Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Monday, August 24, 2009

Doing Civic Duties: Writing For The Nation

A very nice sounding lady called me last Thursday evening and asked whether I could give her my views on the prospects for the world economy to come out of recession. I was just about ready to call it a day, but had enough wits to ask a few elementary questions. "Who do you represent?" I asked. "I'm an Editor at the Nation. You had spoken before to another Editor after the Budget." I recalled and wondered if they had now decided that my work was worth paying for. No such luck.

She wanted my views mainly about Germany and France, but also Japan. I gave her a set of short snappy points, then expanded a little more. Bottom line: we are seeing uneven recovery and countries are coming out of the recession at a different pace. She said she had understood everything and that the piece should appear in the next issue of
Barbados Business Authority.

Today, it was published. I had asked her if it would be available online, but no luck. So, my wife's driver went to Fontabelle to get a copy of the paper--a gift--and then the article was scanned so that I could use it.

Once they have you hooked, though, these guys and gals never let you go. She sent me another message today. "Could you write an article about creating more jobs?" That would be easy. Who was I kidding? I sent back a message, and asked to ensure that she was not going to offer me payment, and negate my amateur status. She did not disappoint, and with aplomb: "THE NATION usually regards contributions from professionals like you as part of your civic ‘duty’, giving back to society and free publicity for you". Well, what a nice idea that was. So unexpected. I began to understand why ordinary citizen might become infuriated with such attitudes. Work for no pay? When did that idea get hold? Almost preposterous. Not even an offer of free subscription?

I was never in a country where national service was required. Here I am now in a tropical paradise and I get to do my civic duty? That was really a burn. After several days of weathering another barrage of how Jamaicans are just full of jealousy for Barbados and looking to drag it down to the abysmal levels of Trench Town and turn Sandy Lane into a flea market full of bashment grannies, I was not chuffed. But, I took the high brow approach. Why would I wish to disagree with an Editor of a paper that had just gone through the kind of weekend the Nation had. I accepted and said that I would not be calling back to ask that my piece be placed prominently on the front page. Whatever happened, however, I did not want to any take second billing to any national, especially my friend, Professor Avinash Persaud--he of the never-in-Barbados-to-have-Tuesday-breakfast. I remembered that Tuesday was tomorrow and sobbed. I bit my lip, and pulled back the bitterness.

I wished that my name was Nouriel Roubini (aka "Dr. Doom"). Now that is a handle to put fear into people. Mess with me and I will send you into a double dip depression so deep that you will be in Australia. That's my solution. From tomorrow, I will change my name to Nouriel. I feel stronger and bolder already.

I just happened to read Dr. Doom's latest set of nursery rhymes in the Financial Times, The risk of a double-dip recession is rising. I was pleased, NR had my same view on recovery, but more verbose--and people call me wordy:

On the first question it looks like the global economy will bottom out in the second half of 2009. In many advanced economies (the US, UK, Spain, Italy and other eurozone members) and some emerging market economies (mostly in Europe) the recession will not be formally over before the end of the year, as green shoots are still mixed with weeds. In some other advanced economies (Australia, Germany, France and Japan) and most emerging markets (China, India, Brazil and other parts of Asia and Latin America) the recovery has already started.

Dr. D. believes
in "a V-shaped recovery with a rapid return to growth". Others expect a weak U-shaped recovery. But, doomster that he is, he sees "There are also now two reasons why there is a rising risk of a double-dip W-shaped recession", with a no-win situation looming over how to exit from the huge monetary stimulus that has been made. I was totally full of alphabet soup now and could read no more. Thoughts of my still-vacationing five year old rolled by, "A, B, C, D..." and other Barneyisms. I had to think about jobs. Not a chance in the world of creating anything sustainable in the near term. I guess I will have to massage that message. Or I could call the Editor and ask that she demand prominently that jobs be created.

No comments: