Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

How tech giants are ruled by control freaks

Posted by hkarner - 25. November 2017

Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Facebook, Google, Alibaba et al offer lessons in the dark arts of corporate control

THIS month Schumpeter visited the Barnes Foundation, a gallery in Philadelphia full of paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh. Albert Barnes, born in 1872, is notable for two things. He made a fortune from an antiseptic that cured gonorrhoea. And he stipulated exactly how his art collection should be posthumously displayed. The result is hundreds of paintings jammed together nonsensically, often in poky rooms, and the creepy feeling of a tycoon controlling you from the grave.

Barnes’s string-pulling comes to mind when considering today’s prominent tycoons, who often hail from technology, e-commerce and media. At the moment they seem omnipotent. But many founders are gradually cashing in shares in their companies. The consequences will vary by firm, with some tycoons gradually ceding control, and others clinging on to it.

A flurry of selling activity has been in evidence of late. On September 13th Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, co-founders of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce behemoth, said they planned to sell up to $4bn of stock by the end of 2018. Nine days later Mark Zuckerberg said he would dispose of Facebook shares worth up to $13bn by early 2019. Jeff Bezos has cashed in $2bn of Amazon stock this year. Pony Ma, the boss of Tencent, a Chinese digital giant—and no relation to Jack—intends to sell $5bn of its stock (although the timetable is unknown). The transactions add up to a tenth of the total value of these founders’ holdings in their companies. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Millennials are coming into money and want to invest it responsibly

Posted by hkarner - 24. November 2017

Date: 24-11-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Generation SRI: Sustainable investment joins the mainstream

IN 2008, when she was in her mid-20s and sitting on a $500m inheritance, Liesel Pritzker Simmons asked her bankers about “impact investing”. They fobbed her off. “They didn’t understand what I meant and offered to screen out tobacco,” recalls the Hyatt Hotels descendant, philanthropist and former child film star. So she fired her bankers and advisers and set up her own family office, Blue Haven Initiative. It seeks investments that both offer market-rate returns and have a positive impact on society and the environment. “Financially it’s sensible risk mitigation,” she says. “Our philanthropy becomes far more efficient if we don’t need to undo damage done in our investment management.”

Such ideas are gaining ground, particularly among the young. Fans of “socially responsible investment” (SRI) hope that millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, will drag these concepts into the investment mainstream. SRI is a broad-brush term, that can be used to cover everything from divestment from companies seen as doing harm, to limiting investment to companies that do measurable good (impact investing). The US Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, a lobby group, estimates that more than a fifth ($8.7trn) of the funds under professional management in America is screened on SRI criteria, broadly defined, up from a ninth in 2012 (see chart). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How America does, and does not, redistribute income

Posted by hkarner - 24. November 2017

Date: 23-11-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: For richer, for poorer

American taxes are unusually progressive. Government spending is not

AMERICANS are not known for their love of income redistribution. Asked to rank, on a scale of one to ten, how important it is for democracies to reduce inequality, they say only six; Europeans say eight. Yet the country is hardly indifferent to who gets which slice of the economic pie. Three in five Americans say that income and wealth should be spread around more. The most potent charge laid against the unpopular Republican tax plan making its way through Congress is that it is a giveaway to the rich and to corporations—groups that voters, by large margins, think should pay more tax, not less.

This strange amalgam of views manifests itself in fiscal policy. The federal government has no qualms about making the rich pay the country’s bills; it has perhaps the most progressive tax system in the rich world, according to one study from 2009. But it pulls off only half of Robin Hood’s trick, because it funnels very little of the money it raises towards the poor. In combination, its reluctance to redistribute is the stronger force. America’s government reduces inequality by much less than those of other rich countries (see chart). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Wealth inequality has been increasing for millennia

Posted by hkarner - 24. November 2017

Date: 23-11-2017
Source: The Economist

Neolithic societies were far more egalitarian

THE one-percenters are now gobbling up more of the pie in America—that much is well known. This trend, though disconcerting, is not unique to the modern era. A new study by Timothy Kohler of Washington State University and 17 others finds that inequality may well have been rising for several thousand years, at least in some parts of the world. The scholars examined 63 archaeological sites and estimated the levels of wealth inequality in the societies whose remains were dug up, by studying the distributions of house sizes.

