ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 08/03/2019

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The Economist / The glass-ceiling index

  • Figures from The Economist’s latest glass-ceiling index, which measures where women have the best chance of equal treatment at work, show that, after decades of improvement, progress for women in the workplace has stalled in recent years.
  • In the OECD, the gender pay gap remains largely unchanged from last year at around 14%. The share of women on company boards, at 23%, has slightly increased, but the proportion of women in management has barely budged. Although the share of women in the labor force has crept up a little, to 64%, it is still 16 percentage points below the male average.
  • Nordic countries are particularly good at getting women to complete university and secure a job, while they also have better parental-leave systems. The OECD countries with the worst environment for working women tend to be in Asia. The pay gap in South Korea, which ranks last in The Economist’s index, is a whopping 35%.
  • Still, there were some bright spots last year, particularly in western democracies. For instance, Spain’s prime minister appointed the first female-majority cabinet since the country returned to democracy. And in the US mid-term elections more women than ever were elected to office.
  • Euractiv – Stefano Bonaccini / Europe needs more women to run for election
  • The Guardian – Frances Perraudin & Kate Lyons / International Women’s Day 2019: celebrations and protests take place around the globe – live

Financial Times – Claire Jones & Michael Hunter / ECB unveils fresh bank stimulus amid rising eurozone gloom

  • European Central Bank policymakers severely downgraded projections for the eurozone’s gross domestic product growth this year to 1.1 per cent from a forecast of 1.7 per cent just three months ago.
  • The eurozone economy has relied heavily on exports, and concerns over global trade battles and Brexit have weighed on its economic performance. Italy, the region’s third-largest economy, is in recession and even Germany narrowly avoided recession at the end of 2018.
  • In a sharp U-turn, the ECB decided to make a fresh offer of cheap loans to eurozone banks, and signaled that it would keep interest rates at historic lows until next year.
  • The cheap loans to banks would see the ECB hold a series of auctions of multiyear loans at low rates to stave off a collapse in lending — the first time it has reopened the programme in nearly three years.
  • The fact that ECB hawks — including Germany’s Jens Weidmann — have supported the new measures will bolster the credibility of the stimulus package and alleviates concerns that monetary policy will turn once ECB President Mario Draghi departs in October.
  • Financial Times – Martin Sandbu / Will the ECB ever be able to abandon monetary stimulus?

Washington Post – Emily Tamkin / For first time, Saudi Arabia rebuked at the UN Human Rights Council

  • Yesterday, Saudi Arabia was rebuked at the UN Human Rights Council. 36 countries, including all 28 European Union member states, signing onto the rebuke — the first the kingdom has faced from the panel since its establishment in 2006.
  • “We are particularly concerned about the use of the counterterrorism law and other national security provisions against individuals peacefully exercising their rights and freedoms,” said Harald Aspelund, Iceland’s ambassador in Geneva, who read the text of the statement.
  • The statement named individuals “detained for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” including three women’s rights activists who had pushed for women to have the right to drive. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has urged the kingdom to release the activists, who were allegedly tortured.
  • In addition, the statement condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributing columnist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last fall.
  • European Council on Foreign Relations – Julien Barnes-Dacey / The end of the post-Khashoggi era? Europe’s collapsing unity on Saudi Arabia

South China Morning Post – Kinling Lo / China’s tech strategy all talk, no action and a waste of taxpayers’ money, says its former finance minister Lou Jiwei

  • “Made in China 2025” has been a waste of taxpayers’ money, said Lou Jiwei, China’s finance minister between 2013 and 2016. “There was no need to talk about the year 2025 in the first place … [The government] should not have thought it had the ability to predict what is not foreseeable.”
  • A notable feature of this year’s government work report, presented by Premier Li Keqiang to the National People’s Congress on Tuesday, was the absence for the first time in three years of any mention by name of the “Made in China 2025” strategy, Beijing’s blueprint for tech supremacy.
  • The strategy has become an underlying theme of the US-China trade war. When asked whether he thought it was a good move for Beijing to play down its tech strategy in Li’s report, Lou said: “It [the strategy] should not have been done that way anyway. I was against it from the start.”
  • “The [resources] should have been allocated by the market; the government should give the market a decisive role,” Lou added.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.  

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