Tag Archives: Silicon Valley bank

Tom Arms’ World Review

United States

US presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis this week said Ukraine is a territorial dispute. He also said that Ukraine is not one of America’s vital national interests. This puts him seriously at odds with President Joe Biden, America’s NATO allies and about 50 other countries who firmly believe that the war in Ukraine is a battle between democracy and autocracy, good and evil.

DeSantis was not always of this opinion. In 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimea, the Florida governor was in the forefront of those calling for Ukraine to be armed. The reason for the shift appears to be his political ambitions.

First hurdle in the race to the White House is securing the Republican Party nomination and at the moment  the opinion polls show him trailing his main opponent – Donald Trump, who is well known for his pro-Russian, anti-NATO and anti-Ukraine politics.

DeSantis clearly reckons that the only way to beat Trump is to out-Trump the former president. The problem he will face – once in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave – is moving from an anti to pro-Ukraine policy. De Santis’s rhetoric is a strategic gift to Vladimir Putin. He and his Kremlin coterie are banking heavily on a Republican victory in 2024. This means they only have to hold on for another 18 months or so before American disenchantment becomes official foreign policy.

France

The French, it is said, work to live. Americans, Brits, Japanese, Germans … live to work. This basic difference in outlook goes a long way to explaining why millions of Frenchmen and women are protesting and striking against President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the start of the state pension from 62 to 64 years. It will deprive them of two years “living time” or, as the neighbouring Italians would say: “La Dolce Vita.”

The problem with this idyllic view of life is that it clashes with hard-nosed demographics. France’s population is growing older and less productive. The French Treasury can’t afford to arm Ukraine, switch to a green economy and pay for the pandemic as well as continue to pay for one of the world’s most generous pension schemes. Especially as the French population is clinging to life much longer than the insurance actuaries estimated when today’s retirees entered the workforce.

In fact, when estimating premiums and pay-outs, insurance companies calculate that their customers will live for five years after they start taking their pension. The current average life expectancy of a Frenchman is 82. The maths no longer work.

The demographic problems faced by France, are common throughout the developed world. Which is why governments are pushing up state retirement ages. But this has not stopped the French from arguing that their national motto of “Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité” makes them a special case.

As a result, for the last few weeks they have been out in their hundreds of thousands to protest against Macron’s plans. They were heard. More importantly, the Deputies to the National Assembly listened. This week Macron failed to garner the necessary Assembly votes to push through his pension plans. So he used Article 49:3 of the constitution which permits the government to enact legislation without parliamentary approval, but allows the opposition to table a quick vote of no confidence.

The reaction was immediate and brutal. Opposition Deputies banged their desks, waved flags and placards and sang the Marsellaise. They also tabled the aforementioned vote of no confidence in the government. Outside the National Assembly riots broke out across the country. More than 150 people were arrested by Friday morning.

If the no confidence vote is passed then the government of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne will fall and parliamentary elections will be held. Macron’s Renaissance party is already in a minority in the National Assembly. After an election with the pension age as the only issue, his representation will almost certainly fall further. This will make it more difficult for him to govern and be grist for the mill of his far-right opponent Jean-Marine LePen.

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The collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank – what does it mean for the UK?

A few days ago, I started writing a piece for Liberal Democrat Voice about the creation of the new Department of Science, Innovation and Technology and what it might mean for the entrepreneurial science-based economy. I was going to look at financing of science-based companies and how it could be improved. The news of the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) on Friday came as the piece was almost finished and has overtaken some of my conclusions in that article.

It’s likely that most Liberal Democrats will never have actually heard of the SVB until this weekend. As its …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments
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