The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 60 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and now accounts for about 14 per cent of all people in employment.
This is a striking contrast with the rest of the OECD countries where the proportion of self-employed is generally declining. In 2011, there were between 2 and 5 percentage points fewer self-employed in South Korea, Turkey, Portugal, Japan and Italy than six years before. Most of the other OECD countries reduced their proportion of self-employed even if more slowly.
Berlusconi, the billionaire former Italian prime minister pledged to reimburse Italians €4bn for an unpopular property tax. This is probably the first time he has promised to give money back, but it is definitely not the first time he has pledged to cut taxes.
Berlusconi lavished promises of tax cuts periodically throughout the past decade, but he failed to translate them into reality, even when he was in power from 2001 to 2006 and again from 2008 to the end of 2011.
In fact, according to the OECD the average income tax rate increased in Italy across all types of households, whereas it was reduced in most other OECD countries.
The UK census data revealed that about eight per cent of the resident population speaks a language other than English as their main language.
This is not a large proportion, at least compared with many advanced countries.
House prices in Europe are falling according to Eurostat’s first house price index. House prices are widely monitored at a national level but there is shortage of comparable measures across countries. This new index partially covers this gap, but the picture it portrays is not encouraging.
Indian car sales continue to slow down. This is being reported as a sign of a broader economic slowdown. But car sales is not the most representative measure of vehicle sales in India – most people drive two-wheeler vehicles.
Passenger car sales growth slowed to below 3 per cent in the first half of 2012, down from over 30 per cent at the end of 2010, but it now shows signs of recovery. The story that emerges when looking at two-wheeler vehicles is quite different, though.
Chinese exports grew faster than expected in December, lifting hopes for a prompt recovery from the country’s slowdown. The December reading for exports is certainly good news, but there should be caution in looking at monthly export figures.