Thursday, August 03, 2006

[oil and gas] from australia to russia – oil is the key

Douglas Adams, in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, wrote of the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. So what possible connection could there be between today’s interest rate crisis in Canberra and Turkmenistan’s oil outlet dilemma?

Indirectly, a lot.

The Australian Reserve Bank decision to raise interest rates a quarter percentage point today is extremely damaging in the public perception and the average Australian's panic, more common ... read and comment here.

[world] a ceo in russia makes more money

The average Russian laborer may earn less than a tenth of a Western European worker's wages. But Russia's fat cats face no such indignity, netting even more than their Western European counterparts, a new survey indicates.
Thanks to favorable tax conditions and a booming economy, executives at Russia's biggest companies on average take home 750 euros ($890) more than Western bosses, according to a survey by Watson Wyatt, a global consultancy firm.Average after-tax pay for Russian managers was calculated at 108,750 euros, as opposed to 108,000 euros for Western European executives.
The report surveyed 125 companies in Russia.
"This is a phenomenon almost exclusively within executive positions," said John Lewis, who authored the report, by telephone from Brussels. "Further down there is still a big gap between how much professionals are paid in the West and Russia."
The average salary for mid-level managers is anywhere between $20,000 and $70,000, another study found earlier this year. That survey, released by human resources firm Ancor, interviewed 68 companies in Russia.
Annual wages across Russia last year averaged some 66,000 rubles, or about 1,900 euros, according to official statistics.
A limited pool of people with the right experience and talent to fill executive positions in Russia plays a part in driving up wages. However, low income taxes play a greater role in giving Russia's top managers the upper hand over colleagues further west, Lewis said.
"In Germany net pay at the executive level is 55 to 65 percent of the paycheck because of taxation," he said, while Russian bosses take home 87 percent thanks to the 13 percent flat tax.
As the economy grows, the trend has been for the gap in Russian and Western gross wages to narrow considerably.
A recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that executives in Moscow companies with a turnover of over $50 million earn a median of $109,000 before taxes, with average annual bonuses of 20 percent. The Russian edition of Forbes magazine on Thursday published a list of the country's 100 richest people, including 36 billionaires. That is a ninefold increase since Forbes first published the names of four Russian billionaires in 1997.
Businesses catering to high earners are catching on to the fact that some Russians make a lot. On Thursday, HSBC bank announced it would open a Moscow office to offer private banking services for well-to-do Russians.
"As the Russian economy continues to grow, the number of big net worth individuals will grow very fast," Richard Tickner, HSBC's Russia country manager, told Bloomberg. "There is a lot of competition, but this is a growth market."
Forbes added 11 new Russian billionaires to its list of wealthy Russians since the U.S. edition of the magazine released a list of the world's richest people in March. The editor of Forbes in Russia, Paul Klebnikov, said this addition resulted from the magazine using market capitalization figures from mid-April to evaluate Russian moguls -- a period when the stock market was at its peak. Not surprisingly perhaps, ordinary Russians complain they earn too little while their bosses earn too much.
According to a survey released by Fond Obshchestvennoye Mneniye on Thursday, 85 percent of workers who responded said they are not paid enough. Twenty-three percent of those respondents held the state of the economy responsible, while 17 percent blamed their higher-ups, who they said are "the only ones with high wages" and "thieves," Interfax reported. A startling 53 percent of the 3,000 adults surveyed said they were unemployed.
By Simon Ostrovsky, Moscow

[living] today's scoop - the pedant-general in ordinary


Some have suggested, unkindly, that I’m too soft by half in my treatment of my victims and that I never ask the hard questions.

‘Where’s the dirt?’ they ask.

That may be so but let me turn this around and say that my brief is to present a profile, not a warts-‘n-all expose. I’m hardly placed to do the latter and besides, I have no intention of being blackballed from the Garrick Club. I’m a peaceful man, after all.

In its own small way, it’s the selection of whom to present on this page which constitutes the hard line. In the interests of quality, I present only the best bloggers.

