Tag Archives: Policy

Matthew P. Arsenault | A reflection on Weimar Germany and America’s bleak future | Editorial | Instant News

Like many Americans, I find our current situation at its most disturbing, and at worst terrifying.

The recent presidential debates have done little to ease my anxiety.

As the polarization between far right and far left continues, I cannot help but reflect on the social and political problems of the Weimar Republic, and how this era of the Teutonic question may reflect America in the near future.

Between 1918 and 1923, the German Republic was characterized by socio-economic breakdown, increasing polarization, failure of political institutions, and crises of legitimacy.

The broken party system caused a severe crisis of effectiveness, and in turn led to the collapse of institutional legitimacy.

Political parties are deeply fragmented in socio-cultural dimensions that allow little or no compromise. The cross-cutting divisions necessary for a stable democracy are starting to wither and die.

In a system where competitive parties do not agree on the basic premise of the political structure, changing votes among party members can prove to be very important and can lead to unstable changes in the political system.

For example, when parties are particularistic and do not compromise on socio-cultural divisions, there can be no cohesive government policy. The people – both left and right – have become disillusioned with the “democratic” system.

In Germany, people were mobilized politically, but the party system was broken.

With few viable alternatives, newly mobilized societies join forces with radical and reactionary groups. Parties calling for moderation have turned out to be too fragmented to capture the majority of public support.

The inability of the Weimar Republic to govern effectively opened the door to a charismatic leader in the hope that someone extraordinary could do extraordinary things.

When democratic governments lose popular support, as well as a legitimate monopoly on the use of force, democratic regimes stand no chance.

In short, the crisis of the Weimar Republic stems from government inefficiency and loss of institutional legitimacy.

The difficulties were exacerbated by a failed party system, constitutional problems and the economic crisis.

People, from both the political left and the political right, have lost faith in the democratic system and the institutions it needs.

As a result, Germany saw the extremist element as a means of injecting a stabilizing influence into the republic. Needless to say, the results proved to be disastrous.

I’m afraid the United States might follow a parallel path.

It seems that the days of open and honest discourse about the benefits of political policy are over. An era of increasing extremism and continued polarization is before us with no sign of retreating.

Unfortunately, entrenched interests of the right and left show little interest in compromise. This will only lead to a continuing crisis of legitimacy, and quite possibly, the collapse of America’s two-party system. What will emerge from the ashes remains to be seen, but rest assured, the transition will be grim.

Matthew P. Arsenault is professor of political science at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson.


image source

N-League MPs guarantee full support for Buzdar, support policy | Instant News

Punjab Assembly Member Faisal Khan Niazi visited the Chief Minister of Punjab at the CM Office, and expressed his confidence in the leadership of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. Problems in his constituency, community welfare projects and development schemes were discussed at the meeting.

Chief Minister Usman Bazdar heeded the suggestion and ensured that problems would be resolved at the earliest. Those who make a scene and have no agenda other than saving corruption are Pakistan’s enemies.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan is still the most popular party in the country.

The opposition from day one created obstacles on the path of national progress but corrupt elements will be held accountable, whatever they do. The original work of the elected representatives will be guaranteed. “I really believe in your leadership and policies,” said Faisal Niazi.


image source

Brazilian Consumer Prices Soar Amid Soaring Prices of Staple Foods | Instant News

Photographer: Leonardo Carrato / Bloomberg

Brazilian consumer prices rose more than expected in mid-October amid surging food costs, fueling speculation that the central bank could raise interest rates as early as next year.

The IPCA-15 index rose 0.94%, above the median forecast for a 0.83% gain from economists in a Bloomberg survey and more than double the previous month’s 0.45% gain. It was the biggest monthly increase for mid-October since 1995, the national statistics agency reported on Friday. Annual inflation increased to 3.52%, still below the central bank’s target of 4% for this year.

Faster food inflation pushed Brazilian consumer prices higher

Central bank president Roberto Campos Neto has signaled a plan to keep interest rates at record lows to bolster an uneven recovery from the coronavirus-driven recession. But rising food and fuel prices, partly due to cash giving to informal workers during the pandemic, have prompted investors to bet that policymakers must raise borrowing costs as early as January to control inflation.

