Periphery Watch

     

 

 

Exciting Visions of a Bright Future

Fund Managers, economists and politicians agree on the exciting future they see in the Third World. According to them, the engine of the world’s economic growth has moved from the West to what were once the poverty-stricken societies of the Third World. They feel mushy about the rapid increase in the size of the Middle Class in the Third World, and how poverty is becoming history.

 

GDP of India vs. UK in 2016 – crossing over.

 

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The Final Stage of a Crack-Up Boom

For economists the dire downward spiral of Venezuela’s economy holds the same fascination black holes hold for physicists. Both illustrate what happens amid the most extreme conditions imaginable. It is thought that this may potentially provide clues of a more general nature. The remnants of massive imploded stars are inanimate and many light years distant; regardless of how violent conditions in their vicinity are, they cannot touch us. Unfortunately, extreme economic conditions definitely involve a great deal of human suffering.

 

“We are the humanist socialism that will save the world”, from Venezuelan cartoonist Weil (he always draws the dear leaders with big wads of dollars sticking out of their pockets, making them look like otherworldly birds – look for his work on the intertubes).

 

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Extracting Meaning from PPP

 

“An alternative exchange rate – the purchasing power parity (PPP) conversion factor – is preferred because it reflects differences in price levels for both tradable and non-tradable goods and services and therefore provides a more meaningful comparison of real output.” – the World Bank

 

Headquarters of the World Bank in Washington. We have it on good authority that the business of ending poverty is quite lucrative for its practitioners (not least because employees of multilateral organizations such as the IMF and the World bank have to pay no taxes whatsoever on their income – and the perks certainly don’t end there). A number of long-serving employees of the institution we have met over time have struck us as quite cynical and not particularly convinced that their efforts in developing countries were achieving much (and it was not for lack of trying). That is of course not the official line and merely represents anecdotal evidence based on a limited sample size. Experience tells us though that we should not dismiss such evidence out of hand – especially not if it rings true. The agency’s views on PPP are a sign that its economists probably don’t get out much. [PT]

Photo credit: Simone D. McCourte

 

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Decolonization

The British Empire was the largest in history. At the end of World War II Britain had to start pulling out from its colonies. A major part of the reason was, ironically, the economic prosperity that had come through industrialization, massive improvements in transportation, and the advent of telecommunications, ethnic and religious respect, freedom of speech, and other liberties offered by the empire.

 

The colors represent the colonies of various nations in 1945, and the colonial borders of that time – click to enlarge.

 

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Étatiste Crackpottery

Shortly after we posted Jayant Bhandari’s recent article that inter alia discussed  the new complex GST (general sales tax) regime introduced in India by the Modi government (see “The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum” for details), we were contacted by Lakshminarayanan Kumaraapuram, a small businessman in Mumbai. He asked us whether we would be prepared to publish a comment he originally mailed to the prime minister’s “grievance portal”, so as to transform it into an open letter.

 

Let’s keep it simple… but not too simple. The chief surgeon gets ready to wield his scalpels and cleavers.

 

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Jayant on Emerging Markets, Precious Metals and Mining Companies

Maurice Jackson of Proven & Probable has once again interviewed one of our friends, namely Jayant Bhandari, a frequent and highly valued contributor to Acting Man.  Jayant is probably best known to our readers for his strong criticism of the economic and nationalist policies implemented by prime minister Narendra Modi in India since he decreed the demonetization of the bulk of the cash currency circulating in the country (see his most recent article here).

 

Jayant Bhandari speaking at the 2016 Capitalism and Morality seminar.

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Everything Gets Worse  (Part XII) –  Pakistan vs. India

After 70 years of so-called independence, one has to be a professional victim not to look within oneself for the reasons for starvation, unnatural deaths, utter backwardness, drudgery, disease, and misery in India.

Intellectual capital accumulated in the West over the last 2,500 years — available for free in real-time via the internet — can be downloaded by a passionate learner. In the age of modern technology, another mostly free gift from the West which has significantly leveled the playing field, societies that wanted economic convergence with the West, such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, HK, China, etc., have either achieved it rapidly, or have strongly trended toward it.

 

More than 28,000 children less than six years of age have died in just one province, Madhya Pradesh, over the past year. Because these deaths were due to diseases resulting from malnourishment, the government attributed every single death to disease rather than malnourishment.

Photo credit: Hemender Sharma, India Today

 

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India’s Currency Ban – Part VIII

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced on 8th November 2016 that Rs 500 (~$7.50) and Rs 1,000 (~$15) banknotes would no longer be legal tender. Linked are Part-I, Part-II, Part-III, Part-IV, Part-V, Part-VI and Part-VII, which provide updates on the demonetization saga and how Modi is acting as a catalyst to hasten the rapid degradation of India and what remains of its institutions.

 

India’s Pride and Joy

 

Indians are celebrating that their economy has surpassed that of India’s former colonial master, the UK.

 

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The Industrious Greeks Mystery

In the course of the Greek crisis, animosities between creditor countries like Germany and Greece didn’t take long to surface. They were fired up in the tabloid press, which was quick to revive various stereotypes. In Greece, Germans soon found themselves compared to their Nazi predecessors, while German tabloids inter alia complained sotto voce about those allegedly “lazy Southerners”.

 

lazy GreekThe stereotype of “lazy Greeks”

 

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Venezuela: Real Wages Collapse amid Continuing Crack-Up Boom

While the crack-up boom in Venezuela continues, real wages in the country have have utterly collapsed. The bolivar is still trading close to 700 to the US dollar on the black market, and the Caracas stock index keeps making new all time highs in nominal terms almost every day. Ironically, Venezuela’s currency is called the “bolivar fuerte” (VEF), i.e. “the strong bolivar” ever since it has been “reverse split” 1 for 1,000 in January 2008.

 

brain-drainImage via designlimbo.com

 

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Greek Stocks Reopen with a Thud

The Greek stock market very likely represents an emerging opportunity, as many stocks are sporting extremely low valuations these days. However, when we last discussed the Greek market, we pointed out that there was probably no hurry and more importantly, that using ETFs to play the Greek market would pose a difficulty at the current juncture.

 

arquitectura-del-pasado-7161Greek ruins – emblematic for the country’s situation.

Photo credit: fondos7.net

 

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Spectacular Growth

We spent much of January on the beach at Rancho Santana in Nicaragua. The longer we stayed, the more we liked it. It was warm and dry on the Pacific coast… but we woke up to the sound of rain on the roof this morning.

“Lake Arenal has a different climate,” our overseas real estate scout, Ronan McMahon, explained. Ronan is a young Irishman with long dark hair, a sunny disposition and a thick County Cork accent. He also advises members of our family wealth advisory, Bonner & Partners Family Office, on where to find the best real estate deals.

 

na-lake-arenal-sunsetThe Arenal volcano near Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, an artificial lake at the bottom of which the two old towns of Arenal and Tonadora lie abandoned. The lake is surrounded by a rainforest that is home to an estimated 2,000 plant species, 300 bird species and 120 different mammals, including jaguars and tapirs.

Photo via vacationscostarica.com

 

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