After years of dizzying appreciation, the values of luxury assets are plateauing and in some cases plunging.
Last year, a Manhattan penthouse sold for $100 million and another went into contract for $200 million. Christie’s auctioned Picasso’s “Women of Algiers” for $179 million, and Sotheby’s sold the 12-carat Blue Moon of Josephine diamond for $48.4 million. A vintage Jaguar sold for $13.2 million.
For the ultrawealthy, 2015 was an embarrassment of riches.
But after years of dizzying appreciation, the values of luxury assets are plateauing and in some cases plunging. Volumes have shrunk, prices are being cut and some auction lots are going unsold.
On 11 March 2016 the UN Statistical Commission agreed “as a practical starting point” with the proposed global indicator framework by which to measure progress towards the 17 goals and 169 targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It recognized that the development of a robust and high quality indicator framework is a process that will need to continue over time and authorized the Interagency and Expert Group for Sustainable Development Goals (IAEG-SDGs) to continue its work, including:
◾to take into account the specific proposals for refinements of the global indicators made by Member States;
◾to report on progress made on developing and improving the global indicators, and provide its proposals and a plan for regular reviews of the indicator framework, including mechanisms for approval;
◾to report on plans to develop methodologies for those indicators for which definitions and standards have yet to be developed.
I would like to share with you the official report on my mission to Greece which I presented at the United Nations Human Rights Council last week. My report finds that after several years of adjustment policies, more than one million persons in Greece have fallen below income levels indicating extreme poverty. Unemployment, in particular youth unemployment has remained at unacceptable high levels. Unfortunately human rights obligations of Greece and its international lenders towards rights holders within the country continue to be sidelined, both in the design of adjustment policies and in the implementation of much needed structural reforms.
For over a decade now, various global initiatives have promoted the design and implementation of international standards for governments and companies in the extractive sector to publish detailed information about their output and revenues. In 2002, after major corruption scandals emerged in Angola, Publish What You Pay (PWYP; a global coalition of civil society organizations) demanded oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they paid governments.
From this global call for action, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)—a voluntary reporting regime—was launched in 2002 by then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The world of work is changing very rapidly. In the European Union, 11 million people are out of work, including 4.6 million young people. World-wide, the ILO speaks of almost 200 million unemployed people and almost half of the total workforce, or 1.5 billion people are in vulnerable employment. Governments are all in austerity mode and claim to have no other possibility than try and believe better skills and flexible labour markets will bring solutions.
Chances are minimal they will ever succeed.
Argentina signed an agreement in principle on 29 February 2016 with four “super holdout” hedge funds including NML Capital Ltd, Aurelius Capital, Davidson Kempner and Bracebridge Capital. Buenos Aires would pay them a total of about $4.65 billion, amounting to 75 percent of the principal and interest of all their claims of Argentina’s bonds that were defaulted on during the 2001 debt crisis. The payment is to be made in cash before 14 April 2016, provided that Argentina's Congress approves the repeal of Argentina