Category: Economics

Why is Germany welcoming refugees?

  • Moral: Burden of history + leadership in Europe.
  • Economic: Population shrinking, labour shortages so economy dependent on skilled and unskilled immigrants.
  • Championed by Merkel but in reality a three-pronged effort by government, civil society and the media - thusfar broad internal support but emerging signs of strain (logistical, financial & political).
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How is China trying to kick-start growth?

  • Economy expected to grow at slowest rate in 25 years (still > 6%, higher than most countries) - central bank has two-prong approach:
  • [1] Has just cut interest rates again (6th time this year).
  • [2] Injecting cash into the economy to counteract the recent cash drain that has happened as a result of foreign investors pulling out of the Chinese stockmarket.
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An inherited economic-mega-mess for Argentina’s next leader?

  • New president (final round of election on Nov 22) will have to deal with mess of an economy left by incumbent Cristina Kirchner and her predecessor husband Nestor (who together ruled for 12 years).
  • Slow growth + dwindling foreign exchange reserves in wake of colossal economic mismanagement and end of commodity boom.
  • One of the world's highest inflation rates (officially at around 14.5%) and huge fiscal deficit (over 7% of GDP).
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Macrosnap of global monetary policy trends?

  • China growth slow: Central bank loosening.
  • Euro area growth looking dodgy: ECB considering further loosening.
  • US growth outlook uncertain: US seemed poised to tighten, but now might not seem so wise.
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Where is Japan on the Abenomics trajectory?

Where is Japan on the Abenomics trajectory?

  • Japan economy faces big structural problems after 20 years of recession, i.e. decreasing population, ageing society, slow investment and low productivity.
  • Abenomics = PM Abe's plan for sorting out the economy, and has "Three Arrows": [1] Fiscal stimulus, [2] Monetary easing and [3] Structural reforms (i.e. addressing government debt).
  • [1] and [2] have been fired with mixed results - now [3] needs to happen big-time if Japan wants to avoid either fiscal collapse or a drop in living standards over the next few decades.
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Explain South Africa’s student protests?

  • Widespread protests against proposed higher tuition fees - President Zuma capitulates and agrees to a cap of fee increases.
  • Protests seen as barometer of broad dissatisfaction with post-Apartheid government's apparent failure to address economic inequalities.
  • Economic backdrop unsupportive: Growth still weak, unemployment high, fiscal deficit widening.
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Main global consequences of China’s slowdown?

  • Depresses global commodity prices (i.e. China is a huge consumer of global commodities).
  • Which results in big swings of emerging market currencies (i.e. countries which export to China).
  • Which in turn makes it more difficult for the US Fed to raise interest rates (as it might provoke unwanted volatility in global markets, as investors leave emerging markets to seek higher and more stable returns in the US).
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What’s holding France’s economy back?

What’s holding France’s economy back?

  • Growth weak 2015 and expected just slightly better 2016, despite benefits of cheap energy prices and weak euro.
  • Rigid labour market is the main problem.
  • Results in high structural unemployment, forces entrepreneurs to move to London, and keeps the country uncompetitive.
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Snapshot of QE in Europe?

  • In very crude terms, when an economy slows, a central bank can try boost growth by lowering interest rates or by Quantitative Easing (QE), injecting cash (liquidity) into the economy (by buying bonds from the marketplace).
  • With interest rates super-low (and some even -ve), the ECB launched a massive QE programme in Jan '15, which involved buying EUR1.1tn of bonds from the marketplace, which is the same as a EUR1.1tn cash injection into the economy.
  • But China slowdown and uncertainty in emerging markets have created new growth concerns, so ECB considering expanding the QE program (next meeting in early December).
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What is Monetary Policy?

  • Process by which the monetary authority (Central Bank) of a country or currency area, controls the supply of money.
  • The Central Bank usually targets an inflation rate or interest rate to maintain price stability and ensure trust in its currency.
  • Expansionary monetary policy is a recession-fighting tool, usually meaning increasing money supply faster than usual, typically by lowering interest rates.
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