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May

Mon 30 May 2016 / Europe

Europe’s hopes and failures

A little exaggeration can season an argument. But it serves no purpose to present one side of the argument using such terminology as ‘quitter Brits’ who resent losing sovereignty to ‘unelected eurocrats’. In fact, member countries have begun to rein back sovereignty in areas such as the Schengen agreement. This underlines the extent of Europe's political failures and divisions. Respect for these different perspectives, as well as the historic nature of the decision, requires more reflective consideration and a different kind of language.

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Tue 31 May 2016 / Europe

Emotion versus economics

As a dedicated European, I fear the Leave campaign will prevail on 23 June. This prognosis of the British referendum outcome is based on experience of four Danish votes on European issues, two of which took place when I was state secretary in the Danish foreign ministry. There is no compelling economic case for 'Brexit'. Yet – precisely because so much of the argument turns on economic questions – I conclude that the answer might be No to the EU.

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Tue 3 May 2016 / Europe

Sensitive decisions on succession

In view of periodic round-the-world jostling over monetary and financial measures, government decisions on replacing key central bankers when their term of office ends are more than usually sensitive. So it is reassuring that in three important medium-sized countries – the Czech Republic, Malaysia and Poland – governments have been making delicate choices on new governors suggesting their central banks will preserve cherished autonomy.

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Mon 2 May 2016 / Europe

Safety in staying in

I shall be voting to stay in the European Union on 23 June. With the leaders of the exit camp having revealed their reckless policies on our vital foreign trade, it is the only way to safeguard Britain’s economic future. There are three strands to the arguments for and against the UK’s EU membership – Project Future, Project Fantasy and Project Fear. If Project Fantasy turns out to be well named, UK citizens have every right to be fearful of the possible consequences.

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Sun 29 May 2016 / Europe

Responding to incentives

Much of the referendum debate has been on the economic consequences of Brexit. But if the economy turns down following the vote, Brexit is likely to have been a minor influence compared with other factors such as adverse global economic trends and huge imbalances in the UK economy. How well Britain does is more likely to depend in the short term on the policies the UK pursues in respect of maintaining open borders for trade, and on monetary, fiscal and exchange rate policies to help rebalance the economy.

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Fri 27 May 2016 / Latin America Caribbean

Temer is just the start

Brazil's new administration faces daunting challenges. Interim President Michel Temer has assumed power with conditional support in Congress and little popular support. His term is uncertain. An ambitious economic reform programme might be regarded as impossible under such conditions. But the opposite is true. Only by launching a vigorous reform initiative can the government afford to adopt a looser short-term macroeconomic stance, generate positive economic expectations and stabilise the economy.

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Tue 17 May 2016 / Europe

A battle over government and identity

Britain’s EU referendum is partly about economics, but it also involves big issues of security, accountability and democracy. It’s part of a long-running unresolved constitutional debate about the government and identity of the UK. Britain hasn’t had a referendum for 40 years. During that time the EU has profoundly changed. I have found it extremely painful deciding which way to vote, not least out of respect for the prime minister. But I have come to the view that, in this once in a generation opportunity, Britain should vote to leave.

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Wed 4 May 2016 / North America,Europe

What happens in the twilight zone

We now know the mysterious lower-bound rate in monetary policy is below zero. After nine years of low interest rates and large-scale market intervention through quantitative easing, the prospect for normalisation of unconventional monetary policy seems somewhat remote. Some analysts view the new ‘QE with a negative interest rate’ as a regime shift from quantitative targeting to interest rate targeting, considering negative rates to be the new ‘global norm’. The question is how far and for how long negative rates can go.

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Tue 3 May 2016 / Europe

Chance of a lifetime

For the British, the European Union has always been at best an awkward fit. The UK has long-established and stable institutions, an admirable representative democracy, and a history and geography which give us a different cultural outlook from many on the Continent. The EU’s ambitions to become a state in its own right undermine the sovereignty and sense of identity that UK citizens share. Changing course is never easy. But this is a nettle we should grasp. We may not have another chance in our lifetime.

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Wed 4 May 2016 / Asia Pacific,Europe

Din of jingoism on EU debate

The ‘quitter Brits’ wishing to leave the European Union betray a touch of the daredevil: a contrived Battle of Britain spirit. Level-headed arguments get lost in a din of jingoism. We Malaysians note with interest how, even with the UK’s sophisticated electorate, rival campaigners manipulate facts and figures, discrediting or cancelling out self-evident truths. However, Asean countries should guard against complacency. Asean's slow-motion integration will bring its own set of challenges – and they are not yet discernible.

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