Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Historic WTO Trade Deal: A Boon For Poorer Nations?

Started earlier this week will the historic “new deal” reached by the WTO served as a boon for poorer nations when it comes to world trade? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Critics argue that the “new deal” recently reached by the World Trade Organization will only benefit big corporations, but surprisingly most of the proposals on offer set to benefit poorer nations when it comes to negotiating with the rigmarole of global trade and commerce had been ratified by 159 signatory countries. It has been 12 years in the making and during the past few years been set back to the back burner in terms of discussions due to the 2008 global financial crisis a new deal has nonetheless been reached by the WTO recently in Bali, Indonesia back in December 7, 2013. 

Slated to add 1-trillion US dollars to the world’s overall GDP, the new WTO trade agreement sets to help the poorest countries trade their goods more freely by improving customs procedures and help them set farm subsidies that would benefit struggling local farmers. Even though 1-trillion US dollars might represent only one-twentieth the overall total of the world’s overall transactions, the very idea that it sets to help the poorest countries trade their goods on the global market more freely should be embraced with open arms. After all, critics had been complaining since the last century that globalization had done nothing to help the world’s poorest nations out of poverty through a more fair and inclusive global trading scheme. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The World Bank’s 2020 Financial Inclusion Program: Economically Viable Humanitarian Gesture?

An ambitious plan to provide basic financial access to all of the world’s working-age adults by the year 2020, is the World Bank’s upcoming financial inclusion program a kind of economically viable humanitarian gesture?

By: Ringo Bones 

One upon a time during the reign of Reagan and Clinton over much of the free world where every financially savvy freelancer had received their piece of the financial pie during this great period of widespread global economic expansion much of it due to the booming economy of the Clinton years. Unfortunately, not all of the working age persons around the world got their fair share of the profits of the economic good times during that period. Hopefully, a change for the better is at hand if the upcoming World Bank’s financial inclusion program succeeds in providing financial access to the 2.5 billion working-age persons that are currently have no access to basic financial services that have since became de rigueur in the developed world – like their own bank accounts, credit and basic insurance services – making them virtually denied access to financial security. 

Current studies show that as much as half of the world’s working-age adult population, almost all of them in the developing world, does not have access to basic banking services that had since been taken for granted in the developed world. Thankfully, a recent initiative by the World Bank that would eventually provide all working-age adults basic banking services by the year 2020 - given that almost all of them not only lack a working bank account, but also access to insurance services like unemployment insurance, a credit card account compatible with their wage, etc. 

During the past 30 years, Dr. Muhammad Yunus’ Grameen Bank had been one of the first financial institutions that provided financial inclusion to the working poor and self-employed small-business entrepreneurs in Bangladesh that in the next few years had served as a model for microfinance services that flourished in the region during the intervening years – as in nearby India and in the rest of the developing countries around the world. More recently, mobile banking services, like the Kenyan based M-Pesa stared by the telecommunications company Safaricom, had provided money transfer services for much of African continent to anyone with a mobile phone which had served as a vital lifeline to every independent small-business entrepreneurs across Africa.     

If it succeeds, the World Bank’s 2020 financial inclusion program could provide the much needed financial security for the rest of the world’s working-age adult population who currently don’t have access to basic banking services that serve as a precondition to financial security. Margaret Miller, chief economist of the World Bank, recently explained that their financial initiative is economically viable by current global financial practices. And the World Bank also aims to benefit the poor, the women and other vulnerable groups – i.e. ethnic minorities who are often unfairly targeted in times of economic strife – in most developing countries around the world. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Recent US Government Shutdown: Bad For the Global Economy?

Despite the “political fallout” of the recent US government shutdown largely confined within its own boarders, was this bone-headed move by the GOP really bad for the global economy? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The cause may be just a “mere” disagreement by the Tea Party leaning members of the US Republican Party over President Obama’s flagship healthcare, but the reasons behind the disagreement seems to read like the salient points of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf being shoehorned to the US Republican Party’s “interpretation” of the Christian Bible has cost the US economy 24 billion US dollars – or 0.6 percent of US GDP wiped out - in the 16-day government shutdown. But will a repeat of such a “political tantrum” – which will be due in January 14, 2014 – spell the death knell of the global economy? 

