Archives for posts with tag: economy

What do we have an economy for?

To make ends meet? To make it easier for our needs to be met?

What do we have a banking/financial system for? To mobilize capital for the economy? To make it possible for our needs to be met easier? More efficiently?

Or just for profit to be made?

“It really is possible to do two good things at once: address the abuse of the working poor by payday-loan and check-cashing outfits while expanding the range of services provided by the USPS. Media outlets have called Warren’s proposal “radical.” That’s ludicrous. She’s simply using her position and prominence to highlight the findings of a new study by the Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General, which notes that roughly 68 million Americans are underserved by the private banking system. “With post offices and postal workers already on the ground,” says Warren, “USPS could partner with banks to make a critical difference for millions of Americans who don’t have basic banking services because there are almost no banks or bank branches in their neighborhoods.”

This is not a new idea. From 1911 to 1967, the Postal Service maintained its own banking system, allowing citizens to open small savings accounts at local post offices—actually a better approach than “partnering” with banks. The system was so successful that after World War II, it had a balance of $3 billion, roughly $30 billion in today’s dollars. Congress did away with postal banking in the 1960s, but post offices in other countries—including Japan, Germany, China and South Korea—provide banking services. Japan Post Bank is consistently ranked as one of the world’s largest financial institutions based on assets.”

Or, to put it the other way around,
‘what profit is?’

The well deserved ‘consequence’ – considered as such by the vast majority of the stakeholders, of a well-done job?
Or a self serving benchmark to be reached at all costs? Which costs are to be ‘shouldered’ by anybody else but the profiteer himself… till reality slaps us, all of us, over our faces…

I’m sure you’ve already learned everything worth knowing about how to flatten the curve…

My post is about something else.
About the need to think with our own heads.
Individually. Each on their own.

More damages are caused by the manner in which we have chosen to react than by the pathogen itself.

‘Then what should we do?’

I don’t know. And I just told you to stop taking cues, blindly.

There is something I do know.
Nobody can get out of something like this on its own. Alone.
And another thing. If we get out of it as a herd, we’ll very soon end up in another trap.

‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… I really can’t figure out what you want to say….’

OK.
We, humans, are social animals.
We not only raise our young – all mammals do that, we raise them in a social context. We live in groups and we raise our children to belong there.

Living in a social context has consequences. From being prone to infestation to having adopted specific behaviors.
Humberto Maturana is actually convinced that our very conscience – ‘our ability to observe ourselves while observing‘, a paraphrase, is a product of us leading our lives in close community.

One of these specific behaviors is the herd instinct.
Whenever in a dire strait, the members of a group pay a lot more attention to the rest of the group than in the ‘peaceful moments’.
This has two bright sides and one huge drawback.

All members of a group paying close attention to the others makes it easier for those who need it to get attention. And help.
All members of a group paying close attention to the others makes it easier for the group to follow when one of them finds a way out.
All members of a group paying too close attention to the others makes it very likely that the entire group will dash out at the first opportunity. Without checking first where they’re going to land. Nor whether there are any other opportunities.

Another specific behavior is ‘opportunism’.
Some of us have figured out that by keeping their chill in a crises they are more likely to identify whatever opportunities might exist in that moment.
And the deeper the crises, the bigger the opportunities.

Theoretically, these two should work like a charm.
The opportunists keep their chill, look around, identify the best way out and the rest of the herd follows them to safety.
A win-win situation.

Yeah… but!

Wouldn’t it be a way lot better whether all (or, at least, ‘more’) of us would keep their chill? Wouldn’t we be able to identify even more ways out?
It would take a lot more time? We’d need to discuss things over, to negotiate… we’d have to exert a lot of discretion…
True enough. Hence we’d need to evaluate two things. First, how urgent the dangerous situation is and, then, whether a better alternative would be worth searching.

And something else. In a ‘follow me blindly’ situation there’s no going back. The consequences for a hasty choice might be tremendous.

We might end up with more people being hurt by our blunder-some reaction than by the cause which had spooked us.

Yet another specific behavior is responsibility.
Living in a social context means that, sooner rather than later, individuals are censored for their actions. By the rest of the community or, sometimes, by the stark reality.
Unfortunately, sometimes entire communities are censored, by the stark reality, for not behaving responsibly. For not imposing responsibility upon their members.

