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Archive for 27. Juli 2019

The loneliness of Boris Johnson

Posted by hkarner - 27. Juli 2019

Date: 24-07-2019
Source: The Economist: Bagehot

The hazards of having a prime minister who hates to be hated

IN BORIS JOHNSON’s biography of Winston Churchill, the author deals with a number of accusations against his subject, including the charge “that he didn’t really have real friends—only people he ‘used’ for his own advancement.” This line, like many in the book, could have been written as easily about the author as about his subject. In the former case, the charge is hard to rebut.

Mr Johnson has become prime minister largely because he is an entertaining fellow who, on television and in print, makes people laugh. In the past lots of voters liked him: during a London mayoral race the Tories’ election guru, Lynton Crosby, found that pictures of Mr Johnson triggered feelings of affection even among those who disagreed with his policies. These days only Brexit enthusiasts quiver when his blond mop heaves into view. But even those who loathe the man concede that he has bags of personality. At a time of national gloom and division, that is a great asset. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A society’s values and beliefs matter for its economy

Posted by hkarner - 27. Juli 2019

Date: 24-07-2019
Source: The Economist: Free exchange

And cultural change can unlock the economic potential of people and ideas

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN is more than text on a red cap. It is an argument about the nature of American success: one which President Donald Trump elaborated on in racist comments last week. On July 21st he questioned whether four Democratic congresswomen, all non-white, were “capable of loving our Country”. The same day Stephen Miller, an adviser to Mr Trump, said the president’s criticisms of America differed from those of his critics because he was defending the “principles of Western civilisation”. The comments seemed to imply that American greatness is built on a cultural inheritance that some people cannot access, whether born in America or not.

Cultural arguments once loomed large in explanations of the ways in which countries differed economically and politically. Economists mostly abandoned such reasoning in the 20th century, not only because it provided cover for racists but also because of its lack of explanatory power. In 1970 Robert Solow, a Nobel-prizewinner, quipped that attempts to explain growth with variables such as culture generally ended up “in a blaze of amateur sociology”. This position is changing, however, and not before time. A better grasp of how cultures work may be needed to understand modern political economy. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Britain finds its BoJo

Posted by hkarner - 27. Juli 2019

Date: 25-07-2019
Source: The Economist

Ditching the gags (and his enemies) Boris Johnson claims his prize
Britain’s new prime minister will lead a fragile—and potentially short-lived—government

Boris johnson looked at home. After thrashing his rival, Jeremy Hunt, by a margin of two-to-one in the contest to be leader of the Conservatives, he took the stage at the results rally in Westminster on July 23rd to pepper beaming activists with a mixture of jokes and optimism. Mr Johnson the campaigner was in his element. A day later, in front of 10 Downing Street, a modified version of Mr Johnson appeared. The jokes were absent and the vocabulary only occasionally florid, such as when Mr Johnson promised to prove “the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters” wrong. Mr Johnson the proto-statesman might appear incongruous. Yet it is a sight with which Britain will become accustomed.

For how long is unclear. Mr Johnson will lead a fragile government, with a working majority that will fall to just one if the Conservatives lose a by-election in Wales next week. Building a government that the party’s ideological clans can tolerate is the first tricky job. Beyond that, Brexit looms. Mr Johnson promises to take Britain out of the European Union by October 31st and has sealed—rhetorically at least—the escape hatches that could prevent a no-deal departure. Yet with Conservative mps irreconcilable on the topic, getting a deal through Parliament or forcing mps to accept Britain’s exit without an agreement seem close to impossible. An election this autumn is likely, suggest Mr Johnson’s friends and foes alike. Win it, and Mr Johnson will be remembered as a political Houdini. Lose, and he could become the answer to a future trivia question: who was Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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