And so to today’s scoop and in my tackiest manner I announce, ladies and gentlemen:

Here, never before published in any blog, never seen before on the web, his photographed visage finally, gobsmackingly exposed to a shell-shocked public, is … is … wait for it … the Pedant-General in Ordinary!!!!!

Yes, it is he*, ladies and gentlemen - Her Majesty’s esteemed protector. The scourge of the blogging world, who has fellow bloggers either quaking in their boots or running for cover, sometimes both … and his real name is … is … er, I don’t rightly know. I didn’t actually get that far.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary.

What’s the man about? Well, his own site gave your intrepid investigator the starting point on that:

The Pedant-General is, by his own description: white, male, heterosexual and married, we can safely assume that I am basically stuffed. I might as well give up now.

But then, seeing as I am also from a landed-gentry family, public school educated, an Oxbridge graduate, licenced to keep and use a shotgun, a practising Anglican communicant, lately a Commissioned Officer in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, paying to educate my children privatelyand right-libertarian in outlook, I have got nothing to lose really.....

Thersites comments: Come the revolution, P-G, you'll undoubtedly be one of the first up against the wall, blindfolded, last cigarette etc.

Wiki has something to say: The Pedant General in Ordinary is here to boldly maintain the purity of the English language!

The P-G in O has helpfully published a

Whilst much of the origins of the appointment process for the post of Pedant-General in Ordinary are lost in the mists of time (and even those bits that are not remain cloaked in secrecy of the highest order), we can say with certainty that candidates do not have to suffer the ignominy of popular election. I shall pass, lightly, over the ignominy that candidates do have to suffer.

However, I understand that it is customary in a blog of this sort to "set out one’s stall" and to this end, I publish here a manifesto. This, I might add, is not an exhaustive set of policies. But** then, we might reasonably ask, is any manifesto? At least you may be confident that I will stick to this.

Flogging Offences:

· Use of the Grocer's Apostrophe;
· Making any of these basic logical errors;
· Starting paragraphs in a newspaper article with the word "And". Especially if you are a politician;
· Blaming the weapon, rather than the person wielding it;
· Driving in the middle lane of a busy motorway without good cause;
· Advocating Socialism as a means for organising the relationships between communities larger than a small farm;
· Confusing correlation with causation.

Flogging Offences:

Such flogging to be administered on the steps of the perpetrator's club. This is separate category of crime, where it is important that a visible example is set:
· Advocating Socialism for communities larger than a small farm, when one is in a position of power;
· Advocating Creationism when one ought to know better;
· Inviting, on live television, an evidently distressed relative to advocate a ban on whatever it was that killed the recently deceased person in question;
· Confusing "equality of outcome" with "equality of opportunity".

Hanging Offences:

Let's not beat about the bush: We have to make a stand and stop this dangerous nonsense.
· Preferring "equality of outcome" over "equality of opportunity";
· Advocating Creationism when one is in charge of educational policy or children or both;
· Moral Equivalence;
· Unwarranted use of the split infinitive.

But there is another, carefully veiled side to the P-G in O and he will not thank me for revealing this altruistic side; however, this is the sort of e-mail he wrote in my direst hour of template-altering need:

... remembering of course, to change "Blog Roll or whatever you want this to say" to whatever you want the section header for your blogroll to be. (For ref, mine is "Opinion is Free", long before the Guardian shamelessly nicked it) and to change the "yourusername" to whatever your BLOGLINES username is. I have highlighted the bits you need to edit in bold to make it easier for you to see. Then save your template, republish your blog and retire to the mess for tea and medals.

Do fellow bloggers see him as the scourge of the blogosphere? Tim Worstall, after a scathing
analysis of an airline failure:


The P-G uncovers a very clever piece of manipulation. This is the problem with regulatory organisations, they are subject to capture by those who would benefit most from the rules being drawn up one way rather than another.

And the P-G’s original
point he was originally making?

Given the clarity - nay, purity! - of the stream of knowledge and harmony that is mathematics, your monoglot Pedant-General is exceptionally loathe even to paddle in the stagnant, murky and polluted sewer of economics. However, he is thrilled, not just to spot a monstrous howler as this, but to beat Tim Worstall to it at that.

