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27 апреля, 17:46

Switcheroo: The perils of capping energy prices

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Print section Print Rubric:  The Tories poach a bad idea off Labour Print Headline:  Switcheroo Print Fly Title:  Energy prices UK Only Article:  UK article only Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Switcheroo Main image:  20170429_brp504.jpg WHEN Ed Miliband committed Labour in 2013 to freezing Britain’s energy prices, David Cameron, who was prime minister at the time, accused him of wanting to live in a “Marxist universe”. Less than four years later, the threat to rig energy prices has resurfaced in this election. This time the aspiring Marxist is Mr Cameron’s Tory successor, Theresa May. On April 23rd the government said that setting a price ceiling for the large majority of gas and electricity customers on the highest tariffs would be part of the Conservative manifesto, which is due out on May 8th. It insisted that such a cap was different from Mr ...

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27 апреля, 17:46

Min to the max: A £10 minimum wage is not the best way to help low earners

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Print section Print Rubric:  A plan to give Britain one of the world’s highest minimum wages Print Headline:  Min to the max Print Fly Title:  Low pay UK Only Article:  UK article only Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Min to the max Location:  MINEHEAD Main image:  20170429_BRP002_0.jpg MOST Britons have not had a decent pay rise in years, but the people of West Somerset have done better than most. Since introducing the “national living wage” last April the government has increased minimum hourly pay for the over-25s from £6.70 ($8.60) to £7.50, a steep rise by historical standards. By 2020 it is due to reach about £9. A fifth of employees in West Somerset are paid the minimum, a greater share than in any other local authority (and compared with just one in 20 in London). Butlins, a ...

27 апреля, 17:46

Thiam’s tweak: Credit Suisse unveils another change of course

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Print section Print Rubric:  Another change of plan at Switzerland’s second-biggest bank Print Headline:  Thiam’s tweak Print Fly Title:  Credit Suisse UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Thiam’s tweak Main image:  20170429_fnp502.jpg EUROPE’S most troubled big banks may at last be on the road to recovery. Not only is economic growth perking up; uncomfortable decisions, put off too long, are also being taken. In recent months UniCredit, Italy’s largest lender, has written down bad debt by €8.1bn ($8.7bn) and tapped shareholders for €13bn. Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest, has raised €8bn in equity and decided to keep a retail business it had hoped to sell. On April 27th it reported first-quarter net income of €575m, up from €236m a year earlier, although revenue fell. Like Deutsche, Credit Suisse is freer to make ...

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27 апреля, 17:46

Buttonwood: Exchange-traded funds become too specialised

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Print section Print Rubric:  The exchange-traded fund industry is getting too specialised Print Headline:  Jumping the shark Print Fly Title:  Buttonwood UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Buttonwood Main image:  20170429_FND001_0.jpg THERE comes a time when every financial innovation is taken a bit too far—when, in television terms, it “jumps the shark” and sacrifices plausibility in search of popularity. That may have happened in the exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry. The latest ETF to be launched is a fund that invests in the shares of ETF providers. The notion has a certain logic. The ETF industry has been growing fast, thanks to its ability to offer investors a diversified portfolio at low cost. The assets under management in these funds passed $3trn last year, up from $715bn in 2008. Some investors might well ...

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27 апреля, 17:46

Striking when the iron is cold: Protecting American steel from imports makes no sense

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Print section Print Rubric:  The case against protecting American steelmakers from imports Print Headline:  Striking when the iron is cold Print Fly Title:  Steel tariffs UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Striking when the iron is cold AS AN example of all that is wrong with Donald Trump’s view of trade, the probe he has ordered into the steel industry is particularly hard to beat. If it results, as seems to be the plan, in blanket punitive tariffs slapped on steel imports, the consequences would be dire: the American economy would be hurt by a rise in the price of an essential material; it would invite retaliation that would cost American jobs, not save them; and the underlying problem—massive global steel overcapacity—would persist. For Trumpists, steel is an emblem of their country’s descent from greatness. Ever since the 1960s, when production peaked at 168m tonnes a year, the ...

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27 апреля, 17:46

In a fix: A giant cement firm may have unwittingly funded Islamic State

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Print section Print Rubric:  The boss of the world’s largest cement-maker resigns Print Headline:  In a fix Print Fly Title:  LafargeHolcim and Syria UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  In a fix Location:  PARIS Main image:  20170429_wbp501.jpg KEEPING cool in the heat of war is not easy. That might help explain why LafargeHolcim, a French-Swiss cement-maker, blundered so badly while running operations in Syria as fighting raged. On April 24th the firm said that its chief executive, Eric Olsen, will go, a casualty of a growing scandal over its activities in the country. The board of the world’s biggest cement producer stated only last month that Mr Olsen was not responsible for, nor aware of, wrongdoing by the firm in Syria. But public pressure has ...

