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European/International Economic Reform and some Green and Defense Thoughts

without comments

Clear that a lot of the issues that have been part of this series are being looked at internationally. Hence, the change of name for this particular series of posts. This post is obviously a continuation of some work in my 'Convergence' report as well as some other blog posts.
- clear that some EU energy projects aren't being run as well as could be (as stated previously governance/oversight/project management issues a general concern across the EU). One interesting article I looked at indicated that massive efficiency gains simply because weather is Spain was more amenable for solar than in Germany.
This makes me wonder whether many of the southern states could be turned into the EU's solar energy hubs? with the northern being more focused on wind based technologies. Of course, the energy grid that I envisage for EU will likely need to be completed for the full benefits to be felt across the union.
- clear that many EU countries are suffering from capacity issues across a number of different areas. For instance, England with Heathrow and airport traffic. Would be curious to know feasibility or whether it would be realistic to offload some of the burden towards some of the more troubled states. That way we reduce traffic/burden on busier states and provide troubled states with more employment...
- any EU events/administration that could be reasonably/responsibly/profitably relocated to some of the more troubled states?
- if you look at statistics you'll realise how important intra-EU tourism is. The big problem is that since many countries are having problems intra-EU tourism is generally down. Curious to know whether there should be a joint effort to promote more international traffic?
- having been thinking about the issue of 'responsibility/culpability' with regards to the banking sector. If you read/look deep enough you'll realise that there is often a significant proportion of assets/debt that is involved in massive loop. Ultimately, this means that while the states that are in trouble were more responsible for their own issues, those higher up in the chain should likely bear some responsibilty as well. For instance, German/French (to a lesser extent US) banks which leant to many of the troubled states should bear more of the load. The obvious concern here is the 'doom loop' scenario. If we let it flow back and enforce it back up the system how far do we go? If we let it go too far then there is the risk of simply spreading the contagion and bringing down even more in the system. Moreover, in what form is this support provided debt write downs, one off payments, debt restructures, etc?
- leads me to my next point. There are already steps being taken to limit exposure and diversify risk across the finance/banking/insurance sectors in the EU and elsewhere. However, it's also clear in globalised world a few major events can lead to major repurcussions outside the point source of trouble/domino effect. Question is how far shoud/could be push this?
- aware that there are many biofuel and alternative fuel projects within the EU and elsewhere as well but one thing I'd like to pursue further is multi-fuel engines. There has been some regulatory changes with regards to this particular issue already in the US but I want to take it a lot further. When I was a kid, I once I saw a television show had a space ship that was powered by pizza which had me thinking about how we are currently using sewerage, used vegetable oil, etc... as a means of generating both fuel for generating electricity as well as automobiles. At the end of the day self combustion engines basically rely on the ability to ignite a fuel of certain chemical parameters. If sewerage can have fuel extracted from it why can't why shouldn't we think about other biowaste (such as food) as well? If we stop thinking about human interaction with it's environment as one that is primarily based around consumption and think about it as being part of an ecosystem everything suddenly changes (I'll call it the 'Energy Cycle' for now). If we think in terms of the entire 'Energy Cycle'. Namely, extraction, purification, transportation, usage, etc... we'll be able to gather a far more accurate estimate of how our activities change our environment. As I've stated before, try to "work with the environment, not against it".
- this is going to sound incredibly cynical but we cheaper ways of going to war and have a better understanding of the criteria that we should look at when we do go to war. While having missiles worth 6/7 figures that are deadly accurate from several hundred kilometres away makes sense in major theatres of war and global warfare, it doesn't really make sense in the context of peace keeping, urban combat, acts of terrorism, etc... Other options need to be considered as part of a country's arsenal...
