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The Economist Continental Europe Edition

The Economist Continental Europe Edition 02/24/2018

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.

United Kingdom
The Economist Newspaper Limited - Europe
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8 мин.
the world this week

Politics The Syrian army bombarded Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, killing hundreds of people, according to observers. Meanwhile, pro-government militias moved into the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, where they attempted to join Kurdish forces defending the region from Turkish troops, who entered the area last month. An aide to Binyamin Netanyahu turned state’s witness in a case involving allegations of corruption at Bezeq, an Israeli telecoms giant. It is one of several investigations encircling Mr Netanyahu, who denies wrongdoing. Police also accused a former spokesman for the prime minister of trying to bribe a judge into dropping a fraud case against Mr Netanyahu’s wife. Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as president of South Africa. A new budget reminded voters just what a fiscal mess he has inherited from his predecessor, Jacob…

5 мин.
the meddler

IN THE late 1980s, as Mikhail Gorbachev launched perestroika, Russia made peace with the West. It was possible to believe that each would give up trying to subvert the other with lies and cold-war conspiracy theories. With the indictment of 13 Russians on February 16th by the American special counsel, Robert Mueller, it is clear just how fragile that belief was. Mr Mueller alleges that in 2014 Russia launched a conspiracy against America’s democracy, and he believes he has the evidence to withstand Russian denials and a court’s scrutiny. Perhaps because Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, thought the CIA was fomenting an uprising in Ukraine, the Internet Research Agency, backed by an oligarch with links to the Kremlin, set up a trolling team, payments systems and false identities. Its aim was to…

3 мин.
how to fix south africa

THE new president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has a heck of a mess to clear up (see page 30). Under Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign last week, corruption thrived, the law was mocked and investors fled. Unemployment, including those who have given up hope of finding work, is an alarming 36%. Public debt is soaring: the budget released on February 21st expects it to rise to 56% of GDP by 2023, up from 26% in 2009 when Mr Zuma took over. Economic growth slumped from an average of 5% in the five pre-Zuma years to 1.5% on his watch, barely keeping up with the rise in population. Schools are in chaos, public health is a disgrace and Cape Town is running out of water. Mr Ramaphosa needs…

3 мин.
as black as painted

LEAD has proved to be such a useful, malleable metal that it turns up everywhere, from water pipes to window flashing and printing type. It went into car batteries, and into additives that gave petrol more vroom. It also helped make bright pigments, used to paint walls, metalwork and toys. Yet lead is also a poison, and its ubiquity makes it a pernicious one (see page 47). In the worst cases it causes comas, convulsions and death. More often it acts insidiously. It is a menace to toddlers, who are most likely to ingest contaminated dust and paint chips. Their brains are especially vulnerable. Only years after exposure are the results apparent in lower IQs, behavioural disorders and learning disabilities. The dangers of lead have long been known. America banned it from…

3 мин.
tackling fannie and freddie

IMAGINE how worrying this month’s stockmarket turbulence would have been had taxpayers been on the hook for any losses. Fortunately, the government does not guarantee shares. But there is an asset class that is also vulnerable to changes in sentiment and interest rates and which Uncle Sam does stand firmly behind: housing. In 2017, through entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Treasury guaranteed 70% of all new mortgage lending. The taxpayer’s total exposure to housing is enormous, at over $6trn, or 30% of GDP, but it is hidden off the government’s balance-sheet. Reform is long overdue. Evict or eviscerate them Fannie and Freddie were rescued by taxpayers during the financial crisis. They both recently announced that they need another infusion of public cash. Since taking charge of the firms,…

5 мин.
the right way to do brexit

AS WE went to press, the cabinet was due to enter an extended session in order to hammer out what kind of Brexit is best for Britain. Ministers are at loggerheads over the relationship the country should have with the European Union. Time is short. With just over a year until Britain leaves the EU, leaders of the 27 other member states, who will meet in March, are frustrated. Britons on both sides of the Leave/Remain divide need to plan ahead. All they get is blather and contradictions. The government is groping towards a “hard” Brexit, leaving both the single market and customs union. The prime minister, Theresa May, seems to believe that this is the only way to honour the result of the referendum. On that view, a “soft” exit,…