Voilà c'est apparemment l'impasse: l'un (Fillon) veut de nouvelles élections faute de quoi il fait "sécession", l'autre (Copé) répond que c'est hors de question.
On ne peut rêver plus belle illustration de l'inégalité de Jensen!
Mettons nous dans la peau de Copé: Faut-il être président avec certitude de la moitié de l'UMP ou bien faut-il (re)tenter l'élection avec une probabilité de 50% (une chance sur deux) d'être président de TOUT l'UMP.
Here is an interesting video of Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz is well-known for his contribution to the microeconomics of information, adverse selection and moral hazard.
After having been a World Bank official and receiving the Nobel distinction he embarked on a crusade against international finance and the big players thereof.
According to him, Argentina (and Brazil for that matter) was cursed. Indeed, financial markets decided that Argentina was risky despite the fact its debt to GDP ratio was no worse than most European countries. No matter what Argentina would do right, its fate was carved in stone from outside: Thumbs down as if international financial markets were a large Roman crowd asking for the wounded gladiator's death.
Frankly, I find it hard to swallow. I fail to get the full picture. As always the devil lies in the details. It was a time when Stiglitz had a passion for details (see his insurance and banking papers). It seems that this time is over and leads him to gross oversimplification which is sad for a man of his stature and responsibility.
Kes tu fé? Vous avez sans doute reçu ce genre de SMS. Vous avez certainement envoyé ce genre de message "peau de chagrin" vous-même. Les adolescents sont également très friands de ce genre de contractions sur MSN. Nombre d'observateurs s'interrogent aujourd'hui sur le sort de l'orthographe et de la grammaire. Beaucoup craignent que des générations entières ne sachent plus manier correctement la langue de Molière.
Mais, finalement, cette inquiétude est-elle bien nouvelle? Là comme ailleurs, le recul est rafraîchissant! Dans un délicieux livre intitulé Qui étaient nos ancêtres? (J'ai Lu, 2002, ISBN 2-290-33363-8), Jean-Louis Beaucarnot nous rappelle fort à propos les temps où nos ancêtres maniaient la plume d'oie, le parchemin, le papier chiffon puis le papier bois. Les contraintes étaient multiples: encres aux recettes jalousement gardées qui sèchent néanmoins trop vite, plumes d'oie ou de corbeau chères, fragiles et difficiles à manier, papier coûteux, rugueux qui malmène la pointe de la plume... Comment nos ancêtres ont-ils fait nonobstant ces difficultés?
Ils ont apporté la même réponse que celle que nous pratiquons en raison de l'étroitesse ergonomique de nos claviers. Ils ont recouru
"à plusieurs techniques d'abréviation: la contraction, qui fait écrire psse pour paroisse ou sgr pour seigneur; l'apocope, qui ne conserve que la première syllabe d'un mot, comme sep. pour sépulture, enfin les notes tironiennes..... qui sont les véritables ancêtres de nos signes de sténo..."
Avons-nous perdu la langue de Molière pour autant?
There are some birthdays you would rather not wish. Aung San Suu Kyi's sixtieth birthday is forthcoming. She is still not free. Sometimes heroic leadership leads you to jail and a Peace Nobel Prize won't even help you out.
The good news in all this: A woman alone can frighten military forces ruling a whole country!
Happy Birthday Aung San Suu Kyi!
Want to know more about what's happening there: www.birmanie.net (courtesy of www.boomerang.be)
Unemployment strikes back. Horrendous figures have been released from Germany: More than 5 million people are jobless there. The European Constitution is jeopardized by the French Referendum where the No seems to be stronger and stronger. At the same time, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, pushes his newly polished plan for the so-called Lisbon Strategy: "Working Together for Growth and Jobs" .
The Lisbon Strategy for economic, social and environmental renewal agenda is rather ambitious:
The Lisbon Strategy is a commitment to bring about economic, social and environmental renewal in the EU. In March 2000, the European Council in Lisbon set out a ten-year strategy to make the EU the world's most dynamic and competitive economy. Under the strategy, a stronger economy will drive job creation alongside social and environmental policies that ensure sustainable development and social inclusion.
