Monthly Archives: September 2013

By David Donald of the Center for Public Integrity and James Politi. Interactive graphic by Caroline Nevitt, Tom Pearson and Martin Stabe.

Map: US sequestration impact per capita

US sequestration impact per capita

Automatic US government spending cuts that took effect in March are threatening local economies across the country.

Counties that benefited from high levels of federal spending in recent years and weathered the recession better than the rest of the country could be especially hard-hit, an analysis of so-called “sequestration” by the Financial Times and the Center for Public Integrity has found.

Update, 3 October: The New Mexico county that is home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, faces the greatest per-capita impact of any county in the United States, at more than $6,000 per person. Areas with military bases, such as Christian county, Kentucky, are also particularly hard hit. Across the 388 counties in the US that have one or more military installation, the sequestration impact per capita is $312. That is nearly twice as high as in the 2,727 counties without a military installation, where the sequestration impact per capita is $171.

Use the interactive graphic below to see how the impact is distributed around the United States and how your county fares.

 Read more

by Alistair Hayes

Another round of Premier League football, another weekend of foreign domination.

Of the 29 goals scored in last week’s Premier League, 21 were scored by non-England-qualified players, providing plenty of ammunition for the many England fans who contend that domestic players are being prevented from reaching world class by a seemingly endless stream of foreigners.

But would a reduction of overseas talent in the Premier League – whose players hold 91 nationalities – allow more English players to rise to international class? Would it be the panacea most onlookers – from the man in the pub to the national manager Roy Hodgson – seem to think it would be? Or is it that they are simply not good enough to compete on the international stage? Read more

by Roger Blitz, FT leisure industries correspondent

Going on a cruise conjures images of luxury travel, affordable only for the rich and those suddenly wondering what to do with their retirement savings.

Yet the price of a cruise for UK passengers has been steadily coming down, as cruise liners fight hard to convince consumers that their trips are affordable and value for money. Read more

Emily Cadman

By Emily Cadman and Callum Locke

Think data visualisation is a new thing? Think again. This fascinating map dates from 1893. Read more

Kate Allen

The Office for National Statistics’ release of data on UK share ownership has highlighted an important and far-reaching trend: the remarkable rise in share ownership by non-UK companies and individuals.

But the really crucial fact is that this comes mostly at the expense of the City’s traditional supremos: the insurance companies and pension funds.

Change in shareholdings Read more

Emily Cadman

Ed Miliband’s pledge at the Labour party conference to freeze consumer power prices until 2017 has pitted energy groups’ claims that a cap would hit much-needed investment against those who believe consumers are paying over the odds.

Here is a snapshot of what the currently available statistics show us about domestic power bills:

Relentless rise

Data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change is clear that consumers have been facing steadily rising energy bills with a real terms rise of over 40 per cent for direct debit consumers for electricity between 2007 and 2012.

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Ever feel like you are slipping behind in the rat race? Well, Londoners now face competition from their homes as well. The average house in the capital is now earning as much as its occupants.

As we noted noted last week, London house prices are rising far faster than in the rest of the UK, up 9.7 per cent over the 12 months to July on ONS figures.

With the average London house costing £438,000, the capital gain was worth £38,729. By comparison, the average London household had a post-tax income of £38,688 in 2011, the last year for which the ONS has statistics.

We appreciate that the comparison of an average apple to an average pear is useful only to illustrate the size of the bubble gains from market enthusiasm. We’re ignoring capital gains taxes, hefty transaction costs, and the difficulty of extracting that value while still having somewhere to live.

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Asia has the world’s highest rate of pharmaceutical sales growth, rising at an average annual rate of 15 per cent between 2007 and 2012. This is well ahead of the US and Europe, the traditional regions of focus for big pharmaceutical companies, which experienced low single-digit growth over the same period.

As in so many other areas, the Chinese market is beyond comparison. Healthcare spending has more than doubled from $156bn in 2006 to $357bn in 2011 and is estimated to reach $1tn by 2020 – about 6 per cent of the country’s GDP. Read more

This week scientists, policymakers and leaders meet in Stockholm to finalise The Physical Science Basis – the first part of the long-awaited fifth assessment report (known as AR5) by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

This report – the fifth of its kind in 25 years – sets out the latest state of thinking on the impact of climate change. The report’s projections, like those of its predecessors, will be heavily scrutinised in keeping with the controversies that surround this field of science. Read more

Guest post by Paul Hodges

Whilst the number of working women in the UK continues to rise, since 2009 their total earnings have been falling in real terms. With consumer spending contributing to roughly 60 per cent of the UK economy, this has important implications for the sustainability of the current recovery.

