(August 2013) In 2011, Cuba's Communist Party Congress rubber-stamped a set of 313 “guidelines” that were produced by Raúl Castro's government to revive the island’s comatose economy by increasing the role of the private sector and reforming the moribund public commercial sector. The initial changes focused on farming and small business. In 2011, the country of over 11m people imported $1.6bn worth of agricultural products and it gets two-thirds of its domestic oil consumption from Venezeula and pays part of the bill with the vastly overpriced labor of 35,000 Cuban medical personnel, teachers and others working in Venezuela. The rest of the bill is chalked up as a debt, mostly to Venezuela’s PDVSA oil monopoly, which now stands at more than $8bn, said Jorge Piñon, a Cuba–born oil expert at the University of Texas in Austin, according to the Miami Herald..
(August 2013) There can be no dispute that the financial crisis has exposed serious flaws in the euro system, in particular the lack of a robust monitoring system, a rescue fund and banking union. Last year, Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, on the eve of the 2012 Olympics in London, made an explicit commitment at a forum there, that the central bank would not allow the collapse of the single currency. “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro,” Draghi said, pausing for effect. “And believe me, it will be enough.” Some progress has been made also on the institutional side. Besides, countries such as Italy and France are in dire need of reform. There has been a growth crisis in several European countries for decades. Italy's jobless rate is back to the mid 1990s level and Spain last had a jobless rate above 20% in 1997. The advent of the euro provided a temporary prosperity in some countries but even during a global credit boom, Italy stagnated.
(May 2013) While BRIC countries would gain from various structural reforms, their growth potential remains substantial at lower levels than in recent times. All BRIC countries benefit from plenty of catch-up potential and scope to raise productivity via an increase in the physical and human capital stock. The first reason for optimism is that savings have not declined materially, and may even rise over the medium term. The current account positions are strong (China, Russia) or quite manageable (Brazil, India). This means that an acceleration of investment won’t be much constrained by a lack of savings.
(May 2013) Reuters reported last month that a few hours after midnight one Sunday in March, as negotiations over a rescue for Cyprus dragged into a second day, Pierre Moscovici, French finance minister, fell asleep. Most Eurozone ministers in Brussels that night failed to notice, continuing to pore over the details of the multi-billion-euro deal. It fell to Christine Lagarde, former French finance minister and currently head of the International Monetary Fund, to approach Moscovici and nudge him awake, according to witnesses at the March 24 talks. It was an apt symbol of the impact in Europe of President François Hollande's government, as it enters its second year of office.
(April 2013) The OECD warned Japan this week that bringing its huge public debt problem under control, remains the country’s “paramount policy challenge,” at a time when Shinzo Abe, prime minister, is giving priority to ending deflation through aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus.
(April 2013) Mario Draghi, ECB president, said in a speech on Monday that the way out of the problems facing many Eurozone countries is to restore competitiveness. "And the way to do this in the context of a monetary union is to pursue with determination an ambitious structural reform agenda. Such an agenda comprises a number of national measures to make sure that the functioning of product and labour markets is fully compatible with participation in monetary union. One specific aspect is to fight vested interests that hamper competition, structural weaknesses of productivity and to allow, where needed, the nominal adjustments to play out." Italy, Draghi's own country, is facing problems it has allowed to fester for decades.
(March 2013) "In Tunisia, protesters escalated calls for the restoration of the country's suspended constitution. Meanwhile, Egyptians rose in revolt as strikes across the country brought daily life to a halt and toppled the government. In Libya, provincial leaders worked feverishly to strengthen their newly independent republic," thus wrote 'Foreign Affairs,' the US magazine in 2011. It was referring to events in 1919, long before the Internet was conceived.
(February 2013) A banking union for the Eurozone would provide an integrated approach to oversee the safety and stability of the financial system as a whole.
(February 2013) Although India’s growth remains one of the highest in the world, it has slowed sharply and inflation remains elevated. The slowdown has been due to structural and supply-side factors, with cyclical and global factors also in play. While capital inflows remain strong, falling infrastructure and corporate investment, has in recent times impacted both exports and private consumption. The growth rate is expected to decline further in the current year.
(February 2013) The Nordic countries are reinventing their model of capitalism and Sweden's Social Democrats have registered the term "Nordic Model" as a trademark, even though it has evolved from their decades of governing . While they have played an essential role in the development of the Nordic Model, this was going too far, wrote the Finnish daily Kaleva last year: "The Nordic Model is a term used when one speaks of the Nordic welfare state. The expression has now become established in the Nordic countries, as well as in international political and social debate. Sweden's Social Democrats have played a key role in both the ideological and the practical development of the Nordic welfare society. But they aren't so important that they alone can determine everything the Nordic Model means and comprises. The Nordic countries have participated in the development of the Nordic Model each in their own way. It's not just a Social Democratic project."