Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

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Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin behave like the best of buddies

Posted by hkarner - 29. Juli 2017

Date: 27-07-2017
Source: The Economist

But suspicion between Russia and China runs deep

ON JULY 21st three Chinese warships sailed into the Baltic Sea for China’s first war games in those waters with Russia’s fleet. The two powers wanted to send a message to America and to audiences at home: we are united in opposing the West’s domination, and we are not afraid to show off our muscle in NATO’s backyard. The war games were also intended to show how close the friendship between China and Russia has become—so much has changed since the days of bitter cold-war enmity that endured between them from the 1960s to the 1980s.

There has been an abundance of such symbolism in recent weeks. On his way to this month’s meeting in Germany of leaders from the G20 group of countries, China’s president, Xi Jinping, stopped off in Moscow. There his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, hung an elaborate medallion around his neck: the Order of St Andrew, Russia’s highest state award. At the G20 (where they are pictured), “only two leaders in the world exuded calm confidence,” Dmitry Kiselev, a cheerleader for the Kremlin, said on his television show in reference to Mr Putin and Mr Xi. “Russia is pivoting to the east. China is turning to the west—towards Russia,” he crowed. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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More and more Westerners have no kids. They should not be criticised for it

Posted by hkarner - 29. Juli 2017

Date: 27-07-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: In defence of the childless

ONE by one, prejudices are tumbling in the West. People may harbour private suspicions that other people’s race, sex or sexuality makes them inferior—but to say so openly is utterly taboo. As most kinds of prejudiced talk become the preserve of anonymous social-media ranters, though, one old strain remains respectable. Just ask a childless person.

They are not subject to special taxes, as they were in Soviet Russia; nor are they driven from their homes, as they still are in some poor countries. The childless nonetheless come in for a lot of criticism. “Not to have children is a selfish choice,” Pope Francis has intoned, perhaps forgetting what the Bible says about motes and eyes. Others point out that non-parents are failing to produce the future workers who will pay for their pensions. Childless politicians are charged with not having a proper stake in society. “He talks to us about the future, but he doesn’t have children!” complained Jean-Marie Le Pen, co-founder of the National Front party, of Emmanuel Macron, who went on to win the French presidency. Similar attacks on Theresa May and Angela Merkel also failed—but researchers find that many voters quietly agree.

The charges against the childless should be thrown out, along with other social calumnies. In many rich countries, between 15% and 20% of women, and a slightly higher proportion of men, will not have children. The share is rising. Some have medical problems; others do not meet the right person in time; still others decide they do not want them. Falling sperm counts in rich countries may play a role, too. Whatever the cause, the attacks on the childless are baseless. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Brexodus? :Britain’s car industry gets a Mini boost but faces major problems

Posted by hkarner - 29. Juli 2017

Date: 27-07-2017
Source: The Economist

BMW announces a welcome investment. But the road ahead looks bumpy

BRITAIN’S car industry has been running at high revs. Over 1.7m vehicles rolled off production lines last year, the most since 1999. If growth continued at recent rates, the all-time record of 1.9m, set in 1972, would be broken within a couple of years. On July 25th BMW, which owns the Mini brand, announced that it would build an all-electric model of the compact car in Oxford from 2019, rather than making it in the Netherlands, as it had threatened in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

Yet the mood among British carmakers is a mixture of nervousness and gloom. In spite of BMW’s announcement, few feel reassured about the long-term future of the industry. Indeed, some fear that last year’s vote to leave the European Union could run them off the road. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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A summer reading list for Brussels’s bureaucrats

Posted by hkarner - 28. Juli 2017

Date: 27-07-2017
Source: The Economist

The future of Europe in one giant pile of beach reading

“HOW hard it is to escape from places,” Katherine Mansfield, an author from New Zealand, once wrote to a friend. She had a point, but long paid holidays and low-cost airlines do help. To judge by the tumbleweed blowing through the offices and halls of Brussels this week, the wallahs of the European Union have not found fleeing town too much of a wrench.

Recent summers have been marred by crises perfectly timed to ruin officials’ holiday plans. In despair at the turn Europe seemed to be taking, some turned to gloomy tomes by Joseph Roth or Stefan Zweig to explain the atavistic nationalism they feared was taking hold. This year’s vacationers leave town in brighter spirits. Relieved from concerns over the EU’s imminent collapse, many will indulge in chick lit or crime novels, to be devoured and discarded as swiftly as the latest Greek economic forecast. But for those looking to understand the current European moment, Charlemagne offers an alternative reading guide. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Britain and America suffer from similar delusions on trade

Posted by hkarner - 28. Juli 2017

Date: 27-07-2017
Source: The Economist

A special relationship with reality

NO TWO countries are doing more to strain the fabric of modern trade than America and Britain. President Donald Trump wants to rewrite the terms of America’s trade relationships with everyone from Mexico to South Korea. After its vote to leave the European Union, Britain faces having to negotiate fresh trade deals with both the EU and countries beyond.

The pair’s tone on trade is different: one wants to put “America First”, the other to create a “global Britain”. But both visions are predicated on the idea of striking swift, bilateral deals, and each has identified the other as the perfect partner. At a meeting of G20 leaders this month, Mr Trump spoke of a “powerful deal, great for both countries”, which would be done “very, very quickly”. On July 24th Liam Fox, Britain’s international trade secretary, met his American counterparts to start talks about a post-Brexit agreement. A day later the president tweeted his excitement: “Working on major Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. Could be very big & exciting. JOBS!”

