The Chinese Exception

(Published in French in Le Monde as Qu’est-ce qui met les Chinois de si bonne humeur ? and in L’Écho on October 17th 2017)

It is hard to imagine that there would be today a people somewhere approving without any soul-searching the policy pursued by its government or the economic circumstances of the nation. We are thus stunned to hear that since 2010 over 80% of the Chinese people express the view that they are satisfied with the direction taken by their country. And here is not a statement more or less tinged with government propaganda as it shows in investigations carried out by the American think tank Pew Research Centre.

Continue reading The Chinese Exception

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The Best Laid Schemes (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

As may be readily gathered from the cartoon on the front page of today’s issue of The New European, which is what Brexiteers refer to as a Remoaning rag, the notion of halting the Brexit process appears to be gaining traction, at least among the chattering classes. How realistic might this prospect be, particularly in view of the fact that the talk in Blighty is actually overwhelmingly of softening Brexit rather than abandoning it?

Continue reading The Best Laid Schemes (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

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The Best Laid Schemes (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Improbable though it may now seem, the supreme leader of the British was only recently reckoned by many of her (mostly southern) subjects to be a political magician who might well contrive to deliver what was conceived of in the heart of darkest England as a successful hard Brexit and thereby miraculously bring about the dawning of a new age of wondrous economic opportunity in a fondly imagined land of broad sunlit uplands, from the majestic summits of which the British would contemplate the impending ruin of the European empire from the oppressive bonds of which they had sagely managed to escape.

Continue reading The Best Laid Schemes (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

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Where There’s a Will (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already declared that she is determined that there will be a further Scottish independence referendum and at a time chosen by the Scottish Parliament. Continue reading Where There’s a Will (Part 2), by Duncan Sutherland

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Where There’s a Will (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Improbable though it may seem, it happens that Guy Verhofstadt, who is lead Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament, envisaged immediately after the UK EU referendum result that Scotland would be able to hold an independence referendum before Brexit took effect (such as the Scottish First Minister is proposing) so that that country might apply to remain within the EU if that was what its population wanted. Continue reading Where There’s a Will (Part 1), by Duncan Sutherland

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Back to the Drawing Board, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

On Sunday evening, when it had been fairly confidently expected that UK Prime Minister Theresa May would be invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon on Tuesday, thus initiating negotiations for the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union yesterday, news suddenly began to trickle in to the effect that there was to be a press conference at the official residence of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday, when an important announcement would be made.

Continue reading Back to the Drawing Board, by Duncan Sutherland

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Honest Abe foresaw dishonest Donald! by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post. Abraham Lincoln warned us : the day will come when Trump arises. Let’s be ready to denounce him.

Dear Paul,

It is noteworthy that the Trump executive order signed on January 27th, apparently discriminating against foreign nationals on religious grounds, seems to violate the US constitution (and thus undermine the rule of law)!

Continue reading Honest Abe foresaw dishonest Donald! by Duncan Sutherland

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Chilcot Report – Rats in a sack, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Paul,

On the subject of the video of Robin Cook’s resignation speech in 2003 which you show beside your regular Friday video, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated seeing that again. A model resignation speech, listened to intently by Jeremy Corbyn, as the video shows. At the time when the speech was delivered Mr Corbyn was, as is well known, one of those back-benchers who were very much involved in opposing the proposed invasion of Iraq.

Continue reading Chilcot Report – Rats in a sack, by Duncan Sutherland

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Another Blot on the Escutcheon, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Paul,

I thought you might find it interesting to take a look at Nicola Sturgeon’s Twitter page following the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, “the UK’s most shameful foreign-policy action in years”, as the leader of the Scottish National Party’s group of MPs, Angus Robertson, has just said in the House of Commons.

