As far as I know, this blog is the only place that publicly criticised the appointment of Dr Atiur Rahman as the Governor of Bangladesh. How has he performed in the last few years as the central banker? Given the share market bubble and crash and several controversial developments — scams, ‘political’ banks, l’affaire Yunus – in the banking sector, it’s reasonably straighforward that he has failed in his task of maintaining financial stability. On the other hand, Bangladeshi economy has shown remarkable resilience — growth has been steady around the 6% mark despite shocks such as the share market crash or the fiscal strains related to the rental power plants. Inflation has been much higher than the Bank’s target picked up during most of the governor’s term, but has subsided recently to be within the Bank’s target (see the chart of inflation through the year, actual vs Bangladesh Bank target – source: CEIC Asia and BB).
So, on balance, a mixed record for the Governor so far. And over the next few months, his record can swing either way. Unfortunately, the latest monetary policy statement suggests that there is a high risk that my fears about him will yet come true.
I was in Dhaka during the 2008 election. The day before the election, I told Asif Saleh that BNP was making a remarkable comeback and the election would be very tight. I was, of course, way off. Turns out so were pundits like Nayeemul Islam Khan, Asif Nazrul, Mahmudur Rahman and Nazim Kamran Chowdhury – who all noticed a massive momentum towards BNP. I was reminded of this episode last November, when Republican spinmeister Karl Rove refused to accept election results as they were coming in — apparently it wasn’t consistent with the momentum (Mittmentum) he had observed.
I (and more famous Deshi pundits) had an excuse. We didn’t have any proper opinion poll or survey data to guide our thinking. One pundit who did see such data — Zafar Sobhan – did predict an Awami landslide, and he was proved right. Of course, Rove and his ilk didn’t have such excuse. In America, people like Nate Silver looked at the polls and other relevant information and predicted the final election outcome quite accurately.
Compared with America (and other advanced democracies), opinion polls are still few and far between in Bangladesh. But compared with 2008, we now have regular polls by Daily Star and Prothom Alo. Good luck to anyone who believes they know the public pulse and don’t care for polls. Personally, I have no idea what the public believes, so I find these polls very interesting.
Here is the Daily Star survey, done by Centre for Strategic Research. Here are detailed results of Prothom Alo survey, conducted by ORG Quest (here is its news report, here is the methodology). As far as I can tell, these polls are done in the same way similar polls are done elsewhere. There are margins of error, and the polls are indicative of public opinion, not an exact predictor of anything.
With those caveats in mind, I think these polls should make BNP and Ershad supporters optimistic, while AL should be quite worried. The polls also hold interesting results for third force enthusiasts.
So Barack Obama has been re-elected as the
Emperor of the World President of the United States. Cool. I guess I should do a post, just to mark the occasion.
The thing is, until very late in the game, I couldn’t get excited about this election. You see, until the first debate, betting markets consistently had Obama as the odds on favourite. And on most issues, I agree with the president’s politics. So what was there to get excited about? It’s not like any of this would ever happen.
Then, for a while after the first debate, it looked like things could shake up a bit. Except it didn’t. By mid-October, the betting market had gone back to portraying Obama as the favourite. And yesterday, the votes reflected the punters’ expectations.
But imagine if Obama had a better first debate? Would that have led to a landslide? Imagine if Michelle Obama had cut the president’s tie?
I am not an American. But as a de facto subject of the de facto American Empire, obviously I have an interest in who our next Imperial Overlord will be. Four years ago, I urged my American readers to vote for Barack Obama. Those arguments, broadly speaking, still holds. So, dear reader, if you’re an American and for some reason still undecided, please re-elect your president.
Four years ago, I thought Obama was going to win, and acted on that belief. I was lot more sanguine about the better angels of America than my friends with whom I wagered — they were convinced that America wasn’t ready for a black president with middle name Hussein.
Turns out, I was lucky. According to a fascinating paper, racism might have won the election for John McCain. And if these estimates are right, Mitt Romney might easily be the next
Global Emperor President of the United States.