Spain’s economy goes from existential threat to existential threat. It all started in the 90s with the country betting its future on the construction sector and then running out of credit by 2008. This crisis left Spain with a quarter of its population trained to do something for which there was no more demand. The crisis was aggravated by the socialist party being in denial which led to runaway deficits of over 10% of GDP. This accelerated indebtedness was combined with poor quality bank balance sheets, the result of holding so many devalued real estate assets. Fortunately Spain avoided bankruptcy and default thanks to the EU bailout and the economy started to recover. But the economic disaster, the great Spanish recession, the 50% youth unemployment opened the door to two populist movements. One is Podemos, the Syriza style Spanish fantasy that says that we can spend much more, renegotiate our debt, and somehow get away with default. This movement was extremely successful and recently won the cities of Madrid and Barcelona. And together with this populism another flavor of blame others for your shortcoming movement emerged in force in Catalonia, the independence movement rose blaming all the economic ills of the region on Spain. This is absurd because Catalonia has been managed for generations by politicians who are as corrupt and as incompetent as the rest of Spain, went bankrupt borrowing more than any other region, and was actually saved by Spain. So when cornered, the Catalan leadership played the independence card, always a powerful way to draw attention away from you.
Spain first almost defaulted because of runaway deficits, then flirted again with financial disaster electing pro default Podemos, and now the newly gained still fragile stability is threatened by pro independence candidates in Catalonia. These leaders age that they will use the threat of not paying the 20% of debt corresponding to Catalonia as a means to gain independence.
What is the solution? A well designed independence referendum that clearly explains the consequences of independence and allows Catalans to decide on their future. The results would likely be the same as in the UK but if they aren’t nothing much will happen to Spain if Catalans become independent with their own regional debt plus their share of the national debt. But Rajoy’s hard line and the Catalans blame it all on Spain strategies are made for each other, and may result in chaos and indeed another possible near default.
Greeks voted to default.
Both alternatives were bad but staying was the better choice. Greece reminds me of my native Argentina.
Greeks vote for easy political solutions of poor economic outcome. Both Argentina and Chile had over borrowed in 2000, Argentina chose to default. Chile did not. 15 years later we can see that Chile did much better. Argentines, who as Greeks today, also celebrated default as an act of patriotism, ended up struggling more than Chile who paid its creditors.
Recently Argentina went back into default. Few want to invest, Argentina is still an international business pariah. Chile instead, is the economic star of South America. Tsipras said he asked for a “No” vote so Greeks could negotiate better terms to stay in the euro. Greeks believed him.
They will soon learn that they were deceived. Greece will run out of euros, leave the euro and go through much more pain than it would have gone had they voted yes. Argentina still has runaway inflation, currency controls, and a fractured society of haves and have not. Exchanging pesos to dollars is still illegal, Argentines live in fear of their savings being once more raided by the government, as it will probably happen this week in Greece.
And this is in spite of having an incredible commodity export capability unavailable to Greeks. Greece has little to export other than tourism. A devaluation will attract cheap tourism, something that Greece doesn’t need. Greeks will work harder to make less euros. Not a bright future ahead.
Terrorists calling themselves Muslims killed mostly other Muslims and some non Muslims in horrific attacks in Tunisia, France, Kuwait, Somalia and Kurdistan, all today. That is already extremely troubling. But what is as concerning is world apathy towards terrorism. These attacks have a combined number of victims greater than the Atocha attack in Spain of 2004. There is close to 500 injured and over 200 dead. But we are getting so used to terrorism that media doesn’t care as much. Children, women, tourists, worshippers all dead and my news feeds mostly talk about Uber in France. Is this another normal day? Are we getting used to a world in which hundreds die in the hands of Islamic State every day?
US spends more on health care than any other nation, yet Americans live less than those in any developed nation. US spends almost half of what the whole world spends in the military, yet it almost loses every war. US spends more on police and incarceration per capita than any other developed nation yet it has the highest homicide and crime rates. And yet USA has the best managed corporations, the most Nobel Prizes, the best universities, the most creative and recognized writers, movie makers, artists, Internet companies. What surprises me about US is the failure to recognize how broken defense, health care and the administration of justice are. Especially when everything else in the USA is so incredibly well managed. If US cut military and incarceration spending by 20% it could give affordable college, housing, and health care to all of those who need it. And it would be probably as safe as other developed nations who offer these protections to all their citizens. If you want to understand why European countries, Australia, Japan have populations who live longer, commit less crime, go much less frequently to jail and are on the average healthier and better educated, you just need to see how they allocate their government budgets. They spend proportionately less on the military, less on police, less on the legal system, less on health care, more on redistribution of income, more on education.
When I started this company 9 years ago, I was motivated by a problem I encountered on a trip to Paris. I desperately needed to use WiFi, but I could not find any open WiFi signals. So, I started Fon with a mission – to cover the world with accessible WiFi.
Since then, Fon has grown from that idea to the world’s largest WiFi network. We have built that network together with leading telcos around the globe. Today, you can find dense Fon WiFi coverage in most countries in Europe, Brazil, and Japan – and we recently announced the extension of our footprint to Australia.
We have been preparing the Vodafone-Fon partnership for a long time, and today I can proudly say that Spain will soon be covered with dense Vodafone-Fon WiFi. We will also finally cover Italy, a country that I love and have had close ties to since my youth.
This achievement is extremely gratifying, as I have fulfilled a promise I made to many loyal Foneros and Fon supporters.
