Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

by | Jan 19, 2017 |

Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

Let’s ponder October 1929 and October 2008

For the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who during the World Economic Forum in Davos, paradoxically seeming to be defending Free Trade, threw at the new American president, Donald Trump on January 17th, 2017 that no one would emerge as the winner of a trade war, or as he put it, a Return to protectionism, in this day and age, is it feasible ?

“It doesn’t help to blame globalization. Any attempt to stop trade in capital, technology, and products between countries is impossible and contrary to history. We must remain committed to the development of free trade and investment (transnational), and say no to protectionism. We got to ‘rebalance’ globalization, and make it stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable”. In this context it is useful to recall the fundamentals of the crisis of 1929 and 2008.

The 1929 Crisis.

The 1929 crash is caused by a speculative bubble, whose genesis dates back to 1927. It was a new system of credit purchase of shares based on investors buying securities with 10% coverage that started it all. It was ‘Black Thursday’ October 24th, 1929 that the famous crisis broke out in the United States.

le krach boursier de Wall street plongeant l’économie américaine et l’économie mondiale, dans la tourmente et ce malgré l’apparente santé de l’économie américaine dont les bases de sa croissance étaient pourtant faibles.

The stock crash of Wall Street plunged the American and the global economy in turmoil, and this despite the apparent health of the U.S. economy of which bases of its growth, were however weak.

October 2008

There are many similarities between the crisis of October 1929 and October 2008. Economic boom prior to the crisis, rising debt and divorce between the real and financial impact on the real economy with the fall of technology stocks.

But in contrast with 1929, it is the interconnection of economies with stronger global regulation where the developed countries economies being in deflation (low inflation, unemployment, negative growth) and not stagflation (inflation and unemployment decline) that characterised 2008.

As evidenced by the socialization of losses of some banks, the rapid response of the central banks of the US Fed., the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, Japanese, Russian, and even Chinese and Indian banks in coordination so as to break the vicious circle in the lack of confidence and the blocked interbank lending that is the lifeblood of the functioning of the global economy.

All economic and reliable financial system is based on trust. With repeated bankruptcies, interbank credit source of the expansion of the global economy has tended to dry out especially at the investment banks that have experienced an unparalleled expansion in the contemporary period.

However, unlike a universal bank, a Merchant Bank has not the possibility, in case of difficult market conditions, to rely on deposits of individuals to raise money for the short term, although they continue to issue short-term debt to finance their business.

However, more financial institutions from which investment banking sourced finance do refuse in times of crisis to lend for lack of confidence in the ability of repayment of these banks. Generally the essence of the crisis of both 1929 as of 2008 are a distortion of the Foundation of capitalism as describing by the founders of political economy based on the enterprising creators of wealth, Karl Marx did not write about Socialism but the Capital.

This crisis is therefore related to the increasing financialisation in disconnection with the real economy and not in symbiosis of any economic and social dynamics forgetting that labour is certainly a price but also creator of value and growth through consumption. Indeed, with this increasing financialisation, we have two types of shares ownership.

The direct holding (those who own directly) and the indirect holding (those who own through an intermediary such as management, life insurance companies, pension funds, etc.). The new fact is changing fast and important type of shares held by households. The direct holding of shares becomes a minority whereas the indirect holding grew strong.

It is the pension funds that control Wall Street whilst managing more than one third of the market capitalization of the USA today. These malfunctions have been materialised with the mortgage crisis of the Subprime in August 2007; a crisis that has spread across the global stock markets with great losses which I summarize in five steps:

  1. The banks made mortgages available to insolvent households or with few guarantees, at high interest rates;
  2. Dissemination of bad debt in the market: to evacuate the risks, banks “securitised” their debts, meaning that they cut their debt in financial products to resell them on the market. Globalisation did the rest, by disseminating these risky securities in the portfolios of investors from all over the world. Hedge funds have been big buyers of Subprimes, often on credit to boost their yields (up to 30% per year), and played the leverage effect, hedge funds borrow up to 90% of the sums required;
  3. Reversal of the U.S. real estate market: towards the end of 2005, U.S. interest rates began to rise while the financial market has faltered. Thousands of households have been unable to honour their payments causing losses for banks and investors who bought bonds saw their value collapse:
  4. Confidence crisis: the banks found themselves in a situation where as in a poker game, they know what they have on their balance sheet, but not what is in that of others because these bad mortgages were bought everywhere in the world and we don’t know what is the distribution of risk where a serious crisis of confidence and since July 2007, this situation causes the exchanges to fall and paralyzes the interbank market; banks are paying more or very little fearing that their counterparts are in a red line;
  5. Intervention of central banks: facing the paralysis in the market, the Central Banks intervened massively in early August 2007 by injecting hundreds of billions of Dollars and Euros in cash.