For not taking enough time before choosing between flight and fight.

Let me put things into perspective.
How many of you have chosen to continue smoking despite having been warned?
How many of you have emptied the shelves despite being told there’s enough for everybody? Or that there will be soon enough?
How many of you do not smoke in the presence of your children? Because you know it will hurt them?
How many of you have taken active measures to protect the elderly? For the very same reason…

As for the economy being the main casualty of the present scourge…
I’m afraid ‘the economy’, as we know it, has been dying for quite a while now. That’s why it is so susceptible to SARS CoV-2.

The Ancient Greeks had come up with the concept of ‘oeconomia’ as the art of making the ends meet. Adam Smith had described the free market as the place/environment where competing agents made it so that people – solvent demand, could satisfy their needs.
Nowadays, too many of us understand/accept ‘economy’ as the art of getting rich. ‘Free’ in ‘free market’ is understood as ‘free’ to do anything you want. Because very few are asked to answer for the long term consequences of their actions.

The economy, as the manner in which we cooperate towards fulfilling our needs, has fallen prey to our gluttony. And to our nearsightedness.
Greed is not good. And SARS CoV-2 is only an eye opener, not the cause for the current implosion.

Deflation ‘for dummies’.

azizonomics

Consumer prices may not be deflating as quickly as Labour’s electoral chances did earlier this month, but — even after £300 billion of quantitative easing — price deflation for the first time in more than half a century is finally here. The Bank of England continues to throw everything at keeping prices rising at close to their 2 percent target. Yet it’s not working. And this is not just about cheaper oil. Core inflation has also been dropping like a rock.

I argued that “deflation was looming” for Britain last year, and feel a little vindicated that it has come to pass. But I don’t feel at all gratified about the thing itself.

In a highly indebted economy such as Britain’s — where private debt dwarfs government debt — deflation is a dangerous thing. Past debts — and the interest rates paid on those debts — are nominally rigid. Unless specifically…

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“Preluarea deşeurilor din recipientele şi/sau containerele amplasate în punctele de colectare de către alte persoane decât operatorii licenţiaţi pentru prestarea activităţii în aria de delegare respectivă constituie infracţiune de furt şi se sancţionează potrivit legii”.

Lupta dintre etatismul centralist si initiativa privata a ajuns sa se poarte si in jurul pubelei de gunoi.

La nivel declarativ: “Esenţa acestei legi nu a fost de a scoate pe cineva de pe piaţă, ci de a armoniza legislaţia şi partea de selectare a gunoaielor menajere cu normele europene. Era vorba despre o privire de ansamblu, comună, asupra a ce însemană strângerea, selectarea şi depozitarea gunoaielor, în spiritul normelor europene. Operaţiunile de selectare şi de transport se pot face împreună de un singur operator, sau separat, de mai mulţi. Administraţia poate decide cum să gestioneze acest serviciu de salubrizare”, explică senatorul Petru Filip, pentru gândul.”

La nivel practic: “în expunerea de motive a actului normativ se arată că una dintre intenţiile legii este şi îmbogăţirea bugetelor locale de pe urma valorificării deşeurilor, lucru care implică faptul că aceste deşeuri nu mai sunt valorificate de firme, ci de municipalităţi: “Colectate selectiv la sursa de producere, într-un mod eficient şi ulterior valorificate, deşeurile reciclabile pot deveni la rândul lor o resursă financiară pentru bugetele locale”.”

Cum spuneam mai devreme totul sa se stranga la centru. Ce conteaza ca exista deja 2000 de firme care se ocupa cu chestia asta…

Pot sa ii inteleg si pe cei de la salubritate. Ei planteaza borcanele alea mari de plastic pe strada si nu se aleg cu nimic pentru ca vin unii si intr-adevar fura hartia si plasticul din ele iar apoi le vand la firmele de colectare. Ba mai trebuie sa care si molozul pe care unii cetateni inventivi il arunca in containerele pentru deseuri reciclabile…

Ce nu inteleg eu e de ce nu putem face, macar o data, o treaba ca lumea, de la un cap la altul.

Pe vremuri exista un sistem care functiona foarte bine. Sticlele si borcanele se colectau la alimentara, adica exact asa cum se intampla acum in toata America, inclusiv PET-urile si dozele de bere. Hartia se aduna in centre de colectare, ‘fiarele vechi’ tot acolo…
Ce ne impiedica sa revenim la sistemul asta?

