Monday, April 14, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
- It does value a dollar earned the same as a dollar received in transfers, and we know that is just not true.
- It cannot consider all the unregistered wealth or income that is siphoned away by corruption.
- It does not make it clear when an increased equality is primarily the result of many turning poorer.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Saturday, August 31, 2013
USA, if you are not the policeman of the world, why should we hold so mindboggling many of your “In God We Trust” dollars?
And to fight and punish the use of banned chemical weapons, requires a willing, and, hopefully a strong, firm and good policeman, with a great sense of justice.
Or, are we telling our mostly dead grandfathers, their Geneva Protocol prohibiting chemical weapons was pure nonsense? Do we now want it repealed? I pray not.
Sunday, July 07, 2013
What a sad bunch of “progressives”, and what a sad bunch of “free-market supporters”, you both groups are
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
On a global scale, on an accumulated basis, there is certainly a need for tax-havens, for Sherwood Forests
There was a time when indeed a Robin Hood tax was contemplated but that has now only evolved into a vulgar Sheriff of Nottingham-Prince John tax.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Sunday, February 03, 2013
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Translation from El Universal, Caracas
Saturday, January 05, 2013
Monday, November 26, 2012
In order to maximize the power of redistribution in the society, what is the optimum dependents to maintainers ratio?
PS. As percentages might be discussed, just so there is no confusion, If I could chose, I would of course prefer to be part of the one-percenters, on the top, and this even though I might have to maintain some few more dependents.
Thursday, November 01, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Friday, July 06, 2012
Why should government give a 40 hour job to anyone while there are citizens with not even a one hour job?
Thursday, June 21, 2012
to guarantee the good quality of knowledge networks? was a question posed in the
recent Mobilizing Knowledge Networks for Development at the World Bank.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
We might need a Global Web Constitution, and Inspection Panels, to get along well with the Googles and Facebooks of this world
Saturday, May 05, 2012
Friday, May 04, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
But, that said, it is also very easy to ascertain that some of the multinational corporate NGOs currently active in the name of the civil society, are absolutely not the same as that individual who, acting on his own or in a group, with little or no recourses, feels an urge to have his voice heard, convinced that he has something important to say.
For the sake of simplicity let us divide civil society in an organized strong civil society with voice, most of them originating in the developed countries, and the rest, quite unorganized, weak, with little international voice, most of them belonging to the developing countries. In this respect, the first question the World Bank must answer is whether it wants to be able to listen to the latter or not.
This is an issue because the truth is that the more attention is given to the voice of the strong developed-world-civil-society establishment, the harder it will be for the weak and outliers to have their voice heard, as the former could, would and will, tend to monopolize, hijack and direct the debate on development issues.
As an example of how civil-society might be captured answer the following: When the natural-resource-curse issue is discussed, how many resource-cursed-civil-society voices are effectively present, compared to the number of experts from natural-resource-consuming countries?
And, might the unrepresented-civil-society not have more voice at the Board of the World Bank, than what it has when it is represented by civil-society-with-voice?
And, who responds the best to the issue of genuine representation in a transparent an effective way, the World Bank or civil society?
And, the current financial crisis, specifically the fact that the IMF did not alert to it, is most often and best explained as a result of groupthink within the IMF. This is also evidenced by the fact that the simple truth of the crisis, is not allowed to surface, because it would so embarrass the Group. But, in this respect, does not the strong and represented developed-world-civil-society establishment act just like another mean and lean group-thinking machine?
I do not advance any answers, but those questions need to be raised, over and over again
In a closely related context, I am currently arguing for the need of a totally randomized web search engine, which could permit that the odd and unsupported opinions can now and again float to the surface of the web. As is, in the world of the Google and the Yahoos, the outliers are effectively drowned in the millions of sponsored-hits, or in the so many well intentioned most-probably-looked-for-by-the-searcher hits. I sincerely hope the World Bank does its best to keep a line open so as to at least give the outliers of civil society a chance to be heard.
