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A minha foto
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

sexta-feira, 12 de maio de 2017

EIU - Could water scarcity lead to water wars?

It is dreadful to even begin to contemplate the prospect of water wars.
While the issue pops up occasionally and is pressing to various degrees in several parts of the world, much less is known of real policy/ies being implemented to manage, mitigate or overcome the macro problem altogether.
Despite instances of acute shortages, it would seem to me that so far water scarcity is very localized. It is mostly tackled in ways deemed as pragmatic rather than scientific. Such approaches do fix the urgency of the minute but hardly address the structural issue, if and where one is identified. Here a line must be drawn to distinguish between droughts on a return period and the unavailability of water.
There have always been regions prone to water scarcity for natural reasons.
Climate factors cannot be micro-managed or reinvented which is why large human settlements set down on fertile soils close to river banks, water bodies or areas of regular rainfall. 

To answer a troubling question, I'd say that I do not envisage a water war as such.
There will continue to be water conflicts and strife at local and regional level. The clashes may perhaps scale up in seriousness, tone and frequency. The geographic location of potential conflict should remain largely unaltered. Unless the root-causes there are dealt with meaningfully to literally quench the thirst permanently.

The top priority of policymakers is to heed the call from those who have already closely studied the problem. Their conclusions, recommendations based on science, practicalities and volumes - natural and both human and material - must be taken into account building feasible long-lasting solutions.
If humans can get it all right, it will still be Mother-Nature having the final say...

segunda-feira, 1 de maio de 2017

TEc - How to deal with the world's most dangerous regime? - It's a catch-22!

Opinion does not count for regimes such as North Korea's. We've seen it before across the world. The true mindset of tinpot dictators, 'goldpot' dictators or simply strong-headed strongmen, as single leaders, is predictable. It delivers behaviour in whimsical if not sickly fashion regardless. As long as they are seen to command full authority in the State's hierarchy, mainly among relevant people in arms to toy with, nothing else ever seems to matter.
This is why NK needs to be closely monitored and eventually prevented from building up more threatening and far-reaching deadly weapons.
Can it be done?
Should it be done?
Will it be done?
Speculate we may but the overwhelming issue is crystal clear. No one in his sane mind would wish for war - knowing the odds and the potential for rapid escalation and outrageous loss of life - but a longstanding question looms larger than ever: what to do if and when NK becomes the full-fledged nuclear power it appears so intent on becoming?
While existing nuclear powers are taken for granted - as it is we assume existing nuclear weapons to be in safe hands (even if we cannot be entirely sure) - NK has drawn oversized attention for its special focus on getting there as well.
Their purpose is also very clear to most, a quest to bully other nations and perpetuate regime survival in the current form. If such a day does dawn, whoever leads the regime might also attempt to blackmail South Korea into reunification on the North's terms.
The stakes are therefore extremely high in Asia's Far East. A catch-22 situation.
Geopolitics there is being kicked around by a single country whose survival has remained assured by its giant neighbour. China could cause NK to collapse in weeks if it so wished.
However, it will only act in the event that it should no longer regard NK as a convenient buffer:
to contain American presence in the peninsula at arm's length,
to keep Japan uneasy on its toes but, barred by its own constitution, hardly able to do much else and, importantly,
to strengthen and advance China's own case, influence and interests in the region.
For China, NK is the convenient State and I don't see how this will change in the near future.