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Archive for 31. Januar 2016

Payback Time in Schengen Land

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2016

Photo of Hans-Helmut Kotz

Hans-Helmut Kotz

Hans-Helmut Kotz is a visiting professor of economics at Harvard University and a senior fellow at the Center for Financial Studies at Goethe University.

JAN 31, 2016, Project Syndicate

FRANKFURT – The long-held dream of a borderless Europe, which became reality in the mid-1990s, is fading fast. Italy is blocking a European Union decision to bribe Turkey to keep refugees from crossing over into Greece on their way to Germany, Sweden, or other northern European countries. In response, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has called for solidarity, warning that otherwise the border guards might soon be back at their posts, beginning with the German-Austrian frontier.

To be sure, the dissolution of the Schengen Agreement, which instituted passport-free travel within most of the EU starting in 1995, need not mark the end of the European project, at least not in principle. Economically, border controls act just like taxes; they distort activity, by increasing transaction costs and reducing cross-border flows of goods and services. Without them – and, more important, with a single currency – a market is more effective. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Italian job

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2016

Date: 31-01-2016
Source: The Economist: Free exchange

Reviving Italy’s economy will require sacrifices not just from Italians, but also from Europe

italy vs euTO LOSE Greece or Portugal may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose Italy looks like carelessness. It is hard to imagine the single currency surviving a showdown with Italy, the currency club’s third-biggest economy (and the world’s eighth-biggest, just ahead of Brazil). Perhaps that explains the recent pugnacity of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, regarding European fiscal rules. In an article published in the Guardian newspaper in mid-January, he sounded positively Greek, complaining that the European Union’s “fixation on austerity is actually destroying growth”. His finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan, has been tangling with the European Commission over how to deal with the €350 billion ($382 billion) of bad loans clogging up the Italian banking system. Mr Renzi is demanding the Eurocrats’ forbearance as he tries to restart Italy’s long-stalled economy.

Italy’s experience within the euro zone has been miserable. It has been in recession for five of the past eight years. Real (ie, adjusted for inflation) GDP per person is lower than in 1999. Sovereign debt has risen above 130% of GDP. Worse, Italy’s economy is woefully uncompetitive. Since 1998 productivity has fallen steadily. Labour costs, however, have not (see chart). Since Italy joined the euro, exports have ceased to be a driver of growth, which has consequently slowed. A slowdown is not something a country with such daunting debts can afford. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Wird sie springen?

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2016

Date: 30-01-2016
Source: Die Zeit

Viele in Europa halten Merkels Flüchtlingspolitik für verrückt. Doch so einfach ist es nicht. Die Kanzlerin verfolgt eine Strategie. Und die ist hochriskant.
Merkel NiceIm Boxsport gibt es eine alte Weisheit: „You can get the boxer out of the ghetto,
but not the ghetto out of the boxer.“ Jahrelang trainiert er brav, bringt seinem Manager viel Geld ein, sagt nur die Sprüche, die ihm aufgeschrieben werden, und plötzlich, BAMM!, beißt er seinem Gegner ein Ohr ab, verprügelt den Ringrichter und fährt danach mit seinem Lamborghini im Central Park ein Rudel Dalmatiner-Welpen tot.

So was gilt neuerdings auch in der Politik: „Du kriegst die Frau aus dem Pfarrhaus, aber du kriegst das Pfarrhaus nicht aus der Frau.“ Jahrelang betreibt sie empathielose Realpolitik, lässt sich von darbenden griechischen Rentnern so wenig rühren wie von Ukrainern, die nach Waffen verlangen, und plötzlich, BAMM!, fängt sie unvermittelt an zu lächeln, macht Selfies mit Syrern und holt Millionen Flüchtlinge ins Land.

Plötzlicher Ausbruch angestauter Mitleidsgefühle – so etwa wird derzeit Angela Merkels merkwürdige Flüchtlingspolitik erklärt, die in Europa fast niemand mehr unterstützt. Und auch auf die Frage, warum das Land sich diesem Irrsinn zunächst willig ergeben hat, gibt es eine psychoanalytische Antwort: Die an ihrer traumatischen Vergangenheit leidenden Deutschen wollten sich von ihrem Makel befreien und haben sich darum in eine völlig irrationale Willkommenskultur gestürzt. Gewissermaßen von Auschwitz direkt zum Münchner Hauptbahnhof. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Why haven’t banking giants got a lot smaller?

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2016

Date: 29-01-2016
Source: The Economist
Subject: Big banks: Chop chop

BOSSES at big banks would once have cringed at releasing the kind of results they have been serving up to investors in recent days. This week, for instance, Deutsche Bank posted a loss of €6.8 billion ($7.4 billion) for 2015. In the third quarter of last year the average return on equity at the biggest banks, those with more than $1 trillion in assets, was a wan 7.9%—far below the returns of 15-20% they were earning before the financial crisis. Exclude Chinese banks from the list, and the figure drops to a miserable 5.7%. Returns have been languishing at that level for several years.

In response, the banks’ top brass are following a similar template: retreats from certain countries or business lines, along with a stiff dose of job cuts. Barclays, which earlier this month said it would eliminate 1,000 jobs at its investment bank and shut up shop altogether in Asia, is typical. More radical measures, such as breaking up their firms into smaller, more focused and less heavily regulated units, do not seem to be on the cards. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How Much Debt Is Too Much?

Posted by hkarner - 31. Januar 2016

Photo of Robert Skidelsky

Robert Skidelsky

Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics, is a member of the British House of Lords. The author of a three-volume biography of John Maynard Keynes, he began his political career in the Labour party, became the Conservative Party’s spokesman for Treasury affairs in the House of Lords, and was eventually forced out of the Conservative Party for his opposition to NATO’s intervention in Kosovo in 1999.

JAN 28, 2016, Project Syndicate

LONDON – Is there a “safe” debt/income ratio for households or debt/GDP ratio for governments? In both cases, the answer is yes. And in both cases, it is impossible to say exactly what that ratio is. Nonetheless, this has become the most urgent macroeconomic question of the moment, owing not just to spiraling household and government debt since 2000, but also – and more important – to the excess concern that government debt is now eliciting. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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