- incentives to bring forward investment in projects? Question of supply/demand again. Concern is that we may end up in ghost estates/towns as has been the case in Ireland and parts of China
- have been thinking further about housing cost issues in some states of the EU. In some countries it is clear that there were housing bubbles and estates, towns have basically become deserted or have had no value. Am curious about whether wide spread movement of the houses from these areas is actually a viable option. After all, the housing is of little value now the costs of moving are often only in the five figure region (based on what I've examined in the US), etc... Things would obviously be very different in the EU though especially with regards to the generally closer proximity of roads, homes. Would likely be only viable on a limited scale
- a different take on force field technology I've been thinking about for a while is a variation of active stealth technology as used on the Dassault Rafale. It essentially uses destructive interference as a means of circumventing RADAR. If we think about it in reverse then we can use the concept of contructive interference to build kinetic force fields (similar to the ones seen in Science Fiction movies). We could even push it further and use multiple layers. Namely, an energy/plasma force field layer in between (see my other post) two 'kinetic force field' layers. Use conventional stealth (especially visual) and you could end up with cloaking on top of shield technology as well. Obvious problems include computing power (maintaining a the shield over a high speed moving object and also making the required calculations), energy requirements (wireless technology currently highly inefficient), shaping (will likely require a bit of experimentation but would be roughly based on the same principles of audio speaker technology), hugging the shield to the craft in space (making the assumption that travel is going to be increasingly exo-atmospherically based in the future), etc... The benefits are rather obvious is someone succeeds though and it would be vastly superior to any missile defense shield technology that we currently have since it could never be over-loaded as we are no longer dealing with the 'bullet on bullet' issue.
- it's been said that as long as there are countries that are willing to basically act as tax havens/low tax off shore options MNCs/TNCs will take their money offshore. I think that governments/citizens need to realise that these companies are just as reliant upon us as we are of them. Most of the world's wealth is created and consumed by the G8/G20. This means that should there be enough leverage if all of the governments of these countries work in unison to get a deal done
- guestimation of fuel savings of my previous review of some existing car design indicates that somewhere between 30-60% fuel savings could be made over current designs. Have been thinking of pushing this further and believe that significant further savings can be made without necessarily sacrificing comfort, cost, or functionality. Will provide further details in a later post. One thing that I'm definitely taking a further look at is engine configuration/propulsion options as this still seems to be the largest source of weight. Even if we slash the weight of current cars the weight of the engine/transmission itself still accounts for a huge proportion of the the weight of the vehicle itself (several hundred kilograms depending on the engine in question. Realise this may be a moot point especially if the weight savings mean the engine capacity can be reduced to a point where power to weight ratio is still good enough to provide decent performance characteristics).
- have been been thinking about mass scale carbon capture technologies which could be deployed on cars. One option I've been considering is a version of a combination of conventional/advanced cooling methods (some of the technology is used on stealth aircraft/helicopters and spacecraft) and then a Peltier module (which is partially powered by engine heat) which will basically cool exhaust gases enough to be able to liquify exhaust gases which you can then dump each time you head to the service station? More on this is a later post
- interesting debate on, "Should the Wealthy Pay More Tax?" in Australian context
- education system is solid across EU. In fact, many countries education accounts for a good deal of incoming revenue. One thing that I think we should need to factor in is that we may sometimes overemphasise our reliance upon technology. I have a diverse educational background which has brought me into contact with many different circumstances but it's clear that there are basic building blocks that are critical regardless of the situation. For instance, a focus on basic literacy and numeracy at an early age are far more likely to effective at an early age rather than having a computer which sorts of takes away the need to learn about these things and often takes you're though processes away from them. Moreover, it's far easier to learn literacy/numeracy skills before learning to use a computer and vice versa. Ignore world rankings. Personal experience indicates that in general people from EU have solid technical skills, better language skills, and a generally more diverse background. Moreover, it doesn't reflect the relative difficulty/competition that people in some of these countries face compared to others, the great dependence on financial background (even with financial assistance and/or scholarships) on entering many of the institutions mentioned in this list, etc... The emphasis should be whether or not the system is producing graduates have a change of making something of themselves, that are of value to the countries in question and to the EU as a whole.
- curious to know about return on EU investment in education (aware that many countries already do studies of where students turn up after they exist education system). Curious to know whether they take a longer term view or shorter term view of dealing with educational budgeting. Problem which faces many of the world's governments
- I think sometimes one of the things that get's forgotten at the EU level is that we often neglect or fail to recognise what we can learn from others or we take the wrong message away. For instance, several countries have complained that the German educational/vocational training system can not be replicated locally into their circumstance because they don't have a large manufacturing sector. I think the message that should be learnt is how the educational/vocational training system feeds into it's industry and academia. Work with what you have and local resources whenever possible
- looking at some of the Greek stadia that were left abandoned after the Olympics am wondering whether they could be modified to create energy? Think about the shape of some stadia. If altered correctly they could form the basis of Concentrated Solar Power systems?
