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Hong Kong braces for weekend of fresh anti-government protests

18.10.2019 3:00

Hong Kong is preparing for a weekend of demonstrations, including a human chain at major subway lines on Friday and a democracy march on Sunday, the latest moves in more than four months of anti-government protests.


DUP will lobby lawmakers to vote against PM Johnson's deal - Wilson

18.10.2019 2:18

Voting down Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal will open up better opportunities for the government and the Northern Irish party which supports him in government will be lobbying other lawmakers to rebel, its Brexit spokesman said. Sammy Wilson, a lawmaker for the Democratic Unionist Party, told BBC Radio that the party's 10 lawmakers in Westminster will vote against Johnson's deal when it comes before parliament in an extraordinary sitting on Saturday.

Hong Kong braces for weekend protests

18.10.2019 1:46

Hong Kong is preparing for a weekend of demonstrations, including a human chain at major subway lines and a democracy march, the latest moves in more than four months of anti-government protests.


Lebanon scraps plan to tax WhatsApp voice calls amid mass riots

18.10.2019 1:28

Lebanon's government has backed down from a plan to tax messaging apps, after violent protests on Beirut's streets over the country's economic woes.


Extinction Rebellion protests LIVE: 'Red hand' march planned by activists as 'Autumn Uprising' nears end

18.10.2019 0:55

Extinction Rebellion activists are today set to walk through Westminster, spray-painting red hand prints onto Government buildings, in the latest stage of the group's protests.


EU leaders to discuss US$1.2 trillion post-Brexit budget

18.10.2019 0:19

European Union leaders will discuss a new budget plan on Friday (Oct 18) that could allow the bloc to spend up to 1.1 trillion euros (S$1.64 trillion) in the 2021-2027 period, but deep divisions among governments could block a deal for months.


Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal Is Nothing to Celebrate

18.10.2019 0:01

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The deal that U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just negotiated with the European Union isn’t the worst conceivable outcome to the long saga of Brexit. Unfortunately, that’s about the best one can say for it.Johnson had vowed to improve on the exit agreement secured by his predecessor, Theresa May, and arguably he has succeeded in some respects. His deal replaces the hated U.K.-wide “backstop” that May agreed to with one that applies only to Northern Ireland; leaves Northern Ireland aligned with the EU’s single market; imposes a customs boundary in the Irish Sea, thereby avoiding a hard border with Ireland; and creates a complicated system for lawmakers to eventually opt out of the arrangement.This approach resolves or elides some of the dilemmas that led Parliament to reject May’s deal three times over. And it’s surely better than a chaotic and costly no-deal exit.Even so, it’s nothing to celebrate. By ditching the customs union and abandoning May’s commitment to a close trading relationship in goods, it will wrench Britain further away from the EU and impose more costs and barriers. By one estimate, based on the government’s stated goals, Britain’s per-capita gross domestic product could be reduced by more than 6% over 10 years, only slightly better than leaving with no deal at all.The rationale for this approach is that the U.K., free of the EU’s meddlesome restraints, will be able to conclude its own free-trade deals around the world. There are reasons for skepticism. Of the 40 or so deals the EU has in place, Britain has so far managed to “roll over” just 15. And by the government’s own reckoning, additional deals would probably add only about 0.7% to GDP over the long-term.More ominously, Johnson’s deal could place further strain on Britain’s union. Scotland may demand similar treatment to Northern Ireland or once again pursue independence. The logic of a united Ireland may become more compelling as Great Britain and Northern Ireland diverge. Even many Welsh now say that independence would be preferable to leaving the EU, a sentiment that could intensify as the U.K. becomes less competitive.With the Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 bearing down, Parliament will convene Saturday to consider the deal. Its prospects are tenuous. The Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Johnson’s ostensible majority, has already rejected it. Brexit hardliners may yet find it insufficient. (Nigel Farage, for one, insists the deal is “not Brexit.”) And Johnson will have to plead for votes from quite a few Tories whom he recently expelled from the party.The best path forward would be for lawmakers to demand that this deal, if it passes, be ratified by a second referendum. That would confer some measure of democratic legitimacy on a bargain that looks very different from what Brexit campaigners originally promised. It would give voters an informed choice now that the costs and benefits of leaving are clearer. And it would make the deal more sustainable as Britain and the EU prepare for many months of grueling talks over their future relationship.Not least, it would also offer voters a final chance to do the right thing and reverse this calamitous process. Johnson’s deal may have avoided the worst. But the one thing it cannot paper over is that Brexit remains a terrible idea.--Editors: Timothy Lavin, Clive Crook.To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg Opinion’s editorials: David Shipley at [email protected], .Editorials are written by the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board.For more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Johnson Sells Brexit Deal to Parliament Before Knife-Edge Vote

