Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

Posts Tagged ‘Economist’

Eastern Europe’s workers are emigrating, but its pensioners are staying

Posted by hkarner - 21. Januar 2017

Date: 19-01-2017
Source: The Economist

The EU’s newest members face economic decline unless they woo back workers, or recruit immigrants of their own

IN THE Lithuanian town of Panevezys, a shiny new factory built by Devold, a Norwegian clothing manufacturer, sits alone in the local free economic zone. The factory is unable to fill 40 of its jobs, an eighth of the total. That is not because workers in Panevezys are too picky, but because there are fewer and fewer of them. There are about half as many students in the municipality’s schools as there were a decade ago, says the mayor.

Such worries are increasingly common across central and eastern Europe, where birth rates are low and emigration rates high. The ex-communist countries that joined the European Union from 2004 on dreamed of quickly transforming themselves into Germany or Britain. Instead, many of their workers transported themselves to Germany or Britain. Latvia’s working-age population has fallen by a quarter since 2000; a third of those who graduated from university between 2002 and 2009 had emigrated by 2014. Polls of Bulgarian medical students show that 80-90% plan to emigrate after graduating. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Businesses can and will adapt to the age of populism

Posted by hkarner - 19. Januar 2017

Date: 18-01-2017
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

How executives balance shareholder expectations and social pressures

AS THEY slid down the streets of Davos this week, many executives will have felt a question gnawing in their guts. Who matters most: shareholders or the people? Around the world a revolt seems under way. A growing cohort—perhaps a majority—of citizens want corporations to be cuddlier, invest more at home, pay higher taxes and wages and employ more people, and are voting for politicians who say they will make all that happen. Yet according to law and convention in most rich countries, firms are run in the interest of shareholders, who usually want companies to use every legal means to maximise their profits.

Naive executives fear that they cannot reconcile these two impulses. Should they fire staff, trim costs and expand abroad—and face the wrath of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, the disgust of their children and the risk that they’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes? Or do they bend to popular opinion and allow profits to fall, inviting the danger that, in the run up to their 2018 annual general meeting, a fund manager from, say, Fidelity or Capital will topple them for underperformance? Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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To be relevant, economists need to take politics into account

Posted by hkarner - 19. Januar 2017

Date: 13-01-2017
Source: The Economist: Free exchange

The advent of the Trump administration finds the economics profession in crisis

EVERY January more than 10,000 economists meet for the annual conference of the American Economic Association (AEA). This year, the shindig was in balmy Chicago, a stone’s throw from its second-tallest building, the name TRUMP stamped in extra-large letters across its base. Most papers had been written months in advance; few sessions tackled the electoral earthquake in November. Yet there was no mistaking the renewed sense, following its failure to foresee the 2007-08 financial crisis, of an academic field in a crisis of its own. The election was seen as a defeat for liberalisation and globalisation, and hence for an economics profession that had championed them. If economists wish to remain relevant and useful, the modest hand-wringing at this year’s meetings will need to yield to much deeper self-reflection.

Their theories had always shown that globalisation would produce losers as well as winners. But too many economists worried that emphasising these costs might undermine support for liberal policies. A “circle the wagons” approach to criticism of globalisation weakened the case for mitigating policies that might have protected it from a Trumpian backlash. Perhaps the greatest omissions were the questions not asked at all. Most dismal scientists exclude politics from their models altogether. As Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, put it on one star-studded AEA panel, economists need to pay attention not just to what is theoretically feasible but also to “what is likely to happen given how the political system works”. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Retraining low-skilled workers

Posted by hkarner - 15. Januar 2017

Date: 12-01-2017
Source: The Economist

Systems for continuous reskilling threaten to buttress inequality

IMAGINE YOU ARE a 45-year-old long-distance lorry driver. You never enjoyed school and left as soon as you could, with a smattering of qualifications and no great love of learning. The job is tiring and solitary, but it does at least seem to offer decent job security: driver shortages are a perennial complaint in the industry, and the average age of the workforce is high (48 in Britain), so the shortfalls are likely to get worse. America’s Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) says there were 1.8m truckers in 2014 and expects a 5% rise in their number by 2024. “As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase and more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving,” predicts the BLS website, chirpily.

