Great interview with Cheriff Sy in Burkina Faso

One of the most well-respected journalists in Burkina Faso.  He does not mince his words. Completely opposed to Blaise Compaoré’s attempts to revise the constitution to permit himself to run for another presidential term.

Il y a une constitution qui est là avec ses insuffisances certes, mais elle est là comme loi fondamentale. Cette constitution est suffisamment précise quant à la durée du mandat présidentiel, quant au contexte d’organisation d’un référendum. Je suis donc étonné que l’intéressé ou d’autres personnes se posent la question. Ce qui est par contre, peu claire, c’est qu’est-ce que les Burkinabè veulent ? La constitution prévoit aussi que lorsqu’on vous fait la force, il faut vous défendre. Si les gens s’asseyent sur leurs honorables postérieurs et en font des débats de maquis, c’est leur problème. A partir du moment où c’est un acte illégal, il faut que les gens réagissent par rapport à cette illégalité. Je ne vais pas rentrer dans de grandes théorisations, mais il faut que les Burkinabè apprennent à être, un tant soit peu, courageux. Que nous apprenions à nous départir des non-dits, à nous assumer par rapport au regard de nos enfants, par rapport aux générations futures. La vérité, s’il y a une vérité, est toute simple. Le président Blaise Compaoré qui dirige le Burkina depuis 27 ans, n’est pas arrivé par les urnes au pouvoir.

via BURKINA FASO | Cheriff Sy : « Ce n’est pas un bulletin de vote qui a amené le président Blaise Compaoré au pouvoir.

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Blaise Compaoré proposes referendum to revise the Constitution to permit another term in Burkina Faso

If the referendum passes and he wins the presidential elections in 2015, another 5 years term would mean he will have been president from 1987-2010, a total of 33 years.

There are two legal obstacles, that I hope the opposition will vigorously pursue (and this is where the mysterious killing of constitutional judge Salifou Nebie was important)… First, the constitution cannot be amended if the amendment undermines the republican character of the state.  Second, the current Constitution of Burkina Faso has provisions for a bicameral parliament, but the senate was never implemented (elections were help, results announced and then… black hole…).  but neither was the constitution amended.   So the current constitution says a Parliament must decide to hold the referendum, but only one chamber of parliament actually exists.

Le gouvernement burkinabè « a adopté un projet de loi portant révision de la Constitution, qui sera soumis à l’assemblée nationale en vue de la convocation d’un référendum, conformément à l’article 163 de la Constitution», a révélé à la presse le ministre de l’Administration territoriale et de la Sécurité, Monsieur Jérôme Bougouma, ce mardi 21 octobre 2014, sur le perron du palais présidentiel de Ouagadougou.Cette décision, en conformité avec les dispositions des articles 161 à 165 du titre XV de la Constitution a été prise à l’issue d’un conseil extraordinaire des ministres, réuni sous la présidence de Son Excellence Monsieur Blaise Compaoré, Président du Faso, Président du conseil des ministres. Le ministre Bougouma a ajouté que la date du référendum sera fixée à l’issue du vote du parlement.

via Presidence du Burkina Faso » Blog Archive » Le gouvernement burkinabè adopte un projet de loi portant révision de la Constitution.

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Why monetary policy is hard

We are in October 2014, and unemployment already down to 5.9%, a full percentage point below the March 2013 projections.

According to the most recent projections available at the time of this response (March 2013) most FOMC meeting attendees do not expect the unemployment rate to reach the 6.5% threshold until 2015. The central tendency of the projections for the unemployment rate ranges from 7.3 to 7.5% at of the end of 2013, 6.7 to 7.0% at the end of 2014, and 6.0 to 6.5% at the end of 2015.

via SF Fed | Recently the Federal Open Market Committee...

