Troubles in Mozambique

The trouble with being an economist who writes about Africa is that it has a habit of making you look stupid very quickly indeed.  Even when you try and keep up, I use a VPN like this to regularly connect when I can’t visit,  I’m sure I’m not alone having written a piece full of optimism and economic good news on an African country only to see it all start to fall a part only a couple of years later.  Africa has a habit of doing this, turning the positive around very quickly usually it has to be said as a result of some pretty incompetent leadership.

Mozambique is the latest African country to seem to snatch economic disasters whilst heading for seeming prosperity.   The economy was growing, almost 7% a year for nearly a decade, there was gas discovered off the coast of the country and investors were flocking to the country to help exploit it.   Investment was heading for other areas too, attracted by the political stability,  $850 million of state sponsored bonds in the Tuna fishing industry was eagerly purchased at exceptionally high yields.

Ironically it looks like the ‘tuna bonds’ were the first mistake leading to a growing scandal that looks like destroying the growth of the last few years.  Indeed on January 16th, Mozambique announced to the chagrin of the rest of the world that it would default on it’s international debts.

So why has the government fell into such economic chaos so quickly?   There are some mitigating factors, the global fall in commodity prices have played a part and caused a slowdown in growth to a still respectable 3.4% in 2016.  However as usual the main reason is the economic mismanagement by the government, if you weren’t a citizen of Mozambique it could almost be seen as laughable.

Take the huge investment in the Tuna fishing industry, the state funded industry unfortunately never caught many fish certainly nowhere near enough to repay the generous yields owed on the supporting investment bonds.   This is not actually that surprising because the majority of the investment raised was not spent on fishing boats but rather the sort of boats with guns on the front.    The bonds were hastily swapped for government ones when it became clear they were unsupportable yet almost immediately the Government also admitted that it had hidden further loans of $1.4 billion guaranteed.  This is a huge amount for a country the size of Mozambique and represents almost 11% of their GDP.

Not surprising this sleight of hand dismayed international organisations with the IMF and other donors freezing their existing support.   This is a disaster for a country that despite it’s economic progress still relies heavily on international aid to provide even basic functions and services.   Mozambique’s debt now represents over 110% of it’s GDP and some experts thing even this is optimistic,  however the country is now engaging in a phase of ‘restructuring’.

This is of course merely another way of saying our debts are out of control and we need to bailed out quickly something that the IMF are probably reluctant to do. Missing payments on existing debts is not the way to attract additional funding for obvious reasons.   Few of the existing bondholders are likely to trust the government  after recent events and even the IMF has now insisted on a full of audit of all it’s debts.   There is also the question of where all the original loans and investments have disappeared to as well.

John Williams

Spoof my IP

The Dangers of Digital Law

Laws are in general supposed to make us safer and more secure, I think most of us would agree.  However there are areas where this is not the primary concern and even some where the opposite is true.  This is almost certainly the case in one of the older digital based laws created in the US called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) better known as the DCMA Act.

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It sounds safe enough at first glance but there’s a huge flaw at the very heart of this legislation which could seriously undermine the safety of the internet.  It sounds rather dramatic but it’s certainly a possibility with the increasing reach of devices connected to the internet – particularly the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT) .  The problem is that all of these devices from smart phones through TVs to toasters and fridges all contain software embedded in them in order to communicate across the internet.  Software of course often contains bugs and flaws which can constitute a security risk, in fact there have been many reports of these ‘smart devices’ being used in DDoS attacks.

That’s where the problem lies with the DCMA Act, which contains a law stating that flaws in these devices cannot be disclosed without express permission from the manufacturer of the device.  Consider the issue, a security researcher or ethical hacker discovers a security flaw in a device, they cannot release this information legally and the manufacturer is unlikely to want to publish it’s own security problems.  What happens is that the flaws remain and don’t get fixed, and almost certainly then get exploited by computer hackers.

In fact there are situations where DCMA makes it not only illegal to disclose a software fault but also to fix it.   There have been test cases, most famously brought by John Deere tractors where it has been stated that it is illegal for owners to attempt to fix their tractors instead being forced to return them to dealers instead.  This is because the tractors like most equipment now contain a certain amount of software which control the devices bringing them into the remit of the act.

It’s of considerable concern to all of us, the devices we have bought are not really our property and the issue is extending to all sorts of situations.  We can’t use third party disks or cartridges in printers and game consoles because the manufacturer controls the software and access to that device even after we’ve bought it.  With digital services it’s even more extreme with media giants like Netflix enforcing blocks on proxies and VPNs as described in this article – The Great Netflix VPN Ban.

