With just a week left before the December 31, 2020, transition-period deadline, the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) finally agreed to new post-Brexit trading arrangements and, in doing so, avoided a potentially disastrous no-deal scenario. But conspicuously absent from the trade deal are rules governing the financial-services sector.
When human beings congregate in one space, troubles often abound. Even so, urbanization continues to surge, and information and communications technology plays a crucial role in improving living standards through the creation of smart cities. Thriving smart cities are greener, more efficient and much cleaner than their traditional urban counterparts, and they accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of allowing increasing numbers of human beings to occupy confined geographical spaces successfully.
Capital markets play an essential role in improving the health of the economies within which they operate but never more so than during a period of turmoil. In Europe, policymakers continue to strive to achieve their goals of supporting businesses within a low-carbon agenda, and the Capital Markets Union aims to bring unity among the continent’s capital markets to realize these objectives. Are Europe’s capital markets progressing toward this end?
Investment is no longer only about making a positive financial return. Investment options are growing, as many investors look to balanced portfolios that bring not only monetary benefits but environmental and social gains for the causes about which they care. As opportunities to invest in assets following ESG criteria multiply, the three main factors that make this investment opportunity rewarding for all include geography, the blue economy and private-sector participation.
Some puzzles are fun, while others are not. The sovereign-bank diabolic loop puzzle is definitely not fun for the European governments and banks victimized by it. Trapped in the loop, banks hurt sovereigns, while sovereigns return the favor by hurting banks. Is there a way to break free of this deadly embrace? New research shines a light on a possible channel to freedom that strangely enough originates in the US.
Technology has responded to the call to produce innovations that will slow global warming, creating an arsenal of renewable-energy alternatives to fossil fuels. But distribution of these innovations to developing countries has not kept pace, and they are lagging behind in low-carbon adoption. What needs to be done to transfer and deploy existing low-carbon technologies throughout the globe as quickly as possible? The answer lies in solutions such as trade.
Europe’s banks deserve a lot of credit for weathering less than ideal conditions, such as ultra-low interest rates and profitability in conjunction with high levels of fintech competition and toxic debt. But while conditions haven’t improved much lately on the interest-rate side, the bad-debt situation is considerably brighter. Astute regulators and governments deserve much of the credit, but so do the banks themselves for revamping their management of nonperforming loans.
Mr. Simon Hughes of International Banker travels to Belgium to interview Mr. Johan Thijs, Chief Executive Officer, KBC Group, on the bank’s ongoing digital transformation, the innovation that drives that transformation and KBC’s wider role in society.
There are times when no one wants to see history repeat itself, and that’s the case among today’s investors in technology stocks. Some fear that the dot-com bubble burst of 2000 may repeat itself 20 years later. Although some tech stocks may be overvalued, the flourishing Fourth Industrial Revolution displays no signs of running out of steam any time soon. Caution is advised but not panic.
Little will be affected as much by the ageing of the world’s population as pensions. In Europe, the ratio of workers to pensioners has decreased and in 40 years will be roughly two to one rather than the much healthier four to one of the recent past. Many wonder from where the pension funds will come, and they should. The solution may lie in the new Pan-European Personal Pension Product.