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Monday 22nd - BESA Times

Seventy-second Edition - Monday 22nd Every week a complete snapshot of what happened around the world in the past seven days


Perspectives on the future of Brexit :

This past week Germany’s foreign minister warned Britain that Europe will not grant any further extension. Heiko Maas declared that “they will have to decide what they want by October,” stating that “you cannot drag out Brexit for a decade”. Moreover, he informed the UK leaders that a demand for an extension will be seen as an appeal to remain in the EU: “Another extension could send the signal that they plan to stay in the EU after all.”

Jean-Claude Juncker has also highlighted the impossibility to put off the withdrawal date indefinitely. He considers that “the best solution would be for the British to adopt the Withdrawal Agreement during the extra time that has been agreed.” Mr. Juncker expressed his desire that the British MPs do not waste the following months, trying to change the agreement that has no chance of being renegotiated by the European Union.

Nonetheless, a potential failure to vote the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons until the European Parliament elections begin on May 23 means British voters will participate in the poll. However, if the UK leaves the EU after May, but takes part in the elections, the new British MEPs will not exercise their functions.

Widening the pay gap between executives and median employees

An analysis by Equilar, a compensation consultancy, shows that the median chief executive ratio for 2018 was 254:1. This went up from 235:1 in 2017, which reveals that income inequality is growing in the United States. While at Berkshire Hathaway the ratio was less than 7:1, at Tesla, it reached the enormous level of 40,668:1, which means that Elon Musk was paid much more than the median Tesla worker. These curiosities became available after the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the rule for Pay Ratio Disclosure on August 5, 2015. The ratio is now considered to be an important factor for assessing wealth management within the companies. Furthermore, the disclosures have prompted some legislators to implement tax punishments in order to close these gaps.

Equilar analyzed the CEO pay at the 100 largest companies by revenue, of which 11 had ratios bigger than 1,000:1. Several companies justified it through the large performance-driven incentives, which included stock option packages, for example, the adjusted value for Oracle’s co-CEOs would have decreased from 1,205:1 to 282:1, while for Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, would have been 852 times rather than 1,424. The pay ratios varied greatly not only between countries (as it can be seen in the diagram from below) but also between industries. Moreover, they are not determined by performance or total revenues.

The fire ravaged the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris

A devastating fire brought down the main spire of the famous cathedral, which was undergoing a €150 million renovation. Consequently, the French president Emmanuel Macron canceled a major television speech regarding the future of France. Instead, he went to the fire area and promised to restore the church: “We'll rebuild this cathedral all together and it's undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we'll have for the coming years."

The second day after the catastrophe, major business leaders raised hundreds of millions of euros to rebuild the cathedral. However, the restoration will require more than money, it will take a deep examination about what exactly is to be rebuilt. There are also some obstacles on its way, like the pause which should be taken after the structure is consolidated, the necessity of an archeological dig to clear out the floor or the ecclesiastical complication. Most people would prefer an exact reproduction of the Gothic masterpiece, while others will argue that it should be added a layer from our times. The French authorities launched an international architectural contest to replace the fallen spire, a well-known element of the building. Hopefully, the fire will appear in the cathedral’s lengthy book of history just as one more event to speak about.


Did you know

Last Wednesday, data came out showing that US soybeans exports in February are higher than a year ago. It was the first rise since the trade war started in 2018. The yearly exports rose for the last time in May 2018, as the data showed. Soybeans historically have been by far the largest agricultural export to China. Last year, Trump administration imposed high tariffs on Chinese products. In July, China raised the tariff on US grown soybeans by 25%, that basically froze the US out of the Chinese soybean market last fall. China picked soybeans due to the magnitude of the sales, but also to their US mid-west origin. Those states voted for Trump in the presidential elections, of which China is probably aware. In order to ease the negotiations, China has accepted to buy at least 20m tonnes of soybeans from the US, which allowed them to export the highest amount of soybeans in February since 2016.


WRITTEN BY Daniel Paraschiv



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