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The High Financial Price of Our Short Attention Spans

Posted by hkarner - 23. Oktober 2018

Date: 22-10-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Information overload is giving us little time to focus on any of it—and leading us to make bad choices about our money

Digital devices are potentially damaging your wallet—but not in the way you might think.

Smartphones and other gadgets allow us to follow our friends, read the news, watch a football game and even track our investments anytime, and nearly anywhere. We’re always multitasking, or moving from one bit of information to the next, and rarely looking at one piece of information long enough to fully digest it.

All this has one crucial side effect: It creates a shortage of attention, which can lead to poor financial choices.

When it comes to our money, effective decision-making typically requires information, concentration and reflection. Not so long ago, the main scarcity was information—we lacked the data to make informed financial decisions. But now we are drowning in data. What we lack, instead, is the ability to properly process it. The price we pay for that may be subtle, but it’s hardly insignificant. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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The Real Reason They Hate Trump

Posted by hkarner - 23. Oktober 2018

Date: 22-10-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal by David Gelernter

He’s the average American in exaggerated form—blunt, simple, willing to fight, mistrustful of intellectuals.

Every big U.S. election is interesting, but the coming midterms are fascinating for a reason most commentators forget to mention: The Democrats have no issues. The economy is booming and America’s international position is strong. In foreign affairs, the U.S. has remembered in the nick of time what Machiavelli advised princes five centuries ago: Don’t seek to be loved, seek to be feared.

The contrast with the Obama years must be painful for any honest leftist. For future generations, the Kavanaugh fight will stand as a marker of the Democratic Party’s intellectual bankruptcy, the flashing red light on the dashboard that says “Empty.” The left is beaten.

This has happened before, in the 1980s and ’90s and early 2000s, but then the financial crisis arrived to save liberalism from certain destruction. Today leftists pray that Robert Mueller will put on his Superman outfit and save them again.

For now, though, the left’s only issue is “We hate Trump.” This is an instructive hatred, because what the left hates about Donald Trump is precisely what it hates about America. The implications are important, and painful. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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In Win for Trump, Merkel Changes Course on U.S. Gas Imports

Posted by hkarner - 23. Oktober 2018

Date: 22-10-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Chancellor calls her decision to open Germany up to U.S. liquefied natural gas a ‘strategic’ move

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a decision to co-finance a liquefied natural gas shipping terminal a ‘strategic’ move, according to people familiar with the matter.

BERLIN—Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered government support to efforts to open up Germany to U.S. gas, a key concession to President Trump as he tries to loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s largest energy market.

Over breakfast this month, the chancellor told a small group of lawmakers her government had decided to co-finance the construction of a €500 million ($576 million) liquefied natural gas shipping terminal in northern Germany, according to people familiar with the meeting, giving a crucial nudge to a project that had failed to get off the ground for years in a country that gets most of its gas cheaply from Russia.

Mr. Trump has intensively lobbied Europe to buy significant amounts of LNG as part of his campaign to rewrite the terms of trade relations. German and U.S. officials said Berlin hoped embracing U.S. gas might help solve a protracted trade dispute and possibly even defuse threats by Washington to sanction Nord Stream 2, an unbuilt German-Russian gas pipeline that would double Russia’s existing gas export capacity to Germany. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Italiens Banken in Bedrängnis

Posted by hkarner - 22. Oktober 2018

Roms Schuldenmisere bedroht den Finanzsektor des Landes. Erste Regierungsvertreter erkennen den Ernst der Lage und fordern mehr Verantwortungsbewusstsein ein.

Mit der schlechteren Bonitätsnote dürfte es für die Regierung noch teurer werden sich frisches Geld am Kapitalmarkt zu leihen. 

Wien/Rom. Der Haushaltskurs der populistischen Regierung in Rom stößt auch innerhalb des Landes auf Kritik. Zwar hält eine Mehrheit der Bevölkerung die geplante Neuverschuldung für tragbar, doch bei den italienischen Banken rumort es bereits kräftig. Am heutigen Montag läuft eine Frist der EU-Kommission ab, auf die Kritik der Brüsseler Behörde an der geplanten Ausweitung der Neuverschuldung zu antworten. Italiens Ministerpräsident Giuseppe Conte schlug am Wochenende zwar versöhnlichere Töne an: Es werde einen „konstruktiven Dialog“ geben, ein Euro-Austritt sei nicht geplant. In der Sache blieben die Italiener aber stur: Man halte weiter an der Verdreifachung des geplanten Defizits fest. Aber immerhin wolle sich die Regierung Mühe geben, die Haushaltspläne besser zu erklären.

