Business & Finanz
The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 09/30/2017

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 Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow women to drive. The kingdom’s influential Islamic clerics had long insisted that the ban on female drivers was needed to stop wives from committing adultery. This infuriated Saudi women, some of whom would like to drive to work. Muhammad bin Salman, the powerful crown prince, sided with the women. But they still need a male guardian’s permission to travel or marry. The Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted to secede from Iraq in a non-binding referendum. The Iraqi prime minister had called for the vote to be cancelled. Western governments were divided, but Kurdish leaders said it gives them a mandate to start negotiations with Baghdad. The re-run of Kenya’s annulled presidential election was pushed back by nine days, to October 26th, after the election…

5 Min.
europe’s new order

WHO leads Europe? At the start of this year, the answer was obvious. Angela Merkel was trundling unstoppably towards a fourth election win, while Britain was out, Italy down and stagnating France gripped by the fear that Marine Le Pen might become the Gallic Donald Trump. This week, it all looks very different. Mrs Merkel won her election on September 24th, but with such a reduced tally of votes and seats that she is a diminished figure (see page 25). Germany faces months of tricky three-way coalition talks. Some 6m voters backed a xenophobic right-wing party, many of them in protest at Mrs Merkel’s refugee policies. Having had no seats, Alternative for Germany, a disruptive and polarising force, is now the Bundestag’s third largest party. Yet west of the Rhine, with a…

3 Min.
driving reform

CLERICS in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have long struggled to justify the kingdom’s decades-old ban on women driving. Often they resorted to strange excuses. Some said women were too stupid to drive. Some worried that male drivers might be dangerously distracted by female ones, or that mobility would make it easier for wives to commit adultery. One suggested that driving damages the ovaries. None was able to cite a verse in the Koran to justify barring women from the wheel, because there isn’t one. On the contrary, reformers note, in the early days of the faith women rode donkeys, unsupervised, without bringing death and destruction. So the kingdom’s decision on September 26th to lift the ban is as welcome as it is overdue. It will give Saudi women a…

3 Min.
abe’s road

JAPAN’S economy has been so sickly for so long that many have stopped looking for signs of recovery. And yet, on close examination, they are there. Years of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus seem to be having some effect. Unemployment is below 3%—the lowest rate in 23 years—and wages are rising, at least for casual workers. Prices are creeping up, too, albeit by much less than the Bank of Japan’s 2% inflation target. To outsiders, this may sound underwhelming. But for a country that has suffered from almost 30 years of on-and-off recession and deflation, it holds out the prospect of deliverance. The past 18 months of modest expansion constitute the longest stretch of uninterrupted growth in more than ten years. The architect of this semi-revival, Shinzo Abe, has been prime…

4 Min.
day of the mifid—the sequel

LIKE the clubs it sometimes resembles, the financial industry tends to discriminate against non-members—such as bank depositors, retail investors and small firms. The most pervasive form of discrimination is opacity: it is nearly impossible, say, for an average investor to know how much of the money in his pension pot is lost in transaction costs. As well as helping institutions milk their clients, opaque markets can cause or exacerbate crises when investors flee risks they cannot assess; witness the fate of mortgage-backed securities in 2007-08. So it is welcome that much post-crisis financial regulation aims to make markets more transparent. That was true both of the Dodd-Frank reforms in America and a huge new law in the European Union. As with Dodd-Frank, however, the benefits of Europe’s reform risk being…

3 Min.
take back control

OWNERSHIP used to be about as straightforward as writing a cheque. If you bought something, you owned it. If it broke, you fixed it. If you no longer wanted it, you sold it or chucked it away. Some firms found tricks to muscle in on the aftermarket, using warranties, authorised repair shops, and strategies such as selling cheap printers and expensive ink. But these ways of squeezing out more profit did not challenge the nature of what it means to be an owner. In the digital age ownership has become more slippery. Just ask Tesla drivers, who have learned that Elon Musk forbids them from using their electric vehicles to work for ride-hailing firms, such as Uber. Or owners of John Deere tractors, who are “recommended” not to tinker with the…