- is it possible to build offices within a stadia if there is no longer a use for them?
- been thinking about the small/medium to large firm issue. Clear that many EU firms are getting purchased before they're truly able to flourish/internationalise. Part of it may have also have to do with owners wanting a quick/easy payout. In others, not enough due diligence conducted which makes M&A unsuccssful or else the product/service is often mothballed because the purchase was primarily about shutting down a competitor not about making a genuine M&A attempt. Suggest altering regulations to protect these firms (via foreign takeover and anti-competition laws) if necessary, or else force the firms to hit a certain point in their maturity prior to being able to be sold off. Tired seeing many M&As turn to nothing. More though required to ensure relatively free market still though...
- something I've been thinking about to reduce building cost is composite hybrid/prefabricated homes. Basically, Lego contruction like homes using a combination of prefabricated walls (insulation built into wall and possibly wiring and windows as well), roofs, as well as standard/construction. Obvious benefits with regards to building standards compliance, lower costs through mass production, economies of scale, etc... Would have to look at logistical, transportation, and other issues though. Using such techniques it's obvious we could construct housing/buildings in a significantly smaller amount of time than by conventional means (possibly a few days if the right preperation is done). If sent to lower cost countries savings could be even greater...
- there's already been some mention of the EU sharing/taking powers of state affairs where they don't have the ability or don't know how to take care of their affairs. Almost everyone has been aware of the issues of sovereignty though. Curious to know whether we could think about it in another way. On major issues that states have the most difficulty with perhaps the EU could act as a circuit breaker. For instance, if there are certain issues of major concern in particular fields that are of significant expenditure the EU will have the right to veto if it doesn't believe that the current policy is not in the best interests of the state or of the EU as a whole? Note, that this mechanism would only likely be able to be 'activated' during moments of extreme difficulty. More thought required...
- rent out unrequired goods/services to those who have the demand to meet it both within the EU and outside of it
- interesting the role of government particularly with regards to social welfare if you look at enough countries. Look at healthcare UK/Australia (more accomodating), France (surprisingly balanced especially when interpreted based on what you see in the media sometimes), US (less accomodating) in particular and you have a massive disparity in the way we view our government's place in society
- something else I find interesting is the break down of work forces in the public sector in the EU as opposed to elsewhere. It's often said that you could often find a job for life in certain EU countries in the public sector with the right connections. This obviously means that the background of people in the public service are likely to be less diverse disembuing them of the understanding of just exactly what 'real life' is exactly like. As usual stronger controls, governance, performance management, auditing, oversight need to be in place...
However, curious about the seemingly never ending array of oversight boards. In some cases justified. In other not so much. The thing I've learnt is that if people are forced to run on a budget and unjustified overspending is carried into next years budget or even into the next project most people will learn fairly quickly how to do things cost effectively... It's also generally much easier to move from a low to high resource environment then the other way around
- interested to know whether strategy of having a smaller number of people in higher paying jobs is better/worse then a larger number of people in lower paying jobs? Obvious there's a balance here. Would like to know exactly what it is though especially in the context of many of the more troubled states.
- possible to outsource work to troubled states through better use of tele-conferencing? Guess this is more of an international rather than a purely EU problem. Moreover, another supply/demand - chicken/egg problem.
- we know breakdown of general causes of many of healthcare problems in many countries. Would like more cause/effect work done if/when possible. For instance, it something can be prevented why shouldn't we take measure to help ensure a healthier population? (obviously backed up by continued medical research, etc...)
- aware that things are extremely lopsided in certain countries with regards to balance of wealth. Am curious to know likely impact of greater inheritence taxation. Are they likely to simply better plan their estates? Could a balance be found where everyone is still looked after? A controversial option that I've come across is basically very high tax levels on inheritance for those who are of extreme wealth/billionaires. Depending on the country some of the statistics indicated that it could have done a lot with regards to dealing with the issue of wealth inequality especially if the money was spent well (am aware of promises by various high wealth individuals pledging to give away vast portions of their wealth upon their death while still looking after their family's and friend's interests)
- in a perfect world everybody grows at similar rates and these remain relatively constant. It also means that there is a relative wage disparity permanently with the status quo/pecking order remaining relatively constant though. Unlikely that the model of outsourcing to the cheapest country is going to be able to maintained forever especially given the growth rates of many emerging economies. In fact, I recall a statistic that for the first time the combined GDP of emerging economies were finally challenging that of the combined affluent group of countries for the first time
- curious to look at more research regarding subsidies. Some recent work that I've seen indicates that they may have been counterproductive in a lot of cases and may have had the opposite of the desired effect. Want to know is there a quantifiable formula which dictates this point?