Besides the alternative of the weak-unrepresented-civil-society organizing itself in the Group of The Outliers, how could World Bank help to establish any meaningful communications with it?
Again this is not an easy issue but, given the constraints, it probably must start by somehow limiting the current preferential access given to the communications with the organized civil-society establishment.
Any claim to transparency would for instance require that the World Bank posts a list of all the NGOs and persons who have been present during spring-and-fall-meetings over the last decade, indicating how many times and how many presentations they have hosted or co-hosted.
Modern communications could also be more intensively exploited. For instance there could be a website where all civil society participants around the world would know that they can post a question or give an opinion, and someone from the WBG will at least look at it. Those questions should be answered; or, if already answered, it should indicate where; or, if it cannot be currently answered, it should say so and preferably explain the reason why.
A group of WB professionals should then periodically prepare a summary of the opinions posted on the site above and present these to the Executive Directors. That summary should give special emphasis to the opinions considered as outliers, especially if substantially argued.
In conclusion what we least need if for the Global Partnership for Enhanced Social Accountability to end up like just another small and exclusive mutual admiration group, like the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision and the Financial Stability Board.
I do not wish to extend more this comment but I should perhaps explain that it is based on my experience as an Executive Director at the World Bank 2002-2004, and on my intensive participation as part of civil society thereafter… thanks to the support of a quite eclectic and thankfully not too bureaucratic organized civil-society NGO.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This way, a broken promise will not fall on the shoulders of the poor countries least able to afford it, but on the shoulders of the IMF and this way, presumably, the possibilities of the promises being broken will also be reduced.
Friday, April 02, 2010
As it is not the natural thing for governments to give out the public information data we would really want to have access to when we need it, they could perhaps respond by, unwittingly, trying to drown us in data, or blind us with too much sunshine.
Therefore we should request that all public information data should carry appended to it a link that would lead us to all others who, voluntarily, want to disclose they are massaging precisely that same data, and so that all interested in precisely that same data, do not have to waste their time unnecessarily massaging all over again precisely the same data and, most importantly, so that we can all know all other citizens who belong to precisely the same network of interest.
Friday, December 11, 2009
As a citizen I have seen many extremely good NGOs that I have nothing to complain about and much to thank for, but, then again I have also seen some multinational ONG corporations that arrogantly want to impose their agendas and their world views on us… and that we should not let them! No ONG, much less an international, should ever be able to completely substitute for the voice of an individual citizen.
For instance on a somewhat personal note, I am an oil-cursed citizen, I have seen some ONGs taking the side of governments defending their right to manage the oil-revenues on behalf of the (incapable) citizens, and even recommending that this be done through a tripartite arrangement between governments, oil-companies and civil society, presumably their civil society. This is totally unacceptable for a citizen that has seen immense non renewable oil richness being wasted forever and good governance made impossible by the extreme powers vested into any government which receives the oil income.
In other cases I have seen small local NGOs while trying to find real life solutions to their urgent day to day problems, like for instance those derived from bad public services resulting from badly executed privatizations, seeing their agendas completely and unduly taken over for the internationally seemingly more “interesting” quest of “getting back at those bastard multinational corporations”.
I had the opportunity of participating in many debates on the voice and governance issues at the World Bank, and I do think the bank is well served of reaching out very often to the civil society in search of the-other-side-of-the-story but, in doing so, it should first always make clear that in the final count it works for governments, so as not to create false expectations, and secondly to always be really sure of what civil society is represented by which civil society and that each civil society is duly connected to a real life citizen.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Somehow the reports seems to argue that we need to pack like sardines in order to develop; and somehow I get the inkling that much of the growth we perceive taking place in the high density areas has to do with the scarcity of space in high density areas. If I am packed as a sardine and therefore have to pay a higher rent for my place am I therefore richer than the one who has to pay much less for his much more generous elbow room available? We do not include home values in growth figures based on square feet but in money terms.
For instance in the US they give more government sponsored financing to houses that lie in higher value areas; which by itself helps to make them higher value areas. Now, is this muscular growth or obesity?
