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30 ноября 2017, 18:56

Free exchange: The euro zone’s boom masks problems that will return to haunt it

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Print section Print Rubric:  Europe’s boom will not last; it had better make the most of it Print Headline:  The second chance Print Fly Title:  Free exchange UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How—and why—to end the war in Yemen Fly Title:  Free exchange “WHAT does not kill me makes me stronger,” wrote Nietzsche in “Götzen-Dämmerung”, or “Twilight of the Idols”. Alternatively, it leaves the body dangerously weakened, as did the illnesses that plagued the German philosopher all his life. The euro area survived a hellish decade, and is now enjoying an unlikely boom. The OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, reckons that the euro zone will have grown faster in 2017 than America, Britain or Japan. But, sadly, although the currency bloc has undoubtedly proven more resilient than many economists expected, it is only a little better equipped to survive its next recession than it was the previous one. Europe’s crisis was brutal. ...

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30 ноября 2017, 18:56

A job half-finished: Europe’s banks are stronger than they were, but not strong enough

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Print section Print Rubric:  Much has been done to strengthen Europe’s banking system. But not enough Print Headline:  A job half-finished Print Fly Title:  European banks UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How—and why—to end the war in Yemen Fly Title:  A job half-finished Main image:  20171202_LDD002_0.jpg THE permanent revolution rumbles on. Ten years after the financial crisis, Europe’s bankers must wonder whether the regulatory upheaval will ever cease (see article). Next month two European Union directives start to bite. MiFID2 will make trading more transparent and oblige banks to charge clients separately for research; PSD2 will expose banks to more competition from technology companies, and each other, in everything from payment services to budgeting advice. A new accounting rule, IFRS 9, also kicks in, demanding timelier provisions for credit ...

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30 ноября 2017, 18:56

Borderline solution: The fate of the Irish frontier shows the compromises that Brexit entails

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Print section Print Rubric:  The fate of the Irish frontier shows the compromises that Brexit will force Britain to make Print Headline:  Borderline solution Print Fly Title:  Brexit and the Irish question UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  How—and why—to end the war in Yemen Fly Title:  Borderline solution Main image:  20171202_LDP001_0.jpg NORTHERN IRELAND barely featured in last year’s Brexit referendum campaign, in which Britons were more interested in matters of migration and money. Yet the future of the 500km border that separates the North from the Irish Republic—and which will soon separate the United Kingdom from the European Union—has become one of the trickiest issues of the exit talks. The winding border has revealed a tangle in the “red lines” laid down by Theresa May. After leaving the EU, Britain wants to do its own trade deals with the ...

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23 ноября 2017, 18:52

Scapegoating trade: A historian on the myths of American trade

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Print section Print Rubric:  Douglas Irwin corrects the record of American trade policy over the years Print Headline:  Sticking up for a scapegoat Print Fly Title:  A history of trade UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  A hated tax but a fair one Fly Title:  Scapegoating trade Main image:  20171125_BKP001_0.jpg Clashing over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy. By Douglas Irwin. University of Chicago Press; 832 pages; $35. TRADE-policy wonks are gluttons for punishment. In good times, their pet topic is dismissed as dull. In bad, they find trade being faulted for everything. As Donald Trump blames America’s economic woes on terrible trade deals, one geek is fighting back. In “Clashing over Commerce”, Douglas Irwin of Dartmouth College tells the history of American trade policy, showing that trade is neither dull nor deserving of the attacks on ...

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23 ноября 2017, 18:52

Capital in the 80th century BC: Wealth inequality has been widening for millennia

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Print section Print Rubric:  Wealth inequality has been increasing for millennia Print Headline:  Capital in the 80th century BC Print Fly Title:  Archaeology UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  A hated tax but a fair one Fly Title:  Capital in the 80th century BC THE one-percenters are now gobbling up more of the pie in America—that much is well known. This trend, though disconcerting, is not unique to the modern era. A new study, by Timothy Kohler of Washington State University and 17 others, finds that inequality may well have been rising for several thousand years, at least in some parts of the world. The scholars examined 63 archaeological sites and estimated the levels of wealth inequality in the societies whose remains were dug up, by studying the distributions of house sizes. As a measure they used the Gini coefficient (a perfectly equal society would have a Gini coefficient of zero). It rose from about 0.2 around ...

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22 ноября 2017, 20:31

Daily chart: Wealth inequality has been increasing for millennia

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Main image:  THE one-percenters are now gobbling up more of the pie in America—that much is well known. This trend, though disconcerting, is not unique to the modern era. A new study by Timothy Kohler of Washington State University and 17 others finds that inequality may well have been rising for several thousand years, at least in some parts of the world. The scholars examined 63 archaeological sites and estimated the levels of wealth inequality in the societies whose remains were dug up, by studying the distributions of house sizes. As a measure they used the Gini coefficient (a perfectly equal society would have a Gini coefficient of zero). It rose from about 0.2 around 8000BC in Jerf el-Ahmar, on the Euphrates in modern-day Syria, to 0.5 in around 79AD in Pompeii. Data on burial goods, though sparse, suggest similar trends. The researchers suggest agriculture is to blame. The nomadic lifestyle is not conducive to wealth accumulation. Only when humans switched to farming did people truly begin to acquire material riches. Inequality rose steadily after the shift into settled agriculture, but tailed off in the Americas after around 2,500 years. In the old world, however, wealth inequality continued climbing for several millennia. That may be because Eurasia was richer in large mammals that ...