Mai departe. Pentru fiecare locuinta se platesc impozite locale. De ce nu se includ serviciile de salubritate curenta in aceste impozite? Ca mai apoi, din cand in cand, municipalitatea angajeze, prin licitatie, un prestator de servicii care sa faca curat? Sa stranga gunoiul, sa mature, sa deszapezeasca…Cetatenii sa fie obligati sa sorteze ei deseurile, inainte ca acestea sa fie ridicate: Umed, Hartie, Metal/Sticla/Plastic. Cine vrea n-are decat sa duca la centrele de reciclare ceea ce poate fi valorificat, cine nu le face cadou firmei de salubritate. Iar prestatorul sa aiba posibilitatea de a refuza colectarea gunoiului nesortat.

Firmele mari, care au nevoie de servicii speciale, sa poata sa faca contracte separate. Cu prestatorul angajat de primarie sau cu altul.
Tot prestatorul care a castigat licitatia organizata de primarie sa fie obligat sa ridice si cantitatile (mici) de moloz rezultat din lucrari de amenajari interioare, precum si mobila veche sau electrocasnicele mari; evident in urma unor programari care sa nu dureze mai mult de cateva zile.

Parca mai suna a economie de piata, nu?

“România are cea mai ridicată rată cumulată a contribuţiilor sociale plătite de angajatori şi angajaţi din regiune, de 55% din salariu, ceea ce poate favoriza munca la negru, cu efect negativ asupra veniturilor colectate, potrivit unui raport al Băncii Mondiale (BM).”

Stirea zilei din domeniul economic in Romania este ca platim cele mai mari contributii sociale din aceasta parte a Europei si ca rata mare a taxelor are un efect negativ asupra veniturilor colectate.
Aha, a descoperit si Banca Mondiala ca pe lumea asta exista apa calda. Mai are un pic si observa ca unii practica mersul pe jos…

Dar hai sa vedem partea plina a paharului. Daca ii incurajam poate inteleg si ce se intampla in jumatatea cealalta … care e adevarata problema a taxelor mari.

Cu cat acestea sunt mai mari SI consensul social cu privire la plata lor este mai slab cu atat existenta acestor taxe distorsioneaza extrem de grav intreaga viata sociala a unei tari.
Da, ati citit bine. Intreaga viata sociala este afectata, nu doar cea economica. Totul. Economia, politica, viata de zi cu zi a fiecaruia dintre cei care traiesc in acea societate.

E adevarat ca exista tari in care taxele sunt mari si unde oamenii sunt in general multumiti. Scandinavia, Germania, chiar si Franta pana nu de mult…
Chestia e ca in tarile alea cetateanul contribuie foarte mult la ‘bugetul tarii’ numai ca acolo primeste inapoi sub forma de servicii sociale aproape tot ce a platit ca taxe. Drumurile sunt ca in palma, politia functioneaza, invatamantul si sanatatea ofera servicii de calitate iar politicienii nu (prea) fura si in orice caz atunci cand sunt prinsi o incurca rau de tot. In conditiile astea cei mai multi dintre contribuabili isi platesc taxele relativ de buna voie iar cei care incearca sa insele sunt prinsi destul de repede. Aproape nimeni nu este avantajat in mod nejustificat.

In tarile in care serviciile sociale nu sunt de calitate dar unde taxele sunt mari – la noi de pilda – apare un cerc vicios. Contribuabilul de rand, care nu se simte aparat/ajutat de stat, are un dispret suveran fata de ideea de a plati ceva catre stat: ‘de ce, sa se ingrase aia?’. In conditiile astea fentarea fiscului devine un sport national si nimeni nu mai sesizeaza adevaratul pericol: cei care reusesc sa nu plateasca taxele si sa nu fie prinsi au un mare avantaj competitiv fata de ceilalti. Daca TVA-ul este de 24% si reusesti sa nu-l platesti atunci tu poti sa mergi cu o marja negativa de 14% si la sfarsitul anului sa ramai totusi cu un profit de 10% din cifra de afaceri…(bine, calculul nu este foarte exact dar ati priceput ce vreau sa spun) Nu e rau de loc, nu?
Si daca tot nu platesc TVA-ul ce rost mai are sa angajez muncitorii ‘cu carte de munca’? Ar insemna ca sunt tampit, nu? Daca n-am TVA de platit inseamna ca n-am produs nimic si atunci de ce as avea nevoie de muncitori?

In conditiile astea cum sa concureze cu mine cei care isi platesc toate taxele? Poate doar daca or fi de doua-trei ori mai eficienti decat mine… precum si un pic naivi… Iar eu o sa ma descurc daca vin niste controale… ca am de unde…iar angajatii de la stat au niste salarii de mizerie…  de unde bani la buget pentru lefuri daca nu-si plateste nimeni taxele?

Aveti impresia ca asta mai este economie de piata libera?

Ce nu inteleg eu e cat mai dureaza pana intelegem ca in conditiile astea absolut toti avem numai de pierdut. Inclusiv cei care, doar aparent, profita acum si isi umplu buzunarele de bani. Copii lor tot in scolile astea proaste invata, isi rup masinile in aceleasi gropi ca si ‘fraierii’ iar daca au nevoie de o operatie ceva trebuie sa se duca tocmai pana la Viena…

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“Vezi fa ca ala micu iar s-a cacat pe el. Ce facem, il schimbam odata sau facem altul?”

Cam asa si cu clasa politica, ne tot plingem de ea, ‘din toate pozitiile’ spectrului politic, dar nu facem nimic concret pentru primenirea ei.

Ca in bancul de  mai sus, aparent avem doua variante, schimbam ‘scutecele’ celor deja acolo – constienti fiind de faptul ca nici un ‘bebelus’ nu invata din prima sa se tina curat dar ca o data si o data tot va trebui ‘pus pe olita’ – sau ii schimbam cu o garnitura complet noua?

In realitate, tot ca in bancul de mai sus, nu prea avem de ales: ‘Si cu asta (astia de acum) ce facem?’
In cazul copilului e evident, in cazul politicienilor poate mai putin: ‘ce ma intereseaza pe mine ce se intampla cu ei, au facut deja destule belele si oricum s-au infruptat pe saturate!’

De fapt lucrurile nu stau chiar atat de simplu. Asa cum nici un copil nu se invata ‘curat’ din prima si de unul singur tot asa nici politicienii nu au actionat de unii singuri. In termenii lui Basescu “Let’s drop the hypocrisy. A state on its own cannot be either uncompetitive or corrupt, because the state always has a partner, which is the private sector.”

Toata chestia e ca trebuie sa intelegem o data ce a vrut Gresham sa spuna cu “banii ‘rai’ ii gonesc de pe piata pe cei ‘buni’ “ Povestea a inceput atunci cand au inceput sa fie folosite monezile de metal aur sau argint. Valoarea unei monezi consta in cantitatea de metal pretios continuta. Cum aurul este cu atat mai usor de prelucrat cu cat este mai curat, primele monezi au fost batute din aur aproape pur. Aurul pur este insa foarte putin rezistent asa ca cei care faceau monezi (si bijuterii) au inceput sa experimenteze diverse aliaje. In acelasi timp cei care aveau de a face cu multe monezi – marii comercianti si ‘zarafii’, cei care schimbau banii dintr-o moneda intr-alta – incepusera sa pileasca cate un pic de aur din fiecare moneda care le trecea prin mana.
In situatia asta cei care utilizau monezile aveau in fata doua incertitudini: cat aur intra in realitate in compozitia aliajului din care a fost batura o anumita moneda si cat din cantitatea initiala de aliaj se mai afla in moneda atunci cand ea era oferita la schimb – pentru marfa sau pentru alte monede.
Prima problema a fost rezolvata de Arhimede – asta descoperise el de fapt atunci cand a luat-o la fuga dezbracat pe strada strigand Eureka, o metoda sa masoare simplu densitatea unui aliaj, si deci procentajul de aur din acel aliaj – iar a doua prin introducerea monedelor zimtate – din cauza zimtilor orice tentativa de a pili o moneda iese foarte repede in evidenta.
Numai ca pana la rezolvarea lor circulatia banilor nu fusese pe atat de simpla pe cat ar fi trebuit sa fie. Orice noua emisiune monetara era tratata cu neincredere pana cand nu se afla ‘in piata’ cu certitudine titlul (continutul in aur) aliajului din care fusese batuta si apoi fiecare moneda era cantarita cu grija la zaraf. Iar monezile noi si fara zgarieturi din seriile ‘bune’ erau tezaurizate cu grija, ceea ce provoca o criza de bani pe piata, adica deflatie.
Pe de alta parte, din punct de vedere individual, in conditiile in care pe piata circulau si bani ‘prosti’ (adica ‘piliti’, pentru indivizi era practic imposibil sa bata ei moneda dintr-un aliaj mai prost) ar fi fost de-a dreptul o prostie sa nu incerce si ei sa pileasca cate putin din monezile care le treceau prin mana sau cel putin sa le cantareasca pe cele care li se ofereau inaite de a le primi ca plata.

