By Alexander Apostolides on August 30, 2010

May you live in interesting times?

Terry Practhet wrote a fantasy book whereby two characters that had a different view of the world: One thought the title above was a curse and the other thought the ability to live in interesting times was heaven.

What fascinates me most when I switch between Malta and Cyprus is how reassuringly boring Maltese news are. Coming from a country that has seen, felt and is still experiencing the fruits of war and communal violence, I am struck by the fact that a great many of the social and economic problems of Cyprus are held behind due to the massive and continual exposure to the Cyprus problem.

A case in point: The front line in the times of malta was that "Birdwatchers return to look out for illegal hunting and trapping", while in Cyprus the front page of Kathimerini was about the possibility (if the hard negotiations work out) that famagusta might be returned to its citizens, who have been displaced since 1974.

We in Cyprus are being constantly ignoring issues that are just overshadowed by our collective national tragedy. I am struck at the potentially huge benefit that the society and economy that a solution would bring: we can finally then concentrate on the issues that have not been resolved not because of the their direct connection to the Cyprus problem but due to the fact they have been sidelined for over 40 years.

While the issue remains unsolved, we all suffer the consequences of a society with one tracked mind. Pyrgos, who followed the general trend of Greek Cypriot in voting no in the 2004 referendum, has remained dependent on government handouts for survival, while a solution would have solved the area's problems of communication and employment near instantly.

So give me boring news, over interesting times any day, and lets hope that there is a solution imminent in order for us to shift our attention on things that affect the everyday lives of Cypriots.

By Alexander Apostolides on August 06, 2010

Another worrying development for Obama - The economists fleeing his economic plans

Blomberg reports that Christina Romer, most notable for reconstructing the GDP of the USA during the Great Depression to tell a more controversial story, has also resigned Obama's economic team and is set to go back to teaching.
Although it is perhaps uncertain if Romer was a supporter the slightly Kenysian "spend spend spend" stimulus package of Barak Obama, the failure of the stimulus package in providing job growth is apparently making academics distance themselves from the effort.
I personally think academics should chose which side of fence - abstract academic thinking or policy making, and once they make their choice they should be made to carry their repercussions through. Oh and on a silly note, Mr. Obama, i am quite happy to take over Ms. Romers position, since i have also reconstructed GDP during the Great Depression.
Happy Holidays Everybody!

By Michalis Zaouras on August 03, 2010

Cyprus TV digital platform

Unfortunately we are witnessing another failure of the Cypriot authorities to control for the failures of the market. The market for television is far from competitive; I think the most robust argument to prove this statement is the subscription fees charged by the private channels (see mi-vision, nova, LTV). The main reason for the upnormal fees is the right to broadcast football matches which turns these companies to a monopoly against the fans of a particular team. However recently we have been experiencing another example of anti-competitive behavior. To be more specific I am referring towards the parties that are bidding to buy the rights for the new digital platform.

Three main parties have been trying to capture this new tool: Cyta, Cyprus telecommunication authorities, LGR and a consolidation of eight private channels. As for the last player, it seems to me obvious that there is a collusion going on. Additionally I would really like to know why the anti-trust authority has allowed for such a “consolidation” to be created and bid in order to acquire the new platform.