Friday, 30 June 2017

Jeremy Paxman Interviews Historian Eric Hobsbawm in 2002 - BBC Newsnight

2017 marks the centenary of the birth of Eric Hobsbawm, one of Britain's most eminent historians. In 2002, Jeremy Paxman spoke to him about world empires and communism.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

BBC Panorama: Tax Havens of the Rich and Powerful Exposed

The rich and powerful have hidden billions of dollars in tax havens. They thought their financial secrets were safe, but now a huge leak of documents has revealed a world of secrecy, lies and crimes. Reporter Richard Bilton exposes tax avoiders, criminals and world leaders who have been hiding their money and their secrets offshore.

Is French Healthcare the Best in the World?

Frontline: The Warning! | Documentary

Frontline: Money, Power And Wall Street | Documentary

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

How Venezuela's Crisis Went from Bad to Worse

Riots, starvation, massive inflation, and police brutality. This is how Venezuela's economic crisis went from bad to worse.

Britons in Spain Worried about Brexit Deal | DW English

Many Britons living in Spain face uncertainty regarding post-Brexit residency status and health care. How will the Brexit deal influence their lives?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

22 Million Americans Will Lose Insurance

Sen. Sanders speaks on the Senate floor on Monday, June 27, after the Congressional Budget Office reported that 22 million Americans will lose health insurance under the Republican health care proposal.

Monday, 26 June 2017

An Expert’s Guide to Negotiating Brexit

Britain has begun talks on leaving the European Union. The architect of Canada’s recent trade deal with the EU discusses the complexities of Brexit.

View from Switzerland: Britain Is the ‘Laughing Stock of Europe’

SWISSINFO.CH: “What on earth has happened to Britain?” The astonished writer of a scathing Swiss newspaper editorial has tried to work out how the United Kingdom has gone in two years from a “respected actor on the international stage” to its “current chaos”.

“If the situation in Britain weren’t so serious, it would all be hilarious,” began the article in Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger and Bern’s Der Bund on Monday – the day talks started between negotiators from London and Brussels on Britain leaving the European Union.

There were two main reasons for the country’s reversal of fortune, the author proposed: the Conservative party’s “obsessive hatred” of the EU, and the irresponsibility of former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the June 2016 referendum on Brexit “and put the country’s future at stake in order to placate a few fanatics in his party”.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear what an extraordinarily bad decision that was. The fact that Britain has become the laughing stock of Europe is directly linked to the vote in favour of Brexit,” the editorialist wrote. » | Thomas Stephens | Monday, June 19, 2017

What Brexit Will Do to UK Trade

Three University of Groningen economists analysed the UK's options for trade after it leaves the European Union.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

John Major: Brexit Expectations Are "Unreal" and "Over Optimistic"

Channel 4 News & Newsnight 27 February 2017

Can Brexit Be Stopped? The Answer Is In Our Hands

THE GUARDIAN: One year on, the certainties of the leave case are collapsing. We’re no longer shackled to that verdict

One year on, the political weather has changed and suddenly a once unthinkable question can be asked: might Brexit be stopped?

The obvious shift is in the power of a government whose animating mission was meant to be British departure from the European Union. Put simply, Theresa May sought a mandate for hard Brexit and didn’t get it. That leaves the forces of leave weakened, and remain emboldened.

It also shreds the boasts that formed the basis of May’s premiership: that she’d be able to get a great deal for Britain. Too weak to negotiate a deal with 10 MPs from the Democratic Unionist party, what hope does she have against 27 sovereign European nations? In a taste of humiliations to come, her opening offer on the rights of EU nationals in Britain was dismissed out of hand. But that is only the most obvious change.

The deeper, if less tangible, shift is that the case for leave is collapsing before our eyes. Its central, winning claim – that exit would bring £350m a week for the NHS – lives on now only as a punchline and case study in Trumpian dishonesty. It will endure as a short, sharp argument for why Boris Johnson must never be allowed to become prime minister, and may well stand between him and his party’s leadership. But most of all, it encapsulates the notion that leave won last year on a false prospectus. Johnson and the others promised a magical cake that could be simultaneously gobbled up and left untouched. Leave’s other big pledge was a fall in migration, but this week’s UK population figures, with a 5 million increase in a decade, confirm that EU migration has only ever been part of that story. Meanwhile, farmers and hospital managers alike warn of dire consequences if they cannot bring in essential workers from the continent. Already the numbers, whether of fruit-pickers or nurses, are in steep decline. Read on and comment » | Jonathan Freedland | Friday, June 23, 2017

