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25 марта, 00:53

No deal Donald: Republicans pull their health-care bill

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Main image:  “WE are going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” With those words the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, admitted that Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump—proud author of “The Art of the Deal”—have failed their first big test as a governing party.For seven years Republicans have run against Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calling it socialism, a government power-grab and accusing the law of instituting “death panels” that could deny older Americans care by bureaucratic fiat. When Barack Obama was still in the White House and wielded the veto pen of a president, House Republicans voted more than 50 times to repeal the ACA, knowing that these were empty show votes.On taking power in January Republicans announced that their first priority was a law repealing as much of the ACA as possible, using fast-track rules that apply to certain sorts of budget bills, with some replacement elements to follow in two further stages. The repeal bill was rushed through committees and readied for a vote, though it was far from clear that it had the numbers to pass. In a signature move from Mr Trump’s business career, he announced this week that he was ready to walk away from negotiations with Congress, and that the House had to ...

24 марта, 14:25

The euro-zone stain: Did a Dutch eurocrat call southern Europeans drunken womanisers?

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Print section UK Only Article:  standard article Fly Title:  The euro-zone stain Main image:  20170325_eup506.jpg IN PHILIP ROTH’S “The Human Stain”, a university professor finds himself accused of racial harassment after he jokingly asks whether two black students who fail to attend class are “spooks”. (He means “ghosts”; they hear a 1950s-era derogatory term for African-Americans.) It seems like a ludicrous case of political correctness run amok, until the reader discovers that the professor is himself a black man who is passing as white, and is racked by racial anxiety and guilt. His unfortunate word choice was not an innocent mistake but a sign of subconscious angst. On March 20th Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister and current president of the Eurogroup (the council of euro-zone finance ministers), had a similar moment. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily, Mr Dijsselbloem said he was proud that during the euro crisis, northern European Union states had shown solidarity with southern ones (for example, by extending them billions in loans). But solidarity, he continued, entails ...

24 марта, 11:48

The Economist explains: The significance of the Treaty of Rome

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Main image:  ON MARCH 25th the European Union’s heads of government will gather in the glorious Sala Degli Orazi e Curiazi of Rome’s Palazzo dei Conservatori to issue a solemn declaration of unity. The moment will be freighted with significance: exactly 60 years earlier, as expectant crowds huddled under umbrellas on the Piazza del Campidoglio outside, plenipotentiaries from six Western European countries—France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg—assembled in the same room to sign the Treaty of Rome. The 1957 treaty established the institutions that made up the European Economic Community—the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice (ECJ)—which was in time to become the EU. (A second treaty signed that day created the European Atomic Energy Community, later folded into the EU.) What was the significance of the Treaty of Rome?The treaty emerged from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), signed by the six countries in Paris in 1951, with the ashes from the second world war still smouldering. By uniting industrial production under a centralised authority the ECSC was, in the words of Robert Schuman, France’s foreign minister, designed to make war “not only unthinkable but materially impossible”. It was also ...

23 марта, 18:44

Exit strategy: Leaving the euro would be devilishly difficult

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Print section Print Rubric:  Leaving the euro would be devilishly difficult but not impossible Print Headline:  Exit strategy Print Fly Title:  Euro membership UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The case for flexibility Fly Title:  Exit strategy ONE BIG QUESTION has lurked throughout the euro crisis: should one or more members quit? The most obvious candidate is Greece, the country where the trouble began. It never met the criteria for joining, but its deficit and debt figures were misrepresented. And the crisis has inflicted agonies on the Greeks. Pierre Moscovici, the EU’s economic- and monetary-affairs commissioner, notes that Greece’s GDP per person has fallen by 45% since late 2009 and unemployment is nearly 50%. This is the worst performance ever by any advanced country. Now a further row looms, over funds needed for Greece’s third bail-out this summer. The IMF reckons that Greece will never repay its debts, which ...

23 марта, 18:44

Soft options and hard choices: What does the public really want from Brexit?

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Print section Print Rubric:  As the government prepares to trigger Brexit, voters are torn over its terms Print Headline:  Soft options and hard choices Print Fly Title:  What voters want from Brexit UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Soft options and hard choices THE phoney war that has persisted since the vote for Brexit last June is almost over. This week Theresa May confirmed that she will send Brussels a letter invoking Article 50, the legal procedure for leaving the European Union, on March 29th. Yet, rather as with the phoney war, the prime minister’s letter will be only the end of the beginning. For the invocation of Article 50 will open negotiations that will continue for two years, and quite possibly longer. Mrs May has said that her priorities in the talks will be to end the free movement of people between Britain and the EU and to escape the jurisdiction of the European Court of ...

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23 марта, 18:44

That sinking feeling: Members agree that the single currency needs more integration

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Print section Print Rubric:  Euro-zone members agree that the single currency needs more integration, but disagree over how Print Headline:  That sinking feeling Print Fly Title:  The euro UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The case for flexibility Fly Title:  That sinking feeling Main image:  20170325_SRP054_0.jpg MANY BRITISH TORY Eurosceptics trace their beliefs back to the 1992 Maastricht treaty which agreed to create a single currency. To them, Maastricht represented a Franco-German stitch-up. The French president, François Mitterrand, accepted German unification, and in exchange the German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, agreed to give up the D-mark for the euro. In fact money was crucial from the very start of the European project. In the 1950s Jacques Rueff, a leading French economist, declared that “Europe will be made through a currency, or it will not ...