Continue reading Another Blot on the Escutcheon, by Duncan Sutherland

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How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

In the weeks and days leading up to the referendum on UK membership of the European Union a message was being transmitted loudly and clearly from Germany and indeed elsewhere: if the UK decides to leave the EU, it will be shooting itself in the foot. This was not some modern-day equivalent of a broadcast by Lord Haw Haw, peddling some big lie. It was informed opinion. Very few people in England seem to have been listening, however. What they were hearing instead was the Leave campaign wittering on about “independence day”, which would be June 23rd if a majority of the UK voting public expressed support then for withdrawal from the EU.

Continue reading How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot, by Duncan Sutherland

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“Confusion Now Hath Made His Masterpiece”, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Paul,

I’m rather fond of Shakespeare myself, not least Macbeth. With reference to your post on Boris Johnson and the tragi-comic events which are unfolding in England on a daily basis, I think it is as well to bear in mind that intense existential national debates are now under way on both sides of the Anglo-Scottish border. Continue reading “Confusion Now Hath Made His Masterpiece”, by Duncan Sutherland

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Ah, the endless complexities of English identity!, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post. As a comment upon Le temps qu’il fait le 30 juin 2016.

Ah, the endless complexities of English identity as defined by place and social rank but especially social rank in its relationship to forms of language, which function not only as communication, of course, but as mechanisms for defining and identifying who belongs to which class and merits the privileges thereof and who does not.

Continue reading Ah, the endless complexities of English identity!, by Duncan Sutherland

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Scotland – “A Terrible Beauty Is Born”, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Since Sunday morning, when the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, answered a question on a BBC Scotland television programme known as Politics Scotland concerning a House of Lords advice note which had been circulated on the subject of legislative consent in relation to legislation giving effect to Brexit which would have to be submitted to the Scottish Parliament, her answer has been picked up and spread around Europe by distinguished media organizations from ARD in Germany to La Stampa in Italy (not forgetting VilaWeb in Catalonia).

Continue reading Scotland – “A Terrible Beauty Is Born”, by Duncan Sutherland

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Scotland and Brexit, by Duncan Sutherland

Guest post.

Dear Mr. Jorion,

Having read what has appeared in your blog so far about the complexities of the decision taken by the people of England on Thursday (but not by the people of Scotland), I wonder if you are yet aware of a complexity which has just been raised in Scotland today.

Continue reading Scotland and Brexit, by Duncan Sutherland

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The Troika: Why not take its destiny in our own hands?

This is an English translation of my column Troïka : Il va peut-être falloir s’en occuper nous-mêmes ! of February 27 2015. Thanks to Ioana-Noemy Toma for her kind help !

Jean-Daniel Magnin sends me a newspaper clipping that tells about the actress Emma Thompson stating she will not pay income tax – which she’s in the habit of doing, so long as all those who don’t pay it – and are in the habit of not doing so, remain out of jail. This is civil disobedience for you: a way of taking matters into your own hands, should the government or governments fail to do so. Food for thought here!

Zebu wrote something on the Arte documentary about the Troika and a very good thing he did. Right now I’m watching that same film, and believe me there is a lot of stuff in there. Many things which, if true, should send many of these Troika people (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) straight away into jail.

Instead of for instance pestering Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as French justice has recently been doing, about peccadilloes, it might be a very good thing to hear what he may have to say about a statement made there by one of the talking heads (Philippe Legrain, a former adviser of Manuel Barroso at the European Commission) that he deliberately pushed the head of the Greek people under water in order to release 20 billion euros for the French banks, to make this the dowry of the French presidency’s prospective candidate that he was at the time.

Is this true or untrue? God knows it might not even be true! How would you know? Well, actually, as a matter of fact we would precisely like to know what Mr. Strauss-Kahn thinks of the assertions of an insider such as M. Legrain. This is why the idea of a public opinion tribunal to judge the heads of the Troika may not be a bad idea after all – you know, just as the Russell-Sartre Tribunal on war crimes in Vietnam.

Mind you, the corpses are much less conspicuous with the Troika; but with millions, as in Greece, having lost access to health insurance, people are likely to croak out of sight.

