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A new Mediobanca for small and medium-sized enterprises

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Mediobanca was established by Mattioli and Cuccia in 1946, immediately as a joint stock company, and its full name was Mediobanca Banca di Credito Finanziario. It operated from the beginning having, as founding partners, Banca Commerciale, of which Raffaele Mattioli was President at the time, and Credito Italiano.

Enrico  Cuccia  was  an  unsurpassed  analyser  of  balance  sheets  and accounts – in fact, one of his best known witty remarks was the one on Berlusconi’s Fininvest: “Indeed, how much is a TV antenna really worth?” He was General Manager of Mediobanca from its foundation until 1982, when the dual crisis of public and private companies and of the banks that supported them could already be perceived.

What was the logic behind the establishment of this particular financial structure?

Simply to guarantee and meet – in the medium and sometimes long and very long term –   the economic needs of the manufacturing companies, which had been devastated by World War II.

After the banking reform of 1936, of which Mattioli and Cuccia’s father- in-law, Alberto Beneduce, had  designed the  general guidelines –  later imitated in many financial laws following the 1929 crisis, also in the USA- there were many banks that had chosen to operate in the traditional market of savings collection and then in the short-term credit market.

There was, therefore, the lack of a specialized financial structure which worked only for companies, funded them in the medium-long term and finally led them – where possible – to be listed on the Stock Exchange.

At the time, legislation clearly separated credit and savings banks from those that operated for companies and led them to the listed on the Stock Exchange.

It was the most rational way to separate companies from banks, so as to avoid companies’ crisis leading to the death of public savings.

Enrico Cuccia, who certainly did not like the Italian ruling class, except for his friend and old banker Ugo La Malfa, kept Mediobanca clearly out of the many pressures coming from the whole political world.

However, particularly from 1982 onwards, Cuccia had to face very strong tension with the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI) – at the time led by Romano Prodi – that forced the three banks of national interest, namely Banca Commerciale, Banca di Roma and Credito Italiano – which were all within the IRI sphere – not to renew Enrico Cuccia’s term of office.

Nevertheless, there was another factor that led to the inevitable transformation of Mediobanca.

The 1993 Banking Law, in fact, abolished the obligation for banks to be specialised – hence the separation between savings banks and financial credit institutions for medium-long term companies – and a real crisis occurred between the banks participating in the shareholding structure of Mediobanca and the old medium-long term credit institution.

The central idea underlying the 1936 Law, however, was not entirely wrong, even though it was no longer comprehensible in the context of financial globalization.

Either the banks are separated from their clients or the likelihood of a parallel collapse increases disproportionately.

Moreover, the Consolidated Law of the then Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, i.e. the 1993 reform law, put an end to the structural division between banks and anticipated by six years the end of the U.S. Glass- Steagall Act which, in essence, resumed the principles of separation between banks and companies enshrined in the Fascist Banking Law of 1936.

Currently, in Italy alone, 200 billion euros are needed within the next 18 months in view of resuming the path of development and even of mere productive stability, apart from the E.U. governments’ initiatives – albeit necessary – to face the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is the extent of a complete post-war reconstruction. With a view to solving these specific problems, the States have always resorted to forms of extraordinary debt – as was the case with the traditional War Bonds – which are bearer financial instruments with a lower average income than the standard ones, but have a long duration ranging between 7 and 15 years.

Nowadays, however, the securities market is very complex and structured, but we could also envisage a monthly issue of 15-20 year Italy Bonds – a market that is already very large and currently appreciated by savers – with a  1.5-2%  constant  coupon,  the  same  as  the  current  BTPs,  obviously exempt from all present and future taxes, but with a tax credit – if anything – for corporate or retail customers equal to or even higher than the coupon (for example a 3-4% tax credit).

The SMEs’ crisis, however, has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary lockdown of many companies and craft businesses.

Just think that the Italian small and medium-sized enterprises account for over 90% of the total number of companies –  and I am referring to those with less than 20 employees – but receive only 13% of bank loans.