It is an honor to welcome Vodafone to our network of partners. Vodafone has been leading innovation in telecommunications for decades. Working together with Vodafone on their WiFi strategy is a big step forward for Fon and for WiFi overall. Together we will continue to explore ways to expand our footprint further and work on an optimal interaction of LTE and WiFi.
Vodafone customers can also be excited. People need to be constantly connected whether at home or on the go. With the increasing data consumption of mobile devices, and rapid growth of WiFi only devices, ubiquitous WiFi becomes the perfect complement for 3G/4G!
I would like to thank the Fon team for their hard work in making this happen. Over many years, people at Fon have worked tirelessly on implementations all over the world. Though our technology is “made in Spain”, employees had to go abroad to enjoy the fruits of their labor and see what it means to experience dense Fon WiFi coverage. That will change with extensive coverage at our doorstep.
Fon has almost 15 million WiFi hotspots globally. With Vodafone Italy and Spain, we will add more than 2 million hotspots before the end of the year. With this new partnership and the growth of our existing partnerships I am confident, that we will be able to reach 50M hotspots globally in few years.
Our mission remains. Vodafone-Fon takes us a huge step closer to blanketing the world with accessible WiFi.
Thanks for all of your support!
As parents we are supposed to teach our kids to be patient. But in my case one big learning from being a parent has been to learn to be patient myself. To enjoy being patient. Today in Miami I spent hours at the playground, playing with stuffed animals, throwing ball at the pool, following David and Mia around the garden playing hide an seek and uselessly trying to explain that the whole point of hide and seek is not to shout “here I am daddy”. If you are a CEO and a father you have to learn to switch pace from going at jet speed to crawling. And sometimes you want to stop way before they do. But you go on pretending to be an elephant or a horse or the king of the mermaids, you do it because they are happy and their happiness is your happiness. As some people are into slow food I know slow parenting works best. Especially when I watch Nina who is such a patient mom. Parenting is not about quality time, when parenting quantity is quality. I once read that 80% of great parenting is showing up. And it is.
Most of what we store in the cloud is for contemporary consumption. But some files, like the pictures of my 1, 3 and 8 year olds I want around throughout their lives. In the past this meant preserving a photo album. Now their memories will be in data centers around the world facing significant threats over the next 100 years. Some of the threats are physical, but the most significant threat is cloud company bankruptcy. Like how can I be sure that Facebook will be alive for as long as my kids. That is why I would be more confident if cloud companies had cloud insurance. Should your favorite social network dissappear Prudential Insurance for example, would keep their data centers running your kids memories preserved. In the meantime I store at Facebook, Google, Flickr and Apple. Paranoid? No, I just want to make sure our family history doesn’t dissappear when somebody pulls a plug on a company that everyone loved 50 years before.
(Photo credit: Pentestmag)
What follows here is a warning, a thought, an unlikely outcome but one that the EU should be concerned about.
I worry about the Russian angle of the Greek crisis.
I think that the only opportunity the EU has to force the Greeks to keep the debt deal they agreed to before Syriza rose to power is to threaten to dry up the Greek banking system overnight. Trust in Greek banks by Greek citizens is currently evaporating. Greek banks are already experiencing a run. But my concern with this move is that it would make EU and especially Germany look cruel and insensitive and that Putin may seize the moment, step in, and provide the liquidity the Greek banks need to be solvent. Emerge as a savior in the eyes of the Greek people. He could do to the EU what he did to Ukraine, cut it in two with a piece of it that responds to him. Moreover this move could cost Russia nothing, he could bring the euros in to make Greece solvent as a guarantee, and then take them out in a few months. Because Greece can function if it doesn’t have to pay it’s gigantic debt. Greece can have an external and internal surplus very quickly.
The EU has a consensus driven voting system by which a single member state can block policy for all of the EU. Having one member state on Russia’s side would mean a great deal to Putin. The unanimity that is so needed in making EU policy would be broken by Greece. A Greece that votes as instructed by Putin would be an enormous problem for the EU and USA. And remember, there is no mechanism to expel an EU member. All of Greece could become Putin’s Trojan horse.
Likely? No, especially now that oil prices have collapsed. Possible? Yes.
Search on Facebook recently went from useless to awesome. Try searching a person you care about linked to a city, place, verb or noun and see for yourself how relevant to you Facebook search results now are. Facebook search is what it should have been all along, a search about those you care about in relationship to you. As a result there is more of a reason to use Facebook as a diary, a memory repository. Today our one year old David went under water for the first time, I recorded a video, put in on Facebook. Before the new Facebook search it would have been hard to find it in, say, 2017. I would have had to go through the 2015 timeline. But now I will only search “David water”. Try that with Google. Facebook is now a great personal search engine.
These last few days I have been spending a significant amount of time at the Miami playgrounds with Mia (3) and David (1), I have been observing the life of those under 5. I have seen that little kids, are rarely compassionate, caring for others must be taught to them, they are not generous, as Mia says “Dad, sharing is hard”, they are not organized and tend to leave toys and clothes behind, they are not clean and properly disposing of litter is not obvious to them. Sometimes little kids are even violent, today Mia got hit by a 2 year old boy, totally out of the blue. But of all the children’s shortcoming there is one evil that is lacking in them; little kids are not racist. Little kids are born selfish, rude, but they are not born hating other races, they are not born noticing other races, racism is taught to them. At the playgrounds of South Beach there is a big mix of races, but race, makes no difference, it’s not even part of the vocabulary that kids used to describe one another. Makes you think, what is it that we do to them. And what could be different.