Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How is This Going to Work?

From the FT today:
The auction came as Mario Monti, Italy’s new prime minister leading a caretaker government of technocrats, appointed the rest of his team, with three deputy ministers and 25 under-secretaries sworn in on Tuesday morning. Vittorio Grilli, director of the Treasury, becomes deputy minister for the economy. None of the appointees are politicians.

Mr Monti said his government was “slim and strong” and was acting out of a spirit of “national interest”. However, he still depends on the support of the main centre-right and centre-left parties in parliament – who refused to join the government – in order to pass his planned reforms and budget-cutting measures.
Emphasis mine.  For all that a lot of us love to bash politicians, it seems to me that being a politician is actually a very demanding job requiring a lot of particular skills, knowledge, and personality traits (we can tell that it's a difficult job by the fact that so few of us are happy with the performance of our politicians).  The effect of picking a government of non-politicians will be a government that largely lacks those skills and traits.  It would seem that the predictable consequence will be a government that quickly angers the populace and lands itself in new political crises that it will be poor at managing.

I cannot conceive of a large business stating of its new executive management team "None of our team have prior business experience".  Shareholders would panic and defect in droves, and rightly so.  And yet somehow this is supposed to be a way to run a country?

Fall Surge in World Trade Missing

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

PIGS Inflation Continues Strong

I am at an exec offsite for my employer yesterday and today and cannot blog properly.  However a quick note that October inflation figures are out for the Eurozone, and the mystery of moderately strong inflation in the PIGS countries continues.

Overall, the Eurozone had 3% inflation over October 2010, with all the PIGS countries coming in near or above the average: Greece 2.9%, Spain 3%, Italy 3.4%, and Portugal 4%.  Ireland continues to be the main exception at 1.5% - the only one of the troubled peripheral countries with lower inflation than Germany at 2.9%.  So the idea that these peripheral countries have deeply depressed economies and will slowly disinflate their way to competitiveness doesn't seem to be working out.  I continue to be mystified as to why sellers have enough leverage to increase prices here.

Across the Eurozone, transportation continues to be the strongest component at 5.8% with housing a close second at 5.1%.  Inflation without unprocessed food or energy was 2.0%

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Google Reader Disaster

Count me with Tyler Cowen, Bruce Bartlett, and Brad DeLong - the new Google Reader is an absolute disaster.  Details here.  This has certainly soured me on the whole cloud/software-as-a-service thing.  One morning the provider just ups and decides to upgrade me to something much worse than what I had before.  I get no notice, no choice, and no recourse.  What on earth where they thinking?

Update: Hallelujah: a solution! (h/t Paul Kedrosky)

US Oil Consumption

Tuesday, November 1, 2011