Central bank digital currencies-May 8, 2021

I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. But, as a former central banker, I ought to take note of plans by central banks to introduce digital currencies, not least because they would have the distinct advantage over cryptocurrencies of being regarded as legal tender. So, I better start reading up on them as some of my favourite central banks are amongst the over 85% of such institutions that start to dip their toes into the water.

Soldiering on-May 7, 2021

I don’t live in an area of Jamaica that is under either a state of emergency (SOE) or in a zone of special operations (ZOSO), where the presence of soldiers is a commonplace, sadly. I see vehicles carrying soldiers, often, on the highways, and occasionally, I see them alongside police patrols as I drive around the country. But, oddly, I see them most often on the golf course. What? The Jamaica Defence Force often use the areas around Caymanas Golf and Country Club for training exercises. It happens to now abut some areas that are in SOE.

However, as I went out for my regular walk and practice around dawn, earlier this week, I saw a ‘jeep’ with about four soldiers come into the car park. The vehicle went past the caddy area then came back with only two sitting in the front. The vehicle then drove off.

As I went to start my walk, I saw two young soldiers standing looking at their mobile phones, rifles by their sides, absorbed with messages.

Absorbed by the contents of the bag

I said good morning and asked if they’d been left there; they had. I joked that they had been fooled by the old trick that someone would come back for them, but would eventually have to run about 15 km back to base. The light went off in their heads. I giggled and went on my walk.

They seemed to take it for granted that I was not threat, but, is that really the smart attitude? What do I know about military training and always being at the ready?

New COVID restrictions in Jamaica through June 2-May 5, 2021

PM Andrew Holness announced new restrictions for the period throuhg June 2, covering the Memorial Day holiday in late May:

While most restrictions are unchanged, schools will go back to in-person for certain examinees from May 10.

Also, the travel ban from the UK has been lifted, while a ban has been placed on travel from Trinidad & Tobago.

Many are against renewed visitors from the UK not least because of the UK variant, and despite the UK making good progress with vaccinations, but are mindful that a previous surge had possible origins in the resumption of travel from the UK.

COVID-19 in Jamaica: Wary of a Third Wave-May 2, 2021

This excellent summary of the still-high concerns about the possibility of a 3rd COVID ‘wave’/‘surge’ in Jamaica, by fellow blogger, Emma Lewis, is worth a careful read. Its points about reopening Jamaica’s borders, especially to the UK (in light of evidence that the UK variant was behind our current 2nd wave) point to the ongoing tussle over lives versus livelihoods.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness held one of their regular press briefings on April 29. It was not hard to detect a change of tone – and it was …

COVID-19 in Jamaica: Wary of a Third Wave

COVID update, Jamaica-April 30, 2021

Health and wellness minister, Dr. Chris Tufton gave a broad update on COVID trends, yesterday evening, including stressing the need for people to get their second vaccination, which are noted in the thread, below:

The chief medical officer, Dr. Jaqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, added an extensive assessment of how trends has been affected by various restrictive measures. She gave stark warnings that a third wave could occur if people ease off the protocols and it would likely be worse than the previous two.

It would likely push health services way beyond their capacity.

She cited a long list of countries that were in a third wave, though the worst situation is in India, having its 2nd wave, whose crisis now needed help from other countries.

With that background, Dr. Tufton pointed to confirmation that the ‘UK variant’ had been found in Jamaica and was perhaps behind the 2nd wave:

When asked about statements that flights from the UK would resume on May 1, he gave a circuitous reply, suggesting the decision had not yet been taken but was for consideration by Cabinet subcommittee over the coming weekend.

This clearly begs the question whether tourism minister Bartlett’s categorical statement on reopening borders to the UK was premature.

Reasoning ability 101, Jamaican-style-April 27, 2021

The house phone rang last Friday and my wife answered it: “Dennis? I’ll get him.” Before she even started to approach, I asked her who it was and what did they want. People don’t generally call me on the house line. She said it was Z, who helps around the house, asking about a machete; he’d gotten a message from our housekeeper, who’s gone abroad to sort out her passport. My wife relayed a message that Z had read our housekeeper couldn’t find the machete. I just jumped out of my couch. “Stop dealing with foolishness!” I yelled at my wife. She couldn’t understand why I was so frazzled, so fast. She told Z that he could speak to me when he next came to the house, in a few days.