In 2019 there was the biggest drop in loans to SMEs as from 2015.

If we look at the Bank of Italy data processed in early 2020, it turns out that credit to riskier SMEs – calculated on the basis of CERVED criteria – has fallen by 8% for micro-enterprises, but the rating and the amount of bank loans available also for the “safest” SMEs have decreased.

In the meantime, bank loans have increased throughout the Eurozone by 3.7% in continental Europe – hence also in Italy, although only by 3% – with a rate of five percentage points lower in Italy than the trend currently recorded in the rest of the European Union.

A credit crunch for the Italian smaller companies, which makes them very weak, often unable of achieving good globalization, and also inevitably slow in renewing their cutting-edge technologies, but finally prone to the cycle of their short term and loan capital.

One of the reasons for this structural weakness of the Italian SMEs’ finance is, on the one hand, the fact that they have no access to the debt market, with the issuing of bonds or mini-bonds, but, on the other hand, the real European regulatory jungle, which is aimed at reaching one single goal, i.e. to severely lower the credit risk for banks.

All E.U. regulations in the banking sector tend not to grant credit at all to the weaker and smaller SMEs and to consider the usual non-performing loans of companies only as an immediate prelude to bankruptcy.

If we had behaved like this during the huge economic boom of the 1960s, we would still have the rubble of World War II in our major cities.

If a bank follows the completely risk-averse behaviour of a traditional insurance company, then it might as well change business.

Furthermore, the new E.U. regulations in the offing, regarding the regular provision of bank loans to companies and households, are even stricter and more stringent than the international ones – hence money is lent only to those who basically do not need it.

Not to mention the regulations known as Basel II, i.e. the International Convergence of Capital Measurements and Capital Standards developed by the “Basel Committee” established within the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), located in the big tower overlooking the centre of the Swiss city.

Ironically, the BIS was created in 1930 to manage the implementation of the Young Plan, the ingenious and very modern financial operation that cut the war debt of defeated Germany by 20%, dividing it into instalments to be paid every 58 years, with the last one paid in 1988, one year before German reunification.

Unlike this brilliant idea of debt repayment, which was developed in the 1920s, the Basel II regulations, which came into force in 2007, have only one obsessive goal, i.e. to make the banking system stable and radically reduce the companies’ credit risk vis-à-vis the system itself.

In some years after the Basel II regulations, the reduction in loans to companies, and in this case also to large companies, was even 3.5% on average.

It should also be recalled that the Basel III regulations have been in action since January 2013, becoming fully operational in January 2019.

According to the latest data from the Bank of Italy, the decrease in loans to SMEs ranges between 1.9 and 2%.

The estimate is made on the basis of already largely insufficient data.

Furthermore, the weight of bank loans on Italian corporate balance sheets, both of SMEs and large companies is, on average, over 60% of total debt.

In Germany, the United Kingdom and France the bank debt burden on total corporate debt is around 50%.

Hence, if the companies themselves do not take risks on their own and tend to be not only risk averse but also focused on unproductive income, also the banks tend to protect themselves more than usual and even more than it happens with the Basel III regulations.

Hence companies’ low capitalization, but also naive, excessive and bureaucratic formalism of banks, which often forget that their business is to  sell  money  and,  when  giving  information,  put  together  national, European and international standards that, in addition to Basel III regulations, also include the IRFS 9,  created in  2014 to improve and standardize financial information.

Finally, the Italian SMEs pay much more for loans than their competitors because the risk analysis procedure is much more formalized, legalized, bureaucratic and very strict, while the German and French banks serve their business clients in a much more flexible way.

The guarantees are almost always the applicant’s personal ones. This is not even provided for in the various Basel regulations. The rates of access to credit in other European countries are 2-3%, with Italy that, for a low rating company, even goes so far as to charge a 7-8% yearly interest rate.