However, the recently released unemployment figures raise doubts about the probability of a successful completion of the agenda. Moreover, it makes a victory of the No at the French Referendum on the European Constitution more likely. To be fair the issues at stake are far from easy especially when you think of the complex social fabric the European Union is made of. A lot of details have to be taken care of.
Talking about details, Anglo-Saxons are used to say that the Devil lies in the details. Interestingly enough, Jews from XVIth century Amsterdam were used to say that God lies in the details. This is obviously quite different. I would assume that you prefer God visiting you and have the Devil stay quiet. Question of perspective you may say. I have nonetheless the feeling that the Anglo-Saxons are closer to the truth. Their legendary pragmatism has taught them that when you miss a detail, even a tiny one, God does not pay you a visit but a rather angry Devil. You don't bother the Devil inadvertently: Any negligence is paid cash!
Talking again about details, I recently read a short note in a magazine (can't remember where it was though). nothing deep or fancy in appearance. The author observed that American people are keen on books like "How to Get Hired", "How to Make your First Million", "How to make it big in the Corporate Arena" etc... while French people are more attracted by titles like "How to Protect Yourself from Being Fired", "How to Successfully Implement the 35 Hours week", not to mention the all too famous "Hello Laziness" (Bonjour Paresse).
So what? After all, "de gustibus non est disputandum", especially when it comes to reading choices!. However, in my opinion, this note is deeper than it seems. It is like the tree that hides the forest, the detail that you should look at twice. Tell me what you read and I'll let you know who you are.
Let me explain. We, the Europeans (mainland) have the bad habit of being quite condescending toward American people. To almighty Uncle Sam, we object the US of cheap labor, small jobs, the so-called McDonald jobs. American capitalism is viewed as merciless, some kind of monstruous machine yielding massive wealth inequalities. Interestingly enough, economists have their own shortcut way to describe what differentiates America from Europe: Moneyless America, Jobless Europe. Indeed, talking about France vs. the US, the Centre of Economic Policy Research (CEPR) says:
"The ‘moneyless America, jobless Europe’ description of transatlantic labour market differences is well-known and well documented: while US inequalities rose dramatically during the 1980s, the average unemployment rate remained fairly stable. Over the same period, exactly the opposite happened in France: wage dispersion remained fairly stable while unemployment rates almost quadrupled."
Let me submit an additional one which, in a sense, is inspired by this news on what people read on both sides of the ocean. It seems to me that in Moneyless America people accept less-paid jobs (on top of the obvious reason that they need to get by) to remain in the flow, to avoid being excluded from it. Being in the flow means staying tune with what's happening and seizing opportunities when they come by. To use a financial jargon, these people hold a call option on future events that may turn out to be favourable to them. Some will argue that this is what America is made of: Land of opportunities built by people who left Old Europe...
In Europe, and especially in France, it seems that we have institutionalized a reverse order. We insist a lot on the social safety net and unemployed people receive unemployment indemnities far more generous than their US counterparts. In other words, to use the same financial analogy, people on this side of the option are long a put option (insurance) that mitigates the financial pain of not having an income anymore. Everything goes as if the emphasis was put more on the insurance aspect of things rather than making sure that people don't stay away for too long from the flow. And, indeed, empirical evidence shows that French unemployed stay 5 times longer from the flow that their US counterpart. Being "kept" away from the flow means losing the opportunity of seizing timely options. This is sad and current French unemployment figures are not encouraging from that standpoint. Note that the European Constitution itself has to insist on the "social market economy" concept, a concept that Deng Xia Ping truly mastered!
Hence it is not so surprising to see French people so skeptical when asked to support the European Constitution. This is simply not their current mood. That's bad . What is even worse is that some shrewd French politicians (rightists and leftists by the way) have seized the opportunity to spread anxiety, fear to, among other personal objectives, regain audience in the media. Listening to tem, I am sure that Frédéric Bastiat must be turning in his grave.
So, does what you read tell others what you are? Should French people change their reading habits? Do these reading habits convey interesting information that European politicians should take into considerarion?
