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Economics and Finance

Colonial Cloth or Cosmopolitan Creativity?

Did you know that Holland’s most famous export product in Africa is fashion? Although the average Beninese earns two dollars a day, many buy quality tissues of Wax hollandaise for as much as fifteen euros per meter. At the end of the 19th century, Dutch merchants industrialized these age-old Javanese patterns, known there as batik. Bypassing merchants and returning mercenaries ... Read More »

Fracking: a Justified Fear of the Unknown?

Two months ago, co-reporter Hendrik Dependau envisioned an intensified debate on fracking as a gas exploitation method. His research led to the “Fracking: Underground Money” article in the new edition of Checks&Balances (Volume 9, Issue 2). Since then, mayor European newspapers such as the Sunday Times have spent pages polarising and simplifying fracking into an economy vs. environment debate. To ... Read More »

Going Dutch: Building Land, Concurring Water

Right now, the port of Rotterdam is realising one of the biggest land reclamation projects in the world in order to expand its capacity. In September 2008 the construction of Maasvlakte 2 was started, increasing the size of the port by 20 percent and realising an expansion of Dutch soil by 2000 hectares. Apart from being a great example of ... Read More »

Houses for Sugar: Trade in Cambodia

The “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement of the European Union was once meant as a gesture of assistance. It eliminated the custom duties on all products imported from the world’s 48 poorest countries, arms excepted. Cambodian sugar has undoubtedly benefited from the programme:  since 2006 the exports in this sector have substantially increased. Yet, territorial conflicts linked to the expansion ... Read More »

La Crisis

The situation on the Spanish housing market gets more and more precarious. Over 400,000 families already faced eviction since the outbreak of the economic crisis five years ago and the same number is acutely endangered to suffer a similar fate. The implosion of the credit-financed boom reached Spain´s moribund housing market at full tilt. With an unemployment rate of 25% ... Read More »

Russian Money under Cyprian Sun

Being a warm and sunny island, Cyprus is a popular destination for Russian sun worshipper. Yet, it is not only the favorable climate, that makes Cyprus so attractive for Russian citizens – it has mainly to do with mundane mammon. The Federal Intelligence Service of Germany (BND) has reported that Russians have deposited some 26bn Dollars on Cypriot banks – ... Read More »

Looking Down the Fiscal Cliff

607,000,000,000 (607 billion) – a gigantic number. The United States faces budget cuts of this magnitude on New Year’s Eve if the Obama Administration and the Congress will not be able to reach a solution on Governmental austerity measures this year. The background: With the Budget Control Act of 2011, President Obama and the Republican-dominated House has set up a ... Read More »

Playing Telecom Monopoly

Carlos Slim Helu is the richest man in the world. He owns almost all telecom companies (and a lot of other big chains) in South America. After buying his Carso Global Telecom into the North American telecom world, he now shifted his focus to Europe. Will the European telecom companies fall to Slim’s monopoly? For years, Mexico has been criticised ... Read More »

Ethical Traveling

Traveling to Myanmar – can the ethical traveller square that with his or her conscience? Until relatively recently the answer would have certainly been negative, but things are starting to change. Ethical consumerism is a concept that involves a lot of decision-making and deliberation. But it does not stop after we chose between tofu and meat, between train and plain. Even ... Read More »

No Payday for Madgermanes

East and West Germany reunited only three months before I was born. That makes my generation the first generation that is still alive that never knew Germany as being separated. As a member of that generation, I’m always surprised when I realise once again how little I know about that “other” Germany, the German Democratic Republic, although it existed for ... Read More »