Wouldn’t It Be In Our Best Interests to Ditch Brexit? » by Mark Alexander

The Great Brexit Divide » by Mark Alexander

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Bernie Responds to Republicans' Health Care Bill

The bill that just came out of the Republican Senate leadership is an unmitigated disaster, and in some respects is even worse than the House bill.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s Press Conference in Two Minutes

Does the Queen's Speech Signal the End of Austerity? - BBC Newsnight

Conservative MP Heidi Allen and Labour MP Andrew Gwynne join Evan Davis to discuss whether the Queen's Speech signals the end of austerity in the UK.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

'The Idea of a Hard Brexit Is Not Credible': Lord Heseltine - BBC Newsnight

Emily Maitlis speaks to former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine about the future of the Conservative party and Brexit.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Amazon Is Buying WholeFoods for $ 13.7Bn

One of the world’s biggest online consumer goods companies is getting even bigger. says it can ship viritually anything to consumers within days. Now it is doing some shopping itself - buying a big US grocery store chain. Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Los Angeles.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Wouldn’t It Be In Our Best Interests to Ditch Brexit?

MARK ALEXANDER: Referendums actually have no place in British government and politics. They are alien to our way of doing things.

In the United Kingdom, parliament is sovereign. We have a parliamentary democracy. Therefore, when referendums are held––and, historically, they have been held only rarely––parliament can legally ignore the results of the referendum held. In British politics, a referendum is advisory only. They are not, I repeat not, legally binding on parliament. If our elected representatives believe that to follow through on the result of the referendum it would be deleterious to the common good, the economy, or Britain’s place in the world, they can safely be ignored.

The last EU referendum held on Thursday, June 23, 2016, the so-called Brexit referendum, yielded a result that was surprising to very many of our parliamentarians. A remain vote had been expected.

From the start, the referendum had been very poorly construed, because for such an important referendum there should certainly have been a stipulation that maybe sixty per cent of the electorate should vote for this huge constitutional change, one way or the other. It should not have been acceptable to have a simple majority with such a small margin in favour. That goes for a result one way or the other.

The referendum was won by a very small margin: 52% of the electorate voted to leave the EU, whilst 48% voted to remain in the EU.

By not stipulating that there should be a much wider margin between those who voted to get out of the European Union and those who voted to remain in the European Union, the nation has been divided like never before in my lifetime.

David Cameron called this referendum in order to silence the Europhobes, the so-called Euroskeptics in his Party, the Conservative Party, to stop the squabbling. The Tory Party had been riven by the issue of Europe for decades. In fact, it has been divided ever since the electorate voted to enter the Common Market in 1975. That was known as the United Kingdom European Communities referendum, more usually called the Common Market referendum, or the referendum on EEC membership.

By calling the referendum, Cameron tried to heal the rift in his Party. He wanted to silence the naysayers once and for all. However, instead of healing the rift in his Party––the Party is still divided on the issue––he has now divided the nation too. It is said that it has even caused rifts within families!

I have listened to many debates about the pros and cons of EU membership, but nobody is able to answer convincingly one simple question: What are we going to gain from leaving the EU, except pain? Economic and financial pain? To say nothing of all the pain that is being caused to Europeans working here, or Brits working in Europe. Brexit could well turn out to be a lose-lose situation for all concerned. It is ill-conceived, and very short-sighted.

There is an old saying which is apt in these circumstances: You never miss the water till the well runs dry. How true that old adage is! That means to say that we are not going to miss the EU until we are no longer in the club.

Fact is, the UK has done rather well out of its membership of the EU. It has given us access to a market of 500 million people. It is the largest single market in the world. Goods and services can be traded, tariff-free, across many frontiers. What a remarkable achievement that has been! And how conducive it is to the prosperity of our people, our nation, and our continent. Where are we going to find a market like this outside of the bloc?

Since the result of the referendum, our living standards are already in retreat. The pound has gone down in value vis-à-vis the US dollar and the euro. On the day of the referendum, the pound was trading at $1,4877. But ever since, it has been on a downward slide, trading at around $1,2908 on July 7, 2016, a depreciation of 13.24%. In fact, the value of the pound is at a thirty-one year low. As I write this today, the pound is actually trading at only $1.2783.

