After grading, and after mother in hospital, time for holding your head high

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Why could the ruble not have collapsed while I was teaching macroeconomics?

To try to stanch the bleeding, on Monday evening (the middle of the night Moscow time), the Central Bank of Russia announced a stunning interest rate increase. Its main deposit rate is now 17 percent, up from 10.5 percent when Russian banks closed for business Monday.It may go without saying, but a 6.5 percentage point emergency interest rate increase announced in the middle of the night is not a sign of strength. Rather, it is the kind of thing you see only in an old-school emerging markets currency crisis. And that is very much what Mr. Putin’s Russia is now experiencing.

via Vladimir Putin vs. the Currency Markets: What to Know About the Ruble’s Collapse – NYTimes.com.

Posted in Teaching international trade, Teaching macroeconomics | Leave a comment

Burkina Faso government suspends CDP and ADF-RDA

I hope in coming days there will be more clarification of exactly what the basis for the suspension is.

Burkina Faso’s transitional government on Monday suspended the party of deposed president Blaise Compaore and two allied political groups which had supported his attempt to cling to power….. Compaore’s Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) did not hold the three-quarters majority needed to approve the measures without a referendum.  However, days before parliament was due to debate the measures, Burkina’s third biggest party, the ADF-RDA, threw its weight behind the plan. The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security, in a statement, accused the parties of “activities incompatible with the law creating the charter for parties and political formations.”

via Burkina Faso suspends ex-leader Compaore’s political party | Reuters.

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Time for transition authorities in Burkina Faso to actually demonstrate rather than promise

It would be nice to see their own declarations of assets made public and enable journalists to investigate, and to see the declarations of old regime members (their assets were supposed to have been declared).  Also, as REN-LAC says, what accounts (of whom? where? how much?) of old regime members have been frozen by authorities?  What are legal processes underway?

Le Réseau national de lutte anti-corruption l’a compris et elle « se réjouirait d’avantage s’il recevait les preuves de cette affirmation. Et il serait en outre de bon ton d’indiquer au peuple les montants et les banques qui gèrent ces comptes ». Quoi de plus normal. « La confiance n’exclut pas le contrôle », dit-on. La population a bien envie de connaitre les noms de ces dignitaires qui ont vu leurs comptes gelés. Si ces comptes ont été gelés, c’est certainement parce que l’argent était de provenance douteuse, de l’argent mal acquis. En la matière, on attend donc des poursuites judiciaires afin de « voir clair dans l’affaire ».

via Gel des avoirs des dignitaires de l’ancien régime : Le REN-LAC veut des (…) – leFaso.net, l’actualité au Burkina Faso.

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Why I generally detest Hollywood movies

Family and friends always ask me why I typically refuse to go to most Hollywood movie, why I sigh heavily when I am watching them, while I roll my eyes in the dark, why I have nothing to say after viewing.  Finally I can exactly articulate why.  People like Rudin and Pascal are the ones charging me for the privilege of watching.  They are fake, humorless phonies, the kind of people that I hate giving my money to.  You should also stop giving them your money.  Read a book. I just checked out three at the library, for the holidays.

via Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal of Sony Apologize for Racially Tinged Comments on Obama – NYTimes.com.

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Guardian podcasts: Anita Desai reads The Postmaster by Rabindranath Tagore and A.S. Byatt reads Penelope Fitzgerald’s At Hiruharama

I went for a run this morning and included a podcast of Anita Desai reading ‘The Postmaster’ by Rabindranath Tagore .   A quiet, meditative reflection on empathy (or the lack thereof). Very simple, very short. The Guardian’s selection is quite good.

Satyajit Ray turned the story into a short movie, available (un-subtitled) on YouTube:

Yesterday on a run I heard A.S. Byatt reading Penelope Fitzgerald’s  ‘At Hiruharama.’  The humor here more broad, but the theme of the story quite similar.  Formally, Fitzgerald’s is more complex, with multiple narrating voices embedded in the story.  And is quite clever in winking with the reader… you’ll know what I mean when you get to the part about “Throw Nothing Away.”

But both nicely build the sense of foreboding: something very tragic might happen.  They close on a smaller note.

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U.S. recovery continues to be strong

The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 321,000 jobs in November — a much stronger number than expected — but perhaps even more significant was the biggest gain in average hourly earnings since June 2013. Hourly earnings rose by 0.4 percent in November, double what economists had been expecting….  At the same time, the number of hours worked ticked up by one-tenth, adding to pay envelopes…. The pickup in wage growth is coming as gasoline prices are plunging, providing a double boon for consumers and retailers with the holiday shopping season underway. For the year as a whole, the gain in jobs, with one month still to go, is shaping up as the best in 15 years.

via More Jobs and Higher Wages: U.S. Recovery Starts to Hit Home – NYTimes.com.

Posted in Teaching macroeconomics