Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 255

Posts Tagged ‘the economist’

A unique chance to steer the economy away from carbon

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 25 maggio 2020

The Economist this week calls for a global effort to tackle climate change. Covid-19 creates a unique chance to steer the economy away from carbon at a much lower financial, social and political cost than before. Rock-bottom energy prices make it easier to cut subsidies for fossil fuels and to introduce a tax on carbon. The revenues from that tax can help repair battered government finances. The businesses at the heart of the fossil-fuel economy—oil and gas firms, steel producers, carmakers—are already going through the agony of shrinking their long-term capacity and employment. Getting economies back on their feet calls for investment in climate-friendly infrastructure that boosts growth and creates new jobs. Low interest rates make the bill smaller than ever. The world should seize the moment. (by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-In-Chief – font: The Economist)

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Welcome to the newsletter highlighting The Economist’s best pandemic coverage

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 7 maggio 2020

“Our cover this week looks at what to expect from life after lockdowns. What we call the 90% economy will be missing large chunks of everyday life—at least until a vaccine or a treatment is found. People are weighed down by financial hardship and the fear of a second wave of covid-19. Businesses are short of money. The unemployed could face a lost decade.Our coverage of the disease this week sleuths into the genetic origins of the virus. SARS-CoV-2 almost certainly travelled from a bat to a person via an animal in the wet market in Wuhan—but it could conceivably have escaped from one of the town’s biological laboratories. We estimate how many years victims lose to covid-19 and weigh up the costs and benefits of closing schools. We look at the immune system, China’s determination to stamp out the disease and how nicotine may affect the rate of infection by competing with the virus to bind with human cells.We also have a mortality tracker, which uses the gap between the total number of people who died from any cause and the historical average for the time of year to estimate how many deaths from covid-19 the official statistics are failing to pick up.We have been focusing on the pandemic in Economist radio and Economist films, too. In Babbage, our science podcast, Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, talks about potential treatments. We ask whether people who have recovered from covid-19 can catch it a second time. And Sonja Lyubomirsky, of the University of California, Riverside, tells us how acts of kindness can boost the immune system. For those of us chafing under lockdown, perhaps her words will offer some encouragement”. (by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief)

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The Economist this week

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 4 maggio 2020

Our cover this week looks at what to expect from life after lockdowns: what we are calling a 90% economy. Since China began to ease up in February, its factories have become busier and its streets are no longer empty. But it is missing large chunks of everyday activity. Rides on the metro and on domestic flights are down by a third. Spending on such things as restaurants has fallen by 40%. Across the post-lockdown rich world, life will be tough—at least until a vaccine or a treatment is found. People are weighed down by financial hardship, businesses are short of money and the unemployed could face a lost decade. The longer the world has to endure the 90% economy, the less likely it is to snap back after the pandemic. The popular demand for change could radicalise politics faster than it did after the financial crisis in 2007-09. By Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-In-Chief

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The Economist: A special edition on the coronavirus pandemic

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 28 aprile 2020

Welcome to the newsletter highlighting The Economist’s best pandemic coverage. We have two covers this week. In our Asian and European editions, we look at how no fewer than 84 governments have taken extra powers since covid-19 began to spread. In some cases these are necessary and will be relinquished when the crisis is over. But in others they are not, and won’t be.
In our American and British editions we analyse the looming problem of government debt. As the economy falls into ruins, governments are writing millions of cheques to households and firms and tax revenues are collapsing. Long after the covid-19 wards have emptied, countries will be living with the consequences. What should they do?Our coverage of the disease this week is led by Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who has written for us on how to get out of the pandemic. We also look at how to do mass-testing and the worrying vulnerability to covid-19 of the southern United States. We report on an enigma surrounding the Spanish flu, how New Zealand has avoided the worst of the disease and why Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, which claim to be covid-free, are probably living in denial.You can also see our mortality tracker, which estimates how many deaths from covid-19 the official statistics are failing to detect. It goes about this using the gap between the total number of people who died from any cause and the historical average for the time of year. The results, broken down by country and region, show that the virus is more lethal than many had feared.
And we have also been focusing on the pandemic in Economist Radio and Economist Films. This week we produced a film analysing what lies behind the death toll in America, which has suffered more fatalities than any other country.As the epidemiological curves flatten and the easing of lockdowns beckons, I hope that you enjoy our coverage. (Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief by The Economist)

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The Economist this week: Our coverage of the new coronavirus

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 21 aprile 2020

Welcome to the newsletter highlighting The Economist’s best coverage of covid-19. Our cover leader this week asks whether China will be the pandemic’s big geopolitical winner. After a disastrous cover-up, China has brought the number of newly reported cases to a virtual halt. Factories there are reopening and researchers testing potential vaccines. By comparison Britain, France, Spain, Italy and America look as if they are struggling. Some warn that the disease will be remembered not only as a human catastrophe, but also as a geopolitical turning-point away from the West. Are they right?Our covid-19 coverage in this week’s issue reports on the race for a vaccine—and the challenge of making it in sufficient quantities. We examine plans to relax lockdowns and look at how apps might make the job easier. We describe how South Africa is drawing on its bitter experience with HIV/AIDS. Our science team asks you not to blame the bats and our Middle East specialists report on the anti-covid-19 quack remedies doing the rounds in Iran: please don’t try them at home.We have also been focusing on the disease in Economist Radio and in Economist Films. In our science podcast, Babbage, this week we delve further into the global search for a vaccine. We speak to Dr Seth Berkley, the chief executive of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. And Dr Trevor Drew of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness tells about two trials that have reached the animal-testing stage.I hope you enjoy this taste of our coverage of the new coronavirus. For more reporting of how it is touching almost every part of our lives–from Brazilian soap operas to corporate fraudsters–please visit our website. (by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief)

