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Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn, saboteur

Posted by hkarner - 11. Juni 2016

Date: 09-06-2016
Source: The Economist

Lacklustre and poorly led, the Labour Party is letting down the Remain campaign

IN 1975 a Labour government, split on Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community (as it then was), put the matter to a referendum. Most of its supporters wanted to leave, so it fell to the pro-European Conservatives to trumpet the case for staying. Margaret Thatcher, their leader, campaigned in a hideous sweater bespangled with European flags and railed against “the parochial politics of ‘minding our own business’”. On the day, two-thirds of Britons voted to remain.

The intervening decades have reversed the politics. The party of David Cameron, the Tory prime minister, is now deeply divided on Europe, so to win the referendum on June 23rd he needs the pro-Remain Labour Party to beat the drum.

Corbyn CCYet with polls narrowing—as we went to press five of the most recent eight had put Leave ahead —it is failing to do so. Jeremy Corbyn, its leader, is no Thatcher. Hailing from the rump of the old Eurosceptic left, he sees the EU as a capitalist conspiracy. He voted to leave in 1975 and probably would again if Labour’s pro-EU MPs and supporters let him.

Mr Corbyn did not make his first pro-EU intervention until mid-April, fully two months after Mr Cameron called the referendum. Since then he has been a bit player at best. When researchers at Loughborough University ranked the ten most reported-on politicians in the second half of May, he did not even make the list (partly by his own design: he had spent part of the period on holiday). By refusing to campaign alongside Tories—doing so would “discredit” the party, sniffs John McDonnell, his shadow chancellor—he has ruled himself out of every important Remain event and televised debate.

When Mr Corbyn does bother to intervene, he is a study in reluctance. His “pro-EU” speeches are litanies of complaints about the union. Voters should back Remain, he says, because the Conservatives would not negotiate the right sort of Brexit. On June 2nd he declared Treasury warnings about the consequences of leaving as “hysterical hype” and “mythmaking”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Towards 2050: Vorsprung durch Technik

Posted by hkarner - 11. Juni 2016

Date: 09-06-2016
Source: The Economist

Technology will transform farmers’ lives in both the rich and the poor world

ONE of the greatest unsung triumphs of human progress is that most people are no longer working on the land. That is not to demean farming. Rather, it is to praise the monumental productivity growth in the industry, achieved almost entirely by the application of technology in the form of farm machinery, fertilisers and other agrochemicals, along with scientifically improved crops and livestock. In 1900 around 41% of America’s labour force worked on a farm; now the proportion is below 2%. The effect is less marked in poorer countries, but the direction of travel is the same. The share of city-dwellers in the world’s total population reached 50% in 2007 and is still rising relentlessly, yet the shrinking proportion of people living in the countryside is still able to feed the urban majority. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Alphabet becomes the world’s largest listed company

Posted by hkarner - 11. Juni 2016

Date: 09-06-2016
Source: The Economist

AlphabetON FEBRUARY 1st, the day that Ted Cruz defeated Donald Trump in the Republican caucus in Iowa, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, won a contest of its own, vaulting past its longtime rival, Apple, to become the most valuable listed company in the world by market capitalisation. Alphabet supporters are chuffed with the firm’s strong quarterly earnings and new corporate structure, announced last August. This was the first time Alphabet has shared more information about the performance of the firm’s “moonshot” projects, such as self-driving cars and Nest smart thermostats. In 2015, these projects (ie, not including the core advertising business, Google) had an operating loss of around $3.6 billion—a hefty figure but less than some analysts had feared.

