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January 16, 2017

Trump doubles down against the EU

James Mattis, Donald Trump's nomination for defence secretary, took a different line on Nato during his confirmation hearing than Trump himself, so one might be tempted to play down some of the president-elects more eccentric comments. But our reading of his interview in the The Times and Bild is different. Trump has doubled down on everything he said about the EU, Brexit, and Nato. After reading this, we are left in no doubt that, for the first time, the US no longer sees the EU as a partner, but as a rival it wants to weaken. This is the passage which struck us the most:

“You look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out.”

Bild is getting into a frenzy over Trump's de facto pre-announcement of import tariffs of 35% on German car makers, and says BMW in particular should reconsider plans to build a factory to export cars into the US. In the interview Trump mentioned several times that Nato was obsolete. He did not want to pull out of Nato, or destroy the alliance, but it is clear that its usefulness to him is at best marginal. He also reiterated that he would offer President Vladimir Putin a deal to end sanctions in exchange for a nuclear weapons reduction agreement. 

The Times article also mentioned - without making a big fuss about it - that European travellers to the US might face restrictions starting next Monday. Since most Europeans are eligible for a visa waiver, this might imply a suspension of participation in the Esta registration programme.

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January 16, 2017

Fake maths

One of the points raised by Wolfgang Munchau is in his latest FT column is the notion of "fake maths", as he calls it, or fake news for numerically-literate people. This includes a tendency by economists to overstate the reliability of their economic forecasts, and the translation of opinion polls into electoral probabilities. Fake maths is one of the reasons the western liberal establishment has been losing the political debate, because they were not able to identify the nature of the threat posed by the populists.  

"Fake maths has given us, the liberal establishment, the illusion of certainty. Once the illusion crumbles, we are left with an uncomfortable question: is it possible that some populist demagogues will end up producing better economic policy than our friends in Davos? Take Italy as an example. The euro has been a disaster for the economy. If a populist were to win the Italian election, force a euro exit and default on foreign investors, is it not at least possible they would spur a genuine economic recovery? I do not know the answer; I know for sure that the present regime will not."

