Pubblicato in: Problemia Energetici, Sistemi Economici

Ungheria. La centrale atomica di Paks oggetto di diatribe.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-26.

Ungheria 001

«The Paks Nuclear Power Plant (Hungarian: Paksi atomerőmű), located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Paks, central Hungary, is the first and only operating nuclear power station in Hungary. Altogether, its four reactors produce more than 50 percent of the electrical power generated in the country and meet more than 40 percent of the country electric consumption.

VVER is the Soviet designation for a pressurized water reactor. The number following VVER, in this case 440, represents the power output of the original design. The VVER-440 Model V213 was a product of the first uniform safety requirements drawn up by the Soviet designers. This model includes added emergency core cooling and auxiliary feedwater systems as well as upgraded accident localization systems.

Each reactor contains 42 tons of lightly enriched uranium dioxide fuel. Fuel takes on average three years to be used (or “burned”) in the reactors; after this the fuel rods are stored for five years in an adjacent cooling pond before being removed from the site for permanent disposal.

The power plant is nearly 100% owned by state-owned power wholesaler Magyar Villamos Művek. A few shares are held by local municipalities, while a voting preference or “golden” share is held by the Hungarian government.

One brand-new Reactor pressure vessel was bought from Poland after the Żarnowiec Nuclear Power Plant project was abandoned in 1990.» [Fonte]

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«On 30 March 2009 the National Assembly of Hungary gave its principal consent by votes 330 for, 6 against and 10 abstentions to the preparation works of the possible new units. On 26 February 2010 the owner state company MVM Group decided the expansion with about 2000 billion Hungarian Forints price.

On 18 June 2012 the Hungarian government ranked Paks expansion as a “high priority project of the national economy”, in this context established a committee (Nuclear Power Governmental Committee) for prepare the factual steps. The Nuclear Power Governmental Committee is headed by Viktor Orbán (Prime Minister) and has two members; Mihály Varga (Minister of National Economy) and Zsuzsanna Németh (National Developmental Minister). As of 2016, Hungary is said to import 30% of its electricity.

According to the agreement signed by Zsuzsanna Németh (National Developmental Minister of Hungary) and Sergey Kiriyenko (Rosatom chairman) on 14 January 2014 Paks Nuclear Power Plant will be expanded by the Russian state company Rosatom. Eighty percent of the project’s cost will be financed with a 10 billion Euro credit line from Russia. Subject to European Commission approval, construction of two VVER-1200 reactors is planned to start in 2018. On 6 March 2017, the European Commission announced its approval, a month after the Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will finance in credit 100 percent of the expansion.[János Süli, former CEO of the nuclear power station, was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the Third Orbán Government in May 2017, responsible for the planning, construction and commissioning of the two new blocks at Paks Nuclear Power Plant» [Fonte]

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EU approves Hungary’s Russian-financed nuclear station [Financial Times, 2017-03-06]

«Brussels had been probing whether Hungarian state aid for the project would harm competition, but finally gave the green light more than three years after prime minister Viktor Orban and Russian president Vladimir Putin personally agreed the deal.

The agreement was unveiled in January 2014 — just months before the EU and the US moved to sanction Moscow over its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine.

It deepened concerns in west European capitals that the Kremlin was tightening its grip over the region’s energy supply even while Brussels was urging EU member states to reduce reliance on Russian energy.»

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Cerchiamo di ricapitolare.

È noto lo scarso feeling per il nucleare dell’Unione Europea, che infatti ha avocato a sé la potestà di concedere l’autorizzazione a costruire, o manutenere, od ampliare centrali atomiche nell’ambito comunitario.

L’Ungheria dipende dal punto di vista energetico per circa il 50% dall’energia fornita dall’impianto nucleare di Paks. Con il tempo il suo fabbisogno energetico è aumentato.

Nel 2014 aveva fatto richiesta all’Unione Europea di approvare l’ampliamento della centrale.

L’Unione Europea aveva concesso l’autorizzazione dopo tre anni di procedure burocratiche, nel marzo 2017, ma forse anche per problemi squisitamente politici: il Presidente Orban non è proprio benvisto in seno all’Unione.

Adesso l’Austria, nella persona del Ministro Elisabeth Koestinger, ha fatto ricorso legale contro tale decisione presso la Corte di Giustizia europea.

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Prendiamo atto che la tesi austriaca si basa su di uno statement che a molti potrebbe sembrare essere opinabile:

«Nuclear energy must have no place in Europe. We will not budge one centimetre from this position!»

Si dovrebbe però far notare un fatto.

L’Austria è una grande produttrice di energia idroelettrica.

Di notte però importa dai paesi vicini dotati di centrali atomiche grandi quantità di energia, che impiega per pompare acqua nei bacini, e poterla così utilizzare di nuovo.

Non solo. La mattina vende alla limitrofa Germania l’energia prodotta dalle centrali idroelettriche, definendola “energia pulita”. Compra ad uno l’energia “sporchissima” e la rivende a tre come energia “candida“.

Questa semplice considerazione potrebbe spiegare molti mal di pancia.


Euractiv. 2018-02-23. Austria sues over EU approval of Hungary nuclear plant

Staunchly anti-nuclear Austria lodged a legal complaint with the European Court of Justice yesterday (22 February) against the EU’s approval of the expansion of a nuclear plant in neighbouring Hungary.

The approval, granted by the European Commission in March, would allow the expansion of the Paks nuclear plant outside the Hungarian capital Budapest with a €10 billion Russian loan.

The plant is Hungary’s only nuclear facility and supplies around 40% of its electricity needs.

“For our nature, our environment and our unique landscape, we must take up this David and Goliath struggle,” sustainability minister Elisabeth Koestinger said in a statement, confirming the launching of the complaint at the Court of Justice of the European Union.

“Nuclear energy must have no place in Europe. We will not budge one centimetre from this position!” she added.

In its decision the European Commission judged that the project met EU rules on state aid, but Austria disputes this.

Austrian environmental campaigners praised the new centre-right government for pursuing a legal action that had been planned by the Social Democrat voted out of power late last year.

The Paks plant was built with Soviet-era technology in the 1980s during Hungary’s communist period.

The construction of two new reactors at the site is part of a 2014 deal struck between Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Victor Orbán and ally Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The work, to be carried out by Moscow’s state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom, is set to more than double the plant’s capacity.

Hungary’s opposition has criticised the awarding of the contract to Rosatom without holding an open tender.

In 2015, the Hungarian parliament voted to keep the details of the deal secret for 30 years, something Orbán’s Fidesz party said was necessary for “national security reasons” but which critics said could conceal corruption.

Since the late 1970s, Austria has been fiercely anti-nuclear, starting with an unprecedented vote by its population that prevented the country’s only plant from providing a watt of power.

Austria filed a complaint against EU-approved state aid for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Britain in 2015, arguing that atomic energy was unsustainable and high-risk.

Pubblicato in: Banche Centrali, Devoluzione socialismo

Ocse. Allarme debiti pubblici per incremento dei tassi di interesse.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-25.

Cane e Coniglio

Nei paesi occidentali il debito pubblico è un problema al momento irrisolto, ma a breve termine si dovrà bene affrontarlo.

I paesi Ocse avevano nel 2008 25,000 miliardi di debiti, saliti nel 2017 a 45,000 miliardi.

Per più di un lustro le banche centrali americana ed europea hanno tenuto i tassi di interesse  a livelli vicini se non inferiori lo zero. Questa manovra, che è costata lacrime e sangue ai Contribuenti, ha in parte arginato la crisi economica e nel contempo ha concesso agli stati molto tempo per procedere alle necessarie riforme strutturali, ossia a tutte quelle manovre che avrebbero potuto permettere di contenere la dipendenza dei bilanci dal debito.

«It also shows for some countries that current debt levels are not sustainable without a change in government behaviour» [Oecd]

Tempo e risorse sciacquate dai governi, tranne un pochino la Germania, senza fare sostanzialmente nulla. L’Occidente viveva nella utopica illusione di una consistente ripresa economica, che non ha preso luogo. Il tasso di disoccupazione nell’Eurozona si attesta da tempo sopra il 12%.

Sono stati investiti 20,000 miliardi per nulla.

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Con la fine di questo anno termineranno i QE, e si apriranno due grandi problemi.

Il primo problema è costituito dall’aumento dei tassi di interesse. Già adesso negli Stati Uniti i tassi di interesse stanno salendo, e verosimilmente la banca centrale europea dovrà accodarsi a tempi prossimi. Gli stati dovranno pagare interessi maggiori sui debiti contratti.

Il secondo problema è ancora più severo. Nei prossimi tre anni gli stati Oecd (Ocse) dovranno collocare sul mercato 16,000 miliardi di rinnovi di debiti scaduti. A questa cifra si dovrebbe anche aggiungere il debito di nuova emissione. Trovare acquirenti disposti ad investire 16,000 miliardi liquidi in un controvalore di titoli di stato non sarà impresa facile: sempre che li si trovi, e non è detto, i tassi di interesse dovranno per forza di cosa salire.

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Il problema prima ancora che economico è politico. Sono i governi che continuano ad indebitarsi, e lo fanno tenendo in non cale le teorie economiche robuste: si sono infatti costruiti le loro teorie secondo le quali il debito potrebbe salire all’infinito.

Sembrerebbero esserci molti motivi per i quali guardare con una ragionevole apprensione al futuro.