Alphabet is now predominantly an advertising firm, but it is selling a story about its ability to change and become more things to more people. Its believers think the firm will turn at least one of its moonshot projects into a significant earner of profits. The firm has a history of adeptly repositioning itself: it purchased Android in 2005 and YouTube in 2006, which helped it profit from the rise of smartphones and online video. It is also a leader in artificial intelligence, an important area of investment for internet firms today, with applications in everything from autonomous cars to photo-recognition, as well as in Google’s original internet-search business. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Banks and Brexit: Wait and hope

Posted by hkarner - 29. Mai 2016

Date: 26-05-2016
Source: The Economist

A British departure from the European Union would be costly for the world’s banks. Best not to worry until they have to

OPINION polls suggest that Brexit won’t happen. Ladbrokes, a bookmaker, is offering 4-to-1 against. But pollsters and bookies have been wrong before: what if on June 23rd Britain chooses to quit the European Union? The world’s biggest banks, for which London is a second home if not their first, have plenty of other worries: profits are thin, regulators nagging, investors impatient. The referendum is an extra headache they could do without. Banks must nevertheless be braced for turmoil should the odds be upset. And if Britain votes to leave, they will face an awkward decision: should they shift business away from Europe’s financial capital?

Banks do not have to answer that question yet. They hope they never will. Already under pressure to cut costs, they are not spending oodles on contingency plans and won’t until they have to. For now, they regard the referendum chiefly as a market event, with a known date, which could cause volatility and strain liquidity. The most obvious place to look for trouble is in the exchange rate, where there has been some pre-poll turbulence. Between the turn of the year and early April sterling slid by 9% against the euro. Now it is only 3% down—and in fact a mite stronger against both the euro and the dollar than when the referendum was called in February. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Politicians must keep better control of migration, and tell the truth

Posted by hkarner - 27. Mai 2016

Date: 26-05-2016
Source: The Economist
Subject: Welcome, up to a point

THE EARLY STAGES of Europe’s refugee crisis produced heartwarming images. Volunteers flocked to Greek islands to help the refugees clambering ashore from their overloaded rubber dinghies. Locals lined the platforms of German railway stations, applauding the migrants as they stepped off the trains. “I’ve never been so proud of my country,” says Kadidja Bedoui of We Do What We Can, a voluntary outfit in Sweden, which at the peak was receiving over 10,000 migrants a week.

But as the people kept coming, more voters started to believe populists who claimed that governments had lost control. The Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigrant party that had gained notoriety with a television spot showing burqa-clad Muslims overtaking a shuffling pensioner in a race for public funds, topped polls. Eventually Sweden’s overwhelmed government slammed on the brakes, erecting border controls and tightening asylum rules. Other European countries saw the chaos in Sweden and Germany as an example of what not to do.

International law obliges governments to help refugees who reach their borders, but domestic politics constrains their room for manoeuvre. Europe presents a double challenge. First, it is a rich region with a commitment to human rights that happens to sit next to two poor, troubled and crowded ones: Africa and the Middle East. Second, it is a (largely) borderless club of geographically concentrated states with widely varying economies, benefit systems and labour markets. Asylum-seekers shop around, leaving some EU countries to bear a far heavier burden than others. That sets governments against one another. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Vexed in Vienna

Posted by hkarner - 20. Mai 2016

 With best regards from one of Europe’s most steadfastly dull countries.  

Question: Has the Economist turned crazy? In spite of this artice, I will not vote for Hofer! (hfk)

Date: 20-05-2016

Source: The Economist: Charlemagne

One of Europe’s most steadfastly dull countries has suddenly turned interesting

WHAT is Austria’s problem? In Vienna the streets are clean, the trams rattle reliably past and the bow-tied waiters still dispense their Sachertorte with supercilious smirks. The country is well-run, prosperous and secure. There are no neglected banlieues. Even the refugees who poured through last year have stopped coming. And yet Austria is on the verge of electing a far-right president from a party with an unsavoury past.

Last month, for the first time in post-war Austria, voters in the first round of a presidential election spurned the candidates backed by the centre-left Social Democrats (SPÖ) and centre-right People’s Party (ÖVP), which run the country in a “grand coalition”. In Sunday’s run-off they must choose between Norbert Hofer, the fresh-faced candidate of the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), or Alexander Van der Bellen, an aged professor backed by the Greens. Mr Hofer is the favourite, and the rest of Europe is alarmed.

The FPÖ operates from a familiar populist-right playbook. The suits have grown sharper while the outright racism has been cloaked. The hostility has shifted from Jews to Muslims, a strategy that resonates with voters of Serbian background, whom the party has assiduously cultivated. Its leaders prefer social media to the traditional kind. Its base is poorly educated rural men. It has no good words for America but plenty for Vladimir Putin. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Business wave: the blue economy

Posted by hkarner - 19. Mai 2016

Date: 18-05-2016
Source: The Economist

Fish Farm ccIndustrialisation of the oceans is happening fast. By the end of the 2020s, two-thirds of fish consumed by humans will be farmed, many of them in cages at sea.

Offshore wind farms are expanding at a terrific clip, mostly in Europe: global capacity of just 8 gigawatts in 2014 will reach 29 GW by 2020.

Promoting maritime business, from dredging to deep seabed mining, the cruise-ship industry to offshore oil and gas, is the agenda for the ninth annual gathering of experts and policymakers working on the “blue economy”.

Organised by the European Commission, it begins today in Turku, Finland. How to avoid environmental damage and to cope with climate change and rising sea levels are big questions.

Economic development so far has mostly led to seas and seabeds being pillaged by over-fishing and devastated by pollution. Until costs are properly quantified and allocated, sea-lovers will feel the blues.

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Austrian politics: Waltzing out of the door

Posted by hkarner - 15. Mai 2016

Date: 14-05-2016
Source: The Economist

As the far right rises, a chancellor departs

Faymann Fahne CCNo more chances for the chancellor

FOR seven and a half years, Austria’s chancellor, Werner Faymann, survived the fall-out of the world financial crisis, turmoil in the euro zone, a wave of refugees and more than a dozen electoral setbacks for his Social Democratic party. As of last week, he was the European Union’s second-longest-serving head of government, after Germany’s Angela Merkel.

But the first round of Austria’s presidential elections last month, where his party’s candidate won a dismal 11% of the vote, was one defeat too many. At the traditional May Day parade, party stalwarts turned away and young activists booed him. On May 9th Mr Faymann stepped down. A politician better at infighting than public speaking, he leaves behind a divided party and a precarious government.

The coalition, with the centre-right People’s Party as junior partners, enjoys a slim majority in parliament. But it is under attack from the far-right Freedom Party, which is well ahead in the opinion polls. Norbert Hofer, its soft-spoken candidate for the federal presidency, got 35% in the first round and is the favourite to win the run-off on May 22nd. The position is mostly ceremonial, but can exercise real power in uncertain times. Mr Hofer has threatened to try to block EU trade agreements, and to dismiss parliament if it raises taxes or relaxes immigration barriers. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Europa all’italiana

Posted by hkarner - 14. Mai 2016

Date: 12-05-2016
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne

Matteo Renzi hopes he can transform Europe. It would be pretty to think so

ITALY is Europe’s great underachiever. Despite being roughly the size of Britain or France, it has often adopted the prickly and unambitious stance of a medium-sized country towards the European Union. Its prime ministers, by turns weak or clownish, have been unable to place their mark on a country many see as ungovernable. The Silvio Berlusconi years heaped ignominy upon ineptitude, raising fears that Italy, the euro zone’s third-largest economy, could tumble out of the single currency, bringing the entire edifice down with it. So when Matteo Renzi, a hyperactive 39-year-old, took office in February 2014 vowing to change Italy, he could count on a lot of goodwill from his fellow EU leaders.

It is still there, more or less. Italy’s partners look approvingly upon Mr Renzi’s flurry of activity, from last year’s Jobs Act, designed to reduce firing costs and encourage firms to recruit permanent staff, to political reforms that should guarantee stronger governments and cut legislative logjams. They have tolerated the periodic outrage Mr Renzi directs at Germany and the European Commission. And they have welcomed Italy’s recent “migration compact”, which proposes to stem the flows of people by increasing development spending and investment in Africa. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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