UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from FaithWorld:

FInancial crisis boosts European suicide rates, especially in Greece, Ireland

(Suicide hotline sign at telephone booth near Beachy Head, the chalk cliffs near Eastbourne, a leading UK suicide spot, 29 January 2009/Les Chatfield)

Suicides rates rose sharply in Europe in 2007 to 2009 as the financial crisis drove unemployment up and squeezed incomes, with the worst hit countries like Greece and Ireland seeing the most dramatic increases, researchers said on Friday. Rates of road deaths in the region fell during the same period, possibly because higher numbers of jobless people led to lower car use, according to an initial analysis of data from 10 European Union (EU) countries.

"Even though we're starting to see signs of a financial recovery, what we're now also seeing is a human crisis. There's likely to be a long tail of human suffering following the downturn," said David Stuckler, a sociologist at Britain's Cambridge University, who worked on the analysis.

Stuckler said he feared the social and health costs of the recent global economic downturn would turn out to be high. "We can already see that the countries facing the most severe financial reversals of fortune, such as Greece and Ireland, had greater rises in suicides," he said. "And suicides are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of mental health problems. Suicide itself is a relatively rare event, but wherever you see a rise in suicides there is also a rise in failed suicide attempts and in new cases of depression."

from FaithWorld:

Excerpts from Pope Benedict’s speech to British society

westminster pope (Photo: Pope Benedict speaks in Westminster Hall in London September 17, 2010/Tim Ireland)

Pope Benedict addressed British society on Friday in a speech in Westminster Hall and argued that faith and reason are not in conflict.

Here are excerpts from the pope's speech:

"...I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose "good servant" he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process...

from MacroScope:

UK GDP: Should have gone to Specsavers?

twice as fast as expected in the second quarter of this year propelled by a sharp pick-up in services and the biggest rise in construction in almost 50 years.

Markets are getting used to volatile swings in economic data since the financial crisis set in three years ago. But UK GDP figures for Q2 were so eye-poppingly strong they caused confusion on trading floors.   

 

"Should have gone to Specsavers??" wrote Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec, referring to British television commercials lampooning myopic citizens who desperately need a new pair of corrective lenses.

from MacroScope:

The octopus and the economists

What do an eight-legged creature in an aquarium in Germany and 74 economists have in common? The consensus view that Spain would claim the World Cup -- until the economists, as they so often do, changed their minds.

worldcup.jpgIf World Cup 2010 goes down as one of the most unpredictable and exciting competitions in recent history, bringing underdogs Holland and Spain to the final showdown, what was hopelessly routine was watching so-called expert opinion converge around the safest bet. At least among financial professionals, who have done so well of late predicting the future.

from The Great Debate UK:

A history lesson for lenders

GREECE

-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Anyone looking for a broader perspective on the events of the last three years could hardly do better than choose for bedtime reading “This Time is Different” by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

BoE’s King “doesn’t do sex appeal”

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Bank of England Governor Mervyn King was on good form when he addressed the Royal Society – Britain’s oldest scientific discussion club – on the vexing issue of communicating complex forecasts to the great unwashed.

Aside from his usual moan about the media’s desire to reduce the BoE’s beautiful but baffling ‘fan charts’ of inflation forecasts to one or two numbers, he made a rare and welcome admission that in past years the central bank had not done as well as it could have to flag up the risk that a financial crisis was about to happen.

from Global News Journal:

EU gets new Commission, but little to cheer yet

There was more a sense of relief than joy when the European Union finally got its new executive on Tuesday. These are difficult times for the EU and there is little to celebrate.

The new European Commission is taking office in a tough economic climate, with the 16-country euro zone facing its hardest test since the single currency came into being 11 years ago.

from The Great Debate UK:

When firms “Too Big to Fail” fall

Amid the turmoil of the 2008 financial crisis a myriad of events unfolded that the general public knew nothing about, writes New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin in a new book titled "Too Big to Fail."

Wall Street fell from the dizzying heights of good fortune to calamity in a matter of months. To a large degree it's still to early to tell whether financiers and politicians involved made the right choices.

Roger Bootle throws capitalism a life preserver

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Problems sparked by the financial crisis have not gone away, but have been transferred to the public sector, economist Roger Bootle posits in his new book.In “The Trouble With Markets: Saving Capitalism from Itself” Bootle argues that in large measure, the underlying cause of the financial crisis was the result of an idea that markets work, and that governments do not.”Despite the trillions of dollars lost, and despite the worries of millions of people, more than this — much, much more — is at stake,” Bootle writes. “For this crisis has delivered the killer blow to an idea that has underpinned the structure of society, framed the political debate, and moulded international relations for decades.”Bootle, director of Capital Economics and an economic advisor to business accountancy firm Deloitte, reflects on the pitfalls of the corporate system and puts forth his ideas on the future of capitalism.He discussed his book and his economic predictions with Reuters at his London office.

In for a penny, in for £175 billion

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It may not be tax and spend exactly, but it’s definitely tax and borrow.

For the best part of 12 years, Labour has pursued essentially conservative (with a small ‘c’) economic policies, steadily underburdening itself of the ‘fiscally unreliable’ tag that some earlier Labour administrations were (wrongly or rightly) saddled with.

And for most of the past 12 years, as the global economy steadily expanded and Britain’s along with it, with aggregate wealth rising smoothly, Labour looked strong at the helm each time the budget came around.

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