Read more: Brazil’s Top Forecasters See Rising Inflation in 2021

More Expensive Food

Food and beverage prices rose 2.24% from the previous month, representing the top inflation driver for the month, according to the statistics agency. Various staples became more expensive, including rice with an 18.48% increase, tomatoes with a 14.25% increase, and meat with a 4.83% increase.

At the same time, transportation costs rose 1.34% due to higher airline ticket prices. Education has slumped 0.02% as many schools remain closed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a Interview Last week, former central bank President Arminio Fraga said factors including a weaker currency, rising inflation expectations and an uncontrolled budget deficit were leading to an “flammable” situation in the Brazilian market. He said the country needed a second fiscal anchor to maintain its credibility among investors.

Policymakers will hold their next tariff setting meeting on October 28.

– With the help of Rafael Mendes


image source

Inactivity and death from Covid-19: Evidence from Italy | Instant News

Inactive workers and deaths from Covid-19: Evidence from the Italy lockdown

Nicola Borri, Francesco Drago, Chiara Santantonio, Francesco Sobbrio 23 October 2020

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020, governments around the world agreed to lockdowns of different intensities to control the spread of the pandemic, alongside other pharmaceutical (PI) and non-pharmaceutical (NPI) interventions. After months of intense and critical emergency, the government then lifted the strictest measures, hoping the use of masks, social distancing and remote work could prevent a pandemic. However, in recent weeks, fears of a second wave have started to increase as the number of new infections continues to rise in many countries. Several countries, such as Israel, have implemented new lockdowns; others, particularly in Europe, are discussing applying tougher measures to economic and social mobility and activity. Since spring, we have learned some facts about the spread of the virus – for example, the use of masks is fundamental (Lyu and Wehby 2020) – that are changing the discussion of a second lockdown. However, we don’t know much about the effectiveness of severe pre-locks during the peak of the first wave of the epidemic.

Italy’s economy lockdown

In a recent study, we answered this question (Borri et al. 2020). We studied the Italian case to estimate how much the intensity of the lockdown reduced the number of deaths from Covid-19. The focus on Italy – one of the first countries to hit Covid-19 – is motivated by the lockdown design implemented by the government, which offers a reasonable source of variation in intensity at a detailed level. In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Italian government imposed the closure of all schools on March 5 and the first closure on March 11, closing many business activities open to the public including restaurants and fitness centers. It then imposed a second economic lockdown on March 22. For this second lockdown, the government established a list of essential economic activities that were allowed to continue operating, while others were suspended or only allowed to operate remotely. These policy provisions lead to heterogeneous geographical variations in the share of active workers across cities, predetermined by economic activity in a particular city and independent of the pandemic. We matched the list of important economic activities with data on the number of workers in those important jobs at the 3-digit city-NACE level. Important to our analysis, we included a granular sample of 7,089 cities, with an average population of 2,443 residents and a median area of ​​21 square kilometers, each belonging to one of Italy’s 110 provinces.

Impact on mobility

To measure the locking effect, we divided a sample of Italian cities into two groups. For each province in Italy, we calculated the median share of the reduction in active population after the economic shutdown on March 22, and then we grouped the cities below and above their provincial median. Cities above the median experienced an average decline in the percentage of active residents by 42.5 percentage points, while cities below the median experienced an average decline of 17 percentage points. Similar to Glaeser et al. (2020), we first estimate the decline in mobility caused by the economic lockdown by comparing cities above and below the median, before and after 22 March.

In Figure 1, we report the mobility patterns for the two city groups. We observed that reduced mobility occurred long before the first and second closures for all municipalities. However, the second lockdown on March 22 led to an additional drop in mobility in cities where the decline in the share of active workers was above the provincial median. In particular, we estimate that cities with a greater contraction in the share of active workers experience a decrease in daily mobility by about 53 kilometers per 1,000 population in relation to municipalities with a smaller contraction in the share of active workers.

