Business & Finanz
The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 11/04/2017

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 A 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan ploughed a pickup truck into pedestrians along a cycle path in New York, killing at least eight people in a terror attack apparently inspired by Islamic State. The man was detained by police after being shot. Although vehicles have become a familiar weapon of choice for jihadists in Europe, these are the first fatalities from such an attack in America. The first charges were laid in the investigation led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel looking into Russian interference in last year’s election. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, and his business associate, Rick Gates, were charged with conspiracy and money-laundering. Both pleaded not guilty. George Papadopoulos, a junior adviser on foreign policy in the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about…

5 Min.
do social media threaten democracy?

IN 1962 a British political scientist, Bernard Crick, published “In Defence of Politics”. He argued that the art of political horse-trading, far from being shabby, lets people of different beliefs live together in a peaceful, thriving society. In a liberal democracy, nobody gets exactly what he wants, but everyone broadly has the freedom to lead the life he chooses. However, without decent information, civility and conciliation, societies resolve their differences by resorting to coercion. How Crick would have been dismayed by the falsehood and partisanship on display in this week’s Senate committee hearings in Washington. Not long ago social media held out the promise of a more enlightened politics, as accurate information and effortless communication helped good people drive out corruption, bigotry and lies. Yet Facebook acknowledged that before and after…

3 Min.
filtering out the noise

ACCORDING to NATO’s handbook, the preferred tactics in Russian information warfare can be summarised as “dismiss, distort, distract, dismay”. That is a fair description of the response in America when Robert Mueller, the special counsel, unsealed charges against Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and two others. The president’s most enthusiastic supporters denounced Mr Mueller, saying he should be fired or, failing that, redirected to investigate Hillary Clinton instead. Meanwhile, some of the president’s opponents took Mr Mueller’s move as the prelude to impeachment. Both views are wrong and unhelpful. To think clearly about what Mr Mueller is up to, it helps to recall the terms of his appointment. The special counsel has been told by the Justice Department to investigate links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals…

3 Min.
after a month of madness

A SECESSIONIST leader flies into exile, seeking protection after being threatened with a 30-year prison sentence for sedition and rebellion. In the capital the government takes emergency powers, suspending a regional parliament after it illegally declares independence, assuming direct control of its police and civil service. Pinch yourself. This is not some poor, decrepit country but, incredibly, a modern western European democracy—Spain. Nobody emerges well from the sorry tale of arrogance, inflexibility and even violence in Catalonia (see page 25). Although the immediate crisis seems, thankfully, to be over, the impact of the October madness will be felt for years to come. Nearly 2,000 businesses have moved their headquarters out of Barcelona and other Catalan cities. For many people, Spanish politics has become harsher and more divisive than at any time…

3 Min.
modi blues

THE change in mood is remarkable. Earlier this year Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, had an air of invincibility. His government, although more than halfway into its five-year term, seemed more popular than ever. In March his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the most lopsided electoral victory since the 1970s in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. In July he launched a reform that had eluded his predecessors for decades: a national goods-and-services tax (GST). Later that month he persuaded an ally of the main opposition party, Congress, to defect to the BJP’s camp, securing control of yet another state government. Until recently another landslide at the next national election in 2019 seemed inevitable. The BJP is still likely to win, but Mr Modi is losing his sheen—and for that,…

3 Min.
prescription debate

AMERICA has a competition problem. Market concentration has risen in more than three-quarters of industries since the late 1990s. Concentration has led to higher profits and higher returns for shareholders at the expense of consumers. Antitrust authorities have become more supine: between 1970 and 1999, regulators brought an average of 16 cases a year in order to prevent big firms from becoming even bigger; between 2000 and 2014, that number fell below three. Health care is one of the industries that has been marked by bouts of consolidation. The annual number of hospital mergers in America doubled between 2005 and 2015; the national market share of the four largest insurers went from 74% in 2006 to 83% in 2014. Trustbusters have recently showed more teeth. In February a federal judge blocked…