(January 2012) Finland has an economy that is comparable with Ireland's and following a collapse in the early 1990s in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, it now has a negative net public debt or surplus as a ratio of GDP (gross domestic product) of over 50%. This stunning turnaround also coincides with a high ranking from the World Economic Forum for government efficiency and the quality of its public institutions. This is hardly surprising but it must be taken seriously in struggling economies of the Eurozone. Mongolia, which had a Soviet-backed communist system until its overthrow in 1990, ranks higher than Italy in the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings!
(January 2012) Daily News Digest - - Thurs Jan 05, 2012; Key news at a glance; The EU must support the opposition protests in Hungary, writes France's left-liberal daily Libération: "In Budapest heroic dissidents are once more out protesting and sounding the alarm. But what is the European Union saying - or doing? It cavils, dithers and hedges its words to the point of giving the unfavourable impression that it is worse for an EU member state to break the rules of good management than those of good democracy. The Wall Street Journal says investors pushed Hungary's currency to new lows and drove up yields on government bonds Wednesday, raising pressure on policy makers here and in Brussels who are struggling to contain damage from the Continent's debt woes and stalling Eurozone growth.
Almost €800bn in Eurozone sovereign bonds to be sold in 2012; Big global economies have $7.6trn of debt maturing
(January 2012) Barclays Capital says that almost €800bn in Eurozone sovereign bonds are due to be sold in 2012, to service public debt and fund spending. This compares with €952bn issued in 2010 but the current market is more uncertain with three member countries of the single currency area availing of international support and both Italy and Spain in intensive care. Meanwhile, on Tuesday Bloomberg reported that government's of the world’s leading economies have more than $7.6trn of debt maturing this year, with most facing a rise in borrowing costs...Germany will start the 2012 sovereign borrowing season today, when it holds an auction to raise €5bn. France will follow on Thursday with an auction of €8bn in long-term debt. Italy will test the market later next week.
(January 2012) Daily News Digest - - Wed Jan 04, 2012: Key news at a glance; The China Daily says today that new measures will be introduced to boost consumption, especially for vehicles and electrical appliances, as export demand weakens. With tax rebate policies on vehicles and appliances having expired or due to expire, "new measures are in the pipeline," to boost consumption, said Huang Hai, former assistant minister of commerce and member of the economic and trade policy consulting committee affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce...The Wall Street Journal says that the USS Gerald R. Ford was supposed to help secure another half century of American naval supremacy. China is building a new class of ballistic missiles designed to arc through the stratosphere and explode onto the deck of a US carrier, killing sailors and crippling its flight deck.
(January 2012) Daily News Digest - - Tues Jan 03, 2012: Key news at a glance; The new Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced an income tax increase, breaking an election pledge. The left-liberal Spanish daily El País criticises the move, saying Rajoy deliberately lied in the election campaign: "It took six years for José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to make a U-turn and do the opposite of what he had always promised. With Mariano Rajoy it took just six days. But the reasons for the so differently presented changes of heart are the same in both cases: the markets and Europe"...Tell someone from Germany that you are planning a trip to neighboring Poland and the response is likely to be one of barely concealed horror. Heading across the eastern border, after all, is considered to be the height of carelessness. Many see the country as little more than an oversized den of car thieves waiting to pounce.
German industry expects to add 60,000 jobs in 2012; France lost 30,000 in November; Italian bond yields fall for second straight day
(December 2011) German industry expects to add 60,000 jobs in 2012 according to a report this week as one in five industrial companies plan to raise payroll numbers. Meanwhile, France reported that the number of jobless rose to a 12-year high of 2.85m in November, rising by almost 30,000 in a single month and increasing for the seventh straight month. Italy's bond yields improved this week in common with the pre-Christmas fall in the yields of the sovereign bonds of Spain - - the fourth biggest economy in the currency union.
(December 2011) The Irish domestic economy is back to the size it was in 2002, representing a 26% decline since peak in 2007...Foreign aid is set to decline, with the US Agency for International Development’s budget cut by 17%, according to the Republicans’ summary of spending cuts. Americans overwhelmingly say they believe that foreign aid makes up a larger portion of the federal budget than defense spending, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, or spending on roads and other infrastructure. In a November 2010 World Public Opinion poll, the average American believed that a whopping 25% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. The average respondent also thought that the appropriate level of foreign aid would be about 10% of the budget - - 10 times the current level.
(December 2011) Daily News Digest - - Fri Dec 16, 2011: Key news at a glance; The Austrian Institute for Youth Culture Research presented on Wednesday the results of a study according to which almost half of the 400 youths included in the survey held racist and anti-Semitic views. The Austrian daily, Die Presse, sees this as a fatal legacy of the parents’ generation…Der Spiegel says not even a week after the most recent European Union summit aimed at ending the debt crisis, panic is mounting once again. But not in Berlin. Chancellor Merkel calmly told parliament that a solution would take years and German central bank head Jens Weidmann compared demands for ECB intervention to an alcoholic grabbing for the bottle.
(December 2011) Daily News Digest - - Thurs Dec 15, 2011: Key news at a glance; The Wall Street Journal reports that President Barack Obama said at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Wednesday, that the long, divisive Iraq war will reach its formal end on Thursday, when an American flag in Baghdad signifying the US military mission is ceremonially lowered and returned to the US. US troops are still streaming out of Iraq, with the last ones expected to depart in coming days. Thursday's events will mark a historic and profound moment for the US, he said...Der Spiegel says a new survey of an "elite panel" of 500 German executives, politicians and administrators, taken by pollster the Allensbach Institute and published in this week's issue of financial magazine Capital, has found that 70% consider Merkel to be a strong chancellor, almost twice the score she received in June.
(December 2011) Germany's booming economy in 2010 resulted in an increase in labour costs of only 0.6% in 2010 compared with an average rise of 1.6% in the Eurozone. Among the Eurozone countries, only Ireland and Greece showed a lower increase than Germany. There the labour costs declined as a result of the massive economic dislocation. German labour costs in the public sector in 2010 were below the private sector costs in contrast with Ireland. While in most other industrialized countries wages over the past 10 years have risen by 25% on average, wages in Germany have fallen.