A Short Press Review 3/3…

Between travelling, household things to do and taking care of the kids while my wife had some professional fairs to attend, I have been struggling a bit over the past weeks to find time to write, but as I still collected some topics from various news sources, I thought it would be best to simply give you a little compilation of my thoughts on them… here goes (split in three posts):

Swiss Prepare Army for Euro Zone Fallout:

This one was all over the Internet, mostly with sarcastic comments on those crazy Swiss. Well, maybe the Swiss Army commanders simply read my book?!

Interestingly, the Swiss army has been all about protecting the country WITHIN its borders for a long time now and that is what the exercise was all about, how to avoid civil unrest and preserve peace in likely very troubled times.

So they did think it through and figured out that would something drastic happen, what would be the army’s role and how to prepare for it. Maybe more should think it through rather than mock…

U.S. Suspects Iran Was behind a Wave of Cyberattacks (NYT, Oct. 13th):

So here we go, the cyber wars are heating up. This is brought by the US Defense Secretary himself and as the masters so far have been the US themselves, it  reminded me of the sequence of the Technology Meltdown described in my book (remember TWLBTSSPBTS? a freebie for the first reader who remembers what it stands for)

More fun ahead on that topic, for sure. Remember that Cyber-Space did not even exist 15-20 years ago and its expansion is exponential, so yeah, interesting times to come…

Note that Iran simply cut off all Internet connections some weeks ago and only remain with what we could call an Iran-Intranet. It won’t work to protect them on the long run, but will help on the short-term, especially as they obviously have some pretty good techies of their own.

The return of a great idea, the tax on financial transactions (Tobin tax):

There are gazillions of financial transactions driven by computer softwares executed for the minutest of profit; the proportion of transactions that have any real economic reason is microscopic. Why? Because of the quasi zero cost of executing those transactions. So what would bring some sense to it all and calm all down? The Tobin tax!

I still remember when Jacques Chirac, then President of France, put it on the table some years ago: all were laughing at him. Now it sounds like a great idea. Sure, in times of direly needed extra income a new tax is a must , the key is to raise the “right tax” and not the dogmatic ones “à la Hollande” (see Short Press Review 1/3). Note that Tobin did win a Nobel Prize in Economics, so he must have had some kind of a clue – at least it gives more credibility to the idea than when coming from Chirac.

And this one would work marvels and be perfect in the days we are living. The key would be to put the tax low enough (and that is indeed the idea so far) to discourage transactions that are purely speculative, and in no way prevent any “legitimate” transaction to take place. Plus, this one tackles a large part of a problem through taxation at the right place with the right spirit, “punishing” the bad behaviour by making you pay for it, i.e not forbidding, but making you pay for it. Exactly how things should be in my mind…

But gosh, this would bite into the banks trading profits! Well, that is too bad isn’t it. It would mainly reign-in behaviours that regulations would never tackle and bring some sense back into the “global financial system”. On this one, expect a battle of titans from all lobbyists, who themselves will “smell the money” from banks overly eager to not see that happen, or at least try to write the rules themselves….


Have a great weekend!

Simon Q.

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