Rusia desarrollará ruta por el Artico para rivalizar con Suez

Rusia proyecta reactivar un pasaje marítimo de la era soviética para prestar servicio a proyectos de energía y ofrecer una ruta de abastecimiento más corta para Asia a transportadores como OAO Sovcomflot, conforme la naviera planea una venta inicial de acciones este año. Abrir una ruta marítima en el norte podría permitir a la empresa estatal Sovcomflot acelerar las entregas de gas natural a China y obtener cargamentos entre Europa y Asia ofreciendo una alternativa más rápida al Canal de Suez. (Fuente: La Tercera, Chile – 21/07/2011)

“Si Rusia da luz verde para que se desarrolle como una ruta activa de tránsito comercial, cambiaría totalmente la situación de inversión para Sovcomflot”, dijo Chris Weafer, estratega principal de ING Bank NV en Moscú. “La volvería más atractiva a los ojos de inversores potenciales”.

Sovcomflot, junto con empresas como OAO Novatek, está enviando cargamentos de prueba a través de la ruta ártica, que el primer ministro Vladimir Putin prometió transformar en un paso abierto todo el año. Para que funcione, Rusia debe modernizar puertos, instalar sistemas de rescate y construir rompehielos por 30.000 millones de rublos (US$1.100 millones) cada uno para ofrecer un paso seguro a los buques petroleros. La ruta del mar del norte data de 1932, cuando la Unión Soviética envió el primer barco desde Arkhangelsk hasta el Estrecho de Bering. La ruta, abierta de julio a noviembre, es aproximadamente un tercio más corta que la travesía de casi 13.000 millas desde Rotterdam hasta Yokohama a través del Canal de Suez, lo cual ahorra tiempo y combustible. También podría atraer a transportistas que quieran evitar a los piratas en las aguas de África Oriental y las revoluciones de la “Primavera Árabe” en la región que rodea el canal egipcio.

Sovcomflot proyecta ampliar sus actividades en el área del transporte de gas en la medida que los productores de energía se aprestan a adoptar proyectos en el Ártico en el curso de esta década. En 2010, transportó 70.000 toneladas de gas condensado a través del Ártico para Novatek, que tiene pensado comenzar a producir gas natural licuado para vender a clientes europeos y asiáticos en un proyecto en la península de Yamal en 2016. “La demanda de GNL creció en oriente en los últimos dos o tres años en China, Japón, Corea del Sur y Singapur”, dijo Andrei Babakhanov, responsable del departamento de flotas de Sovcomflot. “Mientras crezca la demanda asiática, la ruta del mar del norte se volverá más importante estratégicamente”. El proyecto Shtokman encabezado por OAO Gazprom en el Mar de Barents, que podría contener más de 3,9 millones de toneladas cúbicas de gas, podría comenzar su producción inicial en 2016. OAO Rosneft, el productor de petróleo más grande de Rusia, está desarrollando yacimientos en el Mar de Kara que podrían contener hasta 35.800 millones de barriles de recursos potenciales. Es posible que la empresa con sede en Moscú comience a perforar su primer pozo en 2015. El futuro de la ruta marítima del norte dependerá de los planes energéticos de Rusia en el Ártico y de la demanda de tránsito por parte de los transportistas, no siendo todavía evidente ninguna de las dos cosas. “Estamos preparando infraestructura y rompehielos”, dijo Alexander Poshivai, responsable de transporte de la Agencia Federal para el Transporte Marítimo y Fluvial. “Debemos estar listos, es una ruta estratégica”.

