UK’s poorest to fare worst in age of automation, thinktank warns

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Machines threaten jobs generating £290bn in wages and could widen inequality gap, according to IPPR Richard Partington The Guardian The rise of the machine economy risks social disruption by widening the gap between rich and poor in Britain, as automation threatens jobs generating £290bn in wages. Jobs accounting for a third of annual pay in the UK risk being automated, according to the study by the IPPR thinktank. Warning that low-paid roles are in the greatest danger, it urged ministers ... Read More »

Oil starts to flow from North Sea’s Catcher project

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The first oil has been pumped from the vast Catcher area in the North Sea, with production set to be ramped up in the new year. Scott Reid The Scotsman Premier Oil said it had achieved the feat on the afternoon of 23 December. The £1 billion-plus Catcher project lies some 110 miles off the coast of Aberdeen. Production will start off at some 10,000 barrels per day, ramping up to about 60,000 barrels in the first half of 2018. ... Read More »

Malaysia’s 1MDB settles debt owed to Abu Dhabi with China backing

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KUALA LUMPUR – State-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has made the final settlement of US$602.7 million ($S810 million) in debt obligations to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), by divesting its stake in two companies to buyers linked to Chinese state-owned… The Straits Times The payment, the second tranche of a US$1.2 billion loan IPIC extended in July 2015 to the troubled 1MDB, was made last Friday (Dec 22), ahead of the end-December deadline that both parties agreed to in ... Read More »

Egypt signs $200M agreement with EBRD for energy efficiency

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CAIRO – 27 December 2017: Minister of Investment Sahar Nasr signed an agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to provide a $200 million loan to the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS). Egypt Today Focusing on improving the gas pipeline and transmission network of Egypt, the EBRD said on its website that the loan will be directed to installing waste heat recovery, turbo-expanders, gas metering data systems infrastructure and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) separation plant as ... Read More »

Learning by giving: How today’s students can become tomorrow’s philanthropists

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If someone asked you to picture a philanthropist, chances are a billionaire like Bill Gates or John D. Rockefeller Sr. would come to mind. Jodi Benenson David Campbell Lindsey M. McDougle The Conversation But not all philanthropists are billionaires, or even millionaires for that matter. People who make modest gifts of time or money can make a big difference in their communities. We are professors who teach and do research about philanthropy, the practice of expressing generosity by giving away ... Read More »

Who has been driving the crypto boom? Individuals in Asia

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Despite a backlash from some regional governments, Asian retail traders continue to drive demand MARTIN J. YOUNG Asia Times There is no doubt that 2017 has been the figurative Big Bang for digital currency markets. Until last Friday’s selling frenzy, Bitcoin had made a meteoric rise of 1,800% since the beginning of the year. It tumbled last week below US$12,000 to put it on track for its worst week since 2013. Other cryptocurrencies, such as Riot Blockchain and, also struggled. But even with ... Read More »

Sri Lanka the latest victim of China’s debt-trap diplomacy

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Beijing has been given a 99-year lease on Hambantota port as part of a debt-reduction deal, amid talk of creditor imperialism following China’s buy-up of strategic ports in Piraeus, Darwin and Djibouti. BRAHMA CHELLANEY Asia Times This month, Sri Lanka, unable to pay the onerous debt to China it has accumulated, formally handed over its strategically located Hambantota port to the Asian giant. It was a major acquisition for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which President Xi Jinping ... Read More »

David McWilliams: There’s an economic star in the east

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Today, wise men know that the world’s economic future isn’t in the west. It’s in China. David McWilliams Some 2,000 years ago, Joseph and Mary headed from Nazareth to Bethlehem to sign a census. The Irish Times Census night was a big deal in Roman Judea because the Romans were meticulous about economic and demographic affairs. The Romans were fastidious measurers because they were exacting tax-collectors. These taxes, collected in the Judea of Christ, were designed to finance Roman expansion ... Read More »

The Danger to the South China Sea Fishery

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For years, sovereign rights in the South China Sea have been an object of fierce contention among the states that border it: the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam, all members of the 10-nation ASEAN group, China, their giant neighbor to the north, and Taiwan as… David Brown Asia Sentinel But while the bordering states jockey for advantage, with China now clearly the dominant local power, scientists have been warning that the sea is fast becoming the site of an ... Read More »

Oil firms to step up exploration off Norway next year after poor 2017

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OSLO (Reuters) – Efforts to find new oil off Norway are expected to double next year, preliminary company plans show, with activity rising in more mature areas after this year’s disappointing Arctic campaign. Nerijus Adomaitis The pressure to deliver is growing as this year’s poor exploration results were partly to blame for a drop in interest in Norway’s latest licensing round Around 45-50 exploration wells, including wells to delineate previously made discoveries, could be drilled next year on the Norwegian ... Read More »

Behavioral economics finally goes mainstream: 4 essential reads

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The year 2017 may turn out to be when behavioral economics entered the mainstream after a leading practitioner in the field won a Nobel prize for his work Bryan Keogh The Conversation Behavioral economics is the study of how psychology affects the economic decision-making processes of individuals and institutions. Research in the field has led governments like those in the U.K. and U.S. to create teams of behavioral scientists to find ways to tweak citizens’ behavior to improve their welfare, ... Read More »

Cost of global disasters jumps to $306bn in 2017

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Despite the rise in financial loss from disasters, the number of people who died or went missing in disasters remained similar to 2016 Shafi Musaddique The Independent Global disasters in 2017 cost homes and businesses a staggering $306bn (£229bn), according to a new study. Losses made this year from both natural and man-made catastrophes represent a 63 per cent jump compared to last year. The US saw its most damaging hurricane season since 2005, hit hardest with Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria across ... Read More »

In Britain, the productivity problem has a clear solution

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The UK is lagging in productivity, but it has a secret weapon to leapfrog ahead of its competitors. Deborah Sherry Over the past year, Brexit has been the all-consuming storyline looming over the British economy. Politico As growth has lagged, people have looked to the country’s impending exit from the European Union for explanations. But Brexit or no Brexit, the real crisis is British productivity. In 2016, the U.K. ranked well below the other major economies of Europe in productivity, ... Read More »

Alicia Garcia-Herrero: What US Tax Reform Means for China

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How will the new U.S. tax system affect the world’s second largest economy? Maurits Elen The Diplomat Since the 1980s, the American corporate income tax rate has remained unchanged, all while OECD countries consistently started to reduce their own. With lower rates soon to be signed into law, a key economic policy objective of Trump is taking shape: to make the United States more competitive. The tax overhaul is unlikely to significantly affect the Chinese economy, nor will it pressure China ... Read More »

France bans fracking and oil extraction in all of its territories

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French parliamentarians have passed a law banning fossil fuel extraction. President Macron says he wants France to lead the world with switch to renewables Agence France-Presse The Guardian France’s parliament has passed into law a ban on producing oil and gas by 2040, a largely symbolic gesture as the country is 99% dependent on hydrocarbon imports. In Tuesday’s vote by show of hands, only the rightwing Republicans party opposed, while leftwing lawmakers abstained. No new permits will be granted to ... Read More »

Uber faces tougher regulation across Europe after ECJ rules firm is a transport service

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Taxi service had labelled itself an ‘information society service’ that merely connects drivers with passengers through an app – European Court of Justice disagrees Ben Chapman The Independent The EU’s top court has ruled that Uber is a taxi service and can be regulated like other transport firms. The long-awaited decision could have wide-ranging implications for how Uber, and other gig economy firms, can operate across the continent. Uber had labelled itself an “information society service” that merely connects drivers with passengers through ... Read More »