Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ukraine, quelle est la légitimité de l’amendement à la Constitution?

Les forces nationalistes ukrainiennes ont violemment manifesté hier contre l’adoption en première lecture d’une loi qui donne plus d’autonomie aux régions de Lugansk et de Donetsk, et dont l’esprit est clairement défini par les Accords de Minsk II.

L’Europe qui veut la paix à tout prix et a peur d’une confrontation avec la Russie, a les yeux rivés sur l’application par la partie ukrainienne des Accords de Minsk, sans se préoccuper outre mesure de la façon dont on arrive au résultat. Or il n’est pas inintéressant d’aller au-delà de cet objectif diplomatique et de regarder l’application des Accords de Minsk avec les yeux d’un démocrate ukrainien.

Je suis avec intérêt le mouvement Samopomich en Ukraine et je trouve que leur prise de position actuelle contre les amendements proposés à la constitution ukrainienne mérite notre attention. Je détaille ci-dessous leur argumentation, en ne faisant que résumer un article paru sur leur site.

Le cœur de leur opposition vient du fait que ce projet d’amendement de la constitution ukrainienne n’a aucune légitimité démocratique :

1. Cette modification de la constitution n’est pas le fait du peuple ukrainien mais est imposée par l’étranger. Il n’y a pas eu de débat public sur le texte proposé, pire les divers amendements qui ont été discutés séparément par différentes commissions parlementaires sont revenus complètement modifiés par un ‘’Secrétariat’’ qui n’a aucune légitimité démocratique pour amender la constitution, et qui n’a d’autre soucis que la contrainte imposée par l’extérieur.

2. la Conseil Constitutionnel qui a approuvé à la hâte ce projet est la même Cour qui a approuvé la dérive autoritaire du Président Ianoukovitch en 2010. Cette approbation a été donnée sans aucune consultation, ni d’experts, ni de parlementaires, ni de représentants de la société civile, ni de juristes.

3. Cet amendement de la Constitution n’introduit pas la décentralisation promise, mais donne au contraire un droit de regard accru à l’administration présidentielle sur les administrations et les assemblées régionales et locales, ce qui pourrait entraîner une nouvelle dérive présidentielle en Ukraine.

4. L’octroi d’un statut particulier aux régions des Lougansk et Donetsk est une atteinte tant à la souveraineté ukrainienne qu’à la démocratie ukrainienne. Une loi spéciale donne aux ‘’leaders’’ de ces deux régions toute autorité pour nommer juges et procureurs, et pour créer des forces de police. Cette loi revient à légitimer les forces séparatistes pro-russes et à nier tout droit au pouvoir central sur la sécurité de ces régions.

5. Ce changement de la Constitution traduit les Accords de Minsk dans le droit ukrainien, et en particulier le 5ème paragraphe des Accords de Minsk II, qui prévoit l’amnistie des terroristes et criminels ayant opérés dans les régions de Donetsk et Lougansk.

6. L’article 157 de la Constitution actuelle interdit toute modification de la constitution en temps de guerre, or la Rada a reconnu le 27 janvier 2015 l’agression russe et l’état de guerre qui en découle. Le présent amendement est donc non constitutionnel.

7. Le changement constitutionnel proposé est le fait d’une Russie qui cherche à déstabiliser l’Ukraine de l’intérieur. Pourquoi l’Ukraine est-elle la seule des parties au conflit devant appliquer les Accords de Minsk et où sont les sanctions pour se prémunir contre de nouvelles violations du côté russe ?

Pour Samopomich, cette modification de la constitution n’est qu’une légalisation en catimini de l’agression russe.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Greece : No new money but a 5 year-moratorium

We do not have any agreement of the Eurogroup yet but nevertheless we made progress:
- Greece came back with serious reform proposals,
- France is back in Europe, still low profile but very much active, which is an extremely good news,
- A Grexit is still possible but less and less realistic in my opinion.

The main concern now is that the Eurogroup spends too much time and is torn with false good ideas.

To discuss disbursement of new help package is a very bad idea. With 320 bn € debt Greece has way enough debt, to add 80 bn€ would be non-sense. It would be crazy to continue piling up debts which would not be reimbursed and which just add complexity for all parties.

What Greece really needs is not money but time. Time to create an efficient administration, time to implement reforms and take the benefice of them. New money and new debt will not bring time, it will only weight on Greece future further. The real way to give time to Greece is to decide a moratorium on the debt, to restructure the reimbursement schedule in order to give few years free of any payment, neither in capital nor in interest. I would suggest a 5 year-moratorium, which would however be interrupted as soon as Greece would not comply with a pre-agreed precise reform calendar.