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16 ноября 2017, 18:58

Standard stuff: Timelier provisions may make banks’ profits and lending choppier

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Print section Print Rubric:  Timelier loan-loss provisions may make earnings and lending choppier Print Headline:  Stage fright Print Fly Title:  Accounting and banks UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The army sidelines Robert Mugabe, Africa’s great dictator Fly Title:  Standard stuff Main image:  20171118_FNP505.jpg IN THE first quarter of 2018 thousands of banks will look a little less profitable. A new international accounting standard, IFRS 9, will oblige lenders in more than 120 countries, including the European Union’s members, to increase provisions for credit losses. In America, which has its own standard-setter, IFRS 9 will not be applied—but by 2019 banks there will also have to follow a slightly different regime. The new rule has its roots in the financial crisis of 2007-08, in the wake of which the leaders of the G20 countries declared that ...

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09 ноября 2017, 18:48

The right connections: Beefing up mobile-phone and internet penetration in Africa

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Print section Print Rubric:  Beefing up mobile-phone and internet penetration Print Headline:  The right connections Print Fly Title:  Connectivity UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The leapfrog model Fly Title:  The right connections WITH ITS SNAZZY technology hubs and army of bright young programmers, Kenya can rightly claim to be east Africa’s tech startup nation. It was here that mobile money first took off, and it is here that off-grid solar power is making its biggest impact. Even the election in August was meant to be a showpiece of tech wizardry, with voting stations automatically beaming the results via mobile internet to a computer in the capital, Nairobi, to prevent tampering. But it turned out that about a quarter of the country’s 41,000 polling stations did not have mobile-phone reception and sent in incomplete results, leading to allegations of vote-rigging. That helped persuade the courts to order a ...

09 ноября 2017, 18:47

Letters to the editor: Letters

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Print section Print Fly Title:  On globalisation, mussels, Russia, politics UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  America’s global influence has dwindled under Donald Trump Fly Title:  Letters to the editor Those who are left behind Your briefing on the regions of the world that have been marginalised by globalisation stated that economists “once thought that, over time, inequalities between both regions and countries would naturally even out” (“In the lurch”, October 21st). I am not one of them. I have always believed that the global economy “can be imagined to be a self-equilibrating mechanism of the textbook variety, or it can be recognised as subject to processes of cumulative causation whereby if one or more countries fall behind the pack, there may be dangers of them falling further behind, rather than enjoying an automatic ticket back to the equilibrium solution path. These two alternative, conflicting views of real-world economic processes have very different implications regarding institutional needs and arrangements” (“Managing the Global ...

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09 ноября 2017, 09:16

The Economist explains: Why is Protestantism flourishing in the developing world?

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Main image:  PROTESTANTISM has played a large part in the development of the modern, liberal world. It has contributed to the emergence of concepts such as freedom of conscience, tolerance and the separation of powers. But as the world marks the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, the faith’s axis is shifting. The percentage of Western Europeans and North Americans professing Protestantism is declining, whereas in the developing world the proportion is growing fast. For much of the 20th century, global secularisation was considered inevitable as nations modernised. But the developing world is actually becoming more religious, part of what Peter Berger, a sociologist, called the “desecularisation” of the world. At the heart of this religious resurgence have been Islam and Pentecostalism, a branch of Protestant Christianity. Islam grew at an annual average of 1.9% between 2000 and 2017, mainly as the result of a high birth rate. Pentecostalism grew at 2.2% each year, mainly by conversion. Half of developing-world Christians are Pentecostal, evangelical or charismatic (all branches of the faith emphasise the authority of the Bible and the need for a spiritual rebirth). Why are people so attracted to it?Christianity has always had ecstatic elements, but modern Pentecostalism was born ...

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08 ноября 2017, 21:35

Daily chart: In much of sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phones are more common than access to electricity

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Main image:  A DECADE after mobile phones began to spread in Africa, they have become commonplace even in the continent’s poorest countries. In 2016 two-fifths of people in sub-Saharan Africa had mobile phones. Their rapid spread has beaten all sorts of odds. In most African countries, less than half the population has access to electricity. In a third of those countries, less than a quarter does. Yet in much of the continent people with mobile phones outnumber those with electricity, never mind that many have to walk for miles to get a signal or recharge their phones’ batteries.Mobile phones have transformed the lives of hundreds of millions for whom they were the first, and often the only, way to connect with the outside world. They have made it possible for poor countries to leapfrog much more than landline telephony. Mobile-money services, which enable people to send cash straight from their phones, have in effect created personal bank accounts that people can carry in their pockets. By one estimate, the M-Pesa mobile-money system alone lifted about 2% of Kenyan households out of poverty between 2008 and 2014. Technology cannot solve all of Africa’s problems, but it can help with many.  20171108 17:52:15 Comment Expiry ...

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02 ноября 2017, 18:51

Buttonwood: Investors call the end of the government-bond bull market (again)

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Print section Print Rubric:  The big risks may be in corporate, not government, bonds Print Headline:  Yielding to temptation Print Fly Title:  Buttonwood UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Do social media threaten democracy? Fly Title:  Buttonwood FOR the umpteenth time in the past decade, a great turning-point has been declared in the government-bond market. Bond yields have risen across the world, including in China, where the yield on the ten-year bond has come close to 4% for the first time since 2014. The ten-year Treasury-bond yield, the most important benchmark, has risen from 2.05% in early September to 2.37%, though that is still below its level of early March (see chart). Investors have been expecting bond yields to rise for a while. A survey by JPMorgan Chase found that a record 70% of its clients with speculative accounts had “short” positions in Treasury bonds—ie, betting that prices would fall and ...