Friday, October 26, 2007

Fortune Cookies

Wonder what's really happening with inflation in Argentina? Here's an Indicator:

Argentina's benchmark inflation-linked bonds have tumbled 24 percent this year, making the country's debt market the worst performer in the world, according to data compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bloomberg.

`Argentine inflation-linked debt is the single worst long- term asset in all of emerging-markets,'' said Paul McNamara, who manages more than $1 billion of fixed-income at London-based Augustus Asset Managers.
Political Leaders


I don't know what's worse: blatantly cooking your books and thinking it'll all work out (Nestor), or believing god has some plan for you and your nation (George). Historically, I think the god delusion has caused more suffering but failing to understand and appreciate the realities of trade in this day and age is inexcusable.

Take the Chinese government, for all their many flaws, they've figured out that if they want to feed their people, they'll have to play the trade game and that means playing by a set of rules - become a bad actor and no one can/will trade with you and your people will suffer and soon you'll be out of power. Keep the people happy. Keep your power. Pretty simple.

And how do you keep the people happy? Give 'em the means to pursue their happiness.

Now, if you're flush with oil, you can run around like some trustafarian but eventually it's gonna catch up with you or your progeny. It's the later case that I find so tragic -- think generations of young men without meaningful work, ala the Kingdom of Saud.

Small tangent... Confucian Meritocracy. Heard of it? I hadn't until recently:
The Confucian view is that political leaders should be the most talented and public-spirited members of the community, and the process of choosing such leaders should be meritocratic, meaning that there should be equal opportunity for the best to rise to the top. Historically, Confucian meritocracy was implemented by means of examinations, and there have been proposals to revive and update Confucian examinations for contemporary China.
I wonder what Aristotle would make of this? In any event, I think I'd prefer a system where people are competing to be the most competent (for some measure of competency) rather than the most appealing to the largest and most active voting blocks. Obviously, People would game the system and fiddle with the tests and test administration ( think gerrymandering ) but I wonder if, on balance, we wouldn't end up with a more optimal system of governing.

Maybe a Meritocracy would help prevent the National Statistics Institute from being so easily dismissed by politicians. On second thought, probably not.

Should I be Worried?

Hell yeah! But no one here gets out alive.


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