London (CNN) – From the budget, to economic benefits, to the legacy: No-one is talking about the Paralympics’ bottom line.
Perhaps it’s because Team GB and the London 2012 organization were so impressive, leaving the country revelling in the medal haul rather than totting up the bill.
The nation has gone sports-mad, now embracing the lesser-known (but I’ll bet just as exciting to watch), paralympic sports, from Murderball (think of it as wheelchair rugby) to Boccia (like bowls, but for athletes whose disabilities impact on their motor skills).
But - despite all this goodwill - the UK economy is refusing to play ball.
(CNN) – The markets seem to be on summer shut-down, the likes of which I can barely remember in my career lifetime.
From eurozone data that showed growth shrinking everywhere bar Germany, to Greece saying they'll need to extend the terms of their bailout - the market reaction is barely more than a shrug.
I doubt everyone is lounging by a pool with a cocktail, but it does seem the markets have embraced a relaxed summer mode.
Give it a week of two and the panic mongering will no doubt begin again, because Europe’s problems have not gone away.
London (CNN) – British Prime Minister David Cameron has made no secret of the spoils he hopes that hosting the Olympics will bring to London - and the UK.
The estimated $20 billion of investment over the next four years would offset some of the $14.5 billion splurge of staging the Games.
Last week he helped launch a $1.6 billion investment drive to drum up business for UK plc.
London (CNN) – The British economy is shrinking far faster than expected. The latest figures - showing a 0.7% contraction - are a huge shock.
The rotten weather, extra days off for the Diamond Jubilee and contagion from the eurozone crisis have contributed: Now even UK Chancellor George Osborne is conceding the country has “deep-rooted economic problems.”
Jeremy Cook, chief economist at foreign exchange company World First, points to the eurozone’s hoovering up of government cash as one issue. Government spending is meant to be dropping but is instead increasing, he says. “We’ve said the situation would get worse before it gets better, anything worse than this and we are risking depression,” he warns.
Oh dear, what a gloomy picture. But at least London is hosting the Olympics, right? British Prime Minister David Cameron has declared the games in London will bring great spoils: Around $20 billion, we’re told. Banks, restaurants and retail outlets have staffed up, helping nudge unemployment to a nine-month low.
How nice to start the week on an upbeat note. It would seem the markets rather liked the eurozone summit moves towards closer EU co-operation and agreeing to work towards fiscal union, albeit at some point in the probably distant future.
As well as a €120 billion package to boost growth, politicians have agreed on a “single supervisory mechanism” for eurozone banks, giving the ECB a wider role and which would allow the ESM bailout fund to recapitalize troubled banks directly.
Government borrowing costs fell for Ireland, Italy and Spain as the plans reduce their liability to bail out failing banks.
It is progress towards creating a banking union, but is unlikely to be a turning point or the “game changer” the Irish contingent at the summit hailed it to be. The scheme is sketchy, with no mention of a deposit guarantee scheme or a bank resolution authority and still does not address the fundamental problems the eurozone faces.
A rehabilitated banking system needs solid foundations and euroland is still on shaky ground. In short, the eurozone summit has not solved the debt crisis. But you probably did not need me to tell you that.
All eyes then are on Thursday’s ECB monthly meeting. With all the weak economic data out of the region, plus casual comments over the last few weeks, the markets are expecting a cut in official rates.
Copenhagen (CNN) - Meeting the men and women whose inventions have changed how we live our lives seems a world away from the daily bombardment of news on the state of Europe’s economy.
While the markets were reeling over Spain’s bank bailout, and trading floor chatter was Greece, Italy and what the European Central Bank can, can’t or should do, the Marketplace Europe team was at the European Inventor Awards in Copenhagen.
It was truly inspirational and refreshing to think about business without focusing on what has gone wrong, how companies are struggling and what impact this is having on the global economy. FULL POST
London (CNN) – Are European Union governments missing a trick by taking small and medium-sized firms for granted?
In Germany, such businesses - the Mittelstand - have been nurtured, and in return significantly boosted the country's economy.
As our regular viewers will know, over the last few months Marketplace Europe’s travels have taken us inside small and medium-sized companies around the region.
We’ve talked about the way they run their businesses, the bigger macro environment and prospects for Europe and the single currency.
The common theme of each conversation is concern that well-intentioned incoming governments - from France, Greece and the Netherlands - will tax smaller firms out of business rather than offering incentives and protection to keep growing in such challenging economic times.
London (CNN) – On Sunday the French head to the polls to elect the next French president. Voters may be intellectualizing who offers the best deal for them, but the business community has a different set of priorities.
They want changes to the business environment and more flexible labour laws to allow them to flourish. Yet I’ve spoken to bosses who fear that instead, the next President of France will tax small and medium firms out of business.
The French economy desperately needs structural reform. Unemployment, at 10%, is higher than it has been for 12 years, public spending is too high and growth is a piffling 1.7%.
Other European countries in economic strife have embraced austerity packages: Think Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Admittedly, there are varying levels of success, and austerity is never going to be a vote-winner.
London (CNN) – This week we hosted Marketplace Europe from Boycott Farm in the old English market town of Stowe. The farm's main business is eggs – laid by a flock of 6,000 chickens – and as I stood in the middle of the field they peck in, I was very quickly surrounded by what felt like most of them.
They had spotted my approach from yards away, but rather than turn on their heels, they scuttled our way en masse in a constant stream from the laying house. It turns out that chickens are incredibly nosy.
I was a lone reporter in a sea of chickens, which were pecking at the ground, my boots and sometimes even each other, but all of them gossiping loudly, cluck clucking in a synchronized murmur that grew louder and louder as the throng swelled.
London (CNN) – Want to know what should be on Europe’s wish list if it wants its common currency to survive beyond 2012? Ask a leading economist.
As a top economist at Barclays Capital, Julian Callow has formulated his own battle plan - but one which can only work if Europe is willing to get behind united political goals.
“We are still talking about a group of country states which have this common currency, but what the markets really want to see is a clear, decisive plan to move to a political union for the eurozone,” Callow told CNN.
His 2012 check-list includes serious commitment from governments to balance their budgets, a weak euro and a more proactive European Central Bank.
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