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16 ноября, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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 ...

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02 ноября, 18:51

Luther’s reformation: The stand

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Print section Print Rubric:  Protestantism shaped the development of the modern liberal West. What does its current revival mean for the developing world? Print Headline:  The stand Print Fly Title:  Luther’s reformation UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Do social media threaten democracy? Fly Title:  Luther’s reformation Location:  ALMOLONGA, GUATEMALA Main image:  20171104_ESD001_1.jpg IN THE summer of 1974, a 26-year-old Mayan villager lay drunk in a town square in the Guatemalan highlands. Suddenly he heard a voice that was to change the course of his life and that of his home town, Almolonga. “I was lying there and I saw Jesus saying, ‘I love you and I want you to serve me’,” says the man, Mariano Riscajche. He dusted himself down, sobered up and soon started preaching, ...

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26 октября, 17:47

The generation gain: Millennials are doing better than the baby-boomers did at their age

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Print section Print Rubric:  Millennials are doing better than the baby-boomers did at their age. But the gap is closing Print Headline:  The generation gain Print Fly Title:  Age and inequality UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  A tsar is born Fly Title:  The generation gain ALL men are created equal, but they do not stay that way for long. That is one message of a report this month by the OECD, a club of 35 mostly rich democracies. Many studies show how income gaps have evolved over time or between countries. The OECD’s report looks instead at how inequality evolves with age. As people build their careers, or don’t, their incomes tend to diverge. This inequality peaks when a generation reaches its late 50s. But it tends to fall thereafter, as people draw redistributive public pensions and quit the rat race, a contest that tends to give more unto every one that hath. Old age, the OECD notes, is a “leveller”. Will it remain ...

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19 октября, 17:57

Free exchange: How should recessions be fought when interest rates are low?

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Print section Print Rubric:  Agreement on how to fight recessions in a low-interest-rate world remains elusive Print Headline:  The low road Print Fly Title:  Free exchange UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The right way to help declining places Fly Title:  Free exchange Main image:  20171021_fnp501.jpg ONE day, perhaps quite soon, it will happen. Some gale of bad news will blow in: an oil-price spike, a market panic or a generalised formless dread. Governments will spot the danger too late. A new recession will begin. Once, the response would have been clear: central banks should swing into action, cutting interest rates to boost borrowing and investment. But during the financial crisis, and after four decades of falling interest rates and inflation, the inevitable occurred (see chart). The rates so deftly wielded by central banks hit zero, leaving ...

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19 октября, 17:57

Buttonwood: Higher taxes can lower inequality without denting economic growth

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Print section Print Rubric:  Reducing inequality in a globalised economy Print Headline:  A taxing problem Print Fly Title:  Buttonwood UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The right way to help declining places Fly Title:  Buttonwood INEQUALITY is one of the big political issues of the 21st century, with many commentators citing it as a significant factor behind the rise of populism. After all, nothing could be more indicative of the triumph of the common man than the elevation of a property billionaire to the American presidency. A new IMF report* looks at how fiscal policy can help tackle inequality. In advanced economies, taxation already has an impact. The Gini coefficient (a standard measure of income inequality) is around a third lower after taxes and transfers than it is before them. But whereas such policies offset around 60% of the change in market inequality between 1985 and 1995, they have had barely any impact ...

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19 октября, 17:57

20th-century American history: The crazy career of Herbert Hoover

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Print section Print Headline:  A devil to sup with Print Fly Title:  Herbert Hoover UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The right way to help declining places Fly Title:  20th-century American history Main image:  20171021_bkp505.jpg Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times. By Kenneth Whyte. Knopf; 752 pages; $35. FOR his philanthropic efforts during the first world war, Herbert Hoover was described as a “man who began his career in California and will end it in heaven”. In a new biography, Kenneth Whyte lists the many hardships Hoover went through. Generally, he used them to his advantage—to increase his wealth, achieve fame and become America’s 31st president. At least, that is, until the Great Depression, which ruined him politically. Born in Iowa in 1874, Hoover became determined early in life to earn a fortune for the security and independence it would bring. After graduating as a geologist from ...

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19 октября, 11:18

Globalisation’s losers: The right way to help declining places

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Print section Print Rubric:  The right way to help places hurt by globalisation Print Headline:  Left behind UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  The right way to help declining places Fly Title:  Globalisation’s losers Main image:  20171021_LDD001_1.jpg POPULISM’S wave has yet to crest. That is the sobering lesson of recent elections in Germany and Austria, where the success of anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation parties showed that a message of hostility to elites and outsiders resonates as strongly as ever among those fed up with the status quo. It is also the lesson from America, where Donald Trump is doubling down on gestures to his angry base, most recently by adopting a negotiating position on NAFTA that is more likely to wreck than remake the trade agreement (see article). These remedies will not work. The demise of NAFTA will disproportionately hurt the blue-collar workers who back Mr Trump. Getting tough on ...