November 15th, 2008 : G20 crisis meeting in Washington, USA.

Elle s’est articulée autour de  cinq objectifs dont  le renforcement du système de régulation qui ne saurait signifier protectionnisme. Premièrement de dégager une réponse commune à la crise financière-deuxièmement ouvrir les pistes d’une réforme en profondeur du système financier international -troisièmement prendre de nouvelles initiatives pour parer à d’éventuelles faillites bancaires et imposer aux banques de nouvelles normes comptables -quatrièmement des règles plus strictes sur les agences de notation, la titrisation et les parachutes dorés

This meeting focused on five objectives, including the strengthening of the system of regulation which does not mean protectionism.

  • First to identify a common response to the financial crisis;
  • Second to open tracks for a reform of the international financial system;
  • Third to take new initiatives to counter possible bank failures and impose on the banks of new accounting standards;
  • Fourth to adopt stricter rules on credit rating agencies, securitisation and the Golden parachutes;
  • Finally, in fifth to increase public spending through coordinated budget deficits, but for the benefit of energy savings for the building and infrastructure development and clean auto technology, questioning the European stability pact (3% of GDP and spending on / GDP less than 60%.)

But it is clear that in this month of January 2017, the global economy is still characterized by turbulence with protectionist options but in a framework of unbridled internal liberalization wanting back in vogue Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, which is likely to repeat the scenario of the 1929.  However, the strategic goal is to rethink the current global economic system that promotes bipolarisation North / South, poverty detrimental to the future of humanity, which is also accelerated by the most questionable governance on behalf of most of the leaders of the South.

In short, the return to global protectionism is a chimera and realism will prevail in the end.

In the meantime, let us meditate the crisis of October 1929 and that of October 2008. The large deficit of the American balance of payments, which will be accentuated with the new spending program announced by the new president (with the risk of a loss in value of the Dollar), is currently offset by the large flows of capital from outside the US. . Let us for the sake for humanity, put aside all nationalism, chauvinism that are source of tensions, hatred and war and meditate this quote that is sometimes attributed to French president Charles de Gaulle, under the title “Patriotism is loving his country, Nationalism, is hate of others’” and sometimes to Romain Garyn in his book “European Education” published in 1945 under the title “Patriotism is the love of one’s kin Nationalism is hatred of others”.    ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Cities and the Rise of the Sharing Economy

This article is written by Carlo Ratti, Director, SENSEable City Lab, MIT and published on the WEF on Monday 19 December 2016 is posted here for its obvious interest for our readers.  Working on after defining the Importance of Cities and the Rise of the Sharing Economy in the world of tomorrow seems to be the key for resolving our problems of climate change and all.  The MENA region is hinted at only in the Rise of the Sharing Economy graph where it is rated little above the world average.

These four numbers define the importance of our cities: -2, 50, 75 and 80

Cities are home to more than half the world’s population, and that number continues to grow. How should they adapt to cope with demand? This is a question that will increasingly be answered by technology, says Carlo Ratti, Director of MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory and co-chair of the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization. In this interview, Ratti envisions a future where our homes, offices and even our furniture is designed to evolve and respond to how we use them, rather than the other way around.

Why is it important to think about the future of urbanization?

Four numbers define the importance of cities: 2, 50, 75 and 80. Cities occupy 2% of the world’s surface, but they are host up to 50% of the world’s population, are responsible for 75% of global energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions. Hence, if we made our cities just a little more efficient, we could have a major global impact.

What emerging trends are set to shape how we live in cities?

The internet is entering the physical space, merging the physical and digital layers – and this is opening up a new world of applications, from energy to mobility, water management to citizen participation.

