Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something when new elections start, which starts the second scenario, Panglossy. The new Everstatan government, dependent upon past thinking, decides that a return to economic efficiency through growth is the key to the crisis. Its first measure, to raise the minimum wage, fails to boost growth through consumption. The second, longer term, policy, which promotes green growth through infrastructure investment, starts with the preparation of the first high level conference of ISSIGE. Notably, funding through the emission of bonds, which should promote a lever effect by involvement of the private sector, is decided. The new international meeting group for the resilience of the financial system IRESFIS also convenes, but with no progress as the lenders’ nexus is as strong as ever.
(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading.)
Actually, the lenders’ nexus has even seen its position reinforced. The ISSIGE, by deciding to issue bonds, which go through the private banking system, and by hoping for leverage, has reinforced the dependency of the nation-states and its governing bodies upon the lenders’ nexus as well as upon any private actor with liquidity. The political weight that is put on the ISSIGE success, notably because it has been framed in terms of growth, which is crucial according to the past worldview, on the one hand, and, on the other, because of the global increasingly urgent need for investment, further strengthens the immediate power of the lenders’ nexus.
However, a large part of the investment deficit has been and is created by companies and lenders that have been seeing more (short-term) profit in not investing than in investing for years. This perception of the profits private companies and lenders could get – the return on investment – affects the perception of risks. It thus, most probably, contributes to lead private actors to ask the public (i.e. the nation-state) to bear the cost of all risks attached to green growth investment, from “where returns cannot be monetized or appropriated by the investor” to “risks that are more perceived than real, e.g. demonstration of a proven technology” (Global Green Growth Forum, March 2012, p.2). Actually, considering the overall investment deficit, it seems that it is not only green growth investments that are concerned.
Furthermore, all actors evolve within a paradigm that enounces that the private sector is best and knows best how to run everything and to provide for any goods and services. This favours the idea (even if it is never couched in such crude terms) that, if the private sector must contribute to invest, then it can do so only by obtaining the same high profit rates it could get by placing its cash surplus – the liquidity – elsewhere, i.e. notably in the bubbles of the financial market. It is thus up to nation-states to pay for the difference. Again, this leads to a blatant appropriation of public wealth and power.
Considering the existing public deficit, the private ownership of the related debts, the prevalent worldview and the various ideological and material stakes to keep it, there is, however, no other solution. To find another way would demand that at least one of the prevalent conditions change, so as to rebalance the negotiating power of actors (see, for a detailed explanation, “The powerful Everstatan elite under threat?” in Everstate, setting the stage (2) and 2012 EVT: Public Resources and Lenders).
Once the ISSIGE funding process is set up, the ISSIGE summit may take place. In a nutshell, the criteria the framework projects’ proposals will have to meet are as follows:
- transboundary projects involving at least two countries,
- fostering economic growth,
- green projects that are environmentally and economically sustainable,
- improving or creating infrastructures that provide a service and/or allow overcoming identified and felt environmental threats.
Once the framework projects are selected, then a usual legal bid system to compete for and be awarded public markets will be used. Legally, the system of the countries where the project will be implemented can be used indifferently. The delegates, once the summit ends, have six months to define framework projects proposals. Some of those proposals will then be chosen by the network of delegates and become the ISSIGE framework projects for the year. The network will make sure that each member country receives the same value in terms of funding of projects.
The summit is considered a success by the various member states. The very identification and presence of the delegates, on the one hand, having been able to agree upon and set up the process, on the other, are seen as the very first achievement of ISSIGE. A strong communication campaign is organised around this theme.
Yet, in terms of everyday life, for Everstate citizens, there is no improvement whatsoever, besides the efforts of the various administrations they witness. On the contrary, the situation appears to grow worse, slowly and inexorably. The administrative time, notably when it involves the coordination linked to multinational governance, seems to be increasingly disconnected from and ill-suited to a real world where problems follow their own dynamics.
Because of the transparency surrounding the process that allows for proper information, because citizens know that green investments are crucial, while being aware of the complexity of the task and finally because Everstatans hope for a direct improvement in their lives once the projects start, as has been promised, they bear with their rising hardship and fear.
For real life discussions on green growth investment & financing, as well as on investment deficit:
3GF, Global Green Growth Forum, FINANCING Preparatory Strategy Meeting, 26-27 March 2012.
Caranci, Beata & Chris Jones, “Milking America’s Cash Cow: The Case For Stronger Investment Growth,” Special Report, TD Economics, May 25, 2012.
Climate Policy Initiative and the World Bank Group in collaboration with China Light & Power and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Inaugural Meeting of the San Giorgio Group: Expanding Green, Low-Emissions Finance, October 2011.
Euractiv.com, “‘Project bonds’ launched as an experiment,” 23 May 2012.
European Commission, Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative, Investment needs, last updated 19/10/2011.
Hutton, Will Companies must stop hoarding cash and start investing instead, The Observer The Guardian, 19 February 2012.
Klein, Ezra, America’s capital investment deficit, Washington Post, December 31, 2010.
Pan European Networks, “‘Project bond’ plan approved by diplomats,” 22 May 2012.
World Economic Forum, Financing Green Growth in a Resource-constrained World Partnerships for Triggering Private Finance at Scale, 2012.
Zarroli, Jim, Companies Sit On Cash; Reluctant To Invest, Hire, August 17, 2011, NPR.
Zenghelis, Dimitri, “Restoring growth and confidence through green innovation,” E!Sharp, June 2012.