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The economist: A special edition on the coronavirus pandemic

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 1 aprile 2020

Welcome to this week’s newsletter highlighting the best of our coverage on covid-19. In an issue dominated by the disease, we had two covers. In most of the world we looked at the spread of the virus in poor countries. So far, recorded cases are few. But make no mistake: they are mounting and societies are terrifyingly underprepared.In America and Britain we wrote about how the pandemic has led to the most dramatic increase in state power since the second world war. For believers in limited government and open markets, covid-19 poses a problem. Only the state can deal with this crisis. Yet history suggests that the state will not give up all the ground it takes—with implications for the economy and surveillance.We develop those themes in this issue. We have in-depth reporting on the threat from the disease in Africa. We also examine the use of personal data to enforce quarantines, track the epidemic and pounce on new outbreaks. We look at how wars and the Depression led to a permanently bigger state with many more powers and responsibilities, and the taxes to pay for them. We describe the unprecedented global collaboration among medics searching for the best way to treat the disease. We look at how China is slowly returning to normal. And for all those long-suffering workers stuck at home, our Bartleby columnist shares the pain.
We have also been reporting on the disease on Economist radio and in Economist films. This week we highlight our science podcast, Babbage. It features items on how some people with covid-19 lose their sense of smell, the scramble to make ventilators and the effect of the pandemic on the environment.We hope that our coverage helps make you better informed, and your isolation more tolerable. By Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-In-Chief.

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The Economist: A special edition on the coronavirus pandemic

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 16 marzo 2020

“Welcome to a special edition of our weekly newsletter dedicated to covid-19, which the World Health Organisation has now declared a pandemic. In the past two weeks, the focus of the disease has shifted from China to the rest of the world—and increasingly Europe and the United States. Over 135,000 cases have been registered, more than a third of them outside China. There have been over 5,000 deaths in 116 countries, up from 3,200 deaths and 85 countries and territories just a week earlier.In our cover leader this week we looked at what this means for politicians. They have struggled to come to terms with the pandemic and how to talk about it. As they belatedly realise that health systems will buckle and deaths mount, leaders are beginning to grapple with how they should weather the storm. Three factors will determine how they cope: their attitude to uncertainty; the structure and competence of their health systems; and, above all, whether they are trusted.Here we present seven articles that tell the story of the disease and its astonishing march around the world. We start with a portrait of an individual virus particle, how it hijacks the body’s cells and how it might be vulnerable to therapeutic drugs. We sketch how different countries have tried to use lockdowns to fight the spread of the disease and we look into the slow response in America. We take the measure of the markets, and analyse the threat to the world economy. We examine how China has begun to exploit its progress against the disease for propaganda. And we present our own back-of-the-envelope calculation of countries’ unreported cases.The pandemic is about to take the world by storm. We hope that this selection of our coverage helps to prepare you for what is to come”. (by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-In-Chief)

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The Economist this week: Boris Johnson and the Conservative victory

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 13 dicembre 2019

“We have published a special edition with our analysis of Britain’s astonishing general election. As we went to press, Boris Johnson was heading for a majority of around 80 seats, the largest Conservative victory since the days of Margaret Thatcher. Under Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, Labour has suffered its worst result since 1935. The vote marks a profound realignment in British politics. For the first time since the referendum of 2016, it is clear that Britain will leave the European Union. The party of the rich has buried Labour under the votes of working-class northerners and Midlanders. And, after a decade of weak or non-existent majorities, Britain has a prime minister with immense personal authority and a free rein in Parliament.” (by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief)

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The right way to help declining places

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 20 ottobre 2017

the economistPOPULISM’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.
Economic theory suggests that regional inequalities should diminish as poorer (and cheaper) places attract investment and grow faster than richer ones. The 20th century bore that theory out: income gaps narrowed across American states and European regions. No longer. Affluent places are now pulling away from poorer ones (see article). This geographical divergence has dramatic consequences. A child born in the bottom 20% in wealthy San Francisco has twice as much chance as a similar child in Detroit of ending up in the top 20% as an adult. Boys born in London’s Chelsea can expect to live nearly nine years longer than those born in Blackpool. Opportunities are limited for those stuck in the wrong place, and the wider economy suffers. If all its citizens had lived in places of high productivity over the past 50 years, America’s economy could have grown twice as fast as it did.
Divergence is the result of big forces. In the modern economy scale is increasingly important. The companies with the biggest hoards of data can train their machines most effectively; the social network that everyone else is on is most attractive to new users; the stock exchange with the deepest pool of investors is best for raising capital. These returns to scale create fewer, superstar firms clustered in fewer, superstar places. Everywhere else is left behind.
What to do? One answer is to help people move. Thriving places could do more to build the housing and infrastructure to accommodate newcomers. Accelerating the reciprocal recognition of credentials across state or national borders would help people move to where they can be most productive. But greater mobility also has a perverse side-effect. By draining moribund places of talented workers, it exacerbates their troubles. The local tax-base erodes as productive workers leave, even as welfare and pension obligations mount.To avoid these outcomes, politicians have long tried to bolster left-behind places with subsidies. But such “regional policies” have a patchy record, at best. South Carolina lured BMW to the state in 1992 and from it built a thriving automotive cluster. But the EU’s structural funds raise output and reduce unemployment only so long as funding continues. California has 42 enterprise zones. None has raised employment. Better for politicians to focus on speeding up the diffusion of technology and business practices from high-performing places. A beefed-up competition policy could reduce industrial concentration, which saps the economy of dynamism while focusing the gains from growth in fewer firms and places. Fostering clusters by encouraging the creation of private investment funds targeted on particular regions might help.Perhaps most of all, politicians need a different mindset. For progressives, alleviating poverty has demanded welfare; for libertarians, freeing up the economy. Both have focused on people. But the complex interaction of demography, welfare and globalisation means that is insufficient. Assuaging the anger of the left-behind means realising that places matter, too. (abstract). This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Left behind” The Economist.