For example: today, a staggering amount of energy is wasted on heating or cooling empty offices, homes and partially occupied buildings. At MIT we researched how the Internet of Things could help to synchronize human presence with climate control – that is, heating or cooling people, not entire buildings. We developed and tested prototypes that we are now applying architecturally – for example, in the redesign of Fondazione Agnelli, an historical building in Torino, Italy.

Occupants of the building will be followed as they move around by a personalized heating, cooling and lighting system, like an individually-tailored environmental bubble, optimizing space usage and limiting energy waste.

image-statista-1Image: Statista

How else might technology change the way we use buildings?

Think about our working lives. We already have the technological tools to enable remote working, but most of us still commute to offices every day. Why hasn’t remote working taken off as much as many people thought it would? Because being in the same building makes it easier for people to share knowledge, generate ideas, and pool talents and perspectives.

But how do we maximize these effects? That’s a question technology will increasingly answer. New tools are emerging to measure human connections and spatial behaviour and how they relate to productivity and creativity. That will inform how workplaces are organized.

Historically, buildings have been rigid and uncompromising – more like corsets than t-shirts. Increasingly we will design buildings and digitally integrated furniture that evolve and respond to how people use them, rather than requiring humans to adapt to them.

carlo-ratti

Do you think cities of 2030 will look dramatically different from today’s?

I think that what will change most radically by 2030 will be our way of living in cities: how we work, move, buy, meet, mate, and so on.

Consider mobility: cars are becoming computers on wheels, capable of driving themselves; data analytics is enabling smarter real-time management of traffic; and, with the rise of the sharing economy, people are increasingly thinking of cars as something they don’t need to own. Recently at MIT we studied mobility demand in Singapore, and found that it could be met with 30% of the vehicles currently in circulation.

In theory, this number could be cut by another 40% if passengers traveling similar routes at the same time were willing to share a vehicle. This implies a city in which we could travel on demand with just one-fifth of the number of cars in use today. Among other benefits, that would free up large swaths of parking areas for other uses.

image-statista-2

Image: Statista

What roadblocks stand in the way and who are the key players in overcoming them?

There are roles for governments, the private sector, and citizens alike. For example, the reductions in car numbers I just envisaged are only theoretical – they depend on people’s willingness to share rides, and to adopt self-driving technology. We can easily also imagine a nightmare scenario, in which cars become cheaper, more and more people buy them instead of using mass transport, and cities become even more congested by 2030.

Like the beginning of the internet, today’s beginning of the Internet of Things will require a lot of trial and error. The safety and security of the systems we are building is one crucial factor – we are all familiar with viruses crashing our computers, but what if the same virus crashes our cars? We will need innovators and regulators to work closely together, with regulation closely following technical progress and fixing the problems that will surely emerge.

The WEF: Have you read?

 

16 events that will shape 2017

AMEinfo came up with this formidable vision of next year titled 16 events that will shape 2017; we could not help but reproduce it here all for the benefit of our readers.  All comments are welcome but we would advise to address direct to AMEinfo with nevertheless a copy to MENA-Forum.  

AMEinfo, is a well known and reliable middle east online medium of information.

Historically as per Wikipedia, AMEinfo.com was initially Arabian Modern Equipment Est., incorporated in Abu Dhabi, in February 1993 by Saif Al-Suwaidi and Klaus Lovgreen. The first version of the AME Info CD-ROM database of 125,000 companies was developed and compiled late 1996 and sold some 10,000 copies.  

The listing of the events as proposed by AMEinfo summed up thus.

  •  Many events of 2016 will have repercussions spilling over into 2017
  •  Positive impacts include Saudi Vision 2030, OPEC deal
  •  The fallout of Trump’s presidency, JASTA law, Italy referendum, etc. remain to be seen

The year 2016 was eventful, to say the least, with the world shaken by several momentous events whose repercussions will spill over into 2017.

Here are 16 events of 2016 that will most probably shape the coming year:

 

Saudi Vision 2030

This vision, announced in April, is one of the top economic highlights of 2016. Its repercussions are yet to be experienced throughout 2017 and beyond. Some of the biggest follow ups to this event are the Saudi Aramco IPO, expected to take place in 2018, privatising Football Clubs in the kingdom and its green card plan.