Doch nicht alle in der Koalition sehen die Lage so entspannt. Giancarlo Giorgetti, Sekretär des Ministerrates im Kabinett Conte, warnte am Sonntag, dass die steigenden Zinsen, die Italien seinen Anleihegläubigern bieten müsse, Spannungen im Finanzsystem erhöhen würden. „Das ist ein Risiko für die Banken, das wir nicht ignorieren können“, sagte der Lega-Politiker im Interview mit „Il Messaggero“. Italiens Banken zählen zu den größten Gläubigern der Regierung in Rom. Zugleich sitzen sie auch noch auf 260 Milliarden Euro an faulen Krediten aus der letzten Finanzkrise. Etliche Institute könnten Refinanzierung benötigen, wenn sich die Lage weiter verschärfe, sagte Giorgetti. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Bill Gates: How Paul Allen Changed My Life

Posted by hkarner - 22. Oktober 2018

Date: 21-10-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Bill Gates

Gates describes the moment Allen showed him a new computer called the Altair 8800, which marked the end of Gates’s college career and the beginning of Microsoft

I met Paul Allen when I was in 7th grade, and it changed my life.

I looked up to him right away. He was two years ahead of me in school, really tall, and proved to be a genius with computers. (Later, he also had a very cool beard, the type I could never pull off myself.) We bonded over the teletype that some students’ mothers had bought for the school and had connected to a remote mainframe.

Eventually we were spending just about all our free time messing around with any machine we could get our hands on. At an age when other high school kids were sneaking out of the house to go partying, Paul and I would sneak out at night to go use the computers in a lab at the University of Washington. It sounds geeky, and it was, but it was also a formative experience, and I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do it without Paul. I know it would have been a lot less fun. (“Borrowing” computer time illicitly would become something of a theme for us. Later, when I was a student at Harvard, I got in trouble for letting Paul use the campus computer lab without permission.)

Even in high school, before most people knew what a personal computer was, Paul predicted that chips would get super-powerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Powerlessness of the Most Powerful

Posted by hkarner - 22. Oktober 2018

Oct 20, 2018 Javier Solana, Project Syndicate

Javier Solana was EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of NATO, and Foreign Minister of Spain. He is currently President of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics, Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe.

The president of the leading global power has made it clear that he has no interest in getting involved in resolving any of the world’s shared problems, dressing up his foreign policy as one of „principled realism.“ But there is nothing principled or realistic about it.

MADRID – The annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly is one of the most notable events on the international diplomatic calendar. As usual, this year’s meeting, during the last week of September, brought together a long list of world leaders, although perhaps the term “world leader” should no longer be used so lightly. The president of the leading global power has made it clear that he has no interest in getting involved in resolving any of the world’s shared problems. Unfortunately, he is not alone.

Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Die hohen Kosten eines Finanzzentrums

Posted by hkarner - 21. Oktober 2018

Howard Davies, the first chairman of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority (1997-2003), is Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland. He was Director of the London School of Economics (2003-11) and served as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry.

LONDON – Während die Brexit-Verhandlungen Großbritanniens weiterholpern, nutzen andere europäische Länder die Zeit der Ungewissheit hinsichtlich der künftigen Finanzmarkt-Regulierung, um Firmen und Aktivitäten aus London in konkurrierende Finanzzentren zu locken. Die Franzosen unterstützen Paris besonders aktiv, aber Frankfurt liegt, trotz halbherziger Unterstützung der Regierung in Berlin, nicht weit zurück. Und auch andere Städte wie Luxemburg, Dublin und Amsterdam haben ihre roten Teppiche ausgerollt. So beliebt waren Banker schon seit einem Jahrzehnt oder noch länger nicht.  

Aber sollten andere Städte London nachahmen und zu einem globalen Finanzzentrum werden wollen? Ist man sich in diesen Städten bewusst, was gut für sie und ihre jeweiligen Volkswirtschaften ist?

Die weltweite Finanzkrise des Jahres 2008 hat zu einem Umdenken hinsichtlich der diesbezüglichen Vor- und Nachteile geführt. Definitiv von Vorteil ist ein bedeutendes Finanzzentrum im eigenen Land für Porsche-Händler, angesagte Champagner-Bars und Nachtclubs. Von mancher Seite wird allerdings argumentiert, dass die Nachteile im Hinblick auf die Auswirkungen auf die übrige Wirtschaft zu schwerwiegend sind, um sie außer Acht zu lassen.

