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May 03, 2017

Brexit at €100bn now. Any further offers before the auction closes?

We thought the leak of the Juncker-May dinner conversation was amateurish, very likely to strengthen Theresa May in the UK, and reduce the role of the European Commission in the upcoming Brexit talks. We do not think that any of this will alter the Brexit negotiation outcome. A deal is possible if both sides want it - and impossible if one does not. 

Another news story made headlines this morning: that the EU is now upping the Brexit bill from around €60bn to around €100bn. This can, of course, not be a serious proposal, and it can only mean one of two things. They are setting out a tough negotiating position from which they will step back eventually. Or they want this to fail - because the UK will clearly not hand over so much money. We don’t think the UK will even accept the notion of a formal “bill”.

The FT has made its calculation on the basis of the latest EU negotiating mandate, but notes that any number depends on a wide range of factors, such as the exit date, the transitional deal, and various technical and political assumptions. The wiggle room is massive. 

But what has changed the overall level of the payments is that, at the insistence of France and Poland, the EU now wants to make the UK pay for post-Brexit agricultural subsidies, while Germany opposes Britain getting any money for its EU assets. Michel Barnier is quoted as saying that, for now, all he wants is for the UK to agree a methodology by which this issue can be addressed before any trade talks can start. He is due to unveil his negotiating mandate today.

The FT has calculated that the total costs range between €91bn-€113bn gross, the difference being accounted for by assumptions about the UK’s share of future costs. This will come down to a net cost of €55bn-€75bn. The difference between gross and net consists of advances, including loans, that will be repaid in the future. 

There are no prizes for guessing the political reaction in the UK to these numbers.

The Guardian reports that Theresa May taking up a line from Kenneth Clarke, who once called her "a bloody difficult woman". She said she will approach the upcoming talks in this spirit. The article also says that her position is that the UK is not under any legal requirement to pay a single penny - so we are starting these negotiations with the widest possible gap. The article also quotes unnamed sources as confirming that the expectations of difficult Brexit negotiations were the principal reason why May called am election.

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May 03, 2017

Is the IMF too optimistic about global growth?

We note a race by some analysts and commentators to be the first to declare that the crisis is over. This race began in 2011, and was joined by the ECB at the time. There have been several false dawns since. What about now?

We believe that the current recovery is probably more substantial than previous ones. Financial crises end eventually, even the worst ones. But as Carmen and Vince Reinhart point out, there can be no question of a return to the status quo ante. The authors argue that the very positive sentiment at the recent IMF/World Bank spring meetings may have been too optimistic. They note that, in Europe, growth is still 20% below the pre-2007 trendline. We have some quibbles with the methodology of extrapolating trends from a bubble period, but there can be no question that the output loss that resulted from the financial and eurozone crises was massive and has been persistent. 

Where we agree with the authors is their warning about the impact of the fall in potential output. According to IMF estimates, real potential GDP growth in advanced economies has fallen from 2.71% in 2001 to just 1.28% a few years ago. The decline in the US was from 4% to 1.5%. The main reasons are ageing populations withdrawing from the labour market. And the authors note that at a 4% growth rate GDP doubles in 18 years, while it takes 48 years with growth of 1.5%. The authors end up casting doubt that political leaders will make the policy choices that are necessary in such an environment.

