Topic: Trade Diplomacy

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The vagueness of the concept

If you want to be a public intellectual in the US, find the catchy turn of phrase and then beat the chicken-mint peas-mashed potatoes circuit with it, writing op-eds in the NYTimes on week-ends to uplifting effect. The “catchy phrase” best be vague and fuzzy: empty vessels resonate best. Like patent medicine it guarantees...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 9 weeks ago View original post.

I’m no friend of the precautionary principle – and I’ve argued against its indiscriminate use. I could not pinpoint clearly my uneasiness, however. Thanks to Biljana Scott (http://bit.ly/VghI0L) I’m now able to do so.

In a recent blog she refers to a special Greek notion of time: kairos (καιρός), which can be translated as...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 10 weeks ago View original post.

159 member states are about to select the new WTO Director General. I’ve attended a beauty contest among some of the candidates. Their personalities are impressive. But what about the policies they should implement in the organization?

An impressive success for the treaty system

The WTO treaty system is all about reducing barriers to trade – intended and...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 11 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve come across a substantial study of European perceptions of “Asia”[1]. It is one of numerous similar studies as background to the ASEM process[2].

According to this study, research on perceptions is not concerned with the study of “facts as such” as with the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 21 weeks ago View original post.

 

The Peace of Augsburg 1555, and then the Peace of Westphalia (1648) marked the end of common rules that would apply across emergent national states in Europe. Henceforth each state was autocratic within and autonomous without. The border was the boundary delimitating the internal and external fields of power – and by implication potential “friend” from “foe”. This boundary...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 26 weeks ago View original post.

When I first mentioned to a diplomatic friend my intention of writing a blog entry on “diplomats without borders” I was met with incredulity. “Diplomats are the peacetime gate keepers at the border! You can’t have diplomats without borders.”

Are borders “vital”? An interesting question – and one which is worth a short visit to Africa and its history, for Africa emerged from its...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 27 weeks ago View original post.

After reading my 156 – Between markets and regulation a young friend of mine has argued “I believe in incentives”. Leaving aside the matter of “belief”, let’s look closer at what he is saying.

“Incentive” is shorthand for money signal. Profits will be an incentive to act; losses are incentives no desist.  By closely tracking money signals – as provided by the markets – I can orient...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 33 weeks ago View original post.

1972 was hardly a “sterling” year. The US had just unilaterally terminated the convertibility to gold and the world economy was struggling with the new system of freely convertible currencies. Inflation was on the rise, and so were commodity prices. Wages stagnated. The Vietnam War was going badly. Inchoate protest had spread from the fringes to society as a whole...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 35 weeks ago View original post.

In a two parts article Asia Times[1] argues that 300 million Chinese will soon migrate into Africa. This prediction is startling enough to warrant consideration.

The argument relies on a mix of “push” and “pull” factors.

Despite its “one child policy” China is overpopulated: the mainland cannot sustain more than 700...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 44 weeks ago View original post.

Government these days are keen to create “policies which are designed to raise real incomes by obtaining more output from the resources available (both human and physical)”[1].

The logic is rather simple: “obtaining more output from the resources available” means shifting the supply curve to the right. Allowing for more...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 45 weeks ago View original post.

Next time a fan of neo-liberalism extols the virtues of “free markets”, just nod approvingly, smile, and tell him that is it an oxymoron – a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms.

And then ask him suavely what the State is for, in his opinion.

If he is close to the libertarian view he’ll tell you “Protection of life and property”. He’ll quote Thomas HOBBES...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 50 weeks ago View original post.

Prediction is dicey – I’ve argued this many times. Does close study and sophisticated methodology pay as compared to “back of the envelope” predicting?

Duncan J. WATTS reports[1] on studies he has carried out, comparing various kinds of predictive models, and testing them against basic heuristics – rules of thumb.

...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
1 year 50 weeks ago View original post.

Intellectual property rights, such as patents, are “good good good” – or so we say out loud. Well, way may be soon chanting a different tune.

Patents were a conditional bounty at the outset: a time-limited monopoly was granted provided the invention was made public. Society benefited from the quick spreading of the facts about the advance: inventors could either...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 3 weeks ago View original post.