- want to know whether it would be realistic/feasible/responsible to fund relocation of some EU companies/industries to weaker states?
- wondering whether current troubles are enough to convince countries that joining EMU without adequate thought, preparation or forged backgrounds isn't worth the cost of entry or whether more needs to be done?
- think the thought process needs to be more about encouraging responsibility but giving them a way out at the same time. A common complaint is that when cuts are being made into the public sector there isn't enough private sector work to fill the void which exacerbates the political problems faced by leaders when attempting to enforce austerity.
- some EU firms have only been able to survive by taking significant risks and expanding abroad. Is help required for SME firms to do this while the EMU recovers? Would support be in the form of loans or one off payments? Should this be simply be a responsibility/part of existing trade delegations? Are the FTA's enough?
- recent statistics indicate that downward trend for trade between EU countries is stabilising/slowing down
- need greater focus on core industries/technologies/issues such as transport, energy, food, etc... Basically things which effect people across the EU and will make life easier/cheaper and make products and services more competitive
- extension of performance based pay to public service? For instance, part of portion of pay is linked to state of country and government? How do you measure this though? How do you ensure that it is fair? Should it apply to the entire public service or just senior members of the public service? Focus should be focused on greater good and not just a pure numbers game
- there is some work in the UN regaring so called Millenium goals with regarding eradication of poverty, etc... Success is limited. Am interested whether there should be something similar in developed country's as well? Basically a bare minium that we should expect of government? Concerned that it would be nothing more than a token effort project though without longer term implications though...
- examples/studies of efficient governments? Would be important/interesting to figure out difference between real and cyclical efficacy though? Clear that global issues play an enormous impact now not just the ability/competance of a government to manage it's affairs
- do we have a period for which budgets should be applicable? This is a question for governments in general. Should we try to organise services/budgets in such a way that you're not responsible for what other people may or may not have done?
- curious to know impact of local first, union second, global third policy is on environment. Think about this, as long as products are fairly competitive a local product will almost always require less transportation then one from the other side of the world. Would like to know the impact upon carbon emissions?
- difficult to see how you can stop some of the shady accounting practices that have been used to hide bad debt in some cases. Long term, permanent supervision as envisioned may be the only choice...
- need to be careful with what we privatise. Some for security reasons but others for because clear that many companies willing to run a temporary loss for longer term profit even at the cost of service quality (infrastructure, transport are two to watch in particular)
- clear that many countries have been pursuing centralised/identify card type systems. Curious to know whether if we can link it to quota management/correlation type system? After a certain point a user must pay a share of for what would normally be a free service (need a lot of work with regards to fraud/security management here) to reduce likelihood of abuse? Perhaps even link it to non-payment of taxes as well. For instance, if you don't pay your taxes over time your access to services would be reduced or else you would have to pay for normally free services? May be useful in systemic/endemic countries?
- common notion in investment is investment time frame. Curious to know whether we should take this concept to government as well? Should those who are younger be responsible for mistakes of the previous generation or vice-versa? Slippery/moral slope issues need to be thought about here.
- from a purely logistical standpoint I find it hard to understand why you would complicate the already complex issue of bank resolution further through differentiation between regional/international banks? If you want to have certain banks excluded from the bank union then you should probably just try to get them excluded. Of course, the obvious question are what type of concessions are being sought? Other questions that need to be addressed is the nature of the banks themselves. In many cases, it's hard to find a purely national/regional firm of significance without some form of foreign ownership/shareholding. The risk is there for contagion without necessarily knowing up front. If there are to be concessions the definition of those are able to gain concessions must be clear and methods of circumventing them must be non-trivial

Written by Binh Nguyen

July 13th, 2013 at 1:19 am