Minggu, 22 Februari 2009

Krisis Keuangan Global: Eksplorasi Perekonomian Domestik

Presiden Bank Pembangunan Asia, Haruhiko Kuroda (Koran Tempo, 23 Februari 2009), mengatakan ditengah lesunya pasar ekspor akibat melemahnya pasar negara maju seperti Amerika Serikat, Eropa dan Jepang, negara-negara di dunia dianjurkan fokus pada sektor konsumsi sebagai motor ekonomi. Tidak heran kebanyakan negara yang khawatir perekonomiannya terhempas akibat krisis keuangan global, melakukan tindakan antisipatif dan pengobatan melalui program-program stimulus fiskal. Umumnya program tersebut berupa pembangunan-pembangunan infrastruktur.

Secara sederhana logika inisiatif projek infrastruktur adalah untuk mengatasi kecenderungan peningkatan pengangguran. Dengan projek infrastruktur diharapkan mampu mengabsorbsi tenaga kerja dan menjaga tingkat purchasing power atau konsumsi masyarakat secara agregat. Dengan begitu, sektor supply mampu terus menggerakkan mesin produksinya, sehingga ekonomi tidak terus terjerumus pada resesi, depresi dan akhirnya terjebak dalam siklus keterpurukan seperti kondisi underconsumption.

Proram yang memacu konsumsi dalam menjaga tingkat perekonomian domestik, sebenarnya dapat dilakukan dengan memberdayakan masyarakat yang selama ini "tidak terlibat aktif" dalam perekonomian, yaitu golongan masyarakat tidak mampu. Bayangkan jika betul masyarakat miskin Indonesia jumlahnya mencapai hampir 100 juta, dan kemudian mereka bisa diberdayakan untuk terlibat dalam ekonomi meskipun sekedar pasif disektor konsumsi (demand), tentu volume ekonomi domestik Indonesia akan bertambah berlipat ganda.

Untuk tujuan itu, perekonomian syariah telah sejak dini memiliki pilar utama dalam menjaga tingkat keterlibatan masyarakat tak mampu dalam ekonomi, yaitu Zakat. Karena zakat pengaruh langsungnya adalah menyediakan income bagi mereka yang tak mampu, yang kemudian memposisikan mereka memiliki purchasing power. Zakat akan menjadi instrumen jitu dalam mengeksplorasi perekonomian domestik Indonesia. Menyikapi mekanisme zakat yang belum utuh beroperasi di tanah air, dapat saja inovasinya berupa pemberlakuan pajak yang karakteristiknya sama dengan zakat khususnya pada aspek penggunaan. Pada pajak tertentu, sebaiknya telah ditentukan penggunaannya definitf bagi golongan masyarakat miskin.

wallahu a'lam bishawab

Konsistensi Kapitalisme

Membaca artikel singkat Mark Levine mengingatkan kita pada karakteristik positif dari kapitalisme, yaitu ruang lingkup evaluasi yang mampu membaca banyak hal termasuk mengidentifikasi kekeliruan sistem dan preferensi manusia. Meskipun pada saat yang sama semakin mempertegas watak kapitalisme yang selalu konsisten dengan nilai-nilai keserakahan, karena bagaimanapun detilnya evaluasi yang dilakukan, dan seberapa dalam keshahihan evaluasi itu, semuanya lumpuh di bawah nilai-nilai keserakahan kapitalisme. Evaluasi itu tidak merubah wajah dan warna kapitalisme.

A FINANCIAL HOUSE OF CARDS

By Mark LeVine


As Americans come to realise the full scope of the now global economic crisis, the instability it causes is being seen as a bigger security threat than terrorism.

Every sector of the US economy has been negatively impacted and layoffs are being announced almost daily.

The roots of this crisis can be traced back to the economic policies of the 1980s.

For a generation the growth of the US economy has been disproportionately driven by the availability of cheap consumer goods and investment credit.

