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Archive for 4. November 2019

Central and eastern Europeans are mostly happy with progress since 1989

Posted by hkarner - 4. November 2019

Date: 31-10-2019
Source: The Economist

The collapse of communism ended four decades of servitude

No empire in history has disintegrated as quickly or as bloodlessly as the Soviet one, in the remarkable year that saw the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. A period of carnage in Romania the following month was the only grisly counter-example. Yugoslavia, never a part of that empire, followed a tragically different path; but for the rest of central and eastern Europe, though clearly imperfect, the past 30 years have been a time of marvels.

Standards of living for most of the region’s peoples have vastly improved, and most of them know it. New polling by the Pew Research Centre shows that 81% of Poles, 78% of Czechs and 55% of Hungarians agree that this is the case. Only Bulgarians on balance take a gloomy view, with just 32% of them thinking that their standard of living has improved since 1989. Development has been patchy, but for every depopulating and ageing rustbelt in eastern Europe there is a booming industrial region, a tech cluster or a services centre desperate for more workers. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China’s median age will soon overtake America’s

Posted by hkarner - 4. November 2019

Date: 31-10-2019
Source: The Economist

Demography may be the Chinese economy’s biggest challenge

Shortly after 9am the neighbourhood care centre for the elderly shuffles to life. One man belts out a folk song. A centenarian sits by his Chinese chessboard, awaiting an opponent. A virtual-reality machine, which lets users experience such exotic adventures as grocery shopping and taking the subway, sits unused in the corner. A bigger attraction is the morning exercise routine—a couple of dozen people limbering up their creaky joints. They are the leading edge of China’s rapid ageing, a trend that is already starting to constrain its economic potential.

Since the care centre opened half a year ago in Changning, in central Shanghai, more than 12,000 elderly people from the area have passed through its doors. The city launched these centres in 2014, combining health clinics, drop-in facilities and old-people’s homes. It plans to have 400 by 2022. “We can’t wait. We’ve got to do everything in our ability to build these now,” says Peng Yanli, a community organiser. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The four faces of Boris Johnson

Posted by hkarner - 4. November 2019

Date: 01-11-2019
Source: The Economist: Bagehot

Player, gambler, Machiavelli or piglet?

Boris johnson at last has his rendezvous with the great British public. Mr Johnson was installed in Downing Street in July by an electorate of just 160,000 Conservative Party members. Now he has to prove himself before a larger and more critical audience. This audience will be bombarded with promises and propaganda over the next six weeks. But Mr Johnson’s unusual probationary period in Downing Street gives them a chance to judge him by his record. What have we learned about the prime minister’s political character and leadership style so far?

One thing is certain: he has defied expectations, both positive and negative. Mr Johnson was frequently presented as a jovial figure—a clown or Bertie Wooster-style buffoon. He liked to make people laugh. He laced his language with eccentric phrases. He created an impression of affable disorganisation. But though he can still make people smile, he is much more focused and disciplined than anyone expected. The iron has entered his soul.

A more appropriate image than a clown is that of a rugby captain. A fan of the game, who played for his college at Oxford, the stockily built Mr Johnson has brought many of the techniques of the sport to the political field. He has demonstrated a single-mindedness: everything he does is about getting the ball over the line. He has shown no hesitation about altering the composition of his team according to his changing game plan, kicking 21 Tories out of the party when they defied him and then re-admitting ten of them when the general election knocked. And he has kept his eye on the clock, using timetables and deadlines to keep the game moving—though he must regret installing “Brexit clocks” in both Downing Street and Conservative Party headquarters set to hit zero on October 31st, a deadline that he has now missed. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A scholar of inequality ponders the future of capitalisma

Posted by hkarner - 4. November 2019

Date: 03-11-2019
Source: The Economist: Free exchange

Branko Milanovich’s new book asks whether it is liberal or illiberal

When communism fell, that was supposed to be that. History would continue, but arguments about how to organise society seemed to have been settled. Yet even as capitalism has strengthened its hold on the global economy, history’s verdict has come to seem less final. In a new book, “Capitalism, Alone”, Branko Milanovic of the Stone Centre on Socioeconomic Inequality at the City University of New York argues that this unification of humankind under a single social system lends support to the view of history as a march towards progress. But the belief that liberal capitalism will prove to be the destination has been weakened by financial and political dysfunction in the rich world, and by the rise of China. Its triumph cannot be taken for granted.

Mr Milanovic outlines a taxonomy of capitalisms and traces their evolution from classical capitalism before 1914, through the social-democratic capitalism of the mid-20th century, to “liberal meritocratic capitalism” in much of the rich world, in particular America. He contrasts this with the “political capitalism” found in many emerging countries, with China as the exemplar. These two capitalistic forms now dominate the global landscape. Their co-evolution will shape world history for decades to come. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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