Ansa. 2018-02-23. Ocse: rischio debito da aumento tassi

NEW YORK, 23 FEB – L’Ocse lancia l’allarme debito: con l’aumento dei tassi di interesse pone una ”sfida significativa” sui bilanci dei paesi. Il debito nei paesi Ocse quest’anno sale a 45.000 miliardi di dollari dai 25.000 del 2008, e con l’atteso rialzo del costo del denaro i costi per rifinanziarlo aumenteranno, pesando sui bilanci e con pericoli per la ripresa economica. ”La velocita’ della crescita economica – spiega l’Ocse – e’ uno degli elementi determinanti per la sostenibilita’ di lungo termine del debito nei paesi fortemente indebitati. Questo pone grande enfasi sulle riforme strutturali per diminuire la dipendenza su politiche di bilancio espansive per sostenere la crescita”. La maggior parte del debito emesso dopo la crisi finanziaria matura nei prossimi anni e, secondo le stime dell’Ocse, i paesi sviluppati dovranno rifinanziare il 40% del loro intero stock di debito nei prossimi tre anni.

Pubblicato in: Cina, Problemia Energetici, Russia

Artico. 50% delle riserve minerarie.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-01-25.

 2018-01-15__Artico__001

I tesori minerari racchiusi nell’Artico sono ben protetti dai ghiacci, ma quanto mai appetibili: assomma quasi la metà delle scorte di idrocarburi mondiali.

Se è vero che i costi estrattivi attuali sono alti, visto in un’ottica strategica l’investimento è attrattivo.

Se è vero che al momento almeno la Russia non dispone dei capitali necessari, è altrettanto vero che la Cina è più che disposta a finanziare questi investimenti, sotto la condizione di tagliarne i dividendi ed essere considerata l’acquirente di elezione. Si cerca, in poche parole, di ripetere lo schema seguito per Yamal.

Il capitale occidentale è inutile quanto non richiesto.

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Le conseguenze potrebbero rovesciare la situazione energetica mondiale attuale. Il blocco sino – russo diventerebbe energeticamente indipendente e senza avere vie di rifornimento esposte ad eventuali operazioni ostili.

Questo sarebbe uno scenario del tutto nuovo, sulla cui portata meditare profondamente ed a lungo.

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«The Arctic Circle may hold more than a fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, most of it offshore»

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«However, with oil around $60 a barrel, not all will be worth pursuing»

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«Gold mines, roads and a full spectrum of energy projects dot the horizon—with Russia leading the way and other Arctic countries scrambling to catch up»

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«There’s much to do, and not enough capital to go around»

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«That means countries with deep pockets, deep ambition and no Arctic coastline—namely China—can get a seat at the table, too»

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«So far, Russia’s oil-and-gas money has underwritten a lot of the work, giving President Vladimir Putin a leg up as changing conditions grant access to new riches»

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«Russia has an overwhelming lead over its neighbors with nearly 250 potential projects»

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«President Vladimir Putin has presided over financially and technically ambitious energy exploration goals. He officially opened a $27 billion liquefied natural gas plant, called Yamal LNG, the first week of December on northwestern Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula»

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«Russia’s Arctic list is heavily populated with hydrocarbon projects, from new or expanded gas fields to refineries and the ports, pipelines and rail needed to move the product»

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«There’s even a floating Russian nuclear power generator for Bilibino, an eastern town that is shuttering aging reactors—the world’s most northern»

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«Miners have long desired to extract Arctic gold, silver, graphite, nickel, copper, titanium, iron, lead, coal, diamond, uranium and the rare earth metals critical to high-tech devices»

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«The sea lanes above Russia cut as much as 40 percent off the distance between east-west routes through the Suez Canal. Russia already maintains at least 16 ports along the 3,000-mile route»

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«As recently as mid-November, Putin endorsed allowing only Russian-flagged vessels to carry and store hydrocarbons along the Northern Sea Route»

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«Other countries aren’t ready to cede all of the Arctic’s potential riches to Russia and its Arctic neighbors»

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Si può disporre delle cose perché le si hanno oppure perché le si compartecipa con rapporti bilaterali paritetici:  ecco perché si può iniziare a parlare di

«China as a Polar Great Power».

 


Bloomberg. 2017-12-29. The Economic Arctic.

As the Arctic Circle’s ice melts away, people of the High North feel their top-of-the-world economy heating up. Gold mines, roads and a full spectrum of energy projects dot the horizon—with Russia leading the way and other Arctic countries scrambling to catch up. There’s much to do, and not enough capital to go around. That means countries with deep pockets, deep ambition and no Arctic coastline—namely China—can get a seat at the table, too.

Investing at the top of the world isn’t easy. The remoteness of the region, and a lack of basic infrastructure means the Arctic is simply not wired into the rest of the global trade system. Arctic financial data are scarce. But the global asset manager Guggenheim Partners has shed some light on what’s likely to come next in the Arctic. They’ve spent the last seven years studying the region and the last three amassing a database of 900 planned, in-process, finished, cancelled and desired Arctic infrastructure projects.

Some of the projects reflect grand ambitions to upgrade national, industrial and social systems. Others are smaller scale and meant to connect remote places into larger patterns of trade. Taken together, they would require as much as $1 trillion in investments.

So far, Russia’s oil-and-gas money has underwritten a lot of the work, giving President Vladimir Putin a leg up as changing conditions grant access to new riches. Russia has an overwhelming lead over its neighbors with nearly 250 potential projects. Finland, the U.S. and Canada follow in the number of wish-list items. Underscoring many of these initiatives is careful maneuvering by China—whether through Arctic trade deals or strategic financing.

Who can build their projects first, and who funds them, will go a long way in determining which countries are best positioned to exert economic dominance in the region over the coming decades.

Mining, road-building, renewable energy and service businesses make up the greatest number of individual projects in the infrastructure inventory by sector, at least in part because most of those are smaller-scale items that all communities need.

Oil and gas production projects require the biggest overall potential investment—as much as $200 billion—or more than the next three categories combined (mining, renewable energy and railroads). The Arctic Circle may hold more than a fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, most of it offshore. However, with oil around $60 a barrel, not all will be worth pursuing.

There’s at least one big reason why Russia is poised to remain a dominant player in the region: the country is rich in natural resources, a disproportionate amount of which lie in the Arctic. That’s why the north already makes up about 20 percent of the Russian gross domestic product, and Russia contributes about two-thirds to the overall Arctic economy. President Vladimir Putin has presided over financially and technically ambitious energy exploration goals. He officially opened a $27 billion liquefied natural gas plant, called Yamal LNG, the first week of December on northwestern Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula.

Russia’s Arctic list is heavily populated with hydrocarbon projects, from new or expanded gas fields to refineries and the ports, pipelines and rail needed to move the product.

Drilling opportunities are expanding in the U.S. The Trump administration is preparing to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge along with the Chukchi and Beaufort seas to drilling. The administration in November issued the Italian company Eni SpA in November an exploratory-drilling permit, the first since Royal Dutch Shell pulled out of its $7 billion Chukchi Sea venture in 2015.

Developing Arctic hydrocarbons is not universally considered a safe or moral decision, given the treacherous working conditions and the overdetermined dangers of further carbon dioxide pollution. Norway is out ahead of its northern neighbors in thinking through this complexity. Amidst public concern about climate change, its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund—built by oil profits—may divest from fossil fuels. However, its state oil company has been moving ahead on new exploration despite obstacles.

The Arctic also offers hydropower, wind, geothermal, tidal and solar energy. There’s even a floating Russian nuclear power generator for Bilibino, an eastern town that is shuttering aging reactors—the world’s most northern. Miners have long desired to extract Arctic gold, silver, graphite, nickel, copper, titanium, iron, lead, coal, diamond, uranium and the rare earth metals critical to high-tech devices. And there are Arctic power grids, railroads, highways, subsea telecom fiber, satellites and aviation corridors to pin down so that everyone and everything can get anywhere anytime.

The energy and minerals that feed industry are paralleled by a volume of fish that can potentially feed people for decades, or, if caught sustainably, forever. Some species are already following warmer waters northward. It’s a complex picture, though: Changing temperature, salinity, sea-ice behavior and ocean acidification all have an effect on fish populations, and scientists have yet to draw firm conclusions about what future Arctic fisheries may look like. Accordingly, nine countries and the European Union decided in November to leave international waters at the top of the world in its under-fished state for at least 16 years. The pause is intended to allow scientists to better understand the regions fisheries and how they may change as sea ice vanishes.

Building the Arctic Infrastructure Inventory has led Scott Minerd, Guggenheim Partners’ global chief investment officer, to a counterintuitive conclusion: The firm is looking past its Arctic inventory, as much as it’s looking at it.

“It’s a slow-go but it’s definitely accelerating,” Minerd said of northern investment. Updating the inventory is keeping his thought “ahead of the curve relative to most investment firms,” he said. “Most investment firms don’t even have the Arctic on their radar. Eventually they will.”

Instead of energy, bellwethers for Arctic development may include Finland’s Hotel Santa Claus, Norway’s Kolos data center, which is aiming to be the world’s largest, Sweden’s NorthVolt battery plant and Finland’s North European BioTech Oy, which will make advanced ethanol and other products from forestry-industry waste, like recycled wood, sawdust.

Most tantalizing, however, for Minerd and many others, is the oft-promised, and yet never quite present, opening of ice-free shipping lanes.

A New Ocean at the Top of the World

Marine transportation may take most direct advantage of the unique geophysical calamity of melting Arctic sea ice. Just not quite yet.

The expanse of ice in September 2017 was 25 percent lower than the 1981-2010 end-of-summer average, putting the 10 lowest sea-ice area measurements all in the last 11 years. “There are many strong signals that continue to indicate that the Arctic environmental system has reached a ‘new normal,’” scientists concluded in their annual Arctic Report Card in December.

The ice is diminishing but may not disappear entirely in summers for another 25 years, which makes affordable and safe Arctic shipping a slow boil.

