Latest posts

2010

New South Winfrey

Imagine an American talk show host visiting Europe for a couple of recordings. Would the British display her picture on Big Ben? Would the Italians evacuate the Coliseum of Rome for her? Would the French cordon off the Champs-Élysées so she should move around more easily? If such ideas strike you as absurd, you are obviously not linked to the organisation committee of Oprah Winfrey’s visit to Australia. [...]

Trichet’s prize for shredding Europe

Charlemagne not only entered the history books as the great unifier of Europe. He also established a stable, silver-backed currency whose weight units survived for more than a millennium in many countries. Giving a prize in Charlemagne’s name to a person complicit in the rapid debasement of a paper currency is another bitter-sweet European irony. [...]

German polemic has resonance for West

When a German language book causes a global stir, it must be of relevance beyond the narrow national confines. This explains the scores of articles dedicated to Deutschland schafft sich ab (Germany abolishes itself). Written by former politician and central banker Thilo Sarrazin, it covers topics such as the effects of the welfare state on the country's underclass, demographic change and the ageing society, the failure of public education, and the problems of integrating Muslim migrants. [...]

The Euro monster

Over the past three years we have had to get used to numbers with lots of noughts. Stimulus packages, bank bailouts and public debt figures have reached dimensions well beyond the imagination of the average person. It also appears that dealing with these fantastic sums on a daily basis has led policymakers to lose perspective. What else could explain current speculation that the Euro rescue fund may have to be expanded? [...]

Ireland beware its saviours

The Irish bailout package now offers the unique opportunity to rob the Irish of one of their country's major selling points. Several European politicians have already demanded an increase of Ireland’s tax rates. Officially, this is presented as a contribution towards restoring public finances. In reality, this is retaliation by Ireland’s more heavily taxed competitors. [...]

Europe’s growth-killing cult

By putting an overemphasis on risk, Europe has turned itself into an inward looking, stagnant society. No wonder that path-breaking research increasingly happens outside the EU. [...]

Britain’s phoney pursuit of happiness

The rise of politicians talking about ‘happiness’ and ‘general well-being’ is a new European fad with similar initiatives also undertaken by Nicolas Sarkozy in France and Angela Merkel in Germany. But you don’t have to be a cynic to detect their ulterior motives. ‘Happiness’ is either used as a political repositioning tool for politicians wishing to appear as caring, or it is used in countries that have given up hope on future economic growth and seek different measures to feign success. [...]

Open doors, not webcams

Victoria’s Premier John Brumby has made an unusual pledge ahead of the state election. If re-elected, his government would commit $6.3 million to installing facilities to stream Victorian court proceedings on the Internet. The public would be able to follow a selection of court cases, most of them criminal, live on the web. [...]

Europe’s most dangerous man

In their open confrontation with the Americans and other European countries, the Germans have good arguments on their side. Trade restrictions are certainly not the way out of the world economy’s problems; and to prevent moral hazard, bondholders need to bear the costs of defaults. [...]

Population bomb still a fizzer 40 years on

Worshipping their new goddess nature, the environmentalists have forgotten something. We human beings may not all be cute and cuddly, but we deserve at least as much love and attention as our distant relatives in the animal kingdom. [...]