But the future might unfold very differently. For all the excitement over self-driving passenger cars, the freight industry is likely to adopt autonomous vehicles even faster. And according to a report in 2014 by Morgan Stanley, a bank, full automation might reduce the pool of American truck drivers by two-thirds. Those projections came hedged with caveats, and rightly so. The pace of adoption may be slowed by regulation. Drivers may still be needed to deal with unforeseen problems; if such jobs require more technical knowledge, they may even pay better. Employment in other sectors may grow as freight costs come down. But there is a chance that in the not too distant future a very large number of truckers will find themselves redundant. The implications are immense. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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America leaves foreign firms out in the cold

Posted by hkarner - 14. Januar 2017

Date: 12-01-2017
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Populism, economic concentration and regulation are some of the reasons foreign bosses are souring on the land of the free

WHICH is it? The home of free speech, the rule of law and the rich world’s most dynamic economy? Or a land of social decay, septic politics and the rich world’s worst roads and schools? America divides foreign observers. It divides foreign firms, too. Some bosses fall head over heels for its insatiable consumers and dazzling technology. Other executives are put off by its insufferable lawyers and hypocritical protectionism. Donald Trump promises to give foreign firms a rude awakening when he reaches the White House: this month he beat up Toyota for making cars in Mexico and selling them north of the border. But in truth many foreign firms fell out of love with America years ago. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Alternative providers of education must solve the problems of cost and credentials

Posted by hkarner - 14. Januar 2017

Date: 12-01-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Established education providers v new contenders

THE HYPE OVER MOOCs peaked in 2012. Salman Khan, an investment analyst who had begun teaching bite-sized lessons to his cousin in New Orleans over the internet and turned that activity into a wildly popular educational resource called the Khan Academy, was splashed on the cover of Forbes. Sebastian Thrun, the founder of another MOOC called Udacity, predicted in an interview in Wired magazine that within 50 years the number of universities would collapse to just ten worldwide. The New York Times declared it the year of the MOOC.

The sheer numbers of people flocking to some of the initial courses seemed to suggest that an entirely new model of open-access, free university education was within reach. Now MOOC sceptics are more numerous than believers. Although lots of people still sign up, drop-out rates are sky-high.

moocNonetheless, the MOOCs are on to something. Education, like health care, is a complex and fragmented industry, which makes it hard to gain scale. Despite those drop-out rates, the MOOCs have shown it can be done quickly and comparatively cheaply. The Khan Academy has 14m-15m users who conduct at least one learning activity with it each month; Coursera has 22m registered learners. Those numbers are only going to grow. FutureLearn, a MOOC owned by Britain’s Open University, has big plans. Oxford University announced in November that it would be producing its first MOOC on the edX platform. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Equipping people to stay ahead of technological change

Posted by hkarner - 12. Januar 2017

Date: 12-01-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Learning and earning

It is easy to say that people need to keep learning throughout their careers. The practicalities are daunting

WHEN education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality.
Without the skills to stay useful as innovations arrive, workers suffer—and if enough of them fall behind, society starts to fall apart. That fundamental insight seized reformers in the Industrial Revolution, heralding state-funded universal schooling. Later, automation in factories and offices called forth a surge in college graduates. The combination of education and innovation, spread over decades, led to a remarkable flowering of prosperity.