It would also have the great advantage to put Greece really face to its responsibilities instead of always hoping for new money to come.

On the second front of the Greek crisis, i.e. on the banking crisis, here again I would be cautious. First I think that an ambitious moratorium on the debt would show to the Greek people that Europe finally understood something, and this alone might stop the money withdrawals from the banks, and then significantly reduce the pressure on the banks. And if not, then I would be tough and would accept to bear the consequences of not rescuing the Greek banks.

Europe should stop thinking that new money is the solution to any issue. It is a simplistic approach which creates quite complex problems, which quickly become unsolvable…

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Grèce: ma réponse à VGE

L’Express a publié un interview de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing sur la Grèce et avec lequel je ne suis pas d’accord. Voici ma réponse:

Pas d’accord.

- Vous dites que la Grèce de Tsipras s’oppose à une Grèce qui aurait adhéré aux critères de Maastricht. C’est malheureusement complètement faux. La Grèce a été acceptée dans la zone euro avec un déficit budgétaire de 4,5% et une dette de 103%, et rien dans la courbe que vous conseillez de regarder ne vient corroborer votre jugement (vous trouverez ces courbes pages 14 et 16 du document ci-joint. Vous devriez aussi rappeler que le Ministre des finances grec avait reconnu en 2004 que les données financières grecques soumises à l’UE étaient fausses, et ce brave ministre n’appartenait pas à Syrisa… L’UE n’a rien fait pour corriger les erreurs grecques pendant 10 ans et le réveil brutal de 2010 n’affranchit en rien l’Europe de ses erreurs et responsabilités passées. Syrisa n’est pas le coupable mais la logique expression d’une souffrance sociale, pour le reste la Grèce est tout autant coupable que les membres de l’Eurozone.

- vous donnez l’impression que tous les autres membres de l’Eurozone sont de bons élèves de Maastricht alors que ce pauvre traité, épouvantail creux des partis extrémistes, n’a malheureusement jamais été appliqué. À moi de vous demander de vous référer à ces mêmes courbes pour vous en convaincre.

- vous donnez l’impression que l’on peut se mettre en vacances de la zone euro pour la réintégrer plus tard quand tout ira mieux, c’est faire semblant d’ignorer la complexité et le coût de ces changements.

- l’Europe ne pourra plus faire de nouveaux pas purement techniques sans que nous ne fondions enfin une légitimité démocratique européenne

- je vous invite à lire mon billet The greek default is the shameful symbol of Europe’s total failure

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Greek default is the shameful symbol of Europe’s total failure

The unbelievable became a logical reality and a reality, which even does not raise a lot of attention. Nobody cares. Then Europe will die.

This story is a succession of failures and of lost opportunities:
- 1999 the Euro is created without Greece, but a double failure is already there:
o 6 out of the 11 founders of the Euro do not comply with the Maastricht criteria, which means that the Euro creation is a political creation
o but no political structure (banking Union, tax and budget union, European democracy) is there to accompany this political start
- 2001 Greece is welcome in the Euroarea with a debt to GDP of 103% (instead of 60% required) and a 4,5% budget deficit (instead of 3% required), and since then Greece, like so many Euromembers, never complied with the Maastricht criteria.
- 2004 The Finance Minister of Greece admits that the Greek figures on public finance are false. This creates some emotion but has absolutely no consequence of the way Greece is managed by the Eurozone.
- 2001 till 2007, the markets believe Europe exists and therefore the interest rates of the various European countries are the same. This offers very cheap money to Greece which grows at a 4,2% rate against 2% in average in the EU. It is clear that this is an artificial growth fed by the low interest rates. No one cares in Europe, there is no pilot in the European plane.
- The sub-prime crisis in 2008 triggers a banking liquidity crisis, which becomes a violent banking crisis in some European crisis. These countries are left alone face to their crisis despite of the terrible social and economical consequences, the market finally understand that Europe does not exist, there is no European solidarity, then there is no reason to maintain the rate convergence, the rates explode. Greece is then poorly priced, high debt, no artificial growth anymore but very costly debt, Greece is in big trouble.
- Ireland, Spain and Portugal quickly react to their crisis, and face alone extremely tough situation, Greece is slow to react and does not want to face disturbing realities.
- 2010 Greece receives 110 bn € from the IMF and the EU. The EU (Germany) does not want to be alone face to Greece, instead of solving the problem inside the Eurozone Germany wants to benefit from the expertise of the IMF. A second package (164,6 bn) is designed in 2012, this makes of Greece the country having received the highest help compared to its GDP. The money from the emerging markets is used to try to solve the problems of a European country, which Europe does not want to solve.
- 2011 the Sachverständigungsrat, a council of German economists suggests to create a European Redemption Fund to manage all the governmental debts exceeding 60% of the GDP of the concerned countries. This would be have been a clever way to put a European end to the crisis and solve the issue. But here again nobody cares, the short and egoist views of the intergovernmental Europe prevail.
- December 2011 Germany gets the approval of France on the debt restructuring that Germany want to organise in Greece for the private debt. Germany does not want to understand that this default is seen in the world as a European default.
- January 2015 far left Syriza win the parliamentary vote in Greece, logical result of tough social realities imposed by the IMF-EU plans. 52,5% youth unemployment in Greece.
- Tsipras government unwrites some useful reforms made by his predecessors and is unfortunately unable to use the sympathy for debt restructuring that his victory created in Europe. The EU and IMF stick to their strict mathematical ideology.
- Last negotiations stupid failed on some details on pension and VAT reforms.

