Economist 9/30/16

  1. Skytrax releases an annual ranking of the world’s top 100 airports. This year’s list puts five airports in developing countries ahead of the top American airport, Denver International, which lies in 28th place.The top 50 includes 15 airports in developing countries and just four in the United States.New York JFK and Los Angeles LAX come in 59th and 91st, respectively. Newark and LaGuardia don’t even make the top 100.What is it that makes American airports so bad? There are a number of factors, beginning with chronic underinvestment in public infrastructure across the country.But part of the answer can be traced to a related trend: the poor performance of American airlines compared with international rivals.So while both Singapore Changi (the top airport) and Emirates (the top airline) add new amenities to lure international travellers, America’s carriers and hubs are more focused on the dominant domestic market, where there isn’t as much competition or pressure to improve.
  2. HUNGARY will hold a referendum on October 2nd.The question is: “Do you want the European Union to be entitled to prescribe the mandatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of parliament?” (Note the neutral wording.) The referendum was prompted by the EU’s Emergency Response Mechanism, adopted in September 2015, under which 160,000 of the migrants who began surging into Europe last year are to be shared out between member states according to quotas. The decision passed in the EU’s Council of Ministers by majority vote, but four countries voted against it: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. Hungary and Slovakia have challenged the system in the European Court of Justice.The referendum is largely a popularity ploy by Viktor Orban ,Hungary’s populist prime minister, and will have no legal effect.
  3. Polls predict a comfortable majority of voters will choose “no”. Outside Budapest and the major cities, Hungary is a conservative and insular country, where many people speak no foreign languages and have little experience of those with different skin colours or faiths. But more than 50% of Hungary’s roughly 8m eligible voters must turn out for the result to be valid, and they may not.Since the start of 2015 Hungary has received 203,898 asylum applications, and granted only 880 people any form of protection, according to the government.It is not clear how anti-migrant the public is.
  4. GOLF clubs abounded in Arnie Palmer’s life.He had won seven majors (the US Open, the British Open twice, the Masters four times) in seven seasons, and 92 professional tournaments worldwide. They made him the most celebrated player in America and his sport, once the preserve of snobs in plus-fours, a popular sensation. He did not play like other people: he was muscular, dramatic, with his flopping hair and working man’s hands.Thanks to him, golf became a TV fixture and a maker of millionaires. He was the first.His style was not subtle.“Go for broke” was his motto, and his speciality was the “Palmer charge”, where he would roar in from behind to clinch a title.From 1959, though, his business manager Mark McCormack taught him the ropes of borrowing, investing, sponsorship and endorsements, and two years later Arnold Palmer Enterprises Inc marked the first transformation of golfing prowess into a business empire.
  5. BARRING any last-minute hiccups, America’s government will let lapse a contract that gives it control over part of ICANN on October 1st.Whoever controls the internet’s address book can also censor the internet: delete a domain name (such as and the website can no longer be found. That is why, as the internet grew up, America decided not to hand control to the United Nations or another international body steered by governments. Instead, in 1998 it helped create ICANN, which is a global organisation that gives a say to everybody with an interest in the smooth running of the network, whether they are officials, engineers, domain-name holders or internet users.Most were happy with the arrangement, at least at first. But American oversight came to seem odd as the internet grew into a vast global resource with much traffic no longer passing over American cables.But America’s Department of Commerce, which oversees ICANN, was provoked to announce in March 2014 that it would relinquish its role if it were convinced that the organisation would be truly independent and able to resist power grabs by other governments and commercial interests.