Business

Fog of War Clouds India’s Stocks Rally

Military posturing has revived animal spirits. Cooler heads will suggest the gains are unlikely to last. Anjani Trivedi Bloomberg It’s amazing what a bit of chest-beating and military posturing can do. India’s war of words with and air strikes on Pakistan have reinvigorated the re-election campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Opinion polls (if you believe them) are predicting a bigger margin of victory for Modi’s National Democratic Alliance than they were two months ago. A creeping skepticism that had ... Read More »

The sudden shift that should have all of us worried about the global economy

The markets’ responses to the latest US Federal Reserve Board’s interest rate and balance sheet decisions were telling. Stephen Bartholomeusz Brisbane Times The immediate reaction of the share market was to mark stocks up, before a more considered assessment sent them back down. Bond rates eased and the US dollar slid against its major trading partners’ currencies. The nature of the Fed’s announcements – a majority of the members of its Open Market Committee expect no rate increases this year and the Fed ... Read More »

Italy’s Risky Silk Road

The Italian government is keen to join China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” and plans to sign an agreement to this effect during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Italy. Paola Subacchi Project Syndicate But although deeper trade and investment ties with China could boost its sluggish economy, Italy should pursue them through the EU, not bilaterally. VENICE – Is China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) “a train that Italy cannot afford to miss,” as Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria ... Read More »

Stagnant Capitalism

A decade after the 2008 financial crisis, faith in markets’ self-regulating abilities once again lies in tatters. Yanis Varoufakis Project Syndicate There simply is no single real interest rate that would spur investors to funnel all existing savings into productive investments, and employers to hire all who wish to work at the prevailing wage. ATHENS – When the Great Depression followed the 1929 stock-market crash, almost everyone acknowledged that capitalism was unstable, unreliable, and prone to stagnation. In the decades ... Read More »

After Danske, Next Dirty Money Route Gets Scrutinized in Denmark

As one avenue for money launderers is shut, another one may be opening. Frances Schwartzkopff Bloomberg In Denmark, home to Danske Bank A/S, the authorities are now taking a closer look at companies that provide payment services. The worry is that the process is becoming so complex that criminals might be able to hide their illicit transactions. Danish Business Minister Rasmus Jarlov says the goal is “to all the time be ahead of the criminals.” Because they’re “trying to exploit any ... Read More »

Housing Affordability Poll Finds Canadians Have Little Faith Government Can Solve The Problem

Only one in 10 respondents want to see 30-year mortgages. Daniel Tencer HuffPost The real estate industry is waiting with bated breath to see whether the federal budget landing Tuesday will offer any good news for first-time homebuyers struggling with historically bad housing affordability in Canada. It seems a good bet the pre-election budget will include something to address Canadians’ growing concerns about housing costs — but few actually believe it will make much difference. A new poll carried out for real ... Read More »

Bosnian Branch Of ‘Putin’s Angels’ Enjoys Political Backing – Analysis

Like the original Night Wolves in Russia, a Bosnian Serb branch of the motorcycle gang enjoys close ties to the political elite. Semir Mujkic Eurasia Review A roughly 1.5-million-euro tender for construction of a mini hydropower plant in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska has been awarded to a company with no previous experience in the field, co-owned by the… Goran Tadic, co-owner of New Energy Company and vice-president of the Night Wolves of Republika Srpska, said his ties with the head of ... Read More »

Banks Pull Back From Funding French Politics

The money has always followed the power in French politics, as the party in office has built-in advantages for financing campaigns. Gregory Viscusi Bloomberg Now, that gap is widening, with banks becoming more reluctant to make up the shortfall. As he prepares for European Parliament elections in May, President Emmanuel Macron has a two-part edge: free airtime from a series of public debates and enough money to fund his party’s activities. Cash-strapped rivals are begging for donations and relying on ... Read More »

Total Debt Worldwide Hits US$240 Trillion, And The Bank Of Canada Is Worried

“Whether you’re a homeowner or a business person … high leverage can leave you in a vulnerable financial position.” Andy Blatchford Canadian Press HuffPost OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor says an explosion of global debt over the last decade is a top concern that she argues is holding back economic growth and creating vulnerabilities in the world’s financial system. The global financial system is in better shape than it was in 2007 before the financial crisis, ... Read More »

The Fed Should Buy Recession Insurance

If the United States falls into recession in the next year or two, the US Federal Reserve may have very little room to loosen policy, yet it is not taking any steps to cover that risk. J. Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate Unless the Fed rectifies this soon, the US – and the world – may well face much bigger problems later. BERKELEY – The next global downturn may still be a little way off. The chances that the North Atlantic ... Read More »

The ‘R’ word: Are Australians really getting poorer?

Is it the recession you have when you’re not having a recession? Tory Maguire The Age With an election looming, treasurer Josh Frydenberg is just weeks away from delivering his first, and possibly last, federal budget. Last week, OECD data revealed that the Australian economy has fallen into a ”per-capita recession” for the first time since 2006, with global and Australian growth predicted to slow even further. The announcement prompted scepticism from critics. Ross Gittins called it a scare tactic – that any ... Read More »

Lowe tells banks slow payment rollout could limit competition

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe last year asked chief executives of the big four banks to confirm they were putting enough resources into rolling out a high-speed payment system, amid concerns the… Clancy Yeates WAtoday The central bank on Thursday published emails Dr Lowe sent in September to ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliott, Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn, Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer, and then… It declined to release the responses from each of the CEOs, saying these were exempt from FOI ... Read More »

String of British firms switch over to four-day working week

Exclusive: small companies tell the Guardian of the impact of ending ‘Friday fatigue’ Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent and Matthew Holmes The Guardian A string of small British firms have switched their workers over to a four-day week, the Guardian can reveal, amid mounting political interest in the idea that working less could deliver higher productivity and better balance between life and work. A lingerie manufacturer, a lighting design firm and a landscape architect are among a wave of employers experimenting with ... Read More »

Silk Road opens a rift in Italy’s government

Washington and Brussels fear Rome is getting too close to China. Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli Politico ROME — Italy’s government has split over whether to sign onto China’s landmark “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure program that runs across Asia to key European trade hubs. Some 13 EU countries have signed up to China’s new Silk Road plan, but Washington and Brussels are deeply concerned that the involvement of G7 heavyweight Rome could lend greater credibility to a project that they view as a… Prime ... Read More »

Venice is facing multiple tourism threats and many Venetians now want controls on visitors

They used to say “see Venice and die”. The impossible city-on-the-sea has long been a bucket list staple for travellers lured by its water and its stone. Foreign Correspondent – By Samantha Hawley and Bronwen Reed in Venice But now Venetians are questioning whether the city itself will survive long enough for coming generations to experience. Venice is facing multiple threats but, as Foreign Correspondent discovers, the sheer weight of visitors is the one that many locals find the most overwhelming. ... Read More »

Why Americans Don’t Cheat on Their Taxes

The weirdly hopeful story of how the U.S. came to be a leader in tax compliance Rene Chan The Atlantic If such a thing as American exceptionalism remains, maybe it can be found in this: Despite deep IRS budget cuts, an average audit rate that has plunged in recent years to just 0.6 percent, and a… Even more remarkable, most of us feel obliged to pay. To quote the findings of a 2017 IRS survey: “The majority of Americans (88%) ... Read More »