Monday, February 20, 2017

There is now a growing band of politicians, entrepreneurs and policy strategists who argue that a basic income could potentially hold the solution to some of the big problems of our time. Some of these new converts have alighted upon the basic income as an answer to our fragmenting welfare state. They point to the increasingly precarious nature of today’s labour market for those in low-paid, low-skilled work: growing wage inequality, an increasing number of part-time and temporary jobs, and rogue employers routinely getting away with exploitative practices.
This grim reality collides with an increasingly punitive welfare state. Our welfare system was originally designed as a contributory system of unemployment insurance, in which workers put in during the good times, and took out during temporary periods of unemployment. But a big chunk of welfare spending now goes on permanently supporting people in jobs that don’t pay enough to support their families. As the contributory principle has been eroded, politicians have sought to create a new sense of legitimacy by loading the system with sanctions that dock jobseeker benefits for minor transgressions.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

In his acceptance speech, Steinmeier, 61, said Germany should be an “anchor of hope” while democratic institutions were under threat across the globe. “As the foundations are shaking elsewhere, we have to prop up those foundations even more strongly,” he said  Gaining 75% of votes in the first round, he beat four outsider candidates fielded by the smaller parties, including Christoph Butterwegge, a political scientist and poverty researcher; Albrecht Glaser, a former Christian Democrat running for the rightwing populist Alternative for Germany party (AfD); and Engelbert Sonneborn, the father of the leader of the satirical organisation the Party.  Despite the role being largely ceremonial, past German presidents have aspired to act as a moral authority in debates of national and international importance. Steinmeier succeeds Joachim Gauck, 77, a former Protestant pastor and East German civil rights activist who told the Guardian this month that Germany would “staunchly stand by the European project”.
The world must take note of what happened in Montenegro. It paid scant attention last October when reports surfaced of an attempted coup. All eyes were on the American election; Montenegro is small and hardly known. But we can now reveal that plans were laid for a bloody coup, which was designed to kill the prime minister and destabilise the country. The goal was to prevent this sovereign nation from joining Nato. According to intelligence sources, the puppet-master was Russia. It all sounds familiar. In the last few chaotic years, Moscow has backed a separatist movement in Ukraine, propped up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, stands accused of murdering critics on foreign soil and is believed to have bankrolled opposition parties abroad. It is even alleged to have interfered in the US election...if Europe is so intent on integration then what is it doing to defend countries such as Montenegro? Several European countries spend less on defence than the budget of the New York police department. Britain must meet its own obligations and take the case for Western resolve directly to the Trump administration. The stakes are high. In Munich, the Russian foreign minister spoke of a post-West order. The reality of that proposition may sadly be disorder and freedom for tyrants. Only Nato retains the power, and hopefully the will, to stand up for democracy and the rule of law.

Monday, February 13, 2017

ECB officials think that they have the obligation to explain to investors the monetary policy decisions, and the effects are beneficial for the functioning of the channel for sending the monetary policy to the real economy. The institution of the EU ombudsman is led by Emily O'Reilly, who got the vote of the European Parliament for that position in 2013. According to its mission, the Ombudsman investigates the complaints concerning the activity of various European institutions and agencies. The complaint addressed to the EU ombudsman focuses particularly on the role of Mario Draghi, who is also a member of the G30. The CEO website shows that "our studies show a severe lack of critical distance between the decision making elements of the ECB and the bankers that are members of the G30", and "as the European Central Bank has also been given the task of regulating the financial sector, any real or perceived conflicts of interests represent a major risk to the integrity of the ECB".  ECB spokesperson said that "we have a large range of regulations and instruments to avoid apparent or potential conflicts of interest".  The CEO representatives think that the current framework is not enough, because "our analyses show that the high ranking personnel of the ECB is way too close to the representatives of the banks it is supposed to oversee".   A similar complaint of the NGO was rejected in 2012, but the current Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, made the decision to open the investigation due to the fact that "the ECB has taken on more major responsibilities in the last few years", according to Financial Times.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Germany posted a record trade surplus in 2016, just weeks after Donald Trump's top trade adviser accused the country of exploiting a "grossly undervalued" euro.
The country's €253bn (£215bn) trade surplus was the result of a 1.2pc rise in exports to €1.2 trillion, while imports only rose 0.6pc to €954.6bn, according to the federal statistics office. The 2016 surplus surpasses the previous high of €244.3bn set in 2015.   "This increase in net exports is a very encouraging sign for Germany," said Benno Bunse, head of Germany's economic development agency. "The overall picture is of an economy developing healthily towards being a place of manufacture and robust consumer-led development."  Germany's 2016 current account surplus, which measures the total money flowing in and out of a country, of €266bn, surpassed China's last year, making it the world's largest.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The institution of the EU Ombudsman recently received a complaint from NGO Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), concerning the ties that exist between major members of the ECB management and the Group of the 30. The Group of the Thirty, created in 1978, is a private non-profit organization made up of the notable representatives of the public and private sector, as well as from academia, according to the presentation of the website of the institution, and its mission is "the drawing up of solutions for improving economic and financial stability". The president of the organization is Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the European Central Bank, and its honorary president is Paul Volcker, former president of the Federal Reserve in the 80s.  The G30 also includes leaders of major international banks, which came under the oversight of the ECB in the last two years. A spokesperson of the ECB said that the institution will provide all the required information to the Ombudsman, but at the same time, it stressed that "in compliance with the provisions of the EU treaties, the ECB must maintain a dialogue with concerned persons from outside the institution, and the G30 is a relevant forum to that purpose", according to a report by the RTE website, Ireland's public radio and TV network. Furthermore, the ECB officials think that they have the obligation to explain to investors the monetary policy decisions, and the effects are beneficial for the functioning of the channel for sending the monetary policy to the real economy.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The rise in sterling’s value on Tuesday rounded off its best January performance against the dollar since 2011 and its first positive start to the year in half a decade.
It came as Mr Trump’s trade chief put the US on a collision course with Germany after he accused Berlin of using a “grossly undervalued” euro to “exploit” the US and the rest of the EU.  Peter Navarro, who heads the US president’s new National Trade Council, described the single currency as an “implicit Deutsche Mark” that gave Germany a competitive advantage over its trade partners....The economics professor also said Germany was the main obstacle to a trade deal between the US and European bloc as he dismissed a revival of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks. “A big obstacle to viewing TTIP as a bilateral deal is Germany, which continues to exploit other countries in the EU as well as the US with an 'implicit Deutsche Mark’ that is grossly undervalued,” Mr Navarro said.  “The German structural imbalance in trade with the rest of the EU and the US underscores the economic heterogeneity within the EU — ergo, this is a multilateral deal in bilateral dress.” Mr Trump has highlighted a preference for “one-on-one” trade deals. He pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 Pacific Rim nations on his first full day in office.