This system, which peaked with the rise of the securitisation of highly risky sub-prime mortgages in the last few years, enabled an investment system to emerge in which the debt to equity ratio was an outstanding, and totally unsustainable, 100 to one.

As Nouriel Roubini, a New York University economist who was among the first to predict the collapse we are now experiencing, explains it, the largely unregulated debt system created a "credit chain".

This debt-to-equity ratio was so unstable that even a one per cent fall in the price of the final investment at the end of the chain "wipes out the initial capital and creates a chain of margin calls that unravel this debt house of cards".

The world economy similarly depended on a growth formula based on a debt-equity ratio of five to one.

This means that in order for countries to maintain real GDP growth of two to three per cent, available credit would have to expand by 10 to 15 per cent.

Social roots

This massively unbalanced mechanism was not only rooted in the financial sector but the manufacturing and service industries as well.

Richard Wolff, a University of Massachusetts economist, says the crisis "grows out of the relation of wages to profits across the economy. It has profound social roots in America's households and families and political roots in government policies".

Since the 1820s, the US economy has experienced steady gains in productivity.

This led not only to steadily increasing profits for corporations but also to rising working class wages and, with it, consumption levels.

As wages and consumption rose, the "Protestant ethic" that had helped to generate capitalism's unprecedented economic power was discarded in favour of an ethic of commodity consumption.

People's identities were now increasingly defined by what they consumed rather than their religious beliefs or social actions.

The size of one's home, car and flat-screen TV, or the price of one's clothes, mobile phones and holidays became of paramount importance.

This economic ideology - based on the possibility, and desirability, of limitless growth - created an ethos of rampant materialism and individualism.

'Borrowing binge'

The economic dynamics that supported this ideology changed radically in the 1970s when neo-liberal globalisation introduced structural changes to existing financial systems.

Rapid development in computer, communications and transportation technologies fuelled an economic productivity which led to unprecedented growth in corporate profits.

Meanwhile, this process weakened the ability of workers to maintain wage growth at a rate comparable to productivity and profits.

In fact, around 1970 real wages for most non-management workers stopped increasing, and have stayed flat, and even declined, since then.

Wolff explains that rather than fight against the erosion of their incomes, working and middle class Americans began to work even longer hours, and then take on second and even third jobs, in order to continue to consume apace with the upper classes.

In comparison, less consumption-obsessed workers in Western Europe now work 20 per cent less than they did in the 1970s.

By the 2000s this strategy no longer generated enough extra income to sustain the levels of consumption Americans - and the rest of the world - were being told should define their identities and sense of self, and even communal, worth.

So Americans went on what Wolff rightly calls the "greatest binge of borrowing in the history of any working class in any country at any time".

It is not insignificant that the day after the September 11 attacks, George Bush, the then US president, advised Americans to "go shopping".

'Walmartisation'

In the early 1900s, Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, realised that the best way for his company to make steady profits was to pay his employees enough so that they could afford to buy his cars.


Today, what I term the "Walmartisation" of the US and global economies has produced a situation where Wal-mart, a giant retail store chain, pays its workers so little that they can only afford to shop at its, and other similar, stores.

Essentially, corporate America realised that it could keep wages flat, even as productivity rose and lend workers the money - at highly profitable interest rates - to continue consuming beyond their means or needs.

To sustain such a scheme, credit would have to remain cheap and plentiful.

The scheme would also necessitate a rise in equity, at least on paper, against which Americans could continue borrowing - whether for conspicuous consumption or, increasingly, for necessities such as health care and college tuition.

That is where the rise in house prices and the "bubble" it created became so important to the continued sustainability of the system.

The online journal Dollars & Sense succinctly described the early 2000s as "distinguished by massive investments in dud or plainly unproductive assets".

Once these investments could no longer grow, at least on paper, or produce even the minimal returns needed to sustain the system, economic collapse became inevitable.

Way of life

Of course, the same decade has also been marked by the global "war on terror", which has carried a price tag approaching the US annual GDP.

