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Theresa May postpones Brexit deal vote

Posted by hkarner - 10. Dezember 2018

Prime minister to make statement to MPs as pound falls to lowest level in 18 months

The delay will theoretically give Theresa May more time to renegotiate the existing Brexit deal. 

Theresa May has postponed the final vote on her Brexit deal after a last-minute conference call with cabinet ministers, a clear admission by the prime minister that she does not believe she can get the unpopular EU withdrawal agreement through the Commons.

Advisers, ministers and loyalist MPs had been urging May to delay Tuesday’s vote in order to seek new assurances from Brussels and avoid the chaos of a parliamentary defeat.

May is expected to confirm the vote has been delayed in an oral statement to the House of Commons at 3.30pm.

It will be immediately followed by a business statement from the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, implying that she will confirm the procedural details of the postponement. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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The Phony US-China Truce

Posted by hkarner - 10. Dezember 2018

Barry Eichengreen is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former senior policy adviser at the International Monetary Fund. His latest book is The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era.

There is no shortage of precedents for the approach to the escalating trade dispute taken by Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. But if the US economy shows signs of falling into recession, Trump will need to blame someone – and in this case, we can be relatively certain about who that will be.

BEIJING – On December 1 in Buenos Aires, US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on a 90-day moratorium on increases in import tariffs to provide a window for negotiations. Unfortunately, this approach to mediation does not always succeed, and investors were not impressed – as was evident in the 800-point fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on December 4. And if markets were skeptical then, they will be even more skeptical now, with the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou for violating US sanctions on Iran.

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Brexit Upends British Political System

Posted by hkarner - 10. Dezember 2018

Date: 09-12-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Brexit divides both the country and Parliament, transcending the usual right-versus-left split

Prime Minister Theresa May spoke on Wednesday in the House of Commons.

LONDON—Brexit has turned Britain’s top-down political system on its head, with Prime Minister Theresa Mayin thrall to a fragmented parliament as she seeks to ratify a hard-won divorce agreement from the European Union.

The U.K. Parliament is expected to reject Ms. May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday, throwing plans for the U.K.’s departure from the bloc on March 29 into turmoil. The way out won’t be obvious.

Three factors have created chaos out of the 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU: The unique divisions sown by Brexit, Mrs. May’s rare minority government and an advisory referendum that didn’t spell out voters’ post-Brexit priorities.

Brexit divides both the country and Parliament, transcending the usual right-versus-left split in British politics. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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European Threats

Posted by hkarner - 10. Dezember 2018

December 7, 2018

Someone asked recently how many times I had “crossed the pond” to Europe. I really don’t know. Certainly dozens of times. It’s been several times a year for as long as I remember.

That makes me an extremely unusual American. Most of us never visit Europe, except maybe for a rare dream vacation. And that’s okay because our own country is wonderful and has a lifetime of sights to see. But it does affect our perspective on the world. Many of us don’t fully grasp how important Europe is to the US and global economy.

We may soon get a lesson on that. I’ve talked about Italy’s ongoing debt crisis, which is not improving, but Europe has other problems, too. Worse, events are coalescing such that several potential crises—all major on their own—could strike at the same time, and not too long from now. As I’ve been saying for about three years, there is no reason for the US to have a recession on its own. I think events elsewhere will push us into it, and Europe is a really big current risk. I know from my visits to Europe and discussions with friends there, they see all sorts of problems with Trump and particularly his tariffs.

However, another concern is that the various actors in Europe are not playing nice with each other. I tell my European friends the same forces that yielded Trump are coming to a European country near them. In some places, they already have. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Der «Draghi-Crash» ist nur eine Frage der Zeit

Posted by stgara - 10. Dezember 2018

Die Stimmung an den Finanzmärkten ist sehr gut. Glaubt man jedoch dem Risikoexperten Markus Krall, so täuscht sie ungemein. Er fürchtet, dass die Strategie der Europäischen Zentralbank zu einer deflationären Krise führen wird.
Christof Leisinger
EZB-Präsident Mario Draghi heizt mit der expansiven Geldpolitik die Stimmung an den Börsen an.

Die Stimmung an den internationalen Finanzmärkten ist erstaunlich gut. Die Kurse an den Börsen laufen von Hoch zu Hoch, die Renditen an den Bondmärkten sind weiterhin vergleichsweise tief und in Europa erholt sich nun auch der Euro. Dafür seien schwindende geopolitische Risiken, ein anziehendes Wirtschaftswachstum und nicht zuletzt die anhaltend expansive Geldpolitik der Zentralbanken verantwortlich, heisst es. Mario Draghi, der Präsident der Europäischen Zentralbank, schreibt sich diese Entwicklung als Erfolg der extremen Krisenpolitik der Institution auf die eigene Fahne.

Markus Krall sieht das völlig anders. Der Unternehmensberater, der Banken und andere Finanzunternehmen seit 25 Jahren im Risikomanagement strategisch unterstützt, hält die Strategie der EZB nicht nur für wirkungslos, sondern sogar für extrem kontraproduktiv. Am Ende werde genau das unvermeidlich, was die EZB vordergründig vermeiden wolle. Er fürchtet, dass die EZB-Politik zu einem deflationären Crash führen wird.

Sie warnen in ihrem Buch vor einem «Draghi-Crash», während EZB-Präsident Mario Draghi den Erfolg der extrem expansiven Geldpolitik feiert. Wie passt das zusammen?

Ich glaube, dass das eine Wahrnehmungsstörung ist.

Wie meinen Sie das? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Northern member states unite on euro-zone reform

Posted by hkarner - 9. Dezember 2018

Date: 06-12-2018
Source: The Economist

The group, dubbed the New Hanseatic League, abhors fiscal transfers

In the late Middle Ages the Hanseatic League, a confederation of merchant guilds in northern Europe, dominated maritime trade in the Baltic and North seas. Now finance ministers from the northern states, characterised by their fiscally hawkish and free-market views, are hoping to set the course for reforms to the European Union. Composed of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden, the group, dubbed the New Hanseatic League, is starting to have some influence.

The immediate impulse for the alliance, which first assembled over dinner in Brussels about a year ago, is Brexit. The group had considered its interests well enough represented as long as Britain’s free-market stance and Germany’s fiscal prudence tempered the French enthusiasm for “solidarity” (ie, redistribution) and protectionism. But Britain’s withdrawal means that they have lost a champion of openness.

At the same time, the French and the Germans have an irksome habit of cooking up reforms to the single-currency area between them. The latest example of that was in June, when Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel agreed a common position. Their declaration formed the basis for the package of reforms that eu finance ministers thrashed out on December 4th, and which will be formally agreed on by heads of state in Brussels on December 14th. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Our end-of-year awards celebrate the worst in politics

Posted by hkarner - 9. Dezember 2018

Date: 06-12-2018
Source: The Economist: Bagehot

And the winner is…

One of the highlights of any political journalist’s year is the Spectator dinner. Politicians and hacks drink fine champagne, eat good food and exchange juicy gossip, while the magazine’s editor hands out awards to Members of Parliament. But this year’s dinner, held on November 28th, had a surreal air. It was as if the Russian political class was toasting its brilliance in 1917 or the German one celebrating its triumphs in 1932.

The awards are supposed to recognise the best of the British parliamentary system. That system is convulsed by its worst crisis in the democratic era, as politicians fall over each other to make fools of themselves and ancient traditions crumble. Everywhere you look you can see politics at its worst: conspiracy, back-stabbing, grandstanding and chaos. So, in tune with the spirit of the times, we present an alternative set of awards.

