Ireland’s insurance premiums have rocketed

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 11/14/2019 - 16:01

IN JULY 2015 Maria Bailey, then a 39-year-old local councillor in Dun Laoghaire, ran a 10km race in under 54 minutes. Her creditable time, recorded on the race’s website, came back to haunt her in May, when it emerged that Ms Bailey—now an MP—was seeking up to €60,000 in compensation for a fall, three weeks before the race, which she claimed had left her unable to run for three months. Enjoying a convivial night out, Ms Bailey had suffered minor injuries when she fell off an “unsupervised” swing in a trendy Dublin hotel. She withdrew her claim soon after news of it broke.

For many people, the case was a particularly galling example of Ireland’s “compo culture”, an epidemic of dubious compensation claims, extravagant awards and soaring insurance premiums that is blighting small business, forcing drivers off the road and stifling public activities, including local festivals.

“Sports clubs and community groups aren’t able to offer the same services they used to,” says Peter Boland, director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, a coalition of businesses, sporting bodies and NGOs. “We have a crisis of childhood obesity, but many primary schools don’t let children run in the playground any more, or play football informally, because they’re afraid of injury claims. It is shrinking society.”

Insurance companies complain...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Leonardo da Vinci’s personal vineyard has been re-created

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 11/14/2019 - 16:01

LEONARDO DA VINCI is remembered as many things—artist, inventor, scientist. “Boozer”, however, is rarely included on the archetypal polymath’s astonishing CV. That might change now that scientists have resurrected da Vinci’s own vineyard.

Da Vinci was a great lover of wine, “the divine liquor of the grape”, as he called it. So much so that Ludivoco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, offered him a vineyard as payment for “The Last Supper”, which he painted for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan in 1498. It survived for centuries after his death, until it was destroyed by a fire started by Allied bombs in 1943. With it was lost any hope of seeking inspiration from the same liquid source that once fuelled the painter of “Mona Lisa” and the inventor of the helicopter.

That is, until 2007, when Luca Maroni, an oenologist, decided to excavate the site in the hope that some vine-roots had survived the fire. He recruited Attilio Scienza, an expert on viniculture, and Serena Imazio, a geneticist, and they began to dig. Finding some roots intact, the team subjected them to extensive genetic testing at the Università degli Studi in Milan. In 2009 they identified da Vinci’s grapes as Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, a variety that is still grown in Italy today.

That discovery set off a painstaking...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Economics, demography and social media only partly explain the protests roiling so many countries today

Economist - International - Čt, 11/14/2019 - 16:01

IT IS HARD to keep up with the protest movements under way around the world. Large anti-government demonstrations, some peaceful, some not, have in recent weeks clogged roads on every continent: Algeria, Bolivia, Britain, Catalonia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Pakistan and beyond.

Not since a wave of “people power” movements swept Asian and east European countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s has the world experienced such a simultaneous outpouring of popular anger. Before that, only the global unrest of the late 1960s was similar in scope.

Those earlier waves of protest were not nearly as coherent and connected as they are sometimes portrayed. The unrest of the late 1960s ranged from intraparty power struggles in China to the civil-rights movement to protests against the Vietnam war and Soviet domination of eastern Europe. And the people-power revolutions of 20 years later—in countries as contrasting as Burma and Czechoslovakia were as marked by their differences as their similarities.

Even so, today’s movements seem strikingly unconnected and spontaneous. Some themes crop up repeatedly—such as economic discontent, corruption and alleged electoral fraud—but this seems more like coincidence than coherence. The initial causes of the protests could...

Kategorie: Souhrn, Svět

Reading the cards

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 11/14/2019 - 16:01

LITTLE ABOUT Europe is simple. The EU is a sprawling, labyrinthine, many-centred thing. It tends to move either very slowly or very fast, with shifts creeping forwards over years or suddenly flashing past in hours at late-night summits. National capitals can feel like different universes, with their own electoral and economic cycles, personalities, in-jokes, taboos, histories, myths and ideological constellations. So it can be tricky to identify and explain continent-wide trends, and even more so to anticipate them. No wonder that confidently sweeping analyses of Europe often get the big calls wrong.

Early in the new millennium, the EU’s eastward expansion, transatlantic rifts and a mild economic climate together produced a wave of grandiose claims about the European model’s sunny future. Books with titles like “The European Dream” and “Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century” hit the shelves. A convention of grandees drew up a blueprint for the EU called a Constitution for Europe. But then the blueprint was rejected at two referendums, economic crisis set in, the euro zone started to wobble, migration soared and the union ended the decade much less struttingly than almost anyone had predicted.

Primary-coloured prognostications about the current decade have proven even more wrong. The peak of the euro crisis around 2012...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Why Germany sticks to strict budget rules despite a slowdown

The Economist - Europe - Čt, 11/14/2019 - 09:48

RARELY DO GERMANS celebrate such measly growth. But the country had spent so long fearing a slide into recession that even its third-quarter expansion of 0.1%, announced on November 14th, felt like a success. After the economy shrank by 0.2% in the second quarter, strong domestic demand and a surprisingly good export performance were enough to avoid Germany’s first technical recession since 2013. Still, the country’s long boom, in which well over 4m jobs have been created in ten years, is plainly over.

The fear of looming recession has revived a familiar debate in Germany: should the government spend more to ward off danger? Under the so-called schwarze Null (“black zero”) policy, Germany’s budget has been in surplus since 2014. Last year, aided by booming employment and low debt-service costs, it ran to a whopping 1.9% of GDP. In some quarters the black zero has acquired an almost fetishistic quality. Visitors to a wing of the finance ministry in the state of Hesse can marvel at “Null” (2016), an installation of interlocking black aluminium circles suspended from the ceiling.

But as Germany’s infrastructure needs have grown, as its borrowing costs have plummeted (the yield on Bunds out to ten years is negative) and as the economy has slowed, mulish adherence to a balanced-budget policy has...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Kia ProCeed: Touha vyvolávat emoce

Ekonom - iHned - St, 11/13/2019 - 23:00
Kategorie: ČR, Souhrn

Události týdne: Top 5

Ekonom - iHned - St, 11/13/2019 - 23:00
Kategorie: ČR, Souhrn

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