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Why so many African presidents are ditching term limits

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 8 agosto 2017

paul kagameRwanda’s president of 17 years, Paul Kagame (pictured), will be re-elected for a third term (the result is not in question). This concludes a process that began in 2015 when his party, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, proposed a constitutional amendment to allow Mr Kagame to outstay the two-term limit. In neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo the president, Joseph Kabila, has long been mulling a similar ruse. He should have left office last December. In nearby Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza announced in 2015 that he would stand for a controversial third term as president. A plan to amend or ditch term limits entirely is expected to be announced this autumn. And tomorrow, August 5th, Mauritanians will vote in a constitutional referendum that critics see as paving the way for a third term, too. If they succeed, these presidents will join the ranks of the 13 African heads of state who have successfully rolled back term limits. Why are they doing this? Term limits became common in Africa with the wave of democratisation that swept the continent in the 1990s. Most countries included them in their constitutions after pressure from America and African democracy activists. Today there is widespread support for them. Afrobarometer, a polling firm, found that about three-quarters of people in 34 African countries said that presidential mandates should be restricted to two terms. Rwanda is an exception: nearly 4m Rwandans signed a “spontaneous” petition to let Mr Kagame stay on, and only ten people openly opposed it. But Mr Kagame rules his country through fear. In other countries, such as Burkina Faso in 2014, street protests forced the then president, Blaise Compaoré, to backtrack and flee the country. In 2015 Mr Kabila’s neighbour across the river in Congo-Brazzaville, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, successfully won a referendum allowing a third term—but provoked violent unrest in the process. Burundi has been in bloody turmoil ever since Mr Nkurunziza’s declared his third-term intentions.
Presidents go ahead because they know the costs of doing so are low. Mr Kagame, still feted by foreign donors and prominent world leaders despite his growing authoritarianism, knew he could change the constitution without provoking a backlash from the international community. Mr Sassou-Nguesso made the same calculation. The Congolese president is seen by many, including France, the former colonial power, as a reliable partner, and the country is regarded as an island of stability in an otherwise troubled region. Moreover the rising influence of China means that African presidents know the West’s leverage is weaker than it once was. They also know that its priorities have shifted: combating jihadism is today more important than promoting democracy.
Term limits tend to be respected where democracy is already well established. Weak institutions make it easier for presidents to do away with them. Mr Nkurunziza was helped by a pliant constitutional court. Mr Kagame could count on his rubber-stamp parliament. And in many African countries where presidents have rolled back term limits the strongest institution is the army. Mr Kagame, Mr Nkurunziza and Mr Kabila are former rebel leaders who came to power through military victory; so too is the president of neighbouring Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, who successfully abolished term limits in 2005. The presidents of these central African countries where respect for term limits today is weakest are not by their nature democrats. Elsewhere on the continent, however, the picture is different: in Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria recent attempts to sidestep term limits have failed. (photo: paul kagame) (font: The Economist)

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Why Germany’s current-account surplus is bad for the world economy

