference while competing with Chinese firms to African countries' gain then an added value may be counted up.
Brazilian companies' know-how, expertise and technology have seen them operate successfully around the world.
There being so much to be built in most parts of resource-rich, infrastructure-poor Africa to focus there is therefore a natural winner.

sexta-feira, 9 de novembro de 2012

TEc - Europa to the rescue - Europe wanders on

Europa to rescue Europe?
Mythology called in to ease reality filled with voids and uncertainty?
Whatever it is there is a growing sense that something has to change before it becomes too late to save Europe from itself. Even when it goes unsaid, unspoken or unwritten there is deep-seated apprehension, disbelief and fear in the air. And it is not good.
As it is few can see where the EU is headed for.
For it is not only about the sovereign debt crisis, fiscal imbalances, uneven wealth levels, production and consumption patterns or sluggish to no-growth to negative growth across most countries.
Latest forecasts (for all they are worth) point to recession, stagnation or meagre growth at best, in just about every EU-member State.
Isn't there an answer politics can work from?
Is there no alternative to stop the rot?
No way of tackling every problem simultaneously while promoting growth?
Sound growth that's so critical to sustain life and hope?

quarta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2012

TEc - Obama's win raises questions for Republicans - Republicans must show less dogma but BO is the man of the hour

A fine re-election win no doubt.
Barack Obama and his Administration did deservedly get the vote of confidence from most Americans across the country.
But America is a neatly divided house in established voting patterns and societal views as much as in the options of the political leadership in Washington.
The concerns of average Americans, however, are understandably largely shared.
The economy and jobs.
Throughout the 20th. century the US saw ever rising prosperity, material well-being and external projection of power.
Many do not realize the world has already changed relevantly posing new and permanent challenges. These will require some painstaking consensus-building on main issues especially among those whose economic and financial decisions bear an immediate impact on large groups of people.
In a nutshell BO can fairly be said to have rescued America from the brink. Financial and economic meltdown loomed large when he took office in 2009. His Administration has governed in the context of a rising economic, financial and industrial power that puts up additional pressures and opportunities.
His job is only half done for the structural imbalances that created huge year-on-year trade deficits and debt - government and household - are yet to be addressed in earnest.
This requires a vision for the collective future of the nation. One that will take on board the vast majority of those who make a difference in America's society whether in government or running a private company.
An economy geared to show better balance between domestic production, private consumption and exports.
Social policy too has seen relevant progress over the past 4 years. The scope for improving efficiencies in the system remains immense.
4 more years are indeed direly needed to consolidate policy choices undertaken and strengthen the economy.
The world can count on the renewed stay at the White House of a cosmopolitan man with a sharp intellect.
Politically a moderate who has displayed sound judgement in action and uplifting speeches that reach out to just about everyone.

sexta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2012

TEc - Which one? - An endorsement I concur with...

Three days ahead of the elections in the US The Economist has reluctantly picked its horse.
Going by the article's gist it does so out of a lack of a solid alternative than for the incumbent's allegedly chequered record and, importantly, unknown future promise.
But Barack Obama, to the best of my ability to assess America from the safe distance of a pond, has done enough over his 4-year term to deserve a second one.
Indeed, unless a President screws up real bad in the first term he does actually need two to deliver meaningfully on main policy choices. This is much more so given the parlous state of America's economy and financial position back in 2007/8.
The Obama Administration's achievements on many fronts of domestic and foreign policy can in no way be understated. All countries have their own built-in inertias that are hard to move/remove. In the US's case the opposition camp gathered around the GOP is particularly tough on a wide range of issues which is why American society has become so severely polarised.
However light-heartedly, that "The Economist" should renew its endorsement of the Democrat Barack Obama to the White House is itself an indictment of Mitt Romney's failure to make a convincing case but also a confirmation of the current Administration's proven overall track-record.
The latter shows a fair number of accomplishments despite an awful starting line and a fast changed/changing world economic context.

America is no longer immune to many interplaying variables from outside its borders.
While the rest of the world may still catch cold when America sneezes - unevenly though - America may also get a rough ride when the world stalls...