The Politics Of Spin

Chris Sinckler, Minister of Finance (l) David Estwick, Minister of Agriculture (r)

One does not have to be an Einstein to observe that we are living in troubling times. We have seen ordinary people topple Mubarak who has held power for thirty years  in a  monarchical style government in Egypt. As we type this blog news services are reporting  demonstrations in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria to name a few places.  Volatility in the Arab world is always a concern to the rest of the world, especially small open economies like Barbados reliant on fossil imports. Forecast for Brent Crude closed at USD102.52 effective 18 February 2011.   There is even the possibility of a US government shutdown because of a budget standoff between Republicans and  Democrats. The foregoing makes the business of economic forecasting a crystal ball affair for local economists who sit in the Tom Adams Financial Centre.

Last week Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced with fanfare that the Barbados economy grew by 0.3 per cent at the end of last year and had not contracted by 0.4 per cent as earlier projected. The revelation appears to have precipitated a spasm of enthusiasm among local Central Bankers who were reported to be busy revising first quarter projection from 2% to 2.5%.  The news could not have come at a more opportune time for Barbados with  the embattled credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s reported to be visiting Barbados soon. Barbados currently has a rating a notch above junk status.

BU is pleased the government has been able to reverse several months of GDP decline but refuses to jump over the moon until the growth is sustained over at least three quarters. The longer term objective is to see  some strategies implemented to guide transformation in the productive sectors of the economy. A recent loan for USD40 million from the IADB to be used to develop the alternative energy sector is good news.

Minister Chris Sinckler who was appointed by late Prime Minster David Thompson to manage the influential finance ministry maybe feeling some pressure from aspirant David Estwick.  It is an open secret that Estwick views the finance ministry as belonging to him. Now that Stuart is at the helm there is a suggestion which has been gaining traction that Estwick maybe the finance minister in waiting. Stuart has rewarded Kellman with a ministry and Estwick must think his chance is around the corner. How can Stuart forget how they fought, albeit a losing battle, together to keep Thompson out and Mascoll in. Perhaps the scheduling of a press conference on a Saturday morning was more about political spin to make Sinckler look good and less about pre-empting the Arthur led opposition press conference held on the same Saturday.

Let it not go about that BU does not have a healthy appreciation for political gamesmanship between the parties, however,  this time around we believe both the BLP and DLP have missed the plot. The turbulence in the world economy demands that political parties in Barbados put country first. and operate in a bipartisan manner. The inclination to practice the same old politics might impress the decaffeinated one of the Sanka variety but not many others.

We agree with Minister Sinckler that if the government does not plan to borrow on the world market then we should not worry about credit rating downgrades. What he conveniently neglected to tell us is that local companies operating internationally are being affected by the downgrade, ask Sagicor.

By the way, has the gun incident which involved Estwick and Dale Marshall reported to be resting with the Committee of Privileges in our parliament been resolved?

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0 responses to “The Politics Of Spin

  1. Pepps

    Take care now. These days such operations are quite routine. Look forward to your being back here in a short while, and in peppery health …!

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  2. WRT the Middle East, be aware that the United States of America and other Western interests dedicate significant resources to the destabilizing of perceived enemy states. The news as taken from the traditional wire forms a large part of this campaign … Believe NOTHING that you read! What I see here is opportunism and significant mischief, as it was in the beginning, it now and shall ever will be, world without end …

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  3. Now for a sorry truth that is being avoided… the elephant that is standing in the middle of the room … with no cloths on …

    The US Dollar is plummeting … The end of fiat currency being the preferred medium of international exchange, the reserve currency is coming to a grinding halt. This will happen within TWO years … What will happen to your savings? Commodity prices are shooting up I feel because they have become default investment options…!

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  4. The PM (Fumble Stroke) can afford to lie to the DLP’s faithful in New York telling them that there will be no lay offs in the public sector. That is not what is the reality on the ground back here. Word is that right now there is an “inventory” going on of every department looking at every employee, their position, length of service etc, I wonder why.

    Government is not paying its bills just to be able to meet payroll at month end. Every month they are borrowing heavily from the NIS funds and are not putting back in a penny. So instead of dealing with these issues, you have a PM going off on a first class ride to New York to address party faithfuls. When he is finished being wined and dined, he still has to return to reality.

    So no amount of spinning that the BLP papered over things will spin anymore. We had 14 years when we did not have to worry of the way the economy was being handled, we had prosperity.

