Category: Political Economy

Some thoughts on Dijsselbloem’s ‘liquor and women’ intervention

Last week, I wrote how the Labour Party in the Netherlands suffered a historic defeat in parliamentary elections because voters questioned their priorities – and how this is emblematic of Western social democratic parties everywhere. And as if to prove my point, Dutch finance minister and Eurogroup leader Jeroen Dijsselbloem has produced an analogy on fiscal spending about ‘liquor and women’ that has outraged many. Let me put his comments in the proper context here to make a wider point about the European Union.

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Will Brexit’s trigger, now set for 29 March, mean recession?

Will Brexit’s trigger, now set for 29 March, mean recession?

British Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger her country’s exit from the EU on 29 March, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister has confirmed. Afterwards, the clock will be ticking, as the UK will have two years to wind up any negotiations for exit before the country’s membership ends on 29 March 2019 after 46 years. The biggest questions are what this means for the UK economy, the EU economy and whether it is a precedent others will want to follow. Some thoughts below

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Some thoughts on systematic central bank policy errors

A recent post by Matthew Klein on central banks over at FT Alphaville that dovetails with some of the themes I have been writing about here at Credit Writedowns for the past decades is what preciputated this post. Let me summarize my thesis and tell you why it matters. Here are the bullet points – focused here mostly on the US.

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Great risk to Turkey as relations with Germany sour

Turkey is in the middle of a major political row with Germany. In the wake of the attempted coup d’tat last year, Turkish President Erdogan wants to change its constitution to give the President more power. And because the likely vote will be close and so many Turks live in Germany and the Netherlands, Erdogan’s allies want to campaign in those countries.

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The US trade deficit is at a five-year high

This morning data from the US Commerce Department showed the US trade deficit in January at its highest level since March 2012. The numbers were not unexpected as the $48.5 billion deficit was bang on economist estimates.

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Underconsumption and the end of excess demand

Yesterday’s post on the failure of Japan’s monetary policy experiment drew some favourable commentary from a prominent macroeconomist that I want to run by you. The gist of his insight is that we have long been living in an age of an excess supply which is only now being made plain. Let me run the tenor of his comments by you and make some additional ones of my own.

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What will Trump say about Chinese manipulation at the SOTU address?

What will Trump say about Chinese manipulation at the SOTU address?

Tonight US President Donald Trump is due to give his first state of the union address. From a foreign policy perspective, the big item on the table is Russia. But from an economic perspective, the country we meed to be thinking about is China. Here’s why.

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Germany leading by example

Germany leading by example

Here’s an example of Germany’s leading by example on fiscal policy.

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Is Trump just a conventional politician who uses over-the-top bluster?

Forget about the executive orders and Trump press conferences. This is all for show – reality TV, if you will. Concentrate instead on what actually happens, what policies are actually implemented and what impact this is going to have on the economy.

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Why the election timetable favours the Five Star Movement in Italy

Yesterday, I was talking to a veteran journalist based in Rome. He remarked that youth unemployment in southern Italy was 60% and that this was one of the biggest problems to deal with politically. The spectre of strong, able-bodied young men sitting idle is always something that should fill any political system with dread – because it is exactly those same young men who always lead violent protests or revolution, no matter where in the world.

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The negotiations over Greece aren’t about Greece

Earlier today, I was listening to an interview with IMF head Christine Lagarde dance around the issue of the unsustainability of Greece’s debt load. And she said something very telling. She said that debt haircuts were not on the table but that maturity extensions and interest rate reductions were, but only AFTER Greece implemented reforms demanded by the Troika.

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Not All Germans Love The Euro These Days

Not All Germans Love The Euro These Days

Bloomberg View had a good column today on the popularity of the European single currency. The article shows how the euro has gone from being unloved in Germany at introduction in 2002 to well accepted, while the opposite has happened in Italy and France. But behind the aggregates, deep fissures lie that tell a different story. Let me start the conversation on that story here.

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