In order to provide a contigency fund against a one-off event - that of the failure of an airline - and of a largely fixed liability - that of the total number of passengers that an airline could carry at any one time - he proposes an entirely variable surcharge. This seems to be a staggeringly basic error.

Being one of the military fraternity, he is likely to take up his cudgel
to defend same:

Your jingoistic and "gung-ho" Pedant-General is an ardent supporter of HM armed services and the courageous men and women who take HM's shilling. He is less enamoured with the snake oil salesmen who purport to be their political masters. The current minister of defence is an exemplary case in point. This man wouldn't recognise integrity or duty to your men if it came up and slapped him on the top of his bald head.

But is the P-G in O relevant? Does he have anything to say on the crisis which is
the Middle-East? I hope I don’t misrepresent him with these, his own words:

Israel has nothing to gain by a further occupation of Lebanon, other than to subdue the militants. But, now that those nice gentlemen in Iran have equipped Hezbollah with the longer range Fajr rockets, Israel is going to have to occupy a damn sight more than they did last time to provide an effective buffer zone to protect Israel-proper. I can't see how a ceasefire would be in their gift.

So what is the P-G in O - his roots, so to speak? Is he an Englishman? A Scot? Irish? From the Isle of Man? A clue can be found in
this little piece:

Nonsense. The adjectives apply across the board. Scots, English and Welsh people are ALL British. Scots are not English. English people are not Scots. But they are both British.

To give a simple example (for the sake of argument and without prejudice to your real actual place of birth), you are Pennsylvanian. A resident of LA could be described as Californian. But you are both American. The simplest analogy is that Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland are similar to States in the US, with the UK being at the level of Federal Govt.

The analogy is far from perfect since we do not have the strict separation of powers or subsidiarity that is enshrined in the US Constitution, but you get the gist. Creditting California specifically with an achievement of the US as a whole, or worse still of Pennsylvania, would be obviously wrong.

This is a howler of such epic proportions that it profoundly discredits the academic merit of the site in my eyes. It displays an ignorance of things British that I can scarcely credit. An apology and promise to do some fairly basic research would be in order: the updates with the text of emails almost suggest that there is debate on this or a legitimate difference of opinion. There is not.

(Disclaimer: I am a Scot, but I'm proud of my British Passport...)

And my analysis? The P-G in O does his darndest to ‘expunge’ the web of its ‘woolly thinking’ and it’s probably true to say that he’s the scourge of the blogosphere; but what the man fails to disguise is that he is actually, all things considered, really a very nice chap - good people, as they say in America when referring to third person, singular.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary.

[* he ...... James Higham defends to the death the right to adopt subject as object in this particular personal pronoun.]
[**But .......I'm going to take up with the P-G in O the clear use of a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence.]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

[world] asset swapping - shell, exxon, bp and sinopec

Exxon itself is a particularly interesting company, not least because of its xx antecedents. In many ways it is entirely innocent but being who they are, they are on a hiding to nothing. They have invested in the environment, they have committed to sustainable development and the company itself laments:

Exxon stands as the tallest lightning rod for critics who say the oil industry is profiting at consumers’ expense, and parting payments to its former chairman and chief executive, Lee Raymond, have provoked criticism. Exxon officials said they don’t expect the political anger toward the industry to let up soon.
Article here.

[general] niagara falls - which side is best

Peter Mandel, of the Washington Post, wrote: To know Niagara Falls these days is to know two mist-split shores: the Canadian city and the American town. Newlyweds still book rooms in both, and some say the negative ions from the rush of the falls cause feelings of attraction. But if you're not into ions, there are all sorts of other, mostly positive lures, like the Canadian side's sleek casinos and space needle towers, and the U.S. side's Italian bakeries and a state park, the nation's oldest, by Frederick Law Olmsted. He then proceeds to dissect both sides as dispassionately as he is able. Which is better?

