Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mauritians Visit Blogger More Often Than Orange

According to Alexa: they are at positions no. 8 and 9. The first newspaper in the list is L'express at 11th spot. Defimedia.info is at 16 while Wordpress, blogger's competitor, at 22. Gov.mu is at 15, MCB at 13, SBM only 99 (but it has another entry at 102). Le Matinal is at 28 while lemauricien.com (this includes weekend and turf magazine) at 36. Liverpool is at 48, Manu at 54. Google Mauritius is no 2. And the winner is... Facebook!

You can have fun with the full list here. But read this before getting too excited.

Deerpalsing Wants A Planning Unit Under PMO

Essentially for the same reason it's the PM who appoints the Governor of the Central Bank. If the latter produces too much inflation by giving in to the GLDs who love the worst enemy of the poor the former's political position may weaken. In fact that's the case with all positions of huge responsibility: we have seen how two bean-counters have squandered Ramgoolam's historic 2005 majority.

It's all about picking the right people and avoiding groupthink at all cost. Stuff that leaders should excel at.

Looks like we've regressed by half a century.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lagarde Appointed First Female Boss of IMF

And has agreed to continue the reform of the governance structure of the Bretton Woods institution to reflect the shift in economic power underway. She will be at her new desk the day after the US independence holiday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Changes in Domestic Debt: The Last Decade


Our domestic debt increased by more than 19 billion rupees in 2003 but government borrowings on the local market has been on a declining since then save 2009. So, have we become more resilient? Not exactly when you take a look at external debt and when you remember that these numbers exclude debt contracted by parastatals and private companies.

Regulators Want Big Banks To Hold More Capital

And of better quality too. In fact the BIS -- a club of Central Banks -- is recommending that banks hold extra capital in proportion to the their systemic importance.

The BIS also wants leverage and liquidity to be given better consideration in view of the role that they played in the recent financial meltdown.

You may want to skim through its annual report just published.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

How Bad Economics Made Mauritius A Sad Place


Cutting top tax rates by 50% required that the economy grow, on average, at a robust rate: 8% instead of the usual 5%. Maybe a bit less if you got slightly better collections from the MRA and reduced wastage levels. But as the above graphic shows the economy never grew close to where it should have to justify the flat tax. Which would explain why fiscal policy literally became a game of Nintendo and decisions that would have improved our competitiveness and your living conditions took a backseat for several years.

The multi-billion rupee revenue shortfall was financed with a pile of debt too much of which was denominated in foreign currency. Making us more vulnerable. Bean-counters are now likely to ask that the State sell several of its assets which would drastically narrow the opportunities of the many while expanding those of the few. This of course is not the Labour Party's idea of the State.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Detective Columbo Dead At 83

Saw that a couple of minutes in the NYT. R.I.P Peter.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Clinton Has 14 Ideas To Cut US Unemployment

Which currently stands at 14 millions. These include retrofitting buildings with energy-saving designs, painting every building roof white, carefully reducing corporate taxes, increasing individual top tax rates to where they were when he was President and vigorously reducing the skills mismatch.

In other words going green makes a lot of economic sense too.

Copy Dodoland! Copy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

World's Longest Passenger Plane Arrives in Paris



At 76.3m it's about a yard longer than the previous record-holder, the A340-600. Can travel an extra 200km and will lift 87 more passengers off the ground. And claims better operating economics than dolphin-head. And if you want to fly half-way across the world then you need to take one of these two babies.

PBB Not Immune To GIGO

PBB means Programme-Based Budgeting while GIGO is the acronym you met when you started learning about programming or computers: Garbage In Garbage Out. PBB was supposed to help us manage public funds better and get our priorities right. I say was because we know from the audit reports that we didn't exactly make a big dent in the multi-billion rupee wastage. And because we still didn't realise that building another reservoir or sufficiently reducing leakages in our water system was a topmost priority. For five straight years.

In other words PBB will not make you any dumber than you already are and there is absolutely no need for bean-counters to raise it to the level of a God.

You can read the PBB manual used at our MOF if you haven't read some good fiction for a long time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

EU Withholds Cash Greece Needs To Avoid Default

That's the news hitting every screen in the last 24 hours. Europe wants Greece to do some belt-tightening before it pushes the money already on the table towards Athens. Translation: sell public assets.

I don't know if you noticed the PM mentioning in his MIIF speech that lame duck parastatals will be phased out. Hmm, so are we back with the same kind of crap that tagged the DWC as lame duck while putting an infinite amount of money in a hubris-infected company?

Why doesn't he phase out the lame bean-counter first? Things will improve for everybody.