As a measure they used the Gini coefficient (a perfectly equal society would have a Gini coefficient of zero). It rose from about 0.2 around 8000BC in Jerf el-Ahmar, on the Euphrates in modern-day Syria, to 0.5 in around 79AD in Pompeii. Data on burial goods, though sparse, suggest similar trends. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Uncool Britannia?

Posted by hkarner - 22. November 2017

Date: 21-11-2017
Source: The Economist

How Britain will appear to its friends?

BRITAIN
Clothing, shoes and sunglasses can be cool; songs, plays, films and meals sometimes qualify too, as can people’s attitudes. But what about countries? Britain, 20 years ago, was labelled “Cool Britannia”. In the run-up to Brexit, will 2018 turn out to be the year it is widely viewed as Uncool Britannia?

Cool Britannia was always something of a marketing gimmick, one that Tony Blair’s slick spin-doctors were naturally happy to cultivate. But it did capture a period of increased pride in British culture and leadership in the late 1990s. The expression echoed “Rule, Britannia”, a patriotic song. Politics, music, fashion, the arts, food, football: people in Britain, and abroad, seemed to feel that things in the country were going refreshingly well.

This came as a striking contrast with the painful 1970s (when Britain was often seen as the “sick man of Europe”) and the rowdy 1980s (when Margaret Thatcher always seemed happy to pick a fight, however necessary this might be in order to recover from that sickness). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How quickly will machines sweep man aside?

Posted by hkarner - 22. November 2017

Date: 21-11-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Human obsolescence?

Predictions about artificial intelligence (AI) have a patchy record. Any greybeard in the field will tell you tales of previous hype cycles in the 1970s and 1980s that crashed when their fabulous promises were not fulfilled. 

Now, though, times are good again. A spurt of progress in machine learning, a sub-field of AI, has companies piling in. The technology is being used for everything from working out how best to aim advertisements at web-surfers to how to develop self-driving cars. A landmark was working out how to beat humans at Go, an East Asian strategy game that computers have historically found hard. An AI created by DeepMind, a British sub­sidiary of Google, beat a human champion of the game in 2015.

Can such progress continue? A group of researchers at the universities of Oxford and Yale decided to poll hundreds of attendees at two well-regarded AI conferences. First, the good news. The researchers believed that it would be around 125 years before computers were sufficiently advanced to be better than humans at all the suggested tasks. Those who worry about an AI “explosion”, in which clever computers design ones that are cleverer still, and do so far faster than humans can follow, can rest easy as well. The AI researchers reckoned that one of the last jobs to be automated would be “AI researcher” (although that might just suggest AI researchers are as prone to wishful thinking as anybody else). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The pendulum of power swings back towards the state

Posted by hkarner - 21. November 2017

A remarkable and brilliant analysis by the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Economist (hfk)

Date: 21-11-2017
Source: The Economist

Three reasons to expect a shift in the balance between governments and markets, predicts Zanny Minton Beddoes

LEADERS
If 2016 was the year of shock populist victories, 2017 brought a surprisingly placid response. There was plenty of anguished rhetoric. Commentators (including this one) fretted about the liberal world order. Mainstream politicians promised a reboot of globalisation that addressed the anger of left-behind voters. But in practice remarkably little changed.

