Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

ABDICACIÓN, PUERTA DE LA TRANSFORMACIÓN DE ESPAÑA

June 3, 2014
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ABDICACIÓN, PUERTA DE LA TRANSFORMACIÓN DE ESPAÑA.

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EUROPE’S UNION IN THE CROSSROADS: DO OR DIE

November 15, 2011
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Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.

–       Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

Spanish version:  http://wp.me/pRlnf-4D

 

The G-20 Summit of world leaders was held in Cannes a few days ago. As expected, no decisions were taken to resolve the economic crisis that affects the stability of a great number of countries. Not a word was said about establishing restrictions to speculative abuses that crop up based on ratings of agencies prone to cause alarm with their presumptions. Assisting the summit were the principal European leaders representing the EU as well as Germany, France, Italy and United Kingdom as full-pledged members, with Spain and The Netherlands as guests.

Just a few miles away, in Brussels, the Greek crisis with a call for referendum warning and the forthcoming Italian tempest had been left unsolved. Today, the Greek crisis remains unsolved although Greece’s elected Prime Minister (Papandreou) has had to step down and a new one (Papademos) appointed in his place without any elections.  Something similar went on in Italy just a few hours ago, with the forced resignation of Berlusconi after the approval of the demanded reforms and the appointment of Monti to replace him.

Two new figures, not elected by their respective citizens, assume their respective tasks; technocrats, as they are called, but without analysing their close links to the financial structures that, in my opinion, have been the root of this entire regrettable situation. Lukas Papademos was Vice-President of the ECB from 2002 till 2008 when Jean Claude Trichet was President whilst Mario Monti not only was a European Commissioner but also a consultant of the notorious American bank, Goldman Sachs.

Furthermore, in November, the turnover at the ECB has also taken place, with an Italian, Mario Draghi, taking over the chair occupied by Trichet from 2003 till late October. He is another figure related to the bank (Goldman Sachs) that caused more than a single financial quake, amongst which it is worth mentioning its advisory role to the Greek Government in the times of the conservative, Kostas Karamanlis, precisely when the state accounts were falsified in the reports to Brussels.

The irony of this entire circus is that a legitimately elected Papandreou was forced out of office for calling a referendum to approve his proposals but no one has said a word about prosecuting neither Karamanlis nor Goldman Sachs por having intentionally lied, causing the domino effect on the weaker Eurozone economies.

Thus, not only has a chance been lost in Cannes to set up global regulating and supervisory measure of the larger banking entities as well as the rating agencies but also it has allowed a slow transfer of previous bank executives and personalities linked to these entities to occupy relevant posts in the hierarchical big-shots of the EU and in the government of its member states.

Likewise, the American stance has taken a 360 degree change from Pittsburgh to Cannes. With elections in 2012, Obama does not wish to risk any confrontation with potential donors for his campaign funds, amongst which we may mention the larger U.S. banks and the powerful Jewish lobby. He abandons Europe to its fate, above all because he does not share the curt German stance in some questions of procedure and timing. Not even the goodwill efforts of the French President and proud father of a baby girl served to ease the tense atmosphere. Furthermore, Obama is aware that in spite of the Euro crisis, the currency has a strong quotation, benefitting the U.S. Dollar and facilitating its exports to the Old Continent while decreasing European countries competitiveness in world trade.

What seems to have gone unnoticed in all this week of European tension after the Cannes summit is that Munich  prosecutors ordered a search in the Deutsche Bank offices in relation to the famous ‘Kirch affaire’. In spite of the death of communications magnate, Leo Kirch, the lawsuit against Deutsche Bank continues its course, with outgoing CEO, Josef Ackerman, in the midst of the storm. The matter must have been of such importance that Ackerman announced his decision not to seek the appointment to the bank’s presidency, a rather difficult manoeuvre after the German banking law reforms in 2009. Said reforms establish a two-year grace period before a former CEO can aspire to the presidential post of a bank, with the only exception that 25% of the stockholders so demanded.

Angela Merkel has covered many inside details of the decisions taken in relation with the German banking system between 2005 and 2011, as well as her personal pact with Gerhard Schröder, with regards such a vital issue as energy, disguised under the so-called ‘grand coalition’. Few are conscious of the of Merkel’s stubborn tenacity that has brought her from that membership in the communist youth movement in her younger years in the extinguished GDR to become ‘my girl’ for conservative, Helmut Kohl. Her rise to power came by pure chance after a scandal caused the downfall of Kohl’s chosen successor, Wolfgang Schäuble, actually the Economic Minister in Merkel’s cabinet.

