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Talking Yuan
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-11-13 08:53:41
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Every time I read about the decision of the G20, G8 or whatever other G I’m wandering if these people live in the real world, if they have ever gone to the supermarket for shopping, if they have ever paid an electricity or water bill if they have ever thought how they are going to find the money for their kid’s college. Perhaps they have, perhaps somewhere in their past they did all those simple things but nowadays they live in a huge bubble that keeps them away from the real problems people have to deal with and keep them in a theoretical level to whatever is really going on in this world.

In theory meeting in the South Korean capital, Seoul, the leaders of the G20 group decided to avoid “competitive devaluation” of currencies and they came out with “indicative guidelines” to tackle trade imbalances affecting world growth. And what this changes in the price of milk that keeps rising in my neighbourhood?

There were strong disagreements between China and US for the currency and trade and that’s while the Irish economy is just meters away from the catastrophe, the Greek economy millimetres away with many more following. And in the end the American president concluded that “that helped to contribute to the crisis that we just went through.” Mr. President, can you please send the memo about the crisis that “we just went through” to my milkman because it seems that you missed him and he has no idea that the crisis is over. And while you sending it to the milkman please don’t forget my boss and my best friend’s boss because I have the sense that they also missed it otherwise I have no other explanation why they announced lay off by the end of December due to the continuing recession and general economic problems.

“Exchange rates must reflect economic realities,” the American president added obviously having missed what happens in my local supermarket where prices have change for more than 12% the last two months. But hey believe it or not according the statistics the inflation in Europe for the last month was -3%! In September was 2%! By the way public transportation rates also risen, more than 2%. The only thing I can say is that at least they didn’t give any salary raises because if they followed the official inflation we would have to return a 3%. The same time the number of unemployment in Europe increases dramatically and the number of families that reaching the limits of poverty and barely survive with their salaries have taken sizes of an epidemic in Europe. But inflation keep low and the bureaucrats of Brussels congratulate each other happily.

And the American president has his excuses, the economic war between China and USA has taken dramatic dimensions the last few years, perhaps the last three decades and especially since China replaced USSR as the ‘other’ side; the tricky thing with China is that investing in their work power and cheap labour they managed to fight the American economy with her own weapons and using totally capitalist methodology. But what excuse the European leaders have? If the worst nightmare comes true – something not impossible as latest studies show – and Greece will find impossible to repay the foreign debt forced to stop or cancel payments for a period with the Irish, Portuguese economy following very closely and the Spanish with the Italian just behind then what will happen to the arrogant at the moment German economy – who apparently participated in the G20 meeting as a major player – who majors among the rest who have loan money to those countries and have done heavy investments during the years? Will the exchange rate between the dollar and the Yuan matter?

And is fine, the American president might not find easy to find a supermarket around the White House but the European leaders pride that they do. In Europe the politicians take the streets before every election, enter supermarkets and debate for the prices of the milk but when it comes the time to defend the people they represent they seem to suffer Alzheimer. In the G20 meeting for one more time the European leadership proved that they are nothing else than observers in the game and the decisions others take for them without having the courage to do something, to influence things. And the economic crisis that we haven’t gone through yet should be an issue, a major issue in this meeting and it should interest all including China and America because when the domino effect starts it won’t matter the exchange rate of the currency or if it is called dollar, euro or Yuan!

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Emanuel Paparella2010-11-13 12:35:03
In both the novel by Di Lampedusa and the movie by Visconti “Il Gattopardo” there is a famous line by the prince of Salina’s nephew Tancredi which proves to be a prophecy of sort: “We must change everything so that nothing changes.” Every time there is a G-20 meeting claiming that it has the interests of the ordinary citizen at heart I am reminded of that cynical but clear sighted statement predicting what would happen in a unified Italy and would eventually happen in a unified Europe: everything would change so that things would remain the same.

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