London and Caracas: two sides of the same coin

Income inequality and the foreign conundrum

There are echoes of pre-Chavez Venezuela in the UK these days. A classic example of elite capitalism and the virtually insurmountable gap between the haves and have nots. In Caracas, the elite lived in guarded mansions in the Eastern hills of the city with bodyguards accompanying them everywhere. The benefits of decades of petroleum revenues never made it into the barrios of the Western hills of the city. President Hugo Chavez was the result.

The erstwhile elite still live in their mansions, but they no longer run the country. Their children study in American …

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New era regulators and a passionate conversion

How tinkering may ruin bank boards

Take a look at the Financial Times, where Robinson Hambro authored an editorial on the Financial Services Authority and its excessive interference in the running of the boards of banks.

Or read the article in the text below:

The passion of the convert is a frightening thing. Be it former smokers who cast glances of derision at office staff puffing away on the pavement or, more specifically, the regulatory backlash on the back of the financial crisis, converts allow little room for a nuanced approach.

One hopes that the government will allow for a …

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The coming Euro Ministry of Finance

SIF and the Mayr: intrusive interventions

How the mighty are fallen! Not only Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF head who allegedly sexually assaulted a chambermaid, or former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Tunisian counterpart Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

There are a host of others: one of the world’s foremost Israeli football agents, a household-name UK broadcaster, plus a number of European chairmen. Last week they were all at the infamous Mayr Clinic, whose mission it is to clean out its residents’ guts to restore them to health and energy via a quasi-liquid fasting cure. One would imagine the conversation …

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History’s verdict: Zapatero vs de Gaulle

The de facto eurozone haircuts

It wasn´t just Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned. Two other political figures come to mind.

Post World War II, Charles de Gaulle was preoccupied with "la gloire" for France and, rather less admirably, for himself. At the time, the French were starving. In the summer of 1945, the country had less than two weeks´ supply of grain, while the winter was much worse. Malnutrition was such that the generation raised in this period were to be shorter than the previous one. With some humour and a large degree of exasperation, the …

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Dilemmas: cocos, Libya and women on boards

BA’s Walsh on the global economy

"They are Black Gold," said the Libyan tour guide, pointing at the Africans nearby.

During a visit to Libya a few years ago, I realised that there were more sources of revenue in the country than just oil and sparse tourism. The latter at least meant that Leptus Magna, Apollonia and Sabrata, the most magnificently preserved Phoenician, Roman and Greek ruins in Northern Africa, were not overrun by the masses.

On the road towards the airport from the centre of Tripoli a vast construction site was due to materialise as the largest US embassy …

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Spanish opportunities

Regulatory tales from Switzerland and the EU

Sitting to the right of Mexican Commerce Secretary Herminio Blanco Mendoza at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 1995 was like being present at a wake where thoughts of the deceased shadowed all conversation.

The tequila crisis, based around the sudden devaluation of the Mexican peso in December 1994, meant that the usually overrun Mexican evening party consisted of only one table, with a lowly journalist in the seat of honour next to the host. Mexico was going nowhere in the eyes of an international community which shuns failure.
In this subdued …

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