It should be recalled that currently 92% of Italian companies are micro- enterprises and SMEs, with five and a half million VAT numbers. The average turnover of all these micro-enterprises and SMEs does not exceed two million euros per year.

In France, Germany and Great Britain, the number of entrepreneurs is half of the Italian ones. In France, however, 75% of companies –  which are not SMEs, but medium-sized and large enterprises – are concentrated around Paris, while in Germany – despite the E.U. regulations do not accept it – the banking network is still in the hands of the Länder and of KfW – the equivalent of the Italian investment bank “Cassa Depositi e Prestiti” – which supports all banks in crisis, again in defiance of E.U. regulations.

The bank rating is primarily public, i.e. that of the companies specialised in the sector – which, in Italy, are controlled by CONSOB – and the SMEs often cannot afford to pay large sums of money to the rating companies and also wait for a long time before the rating is made official.

The non-official rating that, instead, Italian banks often adopt is – so to speak – “private”. It is above all the software that the Bank of Italy makes available to banks to evaluate the companies’ balance sheets and accounts, always based on the principle explained by a great and well-known Italian entrepreneur: “the first balance sheet is for everyone and is submitted to the banks; the second one is seen only by company managers and is not made public; the third is very confidential and is seen only by the CEO and the main shareholder, who never speak about it”.

The Bank of Italy’ software studies companies according to a geo-sectoral criterion and following the past trends only of the sector to which they belong.

If the rating turns out to be negative – as is often the case in a phase of crisis and in “mature” sectors, where many SMEs still operate – the bank offers them an 8% interest rate, which is completely off-market, or – as often happens –  does  not grant them any  loan, thus  making them go bankrupt.

Therefore, also the SMEs must be equipped with a “language” suitable for banking procedures, good accounting tools, such as business plans and management budgets, as well as fintech tools, such as business analysis and professional creditworthiness assessments.

At least initially, this could break the wall of incommunicability that separates the business banking clients from the banks’ way of thinking or not thinking at all.

What could be a possible alternative? The private capital market. In Italy there are 1,375 billion euros of private savings which could be invested productively.

In France and Great Britain, the investment in start-ups is on average, year after year, 2.5 billion euros. In Italy it is worth 160 million euros.

The Prime Minister’s Decree known as “Curaitalia” has established the Guarantee Fund for SMEs, which also provides for long-term operations (over 36 months).

However, will the Guarantee Funds and the Credit Consortia be enough to ensure credit flows to SMEs? I do not think so.

According to the latest data, the Credit Consortia have a very low risk profile. They are currently 34 and are subject to the supervision of the Bank of Italy.

In 2019 they issued guarantees to the tune of 7.3 billion euros. Hence, once again, they are not sufficient.

Therefore, we officially propose the establishment of a Medium-Long

Term Credit Bank dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises.

You can have access to it with the same criteria as an ordinary industrial credit bank, which can lead the most promising SMEs to be listed on the

Stock Exchange or can possibly organize an effective market for the mini- bonds issued by any small and medium-sized enterprise.

Ordinary credit banks or, even better, industrial credit banks and companies can be shareholders of our Mediobanca for SMEs. It can also have its own research unit developing analysis and risk profiles for its clients. It can issue debt and credit securities on the market and can also take part in merger, acquisition and expansion operations in foreign markets.

Hence a Mediobanca model specifically adapted to suit Italian SMEs.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Carbon Market Could Drive Climate Action

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Authors: Martin Raiser, Sebastian Eckardt, Giovanni Ruta*

Trading commenced on China’s national emissions trading system (ETS) on Friday. With a trading volume of about 4 billion tons of carbon dioxide or roughly 12 percent of the total global CO2 emissions, the ETS is now the world’s largest carbon market.

While the traded emission volume is large, the first trading day opened, as expected, with a relatively modest price of 48 yuan ($7.4) per ton of CO2. Though this is higher than the global average, which is about $2 per ton, it is much lower than carbon prices in the European Union market where the cost per ton of CO2 recently exceeded $50.