An agreement between Britain and America would be a good thing in principle. Tariffs are already pretty low, although Mr Trump may have his eye on a 10% tariff on cars imported from America. But differences in rules and standards impede the flow of goods and services, worth $227bn in 2016, between the two countries. In practice, however, Mr Trump and, especially, the Brexiteers suffer from several profound delusions. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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British politics has become dangerously bad-tempered

Posted by hkarner - 24. Juli 2017

Date: 23-07-2017
Source: The Economist: Bagehot

And if you don’t agree you can get stuffed

THE end of the current parliamentary session, on July 20th, is a good time to reflect on the mood of British politics. Several things catch the attention: anxiety about the future, exasperation at the childish antics of senior politicians, confusion about Brexit. But the most striking thing is anger. Politicians are angry with each other. The public is angry with politicians. The internet throbs with vitriol. American historians have dubbed the period after the war of 1812 “the era of good feelings”. The current period in British politics could be dubbed the era of bad feelings.

This week the cabinet infighting became so vicious that Theresa May, the prime minister, was forced to tell her ministers to shut up or ship out. Even more disturbing is a surge in violent threats. A year after the murder of Jo Cox, a Labour MP, by a far-right extremist, politicians of all stripes say that they fear for their safety, such is the intensity of the insults they face. The threats extend to journalists. The BBC was reportedly obliged to provide its political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, with personal security. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Emmanuel Macron is revitalising the European Union—and dividing it

Posted by hkarner - 24. Juli 2017

Date: 23-07-2017
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne

Eurocrats should temper their new optimism with a bit of caution

LIFE comes at you fast in the European Union. Barely a year ago, with the wounds from the refugee crisis still gaping, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, could be heard warning that a British vote to quit the EU threatened to bring about the collapse of western civilisation. In half the countries on the continent, snarling populists eager for European disintegration were terrifying the pro-EU establishment.

Yet over the past few months, gloom has turned to sunshine. In June Mr Tusk declared that he had never felt so optimistic about the EU. Much of the credit goes to Emmanuel Macron. France’s newly minted president has lifted pro-Europeans’ spirits not only by winning election wrapped in the EU flag but by doing so in revolutionary fashion, emerging from nowhere to humble France’s old parties (as well as Marine Le Pen, the nationalist who stalked Eurocrats’ nightmares for months). Rarely do members of the European establishment get to feel like insurgents. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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As long as the government stays in denial about Brexit’s drawbacks, the country is on course for disaster

Posted by hkarner - 22. Juli 2017

Date: 20-07-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Britain faces up to Brexit

CRISIS? What crisis? So many have been triggered in Britain by the vote a year ago to leave the European Union that it is hard to keep track. Just last month Theresa May was reduced from unassailable iron lady to just-about-managing minority prime minister. Her cabinet is engaged in open warfare as rivals position themselves to replace her. The Labour Party, which has been taken over by a hard-left admirer of Hugo Chávez, is ahead in the polls. Meanwhile a neurotic pro-Brexit press shrieks that anyone who voices doubts about the country’s direction is an unpatriotic traitor. Britain is having a very public nervous breakdown.

The chaos at the heart of government hardly bodes well for the exit negotiations with the EU, which turned to detailed matters this week and need to conclude in autumn 2018. But the day-to-day disorder masks a bigger problem. Despite the frantic political activity in Westminster—the briefing, back-stabbing and plotting—the country has made remarkably little progress since the referendum in deciding what form Brexit should take. All versions, however “hard” or “soft”, have drawbacks. Yet Britain’s leaders have scarcely acknowledged that exit will involve compromises, let alone how damaging they are likely to be. The longer they fail to face up to Brexit’s painful trade-offs, the more brutal will be the eventual reckoning with reality. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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When elites appear ineffective, voters give radicals a chance

Posted by hkarner - 22. Juli 2017

Date: 20-07-2017
Source: The Economist: Free exchange
Subject: The power of populists

WITH the defeat of Marine Le Pen in her bid for the French presidency, establishment politicians in rich countries breathed a sigh of relief. The fortunes of extremist candidates have faltered since the populist surge that put Donald Trump into the White House. But it is hard to be confident that this was populism’s high-water mark without a better understanding of what caused the swell in the first place. The most convincing explanations suggest that populist upswings are not in the past.

It is tempting to dismiss the rise of radicalism as an inevitable after-effect of the global financial crisis. Studies show that the vote shares of extreme parties, particularly on the right, tend to increase in the years after a crisis. The Depression spawned some of the 20th century’s most dangerous and radical populist movements. But the facts do not fit that story precisely. In Europe, for example, populist parties have steadily won more voters since the 1980s. What is more, populist rage is rarely focused on finance. Trade and immigration are more prominent targets. The clearest recent manifestations of the populist surge—Mr Trump’s victory and Brexit—have only an indirect link to the financial crisis. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Middle-of-the-road kingdom: China

Posted by hkarner - 18. Juli 2017

Date: 17-07-2017
Source: The Economist

For such an exciting economy, China’s growth numbers are suspiciously boring. Last year the country reported the same figure—6.7%—for three quarters in a row. The headline data for the first half of 2017, released today, conformed to this pattern of implausible consistency. They showed growth of 6.9% in the second quarter, following 6.9% in the first.

Beneath the surface, however, some more interesting trends are playing out. China’s nominal growth number, which makes no adjustment for inflation, is often a better guide to momentum than the “real” number. It slowed dramatically in late 2015 and has since recovered strongly. The recovery gave the government confidence to tighten credit and crack down on shadow banking. That, in turn, precipitated a spike in interest rates and a bond-market rout, prompting the government to back off a little. It takes a lot of policy zigs and zags to keep the growth figures so straight and narrow.

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