Systemic corruption

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By its very nature, power tends to destroy the morals and judgment of human beings. When man thinks he is God, he soon turns into a tyrant and creates his own Tree of Good and Evil, changing it as he sees fit. Of course, power’s destructive potential affects men in different degrees depending on character, …

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Oliver’s world and other tales

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Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Europe’s behavior fits this definition perfectly. Let’s see why. The world does not trust Europe and, in particular, does not trust the health of its ailing financial sector. In order to lift these clouds of doubt, the bureaucracy of the …

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Bad banks and worse banks (II)

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In the early nineties, Finland, Norway and Sweden suffered a real estate bubble. When it burst, as all bubbles do, an acute banking crisis overwhelmed them and their financial systems nearly collapsed. In spite of this, just two years later the crisis was history and their economies were growing healthily, with a total net cost …

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Bad banks and worse banks (I)

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The best Spanish banker of the last half century was a most extraordinary character. He led a bank brilliantly from 1966 to 1990, raising it to achieve the title of most profitable in the world (in terms of ROE), keeping an extremely robust balance sheet along the way. He never confused size with strength, as …

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Austerity and reality

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Austerity is the latest buzzword. In the good old days it used to be regarded as a virtue; today it only seems to mean bitter difficulty, severity and harshness. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that austerity has brought so much criticism with it: easy tasks attract far more volunteers than difficult ones. However, …

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To simplify

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Through the years, central, regional and local politicians have created, out of the blue, hundreds of thousands of laws, rules and regulations with which we all are obliged to comply. As far as I know, the Official State Gazette publishes 250.000 pages a year; the regional ones, 800.000 a year. You read it right: no …

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What about that transparency?

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In Spain we talk a lot about democracy and very little about freedom. The latter, however, is the weightier of the two concepts. Democracy is not an end in itself but the best means of approaching the ideal of freedom. Richard Maybury defines with masterful simplicity the two basic rules a political system should abide …

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A worn-out system

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A few years ago, one of the founding fathers of Spain’s 1978 Constitution told me that its text had been achieved through an on-going process of total improvisation. Back then I found this hard to accept because I had been swayed by the huge myth-building which surrounded the whole process. That’s no longer the case. …

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The emperor has no clothes

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The Welfare State as we know it is unworkable and verging on bankruptcy. It set out to protect everyone and has ended up abandoning precisely those persons who need it most. We must have a workable system of social protection and, in order for it to be just that, workable, we must face the facts …

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