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Updated 2019-02-15 19:18
Donald Trump hints at extension to China trade talks
President said potential delay was justified as deal ‘must be the biggest in history’President Donald Trump has conceded that he will delay planned increases in import duties on $200bn (£155bn) of Chinese goods if there is progress in trade talks in Washington next week.Appearing to soften his demand for talks to conclude before 1 March, Trump said there could be a 30- or 60-day extension, should negotiators get closer to a deal. He said a delay was justified, based on the scope and scale of the talks. Speaking on the White House lawn, he said: “Trade with China – how big does that get? It must be the biggest deal in history.” Continue reading...
Cost of Brexit to UK economy running at £40bn a year – Bank rate-setter
Gertjan Vlieghe’s estimate of weekly bill, £800m, is more than double battlebus ‘bonus’The cost of Brexit to the British economy is running at £40bn a year and a damaging no-deal scenario could force an emergency cut in interest rates, according to a Bank of England rate-setter.Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee, said that since the vote in June 2016, the economy had lost about 2% of GDP compared with a scenario where there had been no significant domestic economic events. Continue reading...
UK retail sales rebound as shoppers flock to January sales - as it happened
Retail sales in the UK rose 1% in January as price discounts convinced shoppers to splash out on clothing.
RBS warns of Brexit damage despite profits more than doubling
Figure of £1.6bn means bank records second straight year of profit since 2008 state bailoutRoyal Bank of Scotland has said Brexit uncertainty has “gone on far too long”, despite posting better-than-expected full-year profits and declaring new dividends that will boost government coffers by £1bn.RBS’s chief executive, Ross McEwan, admitted the additional pressure of Brexit risks would affect the bank’s performance over the coming year and it may struggle to meet its target of getting costs below 50% of its income by 2020.Related: One in 10 support quick sale of government's RBS stake, poll finds Continue reading...
Anxiety running high about London's future as a financial centre | Barry Eichengreen
The City isn’t going to lose its status overnight, but can the loss of assets pre-Brexit be reversed?Only now, as we approach the third anniversary of the UK’s referendum on membership in the European Union, are the implications of leaving the bloc finally sinking in. One indication, amusing to those with a taste for black humour, is the marketing success of Brexit survival kits containing a water filter, fire-starting equipment and enough freeze-dried food for 30 days.Another indication is the launch, at the end of January, of a parliamentary inquiry into London’s prospects as a financial centre. This investigation is a response to prominent financial firms voting with their feet. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have moved nearly $300bn of balance-sheet assets from London to Frankfurt, and Barclays has won approval to move another $215bn to Dublin. BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, and Société Général have transferred 500 staff from London to Paris. HSBC has shifted ownership of many of its European subsidiaries from the UK to France.Related: How can we tax the footloose multinationals? Continue reading...
Phew, the Bank would deploy common sense on no-deal Brexit | Nils Pratley
Previous projections of a deep recession had assumed the MPC would crank up interest ratesA no-deal Brexit, in economic terms, would be a trip into the unknown and would very likely involve a severe shock. Even the sober sub-set of Brexit promoters concedes the latter short-term point. But at least one likely outcome is becoming clearer: the Bank of England would not make things worse by cranking up interest rates.The idea that it might was a strange notion entertained by Threadneedle Street last November as it sketched various scenarios for the UK’s departure from the European Union. In the most hellish projection, GDP was seen as falling by 8%, meaning a worse recession than the one that followed the 2008-09 financial crisis. Continue reading...
Germany narrowly avoids recession; US retail sales slide – as it happened
Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, including the latest German GDP report and a speech by Bank of England policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe
Trump's unseemly haste shows World Bank must no longer be in thrall to US
The race to head the World Bank opened with the US candidate already known. Other countries must stand up and be countedWith characteristic lack of restraint, the Trump administration last week jumped the gun on the World Bank presidential election process by naming David Malpass as its preferred candidate to succeed Jim Yong Kim.The formal nomination process, which did not begin until the following day, is based on selection principles agreed in 2011 that put the emphasis on an “open, merit-based and transparent” appointment. It is high time those principles were put in practice.Related: Jim Yong Kim resigns as World Bank president Continue reading...