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  • 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 04, 2019
  • What will the European Parliament do?
  • February 21, 2019
  • Sound and fury, but Brexit reality unchanged
  • Supertanker Deutschland moves to join internet age
  • October 12, 2018
  • A deal so close, and yet so far
  • AfD leaves Germans speachless and helpless
  • June 04, 2018
  • German discourse out of control
  • Wait for European disunity on US tariffs
  • January 24, 2018
  • AfD europhobe to chair of Bundestag's budget committee
  • Watch out for the Labour Party debate on the single market
  • On the productivity puzzle
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • May 12, 2017
  • What to do with Germany’s tax windfall
  • How Macron counts on building a majority
  • Options for the eurozone
  • 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
  • October 07, 2019
  • What did Conte know?
  • August 27, 2019
  • Remain’s narrowing pathway
  • Macron's diplomatic masterstroke
  • July 09, 2019
  • What the UK polls are telling us - and what not
  • May 31, 2019
  • Salvini’s frightening strength
  • The significance of Corbyn’s latest flipflop on the referendum
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • March 18, 2019
  • May's deal still on the table. Don't rule it out.
  • EPP decision on Fidesz still open
  • On the defeat of liberalism
  • February 08, 2019
  • Macron turns stand-off with Italy into a game changer
  • Is there a strategic intent behind Macron's decision?
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • November 28, 2018
  • Short postscript on post-first-vote scenarios
  • Listen to the music, but watch the procedure
  • Macron's underwhelming energy speech
  • October 26, 2018
  • Towards Fine Gael II minority government
  • EP votes for Saudi arms embargo, but who cares?
  • It's not easy being green - French edition
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • August 23, 2018
  • Chancellor says No to Maas' one and only substantive idea
  • French households yet to see reduction in fiscal burden
  • July 25, 2018
  • Future of euro debate: can the ECB do the heavy lifting?
  • June 26, 2018
  • Could the Irish border issue trigger a no-deal Brexit?
  • Is Harley-Davidson's decision really a victory for the EU?
  • May 30, 2018
  • Italian pro-Europeans repeat UK Remainers' error
  • Commission shakes up structural funds
  • Democracy lessons from the Irish referendum
  • May 04, 2018
  • On the madness of Germany's investment cuts
  • Has Macron given up on eurozone reform?
  • April 09, 2018
  • Orbán gets his supermajority
  • Riding the wave of resistance
  • The EU’s self-defeating strategy
  • March 15, 2018
  • Miro Cerar resigns over railway
  • Taking on trade unions over the rail reform
  • How strong is the EU's solidarity with the UK really?
  • February 19, 2018
  • SPD divided over grand coalition
  • Wauquiez - the French Trump?
  • Why Brexit will be extremely hard to reverse
  • January 26, 2018
  • Will the prison strike turn the fate for Macron?
  • Destroying the constitution in order to save it
  • Will populism wane with the global recovery?
  • Issing on the coalition agreement
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 04, 2017
  • Can Brexit still be stopped?
  • Could Poland open up the Posted Workers Directive again?
  • Has the Bank of England solved the productivity puzzle?
  • November 13, 2017
  • A pro-European list: Wauquiez' nightmare
  • Catalan separatism isn't going away
  • Why oh why does Germany behave the way it does?
  • Why the four freedoms matter
  • October 23, 2017
  • Macron's plans for the European Parliament
  • First phase of Brexit negotiations in final stretch
  • Why the left hates Europe
  • October 06, 2017
  • Catalan parliament session suspended
  • Can Jamaica fail? (not the country)
  • Portugal to give tax relief to the lower middle class
  • Stagnant wages and Central European populism
  • September 20, 2017
  • AfD on the rise
  • Is this the end of the FN as we know it?
  • Refugees overflowing Lesvos lead to call for action
  • September 05, 2017
  • On the Turkish question
  • Macron's unemployment insurance reform, next?
  • Labour to vote against the Repeal Bill
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • August 02, 2017
  • On the importance of a Brexit transition
  • To kill a referendum, starve it
  • How to spot a moron?
  • July 21, 2017
  • Day of truth in EU-Turkey relationship coming closer
  • Germany’s over-dependence on diesel technology
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • June 28, 2017
  • Is gay marriage Merkel’s next refugee problem?
  • June 19, 2017
  • SPD to focus on inequality
  • On radical uncertainty
  • June 08, 2017
  • Day 0
  • Macron and his overly enthusiastic minions
  • May 31, 2017
  • Getting real in the debate on the euro's future
  • Russia's growing influence in Italy
  • May 25, 2017
  • The ECB is concerned about eurozone unemployment
  • The eurogroup’s failure to act
  • Some thoughts on UK election math
  • So who is the next most likely US ambassador to the EU?
  • May 19, 2017
  • The EU is shocked, shocked by the UK’s stance on Brexit
  • Macron and the press
  • Towards a Buy European act?
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • May 11, 2017
  • Germany rejects IMF’s policy recommendations before they are issued
  • Why Labour is losing
  • May 08, 2017
  • A message of hope
  • Barnier's not so easily agreed Brexit principles
  • The rebirth of the paranoid conspiracy theory
  • May 05, 2017
  • Front National - thinking beyond Sunday
  • Tusk attacks Juncker over Brexit diplomacy
  • Extraordinarily ordinary