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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

domingo, 28 de junho de 2015

FT - Greece must be saved from political, economic and social collapse - I fully agree

Greece has long become a case study for the right reasons as well as the wrong. The more thought that's put into the case since it started unfolding long ago the greater the complexity and number of variables involved. 
I have seen any number of opinions, judgments, evaluations, assessments, attitudes, views based on political leanings, economic and financial interest, stakeholder objectivity and subjectivity, grandstanding, personal and institutional hubris, etc, etc, etc.

Nothing disguises the fact that Politics is failing miserably just about everywhere. Such massive failure is bringing misery, disquiet and human suffering in so many places at any one time!
Entire nations, nation-States - failed, on course to failure or otherwise - have fallen prey to the workings of a financial system that knows no limits. Their guarantors-of-the-day mere stooges who deliver verdicts/decisions irrespective of anything other than the rule of 'who is the more powerful?'...
It does not bode well for the future of humanity, writings are on the wall or have been that common people need and deserve something different. Better balanced, simply put.

As for the FT/TBarber's current article that triggered my short comment, will not add or detract a single word. His are incredibly wisely put together conveying the full urgency of the hour set against the grand background that brought Greece  to the brink. What is beyond the brink?
Those who can make a difference don't care to know.

Unless Politics is again made to rule over the world of finance and much-needed balance is finally restored, the world of common folk is headed for ever greater levels of uncertainty and doom.

segunda-feira, 22 de junho de 2015

TEc - Down but not yet out - Greece on the brink

Mismanagement at its worst would be an understatement to define all that went wrong with Greece.
The country has long been a costly affair in the making to which many powerful interests in creditor nations repeatedly turned a blind eye to.
Why did they ever provide Greek leadership - not common folk - with enough rope for them to hang their country for at least two generations? And then expect commoners to pick up the full tab irrespective of all else?
In an incomplete monetary union that would become a massive cage excessively indebted nations eventually found themselves trapped in?
Governments in the North never signalled any worry about overspending in Southern Europe, particularly in Greece where, on top of it all, issues of governance appear to be harder than in most places across the EU.
In brief, this is why the whole issue has long shifted from mere bankruptcy to a deeply political one.
Far too many questions have remained and will remain unanswered for the simple reason that they are ingrained in the system.
A system that demands fixing if ever politics is to play the central role of addressing the needs of a large number of people.
The alternative is a measure of chaos that will rapidly engulf other nations in more ways than one.

domingo, 21 de junho de 2015

GREECE, the European Union and the West

Greece as a nation-State has been 'l'enfant terrible' of the EEC/EU since joining in 1981. 
However, there are today far wider issues at stake concerning a pivotal country whose social fabric and structures have been weakened to levels unacceptable to anyone who understands the central role of politics. Theirs is only part of the overall responsibility in a world dangerously adrift even in what was supposed to be a relatively compact bloc of rich nations.
Issues of relevance demand much greater insight, in-depth analysis many who've dominated much of the public debate and institutions in our time hardly care about.

Everyone is busy pursuing their careers to private gain - political or professional or whatever - that nations/countries/States as a collective are paying too heavy a price in so many ways.
Oftentimes dwelling on the tertiary rather than on the essence of things.

I prefer not to begin to think of Greece cutting loose from Europe to find solace elsewhere. Just yet.
Greece's presence in the Western value system - democracy, defense, economy, culture - is invaluable.
If the country is forced to go down the drain for faults not entirely its own, it will be a bad omen for the West at large.

sexta-feira, 19 de junho de 2015

TEc - My big fat Greek divorce - is D-Day just around the corner?

Every time I read on Greece I am sickened by the extent of the rot that has permeated all levels of a long troubled relationship with the EU.
I can't put it down to a set of reasons that would explain the current mess. What is beyond dispute is that it has consistently built up and hardened.
Words do not deliver the full picture any longer.
A lot has been said of Greece's internal disconnects but the so-called institutions - ECB, ECommission, IMF - deserve solid criticism for their recipe and posturing since long.
To my mind there were at least three levels/layers of issues to be forthrightly addressed from day one by those in charge: Greek governance, European Union governance (including EMU/ECB) and IMF rule-book (applied to a changed context). Broadly speaking it may be stated that all failed miserably...
Now, no one seems to know what the ultimate outcome will be.
The immediate fate of Greeks and that of the EuroZone as we know it(and larger EU) is being devolved to politicians. They are expected to make a political evaluation of it all and decide.
Perhaps that which they should never have so blatantly backed away from.
Accounts are absolutely critical as a reflection of good government at all times.
So is Politics, especially in extraordinary times.

segunda-feira, 15 de junho de 2015

FT - "Greece has nothing to lose by saying no to creditors" by Wolfgang Munchau - a game it is?

It is a disgraceful state of affairs that has known no new developments since long. Unimpressed I was, unimpressed I remain at the lack of progress to shift Greece's plight one way or the other. Which brings me to WM's current article, likely the most enlightening I've read on the matter. 
On the one hand there is the official talk that all are trying hard to overcome differences because nobody wants Grexit. On the other, every bungled meeting is followed by bitterness and mutual recrimination. Where is the overlapping, if any?
That a nation-State should be pushed around like a toddler in need of parental guidance is bewildering enough. Something  has been lost to the Eurozone crisis within the EUnion(!?) that makes relations between countries look like little more than a game of chess.
I trust that on both sides - especiallly the stakeholders who stand to lose the most if push comes to shove - all calculations have been worked out, so what's the fuss all about?
Dragging Greece to the pit's edge wishing for a last-second surrender is as obnoxious as the Greek government gambling on a last-minute demand drop/reversal by creditors. I still haven't seen the Politics searching for the middle ground - broadgauged European politics - in this unbelievably long saga. The main losers being common folk in Greece but also in major creditor nations and in all whose governments have lent money to the Greek State. 
Besides every other loss that cannot be readily counted up!

quinta-feira, 4 de junho de 2015

TEc - Austerity without the anger - Portugal faces general elections

Portugal's predicament remains dire, a condition the country will have to live with into the future.
Years of tough policies, as demanded by creditors in exchange for the bailout money, worsened the social fabric of the nation. The Portuguese - a significant share of them - instinctively know that their country has been driven to its plight by what they broadly perceive as an inept political class.
Many have given up on voting altogether, others simply could not care less about politics.
Nonetheless a majority, grudgingly or not, still cast their ballot on election day. They do so along remarkably consolidated lines, elections decided at the center by a shifting electorate who swing votes between the two major parties.
The upcoming general election will be no different.
The opposition Socialists may only just win enough votes to oust the ruling coalition. The months ahead will be critical for the outcome depending on how these parties present their case. Importantly, on how the economy is seen to be headed to.
Going forward challenges are many and varied.
To my mind they need to be addressed, as they always have anyway, by the country's leadership - a far larger group than the much derided political establishment. Many appear at last to realize structural frailties are mainly to blame for Portugal going to the wall thrice in a mere 40 years. Internal adjustments/reforms are long overdue but will they ever occur?
The upside is the momentous changes that took place in as many years in a country that has basically overreached itself.