Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

Econ101? Simple.


Some good news for those who have had to suffer the cost of educating their children at university. Just one part of the agony: the cost of textbooks, textbooks that are basic at best – no key to happiness or success. And worse, there are the more advanced textbooks to add to the burden of debt. Non-sufferers can savour their advantage.

In any case… For those interested in acquiring a solid grasp of the economics of the real world comes an offer that is much better than what the children have had to endure – a free text (PDF) on the Principles of Economics. And a high quality one at that, Principles of Economics from The printed version sells for US$38.50, which when compared with Mankiw’s or even Krugman’s text, nets a savings of how much? Yes, indeed. QED


Caracas, 27Feb1989


TeleSur takes us on an unpleasant but necessary journey back to the horrific events that began on 27Feb1989 in Caracas, Venezuela. And the overarching question should remain, “Why?”

A video captures in graphic detail some of the unfolding tragedy, wanton death and destruction, Remembering the Caracazo

One analyst’s perspective, Venezuela’s Caracazo: State Repression and Neoliberal Misrule

From the perspective of the survivors, Caracazo Victims: In Their Own Words

Or better expressed, ¿Por qué el Caracazo?

Then comes the obvious question, “Since that time, how far have the dispossessed, the socially excluded, reached in their quest for respect, social justice and economic opportunity in so rich country as Venezuela?”

Clearly not jaded is that aphorism of Santayana’s on the consequences of failing to to remember and understand history.

Whether weather or climate change


It’s just a matter of time – so to speak. One seasonal, periodic, short-term; the other, long term. The experts at Nasa explain in NASA – What’s the Difference Between Weather and Climate? An excerpt that should invite further reading,

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.


A book of verse, some fresh air, some water?


Essentials of life: air and water and nourishment (and social and physical activity). Given today’s precarious environment Omar Khayyam would certainly not disagree – once we keep as personal his other two recommendations.

It was ironic that on the day of the commencement of COP21 in Paris, 30Nov, China would have issued a smog, health hazard, alert for its capital, Beijing. While that and the ensuing ‘red’ alert occupy the headlines, The Guardian fills in some more disquieting details. As bad as it is, Beijing is not so bad, which says how bad it is. Where is the world’s most polluted city? The constant is the likelihood of severe health problems (and range of costs to individual, family and society) to those continually exposed to such hazards.  (more…)

Venezuela, elections rigged?


So the results are in. And as we were warned time and time again, by officials of the US, its corporate media, and the opposition groups (some 12 comprising MUD) in Venezuela that the ruling PSUV has for years been rigging elections in its favour. Clearly such did justify the US declaring that fearsome Venezuela a threat to its existence?

As the Guardian reports, Venezuela elections: socialists dealt a blow as opposition wins landslide

Venezuela’s opposition has won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections in the oil-rich nation, which is mired in economic turmoil and violent crime.

Candidates for the centre-right opposition seized a majority in the national assembly, with most of the results in, marking a major political shift in the country, which set out on a leftist path in 1999 under the late president Hugo Chavez and his project to make Venezuela a model of what he called “21st century socialism”.

The results were not even close for control of the Assembly. And the venal, the corrupt PSUV even refused, absolutely refused to question or complain of its defeat, una derrota aplastante. Clearly, something must be afoot. Ever suspicious minds would wonder at this bit of news from the Guardian, Opec bid to kill off US shale sends oil price down to near seven-year low

A barrel of benchmark Brent crude was changing hands at below $42 a barrel after the oil cartel Opec – heavily influenced by Saudi Arabia – decided late last week to continue flooding the global market with cheap oil.
With global demand weak, traders fear that Opec’s refusal [note: more a failure to agree] to cut production despite the financial pain it is causing its members’ economies will lead to an ever-deeper world glut of crude.

Losers’ revenge? And who would this winning coalition allow to handle foreign policy for Venezuela, the US embassy? And finance, the IMF? And PDVSA, ExxonMobil?

Which brings to mind this useful comparison and learning experience illustrated by Keane Bhatt in Jacobin, A Tale of Two Elections.

