For the past several months now, the US media is obsessed with dire predictions of a calamitous trade war between China and the US, following numerous statements by president Trump that the Chinese trade surplus is intolerable. Indeed, at $506 billion of Chinese exports against only $130 billion of US ones, it does look very unfair. However, things look a bit different if looked at from a different angle. The Chinese value added, for instance is only 45%, which means that 55% is first imported there to be assembled and re-exported. The US value added is 92%, India’s 87%. Secondly, German trade surplus with the US is not far behind China’s and, unlike China, which fills the aisles at Walmart with cheap goods, Germany produces and sells large numbers
Brexit, beyond a doubt, shatters profound internal balances within the European Union and heightens Germany’s dominance. This is not necessarily good news, judged against the backdrop of the original EU design of carefully sustained balances that offset big countries’ dominance. The German unification in the 90s tilted the scales, initially more as a matter of perception than a tangible fact. On the one hand, Berlin was overwhelmed with internal unification challenges, while on the other hand, the influence of the United States and Britain counterbalanced German domination. Many years have since passed, and the present day balance has shifted dramatically. Internal traction has declined and centrifugal forces have increased, with there being consecutive crisis peaks in the Eurozone. An accumulation of consecutive destructive impacts generated a perception of
This is the story of an Italian investor who closed his enterprise near Plovdiv. The story was shared with an acquaintance of mine, and it explains why the businessman is leaving the country. The Italian investor started his narrative with a rare admission that, as someone coming from the country that is home to the mafia, it is almost natural for every Italian to “honor” the traditions of oiling administrative and regulatory mechanisms. But back in Italy, says the Italian businessman, we estimate the price for working in our environment at a maximum of 10-11 percent of the business proceeds. Most of us never challenge this – we pay and go on with our lives and work. This is not a new tradition – it has been the
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This article is based on Alex Alexiev’s presentation to the “Russia After Putin” conference of the Bulgariaanalytica.org on Oct. 2. 2017 in Sofia. All citations are from the “Russia in Decline” publication by the Jamestown Foundation, edited by Enders Wimbush and Beth Portale, March 2017. Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia in 1999, a period of time which in many ways determined the course of his rule. The major, if not decisive reason for that, was that 1999 and the eight years that followed, were a period during which the prices of oil and gas rose dramatically from an average of $12-$14 dollars per barrel (USD/bbl) in 1999 to $147/bbl in 2008. This increased Russian export earnings nearly tenfold over this period and led Putin to
By now it is well-known that EU commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, a leftist politician since the age of 21 with zero private sector experience, has imposed a stunning $14.5 billion fine on Apple for allegedly receiving state aid from Ireland. Apple, and the potential beneficiary of this large sum of money, Ireland, have blasted the EU verdict as illegal and threatened to appeal. Separately, the United States government has attacked the decision as discriminatory to U.S. companies and accused the EU in a recent US Treasury paper of “targeting US companies disproportionately.” To the west of the Atlantic divide, opinion seemed to see the reason for this inordinate fine in European bias against the US tech giants due to envy. Indeed, a recent column in the Wall Street Journal
While Bulgarians can do a lot to leap ahead in AI, they can’t leap ahead all together. No one can. At best, a leap-ahead committee – say, a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting AI – can fire up enthusiasm and share best practices. At worst, a committee wastes endless time in planning, meetings and misdirection. A camel is a horse designed by a committee. To rev things up, let me suggest a small initiative that doesn’t need more than a handful or backers. Form a boot camp to train data scientists. It will offer six courses only: ▲ Python or R programming. These are the languages most favored by machine learning specialists (Python) and statisticians (R). They’re fairly easy to translate between – more like Bulgarian versus
Terrorist attacks have been increasing in the West for the past years and became especially frequent in Western Europe since 2015. The mainstream media continues to present us with the image of the “global terrorist network” of jihadists, guiding from afar the actions of its fighters, infiltrating them into Western societies. If we look closer however, more than little has changed with so-called “grassroots” and “lone wolf” attacks overtaking those organised by “professionals”. An attack was prevented in Frankfurt in April 2015 when large quantities of chemicals used for the production of IEDs, as well as assault weapons and great quantities of ammunition were found by police in a family’s home. A successful attack was carried out in Denmark in 2015 by Omar al-Husein, a lone wolf