18.10.2019 0:00

(Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, follow us @Brexit and subscribe to our podcast.Boris Johnson is battling to sell his new Brexit deal to skeptical members of the U.K. Parliament ahead of a crucial vote on Saturday.The U.K. prime minister has no majority in the House of Commons but he needs to convince his own Conservatives, as well as opposition politicians to back the divorce accord he struck with the EU on Thursday. If he fails, the country will be on course to leave the bloc without a deal on Oct. 31, or to delay exit day for a third time.“This is our chance in the U.K. as democrats to get Brexit done,” Johnson told a press conference in Brussels on Thursday. “People want to move this thing on, it’s been going on for a long time.”He wouldn’t be drawn on what he would he do if he loses the vote.Defeat could unleash a political crisis unparalleled in modern times: despite EU leaders leaving open the possibility they could allow Britain more time to leave, Johnson has steadfastly refused to delay Brexit beyond Oct. 31. With any attempt to leave without a deal likely to face legal challenge, he may have to allow his plans to be put to voters in a general election, or even a second referendum.If he is to win Saturday’s vote, Johnson needs to secure the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which has categorically opposed the agreement he reached with the European Union on Wednesday. He is also seeking to woo reluctant members of his own side, and persuade opposition Labour politicians to back him, if he is to prevail.The parliamentary arithmetic is very tight, all the more so since the DUP said it is unable to support the accord. The loyalist party is opposed to Northern Ireland being treated any differently to the rest of the U.K.Under Johnson’s plans, the region would still be subject to some of the EU’s single market rules to mitigate the need for customs checks on the border with Ireland. That would, in effect, put a customs border in the Irish Sea.Will U.K. Parliament Back Boris Johnson’s Brexit? We Do the MathJohnson needs to pick up roughly 61 votes from a pool of about 75 Members of Parliament who might be persuaded to join him -- that will involve persuading hold-outs in his own party to come over to his side regardless of what the 10 DUP lawmakers decide.There are signs that some Tories who voted down his predecessor Theresa May’s deal -- among them Steve Baker, leader of the self-described “Spartan” group of hard-core Brexiters -- are falling into line.Johnson, too, is trying to win the support of a significant minority of MPs from the opposition Labour Party who believe the 2016 referendum result must be honored. To woo them, he is preparing to a package of measures, including protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards after Brexit.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a second referendum, saying in Brussels that Johnson’s deal -- which he described as a “sell-out” -- was worse than that put forward by May. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said her Scottish Nationalist Party will vote against the deal as well, complaining that it creates too great a separation from the EU.As attention swung toward the vote at Westminster, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker offered support to Johnson.“If we have a deal, we have a deal and there is no need for prolongation -- that’s not only the British view, that’s my view too,” Juncker said. “He and myself we don’t think that it’s possible to give another prolongation.”Even if the decision over whether to grant an extension may not be his, by playing down the chances of another extension, Juncker is framing the vote in the House of Commons as a straight choice between Johnson’s deal or no deal -- just as the British leader has tried to do himself.That increases the pressure on undecided lawmakers in Westminster to back the government -- but it also raises the cost of failure dramatically.--With assistance from Ian Wishart, Jonathan Stearns, Viktoria Dendrinou, Nikos Chrysoloras, Helene Fouquet, Patrick Donahue, Dara Doyle, John Follain, Katharina Rosskopf, Tiago Ramos Alfaro, Milda Seputyte and Jan Bratanic.To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Ross in London at [email protected];Kitty Donaldson in London at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at [email protected], Edward Evans, Ben SillsFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Holding Off Stimulus in Germany Isn't Just a Political Mantra

