Business & Finanz
The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition January 18, 2020

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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9 Min.
the world this week

Politics After three days of covering up the cause of the crash of a Ukrainian airliner near Tehran, the Iranian armed forces admitted that they mistook the plane for an incoming missile and shot it down, killing all 176 people on board. Thousands of Iranians demonstrated against the government’s handling of the accident. President Hassan Rouhani, who said he was also lied to, called for a full investigation. Britain, France and Germany triggered the dispute mechanism in a deal that is meant to curb Iran’s nuclear programme. The move was prompted by Iran’s gradual lifting of limits on its production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make energy or a bomb. Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, called for a new “Trump deal” to replace the old agreement. Mr Rouhani dismissed…

5 Min.
the horrible housing blunder

ECONOMIES CAN suffer both sudden crashes and chronic diseases. Housing markets in the rich world have caused both types of problem. A trillion dollars of dud mortgages blew up the financial system in 2007-08. But just as pernicious is the creeping dysfunction that housing has created over decades: vibrant cities without space to grow; ageing homeowners sitting in half-empty homes who are keen to protect their view; and a generation of young people who cannot easily afford to rent or buy and think capitalism has let them down. As our special report this week explains, much of the blame lies with warped housing policies that date back to the second world war and which are intertwined with an infatuation with home ownership. They have caused one of the rich world’s…

3 Min.
sorry doesn’t cut it

NOT SINCE the Ashura holiday, which some Shias mark by whipping themselves, had Iran witnessed so much self-flagellation. After three days of covering up the cause of the crash of a Ukrainian airliner near Tehran on January 8th, Iran’s leaders admitted that their own armed forces had mistaken the plane for an incoming cruise missile and shot it down, killing all 176 people on board. Hossein Salami, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said he was sorrier than he had ever been in his life and wished he had died on the plane himself. Coming from someone else, such remorse might have soothed the public. But this is Iran, where only two months ago the state killed hundreds of protesters. After a pause to berate America for killing…

3 Min.
glued to the throne

WHAT IS VLADIMIR PUTIN playing at? On January 15th Russia’s president took Kremlin-watchers by surprise. In his state-of-the-union speech, he announced a radical overhaul of the Russian constitution and a referendum on its proposed (still very unclear) terms. This bombshell was immediately followed by another. The prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, resigned along with the entire cabinet. As The Economist went to press, the reasons for Mr Medvedev’s ejection and replacement by an obscure technocrat remained a riddle wrapped in a mystery. To understand what might be going on, start with a simple fact. In the past 20 years Mr Putin’s regime has killed too many people, and misappropriated too many billions, to make it plausible that he would ever voluntarily give up effective power. Under the current constitution he cannot run…

4 Min.
spooked by sanctions

ON JANUARY 15TH America and China signed the first phase of a trade deal that eases tensions, with China agreeing to buy an additional $200bn of American products over two years. It may look as if peace is breaking out in global economic relations, but beneath the surface the tectonic plates of commerce are shifting (see Briefing). America’s financial muscle-flexing—through the use of sanctions, tariffs and bans on blacklisted firms—has not escaped the attention of other countries, which have been intensifying efforts to avoid the global dollar-based financial plumbing. Though these could herald a more balanced international monetary system, they also carry risks for the world economy. The Trump administration has turned its financial might on not only China but also Iran, Russia and a host of others—including even allies such…

3 Min.
back to basics

FOR SOME people it starts with an injury: a skiing accident or a car crash. For others it starts with something seemingly innocuous, like picking up a pair of socks from the floor. But for most, back pain is as mysterious as it is excruciating. Some 85% of chronic sufferers have what doctors call “non-specific” back pain, meaning it has no clear physical cause. In most countries, whether rich or poor, back pain is the leading cause of disability, measured by the number of years lived in poor health (see Briefing). It often strikes people in middle age and keeps them wincing, on and off, for the rest of their lives. Many lose their jobs, either because they feel physically unable to work or because they become depressed. Back pain is…