The militarisation of the US and larger global economies (and as important, cultures), and the largely unchecked damage done to the environment at the very moment when drastic action was needed to stem global warming, manifested themselves during the last eight years.

Both have helped to create the current global economic and employment crisis.

So far, the Obama administration has sought to inject enough money into the US economy to ease up the restrictions on credit and stimulate the economy through tax breaks and infrastructure programmes.

What few Americans, politicians and ordinary citizens alike, have thought to consider is whether the financial system that the new administration is trying to rescue - essentially, the "American way of Life" - should even be saved.

After all, a long-term drop in global consumption is one of the few conceivable ways to stop the slide toward the tipping point of global warming and environmental degradation, not to mention the increasingly violent resource wars and global poverty, that are the inevitable outcome of a world economic system premised on limitless growth and consumption.

Obama's biggest challenge, then, will be to figure out how to create millions of jobs while steering the US economy away from the economically and environmentally unsustainable model of growth that helped generate the present crisis.

To do this will require more than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and encouraging "green" technologies.

It will require designing an architecture for a 21st century economy that much more equitably distributes limited resources among an expanding population than has the debt/consumption system that is now collapsing globally.

It is hard to imagine how such a system could be devised, and put in place with public approval in time to stop the projected loss of tens of millions of jobs globally that now seems the likely, if not inevitable, outcome of the current recession.

Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle East history at the University of California, Irvine, and is the author of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam and the soon to be published An Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine since 1989.

Source: Al Jazeera

Kamis, 19 Februari 2009

Islamic Finance News: April Holds Hope for Global Economy?

Dear Ali Sakti,

The Group of Seven richest (supposedly) nations met last weekend to work a way out of the global economic crisis but, as expected, came up with the same, worn-out clich├ęs and no solutions. The summit simply reiterated calls for further stimulus and bank bailout packages of the kind that have already failed to halt the recession.

The handful of nations which had dictated how the world’s financial system should be run has simply run out of ideas on how to rescue it from the ongoing crisis. Rather ironic, since it is their insistence on unfettered liberalization and deregulation that had allowed events to spiral into a recession that is fast spreading throughout the world.

These once-powerful states have now passed the buck to others. One is the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy. Its composition is interesting as the “Big” Seven are dwarfed in terms of numbers by countries as disparate as Argentina, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. It has formed a task force to see how to lift the world out of the financial mire.

The G20 countries, which represent 85% of the world economy, committed themselves to three principles — stimulus efforts, reform of financial regulation and global governance changes — and the task force’s plan is to be unveiled in April. That is also when the United Nations General Assembly’s Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System comes out with its report.

Can we expect any viable proposals come April? There is cause for optimism, especially since the UN panel is not only being chaired by Nobel laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz but also has on board Malaysian central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the driving force behind the country emerging as a major Islamic finance hub. So, one can expect the principles and governance practices of ethical finance, plus a strong regulatory framework, to feature prominently.

And that couldn’t come any sooner, as statistics highlight the social catastrophe being caused by the deepening crisis. Up to 53 million more people around the world could fall into poverty in 2009 as a result of the global economic slump. This is on top of the 130 million to 155 million pushed into poverty in 2008 because of soaring food and fuel prices. And up to 400,000 more children could die each year as a result of rising infant mortality.

The World Bank says almost 40% of 107 developing countries are “highly exposed” to the poverty and hardship effects of the crisis and the remainder are “moderately exposed”. The bank warns that three-quarters of these countries will be unable to raise funds domestically or internationally to finance job creation, the delivery of basic infrastructure and essential services — including health, education and core public administration — and safety net programs for the vulnerable.

It was only to be expected that G7 ministers last weekend gave short shrift to this, saying in effect that these hundreds of millions should rely on the same financial system and “private capital flows” that have broken down, producing the worst global collapse since the 1930s.

Best regards,
IFN team

Senin, 16 Februari 2009

Memindahkan Blog Masih Tertunda

Assalamu'alaikum Wr.Wb.

