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Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Why Britain is unenthusiastic about Michel Barnier’s Brexit job

Posted by hkarner - 30. Juli 2016

Date: 29-07-2016
Source: The Economist

Barnier CCIT WAS a “declaration of war”, according to the livelier elements of the British press. Michel Barnier, the smooth-talking, silver-haired French politician who has been appointed to run a Brexit task force inside the European Commission, may not look like a man spoiling for a battle. But the decision by Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission’s president—to appoint a man well known for his rows with Britain to a job which is bound to generate more of them—certainly looked like a provocation.

Mr Barnier has the experience for the job. He has bounced between senior positions in Paris and Brussels for more than 20 years, serving (briefly) as France’s foreign minister and putting in two stints inside the commission. It is the second of those that has some in Britain sweating. Between 2010 and 2014 Mr Barnier was the internal-markets commissioner, a job in which he oversaw the regulation of financial services. In those post-Lehman days, a torrent of legislation poured forth from Brussels, and Mr Barnier clashed regularly with the City (and the British government) on issues like bankers’ bonuses and capital-buffer requirements. One row with Mervyn King left the mild-mannered Bank of England governor bashing the table in fury. But by the end of Mr Barnier’s term he had won the grudging respect of many in the City who appreciated his conciliatory approach to the job. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Advice for the British and German leaders on navigating the Brexit mess

Posted by hkarner - 28. Juli 2016

Date: 28-07-2016
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne
Subject: Correspondence club

May Merkel reading lettersDEAR THERESA,

At your first cabinet meeting you said that your government would not be “defined by Brexit”. Good luck with that. Britain’s tortured relationship with the European Union has felled most recent Conservative prime ministers, and none faced a task remotely as daunting as the one that confronts you. Disentangling Britain from the EU will be like extracting one glue-slathered octopus from a basket of 27 other ones. It could go horribly wrong.

To avoid that, Charlemagne offers some unsolicited advice. You begin with a reservoir of relief (not goodwill, mind) among your fellow European leaders. Disaster would now be looming had an outlandish Brexiteer such as Boris Johnson muscled his way into Downing Street. You earned respect in Brussels during your six years as home secretary. But that also means that while your EU counterparts may ignore the boosterish bluster emitted by some of your more excitable cabinet colleagues (such as Liam Fox, the new trade secretary), they will expect better from you. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Giving more voice to national legislatures will not enhance the EU’s legitimacy

Posted by hkarner - 25. Juli 2016

Date: 24-07-2016
Source: The Economist: Charlemagne
Subject: Parliament plot

IN FOOTBALL two yellow cards are enough to get a player sent off. But in the European Union three may pass with nary a word. Under the EU’s “yellow card” system, if one-third of the union’s national parliaments think that a proposed law tampers with matters better handled nationally, they can force the European Commission to reconsider it. Before this year parliaments had issued two yellow cards, once against a law limiting workers’ right to strike and once against establishing an EU-wide prosecutor’s office. The commission rejected the card both times (though it withdrew the strike law for other reasons).

This week the commission made it a hat-trick. In March, ten central and eastern European countries (plus Denmark) yellow-carded a directive that would force firms that post employees to work in other EU countries to match local pay and conditions, rather than simply paying the minimum wage. The easterners said this undermined their ability to set wages themselves, and would kill jobs. But on July 20th Marianne Thyssen, the employment commissioner, said the directive would remain unchanged. The easterners, already annoyed off with the commission over its plans to redistribute refugees around the EU, are now fuming. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The outlines of Britain’s post-Brexit place in the world begin to emerge

Posted by hkarner - 24. Juli 2016

Date: 23-07-2016
Source: The Economist: Bagehot
Subject: In the map room with Theresa May

IF EVER you find yourself at a dinner party with British establishment types, ask them about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Jokes about gin-swilling, oikophobe globetrotters in linen suits will spill forth. The more chauvinistic may tut about that diplomat’s disease: “going native”, or sympathising more with foreigners than with folk back home. To sound clever, someone will decree that every prime minister since Thatcher has been his or her “own foreign secretary” (as if Churchill and Eden were remembered today for their education policies) and that the FCO these days is just a venue for formalities.

This image riles diplomats, and rightly. The essence of the grandest department on Whitehall is not that it deals with the world outside Britain. Practically every government body does that: the business department frets about foreign takeovers, the Ministry of Defence is hardwired into NATO, 10 Downing Street co-ordinates big summits. The point of the FCO is to go beyond the transactional focus of these branches, of fleeting political moods and fads, of narrow, immediate readings of the national interest. Its embassies are a nervous system conveying information, cultivating influence and generally providing a strategy for the country’s global role that transcends the next photo opportunity or crisis. Its goal is an influential Britain in an orderly world. Or, as Ernest Bevin, the post-war foreign secretary, put it: the preservation of every Briton’s ability to “take a ticket at Victoria Station and go anywhere I damn well please!” Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Measuring well-being

Posted by hkarner - 24. Juli 2016

Date: 23-07-2016
Source: The Economist

Well being SEDA ScoreHOW do you measure the well-being of a country’s citizens? Looking at wealth alone is clearly not enough: oil-rich states in the Middle East may have the highest levels of GDP per person yet they lag behind the West in terms of civil rights, education and a host of other quantifiable (and desirable) measures. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) attempts to answer this question with its “Sustainable Economic Development Assessment” (SEDA). This year’s report, published on July 21st, encompasses 163 countries or territories and looks at each country’s performance across three measures: economics, investment and sustainability. Economics is made up of income, stability and employment; investment comprises health, education and infrastructure; and sustainability includes income inequality, civil society, government and environment. Altogether, BCG crunched nearly 50,000 data points. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Universities and Brexit: A first-class mess

Posted by hkarner - 23. Juli 2016

Date: 21-07-2016
Source: The Economist

Academics fear a drying up of students, and money

Brexit leaves britain nakedMOST economists were against the idea of Britain leaving the European Union. But perhaps few felt so strongly about it as the economics lecturer at Cambridge University who, following the referendum on June 23rd, turned up to a faculty meeting unclothed with “Brexit leaves Britain naked” daubed across her torso. Although the form of protest was unusual, the feeling it expressed was not: in a poll conducted prior to the vote by Times Higher Education, a trade paper, nine in ten university staff said they would vote to Remain. At University College London (UCL), where one in ten students comes from the EU, the mood after the result was one of “deep shock, grief and then concern,” says Michael Arthur, the university’s president.