[living] blogger of the day - chris dillow

Graham Chapman, in a Python sketch now lost in the mists of time, once labelled all that was good as woody and all that was beyond the pale as tinny.
Well, Chris Dillow is woody. There are no two ways about it. His politics may not precisely align with mine but I couldn’t give a toss about that. The man has been quoted this way:

The ever excellent Chris Dillow makes some good points about power:

· Power doesn’t merely corrupt. It enslaves. Many rulers are not as free as we think. This, in a different context, is one message of Xenophon’s Hiero.

· What matters in politics is not the particular individual occupying any office. Office determines character more than character determines office.

· There’s something deeply dysfunctional about political institutions. The great thing about markets is that they cause bad people, acting for bad motives, to do good things. Our political institutions cause good people, acting for good motives, to do bad things.

I first became aware of him when he posted an encouraging comment on my site which I now quote quite often:

You can get tons of comments simply by saying something inflammatory about the Middle East - but almost all those comments will be worthless or worse. By contrast, a good post that conveys interesting facts might get no comments at all. Clive Davis and Tim Worstall, for example, get far fewer comments but they're much better bloggers.

[I'd have to modify this quote in that the latter may have fewer comments, but at 2334 hits a day, he's hardly ignored.] Now I’m going to say right up front about Chris that any man who inserts statistical aberrations on the ongoing cricket outrage into his blog – that this man deserves to be read and taken seriously. For example:

The number of county championship titles multiply by a dummy if a county contains a Test ground. Logic tells us that stronger counties - as measured by the number of championships they've won - should produce more Test players. Oddly, though, this is true only of counties with a Test ground.

These two facts alone explain three-quarters of the variation in counties' test caps. What's even more amazing is the size of the home county effect. The home counties have, on average, 206 more Test caps than other counties. As the average county has only 345 caps, this is a lot.

The only other chap I’m currently aware of, [not that that necessarily means anything], who does this sort of thing, is
Norman Geras, who himself has completely scooped me by publishing an interview with Chris in which most questions are answered.

All I can do is quote from it and leave the rest to you:

The normblog profile 112: Chris Dillow was born in Leicester in 1963, at the same time as John F. Kennedy was being buried; someone had to make room. He went to Wyggeston Boys School (a grammar), Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and the University of Manchester. He then drifted into the City for a few years before joining the Investors Chronicle, though he strenuously denies accusations that he's a journalist. Chris lives alone in Belsize Park, and blogs at Stumbling and Mumbling.

Why do you blog? > I'm arrogant enough to think I've got something worth saying, and stupid enough to think anyone cares.

What has been your best blogging experience? > The kind words of many good, intelligent people, which I have been too ungracious to properly acknowledge.

What has been your worst blogging experience? > Realizing that time and inspiration are negatively correlated.

What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > It's better to be wrong but interesting than right but dull.

What is your favourite song? > 'After All' by Dar Williams – just ahead of Hank Williams's 'They'll Never Take Her Love From Me' and Iris DeMent's 'Childhood Memories'.

What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Terry Allen gave the best advice for anyone wanting a successful career: 'Don't ever do the best you can do. It's better to be mediocre.'

In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Any time. The truth is a precious thing. Like all precious things, it shouldn't be wasted on idiots.

If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > There're a few explicit offers of jobs and implicit offers of sex I'd have accepted, but otherwise not much. That's the power of adaptive preferences for you.

Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Mitch Pileggi looks the part. Can he do a Leicester accent?

Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Leicestershire.

If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Frank, my grandad's name.

If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Kathy Sykes, Shania Twain, Gillian Anderson. Hey, I'm a single bloke.
For the political/philosophical aspects, you’ll have to go to the normblog profile [a weekly Friday morning feature], although I can add that he did his PPE at Oxford and then a Masters in Economics at Manchester. In my own correspondence with Chris these thoughts were expressed:

I regard myself as an economic migrant; I only live in London coz I need the work. Unlike many others, I don't regard my blog as primarily a vehicle for promoting a particular political line. I suspect I blog mainly to show off how clever I am; I've never been sure about anyone's motives for doing anything, even myself. Insofar as there is one, the line is anti-managerialist; I try to combat the view that organizations and society can be managed from above.

