Friday, December 30, 2011

Why the JLP lost–a lesson for governance

I have been seeing some of the comments by the young labourites. They range from sadness to anger and results a lot in accusing the PNP of vote buying and ballot stealing. I am almost pretty confident that both sides may have sought to engage in these nefarious activities but even if there was some of that it did not affect the results.

I think the PNP gave a solid whipping to the JLP, and there are reasons why. Primarily amongst them is that the JLP, from around two years ago, started to lose touch with the people.

When then PM Holness announced the election I said to supporters of both sides that the PNP would win the election. As far as I was concerned, the PNP was working the constituencies for far longer, there were outstanding issues in the IMF and JDIP, I think more time would be needed for the people to warm up to Holness, and an election between xmas and new year was not going to upset people’s vacations (low turnout). A low turnout is always good for the PNP because of their larger and more committed base.

It is important to remember that economies and people are primarily motivated by micro issues, and not the macro, and so the idea of the IMF programme achieving the macro targets and no consistent stimulus package being put in place, was bound to result in job losses that caused the major swing in apathy from the JLP.

As I consistently said, the IMF programme was pro-cyclical and resulted in economic contraction further than what was necessary and a big part of the contraction resulted from the tax packages.In other words too much fiscal focus.

Combined with this was public sector salary and pension issue, which created much isolation, and this combined with the economic decline / job losses from the global effects, resulted in a growing resentment of government, especially when unnecessary expenditures were reported.

The Holness factor helped but this was wiped away by the poor campaign by the JLP, especially when compared against a better one by the PNP and a PNP manifesto that communicated better despite continuing less details. Remember Jamaicans don’t read much and so the shorter pictorial PNP manifesto communicated better. The PNP also presented a younger team (even if it just perception) and the JLP focused on a younger leader, while in error focusing on attacking PSM. Add to this some slip ups during the campaign.

So in the end the people either voted against the above or didn’t vote because of it. It is important to understand that economies and people are driven by micro issues, which also means that with a more aware, and jobless, citizenry, the election would have been won by the attention of MPs and candidates in the constituency.

In the end it boiled down to the PNP having a closer connection with the people and running a better campaign, which in the end was a more positive campaign on issues than the JLP’s. So it is not that vote buying or anything like that lost the election. The answer is in the mirror.

This is also a lesson for anyone that governs Jamaica from now as Jamaicans seem to vote a lot more on representation rather than national issues.

What is necessary in 2012

AT the time of writing the polls have not opened as yet. But whoever forms the next Government will still be faced with the global and local economic challenges in 2012.

Globally we can look forward to the following:

* Much weaker Europe, and an overall weak global economy;

* Oil prices I expect to continue their upward trend;

* Inflationary pressures, as governments seek to avert economic downturn by expanding money supply; and

* Consumer spending to see some recovery but remain relatively weak when compared to pre-recession levels.

Locally, I expect that these global factors will have an impact, at least in terms of limiting our earnings potential. The truth, however, is that much of what happens to Jamaica in 2012 is going to depend on the policies we pursue.

One of the things that we must start to understand is what drives economies. In other words, as I said last week, the first question that should have been posed to the candidates in the recent debates was, what is your explanation of the problem? It is a simple question, but the truth is, unless we understand the problem then we can never find the appropriate solution, and I think that this is what has escaped us for years, if not decades.

I do not think that we have an understanding of what our real issues are. Our inability to define the real problem Jamaica faces has caused us not to grow this economy in any meaningful way since 1990.

I have long said that economies are nothing more than the behavioural interaction of people, as they go about their business of satisfying everyday needs and wants. It is important to understand the link between Mazlow's Hierarchy of Needs and economics.

As people satisfy more and more of their basic needs, they move towards economic activity that leads to self-actualisation. And the price of self-actualisation is higher than the price of basic needs. So it stands to reason that the more satisfied people are, the higher the value of expenditure, which will lead to greater economic expansion.

This is illustrated by countries like the US, where as more and more persons become wealthy they start demanding products that cost more. This means that manufacturers of goods and services can increase revenues, and also more business opportunities become available. The trick to this expansion is that it must be done from earnings and not from debt, as the US found out in 2008, and this is what contributed to our problem. Otherwise, the whole house of cards will come falling down.