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Economia colorida

Até recentemente, a ideia de “economia verde” era tida como um devaneio de ambientalistas, sem base teórica. Com o acirramento da crise ambiental, a “economia verde” ganhou legitimidade, apesar de ainda não ser analisada (desconsiderada) pelos economistas tradicionais porque, ao buscar alternativas sustentáveis para o processo produtivo, ela desrespeita os fundamentos da teoria atual. A utilização de preços diferentes do mercado de curto prazo e a restrição ao uso de certos recursos naturais ainda incomodam economistas. Mas a economia do século XXI não pode continuar amarrada, como a do século XX, à ideia de que a estrutura de preços momentâneos é capaz de orientar o futuro. Sabemos que as chamadas externalidades, os impactos externos à economia e ao imediato, precisam ser consideradas. (Fonte: art. Cristovam Buarque – jornal O Globo, Brasil – 16/07/2011)

Keynes dizia que no longo prazo todos estaremos mortos, por isso, o futuro distante não importava. Mas no seu tempo o problema ambiental não existia e a economia não tinha poder de influir no longo prazo. Daqui para a frente, a sustentabilidade ambiental é condição necessária a ser considerada em qualquer economia sólida. A crise ecológica se acirrou de tal forma, e tão rapidamente, que a simples mudança nos preços, justificando a preferência por recursos renováveis, já não é suficiente para enfrentar os problemas adiante. Mesmo assim, antes de ser aceita, a economia verde já nasceu velha: porque não basta o equilíbrio ecológico.

A substituição de combustíveis fósseis por renováveis pode gerar um efeito bumerangue: o acomodamento diante da crise; e não basta a “economia verde” em cada carro, se no nível macro o número de carros cresce tanto que as florestas darão lugar a plantações de cana para alimentar toda a frota. Também não basta a economia substituir o combustível fóssil por renovável se o perfil da demanda continuar voltado para a minoria de renda superior. A economia que dinamiza seu crescimento produzindo bens caros para a minoria, concentrando a renda, pode ser verde, mas não é a economia que o futuro precisa. Não vale a pena a “economia verde” salvar o planeta, se salvá-lo apenas para poucos. A economia do futuro precisa ser verde -no uso dos recursos naturais- e vermelha no destino de seus produtos. Precisamos de uma economia que atenda as necessidades sociais como, por exemplo, a erradicação da pobreza, a diminuição da desigualdade e a ampliação do emprego. Uma economia com valores éticos, capaz de entender que na educação e na saúde a desigualdade é imoral. Enfim, uma economia vermelha.

A economia precisa definir o conceito de riqueza. Uma “economia branca” voltada para ampliar o bem-estar e não para destruir. A produção de armas não deve ser considerada como resultado positivo da economia, embora seja importante para a defesa. O valor do PIB deve descontar a produção dos bens de destruição e serviços de segurança e também o tempo perdido pelas pessoas na ida e vinda diária de um lugar para o outro. A economia também precisa ser amarela e manter como símbolo os produtos da ciência e da alta tecnologia. A competitividade pela redução de custos, em geral pelo desemprego, não pode ser indicador da economia do futuro. A competitividade deve estar na capacidade de invenção de novos produtos capazes de elevar o bem-estar das pessoas. Para isso ela deve ter por base os cérebros, não mais mãos e braços. Finalmente, a economia tem que ser azul e considerar o bem-estar como mais importante do que a produção. A abolição do analfabetismo não pode ser medida apenas pelo aumento de renda do alfabetizado. O PIB baseado em automóveis que engarrafam o trânsito, mesmo com carros elétricos, ou que fluem graças a viadutos construídos em vez de escolas, hospitais e sistemas de água e esgoto, não pode ser considerado como indicador da economia do futuro. Mais importante é uma economia que libere tempo dos trabalhadores e aumente os bens públicos e aqueles imateriais da cultura. A “economia azul” deve buscar eliminar os entraves que dificultam a busca da felicidade. Pode inclusive optar por um decrescimento do PIB como forma de aumentar o bem-estar. A “economia verde” começou a ser aceita, mas ela não representa a metáfora certa. Pelo menos cinco cores são necessárias para definir a economia do futuro: o verde da sustentabilidade ambiental; o vermelho da justiça social; o branco de uma economia produtiva para a paz; o amarelo da criação de bens de alta tecnologia; e o azul da economia comprometida mais com o bem-estar do que com a produção e a renda. 