Numai ca toate astea distorsionau piata in asa masura si presiunea pentru ca problemele sa fie rezovate a fost atat de mare incat cei din ‘fruntea  bucatelor’ au fost fortati sa implementeze masurile care se impuneau: emiterea de monezi cu continut fix de metal pretios si care aveau zimti de siguranta.
Aici trebuie facuta remarca ca cei care au avut cel mai mult de castigat din masluirea aliajului si din pilirea banilor erau cei care bateau moneda (suveranii locurilor, de cate ori trebuiau sa isi plateasca creditorii sau armatele mai bateau o cantitate noua de moneda in care puneau atat aur pe cat aveau sau pe cat credeau ca vor accepta creditorii) cat si marii comercianti ai momentului (cei care aveau oportunitatea sa pileasca cat mai multe monezi). Totusi si acestia au inteles pana la urma ca le va fi si lor mai bine daca instrumentele de plata vor functiona corect si intreaga economie va fi deblocata.

Cam acelasi lucru ar trebui sa se intample si in politica actuala. Nu e nevoie de cine stie ce filozofie. In momentul in care cei aflati ‘la butoane’, atat cei de la putere cat si cei din opozitie, vor intelege ca daca mai continua asa li se va prabusi sandramau in cap sa vedeti ce repede vor incepe sa faca ce trebuie.
Numai ca oamenii acestia, ca noi toti de altfel, au nevoie sa fie trasi tot timpul de maneca. Ce sa intelega ei daca noi, cei de rand, atunci cand avem o problema ‘sarim la cap cu cate o spaga’? Ca li se cuvine, nu? Iar atunci cand ne vine randul sa spunem ce parere avem despre ei nici macar nu mergem la vot.

“Pai degeaba merg la vot, ca nu am pe cine sa votez. Toti sunt la fel!” Poate ca or fi ei atat de asemanatori incat e greu sa-i deosebesti dar daca nu mergem de loc la vot semnalul pe care il trimitem este ca nu ne pasa, ca ei pot face ce vor si ca noi nu vom reactiona. Asa ca daca suntem atat de scarbiti incat nu ne vine sa votam cu nici unul dintre candidati ar trebui sa le spunem clar chestia asta si sa punem doua trei stampile pe buletinul de vot ca semnalul sa fie atat de puternic incat sa il auda si ei: “ne pasa de ce faceti voi acolo, aveti grija!”

Asa ca mai usor cu spaga si mai mergeti pe la cabina de vot.

Apropo, cati dintre voi stiu cine ii reprezinta in parlament sau in consiliile locale?

Dar cati dintre voi s-a gandit pe vremea lui Boc ca in loc sa fie taiate lefurile ar fi mai eficient sa fie stavilita ‘risipa’ resurselor statului si ca in loc sa fie marit TVA-ul ar fi fost mai bine sa fi fost imbunatatita colectarea lui? Cele 30-40% din economie care raman nefiscalizate sunt populate tot cu oameni din tara asta, nu?

Extrapoland citatul din Basescu rezulta ca ‘nici un smecher de pe lumea asta nu poate face nimic de unul singur’. Ar fi timpul ca toti, atat smecherii cat si cei care ii ajuta, sa inteleaga ca nu mai tine.
Mai e un pic si chiar ne cade sandramaua in cap.

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Robert Prechter, a market analyst who has correctly called all the ‘hiccups’ in the financial market, has crossed economy with sociology and came up with the concept of socionomics.

The idea is that behind all that is happening in the human realm lies something he calls ‘the social mood’ and if we want to understand what lies in store for us we’d be better off trying to figure out the changes in this mood rather than doing complicated econometric calculations or social forecasting.

