I realise this is not a Bitcoin

Bitcoin has gotten a lot of attention lately (again), so I figured I’d write something down to try and get my own thoughts in order. Whenever I write, I tend to find that I don’t understand things half as well as I thought I did, so it kind of forces me to re-examine my assumptions and confront my half-baked conclusions.

This does not constitute investment advice, obviously (sell it all). You are on your own here. …

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that no economic solution is possible without a public health solution. In fact, anything short of a safe, effective vaccine or cure would mean some kind of permanent changes to how we live — either we modify our habits and lifestyles to reduce human contact, or just learn to accept higher risk of catching and spreading the virus. Over the next several decades, there is a clear parallel with climate change, although with far greater consequences. In the longer-term, there is no economic solution without an environmental solution.

Effects of climate change

An over-reliance on low-cost migrant labor

The populations of the six Gulf Co-operation Council member countries are unique in that their populations include extraordinary numbers of foreign migrants, primarily from South and East Asia, most of whom have no pathway to obtaining any type of permanent residency. Bahrain is no exception, with 53% of the country’s 1.48 million population comprised of foreign residents.

Population of Bahrain, by nationality and sex, 1990 & 2018 (author’s calculations, data from Bahrain Open Data Portal, UNICEF Migration Profiles Bahrain, World Bank Development Indicators)

Most of these residents have been brought in to fulfill low-income or undesirable jobs in the private sector — 73% of the 475,000 non-Bahraini workers registered under the SIO earn less than BD 200 per month, with…

At the time of writing this piece, it has been 127 days since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic. Nations have since imposed lockdowns, with some states and cities cycling through shutdowns and re-openings. We are all eagerly waiting for the discovery of a vaccine as soon as possible, but that remains another 6–12 months away, according to some reports. Yet even then, it is unlikely that early versions of such a vaccine will be a panacea; for instance, the annual flu vaccine is 40–60% effective and only protective for several months. …

On July 13, 2020, Decree-Law 21/2020 was issued regarding reforming several pension funds laws and regulations. These were specifically related to 4 of the 10 recommendations made regarding the Social Insurance Organization (SIO), and were highlighted as urgently needed to prevent the funds from becoming insolvent.

The issue with the pensions funds is not new, nor can it be attributed to any single cause. The current debate (as I see it on Twitter, at least) seems to have coalesced into two main points of view: one group claiming that the looming insolvency is purely due to demographics and generous benefits…

Muizz Alaradi

Muizz Alaradi is a CFA Charterholder and holds a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He is interested in economics and the GCC.

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