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24 июля, 16:39

Daily chart: Britain’s JAMs are living up to their name

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IN HER maiden speech as Britain’s prime minister roughly a year ago, Theresa May addressed her remarks “directly” to families who were struggling, and pledged to do everything she could to help them. But their economic situation has not improved since then. In fact, people who are “just about managing”, or JAMs—a vaguely defined group of roughly 6m working-age households on low to middle incomes—are likely to be worse off than a year ago.One way to gauge their situation is by comparison with the minimum income standard (MIS), a measure devised by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a think-tank, in conjunction with Loughborough University. It is based on public consultations with a panel of experts that estimate the lowest socially acceptable standard of living in Britain for various types of family. Since 2010 the MIS for most family types has risen substantially, outstripping all gains from wage rises, tax cuts and benefits. Last year alone it jumped 4%.All family types in the JAM group are worse off than they used to be in real terms. Singletons need to earn around £300 ($388) a week. Eight years ago the comparable figure was less than £230, so the MIS for this group has risen 30%. Full-time earnings at the 10th percentile have increased by less than half, meaning more single people are seeing their earning power fall behind. A similar pattern is true for single ...

20 июля, 17:44

Charlemagne: Emmanuel Macron is revitalising the European Union—and dividing it

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Print section Print Rubric:  Emmanuel Macron is both revitalising the European Union, and dividing it Print Headline:  Sea change Print Fly Title:  Charlemagne UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Britain faces up to Brexit Fly Title:  Charlemagne Main image:  20170722_EUD000_0.jpg LIFE comes at you fast in the European Union. Barely a year ago, with the wounds from the refugee crisis still gaping, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, could be heard warning that a British vote to quit the EU threatened to bring about the collapse of western civilisation. In half the countries on the continent, snarling populists eager for European disintegration were terrifying the pro-EU establishment. Yet over the past few months, gloom has turned to sunshine. In June Mr Tusk declared that he had never felt so optimistic about the EU. Much of the credit ...

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20 июля, 13:03

Britain and the European Union: The six flavours of Brexit

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Print section Print Rubric:  The EU offers many menus, from Norwegian to Turkish. But Britain cannot expect to choose à la carte Print Headline:  The six flavours of Brexit Print Fly Title:  Britain and the European Union UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Britain faces up to Brexit Fly Title:  Britain and the European Union Main image:  20170722_BRD001_0.jpg JUST over a year has passed since Britain voted to leave the European Union and Theresa May subsequently became prime minister. Nearly four months have elapsed since Mrs May invoked Article 50 of the EU treaty, setting a two-year deadline for Brexit that will expire on March 30th 2019. The clock is ticking. And at first blush there has been much activity: a big speech by Mrs May at Lancaster House in January; several government white papers; bills introduced in Parliament; and the start of formal ...

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13 июля, 18:21

The other handover: An illustrious Hong Kong container firm sells to China

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Print section Print Rubric:  An illustrious Hong Kong company sells to a mainland rival Print Headline:  The other handover Print Fly Title:  Container shipping UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Liu Xiaobo’s death holds a message for China Fly Title:  The other handover Location:  HONG KONG Main image:  Terminal value Terminal value STONECUTTERS ISLAND in Hong Kong used to be a favoured habitat for poisonous snakes and eye-catching birds such as the white-bellied sea eagle. Thanks to Hong Kong’s rapid development, it is no longer so hospitable. Its sky is full of gantry cranes, stacking 20-foot-long shipping containers in multicoloured tessellations, like giant Lego bricks. A cluster of decorative containers, daubed in graffiti, line the perimeter of container terminal eight, which is ...

11 июля, 17:31

Buttonwood: How to kill a corporate zombie

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Print section Print Rubric:  The answer may hold the key to enhancing productivity Print Headline:  How to kill a corporate zombie Print Fly Title:  Buttonwood UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Liu Xiaobo’s death holds a message for China Fly Title:  Buttonwood Main image:  20170715_fnp501.jpg WHAT is the best way to kill a zombie? Fans of Daryl Dixon, a character in “The Walking Dead”, a television series, will know the answer: a crossbow bolt to the brain. Getting rid of corporate zombies, however, is a much more complicated process. Ageing populations mean that the workforces in developed economies are likely to stagnate, or even shrink, in coming decades. That means almost all the burden of economic growth is likely to fall on productivity improvements. There has been a lot of focus on labour-market flexibility as the key to solving this problem, ...

06 июля, 17:50

Down the aisle: Who would buy Air India?

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Print section Print Rubric:  Wanted: a new pilot for a struggling national emblem Print Headline:  Down the aisle Print Fly Title:  Air India UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Why Germany’s current-account surplus is bad for the world economy Fly Title:  Down the aisle Location:  MUMBAI Main image:  20170708_wbp503.jpg A FAMOUS brand in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, sitting on valuable slots at international airports and able to borrow cheaply thanks to being state-owned: Air India ought to be hugely profitable. But under state ownership it has guzzled public funds as hungrily as its jets consume kerosene. Last week the authorities threw in the towelette and announced an “in principle” cabinet agreement to privatise it. The chances of that going ahead rose on June 30th ...

06 июля, 09:08

The Economist explains: What is the OECD?