Image 1 Evolution of the 5-day moving average in kilometers per 1,000 inhabitants (as residual due to fixed day of week effect)

Inactive workers and deaths from Covid-19

We represent Covid-19 deaths with excess mortality at the city level – measured as the difference between the daily number of deaths in 2020 and the average number of deaths on the same day and in the same city between 2015 and 2019. This addresses, at least in part, problems related to differences in the classification of deaths due to Covid-19, testing, and hospital capacity (Buonanno et al. 2020, Galeotti and Surico 2020). To capture the consequences of second locking in excess mortality, we followed the medical literature and adopted a conservative approach by insisting that the potential effect on mortality be manifested by a two-week lag from transmission (Wilson et al. 2020, Sun et al. 2020).

In Figure 2, we plot the evolution in five-day moving averages of excess mortality for two city groups. The figure shows that, despite schools being closed and other measures of containment from the first closure, both city groups experienced an excessive increase in the number of deaths in early March that lasted until the end of the month. Importantly, the municipalities above the median experienced a sharp increase in excess mortality in the first lockout period (March 11-22) while they experienced a sharper decrease in the second period (March 22-April 30) compared with those below the median. In line with the mechanisms linking active workers and deaths from Covid-19, this suggests that municipalities are characterized by a higher proportion of active workers and consequently mobility pays for a higher number of deaths prior to the economic lockdown, while they experience a greater reduction in Covid-19 deaths after locking is done.

At the same time, Figure 2 does not appear to support the assumption of standard parallel trends – the requirement that in the absence of treatment, the differences between the treatment and control groups are constant over time – which is necessary for differences in design differences. For this reason, we address the potential for violation of this assumption by controlling for the dynamics of excess mortality, by estimating our estimated limits (Angrist and Pischke 2008) and by showing that our results match our choices for sample cities with more similar or nearly identical pre-trends. , such as a city with less than 5,000 inhabitants.

Figure 2 Excess mortality in 2020 compared to 2015-2019

Our main findings suggest that the intensity of the economic lockdown is associated with a statistically significant reduction in mortality by Covid-19, particularly for the 40-64 age group and older, with greater and more significant effects for individuals over 50. -the-envelope indicates that in the 26 days between April 5 and April 30, a total of 4,793 deaths could have been avoided in 3,518 cities experiencing a more intense lockdown. The results are robust for including time-varying shocks for provinces and alternative specifications such as looking at the linear model (i.e. considering a linear decrease in the share of the active population in excess mortality) and weighting the share of active workers on proximity and occupation-from-home indices, among others.

Alternative mechanism

Interestingly, we found no significant effect of the lockdown in southern Italy. While these results are not surprising given the modest epidemic effects in this part of the country, they are at the same time a useful placebo exercise that excludes other confounding mechanisms. For example, our findings may be contaminated by the fact that in municipalities with a greater decline in active population there are also less lethal car or workplace accidents. However, the fact that we found no significant effect in the south, where the spread of the pandemic is negligible, would suggest that the effect of this alternative channel is, if any, small. In our paper, we discuss other possible confounding mechanisms that could explain our results, such as a return to the mean or the effect of the Italian first locking. We argue that the available evidence does not support this alternative mechanism. While we cannot precisely identify the channels in which lockdowns may have reduced transmission, the prime candidate is a reduction in the mobility of active workers caused by lockdowns.


Our results are the first step to evaluating the costs and benefits of severe lockdowns and can help to guide policymakers in their decisions regarding the safe relaxation of these measures after the current medical emergency, and to evaluate which policies are more effective to control. . future pandemics. Obviously, we can’t claim the same effect will apply in different settings – for example, when more masks become available (Lyu and Wehby 2020) or better contact tracing systems are implemented. More generally, our empirical strategy provides a simple methodology for future research aimed at assessing the impact of the economic lockdown on reducing Covid-19 deaths in other countries.


Angrist, JD and JS Pischke (2008), The least dangerous econometrics: The empiric’s colleague. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Borri, N, F Drago, C Santantonio and F Sobbrio (2020), “The “Great Lockdown”: Workers inactivity and death from Covid-19”, CEPR Discussion Paper 15317.