18.10.2019 0:00

(Bloomberg) -- When German officials get nagged about delivering major fiscal stimulus, they have plenty of answers ready for why now isn’t the moment.Their arguments don’t just rely on the national obsession with budget prudence and the avoidance of debt though. Officials also cite their assessment of the current situation in Europe’s biggest economy, as well as tactical considerations on how a stimulus package would be effective.Such reasoning might be used often this week in Washington as Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and colleagues attend meetings of the International Monetary Fund, which on Tuesday called for Germany to invest more and reduce taxes to aid its faltering economy. Two days later, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government cut its growth forecast for 2020 to just 1%, after earlier predicting 1.5%. Data due next month may even show the economy has just slipped into recession.The IMF is far from alone. Outgoing European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said last month that it is time for “fiscal policy to take charge” in the region, and is likely to repeat that refrain at his final meeting next week. Germany, with ample fiscal space built on repeated budget surpluses, is a prime candidate.While the opposition by some German lawmakers to a fiscal boost is starting to thaw, the government is holding firm for now. Here’s a look at some of the arguments they’re deploying to keep calls for stimulus at bay, based on public statements, private briefings, and confidential conversations with officials.Studying the CycleOne argument is that Germany’s slowdown doesn’t fundamentally stem from domestic weakness and the economic cycle. It’s a result of external and political factors, including global trade tensions and Brexit-related disruption. Such a situation isn’t best served by a classic stimulus response and doesn’t need measures that would normally counter the ebbing of the cycle.It’s Not AppropriateA continuation of that point is that the economy is actually close to its speed limit, with areas such as construction, where a lack of workers is causing bottlenecks, threatening to constrain expansion. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann argued that on Wednesday, saying calls for German fiscal stimulus are “completely disconnected” from reality.“The economy is working with an almost-closed output gap,” he said in response to questions at an event in New York. “Why would you spend money when you are operating at full capacity?”Two-Speed EconomyGerman weakness has generally been limited to manufacturing and isn’t widespread, runs another argument. The auto industry has suffered from trade tensions and a slow response to the global shift toward electric vehicles. But the domestic economy remains healthy, thanks to unemployment near a record low and the benefits of extreme monetary easing.The line of reasoning holds that past spillovers from the industrial sector to the consumer aren’t happening this time, because the link between the two is weaker than it was.“It’s a two-speed Germany,” Trevor Greetham, head of multi-asset management at Royal London Asset Management, told Bloomberg Television. “The consumer is okay, and the housing market is actually rising quite strongly.”The Time Isn’t RightAnother view holds that a major budget stimulus should only be unveiled when it’s widely perceived to be needed. A fiscal boost may be more potent if announced at a time when things are really seen to be deteriorating. That was the experience in 2009 during the global financial crisis. But if ordinary people aren’t much feeling the effects of economic weakness, stimulus now could be less efficient than it otherwise would be.It Needs ThoughtA further point Weidmann made this week is that stimulus should be well aimed and not just delivered for the sake of it, suggesting the need for caution. He recommended targeted spending on infrastructure, research and education, and incentivizing work and investment through tax cuts.“It would be important to use the leeway wisely in order to promote sustainable growth in the long run and not just cause a flash in the pan,” he said.Merkel argued last month that simply spending cash isn’t what’s needed, saying “it’s currently not a lack of money” that’s the problem, and there are sufficient investment projects in the pipeline. They just need to be fast-tracked.--With assistance from Francine Lacqua.To contact the reporters on this story: Craig Stirling in Frankfurt at [email protected];Birgit Jennen in Berlin at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at [email protected], Paul Gordon, Jana RandowFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

South Korea’s Moon Sees Approval Rating Hit New Low Amid Scandal

17.10.2019 22:09

(Bloomberg) -- The approval rating for South Korean President Moon Jae-in hit a record low in a poll released just days after he issued a public apology for the resignation of a scandal-tainted minister who was a close political ally.The support rate for Moon’s government was at 39%, according to data released Friday by Gallup Korea, which conducts regular tracking polls. The resignation of Cho Kuk -- a former justice minister who resigned just five weeks after taking the job -- added to Moon’s woes that include a tepid economy, a trade war with Japan, and North Korea snubbing his overtures for talks.The approval rating slipped from 43% a week ago, with 53% of respondents saying they disapproved of the Moon government, Gallup said. Major reasons cited by the public for faulting Moon included economic mismanagement and his personnel appointments.Moon’s appointment of Cho on Sept. 9 touched a nerve with many as they questioned why a person whose family was being probed for financial irregularities should lead the ministry conducting the investigation. Protests also spread to university campuses with students angered about reports that Cho may have used his influence to help his daughter win admission to a prestigious college.Moon came to office in 2017 with an approval rate above 80% with calls to increase employment and cut into income inequality. But he has presided over an economy forecast to expand this year at the weakest pace in a decade. Exports -- a key pillar of the Korean economy -- have fallen for ten straight months, and hurt corporate investment and hiring.To contact the reporter on this story: Jihye Lee in Seoul at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at [email protected], Jon Herskovitz, Peter PaeFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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