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Short-sellers are struggling despite a bad year for stocks

Finance & economics | Shorts, squeezedWhy the odds are stacked against those who bet against the marketTo napoleon, they were “treasonous”; to Tom Farley, a former boss of the New York Stock Exchange, “icky and un-American”. Short-sellers, who bet against the stockmarket, have always been unpopular—and essential. Today’s big names rose to fame by...

Which European countries are most vulnerable to surging energy prices?

Finance & economics | Putin’s presentIt’s better to be a consumer in Sweden than BritainEurope is facing an enormous energy-price shock. But not all Europeans are set to see the same hit to their living standards. According to estimates by the imf, the burden for the average family in Finland will be equivalent to an additional 4% of household spending....

America v Europe: A comparison of riches leaves both sides red-faced

Finance & economics | Free exchangeLessons from David Hockney’s motherWhen david hockney’s mother visited the British artist in Los Angeles she made an observation that points to the difficulties with transatlantic economic comparisons. “Strange,” she said, after a couple of days in the sun, “all this lovely weather and you never see any washing...

How should investors prepare for repeat inflation shocks?

Finance & economics | ButtonwoodForget transitory v persistent. The new fear is that price pressures are “structural”Buy stocks so you can dream, buy bonds so you can sleep—or so the saying goes. A wise investor will aim to maximise their returns relative to risk, defined as volatility in the rate of return, and therefore hold some investments that...

For a change, American inflation is lower than expected

Finance & economics | Two cheers amid the fearsBut a continued jobs boom points to a need for yet more Fed tighteningEditor’s note (August 10th, 2022): This article, originally published on August 5th, has been updated after the release of the latest consumer-price inflation figures.What a difference a couple of data points make. Much of the recent...

China’s mortgage boycotts are a symptom of a broader crisis

Finance & economics | A finite problemThe real threat to developers is falling salesThe german mathematician David Hilbert once imagined a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. Even if all of the rooms were occupied, he pointed out, the hotel could accommodate a new arrival, simply by asking each guest to move into the room next door. One guest...

An oil windfall offers Gulf states one last chance to splurge

Finance & economics | Spend or save?Dubai wants jobs in the metaverse; Saudi Arabia a city in the desertIn the north-western corner of Saudi Arabia, not far from the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, sits a patch of mostly bare desert—the ostensible location of Neom. This would-be city is intended to be a bold step into the future, and the showpiece of...

America’s jobs boom rolls on, fuelling fears of sustained inflation

Finance & economics | So good it’s badEstimates of higher “natural” unemployment point to a need for more Fed tighteningIt would normally be cause for unalloyed celebration. According to figures released on August 5th, America’s unemployment rate in July fell to 3.5%, matching a half-century low hit just before covid-19. Moreover, with nearly 530,000...

An anatomy of this year’s market mayhem

Finance & economics | The great levellingThe sell-off has been savage but there are few signs of a crisis. Can that last?AFTER A FRANTIC sell-off in the first half of the year, investors are taking a breather. The S&P 500 index of American stocks, for instance, is back around the level it was at the start of June. Yet with a little less than...

Does high inflation matter?

Finance & economics | Free exchangeEconomists and the public have very different views on the questionEditor’s note: This is an updated version of a column first published in April. It started in America, but the surge in inflation has spread to the rest of the rich world. Consumer prices across the oecd club of mostly rich countries are rising...

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