Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

AMERICA’S THANKSGIVING 2010

November 25, 2010
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“It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”

Groucho Marx

 

 

 

This 25th of November, 2010 is Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America.

 

Having spent quite a few such memorable celebrations in my stints in the USA, I have asked myself – What has America to be thankful for today on this our 3rd year of crisis and a quite a few more since the Bush Administration engaged Americans in a disastrous adventure in Iraq and later Afghanistan?

 

The successive events both on the home front and the international scene are not precisely heartening.

 

Unemployment is still high for US standards and foreclosures have left a lot of citizens homeless. The America that scarcely trembled in the wake of wars, disasters and crises was left shaky well before President Obama took over; some tremors still persist from the past Administration’s errors. What really counts is that the nation has recently spoken with its votes and the President has now a tough ride ahead to get to where America should be. In danger are such important endeavours such as the new healthcare plan or the taxing of the wealthier. Now, America may again turn its back on the social equality levels the Obama Administration pretended to reach. The influential lobbies may win the day by curtailing green energies in lieu of petroleum or the causers of the still persistent economic crisis, back in the driver’s seat of powerful entities, may submerge the US economy anew in new global conflicts in the wake of their making their profits.

 

The world scene isn’t any better. While Guantanamo remains operative, the joint world resistance to terrorism has been weakened due to vested interests of other world powers. The Palestinian-Israel conflict is at a standstill but may burst into open conflict at any time. Iran has not been subdued in its intent to convert itself into a nuclear-armed state and may never give in whilst it has China’s blessings. Further east, the two Koreas are on the verge of a nuclear war, with a US aircraft carrier already on the scene. The end of the Cold War with the defunct USSR (now Russia) may have an Asian offspring that refuses to come to an end. America, as the world superpower, is deep into every single international conflict and will remain even more so after the new scenario for NATO was drawn up a few days ago in the Lisbon summit.

 

Happiness seems to elude Americans this 2010. What must Americans be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

 

 

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

 

 

 

 

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OBAMA’S RETURN TO EUROPE: WHAT IS IN STORE AFTER THE G-20 FLOP?

November 19, 2010
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Sad to say but true, President Obama is not only a questioned leader in the USA but also as a world leader before the eyes of some of his staunch allies, particularly in Europe.

This weekend’s NATO Summit in Lisbon will be the first encounter after the disheartening G-20 performance by the cast of developed & developing nations’ leaders meeting in Seoul. Said summit will be followed by yet another bilateral one between the USA & the EU which may not count with Obama’s presence.

The disheartening results of an ineffective meet such as the one held in Seoul, whereby developed democracies on both sides of the Atlantic succumbed to a subtle Chinese strategy of political abstraction, cannot but have cooled even further already estranged EU-US postures in the economic field. China had its ways at the Seoul summit and as of today has further aggravated economic tensions with the latest communiqué from its central bank by raising its reserve ratio 50 basis points. Furthermore, the Communist Asian superpower has set its protectionist mechanism to curtail foreign investment in Chinese real estate and enterprise as a precautionary measure to avoid speculation.

True to say, the EU’s stance at the G-20 meet wasn’t all that unanimous, with Germany applying pressure on the USA in a similar manner as China but with different tactics. I keep asking myself why both superpowers – the USA on one side and the EU as a whole bloc of 27 state & 500 M population on the opposite side – haven’t yet decided to sit down to draw out a single strategic route for the economic crisis resolution.

The opportunity was missed when the EU-US bilateral summit scheduled in Spain in May was cancelled due to Obama’s overloaded agenda on the home front. Since then, six months have elapsed and the crisis has not only grown in intensity but rather new doubts have been raised as to the best common ground solutions no one seems to venture into.

The NATO encounter will have Afghanistan at the top of the priority list. The US seems more worried about ensuring military backing from the EU partners than solving other issues on hand. Indeed, probably the new common adversary encased in Al Qaeda’s terrorism requires a collective effort in lieu of a defunct ‘cold war’ with the extinct USSR now converted into an ally represented by Russia. Nevertheless, even in this new ‘war against terrorism’, I see a lack of realism in the world leaders’ analysis.