German economy just avoids recession but weaker exports take toll
Europe’s largest economy recorded zero growth in the fourth quarter of 2018Germany narrowly avoided falling into recession in the second half of last year as weaker exports dragged Europe’s largest economy to stalling point during the final three months of 2018.The German economy recorded zero growth in the fourth quarter, managing to just avoid a technical recession after reporting a contraction of 0.2% in the third quarter amid a slump in industrial output.Related: Germany narrowly avoids recession after stagnating in last quarter - business live Continue reading...
Council tax to rise across England as austerity hits hard
‘Chronic underfunding’ forces cuts to services including social care, roads and libraries
Post-Brexit trade partners ask UK to lower human rights standards
International trade secretary, Liam Fox, explains why limited progress has been madeBritain has received demands to roll back its human rights standards in exchange for progress on post-Brexit trade deals, including from some countries that ministers are pushing to secure agreements with.In an admission that some countries have sought to extract a high price for their continuing to trade with Britain after leaving the EU, Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, said some nations had made the requests as part of talks. Continue reading...
To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change | Letters
Readers respond to an article and editorial on the use of agricultural pesticides and the alarming decline in insect numbersIt is not just the insects that are in serious decline, but also the entomologists who study them (Plummeting insect numbers threaten collapse of nature, 11 February), both in terms of promoting and conserving beneficial species and combating pests. In 2016, I had an article published in the scientific literature entitled Insect biology – a vulnerable discipline?, highlighting the good that insects do as well as the bad, and how necessary research is on insects, but also how this has been eroded for many years by reductions in both government and industrial funding.For example, Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, where I spent most of my career, used to have a thriving entomological research community working on various aspects concerning the role of insects in the agroecosystem. However, especially since the early years of this century, most of this vital work has been terminated due to severe cutbacks in funding, with very few projects surviving. In my view, considering the importance of insects as described in your article, renewed funding is urgently required to continue such essential exploration of insect science in all its diversity.
There is little confidence that things are good in our economy, or about to get better | Greg Jericho
The housing market is likely to stay weak until the overall economy is back in syncHousing and personal finance commitments are one of the best indicators of how people are feeling. Yes, we may respond to a survey that we feel confident or not about the economy but if you really want to see what people feel, look at their borrowing. You don’t take out a loan for a car or for a new block of land or for a house when you think things are not looking good. And right now there seems to be very little confidence that things are good, or about to get better.Housing finance is subject to other vagaries than “confidence”. You might feel secure in your job but you are not sure if it is the “right time to buy”. Such issues however are not the case for buying a car, and the latest finance figures show throughout the past year the amount of personal fixed finance for a car loan fell every month:Related: With an election looming, the government's fear is palpable | Greg JerichoRelated: An interest rate cut might be coming – and the reason why is rather scary | Greg Jericho Continue reading...
Inflation drops in UK and US thanks to cheaper energy - as it happened
Boost for real wages as the cost of living rises at its slowest rate in two years
Brexit: UK has rolled over just £16bn out of £117bn trade deals
Liam Fox has agreed deals with only seven of 69 countries covered by EU arrangementsThe government’s push to roll over EU trade deals from which the UK currently benefits has yielded agreements covering only £16bn of the near-£117bn of British trade with the countries involved.Despite frenetic efforts by ministers to ensure the continuity of international trade after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March, the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, has so far only managed to secure deals with seven of the 69 countries that the UK currently trades with under preferential EU free trade agreements, which will end after Brexit.Related: Brexit minister plays down prospect of article 50 extension Continue reading...
Fall in energy prices drags UK inflation to two-year low
Offering respite to households, consumer price index dips to 1.8% in January from 2.1%Inflation dropped to 1.8% last month following the biggest monthly fall in gas prices since the 1980s, to offer hard-pressed British consumers some respite from rising prices ahead of Brexit.The consumer prices index (CPI) fell from 2.1% in December to its lowest level in two years as wholesale energy prices tumbled, cutting heating bills for millions of households. Continue reading...