Perhaps that is the reason that one has given due importance to the very recent announcement of the inauguration of start-up of Operation Nord Stream, the gas pipeline agreed upon between Russia and German, with the blessing of France, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. Said pipeline will go from Vyborg in Russia to Greifswald in Germany in a submarine line across the Baltic Sea. In Russia’s behalf the participations is headed by state-owned Gazprom as natural gas supplier and Nord Stream AG, a German enterprise has been set up to handle constructions and operations. It is interesting to observe that former Prime Minister Schröeder has been involved in the Nord Stream project and with Gazprom since December, 2005, roughly a month after stepping down in favour of Angela Merkel.   

What makes this affair even uglier is the fact that the powerful EU members will share the spoils of Russian gas without sharing a bit with other Baltic member states, namely – Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – nor seem to have offered a gas link to the Scandinavian states for the moment. Nevertheless, said gas will indeed go across the English Channel to the United Kingdom.

This project is contrary to the interest of the pan-European Nabucco project which had set the goal of constructing a gas pipeline from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten in Austria, precisely with the intention of breaking EU dependence on Russian gas supply. The problems generated with Gazprom gas supply through Ukraine have left Central Europe and Italy without a reliable supply in more than one occasion whilst Turkey had offered its facilities in a sign of goodwill in its bid to join the EU. Germany has again vetoed a state that has been accumulating more merits to join the EU than some who already are in.

With partners who demand from the south sacrifices but will not share the favourable agreements with other non-EU states, it is no wonder that the Union of 27, each day, is turning into a more difficult endeavour.  In addition, those who impose the terms & conditions interpret the Stability & Growth Pact in such a manner as to oblige members to apply solutions thought out in conventional terms, in precisely the same line as those that created the problem.

Whilst our present-century ‘Medea’ is bossing around in Europe, the route travelled will be the wrong one and the estrangement amongst members each day larger.  How much must we wait before Merkel is sent into exile?     

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona, Spain     


G-20, SEOUL: MEETING OF QUESTIONED LEADERS

November 12, 2010
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Versión en español:  http://wp.me/pRlnf-1I


A series of meetings commenced in Seoul on Thursday evening amongst the countries that are considered to command the developed and emerging economies of the world. In this their fifth meet after the burst of the financial crisis, the countries belonging to the so-called G-20 Group plus some invited nations (Spain amongst them), shall try to reach an agreement.

 

What agreement must they reach?

 

In previous sessions, measures were adopted but almost none have been carried forward to full extent. Amongst such agreements were: the ‘re-foundation of capitalism’ or ‘strict regulations to curtail banking abuses’, to mention but a few of the numerous good-will statements that have ended in nowhere.

 

Con June 23rd., I wrote that the G-20 meet of Toronto   http://wp.me/pv6EY-4T was the last chance the leaders had to see the crisis from another angle. I reaffirm my previous statement. In the almost six months that have elapsed, world leaders have suffered a loss which makes them less credible than when they commenced to be a group of twenty bent to convert themselves into the new impulsive force of the world economy.

 

U.S. President Barack Obama has long shed his buoyant Nobel Peace Award to suffer his first relevant electoral defeat in the last mid-term elections.

France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy is undergoing is lowest ebb in popularity after a flood of strikes against his retirement age reforms, just as he is about to take over the G-20 rotating presidency. Precisely, he is the leader that so arrogantly announced during the Washington, D.C. summit in December 2008 the ‘re-foundation of capitalism’.

 

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, virtual winner in the UE arenas with her imposition of part of her criteria on budget deficit cutbacks and regulation measures on EU members’ non-compliance, is not more credible after several electoral defeats and the doubts arisen from her change of views in political affairs such as tax cuts and nuclear power plants closures.

 

Novell British Prime Minister, David Cameron, after some protocol misstep in his visit to China on the way to Seoul, has suffered his first student revolt in absentia whereby the younger Britons acted in a manner not seen since the times of his venerated mentor, Margaret Thatcher.

 

Needless to say that the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is not only subjected to an ethical scrutiny of his sexual misdoings but likewise has been practically abandoned to his fate by his parliamentarian supporter to date, the ultra-conservative leader, Gianfranco Fini.

