Richard Thaler wins the Nobel prize for economic sciences

Richard Thaler wins the Nobel prize for economic sciences

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Richard Thaler wins the Nobel prize for economic sciences
THE credit-card bill arrives. You have enough money in a savings account to pay it off—the sensible thing to do, arithmetically speaking, since the interest rate on the credit-card balance far exceeds that earned on the savings. Yet you leave the savings untouched, and pay only as much of the bill as your current-account balance […]
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Donald Trump holds off hitting the Gulf carriers with sanctions

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Donald Trump holds off hitting the Gulf carriers with sanctions
WHEN Donald Trump became America’s president nearly a year ago, lobbyists campaigning for protection for the country’s airlines against competition from the Middle East were overjoyed. But they were less happy on December 13th when it was revealed that Donald Trump has decided to hold off on imposing sanctions against the three big Gulf carriers—Emirates […]
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Companies in the region vote with their feet against political uncertainty

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Companies in the region vote with their feet against political uncertainty
Employees, customers, separatists “WE ARE used to dealing with political crises, but not a break in the rule of law,” says the boss of a big Barcelona cement firm, of Catalonia’s constitutional crisis. Fearing separatists in the region would declare independence, as they did on October 27th, he shifted its headquarters to Madrid. That ended […]
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Western companies are getting creative with their Chinese names

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Western companies are getting creative with their Chinese names
MCDONALD’S drew ridicule in China when it changed its registered name there to Jingongmen, or “Golden Arches”, in October, after it was sold to a Chinese consortium. Some on Weibo, a microblogging site, thought it sounded old-fashioned and awkward, others that it had connotations of furniture. The fast-food chain was quick to reassure customers that […]
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British Airways’ franchisee in South Africa throws off two black passengers

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British Airways’ franchisee in South Africa throws off two black passengers
IN THE latest—and possibly most alarming—in a recent string of allegations of racism against airlines, two black musicians claim they were downgraded from business class on a British Airways-branded flight in South Africa to make room for a white woman. Thabo Mabogwane and Bongani Mohosana, a South African musical duo known as Black Motion, purchased […]
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Putting a price on Bitcoin

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Putting a price on Bitcoin
SCENE: A pet shop with a bored looking proprietor. A customer approaches CUSTOMER: I’d like to buy a parrot. OWNER: Certainly, sir. How about this one? It’s a Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage. CUSTOMER: It’s not moving much OWNER: It is tired and shagged out after a long squawk CUSTOMER: Fair enough. How much is it? […]
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The markets believe in Goldilocks

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The markets believe in Goldilocks
ANOTHER week, another record. The repeated surge of share prices on Wall Street is getting monotonous. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has passed another milestone—24,000—and the more statistically robust S&P 500 index is up by 17% so far this year. Emerging markets have performed even better, as have European shares in dollar terms (see chart). […]
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In the Trump era, big business is becoming more political

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In the Trump era, big business is becoming more political
AT THE start of Donald Trump’s presidency bosses rushed onto his business councils, hoping to influence policies in their favour. Their ardour has cooled. When Mr Trump banned travel from Muslim-majority countries, withdrew from the Paris agreement on climate change and equivocated on racist protesters in Charlottesville, to name but a few occasions, chief executives […]
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Tech giants will probably dominate speakers and headphones

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Tech giants will probably dominate speakers and headphones
MUSIC lovers do not typically go to the opera to buy a speaker. But at the Palais Garnier in Paris they now can: Devialet, a local maker of high-end speakers, on November 29th opened a store in the 19th-century music venue to sell its most sophisticated product, called Phantom. Looking like a dinosaur egg, this […]
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Germans get little in reward for booking their flights early

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Germans get little in reward for booking their flights early
HOW far in advance should you book a flight to get the best price? That is a question that many travellers agonise about. Yet people around the world do not respond in the same way to the incentives they are given. New data from Concur, a travel-software firm, compares flight-booking trends from five countries. Their […]
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Australia is the new frontier for battery minerals

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Australia is the new frontier for battery minerals
Recession proofer FORGET the “resource curse”. Australia is blessed with the stuff. For more than a quarter of a century it has not had a recession, thanks largely to Chinese demand for its raw materials. It is only a few years since the end of one such China-led boom, in base metals such as iron […]
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Japan is embracing nursing-care robots

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Japan is embracing nursing-care robots
AT SHINTOMI nursing home in Tokyo, men and women sit in a circle following exercise instructions before singing along to a famous children’s song, “Yuyake Koyake” (“The Glowing Sunset”). They shout out and clap enthusiastically even though the activities are being led, not by a human fitness guru, but by Pepper, a big-eyed humanoid robot […]
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Fuelled by Middle East tension, the oil market has got ahead of itself

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Fuelled by Middle East tension, the oil market has got ahead of itself
ONLY one thing spooks the oil market as much as hot-headed despots in the Middle East, and that is hot-headed hedge-fund managers. For the second time this year, record speculative bets on rising oil prices in American and European futures have made the market vulnerable to a sell-off. “You don’t want to be the last […]
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America’s culture wars are spreading to hotels