The disastrous effect of neoliberalism on Britain | Letters
Readers respond to what Mike Carter discovered on his long walk through EnglandCongratulations to Mike Carter on raising such important issues (The country I walked through deserves better than Brexit, 11 February). My husband, Colin Barnett, was – like Mike’s father – also instrumental in organising the People’s March for Jobs, as the then north-west regional secretary of the Trades Union Congress. He spent his working life as an officer of the National Union of Public Employees, which represented the poorest paid members of society, many of whom were women.His deep belief in trying to improve their pay and working conditions meant he tirelessly spent time travelling to their places of work, talking to them and persuading them to join the union. If he were still alive he would be distraught at what has been allowed to happen, with the destruction of all he fought for and with so little public concern. Why has it taken until now to realise how neglected many communities, especially outside the south of England, have become? What was the Labour party doing supporting contracting out when it was obvious that savings were made by reducing the pay and terms and conditions of the low-paid? Why, when in power, did we do nothing to stop the sale of council houses and other public assets? Why was removing control and assets from democratically elected local authorities to establish academy schools pursued? Continue reading...
What are the different measures of inflation, and are we being conned?
The UK uses three measures and each has its fans, but it does seem unnecessarily complicatedMPs press Treasury to abandon ‘absurd’ inflation measureIs inflation really that difficult to calculate?
Mark Carney says Brexit is 'acid test', as world economy slows - business live
Bank of England governor is warning that the global recovery is slowing, trade wars are hard to win, and Brexit will be an important test
MPs and peers press Treasury to abandon 'absurd' inflation measure
Ministers urged to ditch RPI, which it is claimed penalises students and rail passengersWhat are the different measures of inflation, and are we being conned?The government is coming under intense pressure to either abandon or fix the “grossly unfair” retail prices index inflation measure, which MPs say is penalising students and rail passengers.In a rare combined letter from parliamentarians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, RPI was described as “absurd” and its continued use was labelled “a ridiculous merry-go-round”.RPI
Mark Carney: Brexit is the first test of a new global order
Bank of England says UK must avoid protectionism in favour of international cooperationBrexit is an acid test of whether it is possible to reshape globalisation in a way that offers the benefits of trade while allaying public fears about the erosion of democracy, the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has said.Speaking in London, Carney said the ramifications of the UK’s departure from the EU would be felt around the world and would determine whether it was possible to shrug off rising protectionism in favour of a new era of international cooperation. Continue reading...
What is the point of higher education if it doesn’t make people happy? | Jonathan Wolff
Forcing universities to compete with each other is a bad idea. What we need is a Teaching Happiness FrameworkIn The Methods of Ethics, a book read only by philosophers with an overdeveloped sense of duty, the late Victorian utilitarian moralist Henry Sidgwick argued that other philosophers of his day were wrong to believe that human beings act only for the sake of their own happiness or pleasure. There is a second spring of human action, he argues: the pursuit of excellence. A poet, a philosopher, or a sportsperson working obsessively may hope to be happy, but, more likely, what matters to them most is what they can achieve.Sidgwick’s work faded from fashion soon after his death in 1900. At Cambridge University, where he had been professor, he became a symbol of times past. The young Bertrand Russell and his fellows referred to him as Old Sidg. But his fortunes revived in the 1980s, and he is being read by undergraduates again. I don’t know if the current generation of university regulators ever studied him, but, if so, they have only remembered half of what he taught. We have the Research Excellence Framework, and the Teaching Excellence Framework. Where is the Research Happiness Framework, or the Teaching Happiness Framework? Continue reading...
Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse'
Environmental and social problems could interact in global breakdown, report saysThe gathering storm of human-caused threats to climate, nature and economy pose a danger of systemic collapse comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report that calls for urgent and radical reform to protect political and social systems.The study says the combination of global warming, soil infertility, pollinator loss, chemical leaching and ocean acidification is creating a “new domain of risk”, which is hugely underestimated by policymakers even though it may pose the greatest threat in human history.Related: Humanity faces an existential crisis – Labour must join the fightback | Owen Jones Continue reading...
