Global AgeWatch Index: Norway best for older people – BBC News 09-30-14

Salient to Investors:

HelpAge International said:

  • Norway is the best of 96 countries to grow old in, followed by Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Germany. Afghanistan is the worst.
    Australia, Western Europe and North America rank highly.
  • By 2050, 21% of the global population will be over 60, when 40 of the 96 countries will have 30% of their population aged 60 or over.
  • Mexico, Peru and some other Latin American countries have risen in the rankings.
  • Mexico (30th) ranks ahead of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The tradition of caring for the elderly within extended families is weakening.

The growth of tax-financed, non-contributory “social pensions” is key to helping tackle inequality for seniors.

In Mexico, nearly 9 out of every 10 people aged 65 or older receive a social pension.

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Fareed Zakaria GPS – CNN 09-08-13

Salient to Investors:

Fareed Zakaria said:

  • The US has put its credibility on the line and will find it extremely difficult to keep its actions limited in a volatile situation.
  • Ousting Assad would almost certainly lead to chaos and the ethnic cleansing of the Alawite sect and perhaps of other minorities, as happened in Iraq.

Nicholas Burns at Harvard said the US has every reason and right to act to preserve its credibility in the world while the Security Council is frozen because of the cynical policies of Russia and China.

General Wesley Clark said we need to bring the nations of the world together to say you cannot use chemical weapons. It will be a Goldilocks kind of strike: Syria won’t be able to say it didn’t hurt but or say it destroyed the country.

Paul Wolfowitz at AEI said it is not possible to end this civil war peacefully with Assad in power and to have some influence over the final outcome, we need allies on the ground in Syria, and that means the Free Syrian Army.

Fareed Zakaria said Sweden is very different from the Socialist Sweden of the past, with:

  • No inheritance tax.
  • Very free markets: freer and less regulated than the US in many sectors.
  • High income taxes that fund things like health care and pensions that are far more efficiently run than their counterparts in America. Sweden tends to be near the top of most rankings on quality of life and competitiveness.
  • Government spending in 2012 down by a fifth from the 65 percent of GDP in 1995; to sixth place, behind even France.
  • A budget deficit of  0.5 percent of GDP versus 5.7 percent in the US.
  • Policies that allowed Saab to go bankrupt in 2011, and Volvo to be acquired by the Chinese.
  • Lower corporate tax rates than in the US.

Zakaria said Scandinavian countries are slowly moving away from big government to smart government. The leader expected to win next week’s Norway’s elections is a conservative, running on a campaign to cut taxes.

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Rich-poor divide accelerating, says OECD – BBC News 05-15-13

Salient to Investors:

The OECD said:
  • The gap between rich and poor widened more in the 3 years to 2010 than in the previous 12 years. The richest 10% of society in the 33 OECD countries received 9.5 times that of the poorest in terms of income, versus 9 times in 2007.
  • Countries with the biggest gaps included the US, Turkey, Mexico and Chile. Countries with the least gaps were mainly in north Europe, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Slovenia.
  • If governments do not stop cutting back on welfare support the gap will widen.

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Central Banks Spewing Cash Need to Plan Exit Timing, Rohde Says – Bloomberg 02-28-13

Salient to Investors:

Danish central bank Governor Lars Rohde said world central bankers need to plan for monetary tightening to avoid feeding asset bubbles. Rohde said there is no short-term alternative to global easing, given the state of the real economy.

Jacob Graven at Sydbank A/S said it will be the same pattern as every time cycles shift, but the risk of getting it wrong this time is considerably bigger.

Sweden, Norway and Switzerland are tightening rules on mortgage lending as low rates inflate property prices and credit growth. , S&P said Swedish household debt rose to 173 percent of disposable income in 2012, Norway’s will exceed 200 percent in 2013, while Denmark owns the world record at 322 percent of disposable incomes.

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Cure for Economic Slumps Seen in Raising Rates: Cutting Research – Bloomberg 11-23-12

Salient to Investors:

Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe and Martin Uribe at the National Bureau of Economic Research said the solution to an economic slump is higher interest rates when the cause of that slump is a confidence shock that cheap borrowing costs are failing to reverse, and ultra-easy monetary policy risks making fears of deflation a self-fulfilling prophecy as spenders sit tight. An increase in borrowing costs can boost inflationary expectations, stimulate employment and end the slump.

Evidence from the US and Japan during the last two decades suggests that zero nominal interest rates are not doing much to push inflation higher.

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JPMorgan Chase said Finland would face the smallest economic cost should it quit the euro, the Netherlands the highest cost – because the higher the current account surplus of a country, the greater the cost of exit as it would probably incur an appreciating currency. Finnish and German 10-year bond yields would fall 35 basis points on an exit, the Netherlands would rise by a similar amount.

Steven Frable at IHS said the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado could boost their economies by providing tax revenue, alleviating stress on law enforcement, transfer jobs out of the underground economy, and create pot tourism. Frable cautioned it could take years before any state can legally sell marijuana.

Joshua Aizenman at University of California and Ilan Noy at University of Hawaii said previous periods of financial pain tend to make repeats more probable possibly because regulators lag behind the pace of bank innovation or are focusing on the causes of the last crisis, not the next one.

The World Bank and PriceWaterhouseCoopers said:

  • Companies worldwide are paying less tax than before the financial crisis.
  • A medium-sized company pays an average 44.7 percent of profits in taxes to all levels of government, and the total tax rate has declined one percent in each of the last eight years.
  • Companies spent 267 hours complying with tax requirements, a fall of 54 hours in the past eight years.
  • Economies that reduced complexity in tax administration tend to enjoy higher economic growth.

The Economist Intelligence Unit said Switzerland has the best long-term economic forecasts to 2030, followed by Australia and Norway, with the US and Germany tied at 16th.

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