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  • February 02, 2017
  • Will it come to the use of force in Catalonia?
  • The day Brexit became irreversible
  • Can Trump and May succeed?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 13, 2019
  • What to make of the man in the pub - and other tales
  • Macron loses more early advisers - or cuts them loose
  • June 01, 2018
  • Will France and Germany stick together in their response to US trade tariffs?
  • From a eurozone budget to a slush fund
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 09, 2019
  • The EU's impossible dilemma
  • The horsetrading starts in Sibiu
  • May to bring withdrawal bill to Commons week after next
  • September 27, 2018
  • Two ways out of the Brexit impasse
  • February 16, 2018
  • How big will the euro budget be?
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • November 30, 2016
  • Is Russia behind a massive cyber attack in Germany?
  • Will Fillon move to the centre?
  • The Dutch left field is getting crowded
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • October 18, 2019
  • The horrifying implications of Merkel’s 5G decision
  • April 17, 2019
  • Why it is far from clear that the grand coalition will survive the year
  • Macron's chance and challenge
  • Eurozone firms' surprising response to sagging profits
  • The result of Spain's elections, a riddle wrapped in mystery
  • The MMT debate is coming to Europe - and Germany
  • Greek parliament seeks German war reparations
  • October 15, 2018
  • Black Brexit smoke
  • Bettel can relax and stay in office
  • Solving the crime vs solving the problem
  • April 16, 2018
  • Italy's and Germany's pained response to the Syria attacks
  • On the end of the eurozone's economic honeymoon
  • Why Bulgaria should stay out of the euro
  • Where shall we meet after Brexit?
  • October 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • October 20, 2016
  • No games please, we are Europeans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 16, 2019
  • What next, after EU sanctions Turkey?
  • What to make of Johnson’s four-point Brexit plan
  • Galileo fails, and nobody notices
  • March 04, 2019
  • Macron's two-month sprint
  • May's numbers are not there yet
  • Greening QE
  • On the "hope" of a rate raise
  • October 22, 2018
  • A week of intense political tension in the UK
  • Poland's local elections reveal deeply-split country
  • June 11, 2018
  • The end of the G7 - good riddance
  • Macron needs allies for his European agenda
  • Who is going to be the next director-general of the Italian treasury?
  • January 29, 2018
  • Where is the opposition in France?
  • Scenarios and risks for Syriza over Macedonia
  • September 21, 2017
  • Time to get serious about Brexit
  • Would the FDP claim the job of finance minister?
  • The return of the ultra-right to German politics
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 09, 2019
  • Chances of no-deal are rising and rising
  • Resist the beginnings
  • July 29, 2019
  • No-deal Brexit is no longer just a scenario
  • No German warships to the Strait of Hormuz
  • June 18, 2019
  • Retaliation threats over drilling
  • May 07, 2019
  • … while Macron’s European troubles have already begun, and might get even worse
  • Don't discount a Brexit deal
  • Is Tsipras too complacent?
  • Costa - the fiscally responsible Socialist
  • March 28, 2019
  • Fidesz exposes EPP to barrage of provocations
  • How Berlin has turned the ghost of Aachen into a poltergeist
  • February 18, 2019
  • How the splits on the left and the right will affect Brexit
  • January 10, 2019
  • Another quiet day in the Commons
  • From Rome with love
  • December 04, 2018
  • Brexit Revoked - the scenarios
  • In search for a bold response to the gilets jaunes
  • October 29, 2018
  • Why the EEA is no longer a Brexit option
  • Behold the rising superpower: post-catholic Ireland’s European miracle
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • August 20, 2018
  • ... and a subtle shift in EU policies towards both Russia and Turkey
  • Nothing to celebrate about the end of the bailout programme
  • Support for Brexit holding up
  • July 05, 2018
  • Does the German compromise work? Legally? Politically?
  • What to make of Salvini's relations with Russia?
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • May 03, 2018
  • Finland's take on universal income
  • The lessons from Weimar
  • April 03, 2018
  • Is the time for Brexit revocation running out?
  • March 05, 2018
  • One rock, two vetos, three governments
  • Rutte weighs in
  • February 05, 2018
  • How big is Germany's external surplus, really?
  • Macron's first election test
  • Coeure's endorsement of a fiscal union
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • December 11, 2017
  • A new era for the French right
  • Growing scepticism of a grand coalition
  • November 17, 2017
  • Germany's climate change hypocrisy
  • Canada minus the plus
  • October 25, 2017
  • How to think about a Brexit baseline scenario
  • Like the right, the left, too, is divided over Europe
  • October 02, 2017
  • Catalonia recalls EU and eurozone instability
  • French trade unions increase pressure over labour reforms
  • Watch out for a political accident in the UK
  • Municipal elections boost Portugal's Socialists
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 25, 2017
  • The impact of Duda's veto
  • How to undo Brexit
  • Front National: Frexit or not?
  • July 06, 2017
  • On Merkel’s imperial overreach
  • When the opposition opposes to oppose
  • Everybody wants the medicines agency
  • June 19, 2017
  • SPD to focus on inequality
  • On radical uncertainty
  • June 02, 2017
  • Is this a disaster for European diplomacy?
  • Ethics and politics - French version
  • Expect more European divisiveness
  • On the lessons of a resurgent Labour Party
  • On the limits of an inter-governmental eurozone
  • May 17, 2017
  • Whither the Dutch coalition talks?
  • Is fiscal federalism necessary and sufficient?
  • What the UK elections will and won’t achieve for Brexit
  • May 02, 2017
  • An accident waiting to happen
  • Matteo Renzi wins PD primaries
  • So much for the Schulz effect
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 03, 2017
  • On the meaning of the Navalny protests
  • On the surreal nature of Italy’s political debate
  • March 21, 2017
  • Is Merkel going to say something?
  • On how to think about Brexit and defence
  • March 10, 2017
  • Return of De Gaulle’s empty chair
  • Will the French Socialists split?
  • How to think about Russia
  • On economic forecasting
  • March 01, 2017
  • The threat of Frexit
  • Fear and loathing of a referendum in Spain
  • How to get around Theresa May’s little ECJ issue
  • Solve the problem
  • February 20, 2017
  • SPD ahead of CDU/CSU
  • Fillon bounces back
  • The Brexit timetable
  • February 13, 2017
  • What decides the French elections: cult or programme?
  • Sense and nonsense on globalisation
  • Towards the next European crisis
  • February 06, 2017
  • The Schulz effect, mark III
  • Germany's two asymmetric shocks
  • A Brexit conundrum - or not?
  • February 01, 2017
  • Do Republicans have a plan B if Fillon falls?
  • Unforgiven
  • January 27, 2017
  • The Brexit Bill in full
  • Fillon says he would withdraw if charged
  • January 23, 2017
  • What if the populists clash with one another?
  • Why the euro is a real problem for the German left
  • When you call the US, what number do you dial?
  • January 18, 2017
  • Will she walk?
  • Should we shut up about globalisation?
  • Political renewal à la française
  • January 17, 2017
  • In denial
  • Northern Ireland's snap elections and Brexit
  • Watch out for the border tax adjustment