What distinguishes me from bog-standard libertarians is the belief that central plannning is bad within companies, as well as government, and my view that greater equality of income and wealth is necessary for greater equality.

I think I'm a bog-standard post-Marxist left-libertarian; my main intellectual influences are Jon Elster, John Roemer and Alasdair MacIntyre. A non-line is that I'm passionately uninterested in foreign affairs; I can’t see what the fuss is about in Israel or Iraq.

However, I'm also interested in cricket and music (especially folk-country and I'm learning the guitar). These don't show up in the blog as often as they should.

Chris Dillow.
Stumbling and Mumbling.

[I apologize for the line spacing in this post but Blogger plays havoc with line spacing and reverses what has been saved at the point of publishing. It also ignores spaces between sentences and sometimes inserts some of its own, which I try to reverse with br in the template. This increases posting time to around 50 minutes.]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

[world] ten u.s. presidents

America has had some august chief executives but also some quirky ones. Here is a small selection of things you might not have known about 10 of them:

1. First U.S. president George Washington rejected a movement among army officers to make him king of the United States.

2. Andrew Jackson, 7th U.S. president, dueled with Charles Dickinson after he insulted Jackson's marriage. Jackson let his opponent fire first, giving himself time to take aim. Jackson took a bullet in the chest and, without flinching, calmly killed his man.

3. James Buchanan, 15th U.S. president and the first unmarried man to be elected president, reportedly took great pride in his tiny feet, although he was a large robust man.

4. Often depicted wearing a tall black stovepipe hat, 16th president of the United States Abraham Lincoln carried letters, bills, and notes in his hat.

5. The 18th U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant, but he changed his name because he did not like his monogram, HUG.

6. Both ambidextrous and multilingual, 20th president of the United States James Garfield could write Greek with one hand while writing Latin with the other.

7. William Taft, 27th president of the United States, weighed more than 300 pounds and had a special oversized bathtub installed in the White House.

8. The 28th president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, allowed sheep to graze on the White House lawn during World War I; their wool helped raise money for the Red Cross.

9. The 38th president of the United States, Gerald Ford turned down offers to play professional football for the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

10. As a young lifeguard at a riverside beach near Dixon, Illinois, future 40th U.S. president Ronald Reagan rescued 77 people from drowning.

Sorry – can’t attribute – I’ve had this a long time - maybe msn.

[living] les mythes sur le phénomène criminel en Russie

Depuis la fin des années 80, il est autorisé de parler de la criminalité en Russie : des statistiques sont publiées, les sources d'informations se multiplient. Ce phénomène nouveau engendre une perception erronée du phénomène criminel.
Une mythologie se crée ainsi, présente non seulement dans l'opinion publique, mais aussi dans les média et les discours des dirigeants politiques. Sept mythes peuvent être identifiés.

Le premier correspond à la conviction selon laquelle la hausse actuelle de la criminalité serait extraordinaire. Il est dû à la surabondance de statistiques publiées sur ce thème.
Si on prend du recul par rapport aux chiffres publiés, il est clair que le niveau actuel de la criminalité ne constitue pas un recors. il est bien moins élevé qu'au cours des années 20 en U.R.S.S et n'atteind pas le niveau existant aux Etats-Unis ou dans les pays d'Europe occidentale.

Le taux d'élucidation des faits a beau baisser en Russie de façon préoccupante, il reste supérieur aux chiffres atteints dans les pays occidentaux. Le nombre de meurtres en Russie reste, il est vrai, préoccupant et comparable à la majorité des pays d'Europe occidentale.
Il faut cependant noter que ce n'est pas un phénomène extraordinaire, car il y a toujours eu en Russie un nombre élevé de meurtres, y compris durant les périodes relativement calmes de noytre histoire, par exemple à la fin du dix-neuvième siècle.

Le second mythe consiste à dire que les criminels provoquent un dommage considérable auprès de la population. En 1994, ce dommage s'élève à 766 milliards de roubles, soit 350 millions de dollars. Ce chiffre est supérieur aux dommages créés par les incendies (450 millars de roubles), mais bien inférieur à l'argent perdu par la population dans les banques et sociétés commerciales (20.000 milliards de roubles).
Les meurtres ne représentent pas une cause de décès quantitativement comparable aux accidents de la route, aux maladies et à l'alcoolisme.

