Daily Archives: October 15, 2012

By Gideon Rachman

Arriving in Scotland a few years ago, I was greeted by a poster boasting that Glasgow has “the latitude of Smolensk and the attitude of Barcelona”. It was a vivid example of the mixture of comradeship and admiration with which Scots look towards Catalonia. Barcelona, the Catalan capital, has many things that Glaswegians covet: better weather, better food, better football. In a striking homage to Catalonia, the Scots even chose an architect from its capital, Enric Miralles, to design their new parliament building.

Intriguing piece in the Economist about “Chilecon Valley”, Chile’s attempt to snaffle some of the start-up tech talent driven out of the US by self-destructive American immigration laws. Some public seed capital and easy-to-get work visas and the sector is up and going.

So where does this leave the argument that a tough intellectual property rights regime, particularly with software and other tech patents, is necessary for innovation? Chile was forced to tighten up its patent and copyright law as a result of its 2004 bilateral trade deal with the US, but Washington remains unhappy about the implementation. Chile is one of the dirty dozen countries (actually 13 in 2012) on USTR’s ominously named annual Priority Watch List for poor IP protection, and Washington is trying to raise the IP bar yet higher for Chile and the other countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Read more

Is Iran entering hyperinflation? Some academics certainly think so. And the FT gave a heads-up on this a few weeks ago. Since then, things haven’t exactly improved. The government is trying to stop the rial from slipping into the abyss, amid increasing signs that the oil embargo is beginning to hurt.

There have been 56 previous episodes of hyperinflation*, according to an instant-classic paper published in August by Steve Hanke and Nicholas Krus. Our colleagues over on the Money Supply blog looked at the paper in more detail when it was first published. Read more

Preparation for Tuesday's second presidential debate, at Hofstra University, New York. (AFP/Getty)

Welcome to the US election round-up at the beginning of a week which may be President Barack Obama’s last chance to halt the momentum of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

The Romney surge, which sees him up by 1.3 percentage points nationally and with races tightening in critical swing states, began at the first debate in Denver 11 days ago. Tomorrow’s second clash at Hofstra University in New York will give Mr Romney a platform, in the so-called “town hall” format, to win over Americans in the one area where he is still well behind Mr Obama – namely the perception that he favours the rich.

[14.21 BST 9.21 EST update: The RCP polling average has closed sharply this morning, after inputting data more favourable to the president, to a lead of 0.2 percentage points for Mr Romney 47.3 - 47.1. NB, an earlier draft of this round-up had Mr Romney's lead at 1.8 percentage points. This was a typographical error.] Read more