Rekan-rekan sekalian, setelah sekian lama mencari, saya tidak menemukan ada blog yang dikelola mandiri oleh host non-barat. Saya menemukan di detik.com tetapi ternyata di jalankan oleh Wordpress. Dengan demikian, sampai hari ini keinginan saya untuk memindahkan Blog saya ini masih tertunda. Mohon sekali jika ada teman-teman pengunjung bog ini yang mengetahui ada host blog yang dijalankan oleh operator non-barat dapat dishare di Blog ini. Terima kasih sebelumnya ya...

wassalam
ali sakti

Selasa, 03 Februari 2009

Ekonomi Dunia Memburuk

Isu politik baik di Timur Tengah (Gaza-Palestina), Afrika Timur (Somalia), Eropa Timur (Rusia dan Ukraina) maupun Asia Tengah (Afghanistan), beberapa waktu telah menyita perhatian banyak warga dunia. Sedikit tidak lagi sibuk memikirkan kondisi perekonomian yang sebelumnya telah mengguncang jagad ekonomi dunia. Padahal diam-diam, perlahan tapi pasti, keterpurukan ekonomi dunia semakin dalam saja jurangnya, semakin panjang saja lebar pemisah antara harapan dan realita.

Perekonomian dunia sudah masuk pada fase kehancuran selanjutnya, yaitu guncangan sektor riil. Oleh sebab itu, layaklah kini krisis ini telah menjelma dari krisis keuangan menjadi krisis ekonomi. Pelaku-pelaku ekonomi dunia kini berlomba mencetak rekor, rekor-rekor kerugian sepanjang karir bisnis mereka. Rekor-rekor rugi itu tentu saja kemudian diikuti oleh pengurangan tenaga kerja mereka. Toyota, General Motors, IBM, Hitachi dan banyak lagi perusahaan besar multinasional terkemuka yang bergantian membukukan kerugian dan memberlakukan kebijakan lay off.

Di peringkat negara krisis ini harus mengambil korban pemerintahan Islandia, kebangkrutan ekonomi mereka telah memaksa krisis masuk ranah politik dan menumbangkan rezim yang berjalan. Kondisi ini skenarionya persis Indonesia 10 tahun yang lalu. Tetapi yang membuat kasus Islandia lebih istimewa adalah karena kejatuhannya begitu tajam, karena Islandia telah digolongkan satu negara maju yang kemudian bangkrut!

Sementara itu di Amerika Serikat, the Chosen One, Barack Obama mengambil langkah yang mencerminkan betapa parahnya krisis yaitu mengajukan program stimulus ekonomi yang nilainya USD 800 billion, dimana proposal ini melebihi permohonan bailout pendahulunya George W Bush. Program ini dimaksudkan untuk proyek-proyek infrastruktur yang diharapkan mampu menciptakan 2 – 3 juta kesempatan kerja baru. Tahun 2008 lalu telah diketahui perekonomian raksasa Amerika ternyata mengalami kontraksi sebesar 3,4% dengan angka pengangguran tertinggi dalam beberapa dekade.

Udara dingin dan topan salju yang melanda sebagian Eropa saat ini mungkin dapat dijadikan tanda pula bahwa satu-persatu perusahaan dan sektor riil Eropa dalam situasi kelam. Sedangkan di Asia, Korea Selatan sudah ketar-ketir dengan kondisi yang mengingatkan pada mimpi buruk 10 tahun lalu.

Indonesia? Bagaimana dengan keadaan Indonesia? Kekuatan ekonomi dalam negeri yang sedang berkembang menjadi motor penggerak penyelamatan ekonomi Indonesia. Bersyukur kita dunia keuangan Indonesia secara keseluruhan meskipun tidak kuat dan jauh dari stabil, tidak terpukul terlalu kuat dari badai yang ada, atau setidaknya hingga detik ini. Kini waktunya pemain kecil; usaha kecil dan lembaga keuangan kecil (mikro), it is your time, play the game!