 

Trump as president of the United States

President-elect Donald Trump filling posts for his administration, getting ready to officially take office in January. This is when his foreign policy is expected to take its final shape and impact the whole world, starting with countries of the Americas, passing through Europe and the Middle East and reaching Asia.  

(Donald Trump wins US elections 2016: What it means for MENA)

 

Brexit

The United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union last June through a national referendum. Since then, the country underwent several months of economic chaos that it tried to keep under control, especially because it had not yet left the European Union. The chaos is expected to continue until the announcement of an exit plan, expected in March 2017.  

(Brexit: Who’s next?)

 

JASTA

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act is a law passed by the United States Congress, allowing survivors and relatives of victims of terrorist attacks to pursue cases against foreign governments in the US federal court. The bill raised tensions with Saudi Arabia – when the bill was introduced, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell up to $750 billion in United States Treasury securities and other US assets if the bill is passed. Saudi Arabia is still lobbying the US over the law.

 

Egypt’s floating of the pound

Egypt’s central bank floated the pound currency in November, devaluing by 32.3 percent to an initial guidance level of EGP 13 to the dollar and hiking interest rates by three per cent to rebalance currency markets following weeks of turbulence. According to many observers, Egypt’s floating of its currency comes in a bid to attract more investors to the country.

 

China’s AIIB development bank

China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a new international development bank, seen as a rival to the current, US-led World Bank. Countries such as Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea agreed to join the AIIB, recognising China’s growing economic strength.

 

Google Alphabet

Last August, Google announced creating a new public holding company, Alphabet. Alphabet become the mother of a collection of companies, including Google, which includes the search engine, YouTube and other apps; Google X, the Alphabet arm working on big breakthroughs in the industry; Google Capital, the investment arm; as well as Fiber, Calcio, Nest  and Google Ventures.

 

Panama papers leak

Roughly 11.5 million documents were leaked in April, detailing financial and attorney-client information for hundreds of thousands of offshore entities. The documents contained personal financial information about famous, wealthy individuals and public officials.

The documents were created by a law firm in Panama, with some dating back to the 1970s.

 

Iran nuclear deal: lifting of sanctions

Although the framework of this agreement was announced in 2015, economic sanctions started to lift only in January 2016. The year saw the beginning of Iran’s return to international markets and more is expected for 2017 as the country has not yet made a full comeback.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, released this year, started to heat up and explode, causing some injuries in different markets around the world and killing the model altogether. This created massive chaos for the South-Korean manufacturer, which withdrew all units from the markets and started a gruelling investigation into the rootcause of the issue.

 

King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge

Last April, Saudi Arabia and Egypt agreed to build a bridge over the Red Sea, linking the two countries together. This was seen as a historic move highlighting the excellent relationship between the allies. The bridge would be called “King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge”.

 

OPEC deal

Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members as well, reached their first deal since 2001, to curb levels of oil output to ease a global glut after oversupply pressured prices for more than two years. Long-term market reactions to the deal are yet to be felt and will probably be seen throughout 2017.

 

Pokémon Go

The new augmented reality game, developed by Niantic, quickly became a global phenomenon and was one of the most profitable apps of 2016, with more than 500 million downloads worldwide.

 

Italy referendum

Italy’s government, led by then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, held a nation-wide referendum proposing reforms and amendments to the country’s constitution. The referendum failed, leading to the resignation of Renzi, tipping the country into potential political turmoil and the rise of the populist, right-wing movement in the country.

Renzi’s resignation and the country’s instability also brought up concerns over a looming banking crisis in Italy, the third-largest national economy in the euro zone.

(Italy referendum: Step 1 to another Brexit?)

 

Fed raises interest rates

The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates, signalling a faster pace of increases in 2017, with central banks adapting to the incoming of a Donald Trump administration, which has promised to cut tax. The year 2017 will probably see the repercussion of that decision.

 

Turkey’s coup

A coup d’état was attempted in Turkey in July against state organisations including the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The failed coup was carried out by a faction of Turkey’s armed forces, who attempted to seize control of several areas in the capital of Ankara, Istanbul and elsewhere.

