The Moorish Wanderer

2012 in review

Posted in Tiny bit of Politics by Zouhair ABH on December 31, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 63,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

لي بانان، الميزانية: بنكيران و الإحصائيات

Posted in Dismal Economics, Flash News, Moroccan ‘Current’ News, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on December 29, 2012

يقرأ على مقال موقع “كود” الإلكتروني، أن “ديون المغرب الخارجية تفوق 550 مليار درهم”، و بعض الإحصائيات الأخرى التي يتم سردها في المقال. أستغرب تمام الإستغراب من هذا التصريح، لأن جل الأرقام التي باشر رئيس الحكومة بطرحها خلال دورة المجلس الوطني لحزبه ليست في محلها. من الممكن أيضا أن المحرر أخطئ في نقل الأرقام (ما هو ليس بخارق للعادة في هاته البلاد السعيدة) و من الممكن أيضا أن رئيس الحكومة بالغ في وصف الصعوبات الموالية التي تنتظر المغرب، لكنه إستعمل إحصائيات إستعمالا خاطئ. و هذه ليس أول مرة يقوم فيها قيادي أو عضو في الحكومة تابع لحزب المصباح، بتقديم أرقام تتنافى و حقيقة الأمور كما تنشر في دوريات و وثائق المؤسسات المشرفة على إنتاج الإحصائيات المالية و الإقتصادية

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يقول “فهمتيني ولا لا؟” في خطابه أن الموظفون يأخذون أكثر من نصف ميزانية البلاد. للإشارة، فالميزانية المرصودة لأجور الوظيفة العمويمية لسنة 2013 تصل إلى 98 مليار درهم. أما المبلغ الإجمالي للميزانية العامة للدولة، فيصل إلى 358.2 ميلار درهم، ما يعنيه أن كلفة الأجور تمثل 27 في المئة، أي أقل من ثلث الميزانية. كما يمكن التأكد منه على هذه الوثيقة و يمكن تحميلها على هذا الرابط. ربما كان يريد السيد عبد الإله بنكيران الإشارة لنسبة أجور الموظفين بالمقارنة مع إستهلاك الإدارات العمومية، و التي فعلا تمثل 49.18 في المئة. لكن وجب الإشارة أن خلال سنة 2008، أي بعد برنامج المغادرة الطوعية و في سنة أنجبت فائضا في الميزانية، يتضح أن 53 في المئة من إستهلاكات الإدارة العمومية تصرف أجورا، و هذا شيء طبيعي بالنظر لطبيعة الخدمة العمومية و مساهمتها في خلق نمو المنتوج الداخلي الخام. “ميزانية صندوق المقاصة بلغت 53 مليار درهم والميزانية العامة للدولة لا تتعدى 210 ملايير درهم” يكفي العودة لوثائق قانون المالية للتأكد أنه في حين المبلغ المخصص للمقاصة 53 مليار درهم هو صحيح، فمبلغ الميزانية ليس 210 مليار بل كما أشرت له سابقا، 385 مليار درهم

للإضافة، فإذا كانت هناك عائدات جبائية كما أشار إليها رئيس حزب الپيجيدي، من ضريبة على القيمة المضافة و الجمارك و من غير ذلك، فالمشكل الأساسي هو الضغط الذي يمارسه الصندوق على الميزانية، حيث أنه يمثل 13.4 في المئة من الميزانية، و 5.8 من الناتج الداخلي الخام

و أخيرا، هناك مغالطات كبيرة في مخزون الدين الإجمالي: أشار بنكيران أن 550 مليار كمبلغ الدين الخارجي للمغرب، أي 67 في المئة من الناتج الداخلي الخام، و هو رقم خيالي لم يصل له المغرب، و الهجة كالتالي
آخر إحصائيات الخزينة العامة للملكة تضع مبلغ الدين الداخلي للمغرب في حدود 359 مليار درهم (شهر نونبر 2012) و إحصائيات وزارة المالية تشير لدين خارجي يناهز 187 مليار درهم، أي مبلغ دين إجمالي ب546 مليار درهم، أي 66 في المئة من ن.و.خ، و هذا بطبيعة الحال، لا يبعث بالراحة، خصوصا و أن وثيرة الإقتراض المسجلة خلال 2012 ألغت مجهودا بذل خلال السنوات السبع السالفة في تخفيض الدين العمومي، وهذه مسؤولية الحكومة الحالية لا يمكن لبنكيران أن يتهرب منها

توبيخي في الحقيقة موجه لكلى رئيس الحكومة و موقع كود، لإخفاقهما الكامل في التحقيق في هاته الإحصائيات

“Les Bananes”, indeed…

Labour Market Engineering

Very short post about the peculiarities of Moroccan labour market: the active population has never been so low: the latest figures from HCP show a declining trend with fewer than 50% of the total population made up of the active population. Since fertility rates have been going down for quite a while, it means many potentially active individuals prefer (or are made) to stay out of the labour market: students with longer academic curricula, stay-at-home housewives, retirees and ultimately the unemployed.

I was looking at the data and comparing it to my own models because there is a frightening story to tell here. Demographics in Morocco tend to be similar in many aspects to the ageing societies of Western Europe, with a falling youthful population (individuals aged 17 and less have reached their absolute peak in 1994) whereas the elderly are increasing their numbers substantially – 24% of the population by 2050 according to HCP projections. In essence, the present demographics allow at best for a total workforce of 4.5 Million individuals, less than 14.4% of the total population.

Elederly population is expected to make up 1/5 of the population by the mid-century, with no active population to match.

Elderly population is expected to make up 1/5 of the population by the mid-century, with no active population to match.

And there is an even smaller fraction of these: women make up for almost half of the 15-59 population, yet their occupation rate does not rise above 30%. I mean, the 70% are supposed to be dutiful housewives, yet they do not procreate enough. The traditional family model has collapsed a long time ago. Thanks to structural changes in gender-based division of labour as well as harsh economic realities, there are coexisting benchmarks for women to choose from. Yet even if the mainstream outcome remains that of stay-at-home mum, fertility has not follow suit. Perhaps it is time to switch gears and go for massive arrivals on the labour market, let these women leave their homes to earn a living too.
In absolute and relative terms, Moroccan families will procreate less and less: in 2039, there will be less than a Million newborns, and the young Moroccans (14 and less) by 2050 will make up less than 17% of the total population. I would argue the only viable pro-traditional (or even nuclear) family discourse is a higher fertility rate. Clearly it is not the case, so in order to improve our immediate and medium term economic position, there is a need of flooding the labour market with all these women, some educated, others not so much, but at least total productivity would increase.

Some predictions about this: as a general rule, structural shocks (changes in the economy that are not due to physical capital stock) tend to have a positive impact on wages, especially skilled labour wages, and only a marginal effect on total hours worked; the latter is due to the very inflexible Moroccan labour market: every 1% ‘positive shock’ increases wages immediately by an annual 6.1%, and generates a net annual social benefit of 2.3%. These massive arrivals on the labour market are likely to increase unemployment dramatically, but there is a need of increasing rapidly female occupation rates, or growth will be structurally sluggish in the next decades.

Tax Cuts. Yes, It Works, too

Posted in Dismal Economics, Flash News, Moroccan Politics & Economics, Morocco, Read & Heard by Zouhair ABH on December 27, 2012

I was led to believe backing specific policies out of deliberate investigation was not about politics. Tax cuts are not particularly popular with those of my political persuasion down here in Morocco.

There is a lot to be discussed about the cognitive dissonance in electoral manifestos: low taxes, big social programs, no deficits, no debt, high growth, etc. and these are routinely enumerated regardless of ideological loyalties, with some nuances and priorities. You know how the alternate argument goes: electoral manifestos are window-dressing, there is a ‘permanent manifesto’ no one votes for, impervious to the weathercock of partisan politics, and based on solid McKinsey-made PowerPoint presentations. Yet even this perpetual grand design boast performing miracles at low costs, present, future, sunk, hidden or otherwise.

Tax Credit for investment do not have the same impact, but they are more persistent

Tax Credit for investment do not have the same impact on growth, but they are more persistent.

So what is new with tax cuts, and why would they be a better budget policy? First, because the stimulus effect delivered by a tax cut generates on average 8 times more growth than similar amounts engaged in a deficit-spending program; This is not a case against government spending, it is a reliable evidence that points to the inefficiencies of a one-sided stimulus program, which is usually favoured by the people I mentioned before. Targeted programs with prerequisite random experiments, smart regulation and rationality-based policies are the way to go (by the way, I have yet to read the results from testing programs launched under Mr Baraka when he was at MAGG, or Mr Boulif’s agenda)

And this leads me to the salient result from tax cut programs: not all tax cuts are created equal: Investment Tax Credits are by far the most effective policy, and the effect of a generic tax credit to investment produces on the long run a more persistent and net positive impact than any other exogenous shocks that boost productivity.

A caveat however: not all investment projects have these virtuous effects on growth. Expanding physical capital has some positive externalities, but not all physical capital generates it: building a research facility yes, banking on real estate development to create growth, not so much.