It’s also among the most difficult economic challenges. Even without ice, it’s colder up there than people might prefer, costlier to insure vessels and the region lacks adequate maritime services. Sparse satellite coverage makes navigation and tracking more difficult. There were just 19 trips between Europe and Asia through the Northern Sea Route in 2016, according to the Centre for High North Logistics, lower than average since Russia opened it to other nations in 2009.

The promise is real, which is why the world’s largest nation is upgrading its ports and its overwhelming fleet of icebreakers.

The sea lanes above Russia cut as much as 40 percent off the distance between east-west routes through the Suez Canal. Russia already maintains at least 16 ports along the 3,000-mile route.

A commercially viable trade route is an attractive proposition for a country that’s hungry for income and power status. As recently as mid-November, Putin endorsed allowing only Russian-flagged vessels to carry and store hydrocarbons along the Northern Sea Route, signaling a strong interest in developing his own northern shipping companies and generating revenue to upgrade infrastructure along the coast.

The Northwest Passage, which weaves from the Davis Strait between Canada and Greenland to the Bering Strait, will likely remain essentially unpassable for regular commercial shipping for even longer. Its ice is more dangerous and the route itself, while about 30 percent shorter than existing routes, is underdeveloped even compared with the facilities north of Russia.

British researchers in 2016 used climate models to gain insight about how disappearing ice may enable Arctic shipping to evolve.

The same British authors in July published analysis showing advances in predicting months beforehand how passable Arctic routes will be in the summer, which will be an increasingly useful skill.

Other countries aren’t ready to cede all of the Arctic’s potential riches to Russia and its Arctic neighbors. For China, which may be playing the shrewdest and longest-term hand in the Arctic, avoiding Russian tolls and territory may be less a pie-in-the-sky dream than an eventuality, as a third shipping channel—the Transpolar Sea Route—opens traffic straight over the North Pole, the fastest and shortest route.

It’s a real option, but in a future that only Chinese leaders appear to be contemplating.

The World, Turned on Its Side

China’s Arctic vision stretches out past 2049, the centennial of its revolution. The nation is playing an incredibly slow, cautious and high-stakes strategy to build itself up as a leading Arctic (and Antarctic) power, according to Anne-Marie Brady, a global fellow at the Wilson Center’s Polar Initiative, executive editor of The Polar Journal and author of a 2017 book, China as a Polar Great Power.

China’s ambitions in these regions have not received due attention, in part, Brady says, because so few Western journalists speak and read Chinese. The country has deployed what she calls “two-track messaging,” sending alternative signals to domestic and international audiences. President Xi Jingping in November 2014, for example, spoke in Hobart, Australia, where for the first time he stated that his country will be “joining the ranks of the Polar great powers,” which Western media largely missed.

In June, the government broadened its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative for trade to include the Arctic.

China cannot physically claim Arctic territory, but it can buy stakes and influence wherever it seems wise.

“China’s thinking on the polar regions and global oceans demonstrates a level of ambition and forward planning that few, if any, modern industrial states can achieve,” Brady writes.

China has undertaken a soft-power campaign, first focused on scientific collaboration, with financial interests not too far behind. The nation struck a free-trade pact with Iceland in 2013, and it has held free-trade discussions with Norway since 2008. Finland has jointly called for greater cooperation with China, in the context of European Union trade policy. Canada and China in December extended exploratory free-trade talks after being unable to launch a formal round.

Chinese agencies are already common financiers of Arctic projects, including several Russian initiatives. They have placed early bets on resources in Greenland, which have yet to pan out. And when President Donald Trump visited China in November, the oil giant Sinopec, China Investment Corp., and Bank of China Ltd. pledged to help finance Alaska LNG, a $43 billion gas-export project.

Along with finance, Chinese executives and tourists are beating a path to Scandinavia. Passengers can now fly direct to Stockholm from Beijing and Hong Kong. From Helsinki, travelers can get back and forth between at least four additional eastern Chinese cities, too.

The returns on an Arctic strategy are not only financial.

Before Russia’s Yamal LNG opened in December, officials made a big show of dispatching the first shipment to China, whose $12 billion financing made the facility possible after the U.S. imposed sanctions in 2014. As fate would have it, a logistical complication forced them to reroute the shipment, and it was redirected to the U.K.

The symbolism of the first shipment’s intended destination raises thought-provoking questions about how relationships among Arctic and other nations may evolve. How much power does financing Arctic business give China? Russia is grateful to Chinese investors who helped make Yamal LNG possible. But that also gives its southeastern neighbor leverage that’s difficult to quantify. And throwing too much money at Russia may sour China’s Western trade partners who are less amenable to the Putin regime.

If the Alaskan LNG infrastructure will eventually be built with Chinese help, would Americans be similarly beholden to Chinese soft power? To what extent might the Russian Arctic, the Greenland Arctic or the American Arctic actually become the Chinese Arctic when it comes to writing checks? What are the national security implications of China cultivating financial and maritime influence on shores and in seas that belong to other nations?

Free trade earns participants soft power. Militarization is hard power. As the U.S. and other nations have reversed long-standing free-trade ideas, that may put more onus on hard power, Minerd said.

The melting of the Arctic itself is so disorienting, and China’s ambition is so palpable that it requires a different worldview—literally. A map developed by a Chinese geophysicist, and used for more than a decade by scientists and military, Brady writes, shows both the scope of the nation’s ambitions and just how concentrated this seemingly far-flung part of the world really is. The map was first made public in 2014.

The Arctic makes up only six percent of the Earth’s surface, and yet neighbors feel like they live on the other side of the world from each other. China’s vertical map projects a view of the world few westerners have considered. But it’s a world that has China squarely at its center and is marked conspicuously by a lack of ice at the North Pole.

With China rising, just how much power Russia retains over Arctic affairs is a future much harder to project than even how fast the temperature is rising.

Pubblicato in: Devoluzione socialismo, Unione Europea

Unione Europea. Finite le elezioni si dovrà ben decidere cosa fare.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-25.

Visegrad 001

L’Unione Europea è guidata da tre centri direzionali: il Consiglio Europeo, la Commissione Europea ed il Parlamento Europeo.

Il Parlamento Europeo è l’unico organo i cui membri siano eletti direttamente dal popolo. La Commissione è nominata, anche se poi il Parlamento dovrebbe ratificarla, mentre il Consiglio Europeo è il sommo organo direzionale, formato dai capi di stato o di governo dei paesi afferenti l’Unione.

Mentre Europarlamento e Commissione stanno in carica fino a scadenza del mandato, il Consiglio Europeo varia al variare dei risultati delle elezioni politiche che si tengono nei diversi paesi. Ne consegue uno sfasamento politico tra i tre centri direzionali, fatto questo che ostacola non poco la corretta gestione dell’Unione.

Nello scorso anno sono usciti di scena Mr Hollande, ex presidente francese, ed Herr Kern, ex Cancelliere austriaco, sostituiti da Mr Macron e da Herr Kurz, rispettivamente. Sono usciti due socialisti ideologici sostenitori dell’attuale dirigenza dell’Unione e sono entrate due nuove persone di idee ed indirizzi politici differenti. Anche la Repubblica Ceka ha cambiato primo ministro.

Il 4 marzo molto verosimilmente Mr Gentiloni lascerà la poltrona italiana ad un’altro personaggio politico, ed altrettanto verosimilmente il nuovo eletto avrà visione politica differente da quella del predecessore.  Sempre il 4 marzo si saprà se la Spd tedesca avrà dato o negato il proprio consenso alla Große Koalition, e poche settimane dopo l’Ungheria verosimilmente rieleggerà Mr Orban con voto che si preannuncia plebiscitario.

Né ci si dimentichi del Brexit, prima grande defezione dall’Unione Europea.

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Questa sembrerebbe essere la situazione attuale.

Si danno un Europarlamento, una Commissione e la dirigenza fortemente liberal e socialista ideologica, con un Consiglio Europeo sostanzialmente mutato in direzione opposta.

Si contrapporranno due visioni opposte.

Da una parte coloro che sostengono la necessità di arrivare a degli Stati Uniti di Europa, guidati dall’attuale dirigenza europea, coagulata attorno ai valori liberal e socialisti.

Dall’altra parte coloro che sostengono una unione economica, di libero mercato, che non sia anche unione politica e che, soprattutto, si fondi sul retaggio religioso, storico, culturale e sociale di ogni singolo stato dell’Europa.

Ma la situazione è ancor più complessa tenendo conto che il deep state europeo è stato nominato quando liberal e socialisti erano al potere: è quindi propenso all’ideologia liberal e socialista per sua natura e per suo interesse: sa più che bene che la partita è quella finale. Se perdessero, sarebbero trattati per come hanno trattato, e questo genera in loro profondo timore e voglia di resistere fino all’ultimo sangue. E con essi i media, sia per tendenza politica della proprietà, sia perché i giornalisti che si fossero troppo esposti sanno più che bene che il loro avvenire è quello dei disoccupati di lungo termine.

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Bbc, rocca e baluardo dei liberal socialisti, affronta nell’articolo riportato queste problematiche, ovviamente dal suo punto di vista.

Visegrad: The clash of the euro visions.

I problemi dei migranti e quelli relativi agli ordinamenti giudiziari sono alla fine stati ridotti a pretesti.

La posta in gioco è chi comanda ancora ed adesso nell’Unione Europea, e che farla evolvere.

«a clash of “euro visions” between the V4 and EU-integrationists is inevitable.»

*

«The Visegrad 4 certainly do not share the post-World War Two vision of the EU espoused by mainstream decision-makers in western Europe, in countries like Germany, France and Italy.»

