what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

asking the tobacco companies to draft public health policy


You are all probably as confused about the Greek "bailout" and associated BRIC problems as I am. I have just read the clearest exposition - in Social Europe of all places. The article suggests that the 200 billion euros net support which the Greek economy has apparently received is equivalent to a "reverse wealth tax" and asks why the alternative policy of "direct bank support through bank recapitalisation" was not considered.
It is a much more effective and cheaper solution than a full guarantee of sovereign debt. The taxpayers could get bank equity in exchange for their money. If this crisis is like others, there is a chance that share values recover and taxpayers break even in the long run. The 2007-2009 crisis has shown that governments are indeed able to contain a banking crisis by resolute action like forced recapitalisation and temporary nationalisation of banks. The better prepared we are for such an event the smaller will be the impact on the economy. Europe’s governments have had plenty of time to prepare over the last year, so why was such a solution not even considered?
The reasons are political. Such a solution would have upset powerful vested banker interests, even though it would have imposed the costs on those most responsible for the massive credit misallocation.
A strong negotiating position of politicians confronts two important obstacles:
• First, the finance ministry and banking authority typically lack competence and information in order to prepare contingency plans for bank recapitalisation. There is an acute skill shortage in the finance ministry and what talent there is meets a wall of secrecy put up by an uncooperative banking sector.
• Secondly, the strong lobbying power of the banking sector deters politicians from preparing in advance and taking risks in favour of the taxpayer.
Conflicts of interest between the politicians and the bankers are rampant.
After the disastrous risk-management performance of many bankers revealed in the 2007-2009 banking crisis, it is surprising that the same people still enjoy great influence in the policy process. The consequences are predictable. If you ask a frog to come up with a plan for draining a swamp, you are like to end up with a proposal for more flooding
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The painting is a Nenko Balkanski - a favourite of mine - to be seen at the Kazanluk Gallery

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