Friday, January 25, 2013

'Redenominasi' vs 'sanering', for dummies

Redenominasi: fewer zeroes, same bowls of mie bakso. Sanering: same zeroes, fewer bowls of mie bakso.

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Dear Kate,

What's "blusukan"? Any economics on it?

Struggling Indonesianist

Dear Strugling Indonesianist,

Apparently you've been trying hard to read Indonesian news. I know it's fun, right? Here's a secret to learn the language quickly: just read the news over and over again, check the ones with pictures, forget dictionary or thesaurus. You'll get the feel eventually.

But lemme try. Blusukan perhaps means an impromptu visit by a top official to his/her subordinates - or as the media put it, to the people. It's done in order to get information from the grass root first hand, maybe. It can also be seen as an act of caring. When else a governor or a president pay a friendly visit to the poor? Empathy is the keyword.

But "impromptu" might not be a correct term. I would think any visit by a governor or a president would involve lots of preparation and security procedures. Some streets should be closed, alleys cleared. Some media get invited with special access to the site - but for regular cars, motorcycles, pedestrians, it's probably a detour. So, with all due respect, the economic impact for street sellers having to postpone their business a couple of hours might be negative. Let alone the extra time needed by motorists to deal with the additional traffic jam. It's great to meet with our leader occasionally. But probably you don't want it all too often.


"Please stop the price decline!"

An MP from PKS urges the government to stop the declining prices of crude palm oil and rubber (link here*). He points out, rightly, that the reason why prices are going down is because the demand is low due to the still weak global economy.

His solution is to get together with the other producers to form a collusive cartel so as to limit the supply and apply a monopolistic power.

But as he said, the problem is on demand. Limiting the supply might increase the price momentarily (or halt the decline), but as long as the purchasing power of the buyers is weak, that would not help.

His second solution is to force domestic consumption. Sounds like another call for the mighty Bulog?

*) It has come to my attention (thanks to @sillysampi on Twitter) that many of my links to Kompas were gated. My apologies. I try to link to non-gated ones from now on (if available); otherwise, I'll mark it as "gated".

Friday, January 04, 2013

Computer self-sufficiency, anyone?

It's not just on rice, soybean, sugar, corn, and meat. Apparently the self-sufficiency is coming to computer business too (links updated, now non-gated). Oh, maybe not totally. They expect Foxconn to come and serve domestic economy.

But the funniest comment comes from the quoted telecommunication expert. According to him, import restriction on cellphones, laptops, and tablets is necessary to block "low quality and consumer-harming" products from entering the country. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Happy new year!

Dear Patrons,

We wish you all a happy new year. What, resolution? Yes, of course we will try to brew more coffee, post more stuff, and all. But again, incentives matter. We'll see.