Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On the margins of Europe

On the margins of Europe
Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi in a press conference on referendum of Brexit. JOHN MACDOUGALL AFP
Spain can not be left out of discussions on the reconfiguration of the EU after the Brexit. Successive political meetings at the highest level that are happening in Europe since Thursday's victory supporters that Britain leave the EU have had, so far, a common feature was known: the absence of Spain.

Such absence, although it comes from afar and has to do with the low international profile of Mariano Rajoy, is another consequence of the period of uncertainty due to the repetition of elections. As if missing reasons for a rapid formation of government, here is a more powerful and well. In a crucial moment for redefining the very idea of ​​the European project, it is imperative that the voice of Spain is heard. For economy-fourth of the euro area, population, history and international influence, especially in Latin America, must be present at the forums where these issues are discussed. At this point the six founding members deemed entitled to meet on their own and not invite a country like Spain says little about the ability of diplomacy to be enforced.

Clearly, Mariano Rajoy, with his usual vagueness, it has not difficult. In mid-month it predicted that the Brexit would be "a catastrophe". Last week, after the result, he called for "serenity and tranquility." And until yesterday he was silent. Meanwhile, the Italian Matteo Renzi has created a very active axis Rome-Paris-Berlin is shaping up as the lead manager of the crisis.

For its European vocation and the very important ties that bind our economy with the British, the Brexit is a matter of highest priority. Urges, therefore, to know how the Government will defend the interests of Spain, and how it will contribute to strengthening the European Union at a critical moment. But for that we must be present, not absent.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Insecurity of insurers

Insecurity of insurers
The relationships with customers are not exactly the strong point of insurers. The insurance market has walked a tightrope for years, beset on some occasions by a triggered accidents, in others by competition arising from business smallholdings, sometimes by outdated legislation and, finally, perhaps for financial or work settings companies of any market in times of crisis require that, for various reasons will not deferring to thin the corporate atmosphere. The general descriptions run and is intended to describe a specific market (financial strangulation, technological advances, changes significant in customer behavior and etc.) forget that companies in almost every sector often face similar difficulties; and that corporate management is (or should be to) precisely understand that times are changing every day and every hour, and the commonplaces of the crisis or the challenges just clarify the present or the past or, at least, the future.

The insurance market now undergoing one of the multiple and continuous phases of adjustment characteristic of mature businesses, where profitability is vented into the details. In theory, they should learn from the banks, which begins convinced that survival requires getting used to narrow margins and wait for a next cycle of higher rates. The low interest rates also hurt insurers, but they have more room to raise rates. This is not the ultimate solution, it seems clear; but business development consists of interim patches applied pending cycle changes. The first business, however, task is to examine what is the margin for improving the service; margin in each company will be different, but in any case there. Does the insurer commitments and customer expectations? Do you respond with diligence to notices of accidents, starting with the telephone access service, which is usually deplorable? Do you have precise relationships, with automatic effects, to reward the loyalty? Because in many cases if there is no claim occur.

And so could expose several examples. Relationships with customers are not exactly the strong point of insurers. It is a problem common to large companies too; once a relatively high and stable customer volume is reached, managers tend to relegate relations with users to the category of minor matter. There are few companies that reduce or abolish offices customer relationship because, while reducing cost. One decision that seems required in setting times, when profit and the dividend may not always be maintained or increased by growth the business rid the company of complaints or suggestions you have no time or patience to filter. If however, one of the few guarantees of stability for insurers is to maintain a loyal clientele, the traditional way, which is not easily fold to claim competition to lower premiums.