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«The governments in Hungary and Poland have made front-page news over the last few months for thumbing their nose at EU laws, lectures and mores»

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«Their vision for Europe is one where the nation state is strong and independent»

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«Now, he said, they were resisting attempts to build a European empire»

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«a clash of “euro visions” between the V4 and EU-integrationists is inevitable.»

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«And that the V4 view of Europe is catching on.»

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«The EU certainly worries that the self-declared illiberal democracy of Hungary’s domestically popular Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, is inspiring others»

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«Up the Danube in Vienna, meanwhile, the junior partner in the new coalition government, the infamously nationalist, Eurosceptic FPO party, has called for Austria to join the Visegrad group»

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«After Brexit could come Nexit, Dexit and Frexit, we thought, as a wave of anti-establishment euroscepticism washed across the continent»

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«Now the battle is no longer about survival but over the direction the European Union should take. And in whose name»

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«It’s not clear yet who will fill the vacuum – the federalists, the pragmatists or more nationalist-minded governments.»

* * * * * * *

Una sola ed unica considerazione finale.

Leggiamo con attenzione questa frase:

«the infamously nationalist, Eurosceptic FPO party»

il famigerato partito nazionalista ed euroscettico Fpo

Il termine ‘famigerato‘ indica chi goda di pessima fama.

Ma non si comprende bene perché mai l’essere nazionalisti ed euroscettici debba essere cosa così disdicevole: e poi, chi mai lo avrebbe detto? Essere eurofili non dovrebbe essere un dogma di fede.


Bbc. 2018-01-30. Visegrad: The clash of the euro visions

It’s not long ago that European know-it-alls, like myself, were debating the possibility of EU collapse.

After Brexit could come Nexit, Dexit and Frexit, we thought, as a wave of anti-establishment euroscepticism washed across the continent.

But shock at the ongoing political disorder in the UK following the Brexit vote, plus a sense of uncertainty in Europe provoked by the Trump presidency, have served to solidify EU membership in most countries.

Now the battle is no longer about survival but over the direction the European Union should take. And in whose name.

The celebrated assumption in Brussels has been that Merkel and Macron, or M&M as I like to call them, would become the EU’s golden couple – breathing life back into the Franco-German motor of Europe, getting the engine of EU integration purring once again, once troublesome Britain was out of the way.

But the spoke in the wheels of that EU motor-vehicle scenario comes from central Europe and the so-called Visegrad group of former communist states: Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Otherwise known as the V4.

Hungary’s foreign minister once told me they see themselves as the “bad boys” of Europe. Pushing back against Brussels edicts, such as the migrant quotas.

Eurosceptic they are not. V4 economies have benefited hugely from EU subsidies.

Brussels-sceptic would be a more accurate description. With a common, though varying degree of dislike for EU centralisation.

The Visegrad 4 certainly do not share the post-World War Two vision of the EU espoused by mainstream decision-makers in western Europe, in countries like Germany, France and Italy.

The governments in Hungary and Poland have made front-page news over the last few months for thumbing their nose at EU laws, lectures and mores.

Their vision for Europe is one where the nation state is strong and independent.

Clash of visions

Agoston Mraz, CEO of the Hungarian government-sponsored Nezopont Institute, told me fighting empires is a Hungarian tradition: first the Turks 500 years ago; then the Austrian Empire; followed by the Nazis and the communists in the 20th Century. Now, he said, they were resisting attempts to build a European empire.

He believes a clash of “euro visions” between the V4 and EU-integrationists is inevitable. And that the V4 view of Europe is catching on.

The EU certainly worries that the self-declared illiberal democracy of Hungary’s domestically popular Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, is inspiring others.

First Poland and now Romania have recently been chastised by Brussels over attempts to compromise the independence of their judiciary.

Up the Danube in Vienna, meanwhile, the junior partner in the new coalition government, the infamously nationalist, Eurosceptic FPO party, has called for Austria to join the Visegrad group.

Austria’s young and canny new Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has eurocrats biting their nails. He’s been nicknamed “the joker” in the EU pack of cards.

A centre-right politician with a populist touch, no-one is quite sure where he’ll lay his EU hat.

His first official visits have been carefully chosen – ticking the boxes in traditional EU capitals Paris, Berlin and Brussels. But this week he’s invited Viktor Orban to Vienna.

A meeting between “the EU’s most dangerous politician” (Mr Orban) and a leader “without scruples when it comes to power” (Mr Kurz), according to Hungarian-born Austrian author Paul Lendvai.

Ultimately, though, the EU vision division is no binary matter.

Look at Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands and you’ll see there are nuanced positions between the Orban/Macron extremes.

As the UK exits the EU it leaves behind a gaping hole – not just in the EU budget – but also in terms of balance of power.

It’s not clear yet who will fill the vacuum – the federalists, the pragmatists or more nationalist-minded governments.

Pubblicato in: Banche Centrali, Devoluzione socialismo, Unione Europea

Ecb. Weidmann si prepara a succedere a Mr Draghi.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02–24.

Imacon Color Scanner

Il rinnovo dei vertici della Banca Centrale Europea (Ecb) è un evento particolarmente delicato e complesso.

Sono innumerevoli gli elementi che giocano a rendere difficile le cose.

In primo luogo, i partiti che erano al governo negli stati dell’Unione Europea quando alcuni anni or sono si decise l’avvicendamento al governatorato Ecb non sono stati rinnovati nelle elezioni, e le posizioni dei nuovi governi sono tuttora ben poco chiare.

In secondo luogo, a dispetto della tanto sbandierata autonomia della banca centrale, sia le cariche apicali sono decise politicamente, sia la linea di politica economica è condizionata alle esigenze delle economia principali. Sarebbe fin troppo ingenuo nascondersi questa verità.

In terzo luogo, il contesto mondiale è cambiato drasticamente nel corso degli ultimi due anni. Soprattutto gli Stati Uniti incidono al momento con la loro riduzione delle tasse di 1,500 miliardi, con un piano di investimenti infrastrutturali di 1,600 miliardi e con la svalutazione politica del dollaro. Ciò che più o meno poteva andar bene prima potrebbe benissimo non andar più bene ora e, soprattutto, in un futuro anche prossimo.

In quarto luogo, ad un vicepresidente scelto tra i paesi del sud dovrebbe corrispondere un presidente preso dai paesi del nord. Non a caso il Governatore della Banca Centrale lettone, Mr Ilmars Rimsevics, è stato arrestato con perfetto tempismo: un concorrente di meno.

In quinto luogo, una nomina di tale livello non può essere presa senza aver sentito anche il parere almeno del Governo degli Stati Uniti, del Regno Unito, della Cina, della Russia e dell’India. Sentire il parere non significa certo prenderne ordini: significa soltanto cercare di concertare azioni non divergenti.

In sesto luogo vi è poi lo sguardo sul futuro. La principale incognita sarebbe quelle tedesca. Mentre la socialdemocrazia vede scendere i propri consensi elettorali giorno dopo giorno, nel converso Alternative für Deutschland vede crescere la propria potenzialità politica. Nella Germania Orientale è oramai il secondo partito, distanziato di un solo punto percentuale dalla Cdu. Anche qualora, come sembrerebbe essere verosimile, si possa formare una nuova Große Koalition, essa dovrà ben tenere presente che metà della base elettorale dell’Spd non la voleva, ed AfD potrebbe tollerare anche molto male un Governatore dell’Ecb diverso da Herr Weidmann. Con tutte le conseguenze di una simile scelta.

In settimo luogo vi sono considerazioni di politica economica. Il nuovo Governatore dovrà affrontare problemi non da poco: la fine degli easing, lo smaltimento dei titoli detenuti dall’Ecb, i debiti sovrani, il cambio euro / dollaro, solo per citarne alcuni dei principali.

*

Come si vede, è un quadro molto complesso, ove ogni azione che oggi potrebbe anche sembrare essere ottimale in un domani poterebbe rivelarsi essere un fallimento.

*

«If Mr. Draghi is a classic dove on monetary policy, then Mr. Weidmann is a hawk. Countries like Greece and Portugal will no doubt ruefully recall the extremely painful austerity measures demanded by former German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaüble during their economic crises.»

*

«at the time in 2012, the main opposition to Mr. Draghi’s plan, which probably saved the euro from collapse, came from Mr. Weidmann.»

*

«The Bundesbank chief told Der Spiegel magazine that the bond purchases were “too close to state financing via the money printing press for me. The central bank cannot fundamentally solve the problems this way. It runs the risk of creating new problems.”»

*

«For that to happen, Germany would have to go along, so there may be a deal in the making to enable Germany’s choice at the ECB and France’s position at the commission.»

*

«The process of choosing senior officials at the European Central Bank always has been an intricate kabuki drama, with countries forced to delicately balance their political and financial interests with those of other countries and even regions»

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«The main cause for such optimism was the decision disclosed on Monday that EU countries have coalesced around the Spanish economy minister, Luis de Guindos, to become vice president of the ECB»

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«when the richer northern part of the EU supports a single candidate from the EU’s southern states for the vice president’s job at the ECB, the top job at the central bank is supposed to go to a candidate from a northern country»

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«A bigger issue is likely to be the Bundesbank’s well known hard-money policies: abhorrence of debt, zero interest rates, and quantitative easing –- central bank purchases of bonds – which have been vigorously deployed by Mr. Draghi to pull Europe out of its economic malaise»

* * * * * * *

Segnaliamo infine un’ultima, grande difficoltà.

Oltre alle violente partigianerie, si sommano al tutto alcuni elementi decisamente negativi.

– Molti dei capi di stato europei hanno una preparazione economica miseranda, per essere del tutto benevoli, ed, almeno dalle loro parole, difficilmente riescono a produrre un qualcosa che superi lo slogan elettorale. Ben difficilmente il nuovo Governatore potrà avere con loro colloqui produttivi.