Russian President Dmitri Medvédev still has the shadow cast by his mentor and actual prime minister, Vladimir Putin; a shadow that chases him every step he takes, without knowing who will finally be Russia´s new czar of this millennium.

 

Naoto Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister, had hardly landed when the last G-20 meet was held and no relevant role can be accounted him thus far in the search of a solution of the international crisis. He has enough with trying to keep himself in office longer than his predecessor who resigned after 8 months.

 

The last G-20 host, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not obtain a definite final communiqué in the June G-20 summit; hence the widening breach in various fronts that have led to the so-called ‘currency war’ at present. The threat of a G-2 mentioned in June is now a currency war between two adversaries, the USA & china, which brings the world back to the brink of another profound crisis.

 

The aforementioned leaders make up the original G-7 which with Russia added was converted to the G-8. Furthermore, the European Union was given a seat in the G-8 and likewise representation in the expanded G-20. These are the directors, up till the recognition of the G-20 as possible substitute forum, of the destiny of the world economy.

 

The G-20 has given more importance to the emerging powers, of which China, India & Brazil are worth emphasising. In fact, some of their objections to G-7 veteran member stances obliged these to reorient their postures in the last meets of this new economic forum. Furthermore, the emerging members have made their presence known in other forums, some of quite a bit of importance, such as the Doha Round con international trade & commerce and the summits on climate change & environment, the latest held in Copenhagen with a forthcoming event in the next few days at Cancun.

 

The world problem cannot be limited to economic issues and the policies in budget cutbacks but rather should be visualized from another angle based on globalised commercial interaction towards a more balanced distribution of wealth in the framework of sustainable development that doesn’t exterminate or planet nor put an end to its inhabitants’ liberties and social well-being.

 

And such lack of will to descend from their power-seats to see the problem from another angle is putting these questioned leaders at a stalemate, without any capacity to react much less to act correctly.

 

 

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.

Observer of Human Behaviour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


G-20 TORONTO SUMMIT: LAST CHANCE TO SEE THE CRISIS FROM ANOTHER ANGLE

June 23, 2010
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Spanish Version              http://wp.me/pRlnf-1a


After a futile Busan meeting of economic ministers earlier this month, hopes of progress and consensus amongst world leaders at the G-20 Summit are scarce.  One inevitable question crops up – Are these government leaders governing their nations and the world for the citizens that elected them or for the financial markets that sway their fragile decisions?

Just as Obama was about to take over at the White House and Spain was first invited into the group, the G-20 met in Washington D.C. under a retreating George Bush. Two other summits, London https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/hello-world/ & Pittsburgh https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/the-pittsburgh-summit-the-world’s-future/ , have been held since then with practically the same futile results. Chances are that the Toronto summit will be more along the same line.

Whilst the USA has flirted with China in what was dubbed ‘G-2 formula’, the EU has been incapable of having a solid single stance towards international economic policies in the successive summits. Furthermore, the White House is cautious about withdrawing public expenditure hastily meanwhile recovery is hardly convincing. On the contrary, German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has whipped other EU leaders with French President Sarkozy’s consent towards drastic public debt cutbacks in the 27-member club. This opposed views will make it difficult to come to a common ground in the truly indispensible actions G-20 leaders must take without further delay.

Canada’s Prime Minister and summit host, Stephen Harper, is precisely against the only common point between US and European leaders – the levy on bank operations. His posture will probably be used by other leaders from emerging economies to delay any actions that may endanger their respective growth rates. However, this very growth may well be the cause of economic overheating in Brazil, China and India that could put any recovery in serious trouble. Harper, who boasts of Canada´s economy y banking solvency seems to forget that he heads a nations that has steadily lost relevance in worlds affairs and whose banks are too conservative to be a reference as institutions for the New Millennium.

Moreover, China may have apparently made a concession to the USA with regards the Yuan but it would prove naive to consider such tactical move as a definite trend towards Chinese permanent cooperation in all economic and political international issues. On the contrary, this move may well be countered by a rather steadfast stand against any of the US–EU proposal at the Toronto summit.

In a similar manner, Brazil’s outgoing President, Lula Da Silva, in an effort to impress Brazilian electors and assure his proposed successor’s victory will probably play a hard-line strategy against US proposals.

I feel that world leaders continue being incapable to think big https://fernandofusterfabra.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/world-leaders-uncapable-to-think-big/ nor are they creative enough to view the crisis issue from another angle. It is evident that the G-20 meet must start off by recognising the main cause of this sneaky situation. No solutions will ever be effective if free-trade and globalisation isn’t governed by global financial & investment regulations agreed by world leaders and implemented under strict authorized international supervisors. The care-free ways of liberal monetary flows has been unleashed for three decades to produce the existing crisis that may well pervade another decade or so.

