Sunday Thoughts IX (June 18-24)

A selection of links and thoughts that I stumble upon throughout the week – everything from economics to politics to philosophy to the occasional music video.

This week’s edition is brought to you from a Cambodian dormitory in Paris with no internet connection; thank god for the new European Union roaming regulations. 

I. Western Immigration Woes

On Wednesday, The Guardian ran an article on a list that tries to document all immigration-related deaths in Europe: “The major significance of the List is in its signals. It shows that this has been ongoing for 25 years and the people who pretend to be shocked now should have been shocked a long time ago.” I have spent quite some time scrolling through the list and for a moment, I might have got a fleeting idea of the tragedies behind the too many, brief entries.

In the New York Times, you can find some additional facts (and, of course, opinions – it’s still the New York Times) about global migration.

Lastly, I have found this Economist article to be a lucid analysis of the immigration dilemma that the West faces. Continue reading “Sunday Thoughts IX (June 18-24)”

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Sunday Thoughts VIII (June 11-17)

A selection of links and thoughts that I stumble upon throughout the week – everything from economics to politics to philosophy to the occasional music video.

I. The Great Fiscal Escape

In a new paper, the researchers Tørsløv, Wier, and Zucman find that close to 40% of multinational profits are shifted to tax havens each year. They also argue that it’s profits and not productive capital that is moved across borders, and thus a tax cut will most likely fail to substantially create new jobs. You can read about it in The New York Times and the Washington Post, and Paul Krugman also wrote about the topic in his New York Times column – he also discusses the relatively minor effect corporate tax rates have on business investment decisions in general.

The researchers also note that, throughout the world, for one $ 1.00 in wages paid, US multinationals say they make around $ 0.50 cents in (pre-tax) profits – except in Ireland, Bermuda, Luxembourg and the like, where they say they make $ 3.50. These tax havens surely have some crazy-productive workers. Continue reading “Sunday Thoughts VIII (June 11-17)”

Sunday Thoughts VII (June 4-10)

A selection of links and thoughts that I stumble upon throughout the week – everything from economics to politics to philosophy to the occasional music video.

I. Wind of Change

The Western Consensus that has governed the world for decades, for better or for worse, is dead – at least as long as the United States are run by the erratic Cadet Bone Spurs, who understands diplomacy as a zero-sum game to be won and seems to relish in insulting his closest allies (New York Times). Japan, Canada, and the European countries have to accept the fact that they can no longer count on the US to lead them, to offer military protection, or to be a strong, reliable partner in general. But this can also be an opportunity: It is high time to implement a European Union of two speeds in which those countries that truly share the same democratic values unite, fix their currency system, and tighten their political, social, and military ties. I know that’s wishful thinking. But who could have dreamed of more than seventy years of peace and prosperity in Europe following the atrocities of the Second World War? Continue reading “Sunday Thoughts VII (June 4-10)”

Sunday Thoughts VI (May 28-June 3)

A selection of links and thoughts that I stumble upon throughout the week – everything from economics to politics to philosophy to the occasional music video.

I. Italian Immediacy

After the highly questionable move of Italian president Sergio Mattarella to veto Giuseppe Conte’s suggested finance minister Paolo Savona (because of concerns about how “the markets” would react to the latter’s anti-Euro stance, one which he shares with other respectable economists, by the way), a government formed by the populist parties Northern League and Five Star Movement was finally sworn in on Friday (Guardian). Meanwhile, the euro is still broken and the immigration crisis still remaining unresolved. Continue reading “Sunday Thoughts VI (May 28-June 3)”

The Crisis of Social Liberalism – And Why We Need More of It

liberty-face

This article reflects my personal opinion.

On Friday was the inauguration of the new US president, Donald Trump. His speech, invoking a homogenous movement of the people, bore testimony to the threat that his presidency will constitute to a liberal society. He is the spearhead of a multifaceted right-wing movement that is on the rise in most Western countries. Many narratives have been conceived to explain this uprising. One states that modern social media tend to promote fake news and right populist explanations for complex problems. Others include rising nationalist sentiments and aggravating economic inequality. However, while all of these narratives have a true core, what unites all of these new political movements is their promise of change, their promise of overthrowing the existing order. The condemnation of “the liberals” and “the elites” has been commonly looked down on as only appealing to the bigots, the ill-educated, the “deplorables”. What is often ignored are the real inconsistencies and weaknesses of the established system and the fact that in many countries, there is no real political alternative addressing these issues. Make no mistake, most movements representing the “New Right” exhibit an appalling lack of cogent concepts, many disgustingly coquet with racism and use the calculated breach of taboo as their main means of advertisement and all of them have a distasteful style. But their political attacks can only be as rewarding as the systems they are aimed at are frail. Unfortunately, modern Western societies, frequently characterised by the term “Social Liberalism”, are neither very social nor exceptionally liberal. Continue reading “The Crisis of Social Liberalism – And Why We Need More of It”

The European Refugee Crisis – The Return of the German Angst?

Boat-format

This article reflects my personal opinion.

Immigration. A word that lately lets emotions run high and has emerged as the key issue in arguably the two most important elections this year, the Brexit referendum and the American presidential election. The topic has found its way into the core of the public discourse in the Western World due to a large number of people who have been looking for refuge from war and dire social and economic crises in their homelands. Also in Germany, the difficult topic has taken control of big parts of the public debate, especially after a series of attacks carried out by men from a muslim migrant background has shocked the German society. The onslaughts have further exacerbated the situation in which the two loudest camps face each other unforgivingly. On one side are the “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) and movements like “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West” (Pegida), who warn of a foreign, violent domination of Western countries by an Islam that cannot be integrated into a free society. On the other side there are the so-called elites, governmental politicians and most parts of the established media, who largely deny a connection between immigration and crime and terrorism and stress the opportunities and advantages of migration for an ageing society. But a discussion just about whether refugees are advantageous for Germany or not is shallow, most of the time mainly characterised by ideology and not rationality and, quite frankly, egoistic. Continue reading “The European Refugee Crisis – The Return of the German Angst?”

The Times They Are A-Changin’

London_flat

This article reflects my personal opinion.

On Friday, supporters of the Remain campaign in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum were faced with the ruins of their beliefs. In contrast with most of the latest polls, a majority of the voters had decided for an exit of the UK out of the EU. Although the demographic analysis of the referendum has not yet been finalised, it is already rather clear where the lines between the two camps ran. Besides the obvious separation between London, Northern Ireland and Scotland as net supporters of the Remain campaign and most of the rest of England and Wales as Leave strongholds, voters divided alongside age-demographic and educational lines. Areas with many young and well-educated residents were more likely to vote “Remain” while areas with a high concentration of low-skilled workers and old residents tended to vote “Leave” (see this guardian article for a colourful demographic breakdown of Thursday’s referendum). A lot of young voters feel that their future has been sabotaged by a generation who will not be around long enough to suffer the consequences of their vote. Congruently, many academics and other high-skilled workers perceive the referendum as a blow to their economic opportunities by ill-informed protest voters. And together, Remain supporters all around the world ask themselves “How did this happen?” Continue reading “The Times They Are A-Changin’”