Posts Tagged ‘Business and Economy’

The headline figure was nothing to write home about, but drill down and maybe there is reason for real optimism.

The UK’s balance of trade in goods barely moved in March, with the deficit coming in at £9.1 billion. So far, so indifferent.

As for the UK’s deficit on trade in goods and services, this was marginally better than February scoring £3.1 billion from £3.4 billion the month before. Okay that was an improvement , but actually the deficit for March was pretty close to average over the last year or so.

The deficit has not significantly changed over the last ten years. Now, change the perspective, and look outside Europe. Exports to the US soared 21 per cent in March over the month before.

Exports to the BRICS have been steadily rising for some time. See this chart:

Okay, exports to China are still way below imports from China, but the chart makes it clear that exports have been growing much faster than imports for some time. In fact over the last two years, exports from the UK to China have increased by half as much again. Imports from China to the UK have risen 10 per cent.

© Investment & Business News 2013

Look through a list of former US bankrupts and its reads like a Who’s Who. Implicit in the US business world is an assumption that it is better to have a go and fail than not even try. And more to the point, if you do fail, have another go. In Europe, the stigma of failure is such that it is a wonder that there are any entrepreneurs at all.

Now Ireland has overhauled its bankruptcy rules, and in so doing ensured it no longer lags half a millennium behind the US. It is now merely a couple of centuries behind.

Right now in Ireland, if you go bankrupt, the period of your bankruptcy lasts 12 years. If you go bust, you are condemned to misery for around a quarter of your working life. It isn’t much better than debtor’s prison. Then again, for that very reason, bankruptcy is very unusual in Ireland.

Now insolvency rules are being overhauled. The bankruptcy period is being shortened.

It’s an improvement, but… Under new rules individual debtors will be restricted for a period of up to seven years from spending more than 247 euros a month on food, 57.1 euros on heating, and 125.97 euros on so-called social inclusion – that is a grandiose term for going to the cinema, or to see sporting events.

The thinking behind the rules is in part to protect debtors from being forced by creditors chasing bills to go hungry, or cold.

But these comments from Lorcan O’Connor of the Insolvency Service of Ireland are telling: “There are very few people in Ireland who could claim to be experts in personal insolvency.”

Perhaps the single biggest respect in which the US economy scores over other countries is the way in which it has an innate ability to reinvent itself. Mistakes are not only considered inevitable; in some ways they are seen as a sign of ambition, of big ideas.

Europe, perhaps with Ireland in the vanguard, is still living in a past which sees failure as an anathema, and as a result, risk is suffocated virtually at birth.

©2013 Investment and Business News.

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