Is any world leader brave enough to put the warning bell leash on the market’s unscrupulous misdoings?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona


ANGLO-SAXON BUCCANEER PRESS AIDS 21ST. CENTURY FINANCIAL PIRATES

February 28, 2010
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It is no paranoia but each day that passes it becomes a more established fact that vested interests acting as 21st. century pirates are behind all the attacks on the Euro.

Ever since The Economist, Financial Times & WSJ lambasted Spain’s Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero last January, the markets have been watchful of the Euro and those members of the Eurogroup (Portugal, Italy, Greece & Spain)  mentioned as “PIGS”; thus commenced a well planned offensive by no less than first-line hedge funds and CDS swap holders.

By comparing Spanish economy to that of Greece, the buccaneer British & American press were preparing the groundwork to link Greece’s dilemma with Spain. Further pressure was applied at Davos, with no less that Roubini making his interested statements to cast more than a shadow of a doubt upon the unemployment burdened Spanish economy.

In truth, it is unbelievable that markets can be so naive to fall for recommendations from economists like Roubini or investors such as Soros, who are directly implicated in investments schemes of their own or act as liaisons for influential investments funds. The investment advisors with such personal investment interests will never favour the small fry unless you play within their own investment funds. Even then, Soros (Soros Fund Management) and his sort reserve the best classified information only for their “select group of friends”.

Such seems to be what was brewing in that top-level New York dinner-meeting of hedge fund promoters a month ago (February 8th.). Availing of Greece’s possible public debt default, like vulgar scavengers, all set their eyes in weakening the Euro against the U.S. Dollar, in order to rake in fabulous profits in short-selling & CDS operations (practice that caused Lehman Brother’s bankruptcy)  that would not only alter currency exchange equilibrium but likewise destabilise stock exchange markets.

In spite of said attack, the bet of a 1 to 1 ratio rate between the Euro and the U.S. Dollar has not been reached. Expected profits fell short of expectations. This can only mean that the buccaneer American & British press must press on till these financial pirates can reach their profit goal in this first quarter of 2010.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


THE HAITI TRAGEDY & POVERTY: WORLD POWERS MUST ACT NOW

January 20, 2010
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New tremors in Haiti today whilst dead still litter the streets, wounded are treated in open-air installations and humanitarian relief is slowly distributed in a trickle, proves that last week’s earthquake tragedy is but the tip of the true disaster in such forsaken paradise in the Caribbean.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the American continents and one of the poorest in the world, has been plagued since its independence from France in 1804 by political instability that provoked the United States to occupy the territory from 1915 to 1934. Further U.S. military and financial support in 1954 to François Duvalier (Papa Doc) imposed upon the island a pretended dynasty with his son, Jean-Claude (Nené Doc), succeeding him in 1971. A national uprising overthrew him in 1981 but still Haiti continued to live in misery in one coup after another that brought corrupt leaders into power.

In a country where poverty is circumvented only with the funds from foreign aid and numerous NGOs operating humanitarian missions, it is understandable that the eradication of poverty has not been a priority for its successive governments. Lax government controls on the use of aid funds for development, health & educational projects have permitted the deviation of huge sums into private bank accounts of Haitian government officials.

The participation of the United Nations has not been limited to humanitarian support through its agencies but likewise had involved Blue Helmets stationed in the territory. However, it must be said that the U.N. role in Haiti has always gone along stream that of the United States and the U.N. Blue Helmet detachment was in lieu of American soldiers that were no more.

With last week’s earthquake, President Obama again compromised U.S. military forces for Haiti. The European Union headed by the Spanish Government which occupied this semester’s rotating presidency likewise acted resolutely with not too much ado and contributed towards a quick solution.

However, a new dilemma has arisen. Not taking seriously anti-American comments by Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez, the postures of French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva on U.S. troops on Haitian soil seemed out of place at a point  and time when humanitarian action was the only true concern.

Which brings me to question the handling of this situation:- Have we reached a point where the United Nations has lost authority and effectiveness to handle world crisis or major disasters?

Is protagonist role all world leaders think of or want when such situations arise or should these think first of the human tragedy?

