Economist 6/29/16

  1. Canada has 15 free trade deals in place. The largest and most important to the country is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico and the United States, which came into force on January 1st 1994.Canada has also negotiated but not signed a pact with the EU that went further than NAFTA in some areas.The Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA) grants Canada limited access to Europe’s single market, though its future is complicated by Brexit.The CETA shares common elements with NAFTA. They are trade agreements rather than customs unions. Members retain separate external tariffs and rely on rules of origin to determine whether an item is eligible for preferential treatment.Both call for almost all tariffs to be eliminated, allowing the free flow of goods and services, but crucially not of people and capital. NAFTA has a skeletal secretariat to resolve disputes. The work is done by tribunals that are set up as needed.Should Britain decide to copy the Canadian model with the EU it would gain the independence in policymaking and border-control that Brexiteers desire but would no longer be unfettered freedom of movement for people and capital, and Britain would not have a say on the rules of the single market.
  2. THE emerging stars of European scriptwriting have been raised on a rich diet of “The Sopranos”, “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad”, so it is little surprise that more are striving to write for the small—rather than the silver—screen.The rise of long-form television series is twinned with a general decline in the film industries of many European countries. While there are exceptions, Italian films often struggle to do well overseas, and in France, fiscal difficulties mean that cinema is becoming increasingly mainstream in order to fill seats. Independent directors are finding new scope and creative freedom in television.Making long-form serialised television drama in Europe has become more profitable, and thus increasingly attractive, over recent years. Experienced and acclaimed writers—such as Matthew Weiner of “Mad Men”—can fetch around $2m-$3m for showrunning a series. A less well-known figure might earn $100,000, and a staff writer (the term given to an individual writer on the showrunner’s creative team) would earn a significant amount less.But for many screenwriters, the appeal of television lies not in money but in the creative freedom it allows.
  3. Oi, one of the largest state backed telecom operators made the largest bankruptcy-protection filing in Brazilian history on June 20th.Brazil’s interim government says it will not bail out the company, which is in debt to the tune of 65 billion reais ($19 billion).The product of a state-sponsored merger eight years ago aimed at building a homegrown giant in a market dominated by foreign firms, Oi was even regarded as a potential global player. It is the country’s largest fixed-line firm, but has struggled to compete with international rivals in the much more lucrative mobile market, where it is Brazil’s fourth-largest operator, despite lots of official funding and regulatory changes in its favour.Like many firms in the country, Oi piled on debt during the boom years.
  4. Between 2005 and 2015 the world’s cities swelled by about 750m people, according to the UN. More than four-fifths of that growth was in Africa and Asia; specifically, on the fringes of African and Asian cities. With few exceptions, cities are growing faster in size than in population. Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, is typical: it doubled in population between 1990 and 2010 but tripled in area. In short, almost all urban growth is sprawl.To planners the sprawl seems haphazard, and it has bad consequences, especially in Africa. But it has a logic of its own, and in any case cannot be wished away.
  5. Dar es Salaam has swelled so much that almost all building now is in what is technically countryside. Land there can be bought and sold, but only informally; commercial developers will not touch it. The buyers, largely families moving out of the city centre, cannot encumber land that they do not truly own, so they cannot obtain mortgages.The urban fringe is littered with “almost houses” and shops selling building supplies.If house-building is slow, installing roads and other infrastructure is much more so.Homes now have electricity but little else.Shlomo Angel of New York University has studied seven African cities in detail: Accra, Addis Ababa, Arusha, Ibadan, Johannesburg, Lagos and Luanda. He calculates that only 16% of the land in new residential areas developed since 1990 has been set aside for roads—about half as much as planners think necessary. And 44% of those roads are less than four metres wide.s the suburbs of Dar es Salaam fill up, their residents will gain officials’ ears. But retrofitting chaotic districts with roads and sewers will be slow, hard and pricey.

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