It is this lack of focus on the consumer that has been at the heart of Jamaica's failure to achieve sustainable economic growth. An examination of our policies over the years will reveal that we have focused on the fiscal accounts or growth without earnings. In other words, the central focus of government policy has been either growing consumption with debt or taxing Jamaicans every year to stabilise the fiscal accounts.

The fact is that this approach will not work, and it is important that going into 2012, whoever forms the Government understands this. Moody's has indicated that the policies of the Government must continue in 2012 if we are to maintain their rating, and we could see improvement if we continue the policies. While Moody's is generally correct, there has been a missing ingredient in our policy that is working against greater economic success. This is what has always been missing from as early as independence.

We have failed to recognise the importance of the consumer to the economy and so have failed to realise the sustainable growth that we need. We have praised economies such as Singapore and the US, and have held them out as models that we need to emulate. But what we have failed to understand about what makes these countries great is that their primary development focus is centred on protecting the individual rights of citizens (from other citizens and the state) and ensuring that everyone has access to the same opportunities. This is, fundamentally, all we need to strive for, and the rest will follow.

If we ensure that (i) citizens' rights are protected, (ii) everyone has the best opportunity to succeed (which includes access to education and health), and (iii) discipline and structure are enforced, then I guarantee that the economy will see unprecedented growth and development, as persons move from the lower rung of Mazlow's Hierarchy to the top.

If this is done, then the market will drive greater innovation and value.

However, as I have long argued, in a stagnant environment just coming out of a long recession, the market needs a push. This is where Keynesian policies must be pursued, and is why the IMF agreement was pro-cyclical. This is why stimulus projects (whether you call it JDIP or JEEP) are important, and necessary. What we must ensure is that they have the necessary parliamentary oversight for transparency, but even more important, I think they must provide the maximum benefit to the economy. My preference is a focus on infrastructure and renewable energy projects, for the maximum benefit to be derived.

It is important that people have meaningful jobs. Jamaica's unemployment numbers from even in the 1960s reveal the lack of focus on full employment as a government policy.

So as we go into 2012, with a newly formed Government, we need to try a new approach. We need to put the individual rights and opportunities of the people at the centre of our policies. We must focus on employment opportunities as a part of that.

We will never achieve the development we want without this, because if people are always concerned with justice and red tape, then there is no room for innovation and they will remain at the bottom of Mazlow's Hierarchy, which is where underdeveloped economies find themselves.

After 50 years it is finally time for us to break away from the colonial structures that seek to protect state against subjects and truly make the citizen the primary focus of our democracy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Go out and vote

Tomorrow is election day and I just wanted to ad some thoughts after observing what has been happening over the past few weeks. I have observed the accusations and the fanatical way in which our young persons in particular have approached our politics, and am not feeling good about our youth.

I am not speaking particularly about the candidates but rather the supporters, who when I look at the FB posts and comments I find it disheartening as the comments are really not about the issues but the attacking of personalities. When will we get away from this sort of politics. Maybe I am idealistic but I believe that Jamaica deserves better than this.

My message to everyone is that you should all go out and vote, as it is not only the most fundamental democratic right that our forefathers gave their lives for in some instances, but is also a responsibility to your country. Anyone who ignored this responsibility and either didn’t enumerate or doesn’t plan to vote I think it is a betrayal to democracy.

I would never tell anyone who they should vote for, and do not want to have a conversation on that, so if there are any comments on this post then please do not introduce any tribalistic views. They will be ignored but I would love any comments on the issues, which I will entertain that discussion going into tomorrow if I can help to clear up any thoughts anyone has.

When you have privately thought about the issues please go out and vote, as it is a responsibility we have to our country. And vote on what you think is best for you and your country.

I personally am tired of the tribalistic approach, as whichever party forms government at the end of the day it is our government if we call ourselves Jamaicans and whoever is elected government on Thursday should get the support of everyone because I do not know of any part of Jamaica that will sink while the other part stays afloat.

The competitive nature of election is good because it helps to preserve our democracy but when it is over we need to move forward as one country, and make for a better place to live for all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Do you know where you're going to?

Do you know where you're going to?

Do you like the things that life is showing you

Where are you going to?

Do you know...?

— Diana Ross, 1975

We could ask ourselves these questions after we listened to all three debates and digested the manifestos, leading up to the election on December 29th. Indeed these questions are critical ones we need to answer before we place our "X" on Election Day.

This is one of the disappointments I had after the debates, as they seemed to be anti-climatic. True, they got progressively better, starting with the disastrous youth debate, but can anyone honestly say that after listening to the debates we know where we are going to?

