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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

quarta-feira, 12 de novembro de 2014

FT - Juncker denies he was the architect of Luxembourg tax regime - Get it fixed, now!

Time to act on this pressing issue is long overdue.
It is not necessarily about personality or political leadership who might get away with it.
Rather, it is embedded in the overriding logic of the economic and financial system we have come to live in.

Politics in the original and only meaning is sorely called for.

There cannot be a levelled playing field for companies to compete in when the largest have turned their financial departments into profit centres.
Generating turnover in one country whilst paying negligible tax in another.
A triple whammy depriving States where business is conducted of much-needed due-tax. Leading to other taxpayers - individual and collective - making up for the shortfall, even if a link may not be readily established. Or a head-on impact on budget balances which is much simpler to detect.

Whatever the degree of autonomy enjoyed by Luxembourg's tax authority, it could not have escaped the FM and PM that such practices were on. And had been for many years. To Luxembourg's gain.
It would be far more honest to admit to it all from a position that no known wrong-doing was involved according to the awfully diverging tax regimes prevalent in member-States of the same European Union. Something that should have been checked and legislated upon long before the current uproar.

I would expect this issue to be fixed quickly, tardy as it is.

sábado, 25 de outubro de 2014

TEc - Money burner or money spinner? - At the onset competition should be welcomed...

All manner of questions may be asked when a newcomer arrives to a highly lucrative high-reputation market such as commercial aviation aircraft.
Fact of the matter is a well known Japanese company - a household brand-name whose range of products is pretty wide - now offers what looks like a very well-appointed regional jetliner.
Admittedly competition is tough, established makers feeling challenged will do renewed battle, there are two or three other companies whose products are yet to see the dawning light.
At the end of the day, granted the market is far from crowded, it will be for purchase managers to assess airplanes from different makers on their own merits.
If the +80-seater Mitsubishi's MRJ has the right figures for fuel-burn per seat to match its amazingly sleek design, there's every reason to antecipate its success.
I certainly wish Mitsubishi all the very best marketing its latest product.

domingo, 19 de outubro de 2014

TEc - Why Brazil needs change - Stakes are high in Brazil as change looks desirable

That Brazil needs some sort of change looks like the starting line to a disputed election run-off next week.
As the campaign nears the end millions of undecided Brazilians will be wondering whether to stick with the known devil or seek out unknown good(!?).
It would seem to me that following 12 years of uninterrupted grip on Federal State power the PT has likely become a spent force, to a fairly large degree at least.Notwithstanding many points scored in social advancement through large-scale public policies that won international recognition and acclaim. There will have been misuse of funds, outright fraud and waste but at the end of the day the balance should be assessed.
Brazilian society has ratcheted up to a new level of expectation and accountability of their leadership.
That said, Dilma Roussef's performance leading as uneven a country does not match her predecessor. Lula's charisma and wise choice of advisors and ministers helped his two mandates as opposed to Dilma's rather lacklustre presidency.
Also, it did not help that commodity prices dropped from highs seen before though the country's structural challenges go far above and beyond that.
'The Economist' clearly endorses change and chooses the opposition man-of-the-hour to embody that change.
Perhaps Aécio is Brazil's best bet that it can charter a new course from a higher slot.
Brazilians should know better.

terça-feira, 23 de setembro de 2014

TEc - Britain survives - Scotland The Brave!

This time the UK has only just survived intact.
The SNP's call for outright independence was heeded by 45% of voters in a high turn-out election. A major achievement by any reckoning that a nationalist politician should have taken his cause this far and this close to victory.
It all finds explanantion when set against the background of Scotland's history from afar to times nearer.
The whole picture then emerges sharp and clear.
UK governments in London must pay closer attention to all constituent parts of a Kingdom that once ruled half the world.
Not any more since long, challenges now lie in Europe or arise daily from within.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may be dwarfed by England by demography and economy.
At the end of the day each want (NI is different) something more intangible than merely devolved powers.
Scotland's soul has had a chance to let out a scream of some sort.
They did it!

sábado, 30 de agosto de 2014

TEc - That sinking feeling (again) - The Eurozone has not bounced back up

The latest quarterly growth figures for the Eurozone have confirmed that a recovery never initiated in the first place. Europe at large, Eurozone-member countries in particular have barely managed to stay afloat in the midst of a severe multi-pronged structural crisis.
Political efforts to ensure the Euro's survival were no more than circumstantial expediency.
Objectively the can was repeatedly kicked down the road.