That said and recalling further that the insurance market adjustments ahead and important legal changes in the short term, we must admit that yes, that financial conditions are harsh and that low interest rates strangling some growth assumptions. They are cyclical conditions, however; it is not foreseeable that the euro area keep the cost of the next money to zero beyond mid-2018 (to quote a difficult horizon to calculate) and, of course, is also true that the ECB buy debt of insurers (and other markets) as collateral and that decision is a relief of liquidity.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The zika jumps to the Games

The zika jumps to the Games

The mosquito lives in 61 countries and territories and eradicate the planet is an impossible task. Pau Gasol statements about the dangers posed to participants and attendees celebration in Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games have caused surprise both in sports and health. The basketball player has drawn attention to the impact of the Zika virus, which affects a very special way to Brazil, where they have detected in recent months 90,000 probable cases. Concern has acquired such a level that Gasol admits he is considering the possibility of not going to the Olympics next August.

Arguments in favor of postponing or relocating the competition have been put forward by a group of over 150 scientists from prestigious international universities, according to which the strain zika has implications for more serious than previously thought health. The virus, transmitted by the bite of a mosquito, usually causes mild symptoms, while it may cause serious neurological disorders and in cases of infected mothers has been directly linked to the birth of babies with microcephaly. Although the zika remains in the spotlight, the World Health Organization says that contracting dengue is more dangerous to humans.

Several million people will travel to Brazil, and ensure public health is the main objective. WHO has already declared in February the global health alert and issued a list of recommendations to avoid contingencies, but for now, is not in favor of canceling the Games or change the venue because such measures did not significantly alter the spread of zika beyond Brazil's borders. It should be noted that the mosquito that transmits the disease live in 61 countries and territories and eradicate the planet is an impossible task.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Coca-Cola will suspend production in Venezuela due to lack of sugar

Coca-Cola paralyzes production in Venezuela.  Cans of Coca-Cola. BLOOMBERG | REUTERS-QUALITY 
The measure was announced after the state company that processes sugar cease activity. The bottler of Atlanta-based company said that production will be affected in the "coming days" and does not clarify at what point can resume normal production of Coca-Cola Classic in Venezuela. The situation in the country does nothing but get worse and economic hardship also affects imports of commodities for the production of beverages and food. Last week, the Venezuelan state company in charge of processing the sugar temporarily cut production. "We are advancing specific actions that allow us to face this situation with suppliers, authorities and our workers," said the firm in a statement over the weekend.

Coca-Cola Femsa which operates four bottling plants and employs about 7,300 workers in Venezuela, said that factories are consuming the remaining sugar inventory. "If not recover this inventory as soon as possible, temporary interruptions in the production of sugar beverage portfolio will be generated." In late April Empresas Polar had to stop production of beer because the government does not give the dollars needed to purchase raw materials.

Coca-Cola Femsa is the largest bottling company in the world, with plants also operate in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. The partner of the US corporation explains that "90% of production" of its popular soft drink needs sugar, so it has no choice but to temporarily suspend its operations for that product. Also they make clear to the company that they will not leave the country. Now Coca-Cola Femsa are looking for other alternatives to gain refined sugar it needs for refreshments. The temporary cessation does not affect sugar - free drinks, where operations continue normally and its headquarters will remain open. Multinationals also face problems for the continued depreciation of the Venezuelan currency, as reflected in the results of PepsiCo, General Motors and Ford Motor.

In the Chavista was the popular drink bottler has faced numerous trade disputes. In May 2013 was the last major. Valencia plant in the center of the country, spent at least a week without producing bottled water and juice-based drinks and tea, part of the products they offer. All past conflicts have originated in the differences between the aspirations of the accused and supply of Coca-Cola. But the lack of raw material and deepening scarcity inaugurate an era whose consequences are still to be seen.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean

Sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean
European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. EFE / File
The facts are indisputable: the Mediterranean fish stocks are declining. Some of them are even on the verge of exhaustion. Overall, 93% of fish stocks that have been assessed are overexploited. The European Commission, which reaffirms its commitment to the growth and jobs agenda, is very concerned about what this may mean for the thousands of fishermen fishing in the Mediterranean. Therefore, it has launched a Mediterranean Strategy to improve the situation of fish stocks. On 27 April a ministerial conference was held after a major forum held under the main meeting of European industry: Fair seafood (Seafood Expo Global).

