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Tue 13 Sep 2016 / Europe

Rules of European engagement

A generation ago, in negotiations over the 1991-92 Maastricht treaty that launched monetary union, John Major, then British prime minister, said navigating though different countries’ sensitivities was ‘12-dimensional chess’. With 28 countries in the European Union against 12 then, and much wider divisions on everything from migrants to Greek debt, the balancing act has grown much more convoluted.

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Thu 15 Sep 2016 / Europe

Tackling the UK's export malaise

Liam Fox, the British secretary of state for international trade, has put his finger squarely – but not fairly – on the biggest headache Britain has had for years. In comments to the Conservative Way Forward group, Fox referred to the anaemic export performance of Britain’s major companies, calling their bosses ‘fat’ and ‘lazy’, and claiming they would rather play golf than open up new markets with new products. British managers are not lazier than their German counterparts. But in many ways they have a much harder – if not impossible – job.

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Tue 6 Sep 2016 / Europe

Flawed assumptions, erroneous conclusions

In early June the average forecast for UK GDP growth in 2017, according to a survey conducted by the UK Treasury, was 2.1%. The July post-referendum forecast cut this to 0.5%. In August the forecast bounced back slightly to 0.7%. With half the year almost over before the 23 June referendum, the revision to 2016 growth was modest, to 1.6% from 1.8%. In early August the crème de la crème of UK forecasters were still expecting a post-referendum recession. So far the hard evidence suggests they have got it wrong.

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Mon 19 Sep 2016 / Europe

Heading for the rocks

As all eyes focus on Brexit, where everything has changed for the UK but nothing has started, another proud European democracy would like to shut its doors to migrants but keep open the European Union’s doors to its goods and services – Switzerland. The Swiss have perfected the art of permanent compromise and consensus, but so far they have been able to find neither compromise nor consensus with the EU. As in Britain, those pesky populist plebiscites keep getting in the way.

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Fri 23 Sep 2016 / Europe

Britain should look east

For Britain and the European Union, Brexit should be an opportunity to reset, not a time for retribution. The EU’s overly ambitious but underachieving drive for economic centralisation has distracted from the desperate need for strong reforms in Europe’s major economies. Outside the EU, the UK should focus on these reforms and engage with growing and dynamic regions of the global economy, while doing its best to continue engaging with its sclerotic neighbours.

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Fri 9 Sep 2016 / Europe

Turning Brexit into an opportunity

The British referendum vote to withdraw from the European Union marks a major constitutional change for the UK and a significant rupture for Europe. But the split engendered by Brexit could be turned into an opportunity by reorganising Europe in two circles, according to a paper by Jean Pisani-Ferry, Norbert Röttgen, André Sapir, Paul Tucker and Guntram Wolff, published by the Bruegel economic policy think tank.

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Thu 1 Sep 2016 / Asia Pacific,Latin America Caribbean

China, Cuba and the urban poor

Paul Romer, the new World Bank chief economist, emphasises as critical to successful charter cities the creation of new rules for better societies. Urbanisation, rising inequality and persistent poverty, even in otherwise prospering countries, invite collective thinking and good ideas attuned to the size of the problems. Romer, the director of New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management and founder of Aplia, an educational technology company, is in an optimal position to supply appropriate answers.

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Wed 14 Sep 2016 / Latin America Caribbean

Argentina gears up for foreign investment

President Mauricio Macri's government went into Argentina's blockbuster investment conference this week hoping to raise tens of billions of dollars of medium-term foreign investment and seeking a short-term domestic political boost. Fulfilling such hopes hinges on achieving the right confluence of economic policy and political popularity. As Macri himself outlined in his opening address, his government has sought to break with the country’s Peronist past of debt, deficits and rampant inflation.

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Mon 5 Sep 2016 / Europe

Merkel’s ebbing power boosts May’s EU leverage

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ebbing power further complicates the European Central Bank’s growth policies and strengthens Britain’s negotiating leverage in the psychological and economic battle over the UK’s European Union withdrawal. The anti-immigration, anti-euro Alternative for Germany yesterday forced Merkel’s ruling centre-right Christian Democratic Union into third place in elections in the idyllic yet relatively impoverished eastern state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern.

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Wed 28 Sep 2016 / Europe

When Britain went bust

The 40th anniversary of Britain’s so-called ‘IMF crisis’ warrants marking because it was the country’s most searing post-war period of economic unrest and a key turning point. Sterling, the balance of payments, prices and the public finances became national preoccupations. The crisis entered public consciousness as marking the low point in Britain’s post-war relative economic decline. There were three intertwined strands to the turmoil: a sterling crisis; a sovereign debt crisis; and factional frictions within the governing Labour administration.

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