What Africa can learn from medieval Europe
Gross domestic product in the 17-nation euro economy grew 0.3 percent in the three months through June, the first quarterly expansion after six contractions. Economic confidence rose more than forecast in September, with sentiment improving in the industrial sector as well as in services, retail and financial services. Even so, euro-area inflation slowed for a second month in September, led by falling energy prices, according to data today. Euro-Area Inflation Consumer prices rose an annual 1.1 percent after a 1.3 percent increase in August, the European Unions statistics office said. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 34 economists was for 1.2 percent growth. The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, was 1 percent. Elsewhere, U.K. mortgage approvals rose to the highest in more than five years in August and Hometrack said the nations house prices rose the most in more than six years this month. In the U.S., congress is leaving itself just one day to end a budget stalemate that raises the risk of the first government shutdown in 17 years as Republicans sought to shift blame for the gridlock to Democrats. The Senate will reconvene this afternoon, when it will reject a House plan to delay and limit President Barack Obama s Affordable Care Act. In response, the House would add another provision to the spending measure and send it back to the Senate, said Representative Kevin McCarthy , the top House Republican vote counter. Modest Recovery While the ECB expects the currency blocs economy to gain further strength in the second half of this year, Draghi said this month that risks are still on the downside, referring to a modest pace of the recovery. The Frankfurt-based central bank predicts the economy will shrink 0.4 percent this year before growing 1 percent in 2014. The ECB pledged to keep interest rates at current levels or lower for an extended period of time to fuel the recovery, a commitment it first made in July and repeated in August and September.
But a new paper *by Stephen Broadberry and Leigh Gardner, both at the London School of Economics, seeks to find a new answer to this old question by comparing trends in contemporary Africa to Europes development experience over the last 800 years. Africas failure to develop, they argue, should not be seen as the exception, but as the historical norm. Africas growth trends since 1950overall stagnation with periods of growth and declineappear incredibly similar, both in terms of patterns and level, to those of pre-modern Europe. It took European countries until the 1800s to exceed Africas current per capita output. Humanity all over the world, for the vast majority of its history, has been at least as poor as Africa today. Although Africa went through periods of economic growth in the 1950s, 1960s, late-1980s and the 2000s, these growth spurts were off-set by growth reversals in the 1970s, early-1980s and the 1990s, when GDP fell. Similar patterns can be seen in pre-modern economic history, when falling per capita GDP figures in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries wiped out earlier gains. The question that Mr Broadberry and Ms Gardner then ask is how did Europe escape from these growth reversals. They see institutional factorsmost notably the introduction of democracy and the development of state capacity for growth as the threshold conditions met in Europe, but that have generally not been in Africa. For instance, as Douglass North and Barry Weingast have argued, constitutional reforms after the Glorious Revolution of 1689 enabled these conditions to be met in Britain, producing growth in the eighteenth century that was never reversed. Increased parliamentary control over the executive and a credible commitment to pay back the public debt encouraged public and private investment which, they say, produced sustainable growth. Europes wider economic take-off in the nineteenth century can be seen in a similar light. The creation of strong and stable states in nineteenth-century Europe enabled investment in canals and railways, which increased growth rates there. The development of professional civil services and judiciaries, where promotion was based on merit rather than corruption, also helped too.
Analysis: Success, compromise, ageing erode Europe’s Greens
Join the Nation’s Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs This story is part of Microsoft Amazon, Apple face more international taxes in Europe Carol Kopp, Minyanville 12:33 p.m. EDT September 27, 2013 A picture shows an Ipad with an “Amazon” logo. (Photo: Lionel Bonaventure, AFP/Getty Images) SHARE 11 CONNECT 25 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE It’s no day at the plage operating a giant, successful, multinational American company, once you’ve run up against some very un-American notions about tax policy from abroad. Such as the “data tax” on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, about to be proposed by France for adoption by the European Union. Apparently, France would like to impose a data transmission tax on those companies — and only those companies — because they are the dominant platforms for Internet usage in Europe just as they are in the US, but they are “non-European,” that is, American. Their dominance therefore prevents European competitors from emerging from obscurity. (How taxing the most popular sites will make other sites more popular with consumers is not clear.) A French member of the European Parliament tells the Wall Street Journal that a data tax should be imposed because the European nations have become “just the puppets of financiers and multinationals.” Or, as Forbes puts it in a now-classic headline: “Gibbering Nonsense From France About Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.” The tax plan is just one piece of a proposal that would establish a new Internet regulatory agency within the European Union. In part, the agency would be empowered to impose other rules aimed at leveling the playing field for European competitors, such as forcing the American companies to enable portability among devices for digital purchases. French Technology Minister Fleur Pellerin told the Wall Street Journal that the absence of such regulations is effectively “blocking innovation from all of the other actors,” and making it difficult for European companies to emerge. The call for regulation gets real impetus from another issue that has entangled US technology companies in Europe: data privacy. The issue gained a great deal of heat after revelations of the US government’s continuing collection of private data on a massive scale, and with the cooperation of some of its biggest technology companies. The proposals are expected to be presented in late October at a summit of European leaders. At this point, the data transmission tax is the part of the proposal that seems least likely to succeed. For one thing, it’s not clear how such a usage-based tax could be imposed, though Pellerin told the Financial Times that her agency is looking at data transfer, traffic, and interconnection to work out how the big Internet companies make their money and, therefore, what part of their (free) services could be taxed.
The anti-nuclear environmentalist movement that burst into politics in the 1980s as a youthful third force has suffered a string of setbacks in Germany and France, raising questions over its future. Germany’s Greens, trailblazers of political ecology, lost ground in a September 22 general election, finishing fourth on 8.4 percent behind the radical Left party, and failing to secure the coalition they wanted with the center-left Social Democrats. The party’s senior leaders resigned. The Greens are now agonizing over whether to enter a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, while their French cousins are feuding over whether to stay in government with President Francois Hollande’s Socialists. One of the French party’s former presidential candidates, Noel Mamere, walked out in disgust last week, saying the Greens had sold their souls for power, stopped producing innovative ideas and become a “trade union of elected officials”. “The ecologists spend their time accepting things that don’t correspond to the platform they are supposed to stand for,” Mamere said in an interview with Le Monde. Another icon of the movement, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, distanced himself from the party and won’t run again for the European Parliament next year, while the current party leader, Pascal Durand, said he would step down in 2014. The French Greens’ candidate for president, Eva Joly, polled a humiliating 2.3 percent last year, a far cry from the party’s record 16.7 percent score in the 2009 European elections. ALL GREEN NOW To a degree, the Greens have become victims of their own success. We are all green now. Many of the issues they forced onto Europe’s policy agenda – from renewable energy to sustainable development or gay rights – have been embraced by the mainstream parties, at least in part. Fighting climate change, reducing carbon emissions and recycling waste are standard policies for European governments nowadays, albeit pursued with less zeal than the Greens demand. U.S.