Hammond’s Brexit ‘dividend’ claim rejected as UK economy stalls
Chancellor’s claim undermined as rapid slowdown in GDP growth is revealed
The Guardian view on the UK economy: before Brexit, rescue it from austerity | Editorial
The public want the government to spend more, yet the Tories cannot grasp how this makes economic and political senseLast week it was revealed that a secret group of Whitehall officials were drawing up plans to rescue the economy if it were to tank after Brexit. However, the release of the latest GDP data shows that even before the UK leaves the European Union the economy looks as though it needs resuscitating. Philip Hammond thinks Brexit is a terrible idea. He also believes there is little wrong with the economy. As the man in charge of the nation’s finances, he would say that, wouldn’t he? The truth is that rather than presiding over a “fundamentally strong” economy, Mr Hammond and his Conservative predecessor George Osborne have been slowly asphyxiating the economy by depriving it of the oxygen of demand.The result has been that UK economic growth is as bad as it was in 2012, when Mr Osborne first softened ever so slightly his hardline policies but not his offensive rhetoric. It is important to say that we are some way off a recession, and it would be premature to suggest otherwise. However, the data shows that business investment is going backwards, unlike in other big European nations, and exports have stalled, which was perhaps foreseeable given the slowdown in near neighbours. The UK consumer, already in debt, is not willing to spend when Britain’s future direction, not least in respect to the EU, remains unsure. That leaves the government, which ought to be turning on the spending taps but is instead consumed by ideological rows over Brexit. What the Conservative party ought to realise is that the slow recovery from the 2008 crisis is about a deficiency of aggregate demand. The way out is more public spending. Remember the £350m on the side of the Brexit bus? Theresa May thinks she can get Mr Hammond to cough up that much and claim it as a Brexit dividend. In reality Brexit’s causes run deeper than that. Much more will be needed to repair the damage wrought by years of austerity politics. Continue reading...
The trade war with China is top strand in the White House soap | Larry Elliott
Donald Trump may be a ham actor but he’s got the whole world on tenterhooks nowArt is supposed to hold a mirror up to society butfor Donald Trump the opposite is the case. Current events in the White House increasingly mirror the soap opera of the West Wing only with a rightwing nationalist rather than a social democratic globalist at the helm.As with the TV series, there are a number of interwoven plots. Is Trump involved in an attempt to smear the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos? Will the probing by the special counsel Robert Mueller lead to the president’s impeachment? Will the president’s battle with Congress over a wall along the border with Mexico lead to a second shutdown of the government? Continue reading...
UK economy contracts in December as pre-Brexit slowdown bites - as it happened
Chancellor blames Brexit uncertainty for a sharp slowdown at the end of 2018, but trade secretary points to China
Manufacturing slump puts UK economy into reverse as Brexit looms
GDP contracts by 0.4% in December in weakest year for growth since 2012The British economy plunged into reverse in December, with a broad-based slump in economic output completing the weakest year for growth since 2012.The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product contracted by 0.4% from the previous month, fuelled by a fall in spending on the high street over the key festive shopping period.Related: Britain's Brexit slump will be quietly cheered in some quarters | Larry Elliott Continue reading...
The country I walked through deserves better than Brexit | Mike Carter
A trip across England in 2016 revealed a nation broken by neoliberalism. For it to heal, this above all has to changeIn May 2016, a few weeks before the EU referendum, I walked 340 miles from Liverpool to London to see what was happening to my country. I was travelling in the footsteps of a 1981 march against unemployment that my late father had helped to organise. In that year, Tory policies had devastated industry and sent unemployment skyrocketing. In 2016, Tory austerity was putting the final nail in the coffin of those broken communities.Even so, on my walk I was shocked by the level of poverty, by the sheer number of homeless people in doorways and parks, and by the high streets of boarded-up shops and pubs, full of payday loan outlets and bookies. People in those former industrial towns spoke of their anger and betrayal, of having being forgotten by Westminster politicians, of their communities having been destroyed as the manufacturing that had sustained them either folded or moved to low-wage economies.Related: All Together Now? One Man’s Walk in Search of His Father and a Lost England – reviewIn Nuneaton (66% leave), I met a man who reeled off the names of closed-down factories like you might your football team’s greatest all-time XIRelated: What I found in Theresa May’s heartland: an England in miniature | Ian JackRelated: UK austerity has inflicted 'great misery' on citizens, UN says Continue reading...