    So speaking to a packed hall means nothing in terms of local problems. I watched CBC filmed a Christmas party Mrs Byer Sukoo gave for her constituents’ children, there were SIX children there when CBC was filming the event, do you know the next night when I saw DLPTV news that CBC only showed Mrs Byer Sukoo and no footage of any children. So what’s the point that he spoke to a packed hall and Mia spoke to six??? AG Adriel Brathwaite spoke to a DLP branch a few days ago and there were very few persons there! What’s the point in numbers???

    Eventually, Fumble will have to honour the promise made to Mr”Pit bull”Estwick when he got Mr Estwick to cancel his press conference after Mr David Thompson’s death bed cabinet reshuffle. All hell will then break loose. Remember Mr Estwick’s words, time longer than twine.

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  5. Do we keep forgetting that a re-shuffle of government ministers was made when the then PM was as at his lowest point? A few weeks’ after he died – probably even the next week.
    We are we believing that it was in the best interest of Barbados and not a friend trying to set up friends.
    Shouldn’t the then PM left it open for his successor to make a re-shuffle? Was it prudent to cause another (man) to assess and evaluate a reshuffle which again left the PM Ag (current PM) who was not ill, and who did not have to reduce his portfolio due to illness, without a portfolio?
    The PM should do his re-shuffle at his pleasure under the advisement of his political and spiritual advisors. Whatever he does will be assessed and evaluated by the living and by the the dead.

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  6. That should be by the living and not by the dead.

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  7. @ Hants

    Your requests are well-placed and timely, but unfortunately we have a government and opposition that are not familiar or accustomed to LEADING INNOVATION. They are simply bureaucrats who can only administrate what already exists. They minds simply do not know about creating industries and fostering entrepreneurship. How many HC or QC scholars have gone on to become Barbadian entrepreneurs using those brains to create new products or process foods for import substitution. Or created software like facebook.

    Until we understand how to manage innovation, we are doomed!!

    Solution – Identify the creative ones via an annual “Barbados Idol” type entrepreneur show, and then utilise our minimal resources on the “few” who have a real product or service to deliver. Laser shot as opposed to scatter shot. This formula works on American Idol, where they match talent (Across 300 million people) with the music industry resources(This is where BIDC and Invest B’dos etc come in). Don’t have to re-invent the wheel, only put bajan rubber on it!

    Cheez man! What we waiting for…..Let we learn from Richard Stoute teen talent, Rihanna and American Idol nah man!

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  8. Duopoly-monopoly two that are really one, report cards are in and both parties deserve an F.

    Now on to serious business.

    We the people of Barbados need to prepare for what is coming. It is unprecedented but not insurmountable. In the coming days, weeks and months things will happen at an ever accelerated rate. The pace will make predicting the future an extremely difficult task…..but here goes.

    Prediction/Challenge #1
    Political parties will provide entertainment but no real solutions, having engaged in a quasi parasitic existence for so long they are short on creativity, innovation and courage. As the local economy continues to contract and with few solutions at hand, both sides will engaged in theater and distraction. Charlatans and jesters. It is not that they do not care, but simply do not understand what is coming.

    A Solution to Challenge #1

    Ignore them and the games, they will do little to improve conditions for you. The stress, anger, frustration etc…. is not good for you physically, mentally or spiritually. The silly games serve only to distract you from the truth: they have both failed and will continue to fail. Devoid of a substantial moral and philosophical foundation to stand on they will build nothing of value. Look at your neighbors and see them for who they truly are not B or D or Colour of skin or Religion. Strip away the superficiality, realize we all bleed red, we all have dreams, hopes, and grief feels exactly the same regardless of race, we are all connected. The old mode of thinking is no longer useful. Our world is not the aggregate of limitless opposites, it is the expression of a growing and developing consciousness. Many of you will feel lost, when so much is taken from you, but do not despair. Most of the jobs as you know them – will be gone and money as you understand it – gone

    You will be able to do little about your job, or the money but you can do something for your health.

    Get healthy now, medicine costs money, and even if you have money, medicine may not be available. Those who have lost their way with family, friends and neighbors reconnect now for we will need togetherness and community to weather what is coming. Remember excess individuality and selfishness will seal our fate.

    So…….What else is coming? I will disclose more soon if there is interest.

    Barbados is Home

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  9. AOD;

    Interesting! Please disclose more.

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  10. Brent Crude pushes up to USD106.

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  11. How much more pathetic can the DLP get? I heard Minister Jones on radio this morning lambasting the BLP on the decisions made nearly 40 years ago. Can you imagine this? Get real man, the DLP gave out over 500 new permits since they came to power in 2008. Instead of dealing with the charge that Minister Boyce has not brought any accounts to parliament since he was minister, that there have boght no new buses, that the Transport Board is in chaos, Jones is grand standing. But the clown of parliament Minister Inniss is off to Mexico, so he was the stand in clown yesterday.

