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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Bonobo What?

Many thanks to Brad Delong for some extremely flattering comments about me today (here), so just in case anyone should walk in unsuspecting: what exactly is Bonobo Land. Bonobo Land is my day-to-day web diary, where I try to bring together my thoughts about economic, technological or other topics which catch my eye. In particular I am interested in the ways in which the process of global aging is affecting our economic and social structures. It is my opinion that it impossible to really understand why we are witnessing continuing economic problems in Japan, or why Germany finds growth more and more difficult to achieve, or why the Euro zone is having so much difficulty with the stability pact if you don't take the changing demographic environment into account. I feel it is no accident that we are facing what Steven Roach calls global deflationary headwinds at the very moment when our populations have started to age. It certainly didn't seem to surprise us too much when rapidly rising populations - especially those post baby boom impacts - were accompanied by strong inflationary pressures. So my view is that all the emphasis on structural reforms to produce growth is misplaced if we don't incorporate at the centre of our programmes that most important structural reform of all, the migratory (or immigratory) one. At present the population and savings imbalances which characterise our planet are indeed producing massive population movements, but these movements are largely disorganised and chaotic, and often take an irregular or even clandestine form. We in the West (or East in the case of Japan) have to stop being hypocrites here, and face up to the scale of our responsibilities. The freer movement of population, and a global framework to make this possible, is one of the most urgent structural reforms on our collective agenda, otherwise our reform process will only be another re-run of the proverbial Hamlet absent the prince.

Finally, my identification with bonobos. While the name itself is probably a metaphor, it is also true that I cannot help but be drawn towards these near relatives of ours, in particular towards their ludic and non-aggressive techniques for defusing tension and resolving conflicts.

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