Getting into gear
By 12.20pm today (Saturday) I had undertaken 3 hours of statistics and jogged four miles! Not bad, I thought to myself.
Just like over in the Eurozone, things are hotting up here at Korbel, as we head into our second week of this all-too-short quarter. This week I learnt a little more about the methodology of neoclassical economists and some of their critics, and delved into the subject of how one’s assumptions about what drives human behaviour could influence economic policy prescriptions on a global scale for better or worse (IPE with Rachel Epstein). I drew graphs illustrating various models of trade and considered why it might be preferable to expand both my supply of Coconuts AND Fish through international trade rather than trying to grow/catch them all myself (Economic Fundamentals with Mark Evers). Meanwhile, today I took my first steps into the magical world of Statistics, holding hands with its software companion, SAS (Stats 1 with Terry Dalton).
I also spent two days at my internship with the Chamber of the Americas, where I started to work on a report I have been asked to prepare on the economic climate and trade/commercial opportunities in the Caribbean which will eventually be circulated to the Chamber’s membership in the States and beyond. Hopefully it will generate some business opportunities that will benefit both sides.
In the meantime, I have been bombarded with social/academic events that demand my attention and time. Seriously… can this place just stop being so interesting? Jeez.
We’ve got the Middle East Discussion Group hosting a performing artist’s one-woman Broadway show about her experience being an Arab American. We’ve got a renonwned scholar and PBS host coming to talk about the need to “de-racialise” statistics. Most irritatingly, this clashes with a talk by the Director of Princeton University’s China and the World Program on China’s Foreign Policy since the Financial Crisis. Then there’s a seminar on Community Organising, plus a few helpful career-related workshops. And that’s not even half of what’s going on this week in ADDITION to classes and coursework.
But before I get any further into what’s been happening on campus, has anyone noticed how royally screwed the global economy is looking at the moment? (Hey, the reason I am going to Korbel is so I can learn the proper terms for these things, okay?)
Finance Ministers met his week in Washington DC at the for the 2011 World Bank/IMF Annual Meeting as talk became louder in Europe of Greece crashing out of the currency union, with about 70% more talk of “what happens when” than “what if”.
The implications of this are being discussed at length here there and everywhere. I can’t seem to turn on NPR, the BBC or take a look at The Economist, The Guardian or any of my other favourite reads without finding the latest prognistication of global economic doom.
One particularly ominous article I read this week by Larry Elliott of the Guardian (London) summed up the general sentiment in a rather dire way, suggesting that “a dearth of financial weapons and political disunity over how to fire them could spell a lost decade for the whole world.”
We hear more and more about the potential for this to be an economic catastrophe of greater than Lehmann-Collapse-2008 proportions. As they say, at that time the countries bailed out the banks, but who is going to bail out the countries AND the banks??
With the Japanese earthquake/tsunami and the economic effects that wrought, followed by the protracted debt ceiling debate in the US and subsequent credit rating downgrading, now chased by the ever growing dread of a Eurozone meltdown and the implications that would have for the already fragile global economy, my mind continues to cast back to little Bahamas, and how we will fare if a double-dip recession strikes or worse still – this “lost decade” for the global economy.
Such an event would bring with it yet fewer revenues, more debt and all the accompanying, exacerbated, woes for our economic and social health that go with that in our small island developing state. As one of the countries in the Caribbean with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in 2008, we had fiscal headroom to manoeuvre economically at that time as tourism from the US – the primary driver of the Bahamian economy – dwindled.
Today we do not have that luxury, and the idea that the gradual improvement in the economy that so many had pinned their hopes on as the source of some alleviation of the myriad problems we face may not materialise is a frankly frightening one. Not that money is going to solve all problems, but a lack of it certainly does not help.
On that note, Bahamian Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Hubert Ingraham, happened to be the Chair of the 2011 World Bank/IMF meetings in DC this week. One can only hope his characteristic cackle charmed new IMF Director Christine Lagarde enough to get us some unconditional loans, but I doubt it some how. She does appear to be smiling though. Caption competition anyone?