If Brexit does happen on March 29 this year, it will happen under the strangest possible presidency of the European Union: the Romanian presidency. While the role of president of the EU is all about openness, transparency and a love of democracy, the Romanian government seems to increase its preference for the opposites of these features.
A study about corruption published in December puts forth an interesting, and troubling, conclusion: some countries in the European Union perceive themselves as less corrupt than they actually are.
French President Emmanuel Macron went to Central and Eastern Europe recently to ask officials there to support his plan to change the legislation regarding posted workers, to prevent it being abused.
In essence, the posted workers’ directive allows one company in a member state of the European Union to send its workers to work on projects in another member state, but still pay them less than local workers. This is because, while the company has to abide by local minimum wage rules, things like tax or social security payments are still made in the country of origin.
I once heard a very funny story about how a little girl learned about sharing: her mother, after giving her a chocolate bar, asked her to give a quarter of it to a friend. “This, Mary, is sharing. It is important that you learn how to do it,” the mother said.
The mother then turned to a friend she was having a conversation with. They continued chatting, but were soon interrupted by the daughter’s crying. “Sweetie, what’s the matter?” asked the mother, astonished. Big tears running down her cheeks, the little girl answered: “Mary is learning to share!”
I was reading the other day on the blog of excellent Bucharest-based economist Radu Craciun his latest article: “Is Eastern Europe the EU’s scapegoat?” When I read the headline, I thought the article was about Brexit; but in fact, Radu writes about how some experts in the EU claim that the single currency was created as a way to maintain the unity of the Union after it expanded “too rapidly” to the East.
Well, that’s new. I didn’t realise that, besides causing English people to behave irrationally against their own interests and vote to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc, Eastern Europeans are also guilty of inspiring what could turn out to be the world’s least successful currency union.
Emerging markets have been in the doldrums recently but one region, which had been hard hit by the eurozone crisis, seems to be getting ready for a brisk upturn now.
The residential property bubble continues in countries like the UK and Sweden, but it seems to have spread to some other countries as well, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements.
Emerging markets currencies will be one of the most affected asset classes when the Federal Reserve starts to hike interest rates, but actually some of them stand to benefit.
Emerging market assets, particularly bonds but also equities, are staging a comeback as investors gradually return to risky assets.
A survey of investor sentiment carried out by Societe Generale in February among 41 hedge funds and 41 real money investors such as pension funds, showed the bullish bias towards emerging markets strengthening for the near term.