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TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a strong new mandate from voters in a national election Sunday, a result he indicated would embolden him to push for the first changes to the nation’s constitution since it was introduced in 1947.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner retained a two-thirds majority in a lower-house election with almost all results decided, television stations said. Final official results will be available Monday.

After a steep fall in public-approval ratings earlier this year tied to allegations Abe helped friends in business dealings, the prime minister took advantage of opposition party disarray and a revival in support to call an election more than a year before a legal Continue reading

21st Century Fox was aware Bill O’Reilly had reached a settlement with a network analyst who had accused him of sexual harassment when the company renewed the star Fox News host’s contract, the company said Saturday.

In a statement, the company said it “knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O’Reilly that he had settled the matter personally” when it signed O’Reilly to a new four-year deal last February.

The settlement with Wiehl, a legal analyst for Fox News and a legal adviser to O’Reilly, was for $32 million, according to the New York Times, which first reported on the settlement Saturday.

O’Reilly has denied all alleged wrongdoing. A Continue reading

It is highly likely that the Brexit negotiations will fail, imposing an abrupt shock on the UK economy and ruining relations with its neighbours

about 8 hours ago

Martin Wolf

Yet another zombie idea is that the UK can survive quite well without a favourable deal with the EU or a transition to such a deal.




It is highly likely that the Brexit negotiations will fail, imposing an abrupt shock on the UK economy and ruining relations with its neighbours. This view is condemned by those who insist we must be more positive. That is like advising someone who has just jumped off a building that, if only he thought positively, he could fly. To understand the state we are now in we need to understand the zombie ideas that hold so many Brexiters in their grip.

The first such idea is that the EU is being unreasonable in insisting that the broad terms of the divorce (if not the details) are settled before moving on to transitional arrangements. David Davis, who is in charge of the negotiations for the UK, complained to the House of Commons that “they are using time pressure to see if they can get more money out of us. Bluntly that’s what is going on – it’s obvious to anybody.” Indeed, it is. Stop complaining: that is what strong parties do.


A linked zombie idea is that the UK is really in a stronger position than the EU, because it runs a trade deficit with it. But, even in goods, UK exports to the EU are three times more important to the UK’s economy than vice versa (7.5 per cent of gross domestic product against 2.5 per cent). Even without the UK, the EU remains the second-largest economy in the world, with an economy almost six times bigger, at market prices, in 2016. The UK is negotiating with an economic superpower. How does that feel? Just ask the Canadians, now negotiating with the US over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Even the notion that the EU’s priorities are unreasonable is a zombie idea. It makes sense for the EU to insist that the issues of money, Ireland and EU residents in the UK be dealt with, at least in principle, before moving on. It also has good reason to feel that the UK’s suggestions on the first two are inadequate or incoherent. Despite Theresa May’s helpful speech in Florence last month, the UK has not indicated in any detail what it thinks it owes: Boris Johnson’s statement that the EU can “go whistle” for money is characteristically unhelpful.

A further zombie idea is that the UK economy is a powerhouse. A reading of the latest economic survey from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development demonstrates how delusional this is. The UK has a good employment record. But its average productivity is at best mediocre and its productivity growth post-crisis is in the basement, down there with Italy’s. Investment is weak and relative export performance consistently dismal.

Contrast Germany. Debt-fuelled consumption kept growth up after the Brexit referendum. But real wages are now falling and growth has weakened, partly due to the dawning reality that Brexit is likely to be ultra-hard, despite the chancellor Philip Hammond’s justified efforts to prevent this disaster from happening.


Yet another zombie idea is that the UK can survive quite well without a favourable deal with the EU or a transition to such a deal. It can, we are told, trade perfectly well on World Trade Organisation terms. In any case, trade with our neighbours just does not matter that much. But, as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has rightly noted, the initial impact of Brexit will be “deglobalisation”, not a “global Britain”.

This is self-evident. It is also impossible to compare today’s intra-industrial trade, particularly within supply chains, with the inter-industry trade of the 19th century, as some now do. In trade today both proximity and regulatory barriers matter. It will be impossible to offset the loss of favourable access to EU markets, which now take some 40 per cent of the UK’s exports. Even to start on this, the UK would have to reach favourable deals with the US, China and India, the actual and potential superpowers. In all such negotiations, the UK will be very much the weaker party. Talks would be brutal.