British universities are home to students from all corners: Europeans make up 6% of the total; another 14% come from the rest of the world. As a result of EU rules, the former are treated like home students, meaning that in England their fees are capped at £9,000 ($11,900) a year and they have access to state-provided loans. By contrast, there are no limits on fees for students from the rest of the world. A geography degree at Oxford, as taken by Theresa May, costs non-EU students £22,430 a year.

Jo Johnson, the universities minister, has confirmed that students from the EU starting their courses in September will continue to have access to government loans and capped fees. If, as expected, that remains true in 2017-18, there may even be a surge in the number of EU applicants as potential students rush to take advantage of the support while they still can, says Emran Mian, director of the Social Market Foundation, a think-tank. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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China aims to lead the world in connecting the factory

Posted by hkarner - 22. Juli 2016

Date: 21-07-2016
Source: The Economist
Subject: The industrial internet of things: The great convergence

THE “internet of things” (IoT) is much hyped. For a decade, a world in which household appliances, packaged goods, clothes, medical devices and much more besides would be connected to the internet via smart chips and capable of sensing and sharing information has been just around the corner. Progress remains slow in the consumer market, despite a few hit products, such as the Fitbit, an activity tracker that connects to smartphones. An industrial form of the IoT, however, may come to fruition much faster.

As the world’s biggest manufacturing power, China is well placed to lead this transition. Which is why this week GE, the world’s biggest industrial company, opened what it calls a “digital foundry” in Shanghai. The centre will help Chinese companies develop and commercialise products for the industrial internet of things, which involves factory machines and industrial goods communicating with each other and their surroundings. It will probably be a much bigger market than the one for consumers. China has millions of factories with billions of machines and it also makes most of the world’s electronics, including many of the sensors and other electronic devices that would form the backbone of such a network. Moreover, the government is keen to upgrade the country’s manufacturing base. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Sweating: the European Central Bank

Posted by hkarner - 21. Juli 2016

Date: 21-07-2016
Source: The Economist

Out of puffMario Draghi must act again soon. Inflation in June was just 0.1%, way below the 2% target. GDP growth, 0.6% in the first quarter, probably slowed even before the Brexit blow. So quantitative easing (QE)—buying up to €80 billion ($88 billion) of bonds monthly—may be extended beyond March, or the ECB’s deposit rate, already -0.4%, cut further.

Few expect either today, but the bank’s president may hint at a shift in September, when the ECB revises its economic forecasts and after it has had more time to ponder Brexit (the Bank of England held rates steady last week). He may also indicate tweaks to constraints on QE, which limit bond purchases to one-third of an issue and rule out anything yielding less than the ECB’s deposit rate. Within two months, reckons Jefferies, an investment bank, the ECB will run out of German government bonds to buy. Something’s got to give.

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Europe is now a bigger concern for Britain than immigration

Posted by hkarner - 20. Juli 2016

Date: 20-07-2016
Source: The Economist

Worries after BrexitFOR the first time in two decades the European Union is the biggest concern for voters, according to the July 2016 Economist/Ipsos MORI issues index. Ever since the referendum on EU membership was announced, Europe has been an increasingly important issue for Brits. But after the referendum result, worries about Europe jumped to their highest level since 1997 and, in doing so, overtook fears about health care and immigration.

In the build-up to the referendum Remain campaigners were hopeful that a new surge in registrations would help their cause. Many of the new voters were young and, supposedly, more likely to plump for Britain to stay in the EU. But data from the Electoral Commission reveals that, in the first six months of this year, those registering to vote were more likely to hail from Eurosceptic areas than Europhile ones. Small wonder the Brexiters won by a margin of more than 1m voters.

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Cheer up, 48%

Posted by hkarner - 20. Juli 2016

Date: 19-07-2016
Source: The Economist

Britain’s unparalleled diversity is here to stay

Liberals fear their country will become a less tolerant place. But the future is bright

LIBERAL internationalists in Britain have plenty of reasons to despair over the vote to leave the European Union. The economy will surely weaken, whether it dips into recession or just grows more slowly over the next few years. The government will be so preoccupied with divorcing the EU that it will have little energy left for, say, reforming criminal justice or building new airport runways. Neither the government nor the Labour Party is led by a liberal. But what really offends liberals—particularly in London—is the thought that Britain is bound to become less tolerant, less international, less diverse and as a result less interesting. In this respect the worriers are wrong.

The map below, produced by the Centre for Cities at the London School of Economics, shows both why liberals are anxious and why they need not worry so much. As a magnet for immigrants, London has no rival in Europe. Not only does it contain many more foreigners than any other city (which partly just reflects London’s size), it also has proportionately more immigrants than almost anywhere else. Next to London, famously cosmopolitan cities like Paris and Berlin are actually rather homogeneous. London’s only competitors in the diversity stakes are smallish cities like Lausanne in Switzerland. And many of Switzerland’s immigrants are from neighbouring countries, especially Germany. London’s come from all over the place. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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