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 9 luglio 2017

germanyTHE battle-lines are drawn. When the world’s big trading nations convene this week at a G20 summit in Hamburg, the stage is set for a clash between a protectionist America and a free-trading Germany. President Donald Trump has already pulled out of one trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and demanded the renegotiation of another, the North American Free-Trade Agreement. He is weighing whether to impose tariffs on steel imports into America, a move that would almost certainly provoke retaliation. The threat of a trade war has hung over the Trump presidency since January. In contrast, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor and the summit’s host, will bang the drum for free trade. In a thinly veiled attack on Mr Trump, she delivered a speech on June 29th condemning the forces of protectionism and isolationism. An imminent free-trade deal between Japan and the European Union will add substance to her rhetoric
There is no question who has the better of this argument. Mr Trump’s doctrine that trade must be balanced to be fair is economically illiterate. His belief that tariffs will level the playing field is naive and dangerous: they would shrink prosperity for all. But in one respect, at least, Mr Trump has grasped an inconvenient truth. He has admonished Germany for its trade surplus, which stood at almost $300bn last year, the world’s largest (China’s hoard was a mere $200bn). His threatened solution—to put a stop to sales of German cars—may be self-defeating, but the fact is that Germany saves too much and spends too little. And the size and persistence of Germany’s savings hoard makes it an awkward defender of free trade. At bottom, a trade surplus is an excess of national saving over domestic investment. In Germany’s case, this is not the result of a mercantilist government policy, as some foreigners complain. Nor, as German officials often insist, does it reflect the urgent need for an ageing society to save more. The rate of household saving has been stable, if high, for years; the increase in national saving has come from firms and the government. Underlying Germany’s surplus is a decades-old accord between business and unions in favour of wage restraint to keep export industries competitive (see article). Such moderation served Germany’s export-led economy well through its postwar recovery and beyond. It is an instinct that helps explain Germany’s transformation since the late 1990s from Europe’s sick man to today’s muscle-bound champion.There is much to envy in Germany’s model. Harmony between firms and workers has been one of the main reasons for the economy’s outperformance. Firms could invest free from the worry that unions would hold them to ransom. The state played its part by sponsoring a system of vocational training that is rightly admired. In America the prospects for men without college degrees have worsened along with a decline in manufacturing jobs—a cause of the economic nationalism espoused by Mr Trump. Germany has not entirely escaped this, but it has held on to more of the sorts of blue-collar jobs that America grieves for. This is one reason why the populist AfD party remains on the fringes of German politics.
But the adverse side-effects of the model are increasingly evident. It has left the German economy and global trade perilously unbalanced. Pay restraint means less domestic spending and fewer imports. Consumer spending has dropped to just 54% of GDP, compared with 69% in America and 65% in Britain. Exporters do not invest their windfall profits at home. And Germany is not alone; Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands have been piling up big surpluses, too.For a large economy at full employment to run a current-account surplus in excess of 8% of GDP puts unreasonable strain on the global trading system. To offset such surpluses and sustain enough aggregate demand to keep people in work, the rest of the world must borrow and spend with equal abandon. In some countries, notably Italy, Greece and Spain, persistent deficits eventually led to crises. Their subsequent shift towards surplus came at a heavy cost. The enduring savings glut in northern Europe has made the adjustment needlessly painful. In the high-inflation 1970s and 1980s Germany’s penchant for high saving was a stabilising force. Now it is a drag on global growth and a target for protectionists such as Mr Trump.Can the problem be fixed? Perhaps Germany’s bumper trade surplus will be eroded as China’s was, by a surge in wages. Unemployment is below 4% and the working-age population will shrink, despite strong immigration. After decades of decline, the cost of housing is rising, meaning that pay does not stretch as far as it used to. The institutions behind wage restraint are losing influence. The euro may surge. Yet the German instinct for caution is deeply rooted. Pay rose by just 2.3% last year, more slowly than in the previous two years. Left to adjust, the surplus might take many years to fall to a sensible level.The government should help by spending more. Germany’s structural budget balance has gone from a deficit of over 3% of GDP in 2010 to a small surplus. Officials call this prudence but, given high private-sector savings, it is hard to defend. Germany has plenty of worthwhile projects to spend money on. Its school buildings and roads are crumbling, because of the squeeze on public investment required to meet its own misguided fiscal rules. The economy lags behind in its readiness for digitalisation, ranking 25th in the world in average download speeds. Greater provision of after-school care by the state would let more mothers work full-time, in an economy where women’s participation is low. Some say such expansion is impossible, because of full employment. Yet in a market economy, there is a tried and trusted way to bid for scarce resources: pay more.Above all, it is long past time for Germany to recognise that its excessive saving is a weakness. Mrs Merkel is absolutely right to proclaim the message of free trade. But she and her compatriots need to understand that Germany’s surpluses are themselves a threat to free trade’s legitimacy. (by The Economist) (photo: germany)

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What is at stake in Turkey’s referendum

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 17 aprile 2017

eldoganTURKS go to the polls this Sunday, April 16th, to choose between the parliamentary system they have lived under for nearly a century and a new constitution that would concentrate all executive power in the hands of their president. A “yes” vote would overhaul the state in its present form, abolishing the post of prime minister, sidelining parliament, and formalising a system in which the president answers no one except voters. A “no” would mark a major setback for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, though far from a fatal one. Yet there is much more riding on the outcome than one man’s political fortunes. What is at stake? Turkey’s judiciary would be among those to suffer the most. In the 2000s Mr Erdogan’s government allowed the Gulen community, a secretive Islamic movement, to pack the justice system with its sympathisers. All hell broke loose when the two allies turned on each other. Prosecutors and police officials close to the Gulenists implicated Mr Erdogan and his allies in a cascading corruption scandal in 2013; thousands of them were purged in response. When army officers close to the movement were accused of spearheading a violent coup in the summer of 2016, the purge intensified. Over the past nine months, the government has sacked a quarter of all judges and prosecutors over suspected Gulen links. More than 2,500 of them are currently behind bars, leaving the judiciary depleted and terrified of rubbing Mr Erdogan the wrong way. The new constitution would make the justice system even more beholden to Mr Erdogan and his party. At the moment, the president appoints four of the 22 members of the country’s most influential judicial body, the high council of judges and prosecutors. The rest are elected by their peers. The new constitution would decrease the number of members and allow Mr Erdogan and his allies in parliament to appoint all of them. None of the appointments would be subject to hearings.
The new constitution would also place the legislative branch at the disposal of the executive. A key change would allow the president to retain links with his party, handing Mr Erdogan the power to keep his Justice and Development (AK) party in check by choosing parliamentary candidates. Parliament’s powers of scrutiny would also change. According to current rules, MPs can address oral questions to the prime minister and cabinet members. The proposed amendments would allow only for written questions, and only to ministers and vice presidents, instead of the president. In areas where parliament has not passed any laws the president would have the right to issue decrees. A new provision would widen the scope for Mr Erdogan’s impeachment by parliament, though it would set the bar for removing him from office exceptionally high. Proposing an investigation would require a simple majority in pariament, but opening one would require 60% of MPs to agree. The final decision would rest with the constitutional court, composed almost entirely of the president’s appointees. Parliamentary and presidential elections would be held simultaneously every five years. In theory, each institution could keep the other in check by keeping a finger on the eject button: the president and the parliament would be able to cut short each other’s mandates, as well as their own, by calling early elections.
Mr Erdogan has been in power for 14 years, longer than any Turkish leader since the founder of the republic, Kemal Ataturk. The constitution would allow him to serve a maximum of two five year terms, beginning with presidential elections in 2019. There is a catch: if parliament were to call early elections during his second term, Mr Erdogan would be eligible to run for a third. In theory, this would allow him to remain in power until as late as 2034. As large an impact as Sunday’s vote might have on his future, it will have an even bigger one on his country’s. (by The Economist)