What we know after the debates is what we knew before. We know that it is necessary for the country to maintain its fiscal discipline and extend the IMF agreement; public sector, tax and pension reform is going to be critical going forward; there must be a real focus on quality and access to education; there must be continued focus on governance and corruption; energy costs must be reduced; bureaucracy is a major inhibitor that must be addressed; the justice system needs to be reformed; the debt and productivity issues must be addressed.

Prime minister Andrew Holness and Opposition leader Portia Simpson-Miller during the leadership debate on Tuesday.

We knew all that before the debates and it seems as if that is all we still know after. One of the major problems is that the Debates Commission did the country a disservice with the format of the debates, which they tried to correct in the last one (which improved it somewhat). The fact, though, is that it didn't seem as if the debates were designed to unearth any additional information and direction for Jamaicans, but were designed just to appease the need for debates to be held. So I would think that more blame for the failure is at the feet of the Debates Commission than the participants. After all, the participants only answered what was asked and didn't have to worry about much follow-through because of the format.

So as a country we need to seek our answers elsewhere. Let me pause to congratulate Peter Bunting and Danville Walker for hosting their own local debate, which is a really progressive move.

I think we could get more information from the manifestos, which give a pretty comprehensive view into the thinking of both parties. And both parties must be congratulated for coming out with such comprehensive documents in such a short time, as both do show a clear understanding of what the issues are and lay a foundation for more specifics.

They do attempt to answer the question posed above, that is "do you know where you're going to?" They do include very detailed descriptions of where they want to take the country, by looking not only at general policy issues but some specifics as to what is to be done to achieve those policy objectives. I think the JLP document includes more specifics, but the PNP document communicates better and emphasises more consultation.

The JLP places greater emphasis on private sector-led growth; as opposed to the PNP that emphasises more government-led growth. Interestingly though, on the important matter of energy, the JLP seems to prefer a more involved state solution unlike the PNP that emphasises a market competition model.

Even so, I feel that neither document directly addresses the real structural issue with the economy but does so in a roundabout manner.

So if the time spent on the debates had been spent focusing on analysis and discussion of the manifestos, it would have had greater benefit to the understanding of where both parties want to take us. The truth is that there is not much policy difference between both parties, as is expected because our options are very limited, and so what is important for us to understand is who can better take us to our goal, as we have suffered in the past from an almost deceitful relationship of broken promises, much like a dejected spouse.

This takes me to the main criticism of both manifestos. They are too long and because of this length they fail to communicate an overarching vision to the electorate. Their failure to provide an executive summary has left the reader without a framework of the vision of the manifestos. They seem to be an attempt to provide something for everyone, and so have talked about everything under the sun in the attempt to satisfy everyone. But by doing so they lost the direction and emphasis of the policies.

So the manifestos do a better job of telling us where we are going to, but because of the disorganised presentation and the amount of information, we are not sure of how we will get there.

What was needed was a statement of general objectives, which the PNP document sought to do, but this should be around a central theme of development. And the documents did mention the main areas of focus at the start, but the way the rest was written veered from the stated emphases. In other words, if they were answering exam questions the body and conclusion of the answer would not connect with the introduction.

This is not difficult to correct, however, and it would be a good strategy for both parties to summarise the main points and present them to the electors, who are more concerned in this election about "what are you going to do for me?" than "what have you done for me lately?". The latter seems to be where some of the old-style politicians want to focus - including the awful youth debate, which surprisingly had more old-style politics and inaccuracies than the two latter debates.

So since the debates have failed to deliver, my suggestion is that we go to the manifestos, which provide a lot more information and only need some more attention paid to wading through much of the unnecessary and repetitive content.

To all my readers, have a happy holiday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

PNP manifesto analysis

I have been asked to provide a brief analysis on the PNP manifesto by a few of my FB friends, and so will attempt to do so below. It of course requires further discussion and hopefully some of that discussion will take place on this post so that the issues will become a lot clearer. I only have 2070 friends so it may be worthwhile if everyone could share the discussion with your friends so that it can be far reaching.

Let me first start buy saying that it is encouraging that so many persons seem to have taken an interest in what is being proposed.