The New Power Alliance: Russia, Germany and France

Moscow is flush with cash from energy sales and arms producers in France, Italy and Germany are happy to take large chunks of it. They are selling Russia advanced weapons, sensitive dual-use systems and military supplies. All this indicates unprecedented Russian openness about (and need to) buy advanced weapons systems. Moreover, Moscow-based experts say privately that the Kremlin hopes the arms deals help revive the Russian-French-German axis that began to emerge in 2003 in opposition to the US-Iraq war. (source: by Ariel Cohen // Robert L. Nicholson – The National Interest – 21/07/2011)

Recent military sales include a record-breaking deal signed on June 17 between France and Russia. Moscow bought two French Mistral-class assault ships/helicopter carriers worth more than $1.4 billion, and it has options for purchasing two more. This is the largest deal between a NATO country and Russia since the alliance’s inception and the largest defense sale from a Western power to Russia since the World War II-era land lease. On the same day, Germany’s leading producer of military technology, Reinmetall, signed a $398 million contract with Russia to develop a “combat training center for Russian ground forces.” This brings back memories of the post-Rapallo 1920s and early 1930s secret cooperation between the USSR’s Red Army and the Weimar Germany’s Reichswehr, which allowed the latter to develop and test weapons in Russia, forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles.

France, Germany and Russia glorified these deals as watershed moments, signaling an unprecedented level of cooperation. As much as Western European politicians and manufacturers may celebrate this détente, NATO allies should not rush to abandon trans-Atlantic ties for the newfound Russian arms market. Certainly the newest alliance members and Russia’s closest neighbors aren’t happy. Many Eastern European countries were forced into the Cold War-era Warsaw Pact. Once freed, they sought NATO membership as a means of protection from Russia. Historic memories are painful, and these nations have a lot of them: the 1848 occupation of Budapest by the Russian Imperial Army after the Hungarian rebellion; the four partitions of Poland in the 18th and the 20th centuries; the 1956 suppression of the Hungarian revolution; the 1968 crushing of the Prague Spring; and the 1939 Soviet occupation of the Baltic states. It’s very heavy baggage.

The Russians themselves are divided over foreign military imports. The country’s media is rife with accusations that some of the contracts may involve pay-offs to senior officials. Prominent Russian weapons designers publish damning exposés in the national media on how military contracting in the country is broken down. Others are worried that imports will destroy the domestic military-industrial base. Yet, one would hope these arms deals will not undermine NATO’s commitment (under Article 5 of its charter) to defend its members from foreign attack. Establishing a military-technology relationship with Russia could start small, but Moscow hopes this bond would allow it to have a direct link to advanced military technology and training. Washington should watch further sales to Russia, keeping in mind the overall defensive purpose of the alliance for all NATO members, including the newest and most loyal partners.Russia has been bargaining with many European military companies for a couple of years and more deals are expected soon. However, these sales may trigger a move in NATO to develop a unified long-term strategy on arms sales for the twenty-first century. The United States has remained remarkably quiet on this issue, but outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others in the Pentagon have tacitly objected to these and other deals. Nevertheless, the Obama administration decided against going to bat against such arms sales. At this point, Washington and its key NATO allies can ill afford another spat that may compromise its near-term operations, like those in Afghanistan and in Libya. And, of course, should Washington raise vocal opposition, it might jeopardize the “reset,” the ultimate objective of Obama’s Russia policy. 

The ECB’s Political Agenda

The European Central Bank has taken an unwavering stance against any kind of Greek debt restructuring. While the central bank clearly has concerns about financial stability and its exposed balance sheet, it also seems to have a political agenda. In order to understand the current debate about debt restructuring, it is critical to understand this agenda. (source: by David Mackie // Greg Fuzesi – The Wall Street Journal – 21/07/2011)

If debt restructuring is eschewed, there will continue to be a dramatic build-up of loans to Greece from official creditors—the rest of the euro zone and the IMF. If this continues for an extended period, it could be a backdoor means of moving the region to a fiscal union, something that would make the central bank very comfortable. Greece is unlikely to be able to access capital markets for a long time to come. Consequently, loans from official creditors will continue to increase at a rapid pace as the amount of market debt outstanding declines. If the policy approach of the past year were to continue, Greece would have virtually no market debt left by the end of the decade.