Starting with the minor gongs, let’s honour the seat-blocker of the year. The one thing that the Conservative Party has going for it is a rising generation of talented mps, but their progress into government is being stymied by ministers who should never have been promoted. Liam Fox, the trade secretary, and Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, are strong candidates for this award, but nobody can hold a candle to the transport secretary, Chris “Failing” Grayling, whose combination of incompetence and unpopularity put him several lengths ahead of the rest. Not only did Mr Grayling mess up the introduction of a new train timetable so badly that whole sections of the railway system seized up, but he tried to palm the blame off on everybody but himself. This week a parliamentary committee produced a report on his performance so withering that, in normal times, he would have had to resign. But Mr Grayling had taken the precaution of being the first cabinet minister in David Cameron’s government to back Brexit, thus making himself unsackable. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Brexit Is Falling Apart — Slowly

Posted by hkarner - 9. Dezember 2018

Date: 07-12-2018
Source: Foreign Policy BY OWEN MATTHEWS

Decisions in Europe and the U.K. make their separation less likely.

Could this week mark the moment when Britain turned against Brexit? Two developments in a day of high parliamentary drama seemed to mark a sea change in the political landscape as the U.K.’s Parliament embarked on five days of debate over the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

First came the news that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is likely to rule that Britain may unilaterally suspend the exit process from the EU without consulting other members—or the ECJ itself. That undermines Prime Minister Theresa May’s argument that members of Parliament face a choice between the deal she had negotiated with Brussels or an economically disastrous no-deal exit. Soon, lawmakers will probably have a third option: to push back the March 29 deadline for Britain’s departure to allow time for more talks, or a second referendum.

Later on Tuesday Parliament backed a motion put forth by anti-Brexit member of Parliament Dominic Grieve that effectively gives lawmakers control of the endgame of the Brexit process. If, as seems highly probable, May fails to achieve a majority for her exit deal due to opposition from both hardcore Brexit purists and advocates of remaining in the EU, Parliament will have the final word on what happens next. That effectively puts the disaster scenario of Britain crashing out of Europe in March with no deal off the table. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Yes, this is the dumbest American president ever speaking

Posted by hkarner - 9. Dezember 2018

Date: 08-12-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Subject: Tillerson Says President Was Undisciplined; Trump Calls Him ‘Dumb as a Rock’

President Trump reacted on Twitter to ex-aide’s remarks, also calling his former top diplomat ‘lazy as hell’

During his tenure as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, left, appeared out of step with President Trump.

President Trump and his former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, exchanged criticism and insults in full public view late this week.

Mr. Tillerson, speaking first in an interview nearly nine months after his firing as secretary of state, attributed his clashes with Mr. Trump during his time in office to differences in style and values, as well as to the president’s frustration with his guidance.

“Part of it was, obviously, we are starkly different in our styles. We did not have a common value system,” Mr. Tillerson told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer on Thursday. He also said Mr. Trump was undisciplined, didn’t read and didn’t like to delve into the details of issues.

Mr. Trump responded in a Twitter message Friday afternoon in which he praised current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, adding: “His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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All the Taxes in France

Posted by hkarner - 9. Dezember 2018

Date: 08-12-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By The Editorial Board

Even before the fuel tax, France had the highest burden in the West.

The world knows about the misbegotten fuel tax that has triggered the riots for which Paris is again preparing on Saturday. But the political wonder is that President Emmanuel Macron would think the French needed another increase in a country that is already the most heavily taxed in the developed world. This is a deeper cause of the political crisis engulfing Mr. Macron.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its annual Revenue Statistics report this week, and France topped the charts, with a tax take equal to 46.2% of GDP in 2017. That’s more than Denmark (46%), Sweden (44%) and Germany (37.5%), and far more than the OECD average (34.2%) or the U.S. (27.1%, which includes all levels of government).

France doesn’t collect that revenue in the ways you might think. Despite the stereotype of heavy European income taxes on the rich, Paris relies disproportionately on social-insurance, payroll and property taxes. Social taxes account for 37% of French revenue; the OECD average is 26%. Payroll and property taxes contribute 3% and 9%, compared to the OECD averages of 1% and 6%. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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