UK economic growth expected to halve in final quarter of 2018
Official figures likely to show Brexit anxieties weighing on consumers and businessUK growth slowed sharply in the final three months of 2018 as Brexit anxiety weighed on consumers and firms, official figures published on Monday are expected to show.City economists estimate that economic growth halved to just 0.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with 0.6% growth in the third quarter. Continue reading...
A hundred years of impatience haven't solved economy's structural problems | Larry Elliott
Brexit is an opportunity, for remainers as well as leavers, to put the country on the right pathThis year marks a centenary of sorts. Back in 1919, with the first world war finally over, Britain woke up to a new reality. The days of being the world’s pre-eminent economic power were in the past.In truth, the writing had been on the wall before 1914. The US and Germany had caught up with Britain before the assassination at Sarajevo and were forging ahead in the new sectors that had sprung up around the turn of the 20th century. Even in industries where the UK had traditionally been strong, such as coal, rival countries were much faster to deploy new, productivity-raising technology. Continue reading...
A Labour budget will not need Brexit. It will need growth | William Keegan
Corbyn’s determination to free the UK from what he sees as the EU’s shackles would actually be damaging to the party’s causeThe spectre of Brexit haunted last weekend’s annual Venice seminar hosted by the Italian government, but we had to wait for the return home for comparisons with Dante’s Inferno.The president of the European Council has received a lot of flak for his outburst – which, in case you missed it, was: “I have been wondering what that special place in hell looks like for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan to carry it out safely.”On the biggest issue facing this country Jeremy Corbyn has been letting people down Continue reading...
I’ve covered nine financial crises since the 1960s. Here’s what I learned
From the devaluation of sterling in 1967 to Brexit uncertainty, our economics commentator reflects on how Britain has diced with fiscal catastrophe
How ministers will try to protect UK economy in a no-deal Brexit
Treasury mandarins plan emergency measures designed to avert recessionTreasury mandarins have lined up emergency measures to protect the UK economy from a potential no-deal Brexit in fewer than 50 days’ time, with a series of growth-boosting measures designed to avert a recession.News emerged this week of cross-Whitehall plans codenamed Project After, drawn up after the 2016 Brexit vote. As the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit grows, some ministers and officials have returned to the work in search of emergency levers to pull in the event of a downturn, the Guardian has been told. These are the options that could be open to ministers: Continue reading...
Trade war fears mount as Trump says China meeting 'unlikely' - as it happened
Investors rattled after President Trump said there were no plans to meet President Xi Jinping before US tariffs on Chinese imports kick-in next month
Risk of global recession may be low but we are heading for slowdown
Although there is a cloud over economy, the silver lining is central banks are more dovishAfter the synchronised global economic expansion of 2017 came the asynchronous growth of 2018, when most countries other than the US started to experience slowdowns. Worries about US inflation, the US Federal Reserve’s policy trajectory, trade wars, Italian budget and debt woes, China’s slowdown and emerging-market fragilities led to a sharp fall in global equity markets toward the end of the year.The good news at the start of 2019 is that the risk of an outright global recession is low. The bad news is that we are heading into a year of synchronised global deceleration; growth will fall toward – and, in some cases, below – potential in most regions.Related: The next financial crisis may come soon – are we all that safe? | Kenneth Rogoff Continue reading...
Financial markets seem lost in the fog of Brexit | Nils Pratley
The Bank’s gloomy forecast sent the pound down but it rose again – despite the threat of recessionMark Carney could just as easily have shrugged his shoulders and declared that, like the rest of us, he hasn’t a clue how Brexit will work out. Instead, the Bank of England governor, obliged to riff on a theme when unveiling new economic forecasts, opted for “the fog of Brexit”, which amounted to much the same thing. Sadly, he couldn’t say when visibility will improve.Financial markets, too, seem baffled. The headline news that the Bank was making deep cuts to its GDP forecasts for this year and next sent the pound lower initially. The reaction seemed logical. The cut for 2019 was from 1.7% to 1.2%, which is severe. The new projections rely on a catch-up in the second half of the year just to achieve the slowest rate of annual growth since 2009. A recession this year is put at a one in four chance – and that assumes a no-deal, no-transition Brexit is avoided. Continue reading...