There are only two ways to slow the pace of substitution of official liabilities for market debt: privatization and maturity extensions of market debt. There is little controversy about asset sales since they will likely improve economic efficiency and provide private-sector financing. However, maturity extensions have been far more contentious because the ECB stands firmly against anything that would cause rating agencies to put Greece into selective default. In the current environment, this basically rules out any kind of roll-over or maturity extension. ECB council members have focused much of their commentary on the dangers that debt restructuring poses to financial stability. But given that financial markets are already fully pricing in a aggressive restructuring of Greek market debt, a modest maturity extension would not obviously be a systemic shock. Importantly, debt restructuring is not like a light switch that is either on or off. There are many different ways that a sovereign’s debt can be restructured in order to achieve different objectives. In Greece’s case, the purpose of a maturity extension would be both to slow the increase in euro-zone taxpayers’ exposure and to maintain pressure on Greece’s adjustment program.

The ECB’s balance sheet would be exposed in a Greek debt restructuring. However, it’s not clear that the ECB would face losses if the maturity of Greek debt were extended. The ECB’s direct purchases of Greek debt were made at a discount and the collateral in the regular repo operations are valued at market prices, with an additional haircut, drastically limiting the central bank’s credit exposure. The ECB’s argument, that it cannot accept as collateral sovereign debt that rating agencies deem to be in selective default, is a red herring. If the ECB stopped financing the Greek banking sector through its regular operations, Greece’s own central bank would take over through the provision of “emergency liquidity assistance,” which was the Irish solution. In our view, concerns about financial stability and the ECB’s balance sheet do not fully explain its objections to debt restructuring. Recent commentary from ECB council members suggests that the central bank has a political vision for the region that has no role for debt restructuring: ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet clearly expressed this in his speech in Aachen last month, when he called to reinvigorate the momentum towards a political and fiscal union to blanket the euro zone. If the ECB gets its way and the maturity of Greek market debt is not extended, Greece’s sovereign liabilities would end up entirely in official hands. In that event, there will be little choice but to impose additional constraints on its fiscal sovereignty. Some might argue that the ECB’s stance on debt restructuring is inappropriate: The central bank’s independence was meant to ensure price stability, not to enable it to advance a particular political vision. But, as one of the region’s most important supranational institutions, it is not surprising that the ECB should see a pooling of fiscal resources as an aid to the euro’s viability. In many ways the ECB’s behavior continues the longstanding trend in European integration whereby economic facts on the ground force political changes.

Is France on Course to Bid Adieu to Globalization?

As France gears up for next year’s presidential election, one word dominates the main headlines, démondialisation. Although France is not about to stop the world and get off, the emotional debate over globalization could bring policy changes. Globalization has never been a popular concept in France, even though French companies and consumers benefit from global interconnectedness. With the effect of the 2008 financial crisis still biting and emerging economies like China casting long shadows, globalization is more unpopular than ever. The call for “deglobalizing” has begun to spread out from fringe parties into mainstream political parties. The man who personifies the word “deglobalization” is Arnaud Montebourg, 48, a brilliant lawyer, a Socialist Party (PS) member of the French Parliament, and candidate in his party’s primaries for the 2012 presidential election. He most likely stands no chance of winning candidacy against heavyweight personalities like Mayor of Lille Martine Aubry or former PS First Secretary François Hollande. But he hopes to influence the debate enough to become a key member of the new administration in case of a left-wing victory in 2012. Montebourg’s latest book is called Votez pour la Démondialisation! – Vote for Deglobalization! – a lawyer’s plea for France to step back from its embrace of the open-trade approach of the past two decades and promote European-based protectionism to save itself from the wild competition of the global economy. In strong words, he accuses the world of having lost its way. Globalization, Montebourg claims, “has created unemployed in the North and increased the number of quasi-slaves in the South, destroying natural resources everywhere and taking away from people their hard-won right to self-determination.” He describes promoters of globalization as “fundamentalists of free-trade,” who have made the opening of trade barriers a “new religion.” (…..)

YaleGlobal OnLine: http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/france-bid-adieu-globalization