He came to do one of his regular sessions yesterday, and I asked him about the call. He explained that ‘Miss G’, the housekeeper, had left him a message on his phone about a missing machete. I looked at him and asked how she could be concerned about such a thing, given that she’d been in the USA for about 10 days. He kept on about the machete. I said that’s not relevant, but just ask himself what sense the message could probably have. It was more likely that an old message just appeared on his radar. He blinked and saw that he was chasing a rabbit into a dark blind alley. But, he still went to check on the machete, which was where I had left it the day before, after doing some chopping. The ‘missing’ machete was a figment of imagination, but concern about it based on a message from someone in the USA showed a lack of intelligence.

If it’s still not apparent, there’s no way that our housekeeper, 3,000-plus miles away could have any issues with things going on at the house, unless she’d suddenly become Superwoman with x-ray vision or had master intercontinental travel without need for aircrafts.

I have lots of conversations with people in Jamaica where they don’t see that they have no logical basis for the points they want to discuss. But, they press on, regardless, and I keep saying the basic principle of the argument has no sense; just stop the discussion.

I fall back on the fact that I was only educated for three years of prep school in Jamaica and I know that they (rote) teaching here leads many to struggle with constructing arguments without first establishing some important assumptions about the points at hand.

I had a similar experience yesterday when discussing the exchange rate, where it seemed some people didn’t understand the basic arithmetic of exchange rate conversion, so that they did not see immediately that if someone had say US dollars, then the Jamaican dollar depreciation was a gain for the US dollar holders. They still went on about how people were suffering from the weaker Jamaican dollar exchange rate. Worse still, someone stated “only rich people gain from deprecation”. I guess all those ‘rich’ people we’ve seen lining up outside Western Union and other remittance agency offices prove the point….NOT.

Such is the lot of many issues in Jamaica. I’ve decided to really give my brain a holiday and not engage in discussions where people cannot see white and black are different, let alone that there’s a place between that’s grey.

We say we care for women, children and the vulnerable but we don’t show it in Jamaica or in the Caribbean-April 18, 2021

Once again, in the wake of some high profile incidents, political representatives, media and many of the public clamour to yell how awful the latest incidents are. The current flavour is domestic, or, intimate partner, violence. Here’s the PM giving a typical plea about domestic abuse:

Sadly, not as seasonal as the weather, we’ve heard and seen these concerns before.

I see nothing other than words that we will act to address the issues.

We do this a lot-make noise and announce but take no meaningful action. If you disagree, I suggest you search over the past decade and more and I’ll be shocked if you could find facts to contradict me.

For context, the Caribbean has a rotten reputation for all kinds of abuse, especially of females/it’s endemic:

‘Globally, 1 in 3 women have suffered physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This year, newly released data for the Caribbean have confirmed our fears: nearly half of Caribbean women surveyed in 5 Caribbean countries face at least one form of violence: physical, sexual, economic, or emotional. This is unacceptable and should motivate all of us working and living in the Caribbean into action to end this violence.

By George, we’ve not got it! Wright and wrong about domestic violence in Jamaica-April 17, 2021

I don’t want to speculate about what happened between a man and woman that involved an assault with a chair. I’ve lots of questions about what the video ‘evidence’ shows, including whether it captures the true start point of an altercation. I’ve also heard or seen no text to go with that visual evidence. But, I know many have not bothered to weigh any of that and made their judgement, to which they are entitled.

For the moment, I will share what has been stated officially, and see if this becomes more than another Jamaican 9-day wonder in the court of public opinion.

The police case concerning George Wright, MP, and Tanisha Singh has come to a halt, for the moment. Both had made formal claims of an altercation between them. A video surfaced that purported to show the incident. Neither has decided to take the matter further. The hands of the JCF are tied, as far as criminal matters go:

The political ramifications are still rumbling on in their early stages. Mr. Wright looks set to leave the ruling Jamaica Labour Party and take a position as an Independent in Parliament. He may also take a leave of absence from the legislature, while investigations into his conduct continue:

Public opinion is only just getting formed and it’s possible that Mr. Wright’s political career will be ended as a result of the incident:

A clear bottom line, for me, is that domestic violence cases are difficult to mount, legally, and thus hard to resolve through the courts. We’ve seen little or nothing, publicly, from either party, and the trauma is something about which we can only speculate.

In this case, we can assume that no protections are afforded to either party in the altercation.