The silent but effective actions undertaken from Spain and Spanish coordination of  the EU aids must be applauded. The quick reaction from the White House must be praised too.

It is not time for lead roles or being on front page headlines. It is time to seriously think why the developed countries have not resolved yet the poverty and misery that only ends in more misery in tragedies such as the Haitian earthquakes these days.

It is time to meditate whether the organization whose creation and charter were mean to face up to the challenges of a world in peace has failed in its objectives during this past six decades.

World leaders must decide whether the time has come to think more of justice and minimum quality of life for any human being with a new social & political order that the United Nations has been unable to provide.

Has the time arrived for a change in world governance?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


EUROPEAN UNION: FIRST SIX MONTHS OF LISBON TREATY & SPANISH PRESIDENCY

January 20, 2010
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Today, Spain’s Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, presented the objectives of the EU’s first semester within the scope of the recently ratified Lisbon Treaty. His extemporaneous speech before the European Parliament was centred on the economic crisis but his explanations went on to indicate his inclination towards social policymaking.

Just a few weeks back, Rodríguez Zapatero went under fire in U.K. newspapers (The Financial Times & The Economist), seconded by Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. Whilst the WSJ editorials are tinted by the ultra-conservative influence of no less than Murdoch’s Spanish Sancho Panza, in the person of Spain’s former Prime Minister José Mª Aznar, those written by British economic experts went beyond the limits of journalistic competence in questioning Zapatero’s capabilities in a sarcastic comparison to popular British TV character, Mr. Bean.

In its fourth rotating mandate, Spain has so far lived up to expectations, with important European milestones set in each one of its presidential semesters. With a clear all-out support of the EEC, later the EU, Spain has earned its entry into the European club and has there onward led some initiatives which other members, like the United Kingdom for one, have yet to set into their agendas.

This semester is too important for the 27-Member Union to waste words in sarcasm and destructive criticism, more so when the United Kingdom has undermined EU unifying efforts in too many occasions.

As an expert in EU relations, the underlying motive of such mocking comments is certain resentment towards Spain far beyond the political scene and more focused on Spanish corporations taking over numerous British enterprises in the last few years, to name a few – Banco Santander and Iberdrola.

In spite of Spain’s high unemployment rate at the present time, never has the U.K. generated as much jobs as Spain has in the years before the outbreak of the worldwide financial crisis nor has it contained its public deficit to have Spain’s five-year surplus. In fact, Tony Blair’s apparent economic miracle was partly a well-designed accounting reengineering by no less than Gordon Brown, as narrated in detail in the book – Fantasy Island.

Furthermore, Brown’s government has again manipulated figures in order to hide from EU scrutiny state subsidies to British banks in violation of European Commission regulations. Whereas Spain has not nationalised a single bank, the U.K. has both subsidized illegally and nationalised bankrupt entities. Whilst Spain has an exemplary supervision of financial entities the U.K.’s banking system is a free-for-all that allows quite a few irregularities.

The British economy has a full decade ahead before it can say it is out of the rut even if stats show that recession may have come to an end in 2009’s last quarter. What these financial newspapers seem to forget is that whilst Spain now lingers in unemployment, its growth potential in new technologies (solar & wind energy) and innovative activities (electric cars) with renewed immigrant labour forces will launch Spain into a new cycle of competitive businesses. What has been known as the financial crisis is greatly accountable to the uncontrolled business in Wall Street and The City. All risky financial gimmicks launched by the American & British banks have brought us to where we are.

Likewise, the British press seems to resent Obama’s chummy attitude towards Spain’s Prime Minister in detriment of Gordon’s declining role. Should the Tories take over next May, 10 Downing Street may still drift further away from The White House.

Spain has a challenge to reemploy its workers but the United Kingdom has a greater challenge – to start admitting they are no longer an empire.

It’s best these newspapers think twice their words before going to press. I’ll be watching in 2020 where the United Kingdom is to be compared to an environmental conscious businesslike Spain in this coming decade.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


LESSONS TO LEARN FROM OLYMPICS 2016

October 3, 2009
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The Olympic Committee meet in Copenhagen has been a frenzy of activity these past days. Each of the four candidate cities has tried to lobby at its best throwing around the weights of their respective political leaders and personalities. Several important lessons are to be learned.