Troisième mythe : la population considérerait que le problème de la criminalité est le plus préoccupant. Il est vrai que toutes les enquêtes montrent que la criminalité constitue une des principales inquiètudes de la population.

En approfondissant l'analyse des réponses, il est aisé de se rendre compte que ce n'est pas le niveau réel de la criminalité qui suscite cette opinion, mais, d'une part, la couverture médiatique de ce phénomène et, d'autre part, l'impression que les organes des forces de l'ordre sont impuissants à juguler ce problème. Derrière la peur suscitée par la criminalité, se cache la prise de conscience de la crise de la justice, du pouvoir et de l'Etat.

Le quatrième mythe revient à dire que le durcissement des peines fait baisser le niveau de la criminalité. Dans la plupart des cas, les crimes sont commis dans une situation de besoin ou dans un état ne permettant pas d'apprécier les risques pris. De nombreuses études, en Russie comme à l'étranger, prouvent que la relation causale durcissement des peines - baisse de la criminalité est erronée.

Le cinquième mythe, sur lequel il n'est pas besoin de s'étendre, considère qu'il n'y a que des criminels dangereux en prison. Cette absurdité reste vivace en Rusie. Il suffit de considérer le nombre de détenus emprisonnés pour spéculation dérisoire pour en être convaincu.

Sixième mythe : la criminalité est un phénomène global qui nécessite une réponse elle-même globale. Le problème ici est que la criminalité est considérée uniquement sous l'angle de sa définition juridique. Est criminel tout ce qui est contraire à la loi, tout ce qui est recensé dans le code pénal en vigueur.
Dans la pratique, il est clair que la criminalité ne peut être considérée comme un tout, dans la mesure où elle cache des pratiques, des formes et des motivations très diverses.

Le slogan "lutter contre la criminalité" ne répond donc qu'à des besoins politiques de mobilisation de la société. Il est inefficace et absurde du point de vue de l'application. Au contraire, la Russie a aujourd'hui besoin, pour réellement lutter contre la criminalité, de diversifier ses modes d'action et de réaction.

Enfin, le dernier mythe principal concerne la criminalité organisée, perçue comme une force obscure, éminence grise qui tiendrait le pays. Ce mythe rejoint certaines choses écrites sur les francs-maçons et les juifs. Cet amalgame prouve l'existence de fantasmes sur la criminalité organisée.
Si on se tient à une définition rigoureuse du phénomène, celui-ci est beaucoup plus circonscrit qu'on ne le pense. Employer le mot "mafia" à propos de l'Etat russe souligne la confusion suscitée par une période difficile pour une grande partie de la population russe.

[world] doha soon to be a dodo

Doha explained, a summary for the non-economist

The Doha Round is close to total collapse – the first major multilateral trade talks to fail since the 1930s. All major global trade negotiations flirt with collapse and succeed only at the last possible moment but not this time.
Doha is much more difficult than the Kennedy, Tokyo, and Uruguay Rounds, especially as there are 149 nations now to consider in the template.

Its participants represent 5.5 billion of the world's 6.5 billion people, and produce 97 per cent of the world's annual $13 trillion in exports. So far there’s been agreement only over the principle of eliminating export subsidies for agriculture but these are unresolved:

· policy changes deeply political and now deeply impinging on the process
· nothing signed concerning the crucial services sector
· no negotiating procedures for agricultural and non-agricultural market access
· removal from the agenda of two critical issues - investment and competition policy
· no attempt to seriously address security concerns since 911
· absence of effective control over the increasing number of preferential pacts
· entrenched local interests
· massive current account imbalances
· currency misalignments pushing trade politics in dangerously protectionist directions
· strong and growing antiglobalization sentiments
· absence of a compelling reason for the political leaders of the chief holdout countries to make the necessary concessions
· import surcharge on all Chinese products
· fierce congressional hostility to any relaxation of US antidumping and immigration laws
· deep popular unwillingness to significantly alter the EU's protective agricultural regime.
· large, fast-growing developing countries often tougher on the poor eg. India on Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

· Trade policy must move onwards and upwards or else revert to protectionism and mercantilism and its corollary - bilateralism.
· There are huge international security concerns.
· Basic economic relations around the world will descend to the primitive.
· The world's poor, of course, now see hopes for fairer trade put off for many years.
· Richer countries, deprived of a chance to find new markets, are starting to argue over old markets.