Maybe not very scientific but he was spot on in his predictions – up to now, anyway.

According to his method this piece if news is akin to a new dawn: “The minibar may soon be extinct in most hotel rooms as guests spend more time in the lobby than in their rooms” (The most attentive among you will notice that I left out ‘experts say’ – because I feel that over reliance on ‘expertise’ is one of the explanation for what has happened  – but this is another, even if closely related, topic)

Why?

First of all because ‘hotel dwellers’ are very good predictors of socio-economic trends, they tend to have more resources and be more involved in significant decision making processes than the regular Joe.

Secondly because the main thing that let the last crises happen was a strange disconnection between those who made the most significant economic and political decisions and those who had to suffer them. Things happened as if those at the driving wheel were convinced that they could pursue their individual goals (getting rich and powerful) regardless of the consequences their behavior inflicted on the rest of the people.
Even stranger is the fact that too many of the rest of us validated that attitude by copying it. Remember that the financial meltdown started when people in the US could no longer service the huge debts they (irrationally we consider now) piled upon their most prized possessions, their own houses? And people did that exactly because they foolishly tried to mimic ‘the life style of the rich and wealthy’!

Thirdly, by being a ‘divergence’  this is a very powerful signal.
Let me be a little more specific. In ‘technical market analysis’ a divergence happens when the price of something trends in one direction while one or more ‘indicators’ trend in the opposite one. Usually a divergence is a reliable signal that the price will soon change its trend also.

In this case the ‘price’ is the general attitude of the people towards everything. Before 2007 carelessness was the norm, ‘live today as if it were your last’. Prices were paid, no questions asked and everybody retreated to their gilded dens to savor they prey. People left the city centers where individuals of different extractions lived intermingled and together with small businesses and shops and congregated in walled in communities in the suburbia where the population is self segregated according to various criteria – money first and ethnicity, ‘alternative life styles’, etc. on a second level. Strangely enough social life in quite a large number of these communities is almost inexistent, the inhabitants coming and going without noticing their neighbors. Meanwhile the size of the housing units grew without any real reason since the number of the family members living together has shrunk. The size of the cars used for commuting also grew because ‘bigger cars are safer’ – another strange development since while indeed bigger cars are somewhat safer there are some more efficient ways of increasing overall safety: public transport, rail, defensive driving…

The indicator is the attitude of the ‘hotel-dwellers’ – who, as I mentioned before, are a very interesting cross section of the society. During the bubble years we have witnessed the apparition of the room service – the mighty didn’t want to mingle with the less fortunate, he wanted his whims to be privately catered for – and the mini-bar – the ‘less fortunate’ wanted to enjoy the same perks, couldn’t afford the price so had to settle for less variety.
‘Conventional wisdom’ has it that the advent of technology would have enforced that trend, with wireless connectivity at his disposal why would a hotel guest already hooked up to FB, Netflix and the Cloud ever come out of his room except maybe to go to his business meetings, the beach or the gym?

And here we have a ‘divergence’ gaping at us: while the society at large is trying desperately to resume ‘business as usual’ “People are migrating out of their rooms rather than being in the rooms,” !

Several things might have contributed to this. Some of the hoteliers reduced the area covered by free wireless to the lobby area to lure their guests out in the open where they could be enticed to buy other services, the ‘technology’ became so affordable as to become accessible to the cost conscious, etc., etc., but the essential thing is that public attitude is changing.

Now we’ll have to wait and see where this incipient change in ‘the social mood’ will take us to.

PS. By clicking his picture you’ll get to a very interesting interview of Bob Prechter. The most interesting part starts at 15:00 where he discuses how people look up to the government for a solution.

Ce a fost.
Ce ar fi putut sa fie.
Ce a iesit.
Ce va sa fie.

Voi incepe cu sfarsitul.

Vom repeta aceleasi greseli de cate ori va fi nevoie pana cand vom intelege ca greseala este inevitabila si ca daca tot am facut-o ar fi mai bine sa invatam ceva din ea.
 A te intoarce din drum pina inainte de greseala si a porni din nou cu gandul de a nu o (mai) repeta nu face decat sa te aduca, din nou si de cate ori este nevoie, in fata aceleiasi lectii: decat sa te ridici pentru a cadea din nou mai bine mergi in patru labe pana se termina gheata!