The coup, and other terrorist attacks, disturbed Turkey’s peace and stability and harmed its tourism industry, among others.

 

The Reasons for the Slippage of the Algerian Dinar

In the parallel market,

Economic laws being generally immune to any political slogans and bureaucratic measures; how to explain the reasons for the slippage of the Algerian Dinar that for €1 on the parallel market in this month of December 2016 would fetch about DZD186 and DZD168 for a Dollar.

And most significantly why is there a gap with the official market that is DZD118 a Euro and DZD111 a Dollar?

Are we not moving towards the DZD200 a Euro with the inevitable inflationary impact due to the fact that all prices tend to often line up with those of the parallel market?

Will it not remind us of issues related to the level of the general lack of production and / or weak productivity, to the bureaucratic measures without strategic vision, and to either the monetary illusion or its mechanics interpretations that in the end have increased distrust towards this national currency?

To reply to these queries, let us start with :

A Short history of the the Algerian Dinar (DZD).

Set up in 1964, the DZD was on a par with the French Franc until 1973.  Since 1974, the value of the Dinar has been set following the evolution of a basket of 14 currencies.  We have seen depreciation between 1986/1990 of 150% from DZD4.82 to DZD12.191 a US Dollar, followed by a second one, of the order of 22% in 1991.  With the cessation of payment in 1994 and following the rescheduling and conditions imposed by the IMF, there was a new devaluation of more than 40% followed by its commercial convertibility in 1995/1996.

The evolution of the official exchange rate has evolved from 2001 to December 12, 2016 thus:

  • 2001 – DZD77.29 a Dollar
  • 2005 – DZD73.35 a Dollar
  • 2008 – DZD64. 58 a Dollar
  • 2010 – DZD74.39 a Dollar
  • 2015 – DZD100.46 a Dollar

On December 12th, 2016, the rating of the Dinar got close to DZD111 a Dollar and DZD118/119 a Euro at the official rate, a difference of 57% with reference to the parallel market and a slippage of about 60% from the 2010s.

This accentuates the inflationary process, with the risk of two-digit inflation by end of 2016, due to the fact that 70% of the needs of households and of public and private businesses are met by imports which with the falling price of oil are making the State no longer able to subsidize as it did in the past.  The value of the Dinar that is function of the trust and a productive economy, which in the case of Algeria being an economy fundamentally of a rentier type, will contradict the basic laws of economy where any devaluation should in principle boost exports.  Paradoxically, we see that when the price of the Dollar decline and the rise of the Euro, the Bank of Algeria make the Dinar slide (whilst avoiding to talk of devaluation) for political reasons.

Why then this accounting trick ? The answer or main reason could be that by devaluing the Dinar rate to the Dollar, is the artificial increase in oil tax that fluctuates depending on the price of a barrel, between 60 and 70%.  Because oil and gas revenues are converted into Dinars, together with Customs taxes on hard currency imports being calculated in Dinars, would only lead to a definite devaluation.  All this hide the importance of the budget deficit and thus the effectiveness of the State through its public expenditure budget and artificially inflates the Regulatory Revenue Fund as calculated in Algerian Dinars.

Inflation being the result, a certain distrust towards the Algerian Dinar that is officially administered and therefore disconnected with the real world as represented by parallel market.  In General, both foreign and local investors are wary of an administered low currency.  The real value of a currency, which is only a medium of Exchange could be interpreted as a nominal value adjusted for inflation.

Hoarding would not create value.  It is the work through continuous innovation, whilst adapting to this ever more interdependent world, turbulent and in perpetual upheaval that is the source of wealth of a Nation.  The value of a money depends on the confidence in that economy and all related politics of production and productivity, as shown by the Classics.  In fact, the essence of this situation lies in the dysfunctions of the different structures of the State because of its excessive intervention that distorts the market rules forcing households and operators to circumvent them.

So when the authorities immoderately tax and regulate excessively or by declaring illegal the activities of the free market, it skews the normal relations between buyers and sellers.  In response, buyers and sellers naturally seek ways around all Governments imposed obstacles.

What then are the reasons for the devaluation of the Dinar on the black market?