27 апреля, 17:46

Food fight: Donald Trump takes aim at Canada

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Print section Print Rubric:  Donald Trump takes aim at his northern neighbour Print Headline:  Food fight Print Fly Title:  Canada and the United States UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Food fight Location:  OTTAWA Main image:  20170429_AMP001_0.jpg “CANADA, what they’ve done to our dairy-farm workers, it’s a disgrace,” snapped Donald Trump from the Oval Office on April 20th. Mr Trump had just heard complaints from American producers of ultra-filtered milk, used to make cheese and yogurt, who said they were shut out of the regulated Canadian market after a change in the rules. “We will not stand for this,” Mr Trump tweeted a few days later. Ron Versteeg, who along with his brother milks 120 Holstein cows at their farm near Ottawa, does not seem ...

27 апреля, 17:46

Trade policy: The Trump administration starts to turn up the heat on trade

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Print section Print Rubric:  Donald Trump may yet turn out as protectionist in office as on the campaign trail Print Headline:  All at sea Print Fly Title:  Trade policy UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Trade policy Main image:  20170429_FNP002_0.jpg “WELL, I’m mostly there on most items,” said Donald Trump of his 100-day plan. As far as trade policy is concerned, his self-assessment would indeed be true—if tweets and executive orders ratcheting up tensions in a growing number of trade disputes constituted progress. However, although Mr Trump has withdrawn America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade deal, he has neither labelled China a currency manipulator nor made progress in renegotiating the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On April 26th his administration denied ...

27 апреля, 17:46

The wars of independence: How to preserve the benefits of central-bank autonomy

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Print section Print Rubric:  How best to preserve the benefits of central-bank autonomy Print Headline:  The wars of independence Print Fly Title:  Central banks UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  The wars of independence Main image:  20170429_LDD002_0.jpg ON MAY 6th 1997 Gordon Brown, freshly installed as Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, announced that he was giving the Bank of England the responsibility for setting interest rates. The bank would be charged with meeting an inflation target set by the government. The move was hailed as a political masterstroke. It gave substance to the new Labour government’s claims to economic competence. Long-term borrowing costs fell sharply. The pound soared. The bank’s governor, Eddie George, was delighted. But joy was not unconfined. Within weeks Mr Brown, wary of an ...

27 апреля, 17:46

The battle of three centuries: The history of central banks

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Print section Print Rubric:  Today’s criticisms of central banks echo debates from times past Print Headline:  Battle of three centuries Print Fly Title:  The history of central banks UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  The battle of three centuries Main image:  20170429_BBD001_0.jpg TWENTY years ago next month, the British government gave the Bank of England the freedom to set interest rates. That decision was part of a trend that made central bankers the most powerful financial actors on the planet, not only setting rates but also buying trillions of dollars’ worth of assets, targeting exchange rates and managing the economic cycle. Although central banks have great independence now, the tide could turn again. Central bankers across the world have been criticised for overstepping their brief, having opined about ...

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27 апреля, 17:46

The last, toughest mile: China’s new approach to beating poverty

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Print section Print Rubric:  China is trying a new approach to poverty Print Headline:  Stumbling along the last mile Print Fly Title:  Poverty UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  The last, toughest mile Location:  MINNING Main image:  20170429_CNP001_1.jpg MOST of Tian Shuang’s relatives are herding goats in the barren hills of Ningxia province, one of the poorest parts of western China. But last year Mr Tian came down to Minning, a small town in the valley, when the local government, as part of an anti-poverty programme, gave him a job growing mushrooms and ornamental plants in a commercial nursery garden. His name, address and income (20,000 yuan a year, or $2,900—six times the minimum wage) are written on a board by its greenhouse door. Mr Tian’s ...

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27 апреля, 17:46

Leaving a bad taste: Higher minimum wages may make bad restaurants close

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Print section Print Rubric:  Higher minimum wages may force bad restaurants out of business Print Headline:  Leaving a bad taste Print Fly Title:  Minimum wages UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How to have a better death Fly Title:  Leaving a bad taste Location:  WASHINGTON, DC Main image:  To go To go WITH Republicans in charge in Washington, the federal minimum wage is unlikely to alter soon. But debate over the impact of local pay floors is as hot as ever. Little wonder: 18 states and 22 cities and counties raised their minimum wages at the start of 2017, according to the National Employment Law Project, a campaign group. Left-wing activists have for years pushed politicians to guarantee minimum pay of $15 an hour, more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25, which last went up in ...