¿Can we forget that China, the emerging superpower with UN veto rights, not only is not a full-pledged democracy but likewise is a traditional sly manipulator of world political tensions in such vital issues as Iran & Korea?

Resolving favourably the Afghanistan issue is yet light years away, if ever a satisfactory solution is feasible on medium term. Yet, NATO members are attending the issue as ‘top priority’ with the presence of a no less insignificant and worthless Karzai. Instead, these nations should be discussing not only a common defence with Russia against ‘international terrorism’ (not only Al Qaeda), which goes from fanatic movements bent on destabilising democracies but also implies ‘economic terrorists’ who are capable of sinking the world into further long-term crises whilst bolstering their unscrupulous enrichment schemes.

While the powerful in economy and the military meet in Lisbon, the Nobel Peace Awards Committee has cancelled this year’s ceremony because China has not allowed the 2010 awardee, Liu Xiaobo, nor any family member, to travel to Oslo; Haiti is plagued by cholera and the population has uprisen in revolt against the UN Blue Helmets; Indonesia suffers from volcano eruptions with death toll rising; the Sahara territory under Moroccan dominion is isolated from the world whilst possible abuses are being committed; More than 30,000 children die each day due to hunger, and malnutrition shortens the life expectations of many thousand more; There are over a billion hungry people in the world today according to FAO’s malnutrition report, with almost 2/3 in Asia (where China & India have the largest populations) and 1/3 in Africa & Latin America.

I could go on to cite numerous such situations, not to mention that poverty has increased even in developed countries (15 M in 2009) the world over.

I wonder how our leaders can meet time and again to discuss economic & military issues and get nothing resolved to the world’s citizenry’s satisfaction in what really counts.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour


GENERAL MOTOR’S CHAPTER 11 – THE FADED AMERICAN DREAM

June 2, 2009
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 President Obama’s June 1st. deadline failed to force GMC’s creditors into a negotiated solution to avoid bankruptcy. The world champions of free-trade once more had to step down from traditionally a liberal stance on private enterprise to solemnly announce government intervention in yet another private stock-exchange quoted corporation.

Obama GM 

Previous negotiations to ease off the financial strain by getting rid of GMC’s European operations reached a tentative agreement to sell out to MAGNA STEYR, the Canadian-Austrian car parts manufacturer.  Concentrated in the GM Europe group with factories in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden & Russia producing European brands such as OPEL, SAAB & VAUXHALL and distributing American models and Korean-produced DAEWOO (sold as CHEVROLET), the European GM operations involved roughly 1/5 of its total 250.000 worldwide workforce.

 Assuming the EU’s intervention headed by Germany and its four affected Länders, the GMC crisis is far from a realistic solution. The Obama Administration failure to convince creditors, a large number of which are bond-holders, has forced the 60% takeover solution with an enormous disbursement from the U.S. public budget. It must be remembered that such funding was not only applied to the CHRYSLER crisis which may finally have a less tragic ending should Italy’s FIAT merger plan succeed, but also in the still quaky banking insolvency mess.

 GM stop

GMC has finally bowed down to what I pointed out as the fatal error of not applying Deming’s TQM which ended in TOYOTA’s factories instead. Ever since then, the U.S. automotive industry has slowed down to finally lag behind their Japanese competitors. Even efforts to participate in Asian operations such as was the case of GMC’s DAEWOO takeover in 2002 was insufficient to change the American giant’s TQM and strategic management philosophy.

 Chapter 11 for one of the American Dream’s hallmarks must prove shocking for most U.S. citizens to have been taught that such brands as CADILLAC or COCA-COLA are truly American contributions to the rest of the world.

 President Obama has indeed arrived as times required enormous changes not only to face up to economic crisis but also for the average American citizen to understand that the United States of America is a great nation that needs to examine its most elemental beliefs. Only then will the majority understand that the New Millennium has brought about something more than the tragic 9-11 that shook American society into crude reality. ¿Will “The Establishment” anchored in Washington D.C.’s powerful halls and lobbies let Obama play his cards? I wonder.

us_capitol star 

Madrid, June 2, 2009 


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