    Deal with the issues, deal with the fact that staff morale is at an all time low, deal with the fact that once John Boyce thinks that a worker supports the BLP, he blocks any promotion even when the person is qualified and has acted in the position for a while, deal with the issue that many of the political yardfowls he hired are not working.

    It is high time for the PM to shake up this cabinet, these Thompson faithfuls need to get up and do the people’s work. But there again, John Boyce is not known to be an achiever!

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  12. Prediction/Challenge #2 ( or turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones)

    The economy of the USA will slide into depression, greater than 1931 (it did not truly begin in 1929). Paralyzed by excessive debt, the futile attempts by their federal reserve to monetize this debt will fail. The US economy will begin to “circle the bowl” each round of quantitative easing ( adding money to the system and making it available to banks to make loans…but the banks then don’t lend it, but instead use it to cover the mountain of debt from the housing/securities ponzi scheme) Each round is less successful than the previous and is place solely on the tax payers backs. This is mathematically impossible to escape and requires double digit GDP growth for 14 years consecutively to clear the current debt out of the system.

    Therefore the dollar will be destroyed, all currencies pegged to it will be the means by which those countries import massive amounts of inflation as the dollar continues to lose value against world currencies then commodities. It is in the best interest of the US that the E.U detonates first (the seed of the greatest war) , for that scenario buys the US sometime, but unless the fundamental problems of lost real jobs (where an actual product is produced), and dying industry are addressed there will be no recovery.

    Devaluation only works when you are a producer.

    So for Barbados, remaining pegged to the US dollar, just as we rose with them we will fall, and suffer the exact fate…. or far worse, unless we make drastic changes soon.

    Barbados does not have food security and is in a climate of increasing fuel and food prices. If the devaluation of the US dollar over the last decade was the first stage for skyrocketing food and fuel prices the Middle East liberation is certainly the second. This turmoil will literally and figuratively place food and fuel prices into orbit, out of reach for many.
    What little economic recovery there is will be snuffed out cold.

    Fuel is linked to water and it is a matter of national security. We will need reserves in place to facilitate the distribution of water for survival for at least 2years. Wind driven pumps will become precious as fuel becomes scarce. Reducing energy wastage will go from being a “nice thing for the environment” to a matter of necessity.

    Outside of our direct controlled is the development of some incredible energy technologies, which will finally be revealed as the era of oil comes to an end. It will take some years for these technologies to achieve mass distribution… so in the interim energy frugality will be necessary. This energy revolution will officially launch the 21st century standard of living. What masquerades today as 21st century living is an extreme caricature of the 20th century. Not a single product is unique to this century but merely extreme refinement of 20th century technology.

    Until then Barbados has advantages.

    We have more than enough water reserves to meet our NEEDS but we need to secure its distribution.

    We have an abundance of solar radiation and no winter requiring heating oil/ high energy use.

    Using fuel to produce heat is a most wasteful process thus avoiding this negative is a huge positive for us.

    Barbados is small, densely populated and relatively, culturally stable. Working together, and with no real barriers to the transport of goods and services within the nation we can ride out the global storm.

    Think tanks are a great idea but must be married to action groups, like the brain connected to the hand, which makes all invention possible.

    Through modern techniques in agriculture that utilize small self sustaining units to produce yields many times that of the methods of old we will be able to feed ourselves. Brilliance and excellence in agriculture will take on heroic significance. A time to survive, a time of reassessing our values, morals, and a return to core strengths. It will be a time of purifying ourselves from decades of post WWII decadence, and the slow poisoning of a terminally ill western civilization. Purging ourselves of the toxicity, awakened from the drug induced coma. We will be healthier, stronger, more creative, more cohesive, ethically, morally and spiritually renewed. Until then…

    Our first duty is preparation. Grasshopper time is over, it is time to be an ant. For a time we played a jolly tune, but the prelude to the 21st century is over.

    Barbados is Home

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  13. AOD
    A great presentation.
    It is full of truths and your solutions are spot on.
    Maybe you should email all of the MPs your thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if they can see that far.
    We can conquer as a small nation but the people must recognize that there are no more free lunches available. Too many people are being made to believe that we are going to get back to those days of spending ponzi schemes money.
    Ii is going to be the survival of the fittest that is those who make adaptations.

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  14. David
    You should put AOD’s post up as a separate article as it may be loss under political spin.