– Stati membri e la stessa Unione Europea stanno attraversando un periodo di chaos politico quale mai si era visto negli ultimi settanta anni. Ciò priva il nuovo Governatore di interlocutori fattivi.

*

Solo la Divina Misericordia può salvare l’Europa“. Non vorremmo che questa frase detta da una eminente personalità dell’Ecb si debba concretizzare.


Handelsblatt. 2018-02-22. Path clear for Germany’s Weidmann to succeed Draghi as head of ECB

A consensus for Spain’s Luis de Guindos to be vice president of the ECB sets stage for the head of the Bundesbank to nab the crucial top job.

*

The process of choosing senior officials at the European Central Bank always has been an intricate kabuki drama, with countries forced to delicately balance their political and financial interests with those of other countries and even regions. The personnel drama has started once again, and officials in Berlin are more optimistic than ever before that when the final curtain comes down, a German banker will be seated as the head of the ECB for the first time.

The main cause for such optimism was the decision disclosed on Monday that EU countries have coalesced around the Spanish economy minister, Luis de Guindos, to become vice president of the ECB. In the process, Ireland’s central bank chief, Philip Lane, dropped out of the running for the deputy job. The term of the current vice president, Portugal’s Vitor Constâncio, ends in May.

The complex process works like this: when the richer northern part of the EU supports a single candidate from the EU’s southern states for the vice president’s job at the ECB, the top job at the central bank is supposed to go to a candidate from a northern country. But filling that job also depends on who becomes the next head of the European Commission, a post now held by Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European Council president, a post now occupied by Poland’s Donald Tusk.

—–

“Weidmann has a good chance.” [Guntram Wolff, director, Bruegel think tank]

—–

In addition to Mr. Lane dropping from consideration for the ECB, Mr. De Guindos needed to win the support of Germany and France, leaders of the northern bloc, to get the vice president’s job. That also happened Monday, with Germany’s interim finance minister, Peter Altmaier, saying the Spaniard is “an excellent choice.” A final decision will be made at the summit of EU leaders in March.

German officials now hope that the stage has been set for Jens Weidmann, the current head of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, to succeed ECB president Mario Draghi, whose term ends in October 2019. “The election of De Guindos as vice president is another building block to strengthen Weidmann’s candidacy,” said Daniel Gros, head of the Center for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank.

Another reason for the optimism is that even though Germany has the largest economy in Europe, a German has never been chosen as ECB president. “Everyone knows that and that’s why Weidmann has a good chance,” said Guntram Wolff, director of the Brussels-based economic think tank, Bruegel.

Still, Mr. Weidmann will have to overcome European doubts on a number of fronts. Germany has never held the job before because there was a reluctance to give Germans so much power after World War II, but those memories have mostly faded and no longer represent much of an obstacle.

A bigger issue is likely to be the Bundesbank’s well known hard-money policies: abhorrence of debt, zero interest rates, and quantitative easing –- central bank purchases of bonds – which have been vigorously deployed by Mr. Draghi to pull Europe out of its economic malaise.

In addition, the ECB is already located in Frankfurt and the bank’s structure was purposely modeled on the Bundesbank, which some critics believe is enough German influence.

If Mr. Draghi is a classic dove on monetary policy, then Mr. Weidmann is a hawk. Countries like Greece and Portugal will no doubt ruefully recall the extremely painful austerity measures demanded by former German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaüble during their economic crises.

For example, would Mr. Weidmann be as willing as Mr. Draghi to announce that the ECB would buy unlimited amounts of sovereign bonds from struggling countries in the European southern tier? In fact, at the time in 2012, the main opposition to Mr. Draghi’s plan, which probably saved the euro from collapse, came from Mr. Weidmann.

The Bundesbank chief told Der Spiegel magazine that the bond purchases were “too close to state financing via the money printing press for me. The central bank cannot fundamentally solve the problems this way. It runs the risk of creating new problems.”

Officials in Brussels believe the final decision on ECB chief may depend on French President Emmanuel Macron. He is said to be keen for France to get the commission president’s job when Mr. Juncker steps down. For that to happen, Germany would have to go along, so there may be a deal in the making to enable Germany’s choice at the ECB and France’s position at the commission.

Pubblicato in: Amministrazione, Giustizia

Raggi ed il caso archiviato. Il problema dell’immunità.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-24.

Giustizia 101

Questo caso giudiziario ricalca una delle realtà più dilaceranti dei nostri tempi.

«Infondatezza della notizia di reato. Con queste parole il Tribunale di Roma ha cancellato più di un anno di schizzi di fango, ricostruzioni fantasiose e insulti perché avevo nominato Salvatore Romeo a capo della mia segreteria politica. Oltre un anno di accuse da parte di politici e dei tanti ‘soloni’ che, dalle loro comode poltrone negli studi e salotti tv, pontificavano su materie che evidentemente non conoscono»

*

«Il giudice sottolinea la trasparenza e la bontà del mio operato – aggiunge la Raggi – grazie alle richieste di pareri legali che, prima della nomina, ho fatto all’avvocatura del Campidoglio e all’Autorità Nazionale Anti Corruzione di Raffaele Cantone. E, soprattutto, definisce falso che io possa aver nominato Salvatore Romeo per beneficiare di tre polizze assicurative di cui io non sapevo assolutamente nulla. Ancora fango e facile ironia sulle ‘polizze a mia insaputa’. Eppure avevo ragione: sono stata accusata ingiustamente da tanti che ora taceranno o faranno finta di nulla. Invece, voglio ringraziare i miei avvocati e tutti voi che avete creduto in me, certi che mi sia sempre comportata correttamente. Andiamo avanti a testa alta»

* * * * * * *

In Occidente era invalsa da circa due secoli la costumanza di voler assumere divisi i tre classici poteri statali: legislativo, esecutivo e giudiziario.

Assunzione chiaramente utopica per molte ragioni.

Intanto, i magistrati devono pur bene essere nominati da qualcuno. Per esempio, negli Stati Uniti i magistrati di rango inferiore sono solitamente elettivi, mentre quelli di rango superiore sono nominati dal presidente, ma tale nomina deve essere ratificata dal senato: sono quindi nomine partitiche, politicamente schierate. In Germania invece «tutti i giudici ordinari vengono nominati dai singoli ministeri o dal Gabinetto di Stato»: difficile poter dire che codesti magistrati siano ‘indipendenti‘.

Ma se i politici non dovrebbero interferire con il corso della giustizia, altrettanto vero sarebbe che i giudici non interferiscano con la politica.

Sarebbe da prender atto del fatto che è semplicemente impossibile avere una magistratura asettica, immune dal contesto e dai giochi politici.

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Come sempre avviene quando il potere politico perde vigore, invariabilmente il potere giudiziario tende ad intervenire, ed anche severamente, nella politica. Non si critica questo fatto, ma se ne prende atto.

Citiamo solo due esempi pratici:

German court to decide on fate of 15 million diesel cars

La Suprema Corte della Pennsylvania ridisegna i distretti pro democratici.

Si pone quindi il problema di come poter far tornare il sistema socio – politico in un equilibrio meno precario.

Si dovrebbe prendere altresì atto di come il meglio sia nemico del bene.

Alcuni aspetti potrebbero però essere oggetto di legislazione in materia.

Il primo aspetto verte il segreto istruttorio. Se è doveroso che la Magistratura indaghi su chiunque possa dare adito ad un qualche sospetto, se è altresì doveroso che indaghi su quanti abbiano potere e cariche pubbliche di alta responsabilità, sarebbe altresì opportuno che le fasi istruttorie rientrino nel segreto. L’abolizione del segreto istruttorio consente ai media di parte di scatenare campagne mediatiche contro persone che alla fine si constata siano innocenti, incriminate ingiustamente. La condanna precede in questo caso il verdetto. Anzi, poco o punto interessa il verdetto: tanto l’effetto denigratorio e calunniatorio è stato ottenuto.

Il secondo aspetto è quello dell’immunità. Già nella costituzione ittita il Panku considerava tutti eguali davanti le leggi ma furono i romani ad introdurre la norma in accordo alla quale chi avesse ricoperto cariche pubbliche avrebbe goduto di immunità fino a tanto che avesse esercitato il mandato.

Da un punto di vista giuridico il problema dell’immunità è vasto a variegato: in questa sede è più che sufficiente rifarsi al suo significato intuitivo.

Il terzo aspetto è delicato. Se è vero che tutti i cittadini debbano essere eguali davanti alle leggi, altrettanto sarebbe vero che i pari fossero giudicati dai pari. È molto pericoloso che un giudice di infimo grado possa fare indagini e portare in giudizio una persona che svolga una carica pubblica elettiva, specie poi se costei fosse un deputato od un senatore della Repubblica.

Similmente, le azioni svolte da un eletto nell’esercizio delle proprie funzioni dovrebbero sottostare al solo giudizio dei suoi pari. Si distinguano con cura gli atti dovuti dalla suprema corte sulla costituzionalità di un apparato legislativo, dai giudizi su di una singola azione amministrativa. In questa seconda evenienza il magistrato si arroga una capacità politica pur non essendone deputato né, tanto meno, eletto.

Il quarto aspetto rispecchierebbe solo il buon senso comune. I tempi lasciati alla fase istruttoria dovrebbero essere delimitati e chiari. Tra avviso di reato ed archiviazione ovvero rinvio non dovrebbero intercorrere più di sessanta giorni. Una cosa è istruire una pratica su base oggettive, ed una del tutto differente è metterere qualcuno in stato di accusa per mettersi poi a cercare motivazione e prove.