No-deal Brexit: UK exporters risk being locked out of world's harbours
Goods dispatched in coming days may not arrive until after 29 March deadlineBritish exporters sending goods to far-flung destinations in the coming days risk being locked out of harbours around the world as a no-deal Brexit looms, business leaders have warned.Independent trade experts and the UK’s biggest business groups said exporters could be dispatching goods from UK ports imminently that would not arrive until after the 29 March deadline. This raised the prospect of goods being stuck in ports or facing hefty additional costs in the event of a disorderly Brexit.Related: A no-deal Brexit won’t result in a siege. The EU will be more clinical than that | Tom Kibasi Continue reading...
Brexit, ‘spineless’ Labour and a grannies’ revolt | Letters
John Marzeillier, David Goudge and Ted Pawley respond to Caroline Flint’s Guardian article where she said she must honour her constituents’ decision to leave the EU. Plus letters from Tommy Gee, Roger Woodhouse, Julian Le Vay, Trevor Dean, Alice Appleton, Alison Harris, and Pauline ShelleyYet again we have a politician citing “the will of the people” as a justification for pursuing a Brexit deal however unsatisfactory it might be (Labour made a promise on Brexit, so let’s get a deal done, 6 February). Only this is not a Tory Brexiter but a Labour MP, Caroline Flint. She says: “I promised my voters that I would accept the referendum; I promised to work for the best deal for jobs for Doncaster, and pledged to oppose a second referendum.”We have a representative democracy; MPs are not mandated by their constituents to pursue a particular course, but to consider what is in their best interests. What if the best deal for jobs in Doncaster is achieved by remaining in the EU? What if, as is becoming clear, the 2016 referendum was corrupted, not just by the deliberate deceptions told by the leave campaign but by millions of pounds from shady sources? What if a second referendum asked voters specifically to choose between the deal Mrs May eventually comes up with, and remaining in the EU, a different question to the in/out choice of 2016? Continue reading...
Scandal of homeless deaths by austerity | Letters
Ian McCauley on the death of a friend let down by the system and Grahame Morris on Conservative culpability for austerityLinda Smith and Roger Pepworth (Letters, 4 February) are absolutely correct in linking the tragic deaths of so many homeless people to austerity. The national debate on this issue has been further constrained by political expediency and a blinkered approach to the evidence provided by good practice in this area. Congratulations to Andy Burnham for his initiative and imagination in his approach to homelessness (Off the streets: How Manchester bucked trend on homeless figures, 1 February).Just over a year ago you published my letter (11 December 2017) congratulating you on an article about Portugal’s approach to substance abuse and addiction. I referred to a young man who had been let down by an incoherent approach to his multiple addiction problems, mental health issues and homelessness. In particular I highlighted the inappropriate and inhumane response of the justice system to the minor offences connected with his addictions. I felt then that he was in mortal danger. He died a week ago. Continue reading...
UK economy set for worst year since financial crisis, says Bank of England
Bank cuts growth forecast for 2019 as Brexit worries spread from companies to consumersThe Bank of England has warned the economy is on course for its weakest year since the global financial crisis, as evidence suggests Brexit jitters are spreading from companies to consumers.In its latest quarterly health check, the Bank cut its growth forecast for 2019 from 1.7% to 1.2%, blaming a slowing global economy as well as Brexit uncertainty for the sharp downward revision, and said there was a 25% chance of a recession this year.Related: Bank of England leaves interest rates on hold and cuts growth forecasts as Brexit looms - business live Continue reading...
Plastic waste: UK should not pass buck to world's poorest, say MPs
UK must deal with plastic waste on its own soil, says group calling for export banA cross-party group of MPs is calling for a ban on the export of plastic waste over concerns the UK is passing the buck to the world’s poorest people to clean up its rubbish.MPs have tabled an early day motion to highlight growing concerns first raised by the National Audit Office that millions of tonnes of plastic waste sent abroad for recycling may be being dumped in landfill. Continue reading...
