Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Earlybird, March 11, 2009

The headlines for today are:

U.S. -- Schools Are Seeking to Separate Boys From Girls; The Excuse, Behavioural Problems (click here for the link to the NYT story): Single-sex classes are being tried as an experiment to address sagging test scores and behavioral problems. We hope this is not the start of some ambitious Democratic Party-sponsored reform to U.S. lifestyle.

BRAZIL -- Statistical Outlier Probably Helped Exaggerate GDP Decline in Fourth Quarter Data (click here for the link to the Valor Econômico story): The use of a statistical resource that was ignored for 13 years was probably the reason behind the steepest-ever drop in Brazilian GDP numbers. The factor was added after some exceptional numbers were found in the data that comprises the GDP survey (for example, the 27 percent drop in car sales reported in November was an atypical number) and therefore, the outlier had to be included in the elaboration of the GDP series for the quarter. Bottom line -- the numbers will have to be revised -- we hope the Brazilians don't end up copying their Argentine statistical agency colleagues ...

BRAZIL -- Minister Mantega Finally Does the Math Homework: GDP Number for 2009 Hardly Will Top 4% (click here for the link to Estado story): Thank God! Unfortunately it will take a recession to prove that Finance Minister Guido Mantega is always wrong -- when it comes to forecasting, formulating economic policy, debating macroeconomic issues, etc. He is the cabinet equivalent to Dunga -- that infamous defensive midfielder, a winning World Cup player in 1994 who is now the coach of Brazil's football team.

VENEZUELA -- Bingo! Chávez Offers Support to Cuba, Endorses FARC's Armed Struggle. Is There Anything New Here? (click here for link to Espectador story): I have to apologise for my awful news judgment. There is nothing new here. But I put it on the Earlybird because ... it's funny. President Hugo Chávez does both things -- but the world knows it. Is this the new CIA Modus Operandi? How boring! We will end up missing those days of cover operations, double dealings with allies and foes, etc.

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