*

Se le indagini svolte sul Sindaco Raggi fossero state coperte dal segreto istruttorio, tutto l’iter fino all’archiviazione della denuncia non avrebbe sollevato scandalo. Se il magistrato fosse stato incompetente a svolgere quella tipologia di indagini, il Sindaco Raggi avrebbe potuto amministrare serenamente il suo mandato.

*

Una ultima considerazione.

Abbiamo utilizzato il caso del Sindaco Raggi solo ed esclusivamente come esempio.

Sarebbe da evitare con cura l’affrontare problemi giuridici con visceralismo settario.


Adnk. 2018-02-22.

Archiviato caso Romeo, Raggi: “Un anno di fango”

Infondatezza della notizia di reato. Con queste parole il Tribunale di Roma ha cancellato più di un anno di schizzi di fango, ricostruzioni fantasiose e insulti perché avevo nominato Salvatore Romeo a capo della mia segreteria politica. Oltre un anno di accuse da parte di politici e dei tanti ‘soloni’ che, dalle loro comode poltrone negli studi e salotti tv, pontificavano su materie che evidentemente non conoscono”. Lo scrive la sindaca di Roma Virginia Raggi, postando su Fb il provvedimento con cui il gip di Roma dispone l’archiviazione del procedimento.

“Il giudice sottolinea la trasparenza e la bontà del mio operato – aggiunge la Raggi – grazie alle richieste di pareri legali che, prima della nomina, ho fatto all’avvocatura del Campidoglio e all’Autorità Nazionale Anti Corruzione di Raffaele Cantone. E, soprattutto, definisce falso che io possa aver nominato Salvatore Romeo per beneficiare di tre polizze assicurative di cui io non sapevo assolutamente nulla. Ancora fango e facile ironia sulle ‘polizze a mia insaputa’. Eppure avevo ragione: sono stata accusata ingiustamente da tanti che ora taceranno o faranno finta di nulla. Invece, voglio ringraziare i miei avvocati e tutti voi che avete creduto in me, certi che mi sia sempre comportata correttamente. Andiamo avanti a testa alta”.

Pubblicato in: Devoluzione socialismo, Stati Uniti, Trump

Trump il Grande. Adesso nel collimatore c’è il deep state.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-24.

Washington. White House. 001

The White House ha rilasciato il documento

White House budget fact sheet

«The business of the Federal Government is to serve the American people in core mission areas. ….

 Rather than pursue short-term fixes that quickly become outdated once again, this Administration will pursue deep-seated transformation. But it will not happen in one or two years»

* * * * * * *

Negli Stati Uniti vige lo Spoils System.

«Lo spoils system (traduzione letterale dall’inglese: sistema dei bottini) è la pratica politica, nata negli Stati Uniti tra il 1820 e il 1865, secondo cui gli alti dirigenti della pubblica amministrazione cambiano con il cambiare del governo. Le forze politiche al governo affidano dunque la guida della complessa macchina amministrativa a dirigenti che ritengono che non soltanto possano, ma anche vogliano far loro raggiungere gli obiettivi politici.

Nell’accezione più negativa, le forze politiche al governo distribuiscono a propri affiliati e simpatizzanti le varie cariche istituzionali, la titolarità di uffici pubblici e posizioni di potere, come incentivo a lavorare per il partito o l’organizzazione politica, e in modo da garantire gli interessi di chi li ha investiti dell’incarico. ….

In particolare nel sistema statunitense, durante i primi 60 giorni di mandato, il Presidente degli Stati Uniti d’America copre direttamente 200-300 ruoli chiave dell’esecutivo, rimpiazzando elementi nominati dal mandato precedente.» [Fonte]

*

Negli Stati Uniti vi sono circa 2.5 milioni di dipendenti federali, ai quali si aggiungono quelli dipendenti dalle pubbliche amministrazioni dei singoli stati. Diciamo “circa” perché i dipendenti federali sono assunti con una vasta gamma di tipologie contrattuali, che spaziano dal nostro equivalente di assunto a tempo pieno con posto fisso, fino al precario in carica per qualche settimane senza diritto al rinnovo del contratto.

Anche il concetto di ‘deep state‘ è molto sfaccettato.

«In the United States, the term “deep state” describes a form of cabal that coordinates efforts by government employees and others to influence state policy without regard for democratically elected leadership. The term has also been used to refer to alleged cabals in countries such as Turkey and post-Soviet Russia. ….

While definitions vary, the term gained popularity in some circles during the 2016 U.S. presidential election in opposition to establishment Republican and Democratic candidates, and has also been used in 2017 and 2018 during the Trump administration by some commentators who argue that deep states are aiming to delegitimize the Trump presidency. ….

Deep state was defined in 2014 by Mike Lofgren, a former Republican U.S. congressional aide, as “a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process”.» [Fonte]

*

In linea generale, pur con grande approssimazione, il nucleo centrale del deep state è costituito dai government employees, ossia dal corpo dei burocrati e dei funzionari, nominati, non elettivi, che facciano capo alla persona od alla formazione politica che li ha fatti assumere. Le loro carriere ed i loro stipendi dipendono strettamente da quanto potere abbiano i loro protettori. È sequenziali che facciano di tutto per proteggerlo ed aumentarlo.

Questo poi potrebbe anche essere il meno: ognuno ha ben diritto di avere le proprie idee. Il grande nodo risiede nel fatto che spesso sono più papisti del papa e, soprattutto, sono coordinati nelle loro azioni. In breve: formano se non degli stati nello stato, almeno dei feudi.

* * * * * * *

Orbene, se il partito andato al governo trovasse una netta resistenza attiva e passiva da parte del deep state le sue capacità operative sarebbero cospicuamente ridotte. È quello che sta accadendo a Mr Trump.

È del tutto sequenziale come ogni capo di governo si studi di cercare di ridurre il potere del deep state: d’altra parte, ben si sa che le leggi possono essere fatte ma possono anche essere abrogate.

«President Trump put underperforming federal workers on notice Monday, including in his $4 trillion budget plan a major overhaul for how hiring and firing is done in the D.C. bureaucracy»

*

«Following on Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” the plan calls for several big changes»

*

«This includes ending automatic pay hikes that kick in “irrespective of performance,” changing retirement benefits and making it easier to fire bad employees and reward good ones»

*

«During the speech, the president called on Congress to “empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”»

*

«Federal employees with a high school diploma or less earn approximately 53 percent more than peers with similar education levels in the private sector»

*

«College graduates earn about 21 percent more than their private-sector counterparts»

*

«Transitioning to a more performance-focused workforce would also mean that federal workers with poor reviews could more easily be fired»

* * * * * * *

Anche negli Stati Uniti i posti pubblici sono profumatamente remunerati, fatto questo che li rende ambiti e che sprona a cercare di mantenerseli ben cari e stretti.

Il Presidente Trump è davvero persona scaltra.

Da una parte alimenta bufere mediatiche facendo pubblicare messaggi twitter scritti in un inglesaccio da angiporto, ma capibili da parte delle masse, e questi ‘cinguettii‘ sono pabulum naturale per i media liberal democratici. Genera in questa maniera polveroni immani che assorbono quasi tutte le energie degli avversari.

Nel contempo, ogni tanto da una zampata secca e precisa come un gatto selvatico.

Con la nomina del Justice Gorsuch in seno alla Corte Suprema ha fatto virare quell’alto consesso nell’orbita repubblicana. Poi, con un bel colpo di mano, fa fatto passare la riforma fiscale che riduce imposte e tasse di 1,500 miliardi, il tutto mentre i democratici passavano il loro tempo a esecrare i palpeggiatori di femmine pronube. Quindi, ha varato il piano infrastrutturale da altrettanto 1,500 miliardi, piano di cui il The New York Times si è accorto solo dopo che era stato approvato. Adesso, con quattro miserabili comma inseriti ad arte nel White House budget fact sheet, ha posto le basi per licenziare i dipendenti federali, e sono in molti a pensare malignamente che siano da licenziarsi soprattutto quelli liberal democratici.

Grand Trump per davvero.

Nota.

Un pensiero cinico, ma osservante la storia.

Al momento attuale, se anche assassinassero Mr Trump, le sue riforme rimarrebbero.

Trump il Grande. La riducendo le tasse aumentano stipendi, pensioni ed investimenti. 2,800 miliardi.

Trump. Il piano infrastrutturale da 1,500 mld Usd.

Quale politico si azzarderebbe mai a reintrodurre 1,500 miliardi di tasse?


White House. 2018-02-13. White House budget fact sheet

Modernizing Government for the 21st Century: An American Budget

The business of the Federal Government is to serve the American people in core mission areas. But public trust in Government is declining to near-historic lows because it is not meeting the American people’s expectations. Government must transform its outdated approaches, technology, and skillsets so that Federal programs, capabilities, and workforce can meet today’s mission demands and public expectations. Rather than pursue short-term fixes that quickly become outdated once again, this Administration will pursue deep-seated transformation. But it will not happen in one or two years. The Budget makes important down payments on this work and foreshadows efforts still to come.

President’s Management Agenda

In March, the Administration will release the President’s Management Agenda, which will set forth a long-term vision for an effective Government that better achieves its missions and enhances key services on which the American people depend:

– Mission: The American people count on the Federal Government every day, in areas ranging fromnational security to infrastructure to food and water safety. Public servants must be accountable for mission-driven results and have the necessary tools to deliver.

– Service: Federal customers range from small businesses seeking loans, to families receiving disastersupport, to veterans owed proper benefits and medical care. They deserve a customer experiencecomparable to that offered by leading private organizations.

