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Free exchange

Free exchange

Our economics correspondents consider the fluctuations in the world economy and the policies intended to produce more booms than busts

Articles by Free exchange

Podcast: A most unusual company

3 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The one-time bookseller Amazon accounts for more than half of every new dollar spent online in the US. But how did it get to be the fifth most valuable company in the world? Also: why it costs the American government more to borrow money on the bonds market than European ones.

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Podcast: Microsofter

10 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content] Microsoft has reinvented itself under its new CEO Satya Nadella with a move to the cloud. Is its friendlier approach to program developers likely to pay off? Also: as the Netherlands goes to the polls, our Europe editor Matt Steinglass examines how each party’s financial manifestos were put to the test.

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Admit it: Republicans’ proposed Obamacare overhaul offers relief for some middle earners

15 days ago

WHAT is the best part of House Republicans’ proposed reform of Obamacare? There isn’t one, if you believe much of this week’s commentary. The bill will benefit the young and healthy, by bringing their premiums down, but only at the cost of the old and sickly. But most writers are overlooking the help the bill would offer to one group that has clearly suffered unfairly under Obamacare. So long as Paul Ryan’s reform does not send the market into a death spiral—which is not a sure thing (see article)—this group will get some needed financial assistance under the Republican plan.I’m talking about people who buy health insurance for themselves, rather than through an employer, and who do not get the subsidies which shield those on low incomes from Obamacare’s high premiums. It is easy to

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GM says ‘au revoir’ to Europe

16 days ago

General Motors has sold its Vauxhall and Opel brands to PSA in France. Adam Roberts our European business editor asks how the car industry is reacting to the consolidation. Also: can Snapchat succeed as a public company? And might President Trump’s accusation that China hasn’t been playing by the rules have a point? Simon Long hosts.

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Podcast: Money talks

23 days ago

There are a number of growing threats to Europe with Brexit and maybe another Greek disaster looming. But Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem tells Sacha Nauta the EU is actually on the mend. Also: Why Oscar mix-ups symbolise how independent films such as Moonlight are overshadowed by the big studios. Simon Long hosts.

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Clean energy’s dirty secret

February 22, 2017

Could the rise of renewables be putting the traditional electricity market into a crisis? Also: Economist Diane Elson takes governments to task about the gender biases in their economic policies. And how the Brazilian government is tackling one of its biggest financial problems: pensions.

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Banks on the move

February 14, 2017

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Are thousands of banking jobs set to migrate from Britain into the eurozone? Patrick Lane discusses potential destinations with host Simon Long. Also: a currency catastrophe in Zimbabwe and the decline of the executive jet

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An Expert’s Guide to Trumponomics

January 24, 2017

A leading economist has issued stark warnings about the Trump era and its impact on the American and global economy. We ask if the new President’s monetary policy is likely to succeed or fail. And with Trump being an economic populist, what will be his attitude to The Fed?

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Lessons from a fight between economists and historians

December 9, 2016

IN A fascinating new piece at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Marc Parry examines an intense, ongoing debate between historians and economists on the role American slavery played in the industrial revolution. A number of recent books by historians (including Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told, with which The Economist has an unfortunate history) argue that growth in output in American cotton, made possible by America’s slave economy (and rising brutality within it), was crucial in fostering the nascent industrial revolution, which had its beginnings in the mechanisation of textile industries. The conclusions of these historians stand in stark contrast to the general view among economists and economic historians, that in the absence of slavery, industrialisation would have

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How the weakest bank in Europe just got weaker

December 6, 2016

We examine Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the bank at the epicentre of the crisis in Italy. Last week OPEC moved to rescue oil prices. Will companies now rush back into exploration? And how the birth of a new motorbike in downtown New York could revitalise inner-city manufacturing

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