There are several reasons for the poor state of fish stocks. Pollution and climate change, no doubt, are partly to blame. However, it is clear that the massive overfishing is one of the root causes. It is true that, in the case of many populations (too many) still do not know enough. In the eastern Mediterranean, for example, there are significant gaps in time series that prevent us draw meaningful conclusions. In addition, half of all fish caught in the Mediterranean is not even registered. Therefore, we have only a partial view of this matter. But the evidence is equally devastating: fishermen report that caught fewer fish from year to year. In fact, their livelihoods, their own industry, are at risk.

The new Mediterranean Strategy of the European Commission is a commitment to the recovery of fish stocks, so that we can fulfill our commitment to the recovery of fishing. Our strategy is based on many years of work to inspire a sense of solidarity among fishermen. In 2003 the Mediterranean nations signed a declaration which laid the foundations for improving scientific research, protect vulnerable areas and limit fishing. The EU Member States reduced their fleets in an effort to ensure sustainable fisheries. Our legislative proposal provides management plans national and international fishing, catch limitations and environmental requirements. A strong multilateral cooperation encourages all countries bordering the Mediterranean to respect the same rules.

And experience shows that we can succeed if we tackle the challenges together. Take for example the extraordinary recovery of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. We got together, we agreed, and thus achieve results. Fishermen who recently questioned the recovery plan today laud their results. But we must go further. Fortunately, there is now a genuine shared that we must act with all populations feeling. At a recent conference, held in February in the Italian city of Catania, I met with fishermen's associations, European scientists and NGOs. All were aligned with government representatives present. This political will is what is needed to achieve a comprehensive approach to all neighboring Mediterranean countries to join.

The EU took the initiative in the case of bluefin tuna and has been shown that it was the right decision. Now we extend this successful performance to other fish species, across national borders and fishing traditions.

Several ministers of EU fisheries and coastal Mediterranean countries outside the EU were in Brussels on the occasion of the fair Global Seafood Expo in late April. What I intend to build on the momentum that was generated in Catania. We have started monitoring a joint statement on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean, at this time next year, you should give new impetus and provide a new vision for conservation and sustainability in the Mediterranean.

For this I have also been in contact with some major EU partners in the Mediterranean. Only in the last month I was in Algeria and Turkey, and met with representatives of Tunisia. They all expressed their understanding for the urgency and willingness to act. This feeling of involvement of all stakeholders in the largest possible number of Mediterranean countries is what they need fishermen. Joint efforts and commitment to our long-term strategy offset, as they deserve, fishermen from all over this great sea.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lessons from Netherlands

Pro-European concentration of students in Kiev, on the eve of the Dutch referendum on the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. SERGEY Dolzhenko EFE
Holland, officially, the only country of the 28 that has not ratified the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine adopted by the Dutch Parliament. The objective of the agreement, signed in 2013, is to promote political dialogue and develop the economy of Ukraine. The referendum went ahead thanks to a Eurosceptic digital environment and the action of a group of same - significantly called Geenpeil profile, Clueless - which took the government has just lowered the necessary 300,000 signatures to call a referendum on any matter. The he did not win, but more than two - thirds of voters stayed home. Only 20% of the electorate supports the negative.

Above the difficulties of the Dutch government to manage the outcome and complications that can arise for Brussels, what happened interesting lessons for all extracted. It has become a commonplace to say that representative democracy is in crisis and you need to open new channels to give citizens a voice in public affairs. In the catalog of measures aimed at correcting this alleged deficit of representation are the use of referenda, advisory or binding; popular legislative initiatives, whose use is intended to stimulate; the recall commands that allow depose public office without calling elections; or electronic mechanisms of direct democracy, which in theory would allow parliaments without a large number of topics.

But as evidenced by the case of the Netherlands, however discredited that is representative democracy, direct democracy mechanisms that arise as an alternative are far from a panacea. On the contrary, as we see throughout Europe-from Greece to the UK via Hungary and the Netherlands, referenda are likely to become the favorite tool of populist to delegitimize democracies, put in crisis the European project and, to make matters worse in this case, make a huge gift to Putin, recipient of the consultation on Wednesday and allegedly ultimately responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight in July 2014 that killed nearly 300 people.