– Stewardship: Effective stewardship of taxpayer funds is a crucial responsibility, from preventing fraudto maximizing program impact. Taxpayer dollars must go to effective programs that efficiently produceresults. The Budget conservatively projects that $187 billion in savings can be achieved over the nextdecade through the prevention of improper payments alone.

To advance this vision, the Administration will work not through isolated efforts, but at the junctions where key drivers of change intersect. Three key drivers will, over time, produce broad impacts on how Government works:

– A modern workforce that builds on the Budget’s civil service reforms to empower senior leaders andfront line managers to align staff skills with evolving mission needs. This includes $1 billion in FY 2018for a new workforce fund that directs recruitment and retention incentives towards top performerswith mission-critical skills.

– Modern information technology (IT) will function as the backbone of how Government serves thepublic in ways that meet their expectations and keep sensitive data and systems secure. This includes$80 billion in IT and cybersecurity funding, representing a 5.2 percent increase.

– Data, accountability, and transparency will provide the tools to deliver visibly better results to thepublic and hold agencies accountable to taxpayers.

In March, the Administration will announce specific efforts to advance this vision and improve the three drivers of reform, establishing concrete goals and trackable metrics to ensure public accountability. This agenda will address critical areas where Government as a whole uses outdated practices, such as:

– Modernizing IT to Increase Productivity and Security

– Creating a 21st Century Framework for Data that Drives Efficiency, Accountability, and Transparency

– Developing a Workforce for the 21st Century

– Improving the Customer Experience with Federal Services

– Shifting from Low-Value to High-Value Work

– Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Administrative Services across Government.

In addition to cross-agency efforts, each major Federal agency is publishing an updated strategic plan with the Budget, establishing strategic objectives for the Administration’s first term and committing to agency priority goals for the next two years. A full list of agency performance plans is available at http://www.performance.gov.

The Federal Government must partner with Congress to fully meet modern management challenges. In some cases, real change may demand different agency structures. In other cases, the Administration may require flexibility from existing requirements that impede constructive change. For example, the Budget proposes that Congress eliminate or modify approximately 400 agency plans and reports because they are outdated or duplicative (a list of these proposals is available on http://www.performance.gov), bolstering the Administration’s goal to shift the efforts of Federal employees to high-value activities and away from unnecessary hours of paperwork.

By acknowledging shortcomings, setting a modern vision, and delivering on concrete goals, the Administration can adapt Federal programs, capabilities, and the Federal workforce to meet mission demands and public expectations more efficiently, effectively, and accountably.

Federal Workforce Reform

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 turns 40 this year, but it has not substantially changed to meet the evolving needs of the 21st century mission. The private sector continually finds new ways to adapt its management programs to maximize the return from its most valuable asset: people. The Federal Government should learn from this success and adapt leading practices for the 21st century.

The workforce and the workplace have evolved in recent decades. But the Government personnel system remains a relic of an earlier era. Federal workers themselves overwhelmingly agree in surveys that the existing system fails to reward the best performers or appropriately deal with the worst performers.

With annual civilian personnel costs of almost $300 billion, the Federal Government should always be seeking an optimally sized and skilled workforce operating out of locations best suited to accomplish its various missions. The Administration intends to partner with Congress on overhauling the statutory and regulatory rules that have, over time, created an incomprehensible and unmanageable civil service system:

– Realigning the workforce to mission: The Administration is committed to redefining the role of the Federal Government by reprioritizing Federal spending toward those activities that advance the safety, security, and prosperity of the American people. Agencies must critically examine their workforces to determine what jobs they need to accomplish their core missions.

– Aligning total compensation with private sector: It is important to appropriately compensate personnel based on mission needs and labor market dynamics. The existing compensation system fails in this regard. The Budget foregoes an across-the-board pay increase for 2019, while proposing to realign incentives by enhancing performance-based pay and slowing the frequency of tenure-based step increases. It also proposes a $1 billion interagency workforce fund as part of the FY 2018 appropriations, and supplemented by an additional $50 million in the FY 2019 Budget. This will replace the across-the-board pay raise that provides Federal employees with increases irrespective of

performance with targeted pay incentives to reward and retain high performers and those with the most essential skills. The Budget also contains several changes to bring Federal retirement benefits closer to those in the private sector, most notably by increasing the employee share to match that contributed by the Government.

– Human Capital Management Reforms: An Analytical Perspectives chapter on the Federal workforce outlines a vision for change that would streamline the hiring and dismissal processes, modernize human resources technology, better utilize data to inform workforce management, rebalance labor-management relations, and reduce unnecessary red tape in order to bring the Federal workforce into the 21st century.

Government Reorganization

Last March, the President issued a call for change in Executive Order 13781, “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,” where he tasked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with pro-viding a plan to reorganize the Executive Branch. The Budget is a first step in presenting this plan to the American people. These initial reform proposals include, for example:

– Eliminating unnecessary political positions;

– Using shared services to improve IT services and reduce procurement costs by leveraging the Government’s economies of scale;

– Consolidating or realigning regional offices and personnel (for example, improving customer service at the Department of the Interior by shifting employees away from Washington, D.C., and closer to the citizens they serve).

In addition, the Administration is undertaking specific reviews of important agency structures and activities. For example:

– Streamlining Federal statistical functions across multiple Federal agencies;

– Minimizing duplication in and maximizing outcomes from Federal development finance activities across multiple Federal offices and agencies; and

– Increasing efficiencies across the Department of Energy’s existing laboratory network.

In the months ahead, the Administration plans to share additional reorganization proposals designed to refocus programs around current and future needs.


Fox News. 2018-02-13. Trump budget aims to end automatic pay hikes for federal workers, make firings easier

President Trump put underperforming federal workers on notice Monday, including in his $4 trillion budget plan a major overhaul for how hiring and firing is done in the D.C. bureaucracy. 

Following on Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” the plan calls for several big changes. This includes ending automatic pay hikes that kick in “irrespective of performance,” changing retirement benefits and making it easier to fire bad employees and reward good ones. 

“The workforce and the workplace have evolved in recent decades. But the Government personnel system remains a relic of an earlier era. Federal workers themselves overwhelmingly agree in surveys that the existing system fails to reward the best performers or appropriately deal with the worst performers,” a White House budget fact sheet reads, describing the plan as bringing the government in line with private-sector practices. 

Trump previewed the plan in his first State of the Union address last month. During the speech, the president called on Congress to “empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.” 

The fiscal 2019 budget proposal offers new details. 

The budget proposal seeks to align total compensation with the private sector, noting that the current system “fails” in “appropriately compensating” personnel. 

The White House calls for abandoning “across-the-board pay increase for 2019,” in order to “realign incentives by enhancing performance-based pay and slowing the frequency of tenure-based step increases.”

Federal employees with a high school diploma or less earn approximately 53 percent more than peers with similar education levels in the private sector, according to a 2017 study by the Congressional Budget Office. College graduates earn about 21 percent more than their private-sector counterparts, while people with advanced degrees earn 18 percent less in the government.

Senior officials with the Office of Management and Budget told USA Today that the proposal would change how more than 1.5 million federal workers are paid, and would focus on performance-based raises instead of the current system that typically increases salary based on tenure.

The budget also proposes a $1 billion interagency workforce fund, which would replace the “across-the-board” pay raise. The proposal would present “targeted pay incentives to reward and retain high performers and those with the most essential skills.”

Senior administration officials said the president’s proposal would slow salary increases, generating $10 billion over 10 years.

Transitioning to a more performance-focused workforce would also mean that federal workers with poor reviews could more easily be fired. The budget calls to “streamline the hiring and dismissal process.”

That component seems to mirror the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which Congress passed and Trump signed last June, making it easier to fire employees accused of malpractice or wrongdoing, rather than work for years in the bureaucracy or get transitioned out.

The administration has touted that program, but union members have protested in recent months saying that VA facilities do not have enough workers to provide adequate health care and that veterans are suffering as a result of the shortage. As of September 2017, the department has 35,000 full-time vacancies. 

Government employee unions are not thrilled with the latest proposal. 

“He seems to be interested in political revenge by firing people,” President of American Federation of Government Employees David Cox told USA Today. “The government is not a family business that you get to be in total control of.”

The Trump administration’s 2019 proposal also calls for changes to federal retirement benefits. The proposal urges “increasing the employee share” of retirement benefits “to match that contributed by the government.”

Pubblicato in: Stati Uniti, Trump

Trump. Indice di popolarità Rasmussen al 48%.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela

2018-02-24.

2018-02-22__Rassmussen__001

Rasmussen Reports è una società di sondaggi a dimensioni continentali.

«Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis»

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I risultati che rilascia sono stati in passato abbastanza attendibili, quando confrontati con i successivi risultati delle urne.

Interessante leggere il report del 16 giugno 2017, quando Mr Trump aveva superato il 50%. Si operano alcuni confronti istruttivi.

«The Rasmussen Reports poll surveys 500 likely U.S. voters each night and reports a three-day rolling average of their responses.

Trump’s approval rating, as estimated by the polling outfit, has ranged from a high of 59% in late January to a low of 42% in early April.

The results released Friday represented the first time since late April that Trump’s approval rating hit 50% in the Rasmussen Reports poll.

Other polls have yielded different results. Real Clear Politics’ approval average, which aggregates data from the major national polls, estimated Trump’s approval rating to be 39.9% for May 30 through June 15. The Huffington Post’s latest average has Trump’s approval rating at 38.8%.»

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In questa sede riportiamo i risultati senza entrare nel merito di una discussione.


Rasmussen Reports. 2018-02-21. Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty-one percent (51%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 31% who Strongly Approve of the way Trump is performing and 43% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -12. (see trends).

Regular updates are posted Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily email update).

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis. If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send an e-mail to  beth@rasmussenreports.com .

