Sunday, October 1, 2017
Monday, September 11, 2017
When Truls Gulowsen began campaigning in the 1990s, telling Norway it had both a moral obligation and an economic interest in phasing out the industry that has made it rich was not what might be called a vote winner. But as Norwegians go to the polls on Monday, the future of their country’s giant oil and gas business is a major electoral issue – with parties that back curbs or even a shutdown of the industry set to play a key role in post-election coalition-building.
“The public mood has changed,” said Gulowsen, who heads Greenpeace Norway. “Something’s really happening. For the first time, our national dependency on oil, our responsibility as oil pushers to the rest of the world, are real questions.” With the ruling rightwing bloc of parties and the opposition neck and neck, smaller parties may find themselves kingmakers “It looks like it’s going to be very, very close,” said the election analyst Svein Tore Marthinsen. “Both major parties are declining and the landscape is fragmenting – we could have nine parties in parliament, a record. The final outcome is wide open.”
Public opinion certainly is split. “I think the government’s done OK,” said Harald Bergh, 73, a retired engineer. “They’ve spent wisely, cut taxes, kept us afloat. And no one should touch the oil industry – it’s been our salvation.”
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
President Donald Trump finally condemned the “evil” of “racist violence” in Charlottesville on Monday, two days after a white supremacist rally in the Virginia town that left three people dead. After mounting criticism at his failure to speak out against white supremacist groups, Mr Trump addressed the nation from the White House and warned those behind Saturday’s riots that they will be held criminally responsible. And, after widespread cross-party anger at his initial response – in which he condemned violence “on many sides” – the president on Monday delivered a more measured response, in which he called out neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. “To anyone who acted criminally at this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable.” He described the rally on Saturday as an “egregious display of hatred and violence” which, he said, “has no place in America.” He continued: “Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans “We are a nation founded on the premise that all are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator, we are equal under the law, and we are equal under our Constitution. "Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America. ” Mr Trump paid tribute to Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old who died when James Fields rammed his car into a group of anti-hate protesters. He also commended the two Virginia state troopers killed when their helicopter crashed on Saturday. “These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation. “In times such as these, America has always shown its true character.”Reading from a teleprompter, the president's remarks were seen as a belated condemnation of the white supremacists who politicians across the mainstream US political spectrum held responsible for the mayhem in Charlottesville.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
The IMF – historically the world’s foremost cheerleader of austerity – admitted that it was based on a false prospectus: these policies do more harm than good. Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford University said that the issue was not whether attempts to reduce the deficit had damaged the economy, but “how much GDP has been lost as a result”. Amartya Sen said that while austerity “deepened Europe’s economic problems, it did not help in the aimed objective of reducing the ratio of debt to GDP to any significant extent”. Richard Portes at London Business School says that even the UK’s sluggish growth under the Conservatives is down to the “semi-covert” backing away from George Osborne’s initially brutal plans, which would have done even more harm. Paul Krugman wrote that in the post-crisis economy “the government does everyone a service by running deficits and giving frustrated savers a chance to put their money to work … deficit spending that expands the economy is, if anything, likely to lead to higher private investment than would otherwise materialise”. All this has led Joseph Stiglitz to remark that it’s “remarkable there are still governments, including here in the UK, that still believe in austerity”.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Britain has continued to outrank other European countries as a technology investment hub despite last year’s Brexit vote. Research from London & Partners, an arm of the mayor’s office designed to promote the city, said £2.4bn of venture capital funding had been put into British technology companies since last year’s referendum. This was more than double the VC investment in Germany and three times what it was in France.
In London, which accounts for the majority of venture-led tech funding in the UK, funding rose to £1.8bn across 544 deals, against £775m for Berlin and £557m for Paris.
The figures appear to defy predictions made before the referendum that funding would dry up in the event of a Leave vote and that start-ups would flee for the continent. The technology industry, which employs a disproportionate number of EU nationals, had campaigned heavily against Brexit, but has since focused on boosting the number of specialist tech workers who are granted visas since the vote. London & Partners, which collated data from deal tracker Pitchbook, said the first half of 2017 had seen a record £1.1bn of venture capital funding into London start-ups. For the UK as a whole it was £1.4bn, the third biggest on record.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
The European Central Bank has greenlit the liquidation of Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, after they have repeatedly violated the "they have repeatedly violated the capitalization requirements", according to a press release sent on Friday to the European institution. The ECB showed that the two European banks "are at risk of collapsing", and the Single Resolution Board (SRB) said that "the conditions for the resolution of the two banks have not been met", and "banks will be liquidated according to the Italian bankruptcy procedures". The situation of Veneto and of Banca Popolare di Vicenza has been watched closely by the ECB since 2014, when significant capital deficits were uncovered. The italian government will pay to Intesa Sanpaolo 5.2 billion Euros in order to acquire the good assets of Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, Reuters announced, Sunday night, after the authorities in Rome have spent their entire weekend drafting an emergency ordinance concerning the procedure for the liquidation of the two banks.