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America’s culture wars are spreading to hotels
CHOOSING a hotel for a trip is generally seen as an apolitical decision. In contrast, restaurants and cafes have sometimes taken on an ideological tinge, with conservatives mocking liberals for their latte coffees, and liberals ribbing conservatives for their deep-fried everything and well-done steaks. But for most hotel users, location and good Wi-Fi matter more […]
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Timelier provisions may make banks’ profits and lending choppier

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Timelier provisions may make banks’ profits and lending choppier
IN THE first quarter of 2018 thousands of banks will look a little less profitable. A new international accounting standard, IFRS 9, will oblige lenders in more than 120 countries, including the European Union’s members, to increase provisions for credit losses. In America, which has its own standard-setter, IFRS 9 will not be applied—but by […]
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The rules on allocating take-off and landing slots favour incumbents

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The rules on allocating take-off and landing slots favour incumbents
LAST year nearly 3.7bn passengers took to the sky on commercial jets. Few would have given much thought to exactly why their flight was scheduled at the time it was. Even fewer know about the tussles between regulators and airlines over how landing and take-off slots are allocated. For the past 70 years the business […]
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Britain’s 1970s retread

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Britain’s 1970s retread
THE strange 1970s revival in Britain has another twist. The main focus has been on the Labour party which, under Jeremy Corbyn, wants to return to the era marked by nationalisation and higher taxes. But in a sense the Brexiteers want to take Britain back to the 1970s too; to the “golden era” before 1973 […]
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Regulators begin to tackle the craze for initial coin offerings

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Regulators begin to tackle the craze for initial coin offerings
“I’M GONNA make a $hit t$n of money on August 2nd on the Stox.com ICO.” Written in July on Instagram, these words made Floyd Mayweather, a boxer, the first big celebrity to endorse an “initial coin offering”, a form of crowdfunding that issues cryptographic coins, or “tokens”. Stox, an online prediction market, went on to […]
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The New York Fed’s president announces his retirement

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The New York Fed’s president announces his retirement
He never really took the bull by the horns APPLICATIONS sought for leading Wall Street post. Duties: important role in setting interest rates (some vaguely defined other responsibilities). Perks: lovely office in Italianate palace; large staff. Requirements: eligibility for highest-level security clearance; tacit support in Washington, DC. Desirable but optional: broad knowledge of banking. This […]
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A massive trove of data on offshore transactions is leaked

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A massive trove of data on offshore transactions is leaked
IN APRIL 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) dropped a bombshell. Its articles about the “Panama Papersâ€�, a leaked trove of documents which had been stolen from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm, sent shock waves round the world—felling the leaders of Pakistan and Iceland, leading to multiple arrests and pushing several countries […]
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Why Qatar Airways has bought 9.6% of Cathay Pacific

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Why Qatar Airways has bought 9.6% of Cathay Pacific
THIS morning’s news that Qatar Airways, a national carrier with global ambitions, has bought nearly 10% of Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag-carrier, came as a shock for financial markets. Shares in Cathay Pacific dropped in value by around 5% in the minutes after trading resumed first thing today. But the idea that Qatar Airways was […]
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Smoking rooms are disappearing from hotels

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Smoking rooms are disappearing from hotels
TO THE list of endangered travel facilities—which includes pay phones, communal aeroplane screens and concierges—there is one more to add: smoking rooms. Even a few years ago, guests were routinely asked whether they would prefer a smoking room or not. But today fewer hotels are offering smoking rooms and those that do have a vanishingly […]
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The bitcoin bubble

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The bitcoin bubble
PUT the word Bitcoin into Google and you get (in Britain, at least) four adverts at the top of the list: “Trade Bitcoin with no fees”, “Fastest Way to Buy Bitcoin”, “Where to Buy Bitcoins” and “Looking to Invest in Bitcoins”. Travelling to work on the tube this week, your blogger saw an ad offering […]
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How leading American newspapers got people to pay for news

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How leading American newspapers got people to pay for news
Past … SOMETIMES it feels like the 1970s in the New York Times and Washington Post newsrooms: reporters battling each other to break news about scandals that threaten to envelop the White House and the presidency of Donald Trump. Only now their scoops come not in the morning edition but in a tweet or iPhone […]
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A black-rights group warns would-be passengers about American Airlines

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A black-rights group warns would-be passengers about American Airlines
TRAVEL advisory notices, which alert passengers to the risks of going to certain places, are standard business for frequent flyers. But last week brought an unusual one. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), America’s oldest civil-rights organisation, warned black flyers about the dangers of travelling with American Airlines. The NAACP says […]
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Silicon speculators

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Silicon speculators
Nail-biting decisions EXCHANGE-TRADED funds (ETFs) were supposed to make investing easy. Instead of spending hours researching individual stocks and bonds or paying an expert fund manager, investors could simply buy a few ETFs. But now there are too many to choose from. BlackRock offers 346 in America alone. Some investors need help allocating their money […]
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Millennials are doing better than the baby-boomers did at their age

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Millennials are doing better than the baby-boomers did at their age
ALL men are created equal, but they do not stay that way for long. That is one message of a report this month by the OECD, a club of 35 mostly rich democracies. Many studies show how income gaps have evolved over time or between countries. The OECD’s report looks instead at how inequality evolves […]
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