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  15. George C. Brathwaite

    My problem with AOD and Charlie is that apart from being extreme and pessimistic, I see no analysis. I see hunches based upon general statements of which the sources are more likely than not to be dubious in content or malicious in intent.
    I do agree that trends suggest that the US economy is in decline (since the mid eighties) and that there are other economies growing at paces that far outstretch that of the US. However, it is premature, foolhardy, and very risky for Barbados to abandon its peg with the US currency at this time without having concrete data that suggest such action is absolutely necessary.
    Moreover, who do we tie our currency to or should it be allowed to float? What are the implications and repercussions? Some persons read the anti-capitalist rhetoric with blinkers on; hence they err in the same way as frenzied capitalists who reject any and all criticisms. Rather than rush to scenarios that if made to become widespread can wreak more havoc in the short-term than the long-term significance of a US$ devaluation, these persons need to inject themselves into more rigorous reading and research, let’s see your models, and let us decide if your analyses bear any merit. A country cannot determine its policies on speculative fodder. They must act on hard probabilities which are supported by facts and empirical data (even with measures of caution and practicality).

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  16. George C. Brathwaite

    Note that there is no mention of DLP or BLP by me. This is a position that takes national requisites as priority. In this vein, successive governments in Barbados have done darn well. I hope they continue to do such.

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  17. George besides the point about the US dollar
    What other point would you consider pessimistic?
    Is it true that the US dollar is on the slide? What effects would it have on us?
    How can the recommendations about greening our country be pessimistic?
    How can food security be pessimistic?
    How can the effective harnessing of our water be considered pessimistic?
    As Doctoral student why don’t you write an analysis of where you see the Barbados economy in the next twenty years with oil selling at $200.00 a barrel? We may see who the pessimist is.
    The long and short
    Stop attacking the messenger deal with the message

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  18. David;

    I agree with Charlie. AOD’s post is a most valuable one and demands a separate thread. His individual insights are not new but are packaged in a most understandable way that forcibly brings the serious problems we and the world faces into sharp focus.

    It seems to be the new age of revolution. Let ours be rational and proactive, to the extent now possible. The things that need changing soonest is the mindset of our political class; the work ethic of the Public Service; ensuring that the workers unions display a vision and thrust in consonance with the changing paradigms; and fostering true innovation in our private sector.

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  19. Want evidence that the dollar will almost certainly collapse? Has it is moved out of the realm of if into when? Some answers coming soon :)

    Remember the advantage of being small is the ability to make swift course corrections, often elephants can take their time. Mice have to be quick, alert, observant and intelligent. What will starve an elephant is a feast for a mouse. I call the predictions challenges, thats why #2 is subtitled “turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones” optimism and never say die is coded in my DNA.

    N.B With the vast resources of the inter-net available to all posters I try to be succinct and on point, trying to avoid redundancy and provide food for thought.

    Barbados is Home

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  20. AOD’s comment has been given prominence.

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  21. George C. Brathwaite

    @Charlie

    I did not attack the messenger but I asked the messenger to be more anlytically and to provide detailed information. Is that an attack?

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  22. Robert Deschappé

    @ Prodigal Son

    You know what is really pathetic, a MINISTER OF EDUCATION speaking in University and international forums, making statements without pronouncing the “TH” at the beginning or ending of words. He is always sounding posh, but using word like: deeze for these; doze for those; wif for with. The man cannot pronounce a TH, he needs to do better than this.
    Prodigal, he need to tell the public about the Transport Board being significantly over-staffed, many drivers, few buses; and they are guilty of rewarding friends as well, how about Patrick Gollop, what does he do at the Transport Board and is his job (or reward) necessary at this time.

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  23. @ George C. Brathwaite

    Ummm…how much ANALYSIS do you want?

    It seems you like to bury your head in the paper mountain that is statistics, rather than dealing with the issues and SOLVING them!

    The time has passed for “detailed information”…that is fancy talk for MADE-UP INFO! What we need are ANSWERS, SOLUTIONS, AND POSITIVE ACTION!

    Getting paid well at the political pigpen, are ya? Hope you getting paid in euros, then!

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  24. Paralysis by analysis is a common problem. If these were the boom times we could have a long philosophical discourse on the matter. Ironically boom times for most are spent indulging the “ID” but I digress. “Malicious in intent” is actually funny in a weird redundant kind of way. On reasons for the prediction of a collapse I’ll deal with a brief history of this mess, a more technical discussion of trade imbalance, deficits and reserve currency status, and end with the petrodollar/military superpower issue. Posting under “Are We Witnessing The Fall Of The US Dollar?”

    Note I have not suggested abandoning the peg as we are in too weak a position to bail at this point. The impact of continued dollar decline must be mitigated and contingency for a collapse put in place. Remember we are the little guys.

    Barbados is Home

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