Nearly 14 million women are working today compared to nine million in 1971, whilst their participation rate in the workforce has increased from 59 per cent to 75 per cent today.

There has also been a sustained rise in women’s pay relative to men.

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It’s no secret that the US is at the centre of global trade. But how is what it trades with the world changing? The US International Trade Commission, the independent government agency which investigates anti-dumping cases in the US and also acts as a trade data clearinghouse, this week put out its annual “Shifts in US Merchandise” report. Here’s four things in the report worth thinking about:

1. Americans love their cars and their iPhones. They were the biggest contributors to the $10bn widening of the US trade deficit in 2012. Read more

Kate Allen

Provincial elections are about to take place in parts of Sri Lanka, in particular the nation’s Tamil-dominated northern province. This is a politically charged moment, as the government is gaining a reputation for being increasingly authoritarian and has faced UN criticism over its track record on human rights. Religious tensions are also mounting.

The elections are expected to be tense, particularly in the north which has been under federal government control since the late 1980s.

Any new period of renewed political wrangles could pose a threat to the country’s economy, which has recovered well since the end of the long-running civil war in 2009. Read more

Kate Allen

Global markets are holding their breath in anticipation of today’s vital monetary policy announcement by the US Federal Reserve.

Fed governor Ben Bernanke must decide whether to begin to ease back on its third programme of quantitative easing. The market expectation is for the Fed’s open markets committee to take a fairly timid step into the brave new world of tapering. Read more

Emily Cadman

Latest official statistics released on Respect the Aged Day in Japan mark a symbolic milestone for the country with just shy of 32 million people – a quarter of the overall population – now over 65-years-old. (Hat tip to my colleague Ben McLannahan for spotting the numbers.)

Japan’s statistics agency also estimates that by 2035 the proportion of elderly people will rise to over 33 per cent.

Last year the IMF estimated that Japan’s working age population in 2050 would have fallen to the same size as it was at the end of the Second World War. Read more

Britain’s ranks of managers have risen to more than 3m and are on the brink of overtaking the number of skilled tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and carpenters.

The number of people classed as managers, directors and senior officials has grown by 7.8 per cent over the past two years to 3.113m, more than a tenth of the workforce, according to data from the Office for National Statistics – the fastest rise of any broad occupational group.

Over the same period, the number of people in skilled trades dropped by 2.2 per cent to 3.137m. Falls were also recorded in sales and customer services staff, process, plant and machinery workers, and “elementary” occupations, which include bar staff and security guards.

 Read more

After decades of explosive population growth, which is now slowing, Asia will remain the geographic region with the greatest number of people by the middle of this century.

But it is Africa, the world’s poorest region, that is now forecast to grow most quickly over then next few decades, according to new forecasts by a US demographic institute. Its population is set to show the fastest rate of any world region, more than doubling by 2050, the research says. Read more

Emily Cadman

Investors looking for information on Twitter ahead of its anticipated public offering have very little to go on: the company revealed nothing of its plans, other than a single 135 character tweet.

The one thing we do have some information on – drawn almost entirely from third party monitoring firms – is its user base. Launched in 2006, Global Web Index estimated in January this year the micro blogging site had 288 million active users and is the fastest growing social networking service. Read more

The United Nations Population Division is the go-to source for demographic data covering everything from urbanisation rates to old age life expectancy.

But now Sanjeev Sanyal, a global strategist at Deutsche Bank, has questioned the UN’s latest global population forecasts – a stunning act of lèse-majesté.

In a paper released this week, he argued that total fertility rates (TFR) among women in fast-growing economies are already falling so fast that the UN predictions – relied on by demographers, sociologists and economists all over the world – simply cannot be credible. Read more

Kate Allen

by Kate Allen and Sarah Mishkin

Apple’s simultaneous product launch in California and Beijing was the latest sign that the global brand is attempting to push into Asian markets.

But Apple’s foray into China has not so far been an unmitigated success. In fact, the brand seems to be struggling to seize the market.

Why is this? Here are six key points about the Chinese mobile market that might help to explain. Read more

Interactive by Callum Locke, John Burn-Murdoch and Emily Cadman

The retail price of the new iPhone 5C handset will be $549 in the US. But what else could you do with that money?

When it launched in September 2007, the original iPhone cost $499. That amount invested in Apple shares at the time would now be worth more than $1,700. Read more