It’s a dream come to true for the manufacturers who are able to implement specific profit maximizing business models which are extremely restrictive to the end owners.  Control of the device is effectively kept with people who created it not with the people who bought it. Don’t think you can do what you like with that HP printer, because you can’t the law says so!

Further Reading:

Using Residential VPN services: http://www.theninjaproxy.org/technology/is-a-residential-vpn-service-essential-now/

Do I have a Digital Nationality?

Where are you from?  What do you consider your nationality?  For most of us it’s fairly straight forward – we are born, live and even die in a single country.   For others it’s a little more complicated, born somewhere, grow up somewhere else – living a life spread among a variety of countries.   Picking your nationality isn’t always as simple as looking at your passport.

This is further complicated now because of the way we live part of our lives  in the internet ether, most of us have a digital identity too.   You might think it doesn’t matter, after all when your online everyone is just an electronic presence at best a series of numbers making up your IP address.  However here’s the issue, your internet address is part of your identity and seriously impacts what you can and can’t do online.  Your digital nationality might not be something you’ve considered however nearly every web site and online service you use does consider this piece of information.

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The simple fact is that a US citizen using the internet does have a different experience from a Mexican, a European or a Turkish web user.   What you can do, what you can see will vary extensively simply based on that one piece of information – the location of your IP address.   This is your digital nationality and if you don’t believe it, try visiting China and try surfing the internet – you’ll be amazed at the difference.

The global giants who are dominating online multimedia are a perfect example, Netflix for example provides an account which is usable in over 160 different countries.   However it changes based on your location, in fact it varies hugely depending on your physical position.  Unfortunately this means that in many countries, Netflix has nowhere near as many movies available compared to connecting from a US location for example.  It’s so different that many people use software to spoof their location and access a different version, something that has led to this scenario – Netflix Blocking VPNs and Proxies.

Is this all fair? Should your online experience be affected  your location.  Your point of view will probably depend on where you are based – people in the US and Europe for example generally have a much better time online.   Just for illustration, Turkish web users were blocked from Facebook and Twitter for several days last week as the Government decided to restrict access.

There is no doubt that your digital identity is something that we all now need to consider.  To many people think that they are not linked to their online experience,  that they can remain totally anonymous without any privacy tools in place.  Every day millions of people download stolen digital goods like software and movies from torrent sites, thinking that they are safe and untraceable.  The truth is that anonymous torrenting although possible is actually fairly difficult to achieve and it certainly needs some technical tweaking to hide both your identity and location.

The reality is tinged with an element of sadness that commercialization and the need for control is starting to take over the digital world.  In the early days of the internet, your nationality and location was largely irrelevant – we were all just citizens of the world when online.  Those days though are now long behind us and it is imperative that we realise that when we post those funny clips or visiting those controversial websites that these are being linked to our online, digital profiles.

Introduction to Scientific Research Methodology

The true scientific method, or indeed the respected tradition of scientific research, is significantly more dynamic and enthralling than it first sounds. Your first problem might be something mundane like your spellchecker might not recognize scientific terms.  It may be that a particular piece of supporting research is not accessible due to a content filter and you need some tool like an online ip changer. Then, scholarly means utilizing the scientific method. Instead the scientific method ought to be followed.

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The observation is done first so you know how you wish to go about your own research. A critical situation to remember in this stage of the scientific method is the fact that once you develop a hypothesis along with a prediction, you mustn’t change that, even in case the results of your own experiment show which you were wrong. You cannot PROVE the hypothesis with an individual experiment, because there’s a chance that you simply made an error somewhere along the manner. Use appropriate ways of showing data.

Neil Z. Miller reported the following about the scientific evidence the Pertussis Vaccine is believed to be somewhat safe then. An unique case of the real experiment may be the clinical trial. The design of the clinical trial is extremely much like that of the legitimate experiment. Using steroids is actually a severe treatment and can lead to negative side-effects.

Proper scientific research attempts to test the result of a single change in a method by trying to check or screen out the effects due to other changes. The last motive to sample is the fact that testing might be destructive. The 3rd motive to sample is the fact that testing the whole population often produces error. The next motive to sample is it may not be possible to test the whole population.

A hypothesis is just a testable prediction about what will happen given a particular array of conditions. The very first scenario is one where the scientist isn’t attempting to measure an answer to alter, but rather she or he may be attempting to understand the similarities and differences between two subjects. A very intriguing correlation can be observed between the Biblical reference of the formation of the super continent and also the supporting scientific evidence. They’ll be able enough to bring to bear their very own scientific imagination to be able to use regression for a tool to investigate problems about real life.