23 марта, 18:44

Reverse Balkanisation: With EU accession distant, Balkan countries find a substitute

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Print section Print Rubric:  With EU enlargement in question, the western Balkans find a substitute Print Headline:  A common market of their own Print Fly Title:  Reverse Balkanisation UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Reverse Balkanisation Location:  SARAJEVO Main image:  20170325_eup504.jpg TO JUDGE by the headlines, things are getting pretty hairy in the western Balkans. Newspapers have been running articles arguing that borders should be redrawn. Russia’s foreign ministry has accused Western officials of promoting a Greater Albania. Montenegro claims that Russia was behind an alleged coup attempt last November aimed at stalling its accession to NATO. Serbia has excoriated the president of Kosovo for suggesting that his demilitarised country might form an ...

23 марта, 18:44

Charlemagne: Italy is Europe’s leaden-toed boot

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Print section Print Rubric:  Italy, host of the EU’s anniversary party, is the country most likely to bring it down Print Headline:  Europe’s leaden-toed boot Print Fly Title:  Charlemagne UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Charlemagne Main image:  20170325_EUD000_0.jpg THE European Union may be a Franco-German construction, but when the project needs a dose of grandiosity it invariably turns to Italy. This weekend the leaders of 27 EU countries (all bar Britain) will convene in Rome’s glorious Palazzo dei Conservatori, beneath 17th-century frescoes and flanked by sculptures of sundry popes, to proclaim their unity—60 years after their forefathers signed the Treaty of Rome, the EU’s founding document, in the same room. In today’s fractious union the symbolism counts for something, even if the declaration the leaders will issue ...

23 марта, 18:44

Buttonwood: The unusual gap between American and European bond yields

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Print section Print Rubric:  Europeans are borrowing more cheaply than the American government Print Headline:  Generation gap UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Buttonwood AMERICA may be the world’s largest economy, but these days its government pays more than many others to borrow money. Its ten-year bond yields are higher than those in Britain, France, Singapore and even Italy. The gap between American and German ten-year yields has been above two percentage points. For much of the past 25 years, it was very rare for the difference to exceed a single percentage point. On occasions, American yields fell below German levels (see chart). Go back a generation and you might have expected the country with the higher bond yields to be the one with the weaker currency; investors would demand a higher yield to compensate for the risk of future depreciation. But that is not the case today. The dollar has been strong, relative to the euro, and many people expect it to ...

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23 марта, 18:44

Done deals: The Trump administration will review all of America’s trade deals

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Print section Print Rubric:  A review of bilateral and regional trade deals will disappoint Donald Trump Print Headline:  Done deals Print Fly Title:  American trade policy UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Done deals ACCORDING to a document crafted by the Trump administration, a model trade agreement has 24 elements. Second on the list is “trade-deficit reduction”, giving a hint as to why Mr Trump wants to review America’s existing agreements. In January Sean Spicer, his press secretary, said the administration would “re-examine all of the current trade deals.” A presidential order to do just that is reported to be in the offing. America boasts 14 bilateral and regional free-trade agreements (FTAs). Mr Trump seems to blame these agreements for America’s large trade deficit. Most economists disagree, seeing it as reflecting macroeconomic imbalances. The FTAs are in any case with countries ...

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23 марта, 18:44

Primed: Are investors too optimistic about Amazon?

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Print section Print Rubric:  Investors think Amazon is going to growfaster, longer and bigger than almost any firm in history. Can they be right? Print Headline:  Primed Print Fly Title:  Amazon UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Primed Location:  SEATTLE Main image:  20170325_FBD001_0.jpg EVERY chief executive hopes to lead his company to success. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s boss, wants something more epic. A prominent wall in the company’s headquarters in Seattle is covered with narratives from historic explorations: excerpts from “The Odyssey”; notes from the journey of Lewis and Clark as they ventured across America; the transcript of the first moon-walkers talking to mission control. At the end, ones and zeroes spell out how far the company has got: “Day ...

23 марта, 18:44

Bello: There has never been a better time for Latin American integration

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Print section Print Rubric:  There has never been a better time for Latin American integration Print Headline:  Come together, right now Print Fly Title:  Bello UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Amazon’s empire Fly Title:  Bello Main image:  20170325_AMD001_0.jpg IT IS Saturday lunchtime, and about 30 trucks are parked at each of the customs posts on either side of the bridge across the broad Uruguay river that marks the border between Argentina and Uruguay. Both countries are members of Mercosur, a would-be customs union that also embraces Brazil and Paraguay. In theory, internal borders should not exist in Mercosur. In practice, customs, sanitary inspections and other paperwork mean that the trucks are delayed for up to 24 hours, says Oscar Terzaghi, the mayor of Fray Bentos, on the Uruguayan side. This represents an improvement. For three years before ...