Obamas CopenhagenNo less than an ever smiling U.S. First Lady in the person of Michelle Obama swam through the rows of Committee delegates in search of their favourable votes. President Obama made a lightning visit to preside the Chicago Delegation at its final candidacy presentation. Both of the couple’s speeches filled the hall in the early morning hours with a heart touching appeal on the city where they lived their love and lives. Chicago was at that moment one of the favourites to host the Olympic Games 2016.

100Lula CopenhagenThe Brazilian delegation could offer no less with President Lula da Silva up front. His appeal was based on a reasonable sentiment – South America has as yet never hosted the Olympic Games. Brazil demanded justice and the election of Río de Janeiro as Olympic host for 2016. Lula, too, spoke from the heart seeking recognition of his excellent track record in bringing Brazil out of poverty into the top 10 developed economies of the world.

The new Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, was present to seek another historic accomplishment to add to his own election. Japan’s Olympic proposal was probably the most solid futurist environmental project but cold reasoning had to have a good dose of emotions to make it work.

Finally, Spain had an overload of emotion and no less than the King & the Queen, Juan Carlos I and Sofía, leading the delegation of political leaders from the state government down to the city mayor, passing through the regional president. Even the opposition leader was there to give support. Never before had such unity been so visible amongst embattled political leaders in any issue. The Olympic candidacy of Madrid had brought them all together.

After the four excellent presentations that began at 8 a.m. with Chicago and closed at half past three with Madrid, all eyes the world over were set on the voting procedure the Olympic Committee follows for such selection process.

All bets seemed to place Chicago and Río de Janeiro as the favourites. Scarce public enthusiasm of the Tokyo population seemed to run against them. On the contrary, Spain’s all-out support went beyond the city limits of Madrid. Nevertheless, Spain realistically admitted that the weight of Obama’s presence could force them out at the first or second vote.

At the first casting, a great surprise! Chicago fell from the list. What did happen to make the committee members discard the American candidacy? Michelle Obama’s dream to see “her city” hosting the 2016 Olympic Games went into pieces. The American public watching the proceedings on TV went aghast. What happened to the Obama charm? It didn’t work this time.

With apparent logic, Tokyo went down next. All had thought that either Tokyo or Spain should have gone down first. No large crowds saw their city’s defeat on TV. Tokyo was living its hectic life as usual without the minimum shock of having been eliminated.

Not so in Brazil and Spain, where thousands massed around specially prepared scenarios to rally their respective candidacies. Perhaps, this is the essence of the Olympic spirit far beyond the perfection of projects and the profitability of investments.

rio2016The final call for vote had both delegations in suspense till 6:45 p.m. when finally Mr. Jacques Rogge, Olympic Committee President, unveiled the winner – Río de Janeiro.

The frenzy and boisterous joy of the Brazilian delegation contrasted with the dampened spirits of the Spaniards. However, as I see it both had won. Brazil and Spain were indeed sharing a turn in the tides of Olympic History.

For Brazil, the appointment of Río de Janeiro as seat of the 2016 Olympics is the gold medal that Lula da Silva deserves before he steps down from office in 2010. Properly handled, it is the opportunity not only Brazil deserves but also all South America. Furthermore, the U.S. supremacy, as President Obama stated at the U.N. General Assembly must be shared with others. The shift of the weight has begun.

políticos españoles copenhagueFor Spain, the sweet-sour defeat has a rather important teaching. For once, politicians from both major political parties – socialists & conservatives – were together in an effort and a dream. Biased opinions were set aside. Work was carried out by a team with a single objective, to make Madrid a better humane sports-loving city. If they went so far as to be the unpredicted finalist against one of the favourites, then working together must have been the bonding element that led them up the steps to victory. Why not learn the lesson and work together for the Spanish citizens who are always willing to support worthy endeavours?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Madrid


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 


OBAMA’S WOES FOR NEXT 100 DAYS

May 11, 2009
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Having reached his first 100 days with an excellent rate of approval, President Obama has now to face issues both in at home and in the international scenario. No doubt that his firmness in applying economic measures in the bankrupt-threatened automobile industry and the cash-thirsty banking sector has alerted executives the nation over that he means business. However, the international scene is far from being under control and U.S. blunders in the years of the Bush Administration have mined Washington’s credibility as the world’s foremost leader.

