Brexit, UK

If the Church of England was once the Tory party at prayer, then the nation’s shotgun-owning farmers were the party’s armed wing. I grew up on a farm in the Yorkshire Dales and must have been about 18 before I met someone who didn’t identify as TBC (True Blue Conservative). Ours was one of the safest Tory seats in the country, with the local MP being Leon Brittan and then William Hague. And Margaret Thatcher was considered a hero in our ‘community’ not because of the Falklands war or her defeat of Arthur Scargill but because she liked to greet the dawn by listening to Farming Today on Radio 4 (true).

But the Brexit debate is leaving our True Blue farmers deeply conflicted. On the one hand, without EU subsidies, many of them would go out of business. On the other, their Tory instincts tell them that subsidies are a socialist idea, the opposite of free trade, and therefore plain wrong. Until now, their approach has been to avoid examining their consciences too closely, because it’s not their fault if their counterparts in other EU countries, especially France, represent such an aggressive and powerful lobby.

And it’s not their fault either that a staggering 40 per cent of the EU budget is spunked away on the Common Agricultural Policy, that ingenious device for reducing Europe’s reliance on imported food and drink by first overproducing — those notorious grain mountains and wine lakes — and then underproducing: the equally notorious ‘set aside’ of land, in which farmers were paid not to farm. David Cameron tried to include reform of the CAP in his ‘new settlement’ the other day, but the other EU leaders just stared at him as if he were mad. Some things are sacrosanct.

It’s not even the farmers’ fault that they need subsidies to survive — it’s the fault of Britain’s supermarkets, which fight for market share by keeping food prices artificially low. How do they manage that? They simply pass on the cost to the farmers. A litre of milk, for example, costs a farmer about 30p to produce, but the supermarkets pay him (it’s usually a him) an average of 23p. This is why the number of dairy farmers has halved in the past decade, from 20,000 to 10,000, and why 2,000 more are expected to go bust this year.

Source:http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/how-brexit-would-affect-british-farmers/

Envoyé de mon iPad

Face à la menace de « Brexit », la livre sterling s’effondre

source:Sud -Ouest

La livre britannique est tombée lundi à son niveau le plus faible en près de sept ans face au dollar, plombée par le ralliement de l’influent maire de Londres Boris Johnson aux partisans de la sortie du Royaume-Uni de l’Union européenne (UE).

Vers 13h40, la livre a atteint 1,4058 dollar, son niveau le plus faible depuis mi-mars 2009, enfonçant ainsi un précédent plus bas datant de fin janvier. 
La livre a peiné par la suite à se reprendre, alors qu’elle valait encore 1,4392 dollar vendredi soir.

Face à l’euro, la livre sterling a également dévissé, baissant à 77,98 pence pour un euro vers 16 heures contre 77,35 pence vendredi soir. 
La position du maire de Londres dans la balance
Le charismatique maire de Londres, le député conservateur Boris Johnson, a annoncé dimanche qu’il ferait campagne pour la sortie du Royaume-Uni de l’UE, un revers pour le Premier ministre David Cameron quatre mois avant le référendum sur la question.
« Un tel face à face entre le Premier ministre et le maire de Londres (pourtant du même parti) va provoquer des grondements considérables dans le monde des investisseurs et c’est pour cela qu’ils quittent tous la livre pour chercher la sécurité relative que représente à leurs yeux le dollar, en tout cas pour le moment », a observé Augustin Eden, analyste chez Accendo Markets. 

Cameron tente de convaincre

« Quitter l’Europe menacerait notre sécurité économique et nationale », a par ailleurs averti David Cameron, qui appelle les Britanniques à voter pour le maintien dans l’Union lors du référendum du 23 juin.

Ceux qui prônent une sortie n’ont à offrir que « des risques dans un temps d’incertitude, un saut dans l’inconnu », a-t-il ajouté.

