Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This is not a story about SNC Lavalin

 . . . even though they have a $56 million mystery on their hands.

If you read John Perkin's book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, he discusses a certain company--shall we call it Blandcorp--which would carry out economic assessments about prospective projects in developing countries--say, a hydroelectric dam--exaggerate the economic benefits of said project, and assist the government of the developing country in applying for international funding for said project. When the benefits of the project prove to be less than anticipated, the government in question is unable to pay its debts. Then the hammer falls--the US pressures on the developing country to support its international agenda, typically through votes at the UN. In this way, many countries were politically neutralized, impoverished, and pushed to the edge of the world stage.

The business model really caught on in the sixties and seventies. There's a coup in Albizia, and Colonel Hardcore takes over. The Colonel could never apply for financing for a sweet hydroelectric plant from the World Bank, but if an internationally recognized engineering firm, with a listing on the New York stock exchange (other exchanges are acceptable as well, but the New York listing is particularly important)--in this case, let's say ABC Julien--opines that a new power plant would be a major boost to the economy and could be built for a mere $2 billion; then funding may flow through to the project "on behalf of the people of Albizia". ABC Julien then builds the plant for $500 million, splits the profit with Colonel Hardcore (most likely by subcontracting a related party to carry out unspecified tasks in country), and the long-suffering people of Albizia are stuck with the debt.

Indeed, this was part of the justification for the debt cancellation proposed by the G8 in 2005. It would be no different than if armed gunmen came to your house, kidnapped you, brought you to your bank, made you sign a $500,000 mortgage, then walked away with the cash leaving you to negotiate repayment terms with your banker. You would be forgiven for being angry with your banker, feeling that she should have seen the situation as it was.

As I said above, this has nothing to do with SNC Lavalin. So stop calling.

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