 

Pubblicato in: Banche Centrali, Russia

Russia. Riserve Valutarie a 454.0 mld Usd. Auree a 1,838.211 ton.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-23.

Banca Centrale Russia 001

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation ha rilasciato l’ammontare delle Riserve Valutarie: 454 miliardi di dollari americani. Lo scorso anno erano 377.77 mld Usd.

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Russian gold reserves hit historic high, stockpiling record 223 tons last year

«The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) added 300,000 ounces (9.3 tons) of gold to its reserves in December, bringing the total yearly holdings to a record 1,838.211 tons, worth over $76 billion in monetary terms.

According to new statistics, Russia is currently the sixth-largest gold owner after the United States, Germany, Italy, France, and China. Analysts say if the current pace of gold purchases continues, Russia may dethrone China as the fifth-largest bullion holder as early as the first quarter of 2018. Chinese gold reserves currently stand at 1,842 tons.

Acquisitions of the precious metal by Russia reached a record 223 tons last year, accounting for 17.7 percent of overall Russian reserves. Since June 2015, the country has added over 558 tons of gold.

The CBR has more than doubled the pace of its gold purchases, according to Gold.org data. It has been increasing the country’s gold reserves to meet a goal set by President Vladimir Putin to make Russia less vulnerable to geopolitical risks. The Russian gold hoard has increased by more than 500 percent since 2000.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia is not only the largest official buyer of gold but also the world’s third-biggest producer, with the central bank purchasing from domestic miners through commercial banks.

In the past 10 years alone, the country has mined more than 2,000 tons of gold, with annual production expected to rise to 400 tons by 2030.»

 

 

Pubblicato in: Cina, Sistemi Economici

Cina ed emersione dalla povertà rurale.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2018-02-23.

2018-02-19__Cina__001

I grafici riportati dall’Economist si riferiscono al 2010 – 2011: in termini medi dovrebbero essere triplicati (vide infra).


Definire quale sia il livello di povertà in un paese a dimensione continentale è cosa ardua. In Cina, le zone orientali costiere sono ragionevolmente sviluppate dal punto di vista economico, ed ivi il costo della vita è molto maggiore rispetto alle zone rurali interne.

Non solo. Quando un paese vede crescere la propria economia al ritmo del 6% – 8% l’anno, dovrebbe andare di conserva come il livello reddituale minimo per poter parlare di povertà vari anche esso.

Questa situazione oggettiva spiega il perché al momento sia disponibile una ridda di dati relativi alla soglia di povertà in Cina: spesso sono riportati senza indicare le condizioni al contorno e sono quindi ripresi come se fossero di validità generale, generando così ulteriore confusione in un quadro che proprio non ne avrebbe bisogno.

Un criterio ragionevole è quello di considerare sotto la soglia di povertà coloro che nella provincia in cui vivono non percepiscano quanto serva per gestire una abitazione confacente, procurarsi un vitto decente, potersi permettere i servizi fondamentali alla vita, quali l’accesso alla corrente elettrica, all’acqua, ad un minimo di riscaldamento durante il periodo invernale.

Il National Bureau of Statitics of China pubblica nella sezione ‘People’s Living Conditions‘ dei dati metodologicamente ineccepibili, relativi al quarto trimestre 2017.

«- Per Capita Disposable Income Nationwide, Accumulated(yuan)                     25,973.8

– Median of Per Capita Disposable Income Nationwide, Accumulated(yuan)  22,408.0

– Per Capita Disposable Wages Nationwide, Accumulated(yuan)                        14,620.3

– Per Capita Food&Tobacco Expenditure Nationwide, Accumulated(yuan)       5,373.6

– Per Capita Residence Expenditure Nationwide,  Accumulated(yuan)              4,106.9»

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Alcune considerazioni emergono spontanee.

– Il reddito medio procapite è solo di poco superiore a quello mediano, segno di una minima sperequazione della ricchezza;

– La spesa media per alimentari e sigarette incide per il 20.69% delle entrate;

– La spesa media per l’abitazione incide per il 15.81% delle entrate.

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Questi dati indicherebbero come sia stato raggiunto un soddisfacente livello di prosperità: punto di partenza, non certo di arrivo. Come detto, in una società in rapido sviluppo economico, la soglia di povertà si innalza di conserva con l’aumento delle entrate procapite mediane: è tempo-variante.

Per la dottrina economica cinese, il problema non consiste nel ridurre la fascia dei ricchi, quanto piuttosto nell’innalzare il reddito dei poveri, dando loro un dignitoso lavoro.

Lo stato non ha nulla da equiripartire, da ridistribuire. Compito dello stato è mettere in essere le infrastrutture necessarie a far generare posti di lavoro nel comparto produttivo. Poi, quando la gente ha lavoro e guadagna, provvederà essa stessa al proprio welfare.

«China has long spoken of a ‘war on poverty,’ but recent signs suggest it might be even more of a focus in 2018»

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«For the sixth year in a row, Xi’s Lunar New Year inspection tour has taken him to the front lines of China’s war against poverty»

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«This year, the “front lines” were in Sichuan province, a mountainous inland province bordering the provinces of Tibet to the west and Yunnan to the south»

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«Xi visited members of the Yi ethnic group, where he vowed to exorcise “the evils of ignorance, backwardness and poverty.”»

* * * * * * * *

Nel suo pragmatismo, la dottrina economica cinese punta tutti i suoi sforzi a traslare la curva di Pareto verso destra, senza curarsi del dove arrivi la lunga coda. L’obbiettivo è che tutti stiano bene: se alcuni stanno meglio, ben per loro.

«Xi’s pledge to eliminate poverty by 2020 is also not new; that’s been part of China’s definition of the goal of attaining a “moderately prosperous society” since the Hu Jintao era»

Poi, una volta raggiunto codesto obiettivo, si vedrà il da farsi.


The Diplomat. 2018-02-16. Is This the Year China Gets Serious About Ending Rural Poverty?

China has long spoken of a ‘war on poverty,’ but recent signs suggest it might be even more of a focus in 2018.

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As has become his tradition, Chinese President Xi Jinping used this week’s New Year inspection tour (meaning the Lunar New Year, rather than January 1) to demonstrate the government’s focus on combatting poverty. “For the sixth year in a row, Xi’s Lunar New Year inspection tour has taken him to the front lines of China’s war against poverty,” Xinhua, China’s state news agency declared.

This year, the “front lines” were in Sichuan province, a mountainous inland province bordering the provinces of Tibet to the west and Yunnan to the south. Xi visited members of the Yi ethnic group, where he vowed to exorcise “the evils of ignorance, backwardness and poverty.”

“To lead the people to a better life is our goal. Not a single ethnic group, family or person should be left behind,” Xi told villagers during his New Year inspection tour.

This year’s inspection tour was fairly routine. Chinese media coverage even borrowed liberally from descriptions of Xi’s trips to other impoverished villages in previous years. After all, China has been waging its “war on poverty” since at least Xi Jinping came to power – if not for decades. Xi’s pledge to eliminate poverty by 2020 is also not new; that’s been part of China’s definition of the goal of attaining a “moderately prosperous society” since the Hu Jintao era.

Yet there are other signs that this year’s emphasis on poverty reduction, while not unique, may bring more tangible results than in years past.

Xi’s visit to Sichuan, and the resulting emphasis on “people-centered development” and poverty reduction, is in line with a major rhetorical shift in Xi’s remarks at the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October 2017. In his work report, Xi said that the “principal contradiction facing Chinese society” had evolved, from a contradiction between “the ever-growing material and cultural needs of the people and backward social production” to today’s “contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.”

In plain English, that means the Party’s goal in guiding development is no longer to boost “production” but to address economic and social imbalances in order to provide “a better life” for China’s people. And that “better life,” according to Xi, is defined broadly, not only in terms of access to material goods but intangibles like “democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security, and a better environment.”

Though this change made fewer headlines than “Xi Jinping Thought,” also introduced in the work report, Xi was not exaggerating (at least not much) when he said the new “contradiction” was a “historic shift that affects the whole landscape and that creates many new demands for the work of the Party and the country.” In essence, Xi acknowledged that China’s previous growth-at-all-costs model was no longer meeting the expectations of the Chinese people; the time has come for a shift to growth that actively considers the all-around well-being of the population (For more on the importance of this change, see Evan Feigenbaum’s  article for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace).

This is the necessary context behind Xi’s visit to rural Sichuan, and the recent government statement outlining a “rural rejuvenation” policy. China’s developmental imbalances are best embodied in the tension between the prosperous cities of the east coast and its impoverished rural inland regions. In 2011, the Economist created a map comparing different provinces of China to countries around the world in terms of GDP. The eastern coastal provinces have GDPs comparable to western European economies like Switzerland and Austria; further inland, provinces merit less enviable comparisons to Libya and Bolivia. While the numbers are outdated, the general trend remains true.

The government has long recognized the issue this imbalanced development creates. The high incidence of rural poverty makes it the most urgent area of focus in China’s “war on poverty”; according to the Chinese government’s definition of poverty, as of 2015 there were 55 million rural poor out of a total of 70 million Chinese living in poverty. As part of its coverage of Xi’s New Year tour, Xinhua said that China had reduced the number of rural poor by 10 million in 2017, without providing exact figures (Xinhua claimed the same 10 million figure for poverty reduction in 2016).

Ending rural poverty, however, is far easier said than done. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, also made addressing China’s developmental imbalances a major theme of his time in office; that was a key part of Hu’s signature “scientific development” catchphrase. Yet, according to Kerry Brown, “the best that can be said” for Hu’s efforts is that he was able to “stabilize” inequality during his final three years in power.

Whether Xi will have better luck might be the biggest question facing China today.