Benjamin Wolf Profile picture
Journalist 🗞️ Historian 📚 Writer ✏️ European 🌍 Austrian 🎶 Styrian 🌳  Jedi ☄️ Eldar ✨ Schwoaza ⚽
29 Jan
The relationship between the UK and the EU is rapidly becoming similar to that between Canada and the US - public opinion in the former cares lots about what the latter does, but that's not so much the case the other way around.
In the UK bubble I follow I see lots of frantic takes and debates hlabiut how this or that move by the EU should or could be seen.

In my EU bubble I see discussions of what AstraZeneca did or didn't do and when and how we will get the vaccines (or not). The UK hardly figures.
Of course, it's involved in some way in this whole imbroglio. But nobody actively discusses how move x or y could be seen in the UK. It really feels very much like domestic US debates that don't care much (if at all) about how stuff is perceived in Canada.
Read 4 tweets
15 Dec 20
So the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine will probably be approved by the EMA on December 23. We know that because we know it'll be approved. But we still wait a week for actual approval because - yeah, why, actually?
It's odd, at the very least. If the EMA experts agree that the vaccine merits approval, just go ahead and approve it. If there's bureaucracy involved that make it longer, well, reform it then. It's profoundly weird to wait for an approval that we know is coming, just because.
I know being quite harsh here, but we need to question these processes. In an emergency situation, the approval should take exactly as long as it takes for the experts to assess the safety of the vaccine and all that comes with it. That's it.
Read 10 tweets
9 Dec 20
Austria can borrow billions for 100 years for a yearly coupon of 0.88%.

Imagine the Republic would borrow, say, €9 billion and then put €1,000 for each of its citizens into a fund that invests like Norway’s National Fund.

Fanciful but fascinating.

ft.com/content/d55687…
A small, stable country could probably even get away with that. It would raise some eyebrows, but in the end, nobody would mind much. And you could repeat it for a couple years. Then you wait until global growth does its miracles.
In a decade or two, the Republic could have a veritable National Fund on behalf of its citizens which it could use to give them a “baby bond” like payout when they turn 18 or use for a number of other cool projects.
Read 4 tweets
8 Dec 20
In 1990, the population of Western Germany (62 million) and France (58m) was within a whisker.

Then reunification happened – and Germany suddenly had 80 million.

In 2050, France’s population could reach around 80 million and overtake Germany as the EU’s most populous state.
France’s demographics – current & historical – will never cease to amaze me.

France was one of a few countries to kinda miss out on the massive population increase of the 19th century. And it got worse until 1950.

But then, when everyone else slowed down, bonjour la France!
But it gets even weirder if you go further back. During the Middle Ages, a quarter of Europe’s population was French.

That’d be 185 million people today – three times France’s actual population!
Read 14 tweets
7 Dec 20
Wenn sogar eine Pandemie und ein wochenlanger Lockdown die Leute nicht dazu bewegt ihre Geschenke online zu kaufen, kann die Zukunft des stationären Handels nicht so düster ausschauen wie immer wieder einmal suggeriert wird.
Ich unterstütze auch gerne lokale Geschäfte – geht übrigens auch online.

Aber warum man sich heute auf der Mahü zig Minuten vor einem Geschäft anstellt um etwas zu kaufen, das man die letzten Wochen auch jederzeit online bestellen hätte können muss ich nicht verstehen, oder?
Ich geh auch lieber “in echt” einkaufen. Aber grad jetzt ist es weder besonders entspannt, noch lustig, noch empfohlen. Also was bewegt einem dazu es doch zu tun? Ich versteh’s echt nicht.
Read 5 tweets
6 Dec 20
Die deutsche Impfstrategie hat 15 Seiten, ein Inhaltsverzeichnis und immens viele Details.

Die österreichische Impfstrategie hat 8 Seiten, wovon zwei Seiten leer sind, kein Inhaltsverzeichnis und ganz oft das Wort “Erfolgsgeschichte.”

Läuft.

#madeinAustria #coronaAT
Dafür haben wir unsere Impfstrategie drei Wochen später veröffentlicht. Den zusätzlichen Aufwand sieht man schön am Deckblatt, das uns mit Logo und eleganter Graphik besser gelungen ist als den Deutschen. Design made in Austria.
Read 5 tweets
30 Nov 20
“What the fuck happened in 1971?”

Well, we all know correlation is not causation – and there are many potential causes: deregulation, the oil shocks, the end of Keynesianism, China entering the world trade system, technological change etc.

wtfhappenedin1971.com
But I happen to think that the end of the Bretton Woods system did play a key role. However, not because it untethered currencies from gold – that was anyway mostly a fictional tether – but because it untethered them from one another and the global trading system in general.
I tend to believe that you could have taken gold out of the equation entirely but crucially, could have kept a coordinated system of currency movements, trade rebalancing and capital controls – when the moves are too extreme – in place.
Read 14 tweets
11 Oct 19
Ich muss zugeben, ich weiß zu Handke politischer Haltung gar nichts und zu seiner Literatur recht wenig. Daher fällt es mir auch extrem schwer, mir ein Urteil zu bilden.
Kriegsverbrechen zu verharmlosen & und einen Kriegstreiber zu verteidigen geht natürlich gar nicht. Es gibt jedoch auch kluge & progressive Leute die ich kenne, die Handkes Haltung mit scheinbar guten Gründen differenzierter zu sehen scheinen.
In deren Sicht ist er anscheinend vor allem ein Schreiber gegen den blinden Nationalismus, der sich eifrig, naiv und blind auf eine Seite (die der Zentralregierung, also Serben) geschlagen habe, jedoch nicht Völkermord oder Verbrechen befördern oder befürworten wollte.
Read 9 tweets
16 Oct 18
@davidallengreen @FT It's a good article and interesting questions. Some thoughts:

Yes, the backstop per se was not something the EU insisted on from the beginning - but it insisted from the beginning on there being no hard border in Ireland, and that's what the backstop is for.
@davidallengreen @FT After the referendum, it still seemed plausible that the UK might stay in the customs union (Norway or Turkey model), in which case a backstop of course wouldn't have been needed and or become an issue.
@davidallengreen @FT Only when it became clear that the UK was intent on ultimately leaving the customs unions, the question of how to ensure a soft border in Ireland became really salient. And that's where the idea of the backstop popped up.
Read 10 tweets