I count seven and here there are :

First, the gap could be explained by the reduction in the supply due to the fact that the global economy slowdown, combined with the death of many Algerian retirees, has largely paid off savings of the emigration.  This decrease in the supply of currency was offset by fortunes acquired regularly or irregularly by the Algerian community who transfer regularly or irregularly currencies into Algeria. Conversion of money from corruption, playing on the distortion of the official reference exchange rate (you charge me DZD150 a Dollar instead of a commodity bought 100 with the complicity of foreign operators; operations easier and faster in the trade) clearly shows that the parallel currency market is much more important than the savings of the emigration that explain the soaring real estate prices notably in urban areas.

Second, demand comes from traveling ordinary citizens: (tourists, medical tourists abroad and Hajis) because of the weakness of the derisory travel allowance. But it is the travel agencies that failing to benefit from the right to free exchange, they being importers of services also tend to use the black market currencies. They mostly export currencies instead of import as would the tourism logic like in Turkey, Morocco or Tunisia.

Thirdly, the strong demand comes from the informal sphere that controls 40 to 50% of the money supply in circulation  and 65% of the different market segments; fruits &vegetables, red &white meat market, and through imports using small resellers, because it is an informal financial intermediation away from State circuits. This sphere, which is the product of bureaucracy, everything is handled in cash thus promoting dialectical relationships with rentier segments favouring tax evasion and corruption.

Fourth, the gap is explained by the passage of the REMDOC to the CREDOC documentary credit, explaining the easing measures, in 2013 which largely penalized small and medium-sized companies representing more than 90% of the industrial fabric in decline (5% in GDP). There are many SMEs that to avoid supply disruptions use parallel currency market. The Government has in the past increased the allowance upto DZD4 million, but this is not enough, explaining the easing measures in the 2017 budget bill.

Fifth, many foreign businesses including domestic operators use the parallel market for their transfer of currency, since every Algerian is entitled to €7200 per transfer trip, using Algerian employees to increase the amount.

Sixth, the gap can be explained by the weakness of production and productivity; the injection of monies without productive counterparties generating a certain level of inflation and depreciation of the Dinar. According to an OECD report, the productivity of Algeria’s is one of the lowest in the Mediterranean basin. The industrial fabric that some would revitalize without a strategic vision, according to the old mechanical vision, without seeking to take into account new technological changes and global managerial methods is a strategic error that the Algeria might pay dearly in the medium term.

Industry representing less than 5% of GDP and of these 5%, more than 95% are PMI/SMEs  that are uncompetitive, costs indirectly devalue the value of the Dinar. There is no proportionality between public spending and the low impact, the average growth rate not exceeding 3%, is source of inflation and explains the deterioration in the rating of the Dinar (imbalance of supply and demand that is supplemented by a massive importation of goods and services) on the open market against currencies the Bank of Algeria supported artificially thanks to oil revenues.

If foreign exchange reserves tended towards zero, the Euro open market to trade more than DZD300 and the official exchange fluctuate between DZD200/250 a Euro, where the importance of an external targeted debt, only on productive activities, in order to avoid the complete depletion of foreign exchange reserves which take the value of the dinar to over 70%.

Seventh, to guard against inflation, and therefore deterioration of its Dinar, the Algerian citizen does not place only his assets in land, real estate or gold, but would apportion his savings in currencies. Many Algerians benefit from the crisis of real estate, especially in Spain, acquiring apartments and villas in the Iberian Peninsula, in France and some in the USA, Latin America and tax havens. It is a choice of security in a country where the evolution of oil prices is decisive.

Political uncertainty, and a certain psychosis created by financial scandals, is pushing many officials to sell their assets and purchase property abroad. Also many households put in the prospect of a fall in oil, and given the commodities erratic fluctuations revenues, on the decline since year 2O13, buy the currencies on the informal market. (Ref paper by Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul “Informal Sphere in the Maghreb and how to integrate it into the real sphere” Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI) Paris – Brussels December 2013 – 60 pages)

In summary, distortions between the formal and informal market reflects the weakness of local productive fabric, oil based rentier economy could only give an artificial official rating of the Dinar. An objective an analysis of inflation which has repercussions on the real value of the Dinar, would suppose a serious grasp of the dialectical relationship between development, the distribution of income and consumption by strata models. Subsidies and the distortion of the exchange rate between the official and parallel markets with neighbouring countries are basic explanations of overbilling and the spilling over of a good number of products out the borders. Administrative measures can only be one-off, otherwise an army of controllers would be needed. The solution lies simply in a new type of governance, ideally with new mechanisms of regulation, local production in segments of value-added in internationalised sectors, so of successful companies.