The real issue in Europe over the years from 2000 is to find key growth drivers that generate wealth like industry did since the end of the 2ndWW.
As far as sovereign-debt troubles and heavily unbalanced government accounts are concerned it is now clear that jumpstarting the economy is the only path to improve Europe's dismaying fortunes.
The million dollar (euro(!)) question is what is Europe competitive enough at that will promote its prosperity going forward?
A question for the business and political establishment to find answers to very quickly.
Failure to do so will inevitably speed up Europe's decline turning it from relative to absolute.

segunda-feira, 28 de julho de 2014

TEc - Collateral damage - Header that does not do justice to victims

Terrible title to head an otherwise excellent article covering just about all there is to know concerning flight MH17.
The title suits military strategists fine - whether regular armed forces or rebels wielding big guns - and politicians whose morals have long been trashed altogether.
Precious innocent lives have been criminally cut short by a single man hitting a button likely aided by a small party who cheered on. These were the material authors of an outrageous criminal act.
The moral authors, however, bear the biggest share of responsibility, one they should never be allowed to deflect from. On the contrary, no effort should be spared gathering enough evidence to lay the blame at the right doorstep.
Words do not suffice to describe the enormity of yet another major atrocity against humankind.
To my mind the best answers so far were given by the Dutch Foreign Minister speaking at the UN where words might still matter(????) and by the poignant, dignified silent reception afforded to the bodies-in-coffins upon their arrival on Dutch soil.
This criminal episode is NOT collateral.
Crucially, this is moral damage.

segunda-feira, 16 de junho de 2014

The day Portugal kicked off in Brazil

Raised expectations, high hopes, a wishful thought that the national team would deliver a fine win, an acceptable draw, perhaps a defeat by the slimmest margin......
Germany - 4 ; Portugal - 0 is almost too hard to bear when stakes are upped high enough in a country long yearning for some sort of victory.
Yes, over mighty Germany seen as an unfriendly nation even at the best of times.
But SHIT happens, in the pitch, where Portugal can do much, much better.
We all know it, we all secretly hoped they would stand up and face them down.
Or at least, already in despair score one lone face-saving honour goal. 
A nightmare it turned out to be.
And, damn it, everything happened under the watchful eye of a discreetly cheering Angela!
Portugal is definitely down after such a poor showing but not out of the competition. Yet.
The US and Ghana should not be underestimated.
They would better decide quickly whether they want in or out of Brazil 2014.
IBERIA got off to a bad start would be understatement.
Can IT shake it off and get on to a flying finish?

sábado, 17 de maio de 2014

FT - The Eurozone won the war, now it needs to win the peace - An opinative overview

The visionary ideal of an ever closer union ultimately leading to a true European Union remains as far-fetched as ever since current woes began triggered by the financial meltdown.
While apparently the sovereign debt crisis is headed for closure where it manifested harshest, there are far more questions than answers as to the future contours of a mutually advantageous monetary union.

The Eurozone comprises 18 economies whose differences are relevant not least amongst the big 3: Germany, France and Italy - for the incoming European Commission and Parliament to take very serious note of.
And eventually adopt a new approach to the entire European edifice.

On every ground one can think of it is unacceptable to tie countries down indefinitely, leaving them to fend for themselves and yet share a single currency. A currency that objectively does not bring gains to their respective economies. 
With so many formerly readily available monetary policy tools having been removed there is no leeway left in these countries to manage their own economic cycles.

