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Politics and Economies

A survey by Arton, a residence / citizenship consultancy, shows that some passports are more useful than others when it comes to ease of travel.

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The scandal over contaminated eggs originating in the Netherlands raises a serious question about one of the fundamental principles of the EU: the free movement of goods. Without taking sides one way or the other, we point out why this issue may be about eggs, but its ramifications are about something far more.

Here's why it's ironic that Brussels is in Belgium.

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The UK's General Election is all over bar the shouting: there remain a handful of seats to declare but the result is already beyond doubt: even if the Conservatives will all the outstanding seats, they will still not have enough seats to form a majority government. That, Prime Minister, Theresa May, had thought impossible: her objective in calling an election at short notice was so arrogant that her stated expectation was to increase the majority her party had so as to bulldoze her view of separation from Europe without effective opposition. Now, her first job, is to decide if she will even be PM tomorrow morning after the electorate demonstrated that there is a global move towards genuine democracy and, equally importantly, that Presidential campaigning does not work in today's Britain.

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Australia has long been a dangerous environment in the housing market. It was, in relative terms, barely affected by the global financial crisis and rampant inflation has been ignored by national and state governments, both of which have significant influence over the market. It's a bizarre market: the signs of imminent collapse are ignored and prices continue to rise, causing excessive borrowing and thousands of families trapped in rentals because they cannot afford to buy. New South Wales has today announced significant changes to the taxes under its control to try to fix some of the causes of under-supply. But interest rates, the most important weapon, are in federal hands.

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There is something almost sad about Angela Merkel's campaign to remain relevant in world, EU and, even, German politics. Increasingly isolated on all fronts, her political rallies are carefully photographed to give the impression of many supporters rather then the dozens that actually turn up. And she's trying to find pro-EU leaders to cozy up to - in denial of the fact that her brand of EU politics is one of the things most putting the future of the Union at risk. Increasingly strident, demanding, almost hectoring of her audience, Merkel is beginning to sound like an extremist, even if her words speak of a particular form of unity. Then again, she might just be positioning herself for a top EU role.

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If the Labour Party were to win the general election next month, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor would both be supporters of hard-line communists.

Jeremy Corbyn has a long history of public association with communism but the fact that his shadow chancellor (opposition finance minister) John McDonnell thinks that Karl Marx has "a lot" to teach the English will come as welcome news for those who are vacillating: you can tell a lot about people by the company they keep and, unlike the Blair/Brown years, at least we know exactly where the leadership stands. And it stands for increasing taxation for millions, according to McDonnell in an interview with the BBC.

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It seems utterly bizarre and a major waste of resources given that there is to be a General Election on 8th June that the local government elections already planned for yesterday were not postponed. But they went ahead. Will the results encourage complacency or be a call to action?

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Kudos to Luiz Awazu Pereira da Silva and Előd Takáts at the Bank for International Settlements for breaking ranks with the eternal purveyors of optimism and fake good news that are the normal personalities at Central Banks. For two years before the financial crisis went global, central bankers and treasury department ministers and officials pumped out a steady stream of misleading information and soon after it reached its nadir, they have gone back to using selective data to try to convince us all that it's all OK, really and that the deep seated economic woes faced by much of the developed world are really only isolated, sporadic, minor after shocks. Da Silva and Takáts don't agree and actually use the words "complacency" and "self-delusion." Better still, the recognise the genius of the "unknown unknown" speech of Donald Rumsfeld. Where has the international finance community been hiding these two? Kudos.

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In armed conflict, where innocents are killed or injured as a necessary side-effect of a just attack (sez them), it's termed "collateral damage." In US President Trump's tax plan, criticisms are being centred on the benefits that will flow to people and organisations like Trump and his corporations but they are the recipients of "collateral benefits" from policies that will benefit hundreds of millions of Americans. Here are the facts from an entirely impartial source.

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Socialists in the USA and elsewhere will be getting ready to slash their wrists and there will be millions of bits and bytes spent in haranguing US President Donald Trump for the corporate tax strategy he revealed yesterday. But wait: he's done what everyone should do - he's followed the money and found a way to bring it back on-shore and, therefore, subject to US tax and to be available for domestic investment. Someone, somewhere, has been thinking long and hard and Trump has been listening to those that understand that economics is not about money, it's about people. The plan is not disruptive, it's seismic.

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