Large volume but low price

The ETS has the potential to play an important role in achieving, and accelerating China’s long-term climate goals — of peaking emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060. Under the plan, about 2,200 of China’s largest coal and gas-fired power plants have been allocated free emission rights based on their historical emissions, power output and carbon intensity.

Facilities that cut emissions quickly will be able to sell excess allowances for a profit, while those that exceed their initial allowance will have to pay to purchase additional emission rights or pay a fine. Putting a price tag on CO2 emissions will promote investment in low-carbon technologies and equipment, while carbon trading will ensure emissions are first cut where it is least costly, minimizing abatement costs. This sounds plain and simple, but it will take time for the market to develop and meaningfully contribute to emission reductions.
The initial phase of market development is focused on building credible emissions disclosure and verification systems — the basic infrastructure of any functioning carbon market — encouraging facilities to accurately monitor and report their emissions rather than constraining them. Consequently, allocations given to power companies have been relatively generous, and are tied to power output rather than being set at absolute levels.

Also, the requirements of each individual facility to obtain additional emission rights are capped at 20 percent above the initial allowance and fines for non-compliance are relatively low. This means carbon prices initially are likely to remain relatively low, mitigating the immediate financial impact on power producers and giving them time to adjust.

For carbon trading to develop into a significant policy tool, total emissions and individual allowances will need to tighten over time. Estimates by Tsinghua University suggest that carbon prices will need to be raised to $300-$350 per ton by 2060 to achieve carbon neutrality. And our research at the World Bank suggest a broadly applied carbon price of $50 could help reduce China’s CO2 emissions by almost 25 percent compared with business as usual over the coming decade, while also significantly contributing to reduced air pollution.

Communicating a predictable path for annual emission cap reductions will allow power producers to factor future carbon price increases into their investment decisions today. In addition, experience from the longest-established EU market shows that there are benefits to smoothing out cyclical fluctuations in demand.

For example, carbon emissions naturally decline during periods of lower economic activity. In order to prevent this from affecting carbon prices, the EU introduced a stability reserve mechanism in 2019 to reduce the surplus of allowances and stabilize prices in the market.

Besides, to facilitate the energy transition away from coal, allowances would eventually need to be set at an absolute, mass-based level, which is applied uniformly to all types of power plants — as is done in the EU and other carbon markets.

The current carbon-intensity based allocation mechanism encourages improving efficiency in existing coal power plants and is intended to safeguard reliable energy supply, but it creates few incentives for power producers to divest away from coal.

The effectiveness of the ETS in creating appropriate price incentives would be further enhanced if combined with deeper structural reforms in power markets to allow competitive renewable energy to gain market share.

As the market develops, carbon pricing should become an economy-wide instrument. The power sector accounts for about 30 percent of carbon emissions, but to meet China’s climate goals, mitigation actions are needed in all sectors of the economy. Indeed, the authorities plan to expand the ETS to petro-chemicals, steel and other heavy industries over time.

In other carbon intensive sectors, such as transport, agriculture and construction, emissions trading will be technically challenging because monitoring and verification of emissions is difficult. Faced with similar challenges, several EU member states have introduced complementary carbon taxes applied to sectors not covered by an ETS. Such carbon excise taxes are a relatively simple and efficient instrument, charged in proportion to the carbon content of fuel and a set carbon price.

Finally, while free allowances are still given to some sectors in the EU and other more mature national carbon markets, the majority of initial annual emission rights are auctioned off. This not only ensures consistent market-based price signals, but generates public revenue that can be recycled back into the economy to subsidize abatement costs, offset negative social impacts or rebalance the tax mix by cutting taxes on labor, general consumption or profits.

So far, China’s carbon reduction efforts have relied largely on regulations and administrative targets. Friday’s launch of the national ETS has laid the foundation for a more market-based policy approach. If deployed effectively, China’s carbon market will create powerful incentives to stimulate investment and innovation, accelerate the retirement of less-efficient coal-fired plants, drive down the cost of emission reduction, while generating resources to finance the transition to a low-carbon economy.