Ecological validity denotes the degree to which research may be used in real-life situations. Many scientific investigations largely employ one method, but different methods could be combined within a study, or perhaps a sole study might have characteristics of over one method. There are only two standard forms of research linked to the scientific method. What forms of experiments necessary is contingent on the research topic.

Obviously, there are a number of approaches to categorize research methods. Surveys-this is utilized in empirical or exploratory form of research, typically used in business studies. Experiments-this is utilized in exploratory type research. Research design may be exploratory or conclusive.

Research techniques might be applied to a broad selection of issues or regions of research. It will help control variables which may influence a study. Scientific support for the start of time plus matter aren’t the only occurrences that have been noted in research. Surveys in many cases are classified as a form of observational research.

When some people today consider science, they consider formulas and facts to memorize. This method is easily the most significant part science–in truth, it’s called the Scientific Method.” For this particular stage of the Scientific Method, it’s very important to use because many sources because you can find. The Scientific Method is a means to make certain that your experiment can give a superb answer to your own precise question.

Further Reading:  Hans Wolfmann, German proxy and Research methods, Bulcrum Press, 2012

Internet Marketing – Building a Amazon Kindle Business

The Amazon Kindle has opened up a huge area of opportunity for internet businesses. The Kindle has revolutionised the way that millions of people buy their reading matter, which can be instantly delivered to their device minutes after purchase.

Never listen to anyone who says you cannot make a profitable business out of selling information. This is simply a matter of deciding you’re going to do it, and then you put your mind to it and make it happen. When you publish the right info products, you can use them to advance your cause or just sell for a profit. And this all leads up to doing business with Amazon at their Kindle Store. There’s a lot of competition in all niches, so don’t let that bother you and just do what you want to do and make money.

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You can find excellent cover designers that will not charge a lot, and this is an important investment. This is all about marketing, and your design will help or hurt your sales so it’s smart to do this. Amazon has all kinds of uses for your cover, and this actually helps them make more money from your book. Most people who are new to IM have not the slightest idea about designing or even using graphics software, so just outsource this to a professional. There are more places you can market your Kindle book, and this means outside of Amazon. Find all the good forums that allow signature links, and then just join them and start posting. There are mailing lists and other places where you can build blogs or buy advertising. JV possibilities are all over the place, and this also includes social media.

There are some restrictions

You should also think about having your ebook proofed by someone who does this for a living. A proofreader’s primary job is to find grammar, spelling and syntax errors, and this is not the same thing as hiring an editor. A proofreader doesn’t spend much time critiquing the quality of your content, so if you want to make sure that your content is error free-in terms of spelling and things like that. If you’re on a budget, then you just do it yourself and do the best you can and it should be all right.

Sometimes you can find markets are restricted even for digital goods, you may have problems accessing sites for marketing and advertising purposes. These are normally due to geographic restrictions based on your IP address. However using a VPN you can access any of these sites, similar to these instructions about how you can use American DNS for Netflix.

Hey, ebook publishing is a lot of fun even though it’s work, and Amazon Kindle makes it easy to do. Amazon is very affiliate friendly, and they were the first to do affiliate marketing on the web. Don’t forget that you can just keep going and writing ebooks and selling them on Amazon. If you don’t fancy writing your own, sign up for an Amazon affiliate account and start promoting popular titles directly – you’ll not make as much money on each sale but Amazon volume can certainly add up.

Gerald Maximans
http://identityvoucher.co.uk/

Education and the Velvet Revolution

Peace education stands as one of the most undervalued and underfunded points of our educational system that is world-wide. If we look at the typical education curriculum at elementary school, or a high school , which is where youth are most impressionable, any site of compulsory non-violent schooling is almost entirely non existent. Regardless, we often find compulsory history classes, which describe every single war in detail, including its death toll, its generals and all the other players.

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Yet given this educational dilemma that is lopsided, once in a while an enthusiastic humanitarian comes to champion a brand new form of instruction about peace, rather than violence.

The Revolution was named “Velvet” due to its soft and non-violent method of peace.

The power of this movie lies in the way it can capture the essence of the Velvet Revolution and how power shifts when individuals the youth, stand up against protest and repression in a non-violent way. The solidarity of the Czech people was so overwhelming that it forced them to bring in new leadership, namely Vaclav Havel, the leader of the revolution and basically crippled the government.