« Quand il s’agit des emplois des gens, on ne peut pas juste dire tout ira bien », a-t-il ajouté, soulignant qu’il fallait bien réfléchir aux conséquences d’un Brexit.

Los usos inconfesables del billete de 500 euros

source:http://elpais.com/m/economia/2016/02/12/actualidad/1455299904_285686.html

Si un 56% de los ciudadanos europeos nunca ha visto un billete de 500 euros, según un estudio del Banco Central Europeo (BCE), si los empresarios no lo consideran interesante para las transacciones económicas y se imponen cada vez más los medios de pago electrónico entre los consumidores, ¿qué sentido puede tener que el 30% del valor de los euros en circulación sean billetes de tan alto valor? Esta pregunta permanece sin respuesta desde el mismo momento en el que nació la moneda europea, hace ya 14 años. Casi tres lustros de advertencias de organismos antifraude y cuerpos policiales habían sido menospreciados por los rectores de tan alta institución bancaria, que ahora parece dispuesta a estudiar su posible eliminación. Y es que también los terroristas yihadistas aprecian las ventajas de este billete.

Se da por aceptado que el BCE fue sensible a una petición de países como Alemania, Holanda y Austria, que reclamaban un billete de alto valor porque era parte de su cultura monetaria. Nació así el billete de 500 euros, solo superado en el mundo por el de 1.000 francos suizos (909 euros) y el de 10.000 dólares de Singapur (66.357 euros). Ya en los albores de su nacimiento (2002) algunas voces pronosticaron que se convertiría en una sabrosa divisa para los delincuentes. No hubo que dejar transcurrir demasiado tiempo para detectar su uso extensivo entre los narcotraficantes colombianos. Había alguna razón de peso: un millón de euros en billetes de 500 pesan 2,2 kilos, ocupan un volumen aproximado de tres litros y pueden caber en un bolso mediano.

Las unidades policiales fueron sumando experiencias. En el año 2006, tras el descubrimiento de una enorme estafa financiera en España (Fórum Filatético y Afinsa) con cientos de miles de afectados, la policía entró en el chalé de uno de los imputados y, además de una discoteca en casa y algunas obras de arte, descubrió tras un falso tabique una bolsa con 12 millones de euros en billetes de 500. Aquello fue un récord, pero no el único. En Portugal, la detención de un general angoleño que había creado una fundación en Lisboa con intenciones poco claras, permitió encontrar en uno de sus apartamentos un paquete con ocho millones, naturalmente en billetes de 500. Unas tras otras se sucedían operaciones con resultados parecidos, hasta la más reciente operación Emperador, también en España, dirigida por el chino Gao Ping, donde según la fiscalía se blanquearon entre 800 y 1.200 millones de euros en cuatro años. La primera fase del lavado era muy sencilla: los chinos sacaban dinero de España en sus viajes a China para visitar a la familia.

Obama’s Budget Seeks to Ease Economic Fears for U.S. Workers

WASHINGTON — At the center of the final budget of President Obama’s term is a concession that the major macroeconomic trends of the past two generations — particularly the loss of benefits that once went with formal employment relationships — are largely irreversible.
In laying out proposals from improving access to 401(k) plans to supplementing the incomes of workers who accept lower wages after losing jobs, the president laid out a clear, if limited, view of government’s role in the labor market. Inside the budget is a detailed agenda to ease the anxieties of workers weighed down by job insecurity and income volatility.

Those anxieties are among the factors that propelled two populist candidates to victory in the New Hampshire presidential primaries on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama’s approach has clear advantages at a moment when Republicans control both chambers of Congress, and when the business community has made clear its opposition to a greater government role in the economy.

But it falls well short of the crusading vision of government intervention ascendant in the Democratic Party through the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won the party’s New Hampshire primary. He has proposed an increase in Social Security benefits and support for more than 13 million jobs by spending $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years.

The proposed expansion of Social Security alone would cost more than $100 billion over 10 years, then rise substantially after that.

