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Archive for December 2008

A day of Ecuador

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A couple of independent news items from Ecuador have me thinking of the country I lived in from 2003 to 2004.

First the really bad news…Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa recently announced that Ecuador will be unable to pay interest on its international debt. The decision has been made to default on $3.9 billion in international bonds. In the short run, this means that Ecuador is going to see a significant drop in interest from international lenders. In the medium to long run, Goldman Sachs predicts that this decision precludes a detachment from the exchange rate policy of dollarization that has been implemented since 2000. In stable times, detachment from the dollar might cause some disruptions, but could be managed. Forced detachment because lending has dried up will certainly make the switch more chaotic.

Second bit of news is that the former mayor of Guayaquil, President of Ecuador, and Senator of Guayas and long time firebrand, León Febres Cordero, has died of lung cancer. This is a man, who at the age of 73 got in a fist fight on an airplane with another member of the Senate. At a social gathering in Guayaquil, the younger brother of Febres Cordero once explained to me with a great deal of pride how León and his mafia cleaned the streets of Guayaquil with an iron fist and. This man, supported by many in Ecuador, was a true throwback to the Old West days, as suggested in this quote:

During the toasts at a state dinner given by President Reagan in 1986, Mr. Febres Cordero briefly summed up his philosophy, “I must confess that I’m still an addict to Westerns.”

Written by Niall

December 17, 2008 at 10:57 am

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Crazy talk

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This is kind of like blaming the baby for throwing herself and the bathwater out.

Harare blames retailers for price inflation

Written by Niall

December 8, 2008 at 5:02 pm

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Bamboo Bike

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There are some interesting alternatives being tested in Africa for bike delivery and sales. One option here in Zomba, Malawi is offered by Africycle. This is an organization run by a great group of Canadians, using bike donations mostly from the Toronto area.

This article in The Economist presents an interesting twist on bike offerings. By constructing bike frames from bamboo and imported parts, one organization in Ghana plans to begin sales of a new style of bike.

Great initiative. My main concern is the durability, number of gears and the price level. The article puts the cost at $55, sounds like a good price, but low quality bikes are already available at similar prices. Can a bamboo bike fill the quality gap?

Written by Niall

December 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm

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Sick and dry in Harare

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This is the worst result of government failure in Zimbabwe.

Lack of resources to treat the water supply has left citizens of Harare without water. Without a main source of water and while rains remain unreliable, the poor are bound to seek out unsanitary sources of water and perpetuate the spread of cholera, which has already killed an estimated 473 people and infected more than 11,000.

Written by Niall

December 2, 2008 at 2:32 pm

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