As I already observed in previous blogs, Europe has still to see proof of Obama’s goodwill in the global international scenario and Latin America applauded at the Port-of-Spain summit without really giving the new U.S. Administration al approval of what is to come. From a rather broad and objective perspective, the start-off earned a merited approval but also showed that The White House with its new tenant has a lot of legal obstacles to overcome before he can push through relevant promises of his election campaign. Moreover, in trying to move away from his predecessor’s pathetic decisions, President Obama and his team are encountering numerous insurmountable legal of loopholes which will slow down key changes towards a more humane and accepted U.S. government.

obama-brown    If George Bush had his Waterloo in the invasion of Iraq, President Obama’s may well be the Afghanistan – Pakistan terrorist issue. True to say, the Afghanistan Taliban conflict is an inheritance of wrong U.S. strategic policies in trying to circumvent the Russian occupation in the 80’s of this arid central Asian territory. As in many other occasions, the U.S. Administration has supported rebel groups that afterwards have turned to bite their sponsor’s hand, as was the case of the Taliban entrenched in the mountains fighting off the Russian invasion. For almost a decade, Washington entrusted Pakistan’s rule to a military leader only to find that this trust did not resolve the free flow of Al Qaida terrorists through Pakistan to other countries. Today, both Pakistan and Afghanistan have turned into a tough international with the U.S. Administration scarcely supported by other western allies. The European Union flatly turned down President Obama’s request for more troops in Afghanistan and the fleeing Pakistani civilians will briefly have caused a new refugee issue similar to that of the Middle East. Where does Washington expect to turn to when none of the bordering Asian neighbours – India, Iran, and China – wish to support U.S. military plans in the region.

clinton-peres       Further complications will have to arise in the interconnection between Taliban & Palestinian Muslims, should Israel’s hard-line foreign policy towards the Palestinian Territory prevail. The negotiators’ bloc – U.S.A, European Union, United Nations & Russia – presently attempting to bring postures closer has found the recent appointment of a hawkish right-wing Israeli government a serious drawback in their efforts. Not even the recent visit of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, seems to have softened Israel’s new position. Perhaps, this is the very reason why President Obama has scheduled to address a speech on June 4th. from El Cairo to the entire Muslim world. The brief presidential stay in Turkey scarcely a month ago may have not had the desired effects as per White House strategy. The contents of said message are surely relevant enough for the U.S. President to travel twice in such a short period to practically the same region.

chavez-lula           But woes always come in a bunch and Obama’s aren’t any exception. His apparent success in winning over some Latin American leaders at the V Summit of the Americas three weeks ago has now been clouded by Chavez’s latest seizures which may in some way have been provoked by a recent OAS report about Venezuela’s democratic rating. The divided Latin American leaders have shown their lack of united criteria in recent meetings between Brazil’s Lula and his Argentinean & Paraguayan counterparts, as well as harsh disqualifications made by Bolivia’s Morales o Venezuela’s Chavez against Peru’s García. Obama may have hoped to find in Lula a spokesman for all South America, a situation that is far from reality.

Relations with Russia are newly turning icy-cold after two Canadian NATO diplomats faced spying accusations and were expelled from the Russian territory. Russian influence in the Central Asian & Middle East scenarios is quite well-known, with its pronounced pro-Iranian defence of this state’s nuclear programme. More is coming Obama’s way, not only due to tense situations to arise in Asia and Africa in the forthcoming weeks in U.S. relations with China and the Two Koreas in the offing and complications menacing in focal points of Africa.

Finally, the Obama Administration seems to be playing hide-n-seek in its future stand at the Doha Round. Protectionist statements at times and liberal free-markets speeches make U.S. partners wonder exactly if Obama speaks up from the heart or off the cuff, as he joked during the recent newspapermen’s dinner in Washington D.C.. The White House will sooner or later have to let the cat out of the bag and face up to global market reactions either way it may go on world trade and the future of WTO-sponsored talks.  

US-Gibraltar  It is interesting to observe that the new U.S.  Administration may be undergoing lack of coordination between Treasury boss, Tim Geithner and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, just to cite one example. Recently, Geithner singlehandedly signed a protocol agreement with Gibraltar’s Colonial Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, in an inappropriate state status scenario which is insulting to Spain’s decades-long claim over The Rock, a U.K. Colony retained on the basis of the 18th. century Treaty of Utrecht.

 obama-zp           Precisely, Spain is certainly a key partner in any   attempt by the  Obama Administration to open talks both in the Middle East and the Latin American scenarios. The White House team should check out its coordinates and communicate better to avoid further woes in the international scene. The U.S. Government will need all help possible from its solvent partners in Europe if it wants to resolve ticklish issues in several conflictive regions.

 

Madrid, May 11, 2009


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