This is said to be good for exports, of course, because it makes our exports more competitive in the marketplace. But how good is it for the pound in your pocket? Because it makes imports much more expensive, and we mustn’t forget that most of our foodstuffs are imported. Therefore, this depreciation in the value of the pound has already started to fuel inflation. It is to be expected that the worst is yet to come. As they say: ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’

So, the pound is depreciating in value, prices are going up in the shops. Travel across the continent, or anywhere else in the world, will become more expensive and more difficult in Europe too. Going to Europe to live or study will require permits, and will certainly become more expensive.

But very importantly, we are going to lose our place at the top table in Europe. Further, if we remain in the single market, we will have to pay for the privilege; and we will have no say in the decisions being made. We will simply have to accept what other European nations decide. To put ourselves in this disadvantageous position is nothing short of ludicrous. I don’t care what people like Nigel Farage, Daniel Hannan or Boris Johnson say. It is stupid. Absolutely stupid! It defies common sense.

Then we have the difficulties that Brexit will cause the banks and finance houses. Indeed, the financial sector has the most to lose from Brexit. Passporting rights will have to be forfeited when we leave the EU. This is going to make it very difficult for banks and finance houses to sell financial services in other countries in Europe; and because of this loss of rights, banks and finance houses already have plans in place to relocate to other cities in European countries, cities like Frankfurt, Paris, or Madrid. All these cities are waiting in the wings to take London’s business away. And if this happens, London will start to lose its pre-eminent position in the world of finance. This is really totally and utterly stupid. It’s as if we are engaging in self-harm. Again, it defies common sense.

Brexit talks are set to begin this coming week, the week beginning Monday, June 19. But the government is said to be in chaos as a result of Theresa May’s ill-fated decision to call a general election on Thursday, June 8. As is well-known, she lost her large majority in parliament even though she had been expecting a landslide victory at the polls. As a result, this has weakened Britain’s bargaining position considerably. The other twenty-seven nations in the EU are now holding just about all the ace cards.

It really is time for the country to reconsider this course of action. Brexit will probably impoverish the nation. One thing is certain: Brexit is not the route to prosperity. Moreover, if it impoverishes the nation, it will impoverish you with it. This is folly indeed. Surely, it is time for us to reassess our decision to leave the EU. It’s time to call the whole thing off. Brexit is not a winning strategy for our future. Our leaders should pluck up the courage and tell the electorate that it will be detrimental to our national interests.

Arrêtez Brexit !

© Mark Alexander

All Rights Reserved

The Price Of The American Dream

Can President Trump keep his promise to make America Great Again? Four Corners meets the human face of America's working poor as they struggle to feed their families. Can President Trump keep his promise to make America Great Again? Four Corners meets the human face of America's working poor as they struggle to feed their families. The Price of the American Dream, from French film-maker Hélène Eckmann.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Line: Poverty in America

Poverty in America is probably not what you think. Emmy Award-winning producer Linda Midgett shows us in this groundbreaking documentary a new face of poverty in America. About 50 million people in the United States live below the poverty line (In 2014- $23,850 for a family of 4) and one in four American children lives in poverty. But what is poverty in America? What defines “the line” and how can the church and community make a difference?

Bracing for Brexit: Businesses Fret as Theresa May Prepares for EU Talks

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Saturday, 10 June 2017

May-Day. UK Moves into Further Uncertainty after Elections

DANIEL LACALLE: The results of the UK elections are unquestionably negative for the economy, bad for investment, bad for the pound and for a swift Brexit resolution.

The UK economy has performed exceptionally well in the past years, even after the Brexit referendum. So well, that international agencies such as the IMF or the OECD had to completely reverse their negative expectations for the economy of a “Yes” vote.

The problem is that we have focused on the positive -the fact that doomsayers were wrong- without analysing the negatives -the impact on potential growth and increase in investments-. The Bank Of England had to increase its growth estimates for 2017 to 1.7% and 1.3% for 2018. However, the uncertainty of a hung parliament, a weak government unable to negotiate Brexit from a position of strength, and the ongoing weakness of the pound may continue to erode growth potential, gross capital formation and economic agents’ investment and hiring decisions.

It is extremely unlikely that Brexit will be reversed. It is, however, very likely, that negotiations will be more difficult and longer.

The UK is a very dynamic economy, and its companies have enormous strengths, with a thriving export sector and global multinationals. These will continue to benefit from a weak currency, but internal demand and the large surplus of service exports may suffer from the uncertain process of an even more complex Brexit.