All in all, and given the timeframe of the election period, one could say that this document is a fair response. The fact is that there was not enough time for a more comprehensive document as elections are just around the corner, and I suspect that the PNP wanted to get this out prior to the Finance debate, as strategically it sets up the expectation of the debate and makes it easier to communicate for Dr Phillips. This is why a fixed election date is good, so that the process of consultation in campaigns can be longer and bring out more. It does show that work is happening, although I think that greater thought could have gone into the document.

There are some stronger areas, which show the strength of the spokespersons, such as Energy, Foreign Affairs, Education, Agriculture, and an understanding of the economic challenges. The policies do not seem to be inconsistent with the current administration, as expected, as there are really not many options available to whoever forms government. Will be interesting to see how the JLP’s compares, as I don’t expect much policy variation, which is why details on implementation is important. So we could end up at the same place if we do not have those details

I will also do the same synopsis of the JLP manifesto when it comes out.

My comments are listed as follows:

  1. Our Mission: this gives  brief overview of the manifesto contents, and this and throughout the manifesto shows that the PNP seems to have a clear understanding of the issues that face the Jamaican people. It however does not in my view represent a mission but seems more like a summary of the views contained in the document and seems more like an introduction than a mission. This sets the stage for the rest of the document as it does not clearly define a mission, which is the first problem.
  2. Foreword: sets out the PNP’s understanding of the challenges that lie ahead, and it is obvious that they are at one with the “bitter medicine” ahead that was sated by the Prime Minister. There is therefore an actualization by both parties that 2012, and the foreseeable future is going to be difficult for Jamaica. One would therefore expect that the document will continue to define what the “bitter medicine” will be, as the JLP also needs to do, so I will look at the contents to see if this “bitter medicine” is defined, as once you set up this type of expectation it is necessary to define it for the people if they are being asked to sacrifice.
  3. Eighteen Steps to Full People Empowerment: this section does clearly set out some of the policy options that need to be undertaken, although I do not think that these will lead to people empowerment. People empowerment in the context of Jamaica is much more than setting out these policy objectives. In fact rather than “steps” to empowerment these seem to be statements of intent. Steps imply a path, but this does not seem like a path but rather a focus on the destination of the steps. The section does provide a good summary of what needs to be done, but is missing the most important thing in relation to the “empowerment” theme, which is the assurance of justice and equity. For example, what is the assurances that the rights under the Charter of Rights will be respected and that people won’t have to go to court to fight it? The most important aspect of empowerment for people include, in addition to justice, proper health and education access and facilities, but this is not mentioned in this empowerment section.
  4. Current Economic Position: the following are noted:
    1. Shows understanding of the challenges that Jamaica faces, but does not mention what I think is the primary problem, that of the Balance of Payments, which is impacted by productivity and competitiveness. There is a need for a credible medium-term economic programme, as indicated by the IMF. Will see if further that programme is provided in the document since it states the necessity for one to deal with the challenges ahead.
    2. My own view is that the debt is NOT the central problem facing the government, and is only a symptom of the underlying problem. This seems to be the same focus on the fiscal as in the current IMF agreement, and the danger of this focus is that it ignores action on the underlying problem. This therefore suggests an agreement with the current fiscal focus.
    3. Statement about what is required for a credible macro-economic programme continues to speak to a focus on fiscal and expenditure management. I would have thought that this statement would have included importantly reference to the JEEP (government stimulus) as an important characteristic, as the other things to be taken into account are not as important for economic expansion. Tight expenditure and debt ratio focus are both contractionary effects; and increased support from partners seems a contradiction in the face of the admission of the global crisis, as grants have already been underperforming and will continue to do so. It would seem that the “self-reliance” talk of the 70s would have been more appropriate. Agree 100% about the tax system and the corruption and waste.
    4. Following paragraphs criticizing the JLP seems like wasted space, and tends to lose the reading flow from the party’s intent. I don’t think that a manifesto should include criticisms of the opponent but just focus on what the author intends to do. Leave that other part for the political platform and ads.
    5. The opening of the plans and strategies does recognize the need for a mix of fiscal responsibility, growth strategies, and consultation. All are very important to move forward.
    6. Correct that a new medium term IMF agreement is needed. Would have loved to see mention of whether an extended fund facility or standby agreement is needed, and what are some of the things that will be sought in this agreement. Don’t expect specifics as it is a negotiation and therefore understand the need not to say too much on this