Yet another zombie is the idea that it will be possible to shift smoothly to WTO terms for trade with the EU. All procedures governing trade with the EU would need to be refashioned. That would take the enthusiastic co-operation of partners who will regard the UK as something like a pariah. Why should anybody think they will make it easy for the UK?

The last zombie is the idea that those who deny the claims of the Brexiters are “ traitors” or “saboteurs” working against “the will of the people”. This is despotism. In a liberal democracy, we are all entitled to our opinions and to seek to overturn what we consider grossly mistaken decisions. The saboteurs are those whose zombie ideas have brought the UK to a ruinous break with its neighbours and natural partners. It is our right to argue this. And we will.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited

Boston College Ireland Business Council launches in Dublin

about 17 hours ago

Mark Paul

Glanbia managing director Siobhán Talbot, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh and Ardagh Group chairman Paul Coulson at the launch of Boston College’s Ireland Business Council. Photograph: Bryan Brophy




One advantage of being a nation of emigrants is that Ireland has a ready-made, extensive business diaspora, a network in every developed nation on Earth.

If Goldman Sachs is (hat tip, Rolling Stone) the vampire squid of global commerce, Ireland is the friendly leprechaun squid, green tentacles jammed down every possible orifice as quick as you can say Top o’ the morning. It is an economic resource as valuable to this State as the workforce, the infrastructure, or the undimmed talent for diddling the global tax system while acting all innocent.

In this armoury of foreign linkages, the undisputed Gustav has to be Ireland’s truly awesome business network in the United States. There are Irish surnames in every boardroom in corporate America and, boy, doesn’t the business community over here milk those connections for every drop of worth. Quite right, too.

The Irish-US network’s power was on full display on Wednesday in the bowels of the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, where Boston College launched its Ireland Business Council, a transatlantic trade networking group. It is operating in conjunction with Irish-based trade promotion collective “Ireland, Gateway to Europe”, led by Sigmar founder Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig.

Chaired by Neil Naughton of Glen Dimplex, the council will arrange two high-level business networking events events annually for the next three years, at least.

Former taoiseach Enda Kenny was supposed to launch the initiative in Boston in March as part of his long goodbye tour. However, a blizzard meant he was whisked by secret service agents back to Washington, to ensure he made his date to present the bowl of shamrock to Donald Trump at the White House.

It was rescheduled for Wednesday in Dublin. Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, businessman Denis O’Brien, Ardagh chairman Paul Coulson and IAG’s Willie Walsh were among the homegrown big guns roaming the room among the US visitors.

There was was standing room only down the back by the time O’Brien and a few others, arrived just in time for Donohoe’s speech.

The Minister, as you might expect him to, laid it on thick for his hosts. He correctly lauded the Irish diaspora in the US for rallying to the cause when our economy was in the toilet a couple of years back. But he also stressed another, less appreciated dimension to the Irish-US economic relationship: Irish companies in the US employ almost as many people there as US companies do here.

Benefits of global trade

Donohoe then delivered a wee rebuke to the protectionist Trump without mentioning him by name: “Countries such as ours need to make the case, loudly, for the benefits of global trade. The lack of it impoverishes countries,” he said.

Trump won’t listen, but so what? The extensive reach of the Irish-US business network means the Government’s message on trade will quickly filter back to where it really counts – not the White House, but major US boardrooms.

Donohoe then made his way for the door – he was collared en route for a quiet word with O’Brien – before the main event: a fascinating panel discussion on leadership and trade with the normally media-shy Coulson, the never media-shy Walsh, and Siobhán Talbot, managing director of Glanbia.

Mac Giolla Phádraig ran the discussion, opening with a quickfire question for the three to name the Irish business person they most admired. Talbot named Horace Plunkett, who pioneered agri co-ops more than a century ago. Coulson plumped for Tony Ryan, while Walsh, after a few seconds of thought, said he most admired his aviation industry rival Michael O’Leary.

All three described their own leadership styles, before the talk turned to their biggest mistakes. Walsh, squirming slightly, reminisced about the fiasco surrounding the botched opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow, which could have cost him his job running British Airways nine years ago.