Broken educational systems could no doubt use this picture as a model to teach students at all levels of education about non-violence’s tremendous impact on world history and it. There’s a host of information online yet it doesn’t make it onto the curriculum of most of our schools, lots even on social media, but again you’ll often find facebook blocked in these situation.

Once peace and non violence become “required” curriculum in schools, especially for teens, we’ll begin to find a shift in our belief system regarding what alternatives are accessible to our issues. If a kid has just seen violence, at home, in history books and in the media, then that kid will act accordingly. If a child sees and is educated peaceful approaches to solve disputes and problems subsequently teens will naturally choose this path for resolution.

James Elsworth

Author of How to Watch BBC Abroad

Will Falling Oil Prices Stimulate US Growth?

Over 75% of economists said their sector or company will feel the consequences of the petroleum cost fall, with 18% anticipating a negative impact, and 57% expecting an optimistic impact, based on a survey in the National Association for Business Economics Monday released.

“By a three-to-one ratio, it is favorable,” said James Diffley, a senior manager at IHS Economics as well as the survey’s chairman. “The 18% though signify those businesses that benefit directly from petroleum and gasoline.

Economical fuel is anticipated to provide a boost in 2013 to the market as consumers turn about and spend what they are saving in the pump. Gasoline costs have dropped to close to $2 a gallon, and therefore are poised to drop below that, among the speediest declines.

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But it is crucial to remember that some of the additional stimulation may be taken away, Mr. Diffley said, as petroleum and gasoline companies scale back investment and development. Other occupations will suffer changes in the supply chain for pipe fitters and tool makers, as just one example.  Other reports are difficult to assess simply because of the problems in assessing if they are genuine, many digital businesses for instance – especially those which hide their identity with fake details – like here.

“That takes off several tenths of the percentage point on the increase the market could have gotten,” he said.

Economists reported enhancing conditions at their companies in the fourth quarter.  These

NABE said only rising prices were reported by 16%, compared with 25% in the July and October surveys. And 65% said they anticipate no change in the costs their companies will charge in the first quarter.

And more than half said economists expect salaries and wages to rise in the following three months, compared with.  Sales increase improved somewhat, with 54% of economists reporting increasing sales compared with.

Ninety three economists-who work for private sector companies or industry trade groups-reacted to the survey, that was conducted from Dec. 18 through Jan. 8.

Additional Reading

The Growth of Economic Inequalities in the USA

A new year is upon us, and there are numerous stories of economic recovery across the world.  However beyond basic growth rates, there is another measure which often reflects more about people’s day to day lives.  I’m referring to wealth inequality and in the USA, it often feels more like the great depression rather than a booming new decade.

The depression of course took place in the 1920s and in those times, as usual the wealthy were pretty much shielded from the worse effects.  In fact during that decade, the wealthiest 10% of the population owned about 84% of the total wealth.  The situation evened out over the next few decades with that figure declining before starting to rise again in the 1980s.  However we’re now reaching levels that are very similar to those of the 1920s with the majority of US wealth held by a small proportion of it’s citizens.

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The statistics are now more accurate so in some senses a direct comparison is not always completely relevant.   However the overall result is the same, the level of wealth inequality in the US is extremely high and only heading in one direction.  You can see some aspects if you watch news and documentaries on the local media.  It’s certainly interesting to view the different perspectives – for US readers try watching the local news from the UK – you can use this, or vice versa for European readers.

Fortunately when these inequalities are combined with a growing economy, the effects seem less severe.  The US is doing pretty well, with unemployment heading to a new 6 year low and the job market consistently expanding.  However when you realise that the richest 0.1 % control as much wealth  as the poorest 90% you realise this is not a fair and equal society.

The rich are in fact getting even richer, while the poorer sections of society are increasingly stepping into levels of significant debt in order to simply survive.  Real incomes are growing, but at a much higher rate for the wealthy than the poorer levels.  In fact with under 1% income growth, it’s not getting much easier for those at the wrong end of the income ladder.

Of course capitalism has always produced such inequalities, but the argument goes that the growth in income actually is down to new businesses and opportunities for all.  However the studies suggest that the growth in wealth is not coming largely from entrepreneurial spirit but merely reflects the fact that the wealth is held in shares and bonds which naturally are worth more as the economy recovers.  Unfortunately this is unlikely to help bring many benefits to society at large, it will just make the rich, well richer!

 Further Reading.