    7. MOU with public sector workers did not work before and certainly is not what is needed. Consultation does need to happen but needs to be focused on productivity improvements and how to best reward productivity.
    8. The tax reform statement shows that they are consistent with the current tax reform paper, which in my view is not adequate. The aim of tax reform must be primarily stimulating the economy. After reading this I get the impression that the focus will be on fiscal – “widening the tax base”. I might misunderstand but it needs further clarification, so I will give the benefit of the doubt and say that the intent is for economic stimulation, but it needs further details.
    9. Agree that programmes like JDIP and JEEP needs to be on the budget, and also needs parliamentary oversight, which I would think should have a parliamentary committee that oversees massive programmes.
    10. I don’t like government identifying sectors for growth. Sounds too much like a government controlled state, which we have always been. Don’t discriminate by providing incentives to some and not the others. The market will pick the winners if the proper environment is created. The problem has always been that because we do not have the proper market environment then government becomes a welfare programme through incentives.
    11. They state that they will “accelerate decision-making on the choice of fuel sources” and later goes on to state that they will be committed to diversification and set up a National Energy Council. While the document does correctly recognize the need for focus on this crucial problem, it seems to be bringing the government back into decision making and is in contradiction to what Paulwell has said, which I like. Government needs to only set certain environmental and regulatory standards and allow the private sector to determine what energy sources they want to invest in within those standards. I would have preferred to see Paulwell’s position replicated in this document. I don’t get the feeling that with the National Council that we are moving away from the bureaucracy that has stifled our energy effort so far.
  5. JEEP: much of the programme hinges on this so it requires its own analysis:
    1. not enough detail given the hype and expectation around it.
    2. State that funding will come from existing state resources, which is the JDIP and TEF. Does the JDIP loan contracts and the purpose of the TEF allow for this sort of allocation?
    3. Well designed infrastructure projects – agree that focus needs to be on infrastructure projects but more detail needed here. There was so much hype about JEEP that I believe it needs to be more clearly defined, especially as 25% of JDIP funds is to go towards it, in keeping with the call for transparency. JEEP is the same as JDIP in intent, that is a stimulus package, which is good for the economy but we need to have details and transparency so that it does not go the way of JDIP.
    4. Says the measures to encourage investments (JEEP tax incentives) will not sector discriminate but above the document states that certain sectors will be focused on. Seems to contradict. This also implies the giving up of tax revenues. What will this do to the tax revenues and where will the shortfall be made up?
    5. Disgaree with GOJ taking equity positions in firms. We tried it through DBJ funding and it didn’t wok and we could therefore end up with government getting involved in the productive sector again, such as after FINSAC.
  6. The following sector focus sections shows what needs to be done in the various sectors we presently hold a comparative advantage in but it seems as if government involvement will be high. The sections do recognize that innovation is needed in these sectors but does not emphasize enough what the government needs to do to ensure that the environment is favourable to encourage investment, which is what is needed. It is obvious that a lot more thought went into the Agriculture section however.
  7. The section on encouraging innovation, competitiveness, and entrepreneurship does not provide an understanding of what is needed to do so as it broadly speaks to what is to be done and again incentives, when what is needed is to create the building blocks for competitiveness as contained in the Global Competitiveness report, which shows what Jamaica’s main challenges are.
  8. Foreign Affairs section seems ok and I would expect that as Hylton does have a good understanding of what is needed.
  9. Creation of an Enabling Environment: this does show a clear understanding of what is needed in an enabling environment. It speaks to infrastructure, primary education and healthcare, social welfare programme, public/private partnerships, need for constitutional and legislative reform (not enough though on this important issue and what is proposed won’t make a difference in my view), crime (would have loved to see a move to make the police force more independent and accountable, such as is being done now with success), .

I think more detail is needed and hope that this will come out in the discussion over the next few days.

Friday, December 09, 2011

What are our options?

In answering the question of what are Jamaica's options, let's look at three scenarios. In both John Brown has income of $100 of which he spends $70 on necessities, $20 on discretionary items, and $10 he saves.

The following actions are taken by John:

o Scenario 1: accumulates debt of $25, which he uses to purchase a luxury item for consumption. Debt to Income ratio of 25%.

o Scenario 2: accumulates debt of $150, which is used primarily for luxury items for consumption. Debt to Income ratio of 150%.

o Scenario 3: accumulates debt of $150, which is used primarily for productive/investment purposes. Debt to Income ratio of 150%.

If John wants to reduce his debt, then he may do the following.