Measures which would help
· mini-package that would achieve modest real liberalization
· monetary adjustments leading to global trade liberalization
· greater balance of US /China imports/exports [now a ratio of more than six to one in favour of China]
· dollar/euro currency misalignments probably now near their bilateral equilibrium
· undervaluation of Asian currencies [kept artificially undervalued, including the yen and the Indian rupee because governments were afraid to let their competitive positions deteriorate against China], could be eased, negotiating step by negotiating step
· major currency realignments, beginning with the undeveloped and developing nations
· substantially enhancing the skill level of the work forces in UD countries
· expanding the safety nets that cushion transitional cost of trade-related job dislocation
· extending all deadlines for at least six months, [which I posted as a comment on Tim Worstall’s article]
· appreciating that tariffs are simply ways of shifting tax burdens from the rich to the poor, "taxing want rather than wealth"
· reducing special bilateral arrangements eg. American tariffs on Asia and the Muslim world; European tariffs and subsidies excluding farm products produced from the Middle East, Latin America and Asia
· allowing the poor to sell the items they make and grow without complications [World Bank idea]
· lowering tariffs on t-shirts, shoes, rice, butter and orange juice, thereby opening export opportunities in markets for services and technology products
· eliminating the "Special Safeguard Mechanism."
· aligning the business sector with government policy and establishing government policy based on the needs of the private sector eg. Brazil’s private sector saying one thing but the government saying another.

Slow process
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy likened the negotiators' task to building a gothic cathedral, in which domestic support for agriculture and market access represent two columns, and reduction of duties on industrial goods a third. The gothic imagery he utilizes is apt, for it is also the imagery of the 4th player, [China being the 3rd].

My take
Doha will collapse irrevocably. It's not just brinkmanship any more because there are clear national interests perceived as greater than the interest of global world trade. The implications are major for the world's poor in the short term but it does have the effect of slowing the globalization process, which I see as fundamentally unsound.

· Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS)
· C. Fred Bergsten December 2005 Policy Council - Institute for International Economics - Rescuing the Doha Round.htm
· YaleGlobal Online, (
· Edward Gresser, Progressive Policy Institute's Project on Trade and Global Markets

[world] the destruction of the ozone [latest]

AAP has run this piece in the Melbourne Age today:

Extreme weather conditions have produced a rare cloud formation over Australia's Mawson station in Antarctica. Meteorological officer Renae Baker captured spectacular images of the nacreous clouds, otherwise known as polar stratospheric clouds, late last month.

Reflecting like an airborne mother-of-pearl shell, the cloud colours are produced when fading light at sunset passes through water-ice crystals blown along a strong jet of stratospheric air more than 10 kilometres above the ground. A weather balloon measured temperatures down to minus 87 degrees celsius when the photographs were taken.

"That's about as cold as the lowest temperatures ever recorded on the surface of the Earth," Ms Baker said. "Amazingly, the winds at this height were blowing at nearly 230 kilometres per hour."

Australian Antarctic Division atmospheric scientist Andrew Klekociuk said the clouds were seldom seen but could have long-ranging effects. "These clouds are more than just a curiosity," he said. "They reveal extreme conditions in the atmosphere and promote chemical changes that lead to destruction of vital stratospheric ozone."

At the same time, a
new report, originally from this site, claims that China is way up there in trading ODSs. The EIA describes how China is smuggling ODSs around the world. It shows how undercover investigators, posing as chemical dealers, visited a number of firms in Zhejiang province and this is what I keep going on about, regarding China and what it’s up to.