Governor Finds Many Tools But No Magic Wand

That's what he said in a speech a few weeks ago with respect to the typical crazy requests he gets from our beloved GLDs. But he concedes that there has been some progress in this debate. I agree.

What do you think?

Music Day Completes Third Decade

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Understanding Resilience: Part 1

Little-discussed Proof That Sithanen Screwed Up The Economy

He didn't stand for the last general elections as an independent candidate. That's so surprising if you are darn sure you've generated a stellar economic performance. And we're talking about Rama Sithanen here: a seasoned politician who probably could have counted on Jean-Claude de L'Estrac's unconditional support to invent a convenient reality as he's doing with the inhumane excision of our Diego Garcia these days.

Even Raj Dayal managed to get 13,000 votes in 2000 on the strength of his personal popularity and without the support of any major newspaper.

And Rama also didn't join the MMM although he asked voters, in the thick of the campaign, to give a lesson to the fils a papa who had dumped him. Was he time-constrained? Nah, I don't think so given that he currently holds the record for shifting sides during an election campaign: less than 24 hours back in 2000. This easily puts Road Runner to shame, doesn't it?

It looks as if Berenger didn't want to take unnecessary risks in a close race.

Why Militants Have Every Reason To Be Mad

With their lider maximo that is. Simple. It would have been very easy for them to win the last general elections and end five years of karo kann given how Sithanen and Mansoor had messed up the economy. All their party leadership had to do was to ask Reagan's famous election-winning killer question: are you better off than you were four years ago? 

Instead Berenger preferred to frame Sithanen's exit as an ethnic issue: Ramgoolam was not being fair to Tamil-Mauritians. Costly mistake. Very costly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Joe Should Have Told You

Reducing top tax rates in the US did not generate higher growth rates. It only caused a big revenue shortfall for the American Treasury which had to be financed with several hundreds of billions of dollars of debt. Along with a lot of inequality.

And that we've been quite ill-advised not to learn from Uncle Sam's mistakes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

China Giving More Loans To Africa

Than the World Bank. I heard Stephen Sackur mention this yesterday on Hardtalk. He was grilling Obi Ezekwisili the Bretton-Woods institution's VP for Africa. The latter said something interesting: inequality is a time bomb that destroys your society. Couldn't agree more. Which has been after all the basic trigger for the Arab Spring. That would explain why The House of Saud is spending USD130 billion to buy peace in the Kingdom.

Here too, bean-counting policies have seriously harmed the fabric of our society during the last five years. For some thoughts on this check our little multimedia collection. No subscriptions required.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Labour MP Hits Where it Hurts: A Comment

In his reply to a statement made by MP Deerpalsing, Ali Mansoor said that our water problem is mostly a systemic problem of management and implementation instead of one of lack of funds. And that this problem dates back well before 2005 -- that is before his university buddy got him his current job.

I am having some trouble with this reply given that:

1. when our Midlands Dam came into operation in 2003 it added 25 million m3 to the water our reservoirs stored or another 40%. So it's not like nothing got implemented in our country before his arrival. Nope, the opening of the Midlands Dam was a watershed event in the history of that sector. But given that our economy has now grown by a third since then we were bound to crash into a wall if we didn't throw enough money in time to increase water storage -- like going for Phase 2 of the Midlands Dam (17 million m3). Which is what is happening now.

2. we were told back in 2005 that the stage was being set for robust growth so that plans should have been made to bring our water supply to a level commensurate with this higher intended growth path. This of course would have meant going beyond Phase 2 of the Midlands Dam. That is even more money should have been earmarked for this sector. Doable if you're not a bean-counter.

3. our country apparently experienced an early harvest (2007) followed by no less than a bumper crop (2008) and that almost immediately after the reforms started. Now, if you don't use a bumper crop to solve problems that can stall your economy and reduce national indebtedness, I wonder why you even want to have bumper crops.

By the way, if free laptops have not been distributed yet is it because Ministers are not in shape enough to hand them on TV? What about the HR guidelines? Implementation shortfall here too?

Hmm...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rafa Could Tie Bjorn Record in a Few Hours

If he wins the Roland Garros Championship Final for a 6th time. He just have to clear Roger, the greatest player of all time, who just ended a forty-something winning streak of Novak.

And Chinese tennis player Li Na made history by winning yesterday's women's final.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pressure Mounts For Toxic Bean-Counter To Go

And this time it's coming from none other than Rajesh Bhagwan, opposition MP. Here is what he had to say a couple of weeks ago:
From our experience since 2005 with that person, [Ali Mansoor] can the Minister [Pravind Jugnauth] inform the House, the country and the nation whether it is not time now for that guy to go, to leave Government and have his contract terminated?
What exactly is Ramgoolam waiting for?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011