The Eurozone Economic Woes Continue

There never seems to be an end to these stories, as other nations climb from the economic recession and power ahead so the 18 nations in the Eurozone seem unable to achieve any sort of economic progress. Inertia always seems to be the core story, and the latest round of retail figures and business growth surveys continue the depressing narrative.

First the retail sales, which is almost always the first indicator of proper recovery and a precursor of growth. However not in Europe where sales are still falling – down 1.3% for the month of September from the previous month.

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Of course there are many other external factors which may influence such short term fluctuations in retail sales even in a large market like the Eurozone. However investigating growth brings no relief either, with minimal reporting across virtually all the sectors. These particular figures were brought from the Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index. It’s obviously of concern with the main focus of the policy makers in Europe being precisely pushing up growth across the continent..

Normally, the average figures across the Eurozone have been boosted up from Germany, teh country that is normally at the forefront of growth. In these figures though Germany has suffered the biggest fall in retail sales – falling over 3.0% in one month, closely followed by Portugal with 2.5%. Sometimes figures like these can be deceptive though as German consumers are generally very cautious and likely to trim back consumption earlier than many other countries. They are likely to keep spending in certain areas, surprisingly digital sales have actually increased for services like these to access foreign TV like Channel 4 Online, however purchases for bigger goods and services look at best stagnant.

It’s hard to see anything to create any level of optimism, which is probably what German consumers are thinking as they start tightening their economic belts.  All the figures show the picture of an economy staggering along with little signs of improvement, in fact figures suggest a further downturn is more likely than a recovery.

Meanwhile the already conservative forecasts are constantly revised downwards. The Eurozone was predicted to grow by 1.2% in early Spring, this week that estimate was now cut to 0.8% for 2014.  Many consider even this low figure to be optimistic based on these latest figures, which clearly show that there’s no light yet visible to the end of this recession at least not if you’re in the Eurozone.

James Parker

Writer, blogger and part time technology consultant can be tracked across the internet ether through a variety of web and video sites.  His latest technology effort can be found here on the important topic of how to get an American IP Address.

How to Promote Self Esteem in the Workplace

You’ll experience a high ROI if you invest in developing stronger self-esteem among your workers. This lofty goal won’t be achieved overnight, although there’s nothing unusual about worthwhile investments. You have the option to use the services of experts and even read articles on the subject. But you have lived long enough and can use your good judgment to think of some things on your own. Or if you prefer, your company’s human resource department can provide you assistance. It doesn’t really matter what approach you choose; what’s important is that you’ve taken a step that is certain to help your workers and your business.

One effective way to help improve your workers’ self esteem is just to let them know you appreciate them. Don’t think you need to go over the top with this approach. All you really need to do is let them know you are thinking about their welfare from time to time. You can take advantage of group meetings or during reviews to do this. While in these meetings, you have the opportunity to give positive feedback, praise, or even just ask if anyone requires help with anything. Just taking the time to ask about how they’re doing is enough to let them know you’re thinking of them.

It is very common for people to want to feel accepted by others, especially at their place of employment. You might want to consider the working environment like society, but a small version. You need to realize that the same group formation and interactions are going to happen. So it becomes just as important to have a sense of belonging and being accepted at work. Whatever department you work in, or if this is your business, facilitating these positive feelings can actually be up to you. What is encouraging or should be for you is this goal will have an ROI for your business. You will increase productivity at work, especially when people are happier and feel less stress.

There are benefits all round, some which are less obvious. Where the employees are motivated and feel wanted, there’s less requirements for rigid rules and regulations. You can allow more leeway to staff and still watch productivity rise. A typical example is being more relaxed by internet usage allowing staff reasonable and unrestricted access. In a happy work environment this is rarely abused, people use the internet responsibly and sensibly. Otherwise you’ll find draconian restrictions on access essential with employees often using proxies to change IP address using sites like these, to bypass company policy.

If you believe that people are suffering from low self-esteem, there are some effective actions you can take with those suffering with this problem. Even though you are able to do this, it’s a good idea to avoid the appearance of singling them out for these positive reinforcement actions. When people need a little extra help, they should be treated just like everyone else, but a little more help should be given. You could say something nice about them, complimenting them for a job well done. High achievers at your place of employment may not receive your special attention. These people exist at every worksite. What you should do is offer your support to those in need.

One of the greatest challenges you may ever face is making positive changes at your workplace. But as you just read, there are simple measures that can be designed to help boost the level of self esteem. You will have a better business environment overall and it will be well worth your time and effort.

Heather Collins
Smart DNS