Scenario 1: this is a simple solution, as all John needs to do is cut back on the discretionary spending, and if his savings has a lower return than the cost of the debt then he could forego the savings and pay down the debt.

Scenarios 2 and 3: these are not as straightforward as 1, because the questions of survival and comparing return on investment versus debt are relevant decisions.

In 2 for example, John could not just cut out discretionary expenditure, savings, and necessities to pay back the loan. Even if he could use all his income to pay back the debt, he still would not have enough money available. In any event it is not possible to use all his income because a substantial part of his income goes towards keeping him alive ($70/70%). And therefore if he were to just keep cutting back on expenditure to pay the debt, then he would at best become destitute and could end up in an early grave.

In 3, what he must do depends on the return he makes on the investment he uses the debt for. So if the debt cost him $5 per annum and he makes $10 per annum (after taxes and all costs) from the investment, then it may be worthwhile to keep the debt and pay down the debt from the investment while maintaining his current lifestyle. However, another important consideration is cash flow from the investment versus that of the debt, as cash flow is the most important consideration. A company never goes out of business because of accounting losses, but because it doesn't have net cash inflow. It is important to understand this point, because this relates to Jamaica's situation.

Some analysts continue to point to the debt to GDP ratio as our major problem. However, if I had a debt to GDP ratio of 500 per cent but I didn't have to make any debt payments until 10 years in the future, and someone else had a debt to GDP ratio of 150 per cent but had to make all the payments within a year, which one is better off today? The fact is that cash flow is more important than the ratios, which should really be used as a guide for policy and action and not the reason why one acts.

So in John's case it is important to understand the debt repayment terms, and this is why in the restructuring of the debt the timing of the cash outflows is so important. But all debt restructuring does is give more time to make adjustments, and so if John gets a reprieve in terms of timing of cash payments, he must ensure that he has a plan to adjust either his expenditure or income in order to ensure that when the payments start again he is not in the same position because he has not made the necessary adjustments.

It also seems obvious that John cannot resolve his debt problem (scenario 2) by just cutting back on expenditure, and so the only real option is for him to increase his risk in a very calculated way, in order to reduce his debt in the long term. Seaga did this in the 1980s, when the debt to GDP ratio increased to 212 per cent in 1984: this additional borrowing helped to result in average growth of 6 percent per annum towards the end of the 80s and a debt to GDP ratio of 90 per cent in 1990. This is a countercyclical approach, as opposed to the current IMF agreement which is procyclical, which could not help John in solving his debt problem without landing him to penury or death.

Even if John were to reduce his debt through forgiveness, cutting back on expenditure, or returns from investment, he would not solve his long- term problem without developing the discipline to live within his means. And he will not be able to get persons to continue to support his business if his service level is not consistent (low productivity), access to his business is difficult because of crime impact, or when doing business with him you are frustrated by an inefficient automated telephone system (bureaucracy).

I am sure that you have by now drawn the parallel between John and Jamaica. Jamaica's situation is about 80 and 20 per cent of scenarios 2 and 3 respectively. What this illustrates is that the real problem with Jamaica is not the debt to GDP ratio, which is just a symptom of the underlying issues.

Like John, if we are to solve Jamaica's long-term problems we must address the root causes of:

o Discipline and productivity;

o Bureaucracy;

o Energy and food import costs (more efficient spending on necessities); and

o Cash flow - matching inflow to outflow.

The Prime Minister in a recent speech indicated that the government must adopt a mix of policies to include countercyclical approaches, which is in contrast to the IMF agreement. One such project is the JDIP, of which I am really disappointed about the current circumstances, but it is important that it continue for the health of the economy.

It is critical that when we listen to the debates we are not caught up with terms that sound nice but that we try and understand the fundamental issues and how the proposed solutions will solve the problem. There are some analysts who in the past were not prepared to do the proper analysis and were very much in support of the IMF agreement, and today I am surprised to hear them saying that the terms need to be relaxed or renegotiated. The purpose of analysis is not to predict an event after it has happened. Predictions are made before an event. It was incorrect analysis that resulted in the global financial crisis, so we must be very careful about what we digest. Apparently it is not only politicians who "flip-flop".

I may not be able to listen to the live economic debate next Thursday, because of a previous engagement, but would implore everyone to do so and take careful note of the substance of the proposals rather than the surface issues. This is especially so as I do not believe that, whoever forms the next government, there are any different policy options that will work.