(Martin Raiser is the World Bank country director for China, Sebastian Eckardt is the World Bank’s lead economist for China, and Giovanni Ruta is a lead environmental economist of the World Bank.)

(first published on China Daily via World Bank)

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The EU wants to cut emissions, Bulgaria and Eastern Europe will bear the price

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In the last few years, the European Union has been going above and beyond in dealing with climate change. Clearly, this is far from being a case of disinterested endeavour to safeguard the planet and the environment. On the contrary, the EU’s efforts aim at reinforcing its “normative power”.  In effect, the EU has gained some clout on the international stage, even vis-à-vis faraway countries like Vietnam and China. Yet, in doing so the Union embroiled in the apparent rush for more and more ambitious climate standards and targets. Therefore, Brussels needs to start acting and deliver on its promises to keep staying ahead of the pack. Even more so given US President Biden’s strengthened engagement with friends and foes alike on the climate and human rights.

Last week, the European Commission manifested its acknowledgment of this need by unveiling the Fit for 55 (FF55) growth strategy. Overall, this new, beefed-up Green Deal should reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 55% of their 1990 level by 2030. In some analysts’ view, the FF55 plan is a game changer in the long-term race towards climate neutrality alas. In fact, it could “both deepen and broaden the decarbonisation of Europe’s economy to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.” Moreover, they expect the FF55’s 13 measures to generate a number of positive ripple effects across EU economies.

True, wanting to reduce greenhouse gases significantly by 2030 and reaching net-zero-emission by 2050 goal is commendable under many regards. Still, the FF55 includes a number of measures that could impact ordinary people’s life massively across Europe. Nevertheless, the 27 Member States of the EU are responsible for as little as 8% of global emissions. As such, it is necessary to take a deeper look at how the FF55 will affect different countries and demographics.

The transition’s social cost

The realisation that reduction of capitalism’s dependence on fossil fuels will have serious socio-economic consequences is not at all new. Contrariwise, scholars and politicians have been outspoken about an indisputable “conflict between jobs and the environment”, since the early 1990s. Together, the pandemic-induced recession and the signing of the Paris Accord have brought the notion back on the centre stage.

Factually, pushing the energy transition entails facing mass lay-offs, generalised workforce retraining and taxes hikes on ordinary consumers. For instance, these hardships’ seriousness is evident in the progressive abandonment of coal mining for energy generation in the US. Moreover, the energy transition requires strong popular backing in order to be effective. Yet, measures pursued to achieve environmentally friendly growth tend to generate strong, grassroot opposition. Most recently, France’s gilets jaunes protests shows that environmental policies generate social discontent by disfavouring middle and lower classes disproportionately.

The poorest families and countries will bear the costs

One of the FF55’s main policy innovation regards the creation of a carbon trading market for previously exempt sectors. Namely, companies working int the transport and buildings sectors, be they public or private, will have to follow new rules. As it happened in the energy industry before, each company will have to respect a “carbon allowance”. Basically, it is an ‘authorisation to pollute’ which companies can buy from each other — but the total cannot increase. Despite all claims of just transition, this and other measures will have a gigantic, re-distributional effect within and between countries. And it will be of markedly regressive character, meaning that poorer families and countries will pay more.

Taxing transport emission is regressive

Historically, these sectors were trailing behind most others when it comes to decarbonisation for a variety of reasons. First of all, the previous emission trading system did not include them. Moreover, these are far from being well-functioning markets. As a result, even if the cost of emissions was to rise, enterprises and consumer will not react as expected.

Thus, even as they face higher costs, companies will keep utilising older, traditional vehicle and construction technologies. With taunting reverberations on those poorer consumers, who cannot afford to buy an electric car or stop using public transport. Hence, they “will face a higher carbon price while locked into fossil-fuel-based systems with limited alternatives.” Moreover, the EU could worsen these effects by trying to reduce the emission fees on truck-transported goods. Indeed, the commission is proposing a weight-based emission standard that would collaterally favour SUVs over smaller combustion-engine car and motorbikes. 