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Nice perspective on Janet Yellen’s speech on inequality

For the last five years of economic expansion, Congress has been unwilling to use fiscal policy to try to encourage faster growth. That has left the Fed as the only game in town, and the Bernanke Fed again and again turned to quantitative easing and ultralow interest rate policies to try to shock the economy into speedier expansion. Ms. Yellen was the No. 2 official at the Fed for most of this time, and helped engineer the policies.But this has contributed to an imbalanced form of growth in the United States. Many of the first-order effects of the Fed’s bond buying have been, for example, to drive up the stock market and to help lower mortgage rates. Because stocks are disproportionately owned by the wealthy and the upper middle class have been in best position to refinance their mortgages, the benefits of Fed policy for middle and low-income workers have been more indirect.

via What Janet Yellen Said, and Didn’t Say, About Inequality –

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Neil Irwin tries to summarize last week…

There are two problems when I read the very nice summary:  (1) If the stock market rises 3% this week, does that mean his analysis of last week is wrong?  Always a bad idea to theorize about the longer term in order to explain short-term stock market fluctuations.  (2) He does not explain why deflation is going to be a bad phenomenon… do his readers know?

The world economy still hasn’t recovered from the last recession. Moreover, investors lack confidence that policy makers have the tools they would need to avert a new slide into recession after years of throwing everything they have at it to try to encourage recovery and prevent deflation, or falling prices. Coincidentally, commodity prices are declining largely because of supply, but the timing of that decline is bad: It makes the risk of deflation that much more severe.  Add it all up, and the markets aren’t betting on catastrophe per se; if they were, stock prices would be down more. But they are betting that central banks and other policy makers aren’t going to be able to get a handle on global deflationary forces that have been unleashed. That means we could be in for a slow grind in which global growth and inflation both stay below where people across the advanced world would like it to be.

via The Depressing Signals the Markets Are Sending About the Global Economy –

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More on the TPP trade talks from WikiLeaks

Two of the more contentious areas in the IP area relate to copyright and pharmaceuticals.For example, current patent law allows drug companies a monopoly on drugs they have created for a defined period, meaning other companies are not allowed to copy and sell the drug formulations as “generics” for that period. This is considered reasonable as it rewards the company for the initial research investment, which can be costly. Once the patent period ends, cheaper drugs flood the market, bringing down the price for consumers.Yet the text would suggest that the agreement could extend the patents. If Australia agrees to an extension of patents, the government would allow drug companies to keep the price inflated for a longer period, making the drug less affordable.The US and Japan, the largest holders of intellectual property, have been keen to pursue stronger laws for breaches of copyright, including criminal penalties for non-commercial copyright infringements. That could cover internet downloads of television shows or music, where people do not make any money out of the product.The leaked document suggests that opposition among the smaller countries to criminal penalties for non-commercial breaches is waning.

via WikiLeaks’ free trade documents reveal ‘drastic’ Australian concessions | Australia news |

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TPP trade talks are making the news

Over the last year or two, critics of trade agreements have stepped up their attacks on the “secrecy” of trade negotiations. Discussing these agreements behind closed doors, or only with corporate advisers, they argue, undermines democracy and the rule of law.In the past, I have suggested that an emphasis on transparency is misplaced. A bit of secrecy is necessary for trade negotiations, I said; and anyway, we know much of the substance, and that’s where the debate should be. I called on critics to focus on the policy issues covered by these agreements, rather than obsess about transparency.But continued leaks of draft chapters of the Trans Pacific Partnership TPP agreement have changed things. As these leaks have come out, critics have engaged with the substance in great detail. While some of their rhetoric is inflammatory and over the top, they clearly understand the issues and they make strong arguments against some of the current language, particularly in the area of intellectual property.Unfortunately, the U.S. government is not responding in kind. That’s not to say it is being completely silent. However, the explanations of U.S. negotiating objectives are sometimes very superficial. The result is a one-sided debate. Critics are criticizing; the government is mostly keeping its head down.

via Time for Real Transparency in Trade Talks | Simon Lester.

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