Instead of having a referendum in Greece to decide to take a bad European plan or to choose a worse adventure, we should have ideally a referendum in Europe to choose between the death of the European idea or the quick creation of a federation on the Eurozone, with the following agenda:
- 5 year moratorium on the Greek debt (capital and interest)
- creation of the of the European Redemption fund : all the governmental debts exceeding the 60% threshold defined by Maastricht should be transferred to a Redemption fund (see http://www.sachverstaendigenrat-wirtschaft.de/fileadmin/dateiablage/download/publikationen/working_paper_02_2012.pdf )
- progressive cancellation of a big part of the Greek debt through the Redemption Fund against structural reforms in Greece (and only if these structural reforms are indeed implemented)
- creation of a European Unemployment Fund
- Agenda 2020 turned into a true European Industrial policy
- Finalisation of the Single Market
- acceleration of the Banking Union, measures of the ECB to immediately put an end to the fragmentation of the European banking market
- federal governance of the Eurozone in order to create legitimacy, efficiency and fairness

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Zero Marginal Cost Society and two unanswered questions

If you didn’t read the Zero Marginal Cost Society of Jeremy Rifkin yet, please do. This is a clever description of the transition that we are experiencing already today.

Jeremy Rifkin shows that the success of capitalism is quickly leading to its own destruction. The capitalism really emerged in the XIXth when huge capital was mobilised to create big production units requiring important labour forces. Two centuries after the third industrial revolution is creating a new order where the capital needed is rather small, almost insignificant, productivity is nevertheless huge and always bigger, and labour more and more irrelevant. One of the consequences is the establishment of a new order where ownership is replaced by free access.

The current Internet of Thing revolution is a good illustration of this move. Internet after having delivered a true revolution in the Communication sphere, is now fully redefining the energy sector, and will tomorrow completely transform the logistics of goods. In addition to that the perspective given by 3D printing will also certainly put an end to the big centralised production units we know. More and more the consumer will become its own producer, the famous prosumer.

Rifkin sees the birth of a new society, fully decentralised, organised through the management of new collaborative commons, a society of abundance, where people are mostly freed from working, and dedicated to a a more empathetic age. With two dangers to be avoided, an ecological disaster if the improvement of the management of the resources is slower that our current destruction, and, second obstacle, the cyberterrorism.

I have to say that I fully share the passion of the author about this new age which is so quickly emerging under our feet or at our fingers range. Nevertheless in my opinion there are two points that the books leaves untouched and which, I think, are very much important:
- Even if the cost of living might be reduced to almost zero, this almost raises a lot of questions on the way the society will be able to distribute enough revenue to non-working people in order to allow an equal access to this almost free order.
- Second, even if Rifkin is very positive and see a logical evolution towards a more empathic order, I am not totally convinced that all will be kept enough busy with their empathic social activities. The absence of work may create dangerous psychological frustrations before new values win, if they do.

I would dare to say that we already see the need to answer these two questions. Today the populisms easily point the globalisation as being responsible for the current disorders. But I fear that beyond, we already see a new growth not creating any job at all. This is already an issue in the US for instance. We have therefore to be quick to come with new fiscal and social answers to address this new challenge, which might be very much demanding. Few see renewables delivering enough jobs for the armies of unemployeds. I would be cautious on this, and Rifkin is certainly right expecting the labour activity being dramatically reduced. We have to immediately cope with this, and this transition might be socially very painful if we do not address these two points very soon.