In a nutshell, higher taxes and fee will strike lower-class consumers, who spend more of their incomes for transportation. Even assuming these households would like to switch to low-emission cars and buildings, current market prices will make it impossible. In fact, all these technologies ten to have low usage costs, but very high costs of acquisition. For instance, the cheapest Tesla sells at over €95,000, whereas a Dacia Sandero “starts at just under €7,000.”

Eastern Europe may not be willing to pay

At this point, it is clear that the FF55 plan will deal a blow to ongoing efforts to reduce inequalities. In addition, one should not forget that EU Member States are as different amongst them as they are within themselves. Yet, the EU is not simply going to tax carbon in sectors that inevitably expose poorer consumers the most. But in doing so it would impose a single price on 27 very diverse societies and economies. Thus, the paradox of having the poorest countries in the EU (i.e., Central- and South-Eastern Europe) pay the FF55’s bill.

To substantiate this claim, one needs to look no further than at a few publicly available data. First, as Figure 2 shows, there is an inverse relation between a country’s wealth and consumers’ expenditures on transport services. Thus, not only do poorer people across the EU spend more on transport, poorer countries do as well. Hence, under the FF55, Bulgarians, Croatians, Romanians and Poles will pay most of the fees and taxes on carbon emission.

Additionally, one should consider that there is also a strict inverse relation between carbon emissions and the minimum national wage. In fact, looking at Figure 3 one sees that countries with lower minimum wages tend to emit more carbon dioxide. On average, countries with a minimum salary of €1 lower emit almost 4.5mln tonnes of carbon dioxide more. But differences in statutory national wages explain almost 32% of the cross-country variation in emissions. So, 1.5 of those extra tonnes are somehow related to lower minimum salaries and, therefore, lower living standards.

The EU’s quest for a just transition: Redistribution or trickle down?

Hence, the pursual of a ‘just’ transitionhas come to mean ensuring quality jobs emerge from these economic changes. However, many of the FF55’s 13 initiatives may worsen disparities both within countries and, more importantly, between them. Thus, the EU has been trying to pre-empt the social losses that would inevitably come about.

From the Just Transition Fund to the Climate Social Fund

In this regard, the European Union went a step forward most countries by creating the Just Transition Fund in May. That is, the EU decided to finance a mix of grants and public-sector loans which aims to provide support to territories facing serious socio-economic challenges arising from the transition towards climate neutrality [… and] facilitate the implementation of the European Green Deal, which aims to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050.

Along these lines, the FF55 introduces a Climate Social Fund (CSF) that will provide “funding […] to support vulnerable European citizens.” The fund will provide over €70bln to support energy investments, and provide direct income support for vulnerable households. The revenues from the selling of carbon allowances to the transport and building sectors should fund most of the CSF. If necessary, the Member States will provide the missing portion.

The EU Commission may give the impression of having design the CSF to favour poorer households and countries. However, it may actually be a false impression. In fact, it is clear that the entire carbon pricing initiative will impact poorer household and countries more strongly. However, only a fourth of the carbon pricing system’s revenues will go to fund the CSF. The remaining portion will finance other FF55 programmes, most of which have a negative impact on poorer communities. Thus, despite the CSF, the final effect of the entire FF55 will be a net redistribution upwards.

Stopping a redistribution to the top

Nevertheless, there is a way to fix the FF55 so that it can work for poorer households and lower-income countries. Given that the CSF is too small for the challenge it should overcome, its total amount should be increased. In fact, the purpose of higher carbon pricing is in any event not to raise revenue but to direct market behaviour towards low-carbon technologies—there is thus a strong argument for redistributing fully the additional revenues

Hence, the largest, politically sustainable share of carbon-pricing revenues from transportation and housing should ideally go to the CSF. In addition, the Commission should remove all the proposed provision that divert CSF money away from social compensation scheme. In fact, poorer families will not gain enough from subsidies to electric car, charging stations and the decarbonisation of housing. One contrary, “using the fund to support electric vehicles would disproportionally favour rich households.”