Reputational damage to the US government and of the US economy – from the perspective of the rest of the world – is quite considerable over the Tea Party leaning members of the US Republican Party resorting to manufacture a crisis in order to protect their vain political interests. Even Mainland China – who owns trillions of dollars of American Treasury Bills largely used by the Bush administration to fund its “War on Terror” during the first decade of the 21st Century – now calls for the global economic community to restructure the way they do business that’s decoupled from America’s recent politically triggered economic uncertainty. The last time the US Republican Party pulled such a prolonged shutdown was back in 1995 where a 21-day shutdown cost the US economy 1.5 billion US dollars. 

Can the global economy survive another political temper tantrum from the ultra right wing branch of the US Republican Party? The world’s leading tenured economists may shudder at the prospect, and unless the most radical right-wing members of the US Republican Party are voted out of Capitol Hill this upcoming mid-term elections in November 2014, the global economy might not survive another political temper tantrum from radical right-wingers who insisted that white Anglo Saxon Jesus didn’t miraculously cured the sick for free. I think things are worse that what Vanessa Williamson had been pointing out in The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Barclays Remittance Row: Draconian Anti Terror Measure?

Even though the move is allegedly to disrupt the finding of Al Qaeda related groups in Somalia, but is the latest Barclays anti-terror move just a bit too draconian for a majority of ordinary Somali citizens? 

By: Ringo Bones 

This could probably be the very first precedent of “non-fatal collateral casualties” in the on-going war on terror. Given Barclay’s “altruism” of doing their part of disrupting the day-to-day operations of Al Qaeda related groups – like the recent Al Shabaab attack on the Westgate Mall in Kenya back in September 21, 2013- wherever they may be, should the local innocent civilians have to suffer the consequences? 

With the recent decision of Barclays to end its deal with remittances companies in Somalia citing that they are just a financial front for Al Qaeda related terror groups, 3 Somali remittance firms have launched a legal action against Barclays over their rather draconian measure to disrupt terror groups in Somalia. Barclays claims that the remittances are used to fund Somalia based terror groups with sympathies to Al Qaeda that are currently launching terror attacks throughout Africa – which the latest high profile attack is the Kenyan Westgate shopping mall hostage taking and shooting incident by Al Shabaab operatives back in September 21. 

Somalia gets 60 percent of its foreign currency flow via remittances and the truth of which is that this “lifeline” service is primarily used to fund local small to medium business being run by ordinary Somalis with nothing to do with Al Qaeda whatsoever. Given that most of Somalia has just reached a state of normalcy after two decades of armed anarchy, is Barclay’s recent decision to end its remittance deal with Somalia for all intents and purposes just punishing the wrong group of people? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Twitter Joining The Stock Market Floatation: Caveat Emptor?

Given that Facebook’s stock value never went higher than its initial floatation, should prospective investors exercise caution when jumping on the Twitter IPO bandwagon? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Even though Twitter’s eagerly awaited IPO / stock market floatation was announced late last Thursday, September 12, 2013, many institutional investors seem to be exercising restraint when it comes to jumping on the Twitter bandwagon after the top brass running the very popular social media site decided plans to monetize their current popularity. Maybe it was because of Facebook IPOs never regaining their initial floatation value since released over a year ago. But will Twitter buck the trend and manage to do a miracle – i.e. be a better social media site IPO than Facebook?

It may seem not that long ago that Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made his first ever Tweet back in 2006 that Twitter became the social media site of choice of alleged pathological narcissists. Mollycoddling excuses aside, when seen for its mere advertisement revenue potential – Twitter is worth about 10 billion US dollars – about a quarter that of Facebook. And with 200 million plus users – a fifth that of Facebook – many wonder if investing in the upcoming Twitter IPO is a genuinely economically viable move. 

Twitter is slated to earn over 528 million US dollars via advertisement revenue this 2013. Many see it as a better investment than Facebook due to the high profile users currently on it. As in US President Barack Obama and the rather somewhat unsavory types like disgraced NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner who Tweeted photos of his privates. But will the resulting IPO money might blunt Twitter’s edginess factor in comparison to Facebook? After all when Facebook got its IPO and tried to “proverbiably” clean up its act by strictly policing posts – i.e. putting sanctions not just on “alleged pornographic posts” but also on “controversial” political posts like Uyghur Statehood Movement posts, Free Liu Xiaobo posts, Tibetan Freedom posts, etc. Might Twitter suddenly become a proverbial “police state” like Facebook once the millions of IPO revenues comes pouring in?