Portugal is a good case in point. The country officially exits the bailout programme today without any cautionary safety net. There are reasons to rejoice at progress made restoring external balances, reducing the size of the State, sharpening the export sector and, perhaps, making the surviving economy leaner. These gains were achieved, inevitably to a degree, at an overwhelming social cost.

For Democracy's sake it is up to politics at national and European level to do 'whatever it takes' to mend societies hit hardest.
This needs to be done concurrently with every action taken to ensure that the ECB saved Euro works to the benefit of all countries sharing it, if not equally at least tangibly to most citizens.
Prolonged economic stagnation wherever is not an option by any seasoned yardstick.

sábado, 10 de maio de 2014

TEc - One currency, divergent economies - The Euro conundrum

Now that the sovereign debt crisis appears headed for some sort of closure the time is ripe for the European Monetary Union to receive a longtime-much-needed shake-up.
The graphs show that the divergent performance of Eurozone economies is not sustainable, if ever.
The social cost of adjustment policies has been so high that one wonders what tangible steps will be taken going forward to face the consequences head on.
The EU remains at a crossroads where the gains of a handful stronger surplus economies is largely at the expense of factors directly making weaker economies more vulnerable still.
Deflation and a strong currency present formidable challenges that require urgent attention.
Even in France - the Eurozone's second biggest economy - there is growing perception that the Euro is undermining French competitiveness.
If a break-up of the single currency zone has been avoided the focus should now quickly shift to transforming the Euro into a winner for all the economies sharing it.

domingo, 4 de maio de 2014

Portugal on track to exit the bailout programme - PM informs citizens

This is good news indeed crowning three long years of blood, sweat and tears for too large a number of people.
Of course the adjustment programme - as was implemented - had its effects felt unevenly across the board.
Yet again, those hit hardest by the draconian austerity drive were those who could least afford to on far too many instances. 
It might be said that such is the logic of the system when countries/States have no money left in the kitty.
The punishing contours of invited rescuer-creditors are blind and oblivious to any existing social matters or public policies to tackle them.

Portugal's leadership should know better by now. Hopefully.
It won't take long before citizens find out if they - government and opposition - have learned anything at all.
About the country's fundamentals, excessive reliance on external finance and the huge burden of existing debt.
All capped by the Eurozone's straitjacket.
Despite many flaws in the European Monetary Union and the missing blocks of EU institutions and politics, it still rests with national governments to take good care of respective countries.
To take on internal vested interests permanently, engage with civil society and govern for the common man in the street.
Or has Democracy's original worth been entirely and irreversibly hollowed out?

Throughout the tough three-year period the government's primary concern was clearly to please the trio of creditors. Perhaps understandably to a degree.
It is yet to be seen whether a welcome shift of focus will set in from May 17 that does not compromise main balances.
Balances that should never have swung so deeply into the red in the first place!

segunda-feira, 24 de março de 2014

TEc - Final call - Portugal is into the dying days of the bailout - What next?

Even at a time of increased hardship for the nation, relevant people in Portuguese society cannot agree on structural essentials.
There is a lot of double talk and misinformation around that makes a difficult situation look much worse. Mainly, undermining the capability to do what it takes to right a wobbly ship.
Irrespective of petty party politics, misplaced ideology or government of the day.
None of the country's structural problems were ever addressed on a longer-term sustainable basis. This is exactly the reason - if one should seek to pick one - explaining today's woes and tomorrow's tough challenges.
The export sector has delivered in ways that many would not have thought possible. Yet it did. Displaying remarkable effort and resilience by many private-sector companies.
And yet it should by now be clear to everyone that exports in and of themselves cannot pull the economy out of current troubles.
It has got to be a fairly balanced act between strong exports, increased production of durables and improved internal consumption that does not overly upset Portugal's trade and current account balances.
A very delicate act no doubt.
One that should have/could have been pursued long ago.
Almost entirely the opposite path was chosen instead.
Portugal's economy has over time revealed sectorwise strengths undermined by excesses commited elsewhere. There is a recurrent inability - active or passive - to tell between the two to conveniently keep the system broadly going as it has always done.
In effect this has thrown off-balance any number of macro variables, as starkly indicated by those staggering current account deficits over so many consecutive years. Worse still, the deficits hardly really accrued to national wealth while generating far too high additional spending that put State finances to unbearable strains well into the future.
On top of all there are the ticking timebombs: rapidly ageing population, low birth-rate and, possibly, excessive levels of skilled emigration.
Portugal has in the past shown underlying strengths that might suddenly come to the fore.
Vulnerable the country has remained but I would wish to look on the bright side of things in the face of daunting odds ahead...