Finally, the allocation of CSF money to various member states should follow rather different criteria from the current ones. In fact, the Commission already intends to consider a number of important such as: total population and its non-urban share; per capita, gross, national income; share of vulnerable households; and emissions due to fuel combustion per household. But these efforts to look out for the weakest strata in each country could backfire. In fact, according to some calculations, a Member State with lower average wealth and lower “within-country inequality could end up benefiting less than a rich member state with high inequality.”

Conclusion

A number of well-known, respected economist have been arguing that environmental policies should account for social fallouts attentively. Goals such as emission reduction and net-zero economies require strong popular support in order for the transformation to succeed. Or at least, the acquiescence of a majority of the public. Otherwise, the plans of well-intentioned and opportunistic governments alike will derail. After all, this is the main lesson of the currently widespread protest against the mandating of ‘Covid passes’ and vaccines.

If the FF55 will deal poorer households a devastating blow, social unrest may worsen — fast. But as long as it will also hurt Eastern European countries as a whole, there is a chance. Hopefully, European parliamentarians from riotous Hungary or Poland will oppose the FF55 in its current shape. Perhaps, in a few years everyone will be thankful for these two countries strenuous resistance to EU bureaucracy. Or else, richer countries may force Central- and South-Eastern Europe to swallow a bitter medicine. Even though, whatever happens, Europe alone cannot and will not save the planet.

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Entrepreneurialism & Digitalization: Recovery of Midsize Business Economies

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Observe nations around the world, especially those with the largest numbers of IT professionals, rich and well-groomed government departments and their related agencies, with matured bureaucracies and unlimited numbers of computers but still no signs of thriving digital economies buzzing on global platforms. What is so mysterious about digitization of small medium businesses, smoothly leading to ‘virtualization of economies’ creating global bounce of trade? Well, it is surrendering to the realization that entrepreneurialism is the main driving engine of such challenges and not the herds of IT teams, deluxe bureaucracies and accountancy-mindsets.

What is a digital economy? It is definitely not when all businesses have websites and are all doing social media postings, at the outset understanding  digitalization of a single enterprise is already a fine art, and to make it fly on global trade platforms is a science. Unless economic development teams can articulate, what is and how ‘virtualization of economies’ work, uplift and upskill vertical trade sectors and create an entrepreneurial bounce of trades’, the entire exercise of digitization might as well leave to early video game players or early grader IT personnel. Observe how The Silicon Valley and e-Commerce revolutions of the world never created by large IT teams, but categorically by “techie-entrepreneurs” of the day that in turn occupied millions of IT professionals and created hundreds of millions IT experts driving e-commerce of today. Of course, IT teams needed but in very reverse order.

Why is the digital economy an entrepreneurial economy?  Digitization of the economy is simply not an IT exercise rather a strategic entrepreneurial maneuver of placing a midsize business economy on wheels using easily available digital platforms with abundance of software to choose from to make right entrepreneurial-based decisions to create creative bounce. The survival strategies for the post pandemic economies have less to do with accountancy-mindsets and bureaucratic attitudes, as it is all about entrepreneurial global age execution with superior digital performances.

Calling Entrepreneurial Business Mindsets:  The new horizons beyond pandemic call for “simultaneous synchronization” a need to merge ‘mental-blocks’ the lingering ‘productivity-silos’ ‘digital-divides’ ‘mental-divides’ all such negative forces balanced with positive forces of ‘innovative excellence’ and ‘superior-performance’ thrown all in an entrepreneurial-blender to make a great progressive multi-flavored shakes. To mix and match with our realty checks of today and the blended calamites; Economy + SME + MFG + AI + VR + AR + Officeless + Remote + Occupationalism + Globalization + Exports + Upskilling, all in one single sandbox need progressive advancements with entrepreneurial guts and clarity of vision for any serious stable economic balance. If such were a monopoly game, printing of currency would be the norm.  

