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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

EU Heading For Bigger Troubles


Opinion: Amid Brexit debacle, another EU crisis emerges: Southern Europe



The British vote to leave the European Union has begun to take a political and economic toll on the Continent.
Italy’s biggest banks, already weighed down by a crushing amount of bad debt, saw the value of their shares and stocks tumble in the referendum’s wake. Spain and Portugal, meanwhile, have failed to reduce their national deficits enough to meet EU targets, drawing the ire of Northern European countries that fear Britain’s departure will boost the influence of Southern Europe’s struggling states.
Neither of these problems is new for Europe, long split between north and south, but both will become more important — and more divisive — as Britain prepares to exit the union. To hold the crumbling bloc together, European officials will try to broker compromises as best they can, trading long-term solutions for temporary stability on the Continent.

Ads offering work visas abroad are peppered across hoardings, and billboards offer loans for people in "urgent need." Shuttered car-parts factories flank the highway to the high-speed train station. In the center, a closed wedding-photograph studio has a notice in the window that reads: "Owner is going overseas. Shop for sale."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke at a meeting in Tokyo he wants to speed up the nation’s exit from deflation, underscoring his commitment to implementing fresh economic stimulus.

European Union finance ministers said Tuesday that Spain and Portugal didn’t take enough action to reduce their 2015 budget deficits, setting in motion a process that can lead to financial sanctions and the freezing of EU funds for the two Iberian countries.

But the process of letting companies fail will be painful and risky. China is sitting on the world’s largest pile of corporate debt as a percentage of GDP. Some $1.3 trillion comes due in the second half of this year. Of that, some $24.7 billion is among the most toxic, owed by rust-belt producers such as Dongbei that have less cash than short-term debt, according to Fitch Ratings.


Is The Car Culture Dying? 



Few technological breakthroughs have had the social and economic impact of the automobile. It changed America’s geography, spawning suburbs, shopping malls and sprawl as far as the eye could see. It redefined how we work and play, from the daily commute to the weekend trek to the beach. It expanded the heavy industry — steel-making, car production — that made the Midwest the economy’s epicenter for decades. And, finally but not least, the car became the quintessential symbol of American mobility, status and independence. Now there are signs that the car and its many offshoots (SUVs, pickup trucks) are losing their grip on the American psyche and pocketbook. The car culture may be dying or, at any rate, slumping into a prolonged era of eclipse. The only question is whether the signs […]

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