The report says:

The initial order was equivalent to more than 12 per cent of the entire quantity of CFCs available under the protocol to China for all its exports and stockpiling needs in 2006, the report said.

The most frequently used method to smuggle CFCs was by mis-declaring them as alternative chemicals that are not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. China ratified the protocol in 1991 and later accepted a multimillion dollar package to bring the end of production forward by three years.

Now I have been going on about China ever since this blog began and before – even the name of the blog, nourishing obscurity, is Chinese in origin and refers to their method of operation. Even if we could forgive the Chinese for this latest, there is still the coal burning and the arms dealing to address, before getting onto a list of other issues.

I also implied, in the pieces on Korea, below, that China needed watching the whole time. But of course, you don’t need me to tell you that.

old EPA report puts the ozone question in layman's terms:

Scientists have found "holes" in the ozone layer high above the Earth. The 1990 Clean Air Act has provisions for fixing the holes, but repairs will take a long time. Ozone holes aren't like doughnut holes; they're not empty spaces in the sky. Ozone holes are much like the worn-out places in an old sock or sweater: there are still threads covering the worn-out area, but the fabric can be so thin you can see right through it.

Ozone in the stratosphere, a layer of the atmosphere nine to 31 miles above the Earth, serves as a protective shield, filtering out harmful sun rays, including a type of sunlight called ultraviolet B. Exposure to ultraviolet B has been linked to development of cataracts (eye damage) and skin cancer.

In the mid 1970s, scientists suggested that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could destroy stratospheric ozone. CFCs were widely used then as aerosol propellants in consumer products such as hairsprays and deodorants, and for many uses in industry. Because of concern about the possible effects of CFCs on the ozone layer, in 1978 the U.S. government banned CFCs as propellants in aerosol cans.

Since the aerosol ban, scientists have been measuring the ozone layer. A few years ago, an ozone hole was found above Antarctica, including the area of the South Pole. This hole, which has been appearing each year during the Antarctic winter (our summer), is bigger than the continental United States.

More recently, ozone thinning has been found in the stratosphere above the northern half of the United States; the hole extends over Canada and up into the Arctic regions (the area of the North Pole).

The hole was first found only in winter and spring, but more recently has continued into summer. Between 1978 and 1991, there was a 4-5 percent loss of ozone in the stratosphere over the United States; this is a significant loss of ozone. Ozone holes have also been found over northern Europe.

What could a thinned-out ozone layer do to people's lives? There could be more skin cancers and cataracts. Scientists are looking into possible harm to agriculture, and there is already some evidence of damage to plant life in Antarctic seas.

Evidence that the ozone layer is dwindling led 93 nations, including the major industrialized nations, to agree to cooperate in reducing production and use of chemicals that destroy the ozone layer. As it became clear that the ozone layer was thinning even more quickly than first thought, the agreement was revised to speed up the phase-out of ozone-destroying chemicals.

Unfortunately, it will be a long time before we see the ozone layer repaired. Because of the ozone-destroying chemicals already in the stratosphere and those that will arrive within the next few years, ozone destruction will likely continue for another twenty years.

CFCs from car air conditioners are the biggest single source of ozone-destroying chemicals. By the end of 1993, all car air conditioner systems must be serviced using equipment that recycles CFCs and prevents their release into the air.

In the meantime, refrigerator servicing and disposal will have to be done in ways that don't release CFCs. Methyl chloroform, also called l,l,l-trichloroethane, is a very widely-used solvent found in products such as automobile brake cleaners (often sold as aerosol sprays) and spot removers used to take greasy stains off fabrics. Replacing methyl chloroform in workplace and consumer products will lead to changes in many products and processes.

As substitutes are developed for ozone-destroying substances, before the chemicals can be produced and sold, EPA must determine that the replacements will be safe for health and the environment.

Consumer products containing CFCs and other ozone-destroying chemicals will have to be reformulated.

The ozone layer has been written and written about but despite bans on a cocktail of chemicals and a plethora of other commendable measures, still Asia continues to do its thing and still the US refuses to subscribe to Kyoto or any of its subsequent manifestations.