National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism: Needed are deep studies of the prolonged trajectory of entrepreneurial intellectualism spanning a millennia… the word ‘entrepreneurialism’ was only invented over a century ago… but our civilization was built on similar principles, driven and strong people. Declare an economic revolution as a critical cure to desolate periods and call the nation but will they listen? With credibility of institution and political promises tanked, audible to the populace now is the grind of mobilizations, thundering deployments of action packed strategies, but how do you fund them? National mobilization of entrepreneurialism is the hidden pulse of the nation, often not new funding dependent rather execution hungry and leadership starved, so what makes it spin? Entrepreneurial warriors

As if a silent revolution mobilized, the nouveau entrepreneurialism in post pandemic economy in action, where talents on wings of digitalization, flying on trading platforms, visible in smart data and shining amongst upskilled midsize economies. Lack of upskilling, lack of global-age expertise, and most importantly lack of entrepreneurialism is what keeps digitization of economies lost in the past. How naïve is it to believe post-pandemic economic issues some PR singsong election campaigns? Only deployment, execution, mobilization will be the message now acceptable by the billions displaced, replaced and misplaced workers, but what is stopping nations, their Ministries and trade groups to have all out discussions and table immediate action plans? Ouch, do not forget the entrepreneurial blood in the economic streams, exciting the bureaucracies and accountancy-mindsets.  The next 100 elections over the coming 500 days will be full of surprises, but serious transformation for survival is inevitable, with or without upskilled ministries of commerce. Which nations and regions are ready to engage in this tactical battlefield of global-age skills?  Study how Expothon Africa is in deployments with selected countries.

The deciding factors: Never ever before in the history of humankind,the economic behaviorism across the world suddenly surrendered to a single calamity, affecting the majority of the global populace suffering in prolonged continuity. The side effect of such complexity juxtaposed with technological access can bring sweeping changes to our assumed complacency. All traditional problem solving and conventional thinking styles now considered too dangerous to economic growth and social balances.  

Recommendation and Survival Strategies: Discover and establish authoritative command on digitization and virtualization of economies, study more on Google.Allow micro-small-medium enterprises a tax-free window on the first USD$5-10 million revenues in exports, this will create local jobs and bring foreign exchange. Allow micro-small-medium enterprises free access to all dormant Intellectual Property, Patents rolled up due to lack of commercialization. Allow Academic Experts on innovative technologies and related skills on free voucher programs to the SME base to uplift ideas and special expertise. Optimization of telecommunication and internet structures worth trillions of dollars with global access at times completely ignored and wasted by wrong mindsets deprived of entrepreneurial undertakings. Allow micro-small-medium enterprises free full time MBA as 12 months interns so MBA graduates can acquire some entrepreneurialism while enterprises can uplift their ideas in practice.

“Allow Million qualified foreign entrepreneurs to park within your nation for 5-10 years under a special full tax-free visa and stay program. Which nations have qualified dialogue on such affairs? Bring in, land million entrepreneurs in your nation, and create 10 million plus jobs and new wealth in following years. Let your own institutions and frontline management learn how such economic developments created.  Be bold, as the time to strategize passed now time to revolutionize has arrived”. “Excerpted from keynote lecture by Naseem Javed, Global Citizen Forum, Dubai, 2013.”

Allow National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism Protocols mandated to engage trade and exports bodies. Allow National Scoring of entrepreneurialism to measure, identify and differentiate required talents. Digitize from top to bottom and sideways, futurism fully digitized and without real transformation, it is like a nation without any internet. Act wisely. Digitalization of economies without entrepreneurial minds is more like pre-pandemic archives of mostly failures. Needed are the economic revolutions, based on entrepreneurial meritocracy and national mobilization of midsize economy.
The rest is easy 

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