Fightback against the billionaires: the radicals taking on the global elite
When Rutger Bregman and Winnie Byanyima spoke out about taxes at Davos they went viral. They talk with Winners Take All author Anand Giridharadas about why change is comingRutger: Winnie, why did the comments you and I made about billionaires and taxes at Davos go viral? Why do things seem to be changing right now?Winnie: Why did we go viral? I think we said things that people have wanted to hear, especially on a big stage where powerful politicians and companies are represented. And they are rarely said. People go there and speak in coded words and praise themselves and spin out the stats that suit them, but for once we spoke plainly about the challenges that people face.Davos is a Swiss ski resort now more famous for hosting the annual four-day conference for the World Economic Forum. For participants it is a festival of networking. Getting an invitation is a sign you have made it – and the elaborate system of badges reveals your place in the Davos hierarchy.
Only a small, sad nation robs its people of arts and culture | Frances Ryan
Since 2010, £400m has been stripped from these ‘non-essential’ services. It is a short-sighted, dehumanising tragedyAs it emerged Grantham Museum will soon look out on to a bronze statue of Margaret Thatcher, I found myself thinking about the last time I stepped foot in there.Related: A statue of Thatcher? No plinth will be too high for the vandals | Dawn Foster Continue reading...
We must fight to save our dying high streets | Letters
Readers discuss the decline of high streets across the country and suggest what can be done to combat itJohn Harris offers a powerful lament on the decline of our high streets (Our towns have empty spaces where their souls used to be, Journal, 4 February), but the first big blow was not the crash of 2007-08 and the concurrent emergence of the internet as he suggests; out-of-town retail and the opening of the first malls like Brent Cross hastened the slow death of many high streets long before the crash or the rise of Amazon.Around 40 years ago, in the wake of Brixton’s “riots”, big retailers pledged to stay in our poorest areas. A year or so later Marks & Spencer pulled out of Harlesden in Brent, north-west London; Boots and BHS had already gone; Woolworths followed, as did four of our five banks and many of our pubs – the high street’s death came early to disadvantaged communities. Continue reading...
German factory orders tumble; US trade deficit narrows - as it happened
Rolling coverage of the latest economic and financial news, as Germany’s manufacturers struggle again
UK can avoid no-deal Brexit recession, says economic forecaster
Blow to economy could be softened with planning from government and EU, claims the NIESRBritain could avoid slumping into a recession in the aftermath of a no-deal Brexit, according to one of Britain’s leading economics forecasters.The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said the blow to the economy from a disorderly departure from the EU could be softened by contingency plans being put in place by the government and by Brussels. Ministers could also reduce the impact with tax cuts and additional public spending, further limiting the damage. Continue reading...
UK services sector flatlines as Brexit fears slow economy
Survey shows companies starting to cut staff in response to a decline in new businessBritain’s pivotal services sector has posted its weakest performance since the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum amid growing signs that Brexit uncertainty has slowed the economy to stall speed.The latest health check of a sector that accounts for almost 80% of UK output showed services companies starting to reduce staff numbers in response to a decline in new business. Continue reading...
UK economy slumps into stagnation as Brexit uncertainty hits demand - business live
UK service sector barely expanded last month, as political uncertainty wounds the economy
The next financial crisis may come soon –are we all that safe? | Kenneth Rogoff
Toxic politics in the US and UK mean a competent response to a crash is far from certainA decade on from the 2008 global financial crisis, policymakers constantly assure us that the system is much safer today. The giant banks at the core of the meltdown have scaled back their risky bets, and everyone – investors, consumers, and central bankers – is still on high alert. Regulators have worked hard to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the banking industry. But are we really all that safe?Normally, one would say “yes”. The kind of full-blown systemic global financial crisis that erupted a decade ago is not like a typical septennial recession. The much lower frequency of systemic crises reflects two realities: policymakers respond with reforms to prevent their recurrence, and it normally takes investors, consumers, and politicians a long time to forget the last one.Related: UK economy slumps into stagnation as Brexit uncertainty hits demand - business live Continue reading...
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