Just as Emma Thompson is saying: let’s have the scoundrels indicted! That they are our leaders is a lame excuse for not doing so.

What’s your feeling, you people here, the readers of PJ’s Blog, about such an idea as a “Russell tribunal” for dragging to the court of public opinion the Troika crowd, those I affectionately call “priests of a ferocious creed”?

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Euractiv.com, Paul Jorion : ‘Jean-Claude Juncker’s moral authority has been damaged’, 14th November 2014

Euractiv.com, Paul Jorion: ‘Jean-Claude Juncker’s moral authority has been damaged’

Does the LuxLeaks scandal represent a risk for the Commission?

Paul Jorion: Jean-Claude Juncker’s moral authority has been damaged. Of course, he hopes his investment plan will bring confidence, and it is a good idea. Especially if it can create employment and give purchasing power to European citizens. But his credibility has been tainted by the revelations about Luxembourg’s fiscal practices.

The current head of the Commission is the man who led the implementation of austerity policies within the Eurogroup, at the same time as organising tax evasion for big companies in Luxembourg. Member states lost billions because of him, and now he wants to impose austerity policies on us. This is an untenable position.

Read more

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« Stewardship of Finance » Chair, VUB, lectures resume on Monday September 29 at 4 p.m.

Paul Jorion, Ph.D., holder of the “Stewardship of Finance” Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, will resume his lecturing on Monday September 29 at 4 p.m.

The course is taking place every Monday afternoon at that time in lecture hall D0.03 of building D (central building) of the university, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels. The course is held in English and it is open to the public.

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Medical Breakthrough: Low Dosage “Piketty” Prevents “FT” Fits (II/II), by H. Benisty (co-author with Timiota)

Guest post. The French version can be found here. Special thanks to Serge Boucher for the translation

We’ve shown in the first part of this post that a population of actors effecting “random walks” by betting their wealth daily, or more precisely a modest part of their fortune that lies above the poverty level, will eventually see a small group of “very rich” emerge, making everybody else comparatively poorer.

We now increase the number of actors to N=3600, all other hypotheses remaining the same, to get a more clear distinction between a continuum of the society and a few dominant elements. We’ll show how a small dose of “Pikettisation” avoids paralysis.

First, let’s study the situation as is, to identify the problem. Here’s a typical simulation with N=3600 actors during 35000 days. [See ((2)) in the appendix for a more detailed explanation, … even if you have already read ((1))!]

Continue reading Medical Breakthrough: Low Dosage “Piketty” Prevents “FT” Fits (II/II), by H. Benisty (co-author with Timiota)

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Medical Breakthrough: Low Dosage “Piketty” Prevents “FT” Fits (I/II), by H. Benisty (co-author with Timiota)

Guest post. The French version can be found here. Special thanks to Serge Boucher for the translation

On the subject of wealth concentration and rising inequalities, Thomas Piketty tells us that there is indeed a growing rift, and that the fifties were only an exception. One can always pretend that the Gilded Age gave us several decades of only occasionally rusty capitalism, hence reviving those levels of inequality is nothing to scoff at, especially if millions of people concurrently rise out of poverty.

Entertaining that view requires that we ignore many aspects of the Great Depression, which is highly difficult to understand, having taken place between two world wars, and in a period mixing technical progress, colonisation and then decolonisation. In any case, one can conceivably believe that history as a whole is so chaotic that what we’ll get at the end of the current rise in inequality need not be exceptionally bad.

Many reasons, which one might wish to file under “our planet’s survival”, suggest that now is a horrible time for deadlocking a system already made rusty by wealth concentration and the mass poverty that it implies: even though a sizeable and growing middle-class manages to get by, a world where even in rich countries 30% of inhabitants are poor, with poor countries doing much worse, can’t be expected to make the right choices regarding our planet’s resources.

Continue reading Medical Breakthrough: Low Dosage “Piketty” Prevents “FT” Fits (I/II), by H. Benisty (co-author with Timiota)

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