Times are turbulent and change is in the air. A friend reminded me that the Chinese characters for crisis consist of two elements: Danger and Opportunity.
The danger part is easy to get. In a society that has gotten used to mobilization by fear, it doesn't take much to convince people that they should be afraid of what's to come: a deep recession, much loss, hardship, sorrow and pain. But there is always another side to a story, and we clamor for leadership that talks about all the opportunity ahead.
In the Western Hemisphere and on the energy file, opportunities abound. We start with the fact that the US has turned a page with the election of Barack Obama. I am not sure of the precedent, however, in my lifetime, this is the first time I see daily announcements made from a podium marked "The Office of the President Elect." There is the fact that although this crisis affects every country in the globe, this time around, it did not originate in our emerging markets and they have held their own in midst of turmoil in the US and Europe. There is a sense of maturity in the region....well, from some countries.
In spite of the incomprehensible actions of all Canadian political leaders in the last few weeks, the country has managed to weather the instability with the ease of an old pro. All is back to normal, in the most Canadian of ways. And in spite of the incredible economic difficulties, there is much calm in the US. Brazil seems to be shining right now, and Mexico is also holding its own. Colombia, Chile, and Peru are also stable. Chavez and friends, on the other hand, might have a very difficult time keeping their hydrocarbon-dependent economy going now that prices have tanked. One wonders if Raphael Correa's actions of this week - when he reneged on paying Ecuador's debt, causing the biggest sovereign default since Argentina's 2002 actions -- are predictive of what's to come. Although he claims he has friends, such as Iran, that are ready to help, one wonders if when push comes to shove, his so called "friends" will be in a position to help... And then there is Argentina.... whose government actions in all aspects are impossible to understand. It seems that the leadership is in a permanent state of denial and lives in never, never, land...
What can we do? Lots. There is much we could collaborate in. Towards this end, I have joined forces with the Council on Foreign Relations in the US, CEBRI in Brazil, and the University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago to come up with a Blueprint for a Sustainable Energy Partnership in the Americas. We held our first meeting last week in NY, and now are set for our next two meetings and will have our initiatives all ready to deliver to the heads of government when they meet on April 17-19 at the Summit of the Americas, in Port of Spain.
As for this blog, you can see, we are changing. I will keep you posted, and as soon as we have our new home all organized, I will make sure to send you an invitation to join the conversation. In the meantime, keep your comments and ideas flowing. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.