quarta-feira, 19 de fevereiro de 2014

FT - Portugal the surprise hero of Eurozone growth as exports and tourism prosper - A trend reversal it is.

There's reason to acknowledge that the worst has been overcome.
Should the Eurozone's recovery accelerate, the pull will be paramount for hardest hit economies to rebound consistently.
There's hardly any reason, however, to rejoice in the aftermath of as severe a downturn.
Least of all in countries like Portugal whose structural economic weaknesses and internal social imbalances have been laid bare to the naked eye. Again.

There are sectors whose success needs to get noticed and praised as PW points out:
Exports and tourism, but there's much more to the workings of an economy/country/society before a substantive positive assessment can be made.
Longer still will it take for the huge social cost to begin to ease.

I keep my fingers crossed as indeed I have for over two decades after identifying Portugal's persistent problems from within. 
In fact, the only way forward for the country is to push ahead with every reform required. 
Vested interests have to be engaged from a much harder stance that make them - upon self realization - be a part in the process.
Governments have come and gone but none has achieved an overall satisfactory performance despite promises or claims to the contrary.

sexta-feira, 7 de fevereiro de 2014

TEc - An awakening giant - Manufacturing is growing and so are Africa's pospects of fast development

Very good news by any yardstick.
Africa, whose fortunes appeared permanently tarnished by internal conflict, mismanagement, poor governance and rampant corruption is now frequently making it to the headlines for the right reasons.
While there are still individual hot spots and dark spots from within across many countries, fact is the full picture of a Continent on the move is finally gathering momentum. I have noted and been impressed by a string of upbeat reports coming out of Africa all pointing upwards. On balance.
A prolonged spell spanning two-three decades of hefty growth rates will make a difference to the lives of millions.
Importantly, it would also change perceptions elsewhere that would draw in additional FDI flows to create a virtuous cycle.
It would, however, be useful to assess countries individually. Their levels of economic and social development are different even if they share similar problems/challenges.
A few do have an unequivocal headstart, more acutely visible by African standards, which place them on a better footing for take-off.
The coming years will reveal the full potential but for now let us acknowledge that a new reality is in the making.

Reply to a reader who kindly commented on the above:

You do make a strong point that cannot be overlooked.
The knock-on effect is more than mere wishful thinking however. It does seem to have a bearing with Africa's track record over three/four/five decades from independence to now.
For the better and for the worse.
This is why I believe we need to step back a distance to gauge a fuller picture on a much lengthier timeline.
Not an easy exercise to do when we live in world that moves by today.
Yet I fail to see how collective entities such as entire countries - each with their own 'cases' and inertia from within, some of which overlap with others - may be judged lightly.
Let us share some of the optimism from a guarded position...
To the The Economist on Feb 10, 2014.

quarta-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2014

FT - Portugal bond yields below 5% for the first time since August 2010 - Too early for popping champagne bottles, yet!

While this is good news there is hardly any reason to take comfort unless it should mark the beginning of a sustained downward trend. Going forward news coming from financial markets and those notorious rating agencies - whose real power has not been objectively dented in the least - will assume ever greater relevance. As the bailout programme nears the end much of what happens next hinges on how investors view recovery of the now slimmer Portuguese economy and the Euro area.
In Portugal political bickering will intensify as relevant parties jostle for position mainly in accordance with the electoral calendar.
It would seem that the recession has finally bottomed out although confirmation will only arrive by the turn of the first semester.
Cycles used to gauge economic performance continue to be inexplicably short.
Longer periods should be adopted for improved consistency of data analysed.
Thank you Ireland if this should be a direct result of your successful exiting from the bailout.