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Japan’s cherry blossoms are emerging increasingly early

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 10 aprile 2017

cherry bombHANAMI, the Japanese custom of contemplating the impermanence of life by gazing at the fleeting beauty of blossoming flowers, goes back a long way. “The Tale of Genji”, a tenth-century masterpiece that is perhaps the world’s first novel, devotes a chapter to the cherry-blossom festival staged in the emperor’s great hall. Diarists have keenly chronicled the comings and goings of cherry blossoms for centuries—records from Kyoto, the old capital, date back 1,200 years. This precious, ancient data set reveals a disturbing trend: in recent decades, the blossoms have emerged much sooner than they once did.From its most recent peak in 1829, when full bloom could be expected to come on April 18th, the typical full-flowering date has drifted earlier and earlier. Since 1970, it has usually landed on April 7th. The cause is little mystery. In deciding when to show their shoots, cherry trees rely on temperatures in February and March. Yasuyuki Aono and Keiko Kazui, two Japanese scientists, have demonstrated that the full-blossom date for Kyoto’s cherry trees can predict March temperatures to within 0.1°C. A warmer planet makes for warmer Marches. The usual full-blooming date in Washington, DC, whose cherry-blossom festival is a relative newcomer (it launched in 1927), has also moved up by five days since the first recorded date in 1921.Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the blossoms in all their splendour will now have to wait another year. Kyoto’s hotels are often fully booked six months in advance of sakura (cherry-blossom) season. Still, should you wish to celebrate from afar, we would suggest Motojiro Kajii’s delightful, oft-quoted poem “Under the Cherry Blossoms”, which begins with the less-than-cheery line: “There are bodies buried beneath the cherry trees.”
Correction (April 7th): An earlier version of this chart depicted cherry blossoms with six petals rather than five. This has been amended. Forgive us this botanical sin. (by The Economist) (photo: cherry bomb)

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France’s presidential election is tearing its left apart

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 10 aprile 2017

poll.pngBACK in 2002, the French Socialists suffered such a stinging defeat at a presidential election that it gave birth to a new noun. Un 21 avril, referring to the date that their candidate, Lionel Jospin, was evicted in the first round, became a term used for any shock political elimination. Today, ahead of the first round of this year’s presidential election on April 23rd, the Socialists are bracing themselves not just for elimination from the run-off, but for a far greater humiliation, one which could call into question the party’s very survival. Current polls put Benoît Hamon, the Socialist candidate, in a dismal fifth place. He trails not only the nationalist Marine Le Pen, the liberal Emmanuel Macron, and the traditional right’s François Fillon. In the past fortnight, Mr Hamon has also been overtaken by a far-left firebrand, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (pictured), who promises a “citizens’ revolution”. A one-time Socialist now backed by the Communist Party, the fist-clenching 65-year-old has surged to 15%, against just 10% for Mr Hamon. This puts him only a couple of points behind Mr Fillon, and in a position—just possibly—to overtake the Gaullist candidate too.In the campaign’s second televised debate on April 4th, it was the wisecracking Mr Mélenchon who delivered the memorable lines. When Mr Fillon argued that industrial relations should be decentralised to firms, Mr Mélenchon snapped: “I am not in favour of one labour code per firm, just as I am not in favour of one highway code per road.” It was a difficult debate at which to shine. All 11 official candidates took part: the five front-runners plus six others, including a Ford factory worker, a Trotskyist high-school teacher, and a former shepherd. Each had a total of 17 minutes to speak, spread over three hours. In a poll, voters judged Mr Mélenchon the most convincing, followed by Mr Macron.In some ways, Mr Hamon’s disastrous campaign is surprising. An outsider, he seized the party’s primary in January with a handsome 59% of the vote, easing out a moderate former prime minister, Manuel Valls. His recent rally in Paris was packed. Backed by Thomas Piketty, an economist who worries about inequality, he has a programme which—though its finances do not add up—is based on creative thinking about the future of work and society in an era of automation. Mr Hamon promises, for instance, to bring in a universal basic income, which in time would pay out €750 ($800) a month to everyone, partly financed by a tax on robots. He promises a “desirable future”, in which consumerism, production and working hours are curbed, greenery flourishes and happiness, long scarce in France, breaks out everywhere.Yet as Matthieu Croissandeau of L’Obs, a left-wing magazine, put it, since Socialist primary voters “were convinced they would lose the presidential election…they chose an ideal rather than a programme of government.” The closer voting day gets, the less workable Mr Hamon’s ideas seem, even to some of his white-collar constituents. A poll suggested that only 7% of voters think Mr Hamon has “presidential stature”. Gilles Finchelstein of the Fondation Jean-Jaurès, a think-tank, argues that Socialist support has not collapsed: it is just not behind the party’s candidate. Fully 42% back Mr Macron; 15% support Mr Mélenchon. By positioning himself on the left of his party, Mr Hamon has scared off centrist voters, while failing to sound combative enough for those on the far left.Mr Hamon has lost the loyalty not just of Socialist voters, but of Socialist politicians. His protracted (and failed) efforts to do a deal with Mr Mélenchon exasperated the moderates. A former backbench rebel, he has refused to say anything nice about the past five years of Socialist government, dismaying ministers. Mr Valls and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Socialist defence minister, have both thrown their support to Mr Macron. The upshot is a bitterly divided party. The Hamon camp called Mr Valls’s defection “pathetic” and “shameful”. It is a “very strange campaign”, says a Socialist parliamentarian loyal to Mr Hamon; party activists “don’t feel connected”.Mr Valls’s defection, says Guillaume Balas, a member of the Hamon team, implies “the death of the Socialist Party as conceived by (François) Mitterrand”. The party, which has supplied French presidents for half of the past 36 years, has long tried to bridge the differences between its moderates and its left wing. In the 1970s, Mitterrand managed to unify the left; he went on to serve as president for 14 years. Now, under the joint pressure of Mr Macron and Mr Mélenchon, old fractures are pulling it back apart.This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “The crack-up” (By The Economist) (photo: poll)