Zhao Guangfu – Barbarians bearing gifts (Xth century)

The Chinese dynasty of...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 4 weeks ago View original post.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the USHR on October 26, 2011. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and  counterfeit goods....

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 13 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve just received this breathless alert[1]: a law is being passed in the New Zealand to take away the “God-given human right freely to cultivate food”.

I don’t want to dwell into the specifics of the New Zealand law, but comment on the likely drive behind such laws.

Food security has become a major government concern...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 14 weeks ago View original post.

(A conjecture – not a theory)

The Doha Round in WTO looks like being dead in the water. Wails are heard from many shores while protectionist interests frolic behind rhetoric-swept dunes. Has multilateral diplomacy met its ultimate challenge and been found wanting? Temperamentally I hate recriminations, and I’m...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 16 weeks ago View original post.

Let’s assume the 140 billion US$ fund to “fight” Climate Change is established in Durban. What kind of projects should each country invest in?

Investment means sinking costs now, in order to obtain benefits somewhere in the future. There are many “worthwhile” projects in disparate areas, including but not only climate change abatement measures: they’ll all bring costs and benefits...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 20 weeks ago View original post.

I’ve commented on the economic rationality of “holding back” investment when confronted with rapidly changing technology – like light bulbs. I’d now like to look at the issue of “forcing” technological change through subsidies, and its unforeseen consequences.

Nuclear technology for electricity production emerged as part of designing submarines for strategic...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 20 weeks ago View original post.

Whatever the policymakers do with the EU financial crisis, it seems to be too little too late. As a few countries slide into financial default, the rest of Europe is ‘praying and waiting’ to see what will time bring. It is clear that the crisis has been triggered by a design problem (both in the EU and in the global financial system) which cannot be fixed with a palliative move.  The...

Originally blogged by: Jovan Kurbalija
2 years 21 weeks ago View original post.

I know, Jovan has never forgiven me for this quip: “Diplomacy is where there are no rules” – yet there is more than a grain of truth inthis, and Pete’s question about “complexity and diplomacy” allows me to get nearer to the meaning of my dictum.

I’m wary of arm-chair descriptions of how “primitive” societies lived. Was life brutish and...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 32 weeks ago View original post.

Every self-respecting diplomat has a (tall) story about a “constructive ambiguity” he created, saving a vital negotiation from foundering. Mine is based on two words: “and beyond” which I slipped into a Declaration long time ago, making the list of potential countries on the negotiations check-list open-ended. It worked, and the world became our negotiating oyster.

This was a ...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 42 weeks ago View original post.

(a fairy tale?)

Ever since a British retired naval officer published the fiction/story 1421 Zheng He has enjoyed a sort of revival – as the Chinese explorer who might have circumnavigated the earth before the age of Western exploration. I don’t know whether bit is true or not, so let’s skip this take on him.

This...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 43 weeks ago View original post.

A recent article on paleoanthropology gives me an opportunity to share some reflection on the uses and abuses of intellectual property rights (IPR).

200’000 years ago, our gene kit was essentially the same as the one we have today – says fossil and DNA research. So why weren’t we so smart then? The difference is technology...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 43 weeks ago View original post.

In her recent book Professor Wendy DONIGER states that the etymology of the language she teaches: Sanskit – the literary language of ancient India – is “perfected, artificial”. It is therefore based upon an implicit comparison with Prakrit or “primordial, natural”, the language spoken by “non-professionals”. This category included poor Brahmins not gracing the courts of the elites, the...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 44 weeks ago View original post.

I don’t want to point fingers in the matter of climate change – God knows that there is too much finger pointing and wagging by far. It’s bad for the issue, and bad for the liver.

A study has just come out of Switzerland, however, whose results are worth pondering. The title is “Environmental Impacts of Swiss Production and Consumption” and can be found, in its entirety, on the net...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 45 weeks ago View original post.

The current scare over the EHCH epidemic – and the collateral impact on Spanish cucumbers and teutsche beansprouts – is a good starting point for a reflection about emotions and reason. The subject is as old as Adam and Eve – Eve fancied the apple, and all reasoning could not stop her from eating one and offering it to poor gullible Adam. Is there anything to be added?...

Originally blogged by: Aldo Matteucci
2 years 45 weeks ago View original post.

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