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International - Jan 24

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Could Ecuador Be the Most Radical and Exciting Place on Earth?

Jayati Ghosh, Guardian/UK
Ecuador must be one of the most exciting places on Earth right now, in terms of working towards a new development paradigm. It shows how much can be achieved with political will, even in uncertain economic times.

Just 10 years ago, Ecuador was more or less a basket case, a quintessential "banana republic" (it happens to be the world's largest exporter of bananas), characterised by political instability, inequality, a poorly-performing economy, and the ever-looming impact of the US on its domestic politics.

In 2000, in response to hyperinflation and balance of payments problems, the government dollarised the economy, replacing the sucre with the US currency as legal tender. This subdued inflation, but it did nothing to address the core economic problems, and further constrained the domestic policy space.

A major turning point came with the election of the economist Rafael Correa as president. After taking over in January 2007, his government ushered in a series of changes, based on a new constitution (the country's 20th, approved in 2008) that was itself mandated by a popular referendum. A hallmark of the changes that have occurred since then is that major policies have first been put through the referendum process. This has given the government the political ability to take on major vested interests and powerful lobbies.

The government is now the most stable in recent times and will soon become the longest serving in Ecuador's tumultuous history. The president's approval ratings are well over 70%. All this is due to the reorientation of the government's approach, made possible by a constitution remarkable for its recognition of human rights and the rights of nature, and its acceptance of plurality and cultural diversity.

Consider just some economic changes brought about in the past four years, beginning with the renegotiation of oil contracts with multinational companies. Ecuador is an oil exporter, but had benefited relatively little from this because of the high shares of oil sales that went to foreign oil companies. A new law in July 2010 dramatically changed the terms, increasing the government's share from 13% to 87% of gross oil revenues.

Seven of the 16 foreign oil companies decided to pull out, and their fields were taken over by state-run companies. But the others stayed on and, as a result, state revenues increased by $870m (£563m) in 2011.

... these increased government revenues were put to good use in infrastructure investment and social spending. Ecuador now has the highest proportion of public investment to GDP (10%) in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, social spending has doubled since 2006. This has enabled real progress towards the constitutional goals of free education at all levels, and access to free healthcare for all citizens. Significant increases in public housing have followed the constitution's affirmation of the right of all citizens to dignified housing with proper amenities.
(19 January 2012)



Cómo bajar de marcha sin perder el tren

Carlos Fresneda, El Mundo
Carl Honoré viene de dar la vuelta al mundo a la busca de soluciones "lentas" y duraderas. El impulsor del movimiento 'slow', autor de 'Elogio de la lentitud' y 'Bajo Presión', ha salido a la busca de fórmulas alternativas al 'quick fix', esa obsesión por la chapuza rápida que ha terminado por arruinar la economía.

Le preguntamos si ha encontrado la "respuesta lenta" a la crisis, y nos devuelve con sorna la respuesta: "Uf, si la tuviera no estaría aquí en Londres sino a lo mejor en Ginebra, haciéndome de oro. Lo que me preguntas realmente es si existe una respuesta 'slow' y rápida, pero eso sería caer en la paradoja. La verdad es que resolver el problema en el que estamos va a llevar tiempo y va a provocar cambios muy profundos. Las placas tectónicas no han hecho más que empezar a moverse.".

La "apoteosis de la velocidad", según Honoré, es la razón primera y última del agujero en el que estamos desde la caída de Lehman Brothers. "Cuando las empresas financieras empiezan a medir sus ganancias en fracciones de segundo, está claro que han perdido la brújula. La velocidad se ha convertido en un virus y ha contagiado todas las actividades económicas: inversiones rápidas, consumo rápido, deuda rápida... Lo hacíamos todo con tanta prisa que no hemos tenido tiempo de ver lo profundo que llegamos".
(12 December 2012)



Le “Peak Everything” (ou la fin des haricots)

Par SuperNo, Altermonde-sans-frontières
Je vous bassine depuis cinq ans avec le Peak Oil, qui devait entraîner à court ou moyen terme la chute de l’économie mondiale et la fin de la doctrine croissanciste. Mais à y regarder de plus près, ce n’est pas la seule pénurie qui nous guette. Conséquence directe de la croissance mondiale infernale, d’autres ressources vont rapidement venir à manquer. Oh, pas forcément en même temps. Mais en l’espace de 2 ou 3 décennies, nombre de ressources indispensables à la conservation de notre niveau de vie vont devenir plus rares, et ne pourront plus être exploitées en quantité suffisante.

Pour ceux qui auraient pris le train en marche, deux notions de base, niveau maternelle moyenne section. On remarquera au passage que 99.9 % de nos politiciens, dont certains ont pourtant fait toutes les études que l’on peut faire (Normale Sup, l’ENA, Polytechnique…) n’ont toujours pas compris ces notions.

1 - Il n’y a pas de croissance infinie dans un monde fini. (les seuls à penser le contraires sont les fous, les économistes, mais aussi les politiciens et les médias qui leur servent la soupe). En maths, une exponentielle monte jusqu’au ciel. Sur terre, il y a un plafond avant, sur lequel la croissance est déjà en train de se fracasser.
2 - (C’est un peu plus dur, mettons n
iveau CE2). Toute consommation d’une ressource finie passe par un maximum, après lequel elle ne peut que décroître pour finalement tomber à 0. Dans un ancien billet, je prenais l’exemple de quelqu’un qui fait pipi : la capacité de sa vessie étant finie, il pourra s’efforcer tant qu’il peut d’augmenter le débit, à un moment le jet se mettra à décroître avant de s’arrêter inexorablement. Le maximum du débit, c’est ce qu’on appelle le “Pic”. En rosbif “Peak”.

Le pic ne signifie évidemment pas la fin de la production. Simplement, les prix montent, et puisque toute la demande ne peut plus être honorée, toute croissance devient impossible. Les estimations des pics ne sont certes pas précises à la minute. Et elles varient en fonction des sources. Là encore, la malhonnêteté, la corruption et la propagande jouent un grand rôle. Une grande compagnie pétrolière ne va évidemment pas avouer que son business va décliner et s’arrêter dans quelques années : pour protéger ses actionnaires, elle va surestimer ses réserves et soudoyer des experts véreux pour accréditer ses bobards.

Pour éviter ce piège, je me suis basé sur les travaux d’un groupe indépendant allemand, l’Energy Watch Group
(21 January 2012)
Aussi: Marianne2.

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