As such, it is likely that we will not see a major impact in the growth prospects of the economy due to the benefits of a global and strong external sector, which benefits more from solid high-margin products and competitive technology than from weak currencies, but internal demand challenges will likely have an impact on consumption, hiring and wages.

It is no surprise, then, that the FTSE will continue to rise. It is fundamentally composed of diversified international companies. The impact of uncertainty may weigh on banks, consumer stocks and those with a large proportion of sales in the UK. However, the FTSE is more impacted by estimates of the global economy and energy-commodity prices. It is an index with almost 30% of sales in foreign currency.

The pound weakness may continue, also because the BoE is unlikely to take any measures to defend the currency.

As for bonds, extended QE means that sovereign bond yields will remain depressed, while solid corporate earnings and good balance sheets will support a more than adequate demand for corporate bonds. A clear indicator this morning is that yields are still very contained in all the different indices.

Clearly, investors will have to pay attention to guidance and cash flow generation of companies, but I would imagine that the forthcoming uncertainty will likely have an impact on a potential growth that should be well above EU or US figures, but will not.

Being complacent about average growth and acceptable macro figures cannot disguise the fact that the UK could and should grow well above its comparable economies and that the Bank of England is keeping an uncomfortably aggressive quantitative easing program that will leave it without tools in case of a change of economic cycle that is now more likely than before. | Daniel Lacalle | Friday, June 9, 2017

© Daniel Lacalle

All Rights Reserved

Daniel Lacalle has a PhD in Economics and is author of “Escape from the Central Bank Trap”, “Life In The Financial Markets” and “The Energy World Is Flat” (Wiley)

You can comment on this article at Dr. Daniel Lacalle’s own website here

UK Election: Brexit Plans in Disarray - Counting the Cost

We examine whether Brexit talks are in disarray after Britain's election throws up a hung parliament.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Daniel Lacalle’s Opinion: Climate Agreement, Hypocrisy and Summits

DANIEL LACALLE: Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris “climate agreement” with the aim of negotiating a better one can be debated, but the whole summit and agreement smell of bureaucracy and hypocrisy. What no one should do is deny reality.

If governments were truly concerned about “climate change”, they would make fewer summits and act more.

These summits are photo opportunities that mask a very different truth. Bureaucrats care about the process, not the results, that’s why they love summits and multilateral vague agreements. Those same bureaucrats justify the atrocious results by organizing another summit.

Keep calm. Do not worry about those who make catastrophic predictions. The history of blunders of the end-of-the-world doomsayers is so vast that only a politician could ignore them. Let us remember that, according to “scientific analysis” of a few decades ago, we would have run out of oil and water already seventeen years ago. Ignoring efficiency, technology and substitution is the favorite hobby of subsidy collectors.

The problem of “combating climate change by a committee decision” is that it neither does so, neither helps consumers. These summits and agreements perpetuate the perverse incentives of subsidized and crony polluters while penalizing consumers via taxes.

But there is good news. Decarbonization is unstoppable. Not thanks to a summit or due to politicians, quite the opposite. Thanks to competition, technology and research. Thanks to human ingenuity. Coal has been disappearing from the global energy mix for decades, despite – not to thanks to – governments. And the same is happening with oil.

In fact, my reader will not be surprised to know that climate summits always hide agreements to perpetuate the polluting rent-seeking sectors of each member country by setting targets to 2030 that no one will monitor and someone else will come to explain./>

br /> 100% public (producers in petro-states, coal producers, refineries, steel mills, etc …). Even seeing the Climate Accountability Institute analysis, 63% of emissions come from 90 companies, of which 31 are state-owned, 9 are government-run and 50 develop government owned resources through royalty-providing concessions.

"If these countries were so concerned about climate change, they would not need to meet in exotic places at expensive hotels. Closing down their state-owned polluters would solve 'the problem'. In fact, no need to close them. If those countries that signed the “climate” agreement implemented the measures of efficiency, environmental control and best practices of US companies, there would be no need for a summit."

The reality is that the US and its companies do more in terms of R &D, technology, efficiency and corporate responsibility than the vast majority of countries that signed this agreement.

• The US energy intensity has plummeted and needs much less energy consumption to grow, even though it has increased its energy independence until it is almost self-sufficient. The energy intensity of the US is 60% lower than that of 1956 and the country grows in a more sustainable way.