A quick look at the budget documents show tax credits allocated to the building sector amount to around 3Bn dirhams, and increased 4% in quarterly rate between 2011 and 2012 – so on the basis of these predictions, the expanded tax credit should have generated an additional .15 point to annual growth – a figure to compare with the sector’s growth, the lowest in positive sector growth. Of course, a rational explanation would state my model is not working. Another would assert tax credit are wasted on the building sector.

 

Elections – Dewey Defeats Truman. (And a Mea Culpa)

Posted in Flash News, Intikhabates-Elections, Morocco by Zouhair ABH on December 26, 2012

I should first start by apologising for some shortcomings in my earlier predictions about results in the couple of by-elections that took place last week, as well as those scheduled in the near future. I have realised I was manipulating the wrong codes to generate my results, and so results from the two latest posts on predictions about electoral outcomes may have been false. It is even more of an unforgivable error that I got mixed up in computations; Mea Culpa, as they say.

How clumsy it was too. the line codes I was using read:

#############
# Sample Size
n<-106327
#############
# Data generation on the basis of moments (Median + Standard Deviation)
RNIND<-rlnorm(n, meanlog =7.69802917027281 , sdlog =1.04882476079341)
# This generates a distribution for RNI historical voting performance per district
#############
# Computes the probability of performing a particular score (a margina)
plnorm(8569,meanlog = mean(RNIND), sdlog = sd(RNIND, lower.tail = FALSE, log.p = FALSE)

whereas it should read:

#############
# Sample Size
n<-106327
#############
# Data generation on the basis of moments (Median + Standard Deviation)
RNIND<-rlnorm(n, meanlog =7.69802917027281 , sdlog =1.04882476079341)
# This generates a distribution for RNI historical voting performance per district
#############
# Computes the probability of performing a particular score (a margina)
plnorm(8569,meanlog = log(mean(RNIND)), sdlog = log(sd(RNIND)), lower.tail = FALSE, log.p = FALSE)
# Probabilities are computed on the basis of logged, not level moments.
# Dummkopf.

So this is the brand new method with which I crunch the numbers is simpler and hopefully, more understandable. I should say it has done a good job in “explaining” PJD’s victory in Inzegane (an obvious result as a matter of fact) and why the same party may have lost to RNI in Chichaoua. Since elections in Azilal, Moulay Yacoub, Settat, Sidi Kacem and Youssoufia have not taken place, I would like to redeem myself by offering a more thorough assessment of electoral probabilities in shifting away, or holding in contested seats.

INZEGANE AÏT MELLOUL PROVINCE
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Enrolled voters:                                 197,679
Votes cast:                                       71,608  36.2
Invalid votes:                                    13,580  19.0
Valid votes:                                      58,028  81.0
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Party                                         Votes       %        Seats
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Popular Movement (MP)                                230  00.4       -
Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM)          2,411  04.2       -
Independence Party (PI, Istiqlal)                  4,958  08.5       -
Party of Justice and Development (PJD)            29,541  50.9       2
Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS)              1,545  02.7       -
National Rally of Independents (RNI)               5,257  09.1       -
Constitutional Union (UC)                            135  00.2       -
Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP)           7,807  13.5       1
Others                                             6,144  10.6       -
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                                             58,028             3
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In essence, I try to provide a probability for a party to win a seat in a particular district, given its past electoral history there, conditioned also on the fact they may or may not have a seat there already. Inzegane was as expected an easy win for PJD because not only they got 2 seats there, but also because they had in 2011 a 21,000 lead over they nearest USFP competitor, whose seat was up for election last week. It would have been enough for the PJD candidate to turn out a fraction of their electoral to carry the seat, most likely with the same votes they got last year. According to the party’s own communiqué, they managed to carry 15,000 votes, which was an overkill, to say the least. It matters little they managed to mobilise only half of their 2011 turnout, it was more than enough to complete its control of all three seats at Inzegane.

Moreover, The probability for PJD of getting at least as many votes as USFP in 2011 was the highest among all competing parties: there was a 46.82% chance of getting at least 7,800 votes, and anything between 7,800 and 21,000 was likely to happen at 44.07%. These results show a very strong lead for PJD compared to other parties: RNI had virtually no chance of getting more than the required 7,800 votes – because its own national and local made it so: the probability of improving its 2011 electoral performance.

And so were USFP’s chances, especially so when its marginal seat in Inzegane ranked in the top 1% districts for the 2011 elections. Istiqlal was the only real contender whose electoral performance allowed it some significant chance to improve its score to 7,807 votes – a probability of 9.4%. In absolute terms, the likelihood of getting more than their 2011 votes was 13.54%, the closest to PJD in this district.

I have some results on Chichaoua as well, which I will be posting later on, with predictions for the remaining seats following shortly.