Buonanno, P, S Galletta and M Puca (2020), “Estimating the severity of Covid-19: evidence from the Italian epicenter”, Plos One (will come).

Galeotti, A and P Surico (2020), “User’s Guide to Covid-19”, VOX.org, 27 March. https://voxeu.org/article/user-guide-covid-19

Glaeser, EL, CS Gorback and SJ Redding (2020), “How much will Covid-19 increase with mobility? Evidence from New York and four other US cities ”, NBER Working Paper 8345.

Lyu, W and GL Wehby (2020), “Community use of face masks and Covid-19: Evidence from state-mandated natural experiments in the US”, Health Affairs 39 (8).

Sun, P, X Lu, C Xu, W Sun and B Pan (2020), “Understanding Covid-19 based on current evidence”, Journal of Medical Virology 92 (6).

Wilson, N, A Kvalsvig, LT Barnard and MG Baker (2020), “Estimated case-fatality risk for Covid-19 calculated using the time lag for death”, Emerging Infectious Diseases 26 (6).


image source

UPM begins construction of a biob-based chemical plant in Germany | Instant News

UPM on 7 October celebrated the official start of construction of a state-of-the-art biochemical facility in Leuna, Germany. The EUR 550 million biorefinery investment is an important milestone in UPM’s strategic transformation.

At Leuna, UPM will produce 100 percent wood-based biochemicals that will enable the transition from fossil-based products to sustainable alternatives in a number of end uses such as plastics, textiles, cosmetics and industrial applications. The technology and processes have been developed by UPM over the past ten years, mainly building on the company’s own innovation capabilities and selectively working with international partners. The biorefinery is expected to start operating by the end of 2022. The investment was awarded The Bio Act of the Year 2020 by the World BioEconomy Forum in early September this year.

“Today marks a new era for UPM’s biomolecular business. The biorefinery in Leuna will be the core of a wholly new, high-value growth business and open up a whole new market for UPM with great growth potential in the future, ”said Jyrki Ovaska, executive vice president of technology at UPM. “Awareness of climate change has increased customer demand for sustainable alternatives to fossil-based products. UPM has committed to the United Nations Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5 ° C and continues to innovate more sustainable products from renewable raw materials. The biorefinery in Leuna opens up new perspectives for UPM as well as the bio-economy as a whole, “continued Ovaska.

The total annual capacity of the biorefinery will be 220,000 tonnes of bio-monoethylene glycol (BioMEG) and a lignin-based renewable functional filler. In addition, the biorefinery will produce bio-monopropylene glycol (BioMPG) and industrial sugar made from sustainably harvested beech wood that is sourced regionally in Germany. MEG is used for the production of textiles, plastics, PET, packaging and industrial refrigeration, while MPG is used for composite, pharmaceutical or cosmetic products. Renewable functional fillers are used for example in various rubber applications such as tires and seals.

UPM’s wood-based products can be used to replace oil, gas or coal based materials and they work consistently within established production processes and existing recycling infrastructure. They will significantly reduce the CO2 footprint of the end use product. In addition, the raw materials and other services for the biorefinery will be sourced from the region which allows local value creation and ensures compliance with high social and environmental standards.

The biorefinery will be built at Leuna, a well-known chemical site with a history of more than 100 years, which has undergone significant transitions in the past. The state government has committed to supporting the sustainable development of new industries and also supporting UPM in the process to date. The state prime minister, Dr. Reiner Haseloff welcomes UPM’s investment: “Saxony-Anhalt is increasingly developing into the technology hub of the future. UPM Biorefinery is a major investment for the state of Saxony-Anhalt and I am grateful that UPM decided to invest in our state. Leuna offers a well-developed infrastructure and a business environment that supports such investments. “

UPM has set up a project office at the site and is now ready to start the project construction phase. Work continues uninterrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic with high health and safety standards ensuring safe working conditions.

Follow the live stream upm.com/leuna


image source