March 22, 2006

Might the camera lenses see more than they?

Sent to New York Times, March 21, 2006, destiny unknown

Sir, there on the first page of the New York Times is the photo of a student from an American university photographing a poor Caracas neighborhood during his visit to Venezuela, described aptly as a new leftist Mecca. One wonders whether while taking the photo he reflects even for a second on the fact that the extreme poverty in front of him exist, and might indeed even be growing, after more than seven years of a very strange revolution that is financed by an oil boom, or does he believe that the poor are just placed there by the travel agency to give him a photo op. He might also have asked himself if it is right or not that these poor people should be sending money to help the poor of Massachusetts and the Bronx, which is what happens when the Chavez-Citgo combo sell subsidized oil there.

On a lighter note, Juan Forero also forgot completely to mention the possibility that Mr. Harry Belafonte’s trip to Venezuela was in fact just to try to get back the money Matilda took from him.

March 15, 2006

Do not be too harsh on BBC

Sir, with reference to your editorial “Auntie's life on Mars” March 15, may we dare to remind you that there are in fact quite many of us out there that do appreciate, immensely, the existence of a BBC that is allowed the resources to live up to high journalistic standards without being forced to pamper too much to ratings and market whims. Even though a drop in their audience could perhaps be attributed more to their non-listeners’ confusions, we are certain that BBC is worrying sufficiently about it since no real or in that case even no-fake journalist likes to see that happen. In conclusion, please do not be too harsh on BBC, if only for the sake of informational biodiversity, we do all benefit from allowing it to go in the same way, even if the world is moving to Mars.

March 13, 2006

Are credit rating agencies Angels?

Sir, it is not clear from Frank Partnoy’s “Take away the credit rating agencies licences”, March 13 whether he is against the system of using credit rating agencies to perform the assessment of risks in lieu of the market, as I am because of the systemic risks that are introduced; or against the market of the credit rating agencies, that he describes as a locked duopoly that does not allow for the entrance of a company named Rapid Rating.

That said I would recommend the reading of Rethinking Bank Regulations, Cambridge Press 2006, where its authors James R. Barth, Gerard Caprio, Jr., and Ross Levine, explore the possibility that regulators might not be Angels and they find proof that giving more power to authorities does indeed creates dangerous distortions. In this respect we might also need to question whether we should dare to move forward evaluating risks, with the premise that the credit rating agencies are Angels.

Sent to FT, March 13, 2006

March 11, 2006


Given that by investing in USA ports the United Arab Emirates would have a larger vested interest in their security, some could argue that stopping them from acquiring these non-shippable-to-anywhere assets, is in fact quite an unpatriotic-patriotism.

Sent to FT, March 11, 2006

March 07, 2006

Perhaps we could do with fewer academicians in our universities

Sir, When so many vital public and global issues scream out for creative solutions it is sad to see how much of the debate has to concentrate on minor irrelevancies just because on these there is some data availability, so that the PhDs can use their methodologies and run their truth-finding regressions. I bring this up since in the discussions about academicians that Lucy Kellaway’s article let out of the sack, February 27, there might also be room to put forward the need for the world of some Universities without academicians, or at least without PhDs. I do not object to scientific discipline in thinking, but neither do I feel that we could afford that all thinking has to be scientifically disciplined, in its current, perhaps quite cozy, at least for the researchers themselves, sort of limiting way.

Sent to FT, March 7, 2006

March 03, 2006

Europe's welfare state should not be scorned

Published in FT March 03, 2006

Sir, Whatever failings Martin Wolf points out with respect to the European welfare state let us not forget that its main pillar is the sharing of social responsibilities among citizens and, in this respect its opposite, the non-welfare state, the everyone-on-his-own state, is fundamentally more rotten and unsustainable in today's global world. Most of his criticism is not about the welfare state itself but about its workings and these do indeed present some problems that need urgent corrections. Nonetheless, while reforming please do not throw out this very beautiful baby with the bathwater.