“I was in work from 4am on the morning at the opening. I had to go home at 4pm, because I was just being unhelpful,” he said.

The discussion then moved to whether being Irish is an advantage in international business. Walsh agreed it “has definitely helped”, especially when it came to managing the tie-up of BA with Iberia to form IAG.

“When you put the British and the Spanish together in a room, you should see what happens,” he joked.

Eventually, the panel came around to assessing the greatest threat and uncertainty facing Ireland’s international trade: Brexit.

Walsh mused that, despite all that has happened, he believes the same result would transpire if the vote were held again in the morning. Coulson, meanwhile, launched a stinging attack on the UK’s body politic over the whole affair.

“When David Cameron put Brexit to a plebiscite without investigating the consequences, it was the single greatest act of misgovernance of this generation,” he said, clearly roused.

“The UK had no regard for relationships in Ireland or Europe when they had that vote. I was actually born in the UK, but some of these people have no respect for history.”

Coulson recounted how he was recently invited to a showing of Hamlet by Selfridge’s, an association he blamed on his wife’s shopping habits. He met former UK chancellor George Osborne during the interval.

“I asked him how he was getting on editing the Evening Standard. He replied that he was enjoying trying to save the British people from Brexit.”

Oh, the irony. Osborne, of course, was Cameron’s sidekick, and hence part of the four-legged double act who helped inflict Brexit on the rest of us.

“I thought to myself, holy God,” said Coulson.

He could easily have been speaking for the Irish State. And in a way, via Ireland’s sprawling global business network, he was.


Meanwhile, Denis O’Brien has been spotted all over Dublin in the last week or so. They must be missing him in Malta.

Last Friday, the same day he lost his appeal in the Red Flag case, he showed up at an intimate dinner upstairs in Peter Caviston’s fish shop and restaurant in Glasthule, to mark its 50th anniversary.

O’Brien arrived straight from the court. The lunch, as these things tend to do, ran on a bit and, at about 5.30pm, some of the dozen or so who attended retired to Fitzgerald’s nearby for a pint. O’Brien was invited along but he demurred, saying he was going to walk home instead.

He then went to the boot of his waiting limousine, plucked his trainers out of the boot, and ran home to Ballsbridge while still kitted out in his finery. That’s a fair old distance for a jog, especially when you’re wearing a suit.

At least he had plenty of things to occupy his mind as he ran. As well as the Red Flag case, it was also the day after Robert Pitt departed Independent News & Media, after tangling with O’Brien’s ally Leslie Buckley, and the same day that Michael Doorly was announced as the interim replacement.

Meanwhile, today O’Brien (a High School graduate) is pencilled in to give an address at a Clongowes Wood College past pupils’ lunch, which is a bit like asking Kenny Dalglish to give a talk to a Man Utd supporters’ club.

Fellow Belvederians

Speaking of businessmen and their private schooling. . . On Wednesday this week, INM officially announced Doorly’s appointment to the stock exchange. Except this time, there was no mention of him being the interim chief executive. The former company secretary has got the gig on a permanent basis.

Apparently, when former INM chief executive Sir Anthony O’Reilly was informed of Doorly’s appointment, he was chuffed.

“Oh good,” said O’Reilly. “A fellow Belvederian.”

Move paves way for Republicans to pursue tax-cut package without Democratic support

about 17 hours ago




President Donald Trump’s drive to overhaul the US tax code cleared a critical hurdle on Thursday when the Senate approved a budget blueprint for the 2018 fiscal year that will pave the way for Republicans to pursue a tax-cut package without Democratic support.

By a 51-to-49 vote, the Republican-controlled Senate approved the budget measure, which would add up to $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade in order to pay for proposed tax cuts. “With this budget, we’re on a path to deliver much-needed relief to American individuals and families who have borne the burden of an unfair tax code,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after it passed. “Great news on the 2018 budget @SenateMajLdr McConnell – first step toward delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for the American people!,” Mr Trump tweeted early on Friday.

But Democrats are likely to oppose the Trump administration’s tax plan, which promises to deliver up to $6 trillion in tax cuts to businesses and individuals. “This is not a bad budget bill, it is a horrific budget bill,” Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, said before the vote.

