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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 05/19/2018

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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8 min.
the world this week

Politics Tens of thousands of Palestinians protested along the border between Gaza and Israel to highlight their various grievances. Israeli soldiers shot and killed about 60, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Some had attempted to breach the border fence; others threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli side. Most of the protesters, however, were unarmed. On the same day as the violence, America opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, recognising the contested city as Israel’s capital. Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said it was a “great day for peace”. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, described the embassy as a “US settlement outpost”. A coalition led by Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric who once urged attacks on American troops, won Iraq’s parliamentary election, according to preliminary results. His allies promised to tackle corruption…

5 min.
there is a better way

GAZA is a human rubbish-heap that everyone would rather ignore. Neither Israel, nor Egypt, nor even the Palestinian Authority (PA) wants to take responsibility for it. Sometimes the poison gets out—when, say, rockets or other attacks provoke a fully fledged war. And then the world is forced to take note. Such a moment came on May 14th. Tens of thousands of Palestinians massed near Gaza’s border fence, threatening to “return” to the lands their forefathers’ lost when Israel was created in 1948. Israeli soldiers killed about 60 protesters—the bloodiest day in Gaza since the war in 2014 (see Briefing). In a surreal split-screen moment, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, was exulting over the opening of America’s embassy in Jerusalem, calling it a “great day for peace”. Many countries have denounced Israel;…

3 min.
the price is wrong

POPULISTS often put their finger on problems that irk their countrymen. They also tend to come up with inadequate solutions to them. So it is with President Donald Trump’s plan, unveiled on May 11th, to lower the price of prescription drugs. Drugs are more expensive in America than anywhere else. A month’s supply of Harvoni, which cures hepatitis C, costs $32,114 in America and $16,861 in Switzerland. Some cancer drugs can cost more than $150,000 a year. Mr Trump campaigned on a promise to reduce prices. He suggested that he would make it easier to import drugs from abroad and would force drug companies to lower prices for Americans, using the state’s bargaining power to save $300bn a year—preposterous, given that this is almost the entire sum the government spends on…

3 min.
fiddling before rome burns

ITALY has gone without a government for more than two months. That is no great shock. At elections on March 4th, Italians deserted mainstream parties and backed radical populist ones whose leaders have never had to haggle to form a coalition. The surprise has been the belated reaction of the financial markets, which this week suddenly woke up to the looming threat. The men who, as The Economist went to press, were on the verge of taking power in Italy cannot be trusted to run it. One reason for the delay—and for general concern—is that the populist parties that won the most votes have conflicting policies. The far-right Northern League promised a flat tax rate of 15%, which would lower revenues. The Five Star Movement (M5S), which claims to transcend left-right…

4 min.
about that big stick

WHAT is America’s greatest source of power? Its military might is unparalleled. Its market is vast. Alongside these assets stands the dollar. The world depends on America’s currency, and hence on access to dollar payments systems and the banks America has effective control over. Greenbacks fuel trade everywhere. On average, countries’ dollar imports are worth five times what they buy from America. More than half of all global cross-border debt is dollar-denominated. Dollars make up nearly two-thirds of central-bank reserves. That gives the Treasury a veto over much of global commerce. Most presidents have used the dollar-weapon sparingly. In recent weeks the Trump administration has imposed tough financial sanctions against Russia. Having withdrawn from the nuclear deal, America is acting against Iran and European firms that trade with it. In 2017…

3 min.
restrain the restraints

THE non-compete clause has been causing trouble for over 600 years. In 1414 an English court heard the case of John Dyer, an apprentice whose master had stopped him from plying his trade for six months. The judge was having none of it. “The contract is contrary to common law,” he ruled. Individuals should be free to pursue the livelihood of their choice. That principle has been diluted in the intervening centuries—most countries give businesses some leeway to use non-compete clauses, whereby workers promise not to start or join firms that go head-to-head with their ex-employer. But their prevalence in America is striking (see Finance section). According to a study by the Treasury in 2016, almost 20% of American workers are bound by a non-compete agreement, and almost 40% have been…