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more (or less) transparency September 28, 2011

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While looking for the judgment in this case dealing with issues of sentencing for conduct during the riots I came across another decision of the Court of Appeal in this case involving the Iraq sanctions regime. The court had some observations on the lack of transparency of English law in this area:

We are most grateful to all counsel for their industry and the help that they have given to the court. It became necessary to ask counsel at the conclusion of the oral hearing to conduct some further research, as no one could be sure that all the relevant subordinate legislation had been found and whether such as had been found was in force at the material time. The work done has revealed serious and significant deficiencies in the system that the Executive branch of the State employs for the making and recording of the type of subordinate legislation in issue in this case….We would wish to make it clear that it is wrong in principle and inimical to the rule of law that legislative provisions which carry such long sentences of imprisonment should be the subject of such legislative techniques which leaves the operation of the scope of the law so uncertain and which, even with the significant resources available to the Crown, is difficult to find. There is no good reason why the Executive Government cannot amend Orders so that the position under the criminal law is clear…
It must be for Parliament and the relevant Departments of State to consider the issues raised in this appeal. They may consider it necessary to take steps to ensure that proper public records are kept of subordinate legislation, particularly that which imposes penal sanctions, and to reconsider the way in which changes to Security Council Resolutions are made compatible with UK domestic law.

isda’s new blog September 27, 2011

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ISDA has a new blog which

will comment on mainstream business and financial media coverage of the derivatives industry. Our hope is that media.comment will help lead to a more informed debate and understanding of the OTC derivatives markets for all our audiences.

Why a blog format rather than (or in addition to) press releases? Who do they hope to reach this way? And of course the aim is rather to influence views about derivatives rather than to produce a more informed debate. On the subject of what losses may eventuate in CDSs on European sovereign debt there’s something of a contrast between the first post on this ISDA blog and this (much more complex and nuanced) posting by Tyler Durden at zerohedge.

declaration to mark 10th anniversary of european day of languages September 26, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : language , 1 comment so far

The declaration is here. Here is the final paragaraph:

In the future, the Council of Europe and the European Commission will continue to work in close co-operation to bring the benefits of Europe’s linguistic diversity closer to the European citizens. The collaboration between the two Organisations will serve to promote the development of competences in the widest possible range of languages in order to enhance mutual respect, improve employability and mobility and to facilitate integration and active democratic citizenship in Europe’s increasingly multilingual and diverse societies.

opaque transparency September 22, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : governance , add a comment

Via the Guardian, here’s what governmental transparency (and better regulation) looks like:

Police forces with some of the worst records of targeting black people have decided to stop recording the ethnicity of the people their officers stop and ask to account for their movements, the Guardian has learned.
Five out of the 10 forces most likely to use stop-and-account powers disproportionately against black people – West Midlands, Avon and Somerset, Thames Valley, Sussex and Hertfordshire – have halted recording the race of people they have stopped. They have used a government change in the rules introduced in March, which was aimed at cutting bureaucracy.

eu financial markets competition: uk treasury takes on ecb September 15, 2011

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Newspapers are reporting the UK’s Treasury plans to fight a European Central Bank plan to require clearing of some financial products in the eurozone, threatening UK based clearers. Here’s some relevant language from the ECB’s document:

Given its mandate to promote the “smooth operation of payment systems”, the Eurosystem has major concerns with regard to the development of major euro financial market infrastructures that are located outside of the euro area, since this could potentially place in question the Eurosystem’s control over the euro.
As a matter of principle, infrastructures that settle euro-denominated payment transactions should settle these transactions in central bank money and be legally incorporated in the euro area with full managerial and operational control and responsibility over all core functions for processing euro denominated transactions, exercised from within the euro area. This is reflected in the policy fundamentals issued by the Eurosystem on the location and operation of infrastructures that settle euro-denominated payment transactions.

international literacy day September 8, 2011

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On this international literacy day UNESCO focuses on the links between literacy and peace.

underinvestment in girls September 1, 2011

Posted by Bradley in : gender , 1 comment so far

Jad Chaaban & Wendy Cunningham, Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls : the Girl Effect Dividend, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper (August 2011):

Although girls are approximately half the youth population in developing countries, they contribute less than their potential to the economy. The objective of this paper is to quantify the opportunity cost of girls’ exclusion from productive employment with the hope that stark figures will lead policymakers to reconsider the current underinvestment in girls. The paper explores the linkages between investing in girls and potential increases in national income by examining three widely prevalent aspects of adolescent girls’ lives: early school dropout, teenage pregnancy and joblessness. The countries included in the analysis are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, China, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The authors use secondary data to allow for some comparability across countries. They find that investing in girls so that they would complete the next level of education would lead to lifetime earnings of today’s cohort of girls that is equivalent to up to 68 percent of annual gross domestic product. When adjusting for ability bias and labor demand elasticities, this figure falls to 54 percent, or 1.5 percent per year. Closing the inactivity rate between girls and boys would increase gross domestic product by up to 5.4 percent, but when accounting for students, male-female wage gaps and labor demand elasticities, the joblessness gap between girls and their male counterparts yields an increase in gross domestic product of up to 1.2 percent in a single year. The cost of adolescent pregnancy as a share of gross domestic could be as high as 30 percent or as low as 1 percent over a girl’s lifetime, depending on the assumptions used to calculate the losses.