Friday, November 27, 2009

Meaningful macroeconomic analysis of Sudan.... the skeptical note

I am reviewing applicants in macroeconomics for the position we have open here at Santa Clara University.... a couple hundred at latest count, and all with really interesting macroeconomic papers... lots of DSGE models etc. But what suddenly struck me is how this whole revolution in modeling macro is completely useless for a country like Sudan, where probably 2/3 of the economy marches on with no data, and the data for the 1/3 of the economy around Khartoum is seriously mismeasured (especially the government sector!). Macro modeling seems like a rather silly enterprise in that kind of setting. Better to just to use the DSCRPTV model for macroeconomic analysis ;-)

Though there is a dictum, attributable to T.N. Srinivasan, I think: "Bad data? Need better econometric tools."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Essential reading for when I have time

No Way Out? The Question of Unilateral Withdrawals of Referrals to the ICC and Other Human Rights Courts
Michael P. Scharf and Patrick Dowd
9 Chi J Intl L 573 (2009)

Breaking Up Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard: Default Rules for Partition and Secession
Nathan Richardson
9 Chi J Intl L 685 (2009)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Let the bluffing begin

At some point in the next year, the Sudanese public and the world community will be presented with a "deal", and every person concerned will have to ask whether the deal is an attempt to hoodwink the most marginalized and preserve the positions of power and wealth enjoyed by the few.

Who are the few?
- the NCP regime insiders comfortable with power
- the Southern Sudanese elites in the SPLM
- the oil company execs who have staked themselves on Sudan in intra-company competitions
- the government oil deciders who have made bets, and derive gains, from ensuring that current oil companies are able to stay in position
- the arms manufacturers and dealers who are happy to continue supplying current elites
- the lobbyists to the two regimes, north and south
- the diplomats who get feathers in their caps

The argument of the elites will be the same as usual:
- "This is the last chance.  If this deal is not accepted, the future will be far worse."
- "This is the only deal possible.  Either this deal is accepted or there will be no deal."
- "This deal is a reasonable compromise, good enough for everyone." 

The broad spectrum of actors in the Sudanese public should be skeptical of these claims.  The Sudanese public should be very worried that the elites involved would be very comfortable with turning Sudan into Nigeria.  Pretty soon "Operation Sweep Away Indiscipline" will be announced, and lonely voices at the periphery will be hanged.  (Wait, that's already been happening for 30 years... can it get worse with the "deal"?  You bet.)

So I only have one piece of advice for that Sudanese public.  Get some of those arm things that are used by civil disobedience demonstrators everywhere in the world.  Store them at Lubna Hussein's house, and break them out when the "deal" is announced and it doesnt contain four things:
1- Robust demobilization of NCP/SAF armed proxies in Darfur, permitting IDPs to return in security or stay in camps in security.
2- Stiff sanctions against NCP for violations of normal press freedoms and freedom of assembly.
3- Very aggressive international monitoring of elections, voter registration and referendum, enabling international backup if processes are tampered with.
4-  Oil revenues into a transparent account, and out of the hands of military

A couple more... right?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Cabelly indicted

From the Dept. of Justice.  Wonder who's next? The revolving door of Africa "hands" out of the Dept. of State straight into the arms of the multi-million dollar Africa lobbying and "scheming" business needs much tighter oversight by newspapers and bloggers.  This kind of avarice is not what Adam Smith had in mind.
D.C. Lobbyist Indicted for Conspiring to Violate Sudanese Sanctions and to Act as Illegal Agent of Sudan
Robert J. Cabelly, 61, of Washington, D.C., has been indicted in the District of Columbia in an eight-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to violate the Sudanese sanctions regulations and to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign power, four counts of violating the Sudanese sanctions regulations, as well as one count apiece of money laundering, passport fraud and making false statements.

Cabelly, who was the principal and managing director of a Washington, D.C. consulting firm and a former State Department employee, is scheduled to appear in federal court today in the District of Columbia at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson. If convicted, he faces up 20 years in prison on each of the substantive Sudanese Sanctions Regulations counts, 20 years for the money laundering count, 10 years for the passport fraud, and five years each for the conspiracy and false statement counts.

According to the indictment, between early 2005 and mid-2007, Cabelly performed work on behalf of the Republic of Sudan, a country currently on the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list, without the approval of the U.S. government as is required by law under the Sudanese sanctions regulations. In an effort to make money, Cabelly brokered business contracts and transactions benefiting Sudan. He also provided Sudan with U.S. government information that was sensitive and controlled. All the while, Cabelly affirmatively misrepresented to U.S. officials the nature of his relationship with Sudan, as well as his relationship with the foreign entities doing business in Sudan.

Among other acts alleged in the indictment, Cabelly engaged in illicit contractual relationships with the oil industry in Sudan, operating as an intermediary between Sudanese government officials and oil company executives and a foreign oil company, and sought additional investors on behalf of that foreign oil company so that it could do business in the Sudan. He also allegedly provided strategic advice and counsel to Sudanese officials, including in the areas of economic development and trade, especially as it pertained to the development of the country’s petroleum natural resource and its government controlled airline industry.

According to the indictment, Cabelly was paid for these services by Sudanese government officials as well as by a foreign oil company. Cabelly allegedly directed a foreign oil company to deposit over $180,000 of the fees he received in an offshore account he maintained in the Cook Islands, an account he used to launder the funds in order to conceal the fact that it was proceeds obtained in violation of the sanctions. Cabelly also concealed his travel to the Sudan from U.S. authorities by misusing U.S. passports.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two graphs of rainfall and temperature in Darfur

I've been fooling around with the Willmott-Matsuura global climate data, partly at the prompting of some readers of my paper (with Leslie Gray) on rainfall in Darfur before the war, who kindly suggested looking at temperature data also. At the time we didn't have the temperature data available.  These rainfall and temp averages are unweighted averages of the raw data which is on.5x.5 lat-long grid. The slow and steady upwards climb in temperature of the hottest month (the annual average temperature seems a similar increase), about two degrees centigrade over 58 years, is very disturbing.

That said, I don't think the Willmott-Matsuura data is that useful for small-scale regional analysis. Notice that the four quadrants of Darfur are very correlated- about .95- suggesting to me that probably they are coming from a single source and are then being adjusted by being smoothed with other sources further away. There is, after all, a large mountain complex at the intersection of the quadrants so presumably the temperatures would not be so very closely correlated in the "real" world.