Friday, June 2, 2017
Today, in Romania, all the significant transactions are calculated in Euros, even though some of them are paid in lei. And "homo economicus" is in every man; all they need is the freedom to make decisions. In the end, the entire economy can be reduced to four words: people respond to incentives! Let's remember the skill of currency dealers on the black market, I the first years of transition, when the currency exchanges were not yet fully liberalized. In order to take their profit, they would keep their dollars in packs, depending on the exchange rate they got them at. I don't think that Romanians will have "cultural shocks" if they were to only operate in Euros, given that the vegetables traders in markets watch the exchange rate to see whether or not they should raise their prices for carrots, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Of course, we are living on the outskirts of the East, where there is no rush. The president of the European Commission, who recently visited our country, when listening to the questions of some politicians, about how Romania didn't want a two-speed Europe, gave us an answer that is worth thinking on: the current treaties of the European Union stipulate the possibility of a 2-speed Europe and it is up to every member state on where it wants to find itself. The trends in the European Union indicate a desire of the member states in the Eurozone to move faster towards integration (there is talk of a common budget of the Eurozone and even of a parliament of the Eurozone...). Member states from outside the Eurozone can not oppose those trends. Romania will have the presidency of the European Union, in the first half of 2019, but unfortunately, Romania's weight in the decision making process for the decisions that concern the Eurozone will be low, because we are not yet part of it. I wish that this once at least, the intention of drawing up a plan of action for the move to the Euro, as well as the switch of this plan to be taken seriously by every politician and institution of the state that are concerned. Let's not forget that Romania, when it was accepted in the European Union, made the commitment to take all the necessary steps to carry out the conditions needed for the adoption of the Euro! (Source bursa.ro)
Sunday, May 14, 2017
The chief executive of Goldman Sachs has warned that London’s financial centre will “stall” due to the turmoil of the Brexit process. Lloyd Blankfein, who runs the world’s second-largest investment bank, said a three-decade expansion that has turned London’s financial services sector into a world leader could grind to a halt. “It will stall, it might backtrack a bit, it just depends on a lot of things about which we are uncertain, and I know there isn’t certainty at the moment,” Blankfein said in an interview with the BBC. “I don’t think it will totally reverse.” Blankfein also said there would need to be an implementation period of at least a “couple of years” after the Brexit deal had been agreed in early 2019 to allow companies to adjust. “We are talking about the long-term stability of huge economies with hundreds of millions of people and livelihoods at stake, and huge gross domestic product,” he said. “So, if it takes a little while, I’d rather get it right than do things quickly.” If not enough time were factored in, banks such as Goldman would have to act “prematurely” and possibly move some of their operations and jobs.
Monday, March 20, 2017
President Trump on Saturday defended the success of his first face-to-face meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, dismissing a barrage of critical news accounts that describe it as “awkward.” “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Mr. Trump said Saturday morning via his personal Twitter account. News reports of the the meeting and a joint press conference Friday at the White House were dominated by descriptions of “awkward” moments between the two leaders, including the president’s quip that he and Ms. Merkel had “something in common” in being wiretapped by U.S. spies. Mr. Trump was referring to revelation in 2013 that President Obama authorized National Security Agency eavesdropping on her and his claim that Mr. Obama did the same to him during the 2016 presidential campaign. National Public Radio declared the meeting “The Axis of Awkward.” U.S. News and World Report dubbed it “Trump’s Awkward Merkel Summit.”
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Here's a number to play with: $1.8 trillion. This is the amount of sovereign debt borrowed globally in a foreign currency, the overwhelming majority of it in US dollars. Add the amount of dollar debt attributable to foreign corporations, and the numbers soar off into the stratosphere. Most of the time, these debts are perfectly harmless, and nobody much worries about them. But right now, they are making everyone distinctly nervous. Already over the last two years, the dollar has appreciated 25 per cent in nominal terms against the rest of the world. If analysis by Moody’s, the credit rating agency, is to be believed, Trumponomics make a further, sharp appreciation – possibly by as much as an additional 25 per cent in real terms – all but inevitable, playing havoc with the debt dynamics of many overseas countries and companies. By the by, it might also remodel global trade, potentially dramatically....
Saturday, February 25, 2017
The Balkans is in danger of slipping under Russian influence if the Trump administration ignores the region, Albania’s prime minister has warned in an interview with The Telegraph. Questions are also being asked over whether the European Union is doing enough to ensure stability and block Moscow’s alleged plots. In a wide-ranging interview, Albania’s charismatic prime minister, Edi Rama, said without US support “the Balkans would not be a place where there is peace and cooperation”.
