WEDNESDAY NIGHT #1462 – What would Carl have said?

Written by  //  March 10, 2010  //  Absent Friends, People Meta, Wednesday Nights  //  Comments Off on WEDNESDAY NIGHT #1462 – What would Carl have said?

The Prologue
Carl Beigie OWN, our friend, the genesis of Wednesday Night and its guiding spirit through the first two decades, died on Thursday, 4 March.
Given the many years when Carl shared with us his views on assorted budgets – sometimes from wherever he had been ‘locked-up’, we cannot overlook the coincidence of his death and the delivery of the 2010 Budget. Thus, this Wednesday will be dedicated to Carl, what might have been his commentary on the budget and, given his wonderful curiosity about all underlying causes of economic turmoil – or well-being – other events on the world stage.
Let us do so keeping in mind this quotation, cited in his obituary in today’s Globe & Mail:

People alive today are becoming so adamant about having their wants satisfied now that it takes a rare politician to reflect for more than a brief moment on the needs of the yet unborn.

What would Carl have said about the 2010 Budget? We think he would have applauded the investment in innovation, but might he have considered $200 million too little and possibly too late?
What about the reduction in development assistance – in a year when Canada hosts the G8 and G20 and Stephen Harper has declared Canada’s commitment to the long-term reconstruction and development of Haiti.
What would Carl have said about the late-breaking news item that interest rate increases will drive the Canadian dollar back up to parity with its U.S. counterpart by this summer, according to a growing chorus of economists. Loonie at par by summer: economists
What would Carl have said about the world’s attempts to climb out of the global financial crisis? Greece, the European Community and the euro? The political situation in the U.S.? Sarah Palin and the Mad Hatters of the Tea Party? Our government’s policies on climate change and the environment – hardly in keeping with his concerns for the yet unborn.
What would Carl have said in response to Economists Blame Germany for Mediterranean Crisis?
(IPS) – Germany’s obsession with maintaining a trade surplus, in line with its mercantilist traditions, is one cause for the severe economic crisis that has gripped several Euro-Mediterranean countries, say economists.
Guy Stanley reminds us: German and French average income per capita measured in international $ have virtually identical levels and both have been slightly below OECD average levels from 1994 to 2008. (World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2009-10 country reports) Germany’s industrial structure, especially the way it is organized to promote applied science and innovation from its SMEs to its largest companies offers some instructive lessons. The fact that it has maintained itself as the strongest economy in Europe while absorbing the economic underperformer that was East Germany is a tribute to its national economic management.
Carl was a close student of national economic performance around the world and I think he might have suggested that perhaps the German example offered a lot to emulate. He probably also could have pointed out that the French take on Germany hasn’t changed much since they more or less started that country on the road to its unification thanks to Napoleon, sealing the deal with the defeat of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870–then much later organizing the EU which generally speaking the French “play like a piano” to quote an early British student of the subject– to even the match.]
Had Carl been alive and in good health, we feel sure that he would have been a featured speaker at the Montreal conference of Canada at 150: Rising to the challenge – he certainly would have been deeply involved in the precursor event, the December 2009 round table on International Trade. And we believe he would not have been pleased by the efforts of certain  U.S. lawmakers who urge scrapping  NAFTA.
What would Carl have said about the investment strategy choices being made for public pensions? [Companies are quietly and gradually moving their pension funds out of stocks. They want to reduce their investment risk and are buying more long-term bonds. But states and other bodies of government are seeking higher returns for their pension funds, to make up for ground lost in the last couple of years and to pay all the benefits promised to present and future retirees. Higher returns come with more risk.  NYT 8 March]

So many topics on which our friend Carl would have an opinion. Let us do him justice, and justice to Hugh Anderson, who also died last week, on Wednesday. Hugh, as a financial journalist, so often debated the economy with Carl at Wednesday Night. What would “Uncle Hughie’s’ take have been on these subjects?

Please join us this week for a very special celebration of Carl Beigie, Hugh Anderson and the spirit of Wednesday Night.

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