“At a time of massive income inequality, this budget provides $1.9 trillion in tax breaks for the top 1 percent.” The resolution has to be reconciled with a markedly different version passed by the House of Representatives, where Republicans say negotiations on a unified measure could take up to two weeks. The House budget resolution calls for a revenue-neutral tax bill and would combine tax cuts in the same legislation as $203 billion in spending cuts to mandatory programs including food assistance for the poor.

The Senate version instructs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to save at least $1 billion over the next decade. It also contains a legislative tool called reconciliation, which would enable Republicans, who control the 100-seat Senate by a 52-48 margin, to move tax legislation through the Senate on a simple majority vote. Otherwise, tax reform would need 60 votes and would likely fail.


Transition has been much less painful than in many other developed economies

about 17 hours ago

John FitzGerald

Prior to Ireland’s EU entry, most cars were imported into the State like a dismantled jigsaw puzzle – they had been assembled in the UK, then taken to pieces and sent to Ireland to be reassembled. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images




In many developed countries globalisation has become a bad word, the scapegoat for loss of manufacturing jobs, even though technical change has accounted for much of the lost employment.

In recent times, some of those who feel they have lost out from globalisation have found a political voice through Donald Trump in the United States, the win for Brexit in the UK, and growing support for anti-EU, largely right-wing, political parties in some European Union states.

By contrast, in Ireland, there is widespread recognition of the benefits for the community as a whole from Ireland’s central place in world trade. While the transition to a global economy in Ireland has left behind some losers, the way the transition has taken place, especially its timing, has made it much less painful than in many other developed economies.

For Ireland, the first major shock involving significant job losses occurred in the 1970s on joining the EU. Many of the jobs in Irish manufacturing had grown up since the 1930s behind a high protective wall of tariffs, which disappeared on joining the EU.

By the end of the 1970s, most of the jobs which depended on protectionism had disappeared, leaving significant numbers on the dole.

Car assembly

For example, prior to EU entry, most cars were imported into Ireland like a dismantled jigsaw puzzle – they had been assembled in the UK, then taken to pieces and sent to Ireland to be reassembled. Many people were employed here in this incredibly inefficient process, jobs which had all disappeared by 1980.

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However, while there were, in the short term, some losers from EU entry, these losses were more than offset by gains, in particular for the farming community. Still, the combination of job losses in manufacturing and a major fiscal crisis generated political turmoil in the 1980s.

Because the job losses from globalisation in Ireland occurred during the boom in the early 2000s, they went almost unnoticed

A second wave of trade liberalisation occurred in Ireland with the completion of the EU single market in 1993. In that case, however, it was nearly all gains and very few losses. The opening up of public contracts across the EU, and the freedom to sell services across borders, gave a very big boost to the Irish economy in the 1990s.

Previously the telecommunications sector in each large EU country bought its equipment from national suppliers, and preference was also given to pharmaceuticals and medical devices manufactured nationally. This had particularly favoured national suppliers in large countries such as the UK, France and Germany.

For Ireland, the single market allowed the development of the IT and pharma sector. The result was a rapid rise in manufacturing-sector employment in the 1990s as new businesses opened and older businesses prospered, creating a very successful and diversified manufacturing sector by the end of the 1990s.


But, from 2000 onwards, even as the economy continued to boom, a transition took place among exporting firms in manufacturing. As wage rates rose and new job opportunities opened up, firms in more traditional areas of manufacturing came under pressure. Gradually their workers left for more profitable jobs elsewhere, and the firms closed in sectors such as clothing and motor parts.

These closures were not accompanied by industrial action: rather, both workers and trade unions recognised that the firms in traditional areas could not pay more, and workers were better moving to where pay was better.

As a result, employment in traditional sectors fell by 25 per cent between 2000 and the height of the boom in 2007. These job losses arising from globalisation made no headlines as the employees moving jobs were immediately better off. It was an almost ideal way to transition to a global economy.

In many other countries, the problem is that there has been a long hiatus before those losing their jobs in old sectors find alternative employment. Where the recently unemployed, such as steel workers, have sector-specific skills, they may find it exceptionally difficult to transition to new growing sectors where there are job opportunities.

