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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Rich and the Poor

Some weeks back, a fellow St Mary’s College Old Boy created a group on Whatsapp for some of those who were in our year group.  For those who do not know, Whatsapp is an Instant Messaging application for your phone.  Anyway, one of the big topics in the group has been around the shrinking middle-class and the perception, rightly or wrongly, that those who have, care little about those who do not have.

There is little doubt that this is perhaps one of the bigger debates facing our generation.  After decades of progress in reducing social inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean, there is concern that it is on the increase again.  Statistically speaking the Gini coefficients (economic measure of social inequality within a nation) does suggest that inequality is on the increase in the US and the UK.
In the United States, the plight of the middle class has been the subject of much focus during the Presidential election.  Documentaries like David Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman and…

Living in an Era of Great Change

Last Friday night, I was on the 7.30pm train from London to Edinburgh.  After a few minutes, I ended up chatting with a Beijing businessman who was touring the UK with his daughter.  He spoke excellent English. 
As our conversation evolved, we began to touch on two of my favourite subjects these days - politics and economics.  In just a couple weeks or so, China will get a new President as the Communist Party holds its once-a-decade power transition Congress when Xi Jinping is expected to be selected as the country's next leader.  The transition has been made messy thanks to the political scandal triggered by the death of the British businessman Neil Heywood in the Chinese city of Chongqing nearly a year ago.
My new friend was not too keen to speak about the Neil Heywood affair but he is of the view that China is at a cross road.  Rather than continue along the same path, there are many who believe that it is time to slow down its pace of reform and immerse itself in another cult…

Battle Against Inequality

Like many of us, I watched the Vice Presidential candidate debate with interest.  Yes the two candidates represented two very distinct viewpoints but they are not as diametrically opposed as one may at first assume.  Most importantly, they agree that the US middle class is under pressure and that something needs to be done.  I agree that this is where the focus needs to be but not just for the US but for other areas of the world including the UK and the Caribbean as well.
I remember sitting in a graduate ‘development economics’ class back in the late nineties here in the UK as we evaluated levels of economic inequality using Gini coefficients.  These ratios measure the extent to which income is unevenly distributed within any given country.  My lecturer pointed out that inequality was greatest in Latin America and that this inequality was at least partly responsible for their high crime levels, poor overall economic performance and other socio-economic challenges.  Ironically things …

Obama’s Great Debate

This week’s Economist reported on an unscientific poll of hundreds of academic and business economists.  There were asked which U.S. Presidential candidate had the better economic plan.  By a very large margin, the respondents preferred President Obama’s economic plan.  Not only that, they credit him with having a better grasp of economics, and think him more likely to appoint a good economic team.  Finally, the respondents do not hold the disappointing recovery against Obama as over half of them rated his performance as good or very good.  This compares favourably to the 5% who said the same about George W Bush about 4 years ago when this same poll was last conducted by the magazine.

So it is against this background that I was thinking about his performance in the first debate.  Critics say that he may be charming but that he was never a great debater.  It is unfair to compare him to John McCain who was awful but Hillary Clinton ran rings around him as they both sought the Democrati…

The 20 Year Curse

So a husband follows his wife and another man to a hotel room.  He looks around and makes sure that no one is looking at him and then he begins to peek through the key hole to see what the two people are up to.  As the two fling off their clothes, his wife’s top catches on the doorknob, blocking the husband’s view of what happens next…and leaving his faith in their fidelity intact.  Apologies if I offended anyone’s delicate sensibilities.  I saw this little metaphor at the beginning of a story on the politics of one of our South American neighbours and I thought that it beautifully describes the situation in Trinidad and Tobago as well.
In my mind, it is crystal clear that the official narrative surrounding Clause / Section 34 is incomplete.  So much more happened after that keyhole was blocked.  The timelines which have been widely published strongly suggest as much.  The naïve amongst us may choose to believe that all is well and we should move on but we cannot.  I even read some d…