Today robotics and artificial intelligence call for another education revolution. This time, however, working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming more schooling in at the start is not enough. People must also be able to acquire new skills throughout their careers. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Manufacturing industry: Politicians cannot bring back old-fashioned factory jobs

Posted by hkarner - 12. Januar 2017

Date: 12-01-2017
Source: The Economist

They don’t make ‘em like that any more

THE vices are what strike you. The Mercedes AMG factory in Brixworth, a town in England’s midlands, is a different world from that of the production line of yore. Engine making was once accompanied by loud noises and the smoke and smells of men and machinery wrestling lumps of metal. Here things are quiet and calm. Skilled mechanics wield high-tech tools amid operating-theatre cleanliness as they work on some of the best racing-car engines in the world. Banks of designers and engineers sit in front of computers nearby. The only vestige of the old world are the vices. There is one on every work bench. At some point, making things of metal requires holding parts still, and nothing better than the vice has come along.

Manufacturing exerts a powerful grip on politicians and policymakers in the rich world. It is central to what they want for their countries, they say; it needs to be brought home from abroad; it must be given renewed primacy at home. This is because it used to provide good jobs of a particular sort—jobs that offered decent and dependable wages for people, particularly men, with modest skills, and would do so throughout their working lives. Such jobs are much more scarce than once they were, and people suffer from the lack of them. In their suffering, they turn to politicians—and can also turn against them. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The three Rs behind global banks’ recovery

Posted by hkarner - 8. Januar 2017

Date: 05-01-2017
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter

Soaring share prices suggest the end of the tunnel for big banks

IN THE Bible, seven years of feast were followed by seven years of famine. For banks there have been ten lean years. Subprime-loan defaults started to rise in February 2007, causing a near-collapse of the industry in America and Europe. Next came bail-outs from governments, then years of grovelling before regulators, mass firings of staff and quarter after quarter of poor results that left banks’ shareholders disappointed. Now, a decade later, the moneylenders are quietly wondering if 2017 is the year in which their industry turns a corner.

Over the past six months the FTSE index of global bank shares has leapt by 24%. American banks have led the way, with the value of Bank of America rising by 67%, and that of JPMorgan Chase by 39%. In Europe BNP Paribas’ market value has risen by 52%. In Japan shares in the lumbering Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group—the rich world’s biggest bank by assets—have behaved like those of a frisky internet startup; they are up by 57%. Predictions about global banks’ future returns on equity have stopped falling, note analysts at UBS, a Swiss bank. Some of the biggest casualties of the financial crisis are even expanding. On December 20th Lloyds, bailed out by British taxpayers in 2009 at a cost of $33bn, said it would buy MBNA, a credit-card firm, for $2bn. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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After six months, what the new prime minister stands for is still unclear—perhaps even to her

Posted by hkarner - 7. Januar 2017

Date: 05-01-2017
Source: The Economist
Subject: Theresa Maybe, Britain’s indecisive premier

May cc 1WITHIN hours of the Brexit referendum last summer David Cameron had resigned, and within three weeks Theresa May had succeeded him as prime minister. The speed of her ascent to power, on July 13th 2016, without a general election or a full-blown Tory leadership contest, meant that Mayism was never spelt out in any manifesto or endorsed by the electorate. Yet the new prime minister soon made clear the scale of her ambitions for Britain. Not only would she make a success of Brexit, she would also set in motion a sea-change in social mobility to correct the “burning injustices” faced by the downtrodden, and reshape “the forces of liberalism and globalisation which have held sway…across the Western world.” Her allies talked of an epochal moment, comparable to Margaret Thatcher’s break with the past in 1979. The feeble condition of the Labour opposition gave Mrs May control of a one-party state. As for her mandate, she cited the referendum: a “quiet revolution” by people “not prepared to be ignored any more”.

Yet after half a year in office there is strikingly little to show for this May revolution. The strategy for Brexit, which is due to be triggered in less than three months, remains undefined in any but the vaguest terms, and seems increasingly chaotic. At home, the grand talk about transforming society and taming capitalism has yielded only timid proposals, many of which have already been scaled down or withdrawn. The growing suspicion is that the Sphinx-like prime minister is guarded about her plans chiefly because she is still struggling to draw them up. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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