Even in defeat the much vilified PSUV has given a lesson in democracy to those countries that preach but practice it only by artful misdirection. Whether the myriad parties of the MUD coalition will reciprocate is the question. (Will there be a return of ‘DameDos’?) Nothing like change to focus the mind and strengthen resolve. Of course, the coffee-with-arepa tradition still goes on, and uninterrupted.

Venezuela, social progress against all odds


As is known, Venezuela sits on one of the largest reserves of hydrocarbons in the world. Such wealth is not lost on those who seek to acquire it, by all means fair and foul. Nor was the purpose of the move by ExxonMobil into the Esequibo region of territory in dispute between Venezuela and Guyana not obvious.

To date such efforts have failed generally, and not because of no strenuous efforts to destabilise the government and damage the economy of the country – as damage there has been, other than from the massive crash in oil prices.

Today elections are being held for 167 parliamentary seats, and the government faces a strong challenge, due in large part to shortages and other inconveniences – even as many shortages were exposed as created through private sector failure to produce consumer goods or through contraband of subsidised products heading for Colombia, with one avenue being through Táchira. (more…)

The Mekong River: energy demand, economic development, environmental protection


On Monday, 30 November, the CoP21 talks started in Paris. The expectation is that at its conclusion there would be a legally binding action plan agreed. A quandary for many developing countries has been the trade-off with generating energy for economic development and minimising damage to the ecology and living standards in the process.

Many countries have used their rivers and other water resources to generate electricity or to build dams to provide potable water. Doing so has entailed many risks and costs, with attempts at minimisation: ecological damage, population displacement and, at times, severe unintended consequences. Vietnam is one of the countries dependent on the many benefits of the Mekong River. Laos and Cambodia are others.And to be considered in the decision to exploit the benefits of the river, is how decisions by one can affect the others. A range of challenges, and benefits, is examined in a recent article in the Guardian, Mekong: a river rising

With an artful combination of audio-visual devices, the  presentation seeks to, and succeeds in, simplifying to a great extent a complex issue.

Again, another highly informative, yet conversational, read from the Guardian.

A Long Read – The Agony of Global Capitalism


In a thought-provoking article, TeleSUR gives its take on global capitalism. The crises that afflict the Greece, which again goes to the polls in snap elections, and Puerto Rico provide a useful starting point.

The English version, The Agony of Global Capitalism As opener we have,

At least two populations suffered a severe economic crises this year – Greece and Puerto Rico – crises that submitted them to the demands and will of international creditors and resulted in dramatic cuts in social spending, as well as untold suffering in the form of increased unemployment and poverty.

These two places, Greece and Puerto Rico, although separated by more than 8,000 miles, and despite their completely different socio-political, socio-economic, and historical contexts, have in common a subjugation to the global economic system generally and, more specifically, to a major economic power: to the United States and to Germany, respectively.

En español, Capitalismo en agonía Dos párrafos claves, (more…)

EEUU, ‘Aquí se habla español’???


Yes, we can! ¡Sí, se puede! And in the very country where, since it is politically incorrectly to vituperate the black as in those ‘halcyon’ days of political games, the Latin is now open game, game as prey for hunting and deporting and for slander, the Spanish language will be spoken at many formal events. Mon dieu, where have all those ‘freedom’ fries (and WMDs) gone?

Yes, Pope Francisco plans to visit the US. And, yes, of the many speeches and Masses he is scheduled to give, the majority will be in Spanish, his native (Argentine) tongue. As The Guardian informs us, Pope Francis to deliver most speeches in Spanish during US tour. ¡Qué bárbaro! as some from far South would say. (more…)

A Long Read – Progress of one ally in US ‘Alliance for Prosperity’


That word, context.

Countries of Central America have long been known, disparagingly, as ‘banana republics’. Of late there has been a deluge of immigrants, especially the young, from Central America that is seeking to enter the US to escape the violence and mayhem of their respective country. For its part, the US, in a bid to stem this tide and to stifle the increasingly overt racism and hostility directed at these refugees, sort of developed an ambitious plan. That plan, yet to be approved, comprised a heavy component of ‘security’ with some ‘economic‘ projects. (more…)