• China is the biggest polluter in the world. It accounts for 15% of the global economy but is almost 30% of total emissions. If China is concerned about climate change, all its government needs to do is to look at the sky in Beijing and see that it is black, not blue, then close its coal companies. They are mostly all state-owned.

• India is almost 7% of global emissions and the vast majority comes from state-run and subsidized coal and high-energy intensity sectors.

• China consumes much more coal than their official figures say. Both The Guardian and The New York Times have reported that China emits up to 1 billion tonnes of CO2 more than it officially recognizes each year. But it appears before the world as the leader of the fight against climate change. Well, in 2030 60% of its energy mix will still be coal.

• To say that China and India emit more CO2 because they produce goods for the West is simply untrue. Governments decide what energy mix they want through central planning in four out of five of the top CO2 emitters in the world.

• The so-called “green” European Union spends $ 6.9 billion annually on coal subsidies. Since the 2015 “Paris agreement”, these subsidies have actually increased by $875 million per annum. In other words,coal subsidies (as well as refineries and subsidies to the car industry) have increased, while consumer bills have skyrocketed with the excuse of being “green”. In addition, the European super-green Union is about 10% of the world’s CO2 emissions but its citizens bear 100% of the costs in their tariffs.

• Of the subsidies to fossil fuels, the largest by far is Iran – which has also signed the “Paris agreement” – and spends more than Saudi Arabia, Russia and India together in fossil fuel subsidies.

As I explained before, decarbonisation is unstoppable. But it would be even faster without the pitfalls of those who today present themselves as saviors of the Earth while in reality they just tax citizens to perpetuate their polluting “national champions”.

No Hollywood star in a private jet denounces these hypocrisies. The hundreds of thousands of pages of legislation that this summit will produce are not going to eliminate progress, but delay it, they do.

Trump is not an anti-environment monster, and Macron is no green giant. The US has reduced its CO2 emissions more than the vast majority of countries thanks to competition. The success of the US in its energy policy has been precisely not having one, Dick Cheney told me years ago. If it had been up to the administration in 2007, today the US would not be self-sufficient in natural gas, one of the largest oil producers in the world, and a leader in competitive wind and solar without subsidies.

The gradual decarbonization of the US has not only come from healthy competition, but a cheaper transition helped the consumer. The US has cut more emissions in the past ten years thanks to fracking and competition than the European Union’s subsidy -driven interventionist nightmare (read).

The US has achieved this reduction by lowering gas and electricity prices to its citizens, while in the EU they have skyrocketed.

Trump is not going to stop a winning formula. Neither will he join a summit of perverse incentive decisions with little practical use. Obama could not stop the energy revolution that he initially rejected and now considers natural gas and almost energy independence a personal achievement.

Would it have been better for the US to accept the agreement? I’m not sure. It may negotiate something less cosmetic and more realistic. An agreement that does not harm competitiveness and employment.

Therefore, let us be calm.

If you think that Trump’s decision is bad, breathe easy. The Paris agreement is non-binding and completely unenforceable anyway. And the US will take at least three and a half years to fully implement the withdrawal. And if you really think that the climate savers are going to be the Chinese, take a trip to Beijing and Shanghai, look at the sky, and tell me what you see (if you can see anything).

Regardless of what you believe, technology and efficiency will continue to generate more progress, cleaner and more abundant energy.

The whole Paris climate agreement is non-binding, not enforced and with no guidelines other than “annual contribution reports” -ie, papers. Whether or not the agreement was accepted by Trump, nothing in it is enforceable, so efficiency and technology change will happen whether there was an agreement or not. | Daniel Lacalle | Saturday, June 3, 2017

© Daniel Lacalle

All Rights Reserved

Daniel Lacalle has a PhD in Economics and is author of “Escape from the Central Bank Trap”, “Life In The Financial Markets” and “The Energy World Is Flat” (Wiley)

You can comment on this article at Dr Daniel Lacalle’s own website here

Friday, 2 June 2017

Pennsylvanians: We Know Deep Mining Is Not Coming Back

Mahanoy City was once home to the biggest coal crushing plant in the US. Donald Trump succeeded in his presidential bid, in part by appealing to communities that were once flourishing coal-mining towns. Most of them have now fallen on hard times. Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds reports from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Lloyd's CEO Says Brussels to Be Post-Brexit EU Hub

May.25 -- Inga Beale, chief executive officer at Lloyd's, discusses her Brexit strategy, the opportunities she sees in Asia and her concerns on cybersecurity. She speaks on "Bloomberg Markets: European Open."