“For the US this area is very important strategically and the US is very important for us,” he added. Given Russia’s apparent role in the prime minister’s assassination plot in neighbouring Montenegro, disclosed by The Telegraph this week, there are worries Washington’s disinterest will embolden Moscow. “Russia has been interested in spreading its influence and there’s a lot of it in this region,” Mr Rama, 52,...
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.
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.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. For more than a year now, it has been scarcely possible to think or read about anything else. Seemingly all other economic discourse has been eclipsed by this over-riding prospect. In the circumstances, it’s an understandable obsession. Yet the fact is that far bigger challenges lie ahead for the UK economy than leaving the European Union, a point that the Governor the Bank of England, Mark Carney, seemed to acknowledge this week in admitting that Brexit was no longer the main domestic risk to financial stability. As it happens, it never was. Since the Brexit vote, the economy has continued to motor, and so far there seems to have been zero impact on financial stability...Over the last five years, the FTSE 100 has closed lower on seven of the 10 Friday 13ths. It could be a coincidence – or is there something else at play?
On Friday 13th July 2012, China’s GDP growth dropped to a three-year low of 7.6pc, marking a new stage for the country’s economic slowdown....Superstitious beliefs run so high in the UK that some people refuse to fly on Friday 13th, stay in hotel rooms bearing the unlucky digits or buy houses that bear the number 13. In fact, the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina estimates that businesses lose up to $900m (£585m) in sales and productivity when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday as customers refrain from activities such as flying and anxious employees stay home from work. The phenomenon even has a name: paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday 13th, while triskaidekaphobics are scared of the number 13 more generally. More than a quarter of Britons admit that they consider Friday 13th to be unlucky, according to a survey of 500 adults conducted by the conference call provider Powwownow. One in 10 people avoid travelling by train on Friday 13th, 11pc refuse to stay in hotel room number 13 and 16pc of people won’t take flights on this inauspicious day, the survey found.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Good on Andy Haldane, the chief economist of the Bank of England, for telling it as it is. In an explosive intervention, Haldane has just compared the financial crisis and Brexit to the Bank of England’s Michael Fish moments. He was referring, of course, to the day just before the greatest storm for 300 years hit Britain on Oct 15, 1987, when the famous weather forecaster got it spectacularly wrong. “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!” he said. In the case of the Great Recession, the analogy is perfect. In the case of Brexit, the error was a reverse Michael Fish, another case of the Y2K millennium bug: a prediction of immediate disaster which failed to materialise. The Bank expected a hurricane but none came, as it was put to Haldane (it’s a “fair cop”, he replied).
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Wages in the US grew at their fastest pace since 2009 last month, pointing to continued momentum in the labour market and putting the country on course for a string of interest rate rises this year. Average hourly earnings increased by 2.9pc compared with the year before, the largest annual increase in more than seven years, while 156,000 jobs were created in December. Although the employment figure fell short of the 178,000 widely expected by economists, it was enough to suggest that the economy is steaming ahead. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7pc in December, from a nine-year low of 4.6pc in November, as more people entered the labour market, in a sign of confidence in the economic recovery. Over the course of 2016, more than two million jobs were created in the US. This set of jobs data will be the last for President Obama, as he makes way for Donald Trump, who is set to take office later this month. President elect Trump has pledged to increase spending on the country's infrastructure, cut taxes and reduce red tape, three measures widely expected to boost growth this year. The US jobs market is expected to hit full employment this year, and the country's central bank, the Federal Reserve, is set to push through interest rate rises in response. Last month, the Fed increased the benchmark rate by .25 percentage points to a range of 0.25pc to 0.50pc. A further three rate increases are forecast for this year. Kully Samra, managing director of Charles Schwab in the UK, said that despite December’s numbers missing forecasts, the US economy still had a robust labour market.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
The US vice-president, Joe Biden, has said it is “absolutely mindless” for Donald Trump not to have confidence in the intelligence community, as the heads of the US agencies prepared to present their findings on Russian election interference to the president-elect. The unprecedented dispute between Trump and the intelligence services he will soon control broke into the open at a congressional hearing on Thursday as the head of US intelligence publicly defended his analysts, who he said “stand more resolutely” than ever behind their conclusion of “Russian interference in our electoral process”. Former Indiana lawmaker and member of the Senate intelligence committee has been banned from entering Russia: ‘I’m not a big fan of Putin’ Biden said it would be legitimate to question intelligence and ask for more detail or disagree but “dangerous” to publicly criticise the agencies and claim to know more than them. “For a president not to have confidence in, not to be prepared to listen to, the myriad intelligence agencies, from defence intelligence to the CIA, is absolutely mindless,” he said in an interview with PBS. “The idea that you may know more than the intelligence community knows – it’s like saying I know more about physics than my professor. I didn’t read the book, I just know I know more.”