Carlos Collaco
To the FT on January 21, 2014

terça-feira, 21 de janeiro de 2014

BBC - When a vibrant 41-year old passes away suddenly...

Komla Dumor's untimely death has triggered emotions around the world. From common folk to prominent people.
He was truly a towering figure standing for upbeat factual journalism even where misery and doom was reported.
Above all he beamed positiveness about up and coming Africa.

KD combined professionalism with charisma, a sense of mission with overflowing humanity.
I only knew him from his impeccable delivery as BBC presenter regardless of subject or geography.

Will miss him much. I had to pay a little homage to Komla.
Believe all journalists should learn from the stuff he was so naturally made of.

Carlos Collaco
To the BBC on January 20, 2014

quinta-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2014

FT - MartinWolf's Failing Elites threaten our future - missing leadership across society, I believe

I would rather call leadership to the small group of people found in every society whose decisions and actions affect entire communities. It is unlikely that a new order will ever be devised or even that it could eventually be found.
On these presuppositions rests the entire article by MW. 
To my mind an accurate analysis that should have leaderships everywhere - each country having its own idiosyncratic leadership - learn from history, both remote and recent.
One cannot foretell the future but failure to read past mistakes meaningfully will inevitably lead to further hardship for the many.
The unanswerable question being the degree of those hardships and exact consequence.

Under the current set of dominant values who cares really?

Carlos Collaco
To the FT on January 15
posted to Martin Wolf’s Editorial Column under:
Failing elites threaten our future

Leaders richly rewarded for mediocrity cannot be relied upon when things go wrong

sexta-feira, 10 de janeiro de 2014

FT - IMF warns Portugal of tough years ahead - I made a few remarks too

It has been crystal clear to me longer than I can remember that Portugal's woes and fixes are essentially structural in nature and domestic in resolution.
Years of easy access to financial markets and EU net transfers have masked many problems while making the country's traditional imbalances worse still. This runs contrary to what might have happened had we had responsible leadership and purposeful government over many years. 

It is now time to let bygones be bygones and build on Portugal's strengths from a position of underlying weaknesses. A work in progress the country will forever be given its entrenched dislike of any meaningful reform - where sorely required - of existing practices and rigidities across nearly every segment of human activity.
As long as subsystems benefit disproportionately the few who can tamper with them mainly to keep the status quo.
Exports seem like the only true bright spot as private-sector companies geared themselves up to external markets and delivered. Given their share of GDP they cannot, however, thrust the economy forward on their own.

Portugal's adjustment is far from complete nor is there any certainty it will ever be accomplished.

It is unclear whether or not the leadership have understood the real issues besetting the country.

terça-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2014

TEc - The gates are open - Romania and Bulgaria bring a recurrent theme to the fore

This is of course a sensitive issue that commands both judgment in assessment and balance in policy.
Emigration/immigration from poorer to richer regions has always caused mixed feelings that swing between anxiety and misplaced hysteria.

There will never be barriers that are effective enough stopping people in search of a better life wherever.
Romania and Bulgaria do indeed pose specific problems stemming from their social and economic set up. Their economies, however, are doing relatively well albeit starting off from proportionally smaller bases. More important is their low unemployment rates - very low compared to most EU countries - providing a sound deterrant to volume would-be emigrants.

People who wished to leave already have - 3m Romanians scattered around Western Europe is a pretty impressive figure for the period over which it occurred.
Concentrations in Italy and Spain being particularly striking.
Poverty emigration en masse from these two countries is now unlikely.A fairly mixed bunch ranging from the skilled to the unskilled will be tempted to make the move westwards. Many will which is why potential host countries need to act swiftly to prevent unwelcome societal problems of many sorts.

A controlled steady outflow is likely, not a rush to the borders.