February 26, 2007
February 24, 2007
Just you wait until these risk groups start arguing that “if they can’t have the cake they don’t want to pay for it too” and require they be excluded from the longevity groups that need to pay for the costs of it, and as this could really increase the average longevity of those expected to live long. In the UK, in annuities, we already find that smokers receive higher annuities than a non-smoker, which in financial terms seems to be right. That said there is a huge social problem in waiting from the increased tendency to tend to the individual need, and that is of course that the number of people left to do the sharing with, gets fewer and fewer, until there is only you.
That said let me compliment and complement the article by slipping by two comments that might help to keep us perplexed and attentive. First since the issue of genetic testing to “determine whether you have a pre-existing medical condition” was briefly touched upon, on passé, and these tests risk to exclude anyone of us from the pool of normal insurable and shared risks, leaving us out in the cold, what now any individual, and indeed the whole society most need, is an insurance against whatever could be discovered in those tests. Second, and as any honest right-to-life conviction cannot go hand in hand with any further-delay-of-life action there are some groups pushing for the adoption of frozen-embryos, which could then lead us into a discussion of primary, secondary, and perhaps even of intellectual fathers.
February 23, 2007
That some can find opportunities in buying uncollectible loans and squeeze fortunes out of them when others have decided to clean up their books, is just part of the circle of life, and part of the same market mechanism which signals how much, or how little, the loans are worth, since the price of a loan indicates the expectations of collecting on the loan and not the expectations of collecting on a “pardoned” loan. Yes, the vulture funds are into an ugly business, cleaning up among corpses, but, by their sheer presence, they might perhaps even help to reduce the number of corpses.
Most, or perhaps all of the scholar papers on the restructuring of sovereign debt, state as the explicit purpose of the whole exercise, that of enabling the countries to regain access to the international capital markets again (something like the torturer waking up his fainted victim) and so, if you really need to pick on one, you might also choose to do so at that moment in the circle when the new born debt-overhang-ridden countries gets thrown out to start defending itself again from the many dogs-of-finance out there.
There is so much written about freeing up the countries in order for them to access the markets while comparatively so little about how they should go about to avoid repeating the same mistakes that perhaps I should even frown when it is a regular investment banker who knocks on my door and asks for my daughter. I mean what is some hundred of percents on some few millions when compared to some basis point on a couple of billions.
February 21, 2007
And even in terms of its final price, in Europe at least, there would be more than ample space to sell this new-same-old petrol at its current prices, but of course then the taxman would have to reduce some of his enormous current take.
February 17, 2007
Sir, while we wholeheartedly agree with your support of “The private role in educating the poorest” February 17, we cannot but observe that perhaps everyone could benefit from having the incentives of the educators somewhat better aligned to the final results for the students. This could perhaps be achieved by having the educators, instead of collecting all their dues cash, upfront, receiving participation in the future earnings of those who they supposedly educate to be able to earn.
This idea of “Human Capital Contracts, that as far as we know was first advanced by Milton Friedman in 1954, is indeed a real education revolution waiting to happen, and a small company called Lumni is showing us the way having already managed to finance the education of some students in Chile and Colombia against a modest percentage of their future earnings, for some months or years.
You also mention the role that building brands could have in education by motivating the quest for quality, but there we should hope that those brands are not purely the result of advertising budgets and that the promises of those brands are backed up with the investment of some real money of their own. Ideally the “Human Capital Contracts” should be standardize in such a way as to permit their securitization, and thereby mobilize the resources that are much needed. Investing in the future earnings of our youth sounds more than reasonable, perhaps even for the professors’ retirement fund, that is of course if the professors really can deliver on their promises.
Following this route, will also diminish the risk of seeing someone suing their Alma Mater for failing in delivering its services.
I say this loudly protesting the title of grownup Christopher Caldwell’s “Why the ‛right of the children’ is a juvenile concept”, February 17 and some of it contents, among it his authoritarian conclusion that “Rights over to children will either belong to parents or to the state”.
Sir, with many of our current problems such as the climate change begging for longer perspectives than next quarter’s results, is it not high time that the children, who are the ones who could really have to live in the heat, should have their interests better represented in our societies? Also, the democracies that are now turning into baby-boomer dictatorships, it could truly behoove them to allow their young to have more say, before they all in frustration decide to carry out a coup and thereafter, hopefully politely, show their elders the way to the nearest “ättestupa”, those cliffs from were supposedly the Vikings threw themselves when they became burdens to the society.
February 08, 2007
The recent and so painfully bungled efforts with capital controls in Thailand is a perfect example of what I mean. Although the IMF has after decades of predicating open capital markets with no levees for many years now realized that the small economies might in fact be too exposed to the financial tsunamis the global oceans can create, it has yet been incapable to workout anything like a “capital control for dummies”, which could have been quite handy for Thailand. Of course, just in case, I am not thereby implying that those in Thailand are “dummies”, but only that they should have been better helped by those who present themselves as “experts”.
And let us not forget how the financial regulators, by arrogantly deciding they could eliminate risks from the banks, have just driven the risks underground, where these are now waiting to explode. Although they created the bombs, do they now have the humility required so as to be helpful in disarming them? I am not so sure.
February 07, 2007
Having said that when Wolf mentions that some have criticized The Stern Review for ignoring the “possibility that richer future generations will also be able to adapt quite well to climate change” he should perhaps have made it more clearer that we might in fact be that future richer generation that is trying to adapt, while there is still time.
One thing that Wolf does not point out sufficiently, and that might also be the biggest cause for our inactions, is the growing divergence between the seriousness of the environmental problems described and the frequently silly nature of the solutions prescribed. Today even if we know ourselves to be in a big bad very ugly hole, we still have very few sensible ideas of how to stop digging.
Lately there has been some talking about Income Contingent Loans as a way out for the students that get trapped between high education debts and unrealized earning hopes. The problem with these ICL is that they are mostly based on some government subsidies while it might be time for schools to really make education their business and share the risks by investing part of their fees in participations of their students’ future earnings.
Business schools might argue that they need all their money now to pay for their huge costs but, honestly, if they cannot manage to securitize those participation contracts and sell them to the financial markets when everything else seems to become securitized then they should perhaps not be allowed to call themselves business schools either.
February 04, 2007
We agree fully with your “We need a clear and predictable worldwide price for carbon”, February 3, in that the way forward must include a compensation for the costs that developing countries cannot afford, but having said that we get an uneasy feeling about the suggested source of revenues, the trading of rights to emit, as societies do better if they use the markets to trade good-goods and services and not bad behaviors. Similarly developing countries, by just being poor, might be doing less damage, not necessarily, and they might have some overriding urgent needs but, to state “overriding development objectives” as an excuse for inaction of them is wrong, as it implies that either they are to be developing for life on another planet or that they are not suppose to share into the responsibilities of this one.
Finally, what does “the most efficient possible use of energy resources” mean? Before we have a real unbiased source of good solutions that make real sense, even though some of them will most likely hurt a lot, many will find it hard to believe there is a real emergency, and perhaps leading us all to cry “wolf” once too many.