Andy Haldane, Chefvolkswirt der Bank of England, bezeichnet zumindest Teile der Bankenbranche als „Schadstoffe“. Das „systemische Risiko”, so Haldane, „ist ein schädliches Abfallprodukt”, von dem „Gefahr für arglose Unbeteiligte in der Wirtschaft ausgeht.“  Einige Länder, darunter das Vereinigte Königreich, tragen weiterhin „die sozialen Kosten, die Bankenkrisen für die Allgemeinheit bringen.“ Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Emmanuel Macron’s deepening problems

Posted by hkarner - 21. Oktober 2018

Date: 18-10-2018
Source: The Economist

They are more of style than substance, but still matter

For a politician with a passion for theatre, Emmanuel Macron has a poor mastery of suspense. On October 2nd he lost his interior minister, Gérard Collomb, who had complained about the French president’s “lack of humility”. It took him two weeks to find a replacement, and the longer the wait went on, the more it fuelled conjecture. Was the president too enfeebled to attract good candidates? Was his young party’s talent pool that shallow? Might even the prime minister, Edouard Philippe, be having second thoughts? On October 16th, when Mr Macron finally unveiled his new team, it was a mix of unknowns and loyalists that scarcely made a splash.

If Mr Macron was hoping to reboot his presidency with a headline-grabbing line-up, this was not it. The solid but discreet Mr Philippe remains in his job, as does Bruno Le Maire, the finance minister. Into the interior ministry steps Christophe Castaner, the outgoing head of La République en Marche (lrem), the party Mr Macron founded just two years ago. A former Socialist, he brings political balance to a government led by an ex-Republican, Mr Philippe. A one-time mayor from south-east France, who never attended elite Parisian schools, the burly Mr Castaner is also a useful counterpoint to Mr Macron, a former investment banker and graduate of the high-flying Ecole Nationale d’Administration. No specialist in security, Mr Castaner is backed by a new junior minister, Laurent Nuñez, the outgoing head of the domestic intelligence service. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Large economic gains can come from mundane improvements in policy

Posted by hkarner - 21. Oktober 2018

Date: 20-10-2018
Source: The Economist

Three suggestions for better government

Readers of The Economist are easily roused by debates over unconventional monetary policy, the merits of fiscal stimulus and innovative structural reforms. (Don’t deny it.) Other areas of economic policy may lack the same thrilling sense of excitement, but dullness is not the same as irrelevance. There are large gains to be had by doing drab things a little bit better. Take three examples: maintenance, management of state assets and public-sector accounting.

Raising money for repairs is harder than finding the cash for flashy new projects that you can stick your name on. In recent decades America has built many useless new roads, yet the fraction of existing road surfaces that are too bumpy has risen from 10% in 1997 to 21% today. Potholes gradually damage vehicles that drive over them. Faulty locks on the Kiel Canal, which connects the Baltic and North seas, leave ships queuing to get through; sometimes they are forced on a detour around Denmark. Maintenance failures can also lead to fatal catastrophes like the recent bridge collapse in Genoa in Italy.

Yet if the costs of skimping on repairs can become tragically apparent, it is hard to spot maintenance shortfalls across the economy as a whole. Estimating how quickly assets deteriorate is tricky; so too is the job of tracking repairs, which are often undertaken by companies in-house. Canada has the best figures. It reckons that firms spend 3.3% of gdp on maintenance, more than twice what the country shells out on research and development. That makes repairs important to the economy in the short term, as well as over time. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A debate about central-bank independence is overdue

Posted by hkarner - 20. Oktober 2018

Date: 18-10-2018
Source: The Economist

In a low-inflation world, links between governments and monetary policymakers need rethinking

The federal reserve has heard worse. But when the president complains that it has gone “crazy” by tightening monetary policy, as Donald Trump did on October 10th, Americans fret that another norm is about to be overturned. An independent central bank is considered a pillar of a modern economy; presidents are supposed to mutter any criticisms they might have in private. But is that really for the best? Although Mr Trump’s complaints were not intended to start a high-minded debate, one is overdue.

Operational independence for central banks is relatively new. The principle grew out of work in the late 1970s and early 1980s by prominent economists working in the “rational expectations” school of economic thought, among them Finn Kydland and Edward Prescott, who were eventually awarded the Nobel prize. They considered the implications of people’s ability to look into the future and to anticipate the behaviour of self-interested politicians. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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