Business & Finanz
The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 07/22/2017

The Economist is the premier source for the analysis of world business and current affairs, providing authoritative insight and opinion on international news, world politics, business, finance, science and technology, as well as overviews of cultural trends and regular Special reports on industries and countries.

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The Economist Newspaper Limited - Europe
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8 Min.
the world this week

Politics In one of the most stunning failures of an American governing party to get its signature legislation passed in Congress, the Republican health-care bill in the Senate stalled, after more Republican senators said they would not support it. The party has spent seven years vowing to overturn and replace Obamacare with its own health-care plan. Donald Trump’s call for his party to go ahead and repeal Obamacare anyway was met with little enthusiasm. The Democrats urged the Republicans to co-operate with them on fixing Obamacare’s flaws. John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Mr McCain is a widely respected senator on both sides of the aisle. The 80-year-old Republican, who ran as the party’s presidential candidate against Barack Obama in 2008, is consulting with doctors about when he can return…

5 Min.
facing up to brexit

CRISIS? What crisis? So many have been triggered in Britain by the vote a year ago to leave the European Union that it is hard to keep track. Just last month Theresa May was reduced from unassailable iron lady to just-about-managing minority prime minister. Her cabinet is engaged in open warfare as rivals position themselves to replace her. The Labour Party, which has been taken over by a hard-left admirer of Hugo Chávez, is ahead in the polls. Meanwhile a neurotic pro-Brexit press shrieks that anyone who voices doubts about the country’s direction is an unpatriotic traitor. Britain is having a very public nervous breakdown. The chaos at the heart of government hardly bodes well for the exit negotiations with the EU, which turned to detailed matters this week and need…

5 Min.
brain gains

IN 1953 B.F. Skinner visited his daughter’s maths class. The Harvard psychologist found every pupil learning the same topic in the same way at the same speed. A few days later he built his first “teaching machine”, which let children tackle questions at their own pace. By the mid-1960s similar gizmos were being flogged by door-to-door salesmen. Within a few years, though, enthusiasm for them had fizzled out. Since then education technology (edtech) has repeated the cycle of hype and flop, even as computers have reshaped almost every other part of life. One reason is the conservatism of teachers and their unions. But another is that the brain-stretching potential of edtech has remained unproven. Today, however, Skinner’s heirs are forcing the sceptics to think again (see page 16). Backed by billionaire techies…

3 Min.
revive, don’t repeal

ONLY a madman would build America’s healthcare system from scratch. Its mix of private insurance, government-provided care and endless regulations is complicated, expensive and fails many vulnerable Americans. The Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama’s health-care law, is part of the mess. Yet those who passed it knew it was a grubby compromise. In America’s divided government, they reasoned, politicians must build on what already exists. Following the travails this week of their latest attempts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, Republicans must come to a similar realisation (see page 33). They are too divided to sweep away the status quo. Rand Paul, one of four senators who threatened to bring down the Senate bill, compared its continuation of parts of Obamacare to “German national socialism”. He wants to get government out of…

3 Min.
unnatural selection

THE 40-year process of reforming China’s economy has seen occasional retreats. But the general trajectory has seemed plain enough: towards a greater role for market forces. Since the early 1980s, private business has grown far faster and been much more profitable than the state sector. Back then state companies were responsible for roughly four-fifths of output; now they account for less than a fifth. President Xi Jinping’s commitment in 2013 to give market forces “a decisive role” in allocating resources seemed to presage more of the same. Yet the retreat of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has stalled, and in some respects gone into reverse. China still has more than 150,000 SOEs. Their share of industrial assets hovers stubbornly near 40%. They account for about half of bank credit, and when the economy…

3 Min.
why monitors matter

NO ONE batted an eyelid earlier this year when Turkmenistan’s strongman, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, was “re-elected” with nearly 98% of the vote. Why, one wonders, did he bother with an election at all? Yet in a growing number of fragile new democracies, especially in Africa, where similarly absurd results were once common, elections have become genuine. Since 1991 incumbent governments or leaders have been ousted at the ballot box at least 45 times, most recently in Nigeria, Ghana, the Gambia and Lesotho. Nerves still jangle at election time, especially when the outcome is likely to be close, patronage and corruption are pervasive, and rigging and violence have blighted previous ballots. A fraudulent election can tarnish a country’s reputation, threaten its stability, and deter investment and aid. Kenya, whose voters go to the polls…