Because the job losses from globalisation in Ireland occurred during the boom in the early 2000s, they went almost unnoticed. However, when the recession hit, we would have benefited if more of these jobs had survived, offering an employment cushion.

In the 1970s, our manufacturing job losses affected mainly unskilled workers and those with sector-specific skills, who were less readily re-employed in growing sectors. In contrast, in the 2000s, the transition of workers from declining sectors to growth areas of the economy was facilitated by higher levels of education and adaptability, allowing them to find alternative career paths in new employment areas.

Planet Business: Anyone for a holiday?

about 18 hours ago

Laura Slattery

A man tries out TUI’s “Destination U” prototype, a facial coding pod, developed by Realeyes, which uses emotional measurement technology to guide holidaymakers when selecting a travel destination. Photograph: Matt Crossick/PA




Image of the week: See this face

The advertising world loves a spot of neuromarketing, so the only surprising thing about this “Destination U” prototype from travel operator TUI is that it claims to be the first of its kind. Developed by a company called Realeyes, the “facial coding pod” uses emotional measurement technology to guide holidaymakers when selecting a travel destination.

Apparently, not everyone reacts to images of every possible holiday option with expressions of pure ecstatic joy at the very thought of having any kind of holiday at all. Some people are more choosy than that, getting unusually agitated, for example, at the sight of a swimming pool that is clearly too small for the number of apartments in the complex. It is not known if the pod also registers users’ expressions when they see the price.

In numbers: Style file

145 Percentage increase in profits at British online fashion retailer Asos thanks to a weak pound – it exports more than it imports.

47 Asos’s percentage surge in international sales in the 12 months to the end of August – plenty to be keeping postal delivery services in Ireland busy with then.

135 million Web hits that the millennials’ favourite now gets every month. Really, there’s a lot to be said for retailers that manage to correctly translate sterling into euro.

The lexicon: Trump slump

US tourism figures have been really rubbish of late and analysts are blaming the worst advertisement for America since its terrible chocolate: Donald Trump. The “Trump Slump” is the name assigned to the haemorrhaging of billions in a sector that is the country’s seventh biggest employer.

International visitors to the US fell 4 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2017 after the White House’s announcement of the first travel ban on visitors from certain countries hurt the overall brand image of the US across the world.

Subsequent messing around with laptop restrictions and flights, discomfort with the idea that immigration officials might go through visitors’ phones and computers and then the partial reinstatement of the travel ban in June have led to further declines in inbound visitors. Essentially, every time Trump opens his mouth it costs money.

Getting to know: Jerome Powell

Jerome “Jay” Powell (64) is the front-runner by a slim margin to succeed Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve. The lawyer and former investment banker has overtaken last week’s favourite Kevin Warsh, while Stanford University economist John Taylor is also said to be in the running and there is still a chance that Yellen’s term may be renewed.

Powell, a former US treasury official under George HW Bush, edged it as the most likely incumbent from February 2018 in a Reuters poll of economists, and as he’s served on the Fed’s board of governors since 2012, he’s the continuity candidate.

Unlike “hawks” Warsh and Taylor, Powell is a Yellen-esque “dove”, meaning his instinct will be to keep interest rates as low as possible. But what will dictate the final choice? Scott Brown from investment company Raymond James shared this insight with Reuters: “Probably depends on what Trump has for breakfast that day.”

The list: The week in Brexit

Another week, another batch of depressing Brexit headlines, as the UK inches blindly in the direction of its chosen misery and threatens to take Ireland with it.

1. Brussels catch-up: UK prime minister Theresa May went in search of what one EU diplomat called “magic solutions” over a dinner with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker. They weren’t on the menu.

2. Cunning plan: UK Brexit minister David Davis told the House of Commons that keeping the “no deal” option alive was being done “for negotiating reasons”. Lucky no one from the other side could hear or read this, right?

3. Border training: Home secretary Amber Rudd, not quite on the same page as Davis, said it was “unthinkable” that there would be no deal, but said 300 Border guards were being trained up for this eventuality anyway.

4. Taking-back-control patrols: Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam said it would be “unwise” to rule out calling in the army to police the UK’s borders.

5. Thinktank sense: The OECD said the best way for the UK to avoid long-term economic decline would be to stop this Brexit madness as soon as possible.