“These are policies that broadly accept the extent to which risks have shifted onto working people and they try to mitigate the impact of those risks,” Jared Bernstein, a former top economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., said about the president’s proposals. “They have not viewed it as their job to try to change the underlying shifts in risks.”

With the left invigorated by the campaign to succeed Mr. Obama, such assurances may fall flat with wide swaths of Democrats.

“The president has some good messaging proposals that would have a positive impact,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grass-roots organizing group that supports Mr. Sanders. “But a new Democratic president winning on something like a trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal would reset the debate.”

Perhaps no set of budgetary ideas better illustrates the president’s limited approach than those relating to worker pensions, which would cost about $18 billion over the next decade. The president is proposing a variety of changes, including making it easier for small-business employees to buy into pooled 401(k) plans, which typically have lower costs than plans offered only to employees of a single small business.

Mr. Obama also wants to encourage more employers to automatically enroll workers in 401(k) programs and allow them to opt out, which yields greater participation and retirement savings than simply offering plans to those who sign up.

But the proposals are a far cry from resurrecting the so-called defined benefit model that reigned during the decades after World War II, said Teresa Ghilarducci, who studies pension systems at the New School for Social Research. She has proposed a system of portable individual accounts in which contributions are pooled, workers are guaranteed a minimum 2 percent rate of return, and the benefits are doled out annually after retirement so that workers do not prematurely run down their savings.

Likewise, the wage insurance proposal would provide many former manufacturing workers who settle for lower-paying service jobs with a wage supplement equivalent to half the difference between their current and previous annual pay. That supplement would total up to $10,000 per worker over two years.

The proposal is embedded in a broader overhaul of the unemployment insurance system, which would ensure that all states offer at least 26 weeks of benefits (nine currently do not), extend benefits to part-time workers and others left out of the current system, and automatically provide up to a year’s worth of additional benefits in states where the unemployment rate exceeds a series of thresholds.

Still, for manufacturing workers, those efforts will seem vastly inferior to rebuilding the domestic manufacturing base, something the budget only feints at through small investments in manufacturing research and development and subsidies to help small manufacturers scale up operations. (The budget does propose a major investment in clean-transportation research.)

“To me it’s kind of a salve, an ointment for the consequences of trade policy and globalization,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group jointly financed by industry and labor.

But, he said, bringing back high-paying manufacturing would require large investments and tax benefits to encourage businesses to bring overseas jobs back, something the budget finances only modestly, and the kind of aggressive trade enforcement for which the administration has shown little appetite. (It says it would create disincentives for offshoring by changing how it taxes foreign profits.)

To be sure, the White House is not averse to federal job creation. The budget proposes $300 billion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years. A study by researchers at Duke University suggests that this level could directly and indirectly generate a few hundred thousand jobs, although only about 10 percent of those would be in manufacturing.

The moderation of many of the president’s budget proposals for workers and the economy reflect the White House belief that, even at this late date in the administration, it may be able to strike a handful of deals with Republican leaders in Congress.

Wage support, in principle, could win Republican support, said Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the former domestic policy director for Mitt Romney.

“The idea of targeting financial support to people who, especially later in their careers, are choosing between going back to a lower-wage job, or potentially ending up on disability or something else — it’s a win-win to have them in the work force,” he said.

That does not entirely explain the moderation. In the same budget, the president embraced a $10-per-barrel tax on oil. That effort makes sense only as a way of shifting the debate on climate policy and infrastructure, given its dead-on-arrival prospects.

But Mr. Obama may have accommodated his policies to the tectonic shifts in the economy in recent decades because he genuinely believes it can be futile to resist.

As Seth D. Harris, a former deputy secretary of labor under Mr. Obama, put it: “These proposals make sense considering the trajectory of the president’s agenda from 2008 until today. For him to all of a sudden become Bernie Sanders would be inconsistent with the larger narrative of his presidency.”

Source:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/us/politics/obamas-budget-seeks-to-ease-economic-fears-for-us-workers.html?_r=0