And then it is also the timing of the report… just when communication technologies make it possible to be distantly close here comes a report telling us basically that physical closeness is what most matters.
Sincerely I am not sure this report is sending out the right development message and I sure hope I am wrong about my misgivings.
Here you can view one presentation of the report http://www.blip.tv/file/2498676
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Something similar caused the current financial crisis. First the financial regulators in Basel decided that the only thing they would care about was the risk of individual financial defaults and not one iota about any other risks; then though they must have known these were humanly fallible they still empowered some few credit rating agencies to be their GPS on default risks; and finally, by means of the minimum capital requirements for banks, they set up all the incentives possible to force them to heed what the GPS said and to ignore any internal warning voices.
Of course, almost like if planned on purpose, it all ended up in a crisis. In just a couple of years, over two trillion dollars followed some AAA signs over the precipice of badly awarded mortgages to the subprime sector. Today, we are still using the same financial risk GPS with the same keyed in instructions... and not a word about it in the recent Financial Regulatory Reform proposal
I hate the GPS type guidance of any system since I am convinced that any kid brought up with it will have no clue of what north, south, east or west means; just as the bankers not knowing his client's business or how to look into his client's eyes or how to feel the firmness of his client's handshake, can only end up stupidly following someone else's opinion about his client on a stupid monitor.
I hate the GPS type guidance system because, on the margin, it is making our society more stupid as exemplified by how the society, day by day, seems to be giving more importance to some opaque credit scores than to the school grades of their children. I wait in horror for some DNA health rating scores to appear and cause a total breakdown of civilization as we know it.
Yes we are buried under massive loads of information and these systems are a tempting way of trying to make some sense out of it all, but, if we used them, at least we owe ourselves to concentrate all our efforts in developing our capacity to question and to respond adequately when our instincts tell us we're heading in the wrong way.
Not all is lost though. I often order the GPS in my car to instruct me in different tongues so as to learn new languages, it gives a totally new meaning to lost in translation, and I eagerly await a GPS system that can describe the surroundings in more extensive terms than right or left, AAA or BBB-, since that way not only would I get more out of it but, more importantly, I would also be more inclined to talk-back.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Amazingly, knowing that there was an open confrontation between the Executive Power, the Congress and the Supreme Justice in Honduras, the OAS sided with Zelaya without even giving the other powers a fair hearing.
In order to understand why this re-election issue is almost an existential issue in Honduras let me point to article 42 in their Constitution that though a bit crazy nonetheless clearly states that you will “lose your conditions as a citizen if inciting, promoting or supporting continuance or the re-election of the President.”
Honduras Constitution Art 42 you “lose your conditions as a citizen if inciting, promoting or supporting the re-election of the President.”
In a democracy is a congressman less elected than a president?
In a democracy is the Supreme Court less is than a president?
It is truly sad to see international organizations circling two school boys shouting for two of them to fight till death, and enjoying it
After Zelaya, how many consecutive elections must be held in Honduras before a new Government is legitimate?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
How can 192 countries get it so wrong? Yes it is true that assets reached unsustainably high prices and yes it is true there were high levels of consumption fuelled by easy credit and inflated asset prices but it is absolutely false that there was excessive risk-taking or autonomously created irresponsible leverage.
The markets, over just a couple of years channeled two trillions of dollars (perhaps more than what has been lent by the Word Bank and the IMF ever since their creation) to finance houses in the US through securities rated AAA and this would much better classify more as misguided excessive risk-aversion.
And the high real leverage of the banks was foremost a direct the consequences of the regulatory innovation of the minimum capital requirements for the banks based on risks that emanated from the Basel Committee. For instance the regulations authorized an outrageous 62.5 to 1 leverage for when banks lent to corporations rated AAA to AA-.
Nor did the conference say a word about how these minimum capital requirements by which the regulators arbitrarily intervened in the market mechanism of allocating risks, created a de-facto subsidy for what can dress itself up as low risk and a de-facto tax on whatever contains more risk, such as the risks normally present in development.