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Main image:  MANY articles in The Economist cite reports or statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD. Often we add the description, “a club of rich countries” (something it isn’t that happy about). What is this club, and what does it actually do?The OECD was founded in 1961 but grew out of the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation which was set up in 1948 to operate the Marshall plan, the American aid programme for war-ravaged Europe. The OECD included non-European countries; the idea behind its formation was to encourage economic interdependence among member nations with the help of evidence-based analysis. Its members fund its work. Countries have to apply to join and must meet minimum legal and other standards; they benefit from the group’s research and from the prestige of being an OECD member. There are now 35 members, with Latvia the latest to sign up, in 2016. The OECD has produced standards on bribery, consumer protection and the responsible sourcing of minerals, among many others. (These are purely voluntary.)The club of mostly rich countries is probably best known for three things. The first is its regular economic reports, both on the global outlook and on individual countries; its policy criticisms can generate headlines. The ...

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29 июня, 17:48

Never say never: Pakistan’s old economic vulnerabilities persist

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Print section Print Rubric:  Old economic vulnerabilities persist; new ones emerge Print Headline:  Never say never Print Fly Title:  Pakistan and the IMF UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Trump’s Washington is paralysed Fly Title:  Never say never Location:  ISLAMABAD THE IMF, claims Pakistan’s government, is surplus to requirements. Ministers in its business-minded ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), boast of a record that means the country can pay its own bills. “We will not go back to the IMF programme,” declared Ishaq Dar, the finance minister, in May, almost a year after the completion of Pakistan’s most recent, $6.6bn bail-out. In a country that mistrusts Western assistance and where protesters portray the IMF as a bloodthirsty crocodile, such words have a heady appeal. But they ring hollow. On June 16th the IMF warned of ...

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29 июня, 17:48

Double standards?: Developing countries rebel against the credit-rating agencies

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Print section Print Rubric:  Some leading emerging markets threaten to rebel against the ratings agencies Print Headline:  Double standards? Print Fly Title:  Sovereign-bond ratings UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Trump’s Washington is paralysed Fly Title:  Double standards? Main image:  20170701_FND001_0.jpg EARLIER this year, a crowd of patriotic Indian students bristled when Arvind Subramanian, the government’s chief economic adviser, showed them a slide with two charts. One showed India’s steady economic growth and flat debt-GDP ratio; the other China’s slowing growth and fast-rising debt. Yet India’s credit rating from S&P Global Ratings (formerly Standard and Poor’s), has been stuck at BBB-. China, on the other hand, was upgraded from A+ to AA- in 2010 even as its debt shot up. The slide was pithily titled “Poor Standards”. Rating government ...

29 июня, 17:48

Buttonwood: Alarm grows about over-exuberance in corporate lending

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Print section Print Rubric:  Borrowers have the whip hand in the credit markets Print Headline:  Easy money Print Fly Title:  Buttonwood UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Trump’s Washington is paralysed Fly Title:  Buttonwood WHEN the financial crisis was at its height in 2008, being a debtor was a dreadful experience. Banks and companies scrambled desperately to get the financing they needed. But the balance of power in the financial markets can easily shift. In 2005 and 2006, credit had been easy to get on generous terms. Not only were loans cheap and plentiful; they also suffered from fewer restrictions. Until then, corporate loans had many covenants offering safeguards for lenders if the debtor’s financial position were to deteriorate. But 2005-06 saw the emergence of “covenant-lite” loans in which such restrictions were virtually non-existent. The cycle has turned again. Analysis by Moody’s, a ratings agency, shows ...

29 июня, 17:48

Free exchange: What Asia learned from its financial crisis 20 years ago

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Print section Print Rubric:  Did Asia learn the lessons of its financial crisis? Print Headline:  Hot and sour Print Fly Title:  Free exchange UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Trump’s Washington is paralysed Fly Title:  Free exchange MUSEUM SIAM in Bangkok is dedicated to exploring all things Thai. Until July 2nd, that includes an exhibition on the Asian financial crisis, which began on that date 20 years ago, when the Thai baht lost its peg with the dollar. The exhibition features two seesaws, showing how many baht were required to balance one dollar, both before the crisis (25) and after (over 50 at one point). Visitors can also read the testimony of some of the victims, including a high-flying stockbroker who was reduced to selling sandwiches, and a businesswoman whose boss told her to “take care of the work for me” before hanging himself. (In Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, 10,400 people killed themselves as a result ...

29 июня, 17:48

Aid for trade: America’s programme to help trade’s losers needs fixing

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Print section Print Rubric:  America’s programme to help trade’s losers could do with a fix Print Headline:  Aid for trade Print Fly Title:  Trade-adjustment policies UK Only Article:  standard article Issue:  Trump’s Washington is paralysed Fly Title:  Aid for trade Location:  EVANSVILLE, INDIANA Main image:  Alas, poor Warrick Alas, poor Warrick BRIAN AUNSPACH thought he had a job for life. After six years at a smelter owned by Alcoa, America’s largest aluminium company, his work was hard but the benefits decent. Warning signs came with crashing aluminium prices in the summer of 2015 and murmurings about unfair Chinese competition. Then reality hit: in January 2016 Alcoa announced the smelter’s closure. Around 600 people lost their jobs. The events of 2016, from Brexit to Donald Trump’s ...