Business & Finanz
The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 12/16/2017

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 The Democrats’ Doug Jones won an election for a Senate seat in Alabama, a stunning upset for the Republicans in a state that Donald Trump carried in last year’s presidential race by almost 30 percentage points. Roy Moore, the Republican candidate, had a record of courting controversy long before he faced allegations of courting and harassing teenagers. Mr Trump tweeted that he always knew Mr Moore could not win (having campaigned for him). The Republicans made progress in reconciling the House and Senate versions of the tax bill. One of the remaining sticking points is making sure the legislation does not contravene the Senate’s Byrd rule, which does not allow “extraneous” spending to add to the deficit beyond a decade. The party wants to get the bill on Mr Trump’s desk…

4 Min.
sharp power

WHEN a rising power challenges an incumbent one, war often follows. That prospect, known as the Thucydides trap after the Greek historian who first described it, looms over relations between China and the West, particularly America. So, increasingly, does a more insidious confrontation. Even if China does not seek to conquer foreign lands, many people fear that it seeks to conquer foreign minds. Australia was the first to raise a red flag about China’s tactics. On December 5th allegations that China has been interfering in Australian politics, universities and publishing led the government to propose new laws to tackle “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated” foreign efforts to influence lawmakers (see page 18). This week an Australian senator resigned over accusations that, as an opposition spokesman, he took money from China and argued…

5 Min.
can the trump boom last?

THERE is often more fakery than truth in a tweet from President Donald Trump. But on one subject he is broadly right. America’s economy is in good shape. Business confidence is high. Jobs are plentiful. Last month non-farm companies added 228,000 workers to their payrolls. The unemployment rate is 4.1%, the lowest figure for more than a decade. The availability of jobs is drawing more of the working-age population into the labour force. Wages are growing in real terms with some of the biggest gains going to low-paid workers. Mr Trump over-eggs things, of course. He claims each good jobs report and each new peak in the S&P 500 as his own achievement. In fact, he was lucky in his inheritance. The market has risen by 25% since his election, but…

3 Min.
a bit on the side

FINANCIAL markets rarely miss opportunities to make money. That is as true of cryptocurrencies as anything else. Trading in bitcoin futures began on the Chicago Board Options Exchange this week; CME Group will launch its own futures on December 18th (see page 65). That has given a further boost to the digital currency’s price, which is up by 1,550% this year. Such phenomenal returns are drawing in waves of speculative money. But is there a fundamental case to invest in bitcoin? The usual tools of finance are no guide. An equity is a claim on the assets and the profits of a firm; a bond entitles the investor to a series of interest payments and repayment on maturity. Bitcoin brings no cashflows to the owner; the only return will come via…

3 Min.
abuse of power

WINTER is coming to America. That simple statement of fact ought not to send shivers down policymakers’ spines. But Rick Perry, the energy secretary, sees it as a call to arms. To defend Americans from blizzards, polar vortices and other treacherous weather which, he says, threatens the country’s electricity grid, he proposes throwing a multi-billion-dollar lifeline to struggling coal-fired and nuclear plants if they can keep emergency fuel on standby for 90 days. On December 8th the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was given a 30-day grace period to decide whether to support Mr Perry’s plan. It should refuse to do so, or substantially amend it. His scheme is a confection of bad policy, faulty economics and thinly disguised patronage. But it also raises a genuinely difficult question: how to keep…

3 Min.
don’t take two

ORIGINALITY is hardly the hallmark of today’s film industry. The biggest film of 2017 at the American box office is a remake of “Beauty and the Beast”; it will be surpassed by “The Last Jedi”, which opens this week and is the squillionth episode of the Star Wars saga. The ten highest-grossing films in Hollywood this year are all sequels or remakes. As the film industry struggles to reverse a decline in box-office receipts (see page 58), it will keep returning to the comfort of the familiar. Franchises like Star Wars will steamroller on. Remakes are trickier. Well over 100 are thought to be in the works, from “Private Benjamin” to “Fantastic Voyage”. Some will get a 2018 twist: the mark in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, a 1980s comedy about two con…