Business And Finance

Italy’s political crisis is roiling financial markets once more

HERE we go again. Financial markets don’t much like uncertainty. Thanks to Italy’s politicians, in recent days they have had plenty. By May 30th some calm had returned: it seemed possible that a pair of populist parties, the Five Star Movement and the Northern League, would form a government after all (see article). Markets had been in turmoil for two ...

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Bad loans remain a concern in Italy and across southern Europe

ITALY’S next government, a coalition between the populist Five Star Movement and the far-right Northern League, is giving investors plenty to worry about. Leaked plans, hastily abandoned, suggested it might want to leave the euro or ask the European Central Bank to forgive €250bn ($292bn) of Italian debt. But less attention has been paid to what it might mean for ...

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European firms are increasingly tackling the scourge of bribery

ONE of the more extreme recent cases of corporate bribery is that of LafargeHolcim, a giant Swiss-French cement-maker which was accused in 2016 of funnelling money to armed groups controlling roads and checkpoints around a factory in Syria. The firm still cannot be sure who pocketed its payoffs, via middlemen, that were intended to keep its facility running at all ...

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Why it makes sense to invest in Treasury bonds

JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, a quotable economist, observed that one of the deeper mysteries is why, in a falling market, there is still a buyer for every seller. It is a conundrum that bond investors must now contemplate. Since January the yield on a ten-year Treasury bond has risen (and thus bond prices have fallen) with scarcely a backward step. It ...

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Dear oil helps some emerging economies and harms others

When they are not fretting about the American dollar or Chinese debt, policymakers in emerging economies keep a close eye on the oil market. The price of Brent crude has risen by nearly 50% in the past year to around $80 a barrel. It ranks as the 11th-biggest spike in the past 70 years (adjusted for inflation), according to UBS, ...

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Gazprom is enjoying a sales boom in Europe

FEW firms have more power to heat up the cauldron of global geopolitics than Gazprom, the state-backed Russian energy producer. It supplies more than a third of the natural gas that Europeans use for power generation, heating and cooking, creating what many—especially Americans—see as an unhealthy dependence (see chart). It has used its strength to bully countries which are out ...

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World economic growth is slowing. Don’t worry—yet

IN 2017 the global economy broke out of a rut. It grew by 3.8%, the fastest pace since 2011. Surging animal spirits accompanied a rebound in business investment across the rich world. Global trade growth rose to 4.9%, also the fastest rate since 2011. Emerging-market currencies appreciated against the dollar, keeping inflation low and debts affordable. Financial markets wobbled in ...

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