Thursday, November 16, 2017

Emmanuel Macron discredits his European project

It is interesting and important to follow what is happening in France. It is important for Europe as a whole and, consequently, for the world as a whole as Europe still plays an important role in the world. Here an article that praises and criticizes Macron.

Contradiction

Emmanuel Macron a décidé de mettre l’Europe tout en haut de son agenda. D’ici à un an, il veut avoir créé une Europe de la défense, développé une politique numérique européenne, intégré davantage la zone euro… Tout cela pour que l’Europe protège mieux ses citoyens et cesse enfin d’être seulement cette Europe-marché sans âme qui a fait de la concurrence de tous contre tous sa principale raison d’être. Fort bien. C’était en effet un des principaux reproches qu’on pouvait adresser à François Hollande que d’avoir renoncé à toute ambition dans ce domaine.
On ne peut donc que se féliciter que notre nouveau président veuille secouer le cocotier européen en sortant la France d’une posture geignarde et repliée sur elle-même. Le souci, c’est qu’il y a une contradiction profonde entre les objectifs qu’Emmanuel Macron affiche pour sa politique européenne et celle qu’il mène en France même. Du côté du marché du travail, il entend en effet se battre contre le dumping social, comme sur la question du travail détaché, où il a obtenu le mois dernier que l’Europe aille (un petit peu) plus loin que prévu dans la modification des règles le concernant. Mais dans le même temps, dans l’Hexagone, il pousse au contraire les feux pour faciliter les licenciements et faire baisser le coût du travail. Une logique déflationniste qui plombe l’économie de la zone euro depuis quinze ans et menace la survie de nos systèmes sociaux, nourrissant l’euroscepticisme.
De même sur le terrain fiscal, avec la quasi-disparition de l’ISF, la forte baisse de l’imposition des revenus du capital et celle de l’impôt sur les bénéfices des entreprises, sa politique française consiste à engager vigoureusement le pays dans la course au moins-disant fiscal, qui aggrave les déficits des Etats de l’Union et dévalorise le projet européen en le faisant apparaître comme un moyen privilégié de creuser les inégalités. Et cela au moment où les temps semblaient (enfin) mûrs pour que s’engage, à l’échelle de l’Europe, une dynamique inverse d’harmonisation et de lutte contre le dumping fiscal. Bref, il y a malheureusement lieu de redouter que la politique française d’Emmanuel Macron décrédibilise ses projets européens, tant auprès des Français que de nos voisins.
Article publié sur Alternatives économiques le 1er novembre 2017Soutenez les!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Jean-Claude Trichet and others on the danger of a new, dramatic global crisis

Jean-Claude Trichet
Former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet recently warned about the danger of a new, more serious crisis than the one we have been facing over the last ten years. "At the global level, considering the level of total indebtedness as a proportion of the world's consolidated GDP as a good indicator of vulnerability, we are more vulnerable to a global financial crisis today than in 2008," he said in an interview with the Swiss journal Le Temps.

I sent the interview with Trichet to a Fondad Group of forty international experts on the global financial system (FG-40) asking them for more in-depth analysis of the problem, and their view on how to improve the global financial system and prevent the emergence of a new, dramatic global crisis.
 

Robert Aliber
Robert Aliber, famous expert and author of the classical The New International Money Game, was the first one to react, in a sarcastic or ironic way: "How many memoirs are there on the continent [Europe] of central bankers who were in power at the time of the crisis..." 

Christian Ghymers commented a few hours later: "As you know, we share Trichet's view and see also the next big(gest) crisis around the corner - and this time without rooms for manœuvre - except if the SDR could be effectively mobilized and transformed rapidly along the lines we try to push with Triffin Foundation (RTI) and our publications and interventions, in particular at the G20 Ministerial last year (see my PowerPoints attached) and in other joined short publications."

Christian Ghymers
Christian Ghymers and I are both on the Board of the Triffin Foundation (RTI). We got to know each other in the 1980s when Christian worked with Robert Triffin and I, because of my research into the root causes of the global debt problem, went to visit Triffin in Louvain-la-Neuve and had long conversations with him - see "The International Monetary Crunch: Crisis or Scandal?", Alternatives, July 1987. 

Andrew Sheng
Andrew Sheng, former central banker (he was Deputy Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority) and author of, among other books, Shadow Banking in China, was the third of the Fondad Group of 40 experts to react. He said, "Congratulations, Christian, for spelling out the pros and cons of moving to the SDR system. The issue has always been political, with the incumbent resisting any ideas for change unless there is crisis." 

In a next post, I will highlight the views from the FG-40 on how to prevent the emergence of a new, dramatic global crisis.

Memory, music and pleasure


Last night, driving back home from Groningen, I told my wife (Aafke Steenhuis) that my memory capacity is now better than when I was young, because I trained it in my work as a researcher, journalist and activist in the seventies and eighties, and as the director of FONDAD from 1987 until now.
After having moved the FONDAD office from The Hague to Amsterdam (in 2008) I trained my memory capacity even more during my morning walks to Schellingwoude Locks. In those walks, ideas sprang up that I tried to remember by memorizing the first word or phrase.

I continue to challenge my memory capacity when ideas come up in bed at night or in the early morning hours when I am writing about an idea and do not make a note of the other ideas that have sprung up. I try to memorize them and if I can not remember them later ... I treat them as unimportant ideas.

It's more than a trick. It is a pleasure.

PS: My father's band from the 1930s (he was about 20 years old) was called "Herman Tennyson and His Pleasure Providers". There is an old gramophone record (78 laps) of his band in which they play two pieces, "Tango des Roses" and "Marêva". Clicking on the link below you can hear the music of "Marêva" played by my father's band in the 1930s. My father plays the trumpet.

Tunquén and my father's band