Well, to be frank I am still investigating the case. More homework is for sure needed. I am currently reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America (Owl Books, also available in French as L'Amérique Pauvre). Very reminiscent of Jack's London The People of the Abyss (read it, this is London at his best!) by the way. Ehrenreich's book is a valuable first-hand account of Moneyless America. A journalist, Ehrenreich decided to give up her cozy comfort for a while to become a low-wage earner. The book is her diary and analysis of the experiment. As such it should be an interesting check of my "flow hypothesis".
Who should be afraid of Randy? Don't know who Randy is? Well, until a few minutes ago I did not know either, that is until I read a piece from Spiegel On-Line. Randy Baseler is vice president of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and frankly he does not seem to like Airbus at all:
"....What I was really saying was this: It's great for Boeing because with the announcement of the A350 (a twin-engine airplane based on the A330), Airbus has validated what we've been saying since the launch of the 777 - that twin-engine airplanes are more efficient for short, medium, or long-range flights than airplanes with four engines.
What's even more interesting about the A350 offering is that it throws the Airbus product strategy out the window. Their strategy for 20 years has been that twin-engine airplanes like the A330 were the most efficient way to service short and medium range routes, but that you needed four engines for the long haul, or "4 engines 4 long haul" as their slogan went.
So, what happened? Apparently something changed.
Here's another way to think about it. The A350, being an A330 derivative, is good enough to obsolete the A330 and A340. But the key is, the A350 still falls short. It just isn't a breakthrough product like the 787... "
Where does this quote come from? From Randy's blog (to be more accurate from his journal (which walks and talks like a bog anyway)).
It is interesting to observe that a prominent marketing executive has decided to use a blogging device not only to promote his firm but also to go after his main competitor. Read the whole piece entitled "What happened to "4 engines 4 long haul?" and you'll see that his approach to competition is far from being soft indeed!
Well, the next question is whether Airbus should be afraid of Randy and will (or should) retaliate? To the best of my knowledge, executives at Airbus do not run blogs. They certainly should. Not that they should just do what Boeing does but they should view the blog as a way of making sure that "perception does not distort reality" too much. And, Randy seems to know a lot about perception!
The other pending (more generic) question is what corporations should do with blogs? These days they look a bit like chicken in front of forks": How to use them? Randy teaches one way of using them although I am not sure it pays to "blog down" your competitors in the long run. You are better off explaining what you do best, how you do it. Indeed, a lot of corporations tend to take for granted that outside people (whoever they are) know everything about them, that their so-called "value proposition" is obvious. Far from true! Never take for granted such a thing: It simply means that you do not care about the outside world. Worse the outside world gonna sooner or later recognize this and hold you accountable for it.
In the real estate business they say that the three most important words are "location, location, location". Well, I tend to think that in the corporate world the three most important words are "explain, explain, explain." Easily said, not easily done. An explanation that works for shareholders may not work for customers or employees. That is precisely what makes the corporate job so interesting. More and more value is co-created, which means that the legal boundaries of the modern corporation are somehow meaningless. What matters are its informal (economic in the broad sense of the term) boundaries. In a nutshell, terra cognita does not matter, terra incognita does matter. The challenge is to locate terra incognita and then to be able to talk, to exchange with its inhabitants. Either you embark like a modern Columbus to discover terra incognita or you give a chance to terra incognita to locate you. The two ways are not mutually exclusive. The second way is where blogs are most useful: You send signals, you create options that you or terra incognita may one day exercise to your mutual benefit.
Too optimistic a view? Best way to know is to try just like Randy (and others, chief among them Jonathan Schwartz, Sun Microsystems CEO) did!
Sometimes you wonder where the world is heading. Two World Forums have started, the Social one (Porto Alegre) and the Economic one (Davos): Two adjectives and an ocean between them. Again this year the two crowds won't commingle. Worse most developed countries have decided that Porto Alegre was not worth the trip. The two parts of the world iceberg won't talk to each other (at least face to face, despite what has happened in Asia). Is the situation that bad that they can't?
Let me make a suggestion. What about splitting each crowd in two and having one half of each attending the other Forum. Sun and snow together, sort of. Sometimes symbols yield unexpected outcomes.
And, guess what they could even start a joint blog!