Again, as in most referendums on European issues during the last two decades, the electorate has not answered the question that has been asked, but which had wanted to be formulated; Also ignoring the consequences of their vote. However, the high abstention rate of nearly 70%, is the most relevant data. If direct democracy does not improve participation with respect to representative democracy and discredits over the political system, its usefulness is diluted completely.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Football and random incentivized

Football and random incentivized

Complaints by an article in which it is assumed that not only luck favored Real Madrid in the last draw of Champions. The emphasis is, as you know, a brief comment on a topical issue that is published daily on the front page of Opinion. Entitled It's not a matter of hot balls, but highborn , on Saturday March 19 was dedicated to the draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions, held in the Swiss town of Nyon yesterday. In the article, signed by Jesus Mota, editor of Opinion, he made ​​the following statement: "To the question of whether the draw for the Champions is pure, the answer is no. The road to the end of some clubs is paved with rivals chusqueros comfortable", It is mainly referring to Real Madrid, paired in the draw with Wolfsburg and according Mota, not merely a matter of luck. "Almost from the first Sumerian tablets" he wrote, "it is known that chance exists but can be stimulated by mechanical, physical, metaphysical or mesmeric procedures. That lived Bugsy Siegel casinos and lotteries rigged by the Mafia (and not just US)".

The article provoked numerous protests. "Is it logical and fair that insinuate, without any data, the draw was rigged in favor of Real Madrid?" He asked in his e - Sisinio Juan Pérez Garzón, newspaper subscriber. Pedro Luis Egea Vega qualified article "regrettable pamphlet." A reader of El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz), Carlos Matallanas, journalist and "football man", sent me a long message in which he said: "I ask the protection of the defending reader to speculation tavern, which are not admissible in any means claim to have rigor, not again elPaís". Matallanas added: "Speculating that the drawings are prepared not commit anyone in a private get - together, but do so from an editorial by means of such importance it is foolhardy plus it contravenes all manuals of good journalistic practice. As regular readers know that the accent always has a more relaxed look on his analysis, but even there text Mota explained". According to this reader, "if the journalist or media note that there is a popular rumor that he senses that there is something wrong, what they should do is investigate silent, that is the main reason for the existence of journalism. And once I proved something, publish it".

The same complaint raised Felix Rodriguez. And Juan Ignacio Martínez Pastor wrote: "Readers Mota we would like to prove such a claim with evidence." Although 'The accent' is a comment, not fit in the unproven charges. Jesus Mota sent me an email which explains: "The accent is not information; therefore, there is nothing to "contrast". It is a comment that, until now, admitted some kind of irony and intended to reflect the general scornfully that the draw was received. Apparently, that's not possible. The Accent mentioned does not contend that the draw for the Champions "is not clean wheat", although clearly been understood well, but "is oriented" in the same way as the drawings in which are awarded 'heads are oriented serial 'so that outstanding athletes or teams do not compete with each other and the competition will depreciate (in economic and sporting terms)".

No doubt that pretend Mota satirize the fate of Real Madrid, similar to Barca in the last 10 draws quarterfinals of the Champions lucky that day as reported by the Sports section. However, it can only be taken as an indictment of his claim that the draws of Champions are not "pure" or are "oriented" as clear in his message, because it would be a scandal that so. Football is not governed by the rules of court, which are allocated effectively 'seeded' to avoid competing with each other in the early rounds of the top - ranked tournaments. And although the accent is a comment, not fit into the allegations without proof. The Mota himself criticized in another few days ago Acento - and rightly so French former minister Roselyne Bachelot, by accusing Rafael Nadal of doping based on mere rumors. Bridging the gap between UEFA, Real Madrid and Nadal, the requirement not to make accusations without proof it is the same in all cases.