Read more on these 2 previously published here contributions Algeria’s currency rating between 2017 and 2020 and

The Algerian Dinar great slide by 

Privatization as a Panacea for Declining Oil Wealth

Chatham House published this article written by Professor Paul Stevens, Distinguished Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources, on 13 December 2016 and in view of its obvious interest for all our readers, it is reproduced here with all its proposed links for further reading.  The GCC’s countries economic reform as spearheaded by Saudi Arabia is believed to be only a matter of Privatization as a Panacea for Declining Oil Wealth.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House, is a non-profitnon-governmental organisation based in London whose mission is to analyse and promote the understanding of major international issues and current affairs. It is the originator of the Chatham House Rule and takes its name from the building where it is based, a Grade I listed 18th-century house in St. James’s Square, designed in part by Henry Flitcroft and occupied by three British prime ministers, including William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham.

 

Economic Reform in the GCC: Privatization as a Panacea for Declining Oil Wealth?

Project: Energy, Environment and Resources Department

Economic liberalization through privatization is unlikely to succeed in the GCC states without simultaneous political liberalization and reform.

A Saudi investor at the Tadawul (the Saudi Stock Exchange) in Riyadh, on 15 June 2015. Photo: Getty Images.

Summary

  • The collapse in oil prices since 2014 has presented serious economic challenges for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), underscoring the need to diversify their economies away from oil and develop their private sectors. In response, the GCC states have devised wide-ranging economic reform plans, central to which are, in many cases, options to privatize state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
  • Media attention has focused particularly on the proposed sale of parts of Saudi Aramco, but across the GCC states the interest in privatization extends beyond energy to other areas of industry and services.
  • Privatization, for the GCC states, is expected to create more effective incentives; force greater accountability on senior management; reduce government interference in business operations; and give management clear commercial targets unfettered by requirements of social policy. It is also intended to reduce the financial constraints on enterprises that have hitherto been dependent on government revenue.
  • However, much of the current discussion disregards the lessons learned from privatization experiences elsewhere in the 1980s and 1990s. The very large literature developed at this time raises serious questions about the ability of divestment programmes to deliver the objectives now expected of the same process in the GCC.
  • Analysis of the ideological arguments for privatization – derived from the economic theory of politics, theories of public choice and principal-agent analysis – can be used to explain why there is a strong possibility that governments in the GCC states will fail to privatize effectively.
  • Previous experience shows that simply changing the property rights of an enterprise – i.e. switching it from public to private ownership – is not in itself sufficient to improve performance. This requires other conditions, including increased competition; improved signals that force management to be responsive, flexible and inventive; reduced government interference to allow management to maximize shareholder value; and effective and efficient capital markets to impose the necessary discipline on managers.
  • The socio-political conditions that characterize the GCC countries – based on family and other elite patronage networks, and where property rights are dubious, the rule of law may be debatable, and the prospects for independent regulation of privatized enterprises are uncertain – are not conducive to enabling the necessary conditions for privatization to succeed.
  • Economic liberalization through privatization is unlikely to succeed in the GCC states without simultaneous political liberalization and reform. If privatization simply delivers a set of windfalls for the state while reinforcing traditional patronage networks, this is likely to aggravate the same perceptions of corruption and helplessness that triggered the Arab uprisings from the start of 2011.
  • Theory and contextual analysis alike therefore suggest that privatization will not be the panacea that many believe it to be for the GCC states. A process that allows the entry of the private sector and thus forces a (hitherto monopoly) SOE to compete and perform appears to be a more realistic way forward than does wholesale privatization.

– See more at: https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/economic-reform-gcc-privatization-panacea-declining-oil-wealth?utm_source=Chatham%20House&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=7845295_CH%20Newsletter%20-%2016.12.2016&utm_content=GCC-Title&dm_i=1S3M,4O5GV,NUSYEK,HFPWZ,1#sthash.hbTldyjO.dpuf