The world economy accelerated to its strongest pace since the start of the decade; stockmarkets hit record highs and measures of financial risk were unusually low. In the two countries where populists had most dramatically upended the status quo, the immediate policy consequences were both modest and strikingly backward-looking. Britain’s Brexit vote was followed by an election that left the Conservative Party enfeebled, whereas the Labour opposition soared with a 1970s agenda of nationalisation, union power and higher taxes. In America President Donald Trump took potshots at globalisation (cancelling a trans-Pacific trade deal and promising that America would pull out of the Paris climate accord). But his main economic focus was on deregulation and tax cuts: the standard Republican fare since the 1980s.

Even Emmanuel Macron, who surged to power in France with the promise of a new kind of pro-globalisation social contract, began with reforms to the labour-market that most other European countries had enacted years ago. If populism is remaking capitalism, it seems so far to be a modest recalibration.

It is unlikely to stay that way. As 2017 draws to a close, the strong performance of insurgent parties in elections in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic shows that the rich world’s populist wave has hardly dissipated. In Italy, the elections in 2018 might give the anti-establishment Five Star Movement the largest number of seats in Parliament. Some emerging markets will also see a populist surge, notably Mexico, where Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a seasoned firebrand, has gained from Mr Trump’s anti-Mexican rants. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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British politics is being profoundly reshaped by populism

Posted by hkarner - 18. November 2017

Date: 16-11-2017
Source: The Economist

Britain ought to have been immune to populism. Instead it is becoming an unlikely victim

BRITAIN should have been better placed than any other country to fight off the populist fever that is spreading around the world. The House of Commons is one of the oldest representative institutions on Earth. The country’s last violent revolution was in the middle of the 17th century. With politicians as different as Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher denouncing them as “a device for dictators and demagogues”, Britain avoided nationwide referendums until 1975 and has only used them three times. The British erect statues to statesmen and women in Parliament rather than to “the people”.

Yet British politics is currently being reshaped by populism. The essence of populism is the belief that society can be divided into two antagonistic classes—the people and the powerful. The people are presumed to have a single will. The powerful are presumed to be devious and corrupt: determined to feather their own nests and adept at using intermediary institutions (courts, media companies, political parties) to frustrate the people. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Negative-emissions technology

Posted by hkarner - 18. November 2017

Date: 16-11-2017
Source: The Economist

What they don’t tell you about climate change

Stopping the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not enough. It has to be sucked out, too

TWO years ago the world pledged to keep global warming “well below” 2°C hotter than pre-industrial times. Climate scientists and campaigners purred. Politicians patted themselves on the back. Despite the Paris agreement’s ambiguities and some setbacks, including President Donald Trump’s decision to yank America out of the deal, the air of self-congratulation was still on show among those who gathered in Bonn this month for a follow-up summit.

Yet the most damaging thing about America’s renewed spasm of climate-change rejection may not be the effect on its own emissions, which could turn out to be negligible. It is the cover America has given other countries to avoid acknowledging the problems of the agreement America is abandoning. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Can Germany take the strain?

Posted by hkarner - 18. November 2017

Date: 16-11-2017
Source: The Economist

Charting a new German foreign policy

American retreat and European disunity are forcing Germany to rethink its role

IT WAS a heart-warming moment in the freezing wind of the Alsatian mountains. On November 10th the presidents of Germany and France, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Emmanuel Macron  shared a hug as they opened a French-German war memorial at Hartmannswillerkopf, where 30,000 soldiers died during months-long battles for control of the peak in 1915. Every generation had to be reminded anew, said Mr Steinmeier, why the task “to lead Europe into a hope-filled, better future” fell to Germany and France.

Mr Steinmeier’s remarks underscored a commitment to European union, one of the twin pillars of German foreign policy since 1945, alongside participation in a multilateral world underwritten by America. But warm words cannot disguise the fact that these days both pillars are shaky. America under Donald Trump is retreating from its role as underwriter, in favour of a doctrine of national self-interest. Europe faces a number of simmering crises. East and west are divided over migration; north and south over the future of the euro zone. Separatism in Britain and Spain adds further instability. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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