This needs to be corrected and as a minimum the global working migrant community should have a chair at the World Bank and the United Nations.
Monday, May 04, 2009
The Basel Committee the most important regulatory authorities of the by means of allowing for immensely smaller bank capital requirements, favored immensely anything that could display a triple-A sign issued by the credit rating agencies. And sure enough… the market responded as human markets normally respond by creating a huge number of AAA signs, many of them related to securities backed by lousily awarded subprime mortgages and which the investors, like a herd, followed over a precipice.
Unfortunately because most of the experts failed to realize it, or if they did they did not speak out against it, almost all notorious economic and financial experts are mostly ignoring the above in a global cover-up. More than a market failure what we had were the experts failing us.
Let me just give one example of what I mean. “The Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary System” of the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, chaired by Professor Joseph Stiglitz and comprised of outstanding economist, policy makers, and practitioners from all over the world chosen, and I quote the Note by the President of the General Assembly, “based on their comprehensive understanding of the complex and interrelated issues raised by the workings of the financial system”, they write the following in paragraph 41 of their report dated March 19 2009.
1. “The collapse in confidence in the financial sector is widely recognized as central in the economic crisis; restoration of confidence will be central in the recovery. But it will be hard to restore confidence without changing the incentives and constraints facing the financial crisis”
Of course restoration of confidence is central for economic recovery but for the recovery of confidence a full understanding of what happened is a must. That a Bernard Madoff can cheat does not affect confidence in the markets because the markets are much aware that cheaters have always been around and are in fact themselves a part of the market.
But, if the credit rating agencies who were so recently officially bestowed with so much power in the surveillance of risks, and therefore must be the best, sort of the “Appointed Surveyors to the Majesty” managed to fail so miserably, then that is of course a tremendous blow to confidence. That loss of confidence can only be cured by fully acknowledging that the mistake was in the creation of an oligopoly in risk surveyance .and that this oligopoly will now be eliminated… not strengthened.
2. “It is imperative that the regulatory reforms be real and substantive, and go beyond the financial sector to address underlying problems in corporate governance and competition policy, and in tax structures, giving preferential treatment to capital gains, that may provide incentives for excessive leverage.
The above says that not taxing the profits is at fault and so that presumably we now must tax profits? Silly, the problem is not that the profits had tax incentives but that the profits proved to not be profits at all. The “incentives for excessive leverage” those were provided by the regulators and thank God… the authorized financial leverage was never even reached by any bank before the crisis. This of course does not preclude that there might be other valid reasons to tax profits but that is a quite different matter.
3. “Even if there had been full disclosure of derivative positions, their complexity was so great as to make an evaluation of the balance sheet position of the financial institutions extraordinarily difficult”.
First the crisis was not caused by “derivative positions” and second, the “complexity” argument is irrelevant because the instruments that were so complex that they were not even understood by those who generated them, would never even have reached the balance sheet of a bank, or an investor, had they not been granted the triple-A rating which substituted for the understanding, unfortunately in a much imperfect way. There is of course a need for a better management of the exposures though central clearing houses but that is a quite different matter.
Does this all mean that I do not believe that Stiglitz and his fellow experts cannot help us? Of course not and I do agree with many of the recommendations in the report. But, in order for these and other experts to really be of help they better step down from where they think they belong and start to discuss as the faulty humans we all are.
The commission says “As the world focuses on the exigencies of the moment the long standing commitments to the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and protecting the world against the threat of climate change must remain the overarching priorities; indeed, appropriately designed global reform should provide an opportunity to accelerate progress toward meeting these goals.”
I could not agree more… but that has to start with a debate that is much more profound than a Lilliput-Blefuscu or a short-long skirt-length type of debate and to which the commission seems to be headed, when it allows itself to (somewhat gloatingly) say that “the current crisis has exposed deficiencies in the policies of some national authorities and international institutions based on previously fashionable doctrines.”
A member from the civil society who having seen trillions going down the drain of badly awarded mortgages instead of perhaps helping to avert or to adapt to climate change, does not really feel like being too civil for the time being.