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Economic shocks are more likely to be lethal in America

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 27 marzo 2017

the economist1AMERICAN workers without college degrees have suffered financially for decades—as has been known for decades. More recent is the discovery that their woes might be deadly. In 2015 Anne Case and Angus Deaton, two (married) scholars, reported that in the 20 years to 1998, the mortality rate of middle-aged white Americans fell by about 2% a year. But between 1999 and 2013, deaths rose. The reversal was all the more striking because, in Europe, overall middle-age mortality continued to fall at the same 2% pace. By 2013 middle-aged white Americans were dying at twice the rate of similarly aged Swedes of all races (see chart). Suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol abuse were to blame.
Ms Case and Mr Deaton have now updated their work on these so-called “deaths of despair”. The results, presented this week at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, are no happier. White middle-age mortality continued to rise in 2014 and 2015, contributing to a fall in life expectancy among the population as a whole. The trend transcends geography. It is found in almost every state, and in both cities and rural areas. The problem seems to be getting worse over time. Deaths from drugs, suicide and alcohol have risen in every five-year cohort of whites born since the 1940s. And in each group, ageing seems to have worse effects. You might think that rising mortality is the flipside of falling incomes. Recent trends in median per-person income for households headed by white 50- to 54-year-olds mirror their mortality rate. Income rises in the 1990s and then falls in the 2000s, ending up roughly where it started. But split people out by education, and the reflection fades. The income of college graduates has followed a similar pattern (most of the surge in the value of a college education happened before 1990). But their mortality has steadily fallen. And deaths of despair are much rarer among blacks and Hispanics, whose incomes have been on similar paths.The authors suspect more amorphous, long-term forces are at work. The fundamental cause is still a familiar tale of economic malaise: trade and technological progress have snuffed out opportunities for the low-skilled, especially in manufacturing. But social changes are also in play. As economic life has become less secure, low-skilled white men have tended towards unstable cohabiting relationships rather than marriages. They have abandoned traditional communal religion in favour of churches that emphasise personal identity. And they have become more likely to stop working, or looking for work, entirely. The breakdown of family, community and clear structures of life, in favour of individual choice, has liberated many but left others who fail blaming themselves and feeling helpless and desperate.Why are whites the worst affected? The authors speculate that their misery flows from their crushed aspirations. Blacks and Hispanics face worse economic circumstances, but may have had lower expectations to begin with. Or they may have taken hope from progress against discrimination. Low-skilled whites, by contrast, may find many aspects of their lives perennially disappointing. That may push them towards depression, drugs and alcohol.(by The Economist)