Ce ar fi putut sa fie? Greu de spus. Ar fi putut sa fie mai bine dar in acelasi timp ar fi putut sa fie mult mai rau. Sa ne bucuram ca a fost.

Ce a iesit? Din cate se pare nu ‘a iesit’ inca. Ne ‘pregatim’ cu naivitate sa urcam, precum Sisif, acelasi deal la capatul caruia in realitate se afla o raspantie numai ca pana acum noi am vazut doar varianta ‘din nou si de la capat’.

Ce a fost? Eu m-as intreba mai degraba ‘a cata oara a fost?’…

Nu, nu ma refer doar la caderea comunismului sau la criza financiara!
In realitate atunci nu a cazut comunismul ci doar prea putine dintre regimurile comuniste, am sa  dezvolt subiectul asta mai tarziu.
Ma refer la faptul ca nu am inteles nimic!
Pe ce ma bazez cand spun asta?
Simplu. Pe faptul ca peste nici 20 de ani ni s-a intamplat acelasi lucru si atunci iarasi am fost luati prin surprindere precum si pe faptul ca ne straduim de zor pentru a reface seturile de conditii care au condus la cele doua miscari tectonice.

Ca sa fie clar ce am in cap am sa o spun pe sleau: atat prabusirea regimurilor comuniste cat si criza economica din 2007-2008 au avut aceiasi cauza si din pacate lucrurile au reinceput sa curga in aceiasi directie: autoritarismul/centralismul politic revine in forta – chiar daca sub alte forme – iar modul de functionare al economiei mondiale revine incet la obiceiurile de dinainte de 2007.

Toate necazurile astea provin din faptul ca ne credem mai destepti decat suntem cu adevarat.
Asta duce pe de o parte la aroganta – unii dintre noi cred ca stiu ei mai bine ce este potrivit pentru toti ceilalti – iar pe de alta la ‘autocastrare’ – prea mare parte dintre acesti ‘ceilalti’ accepta cu resemnare concluzia ‘logica si rationala’ la care au ajuns: aceea ca ‘nu ma pot descurca de unul singur’, ‘El este acela’ asa ca se aseaza disciplinati si ascultatori in spatele ‘lui’, ii indeplinesc fara sa cracneasca ordinele si apoi isi justifica ‘rational’ faptele in fata propriei constiinte.
“In conditiile acelea nu se putea altfel!”
Daca am avea mai putina credinta oarba in rationalitatea noastra si mai multa modestie poate ca am fi in stare sa intelegem mai multe din ceea ce ni se intampla.

Aproape nimic din ceea ce veti citi in continuare nu este nou. Eu nu sunt un tip caruia sa ii vina ‘idei’! In schimb imi place foarte mult ca atunci cand ma intalnesc cu una sa o intorc pe toate fetele si sa incerc sa vad ce legaturi exista intre ea si celelalte idei cu care m-am intalnit pana atunci.

Ceea ce urmeaza poate fi asemuit cu un ‘carnet de bal’. Este ‘lista’ ideilor cu care m-am intalnit. Am schimbat pe ici pe colo ordinea, unele intalniri nu au fost chiar atat de intamplatoare ca altele dar nimic nu a fost atat de premeditat precum este faptul ca am inceput, in sfarsit, aceasta impartasanie.

“Cu cifre se poate dovedi orice”, depinde pe care le alegi.

Cât economiseşte lunar un român?

Conform unui raport intocmit de Erste si mentionat de RFI 40 de Euro pe luna, extrem de putin fata de cei 181 economisiti de un austriac generic.

Or fi comparabile aceste doua cifre?

Pentru un bancher, da. Pana la urma pe acesta il intereseaza cati bani se economisesc intr-o economie si intensitatea cu care acest fenomen are loc, adica exact numarul de unitati monetare pe cap de locuitor. Pe el nu il intereseaza ca suma economisita reprezinta 5 sau 50% din venit, pe el il intereseaza doar suma absoluta – cea pe care o poate comisiona in fel si chip si pe care, o data ‘capturata’ sub forma de depozit, o poate de mai departe sub forma de credit. Sau invers, cam ce volum de credite poate absorbi o tara in functie de capacitatea locuitorilor ei de a economisi – adica de a rambursa credite.

Dar ce impact are stirea asta asupra unui cititor neavizat sau neinteresat de industria bancara? Sincer sa fiu nu stiu, nu am pretentii de Mafalda. Stiu doar ce impact a avut asupra mea: Cat neprofesionalism din partea jurnalistului care a preluat informatia de la Erste si gata. Nu a incercat sa inteleaga ce se ascunde in spatele stirii, nu a profitat de ocazie sa ‘sape’ mai departe!

Sa vedem ce putem afla daca raportam sumele economisite la doi parametri extrem de utilizati: PIB-ul pe cap de locuitor in cifre absolute si cel corelat cu puterea de cumparare.

Romania: 40 de Euro/luna economisiti, adica 54$, 7943 $/locuitor sau 16 518 $ PPP/locuitor.

Austria: 181 de Euro/luna economisiti, adica 244.5$, 47 226 $/locuitor sau 44 618 $ PPP/locuitor.

Trecerea de la dolari absoluti la dolari PPP (purchasing power parity) se face calculind suma necesara pentru a cumpara acelasi cos de produse si servicii in diverse tari. Din pacate aici iar avem de a face cu influenta metodologiei de calcul asupra rezultatului. Un roman care locuieste la oras si care are o masina (costa la fel in Austria si in Romania), cumpara combustibil (aproximativ acelasi pret in ambele tari) se imbraca la mall (preturile sunt iarasi comparabile) si  mananca de la Mega Image are o structura a cheltuielilor mult mai apropiata de cea a unui austriac decat un roman care locuieste la tara si se deplaseaza cu bicicleta. In schimb pentru austrieci aproape ca nu este nici o diferenta intre cele doua cazuri.

Sa impartim acum sumele economisite la venituri:

Romania: 54*12= 648 $/an adica 8.16 % din venitul absolute sau 3.9% din venitul ‘comparabil’.

Austria: 181*12= 2172 $/an adica 4.6 % din venitul absolut sau 4.9% din venitul comparabil.

Parca a inceput sa rezulte cu totul si cu totul altceva, nu? 

Dar n-am terminat inca. Economisirea poate incepe abia dupa ce individul si-a satisfacut necesitatile absolute. Adica abia dupa ce te-ai saturat, ti-ai platit chiria si detergentul te poti gandi daca sa te duci la film sau ce camasa sa iti cumperi: scumpa, ieftina, de loc…

Si dupa cum am mentionat mai devreme pentru romanii de la oras costurile sunt foarte comparabile cu cele din Austria doar ca veniturile, chiar daca sunt mai mari decat cele ‘de la tara’, ajung abia la jumatatea celor austriece.

Si atunci? Ce rost a avut articolul din RFI?

 

 

 

 

 

Nowadays there is a heated debate about how much damage to the nature is acceptable in order for us to have a ‘thriving’ economy.

This way of thinking is very well illustrated by the following picture:Image

The caption says: “If you really think that economy is more important than nature then try holding your breath while counting your money”.

If we look a little deeper into all this we find out that initially economy – or oikonomia in ancient Greek – was the art of managing the resources needed by a household. Since then these resources came directly from the surrounding nature it ‘naturally follows’ that in those times there was no conflict between economy and nature: people took what ever they needed from where it grew or grazed, threw the garbage wherever around the camps and whenever things became too messy or the pastures/hunting grounds were exhausted people moved a little further, giving the nature an opportunity to heal its otherwise superficial wounds.
Later, as people moved into cities, their relationship with the nature became a little more complicated. If nature had a way of renewing itself periodically all went well. Egypt survives since 5000 years ago mainly because the Nile periodically cleanses and fertilizes the country. If not, and people overuses local resources, the fate of that particular civilization is doomed – the Mayan empire, for example.

A sudden change happened around three  hundred years ago: Europeans simultaneously learned advanced agricultural techniques enabling them to feed larger numbers of people, thus freeing a lot of ‘ work force’ that was swiftly employed by the industry, and invented fiat money – paper invested with value by the very entity that ‘printed’ it, the central banks.
‘Economy’ started to thrive only it no longer was about the old struggle for survival; it was gradually transformed into the modern economy: a playing ground where the ruthless fight for more and more money is constantly eating away both natural resources and the moral fiber of those implied in it.

Maybe it is high time for us to understand what is going on and to find a way to reintegrate nature into the economy as a resource that needs to last forever and not as an expendable one.

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