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The fall of Sirte

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 19 dicembre 2016

sirteTHE ground is shrinking beneath the feet of the jihadists of Islamic State (IS). Iraqi troops are moving closer to the centre of Mosul, the last big city under its control in Iraq, while Kurdish and Arab fighters eye Raqqa, its putative capital in Syria. How will IS react—and, perhaps, adapt—when it loses its remaining territory? To answer that question, look to Libya, where the jihadists have been pushed out of their stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte.Mired in civil war, Libya has become something of a hub for jihadists in the region. At its height earlier this year, IS controlled over 150 miles (240km) of the country’s coastline, according to the UN. Sirte, the hometown of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya’s former dictator, was even seen as a fallback capital for the group, should it lose Raqqa. But, after nearly seven months of intense fighting, it has been dislodged from its Libyan base.The campaign against the jihadists was nominally led by a UN-backed “government of national accord” (GNA) in Tripoli, the capital, though militiamen from Misrata, whose loyalty is decidedly fickle, did most of the actual fighting. They were backed by American air strikes. There have been more than 500 of those since August. IS was once thought to have several thousand local and foreign fighters in Sirte. But many, including several leaders, are now believed to be dead.Analysts warn that the group still poses a significant threat—to the West, the region and Libya itself. Jonathan Winer, America’s special envoy to Libya, told Congress last month that IS’s remaining fighters were probably forming underground cells around the country. “We believe they are waiting for opportunities to engage in further attacks in Libya or its neighbours, and if possible to reassert [IS] geographically,” he said. Nicholas Rasmussen, America’s top counterterrorism official, says he is concerned about attacks on foreign targets by the jihadists.Hundreds of jihadists are thought to have retreated south from Sirte during the fighting. Others were already there. IS has long had fighters scattered around Libya. In Benghazi they have attacked forces under the command of Khalifa Haftar, an anti-Islamist general, and may be linking up with other Islamist militants. IS fighters can also be found in the country’s vast stretches of desert, from where they have staged attacks on Sirte and elsewhere. Though weakened, they might find succour via the networks of various jihadist groups, such as Ansar al-Shariah and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.Beyond Sirte, the same conditions that allowed the group to flourish still exist. The GNA cannot even secure the capital, parts of which are controlled by armed groups that support a previous Islamist government. Yet another government in the east, this one supported by Mr Haftar, also refuses to stand down. His forces recently took control of several oil facilities, which should boost his leverage if the UN-backed peace plan that produced the GNA is renegotiated, as some have suggested.But many believe Mr Haftar, who paints most Islamists as terrorists, has no intention of laying down his arms. His forces recently repelled a coalition of militias (supported, some claim, by the GNA’s defence minister) that tried to take back the oil facilities under his control. Backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, Mr Haftar might decide to push further west. His supporters hope that Donald Trump, America’s president-elect and a fan of anti-Islamist strongmen, will also take his side. But Mr Trump has shown little interest in Libya. Meanwhile, with the campaign in Sirte ending, America’s bombing of IS will soon fall under stricter rules of engagement.Despite the setback in Sirte, and reported tension between local and foreign fighters, IS will continue to benefit from the chaos in Libya. Arms are easy to obtain, the borders are porous and the disgruntled population provides ample recruits. The terrorists can operate and train in the country’s vast ungoverned spaces, producing attacks on neighbours such as Tunisia, which it has already hit. Until a broader peace is agreed upon and an effective government established, IS soldiers will cause trouble in Libya. The same will be true in Syria and probably Iraq, even after Raqqa and Mosul fall. (font: The Economist) (photo: sirte)

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The Economist: The Trump era

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 12 novembre 2016

the-economist-trumpBy Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief. THE fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9th 1989, was when history was said to have ended. The fight between communism and capitalism was over. After a titanic ideological struggle encompassing the decades after the second world war, open markets and Western liberal democracy reigned supreme. In the early morning of November 9th 2016, when Donald Trump crossed the threshold of 270 electoral-college votes to become America’s president-elect, that illusion was shattered. History is back—with a vengeance.
The fact of Mr Trump’s victory and the way it came about are hammer blows both to the norms that underpin politics in the United States and also to America’s role as the world’s pre-eminent power. At home, an apparently amateurish and chaotic campaign has humiliated an industry of consultants, pundits and pollsters. If, as he has threatened, President Trump goes on to test the institutions that regulate political life, nobody can be sure how they will bear up. Abroad, he has taken aim at the belief, embraced by every post-war president, that America gains from the often thankless task of being the global hegemon. If Mr Trump now disengages from the world, who knows what will storm through the breach?
Anger has sown hatred in America. Feeling themselves victims of an unfair economic system, ordinary Americans blame the elites in Washington for being too spineless and too stupid to stand up to foreigners and big business; or, worse, they believe that the elites themselves are part of the conspiracy. They repudiate the media—including this newspaper—for being patronising, partisan and as out of touch and elitist as the politicians. Many working-class white voters feel threatened by economic and demographic decline. Some of them think racial minorities are bought off by the Democratic machine. Rural Americans detest the socially liberal values that urban compatriots foist upon them by supposedly manipulating the machinery in Washington (see article). Republicans have behaved as if working with Democrats is treachery.
Mr Trump harnessed this popular anger brilliantly. Those who could not bring themselves to vote for him may wonder how half of their compatriots were willing to overlook his treatment of women, his pandering to xenophobes and his rank disregard for the facts. There is no reason to conclude that all Trump voters approve of his behaviour. For some of them, his flaws are insignificant next to the One Big Truth: that America needs fixing. For others the willingness to break taboos was proof that he is an outsider. As commentators have put it, his voters took Mr Trump seriously but not literally, even as his trumpcritics took him literally but not seriously. The hapless Hillary Clinton might have won the popular vote, but she stood for everything angry voters despise.The hope is that this election will prove cathartic. Perhaps, in office, Mr Trump will be pragmatic and magnanimous—as he was in his acceptance speech. Perhaps he will be King Donald, a figurehead and tweeter-in-chief who presides over an executive vice-president and a cabinet of competent, reasonable people. When he decides against building a wall against Mexico after all or concludes that a trade war with China is not a wise idea, his voters may not mind too much—because they only expected him to make them feel proud and to put conservative justices in the Supreme Court. Indeed, you can just about imagine a future in which extra infrastructure spending, combined with deregulation, tax cuts, a stronger dollar and the repatriation of corporate profits, boosts the American economy for long enough to pacify the anger. This more emollient Trump might even model himself on Ronald Reagan, a conservative hero who was mocked and underestimated, too.Nothing would make us happier than to see Mr Trump succeed in this way. But whereas Reagan was an optimist, Mr Trump rails against the loss of an imagined past. We are deeply sceptical that he will make a good president—because of his policies, his temperament and the demands of political office.
Abroad Mr Trump says he hates the deal freezing Iran’s nuclear programme. If it fails, he would have to choose between attacking Iran’s nuclear sites and seeing nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (see article). He wants to reverse the Paris agreement on climate change; apart from harming the planet, that would undermine America as a negotiating partner. Above all, he would erode America’s alliances—its greatest strength. Mr Trump has demanded that other countries pay more towards their security or he will walk away. His bargaining would weaken NATO, leaving front-line eastern European states vulnerable to Russia. It would encourage Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. Japan and South Korea may be tempted to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.
The election of Mr Trump is a rebuff to all liberals, including this newspaper. The open markets and classically liberal democracy that we defend, and which had seemed to be affirmed in 1989, have been rejected by the electorate first in Britain and now in America. France, Italy and other European countries may well follow. It is clear that popular support for the Western order depended more on rapid growth and the galvanising effect of the Soviet threat than on intellectual conviction. Recently Western democracies have done too little to spread the benefits of prosperity. Politicians and pundits took the acquiescence of the disillusioned for granted. As Mr Trump prepares to enter the White House, the long, hard job of winning the argument for liberal internationalism begins anew. (abstract from The Economist) (photo: the economist)

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L’ Europa degli Stati

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 28 aprile 2015

europa-261011-cE’ noto che la Gran Bretagna non ha adottato l’euro ma e’ rimasta con la sua sterlina e non coglie occasione per rilevare le criticita’ della moneta europea. Nel 2011 il settimanale The Economist pubblicava un articolo dal titolo “Vicini alla fine?” e iniziava l’articolo stesso con “Mentre l’eurozona sembra avviata al tracollo…” Insomma, la fiducia dei britannici nell’euro e’ stata sempre messa in dubbio. Le difficolta’ della nostra moneta, o meglio dell’economia europea, tra inadeguatezze e interessi particolari dei governi nazionali ed europeo, sono note, e il cittadino non comprende come una economia di vasta scala, come quella europea, non riesca ad affrontare e risolvere i problemi che si presentano, sia strutturali che contingenti. L’esempio relativo alla immigrazione dal Nord Africa e’ in questo senso illuminante: ognuno pensa a se e se c’e’ un problema si cerca di scaricarlo sugli altri. Non e’ questa l’Europa che avevamo sognato e tentato di realizzare. Serve, ancora oggi, un progetto per una federazione europea. Purtroppo, non vediamo chi lo possa realizzare. (Primo Mastrantoni, segretario Aduc)

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The Economist in edicola domani

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 22 settembre 2011

I temi della settimana:
Nella sezione Europe, l’articolo sul vacillante governo italiano e l’ostinazione di Berlusconi Slipping into darkness.
Nella sezione Europe, la rubrica Charlemagne High noon over Palestine sulla posizione dell’Europa di fronte alla richiesta palestinese di riconoscimento dello stato palestinese, tema che viene ripreso anche nella sezione Leaders con l’articolo Yes to Palestine statehood.
Nella sezione Leaders, la copertina sulla tassazione alle persone più agiate Hunting the rich.
Nella sezione Leaders, l’articolo sulle economie emergenti e sulla difficoltà di replicare la straordinaria crescita dell’ultimo decennio Catching up is so very hard to do.
Across the rich world the horns have sounded and the hounds are baying – and the wealthy are the quarry. In our cover leader we argue that, even though deficit cutting governments should focus on public spending, the rich will have to pay more tax, but we make clear that there are good and bad ways to make them do so.
The Palestinians at the UN Efforts to stop them winning statehood at the UN are misguided and self-defeating
Silvio Berlusconi’s last stand How much longer can the old lothario go on?
China’s leaders v Happy Girl The Communist Party shuts down a television programme where viewers chose the winner
A special report on the World economy The consequences of the accelerating shift in economic power from West to East
Reading the runes of red gold What copper tells you about the future

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The Economist in edicola oggi

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 16 settembre 2011

I temi della settimana:
• Nella sezione Leaders, la copertina di questa settimana How to save the euro, un’analisi approfondita dello stato di crisi crescente della moneta unica, delle soluzioni disponibili e della disponiblità ad affrontarle.
• Nella sezione Europe, la rubrica Charlemagne In the Brussel bunker che analizza la situazione politica dell’UE e le difficoltà verso una maggiore integrazione.
• Nella sezione Leaders, l’articolo sulla riforma del sistema bancario nel Regno Unito Good fences.
• L’articolo sul terremoto de L’Aquila Scientists at the dock – Scienziati al banco degli imputati, nella sezioneSciences&Technology a disposizione su richiesta.
So grave, so menacing, so unstoppable has the euro crisis become that even rescue talk only fuels ever-rising panic. As credit lines gum up and outsiders plead for action, it is not just the euro that is at risk, but the future of the European Union and the health of the world economy. This week we devote our cover and a two-page leader to “how to save the euro”. In our view it requires urgent action on a huge scale – and a lot of painful choices. But unless Germany in particular rises to the challenge, disaster looms Also this week
• The global schools revolution Change is happening, thanks to technology and politicians embracing reform
• The Middle East and Barack Obama Israel and the American president look increasingly isolated
• Bank of America’s road to recovery A long journey for a battered bank
• Tinker, tailor, solider, actor A cold-war masterpiece comes to the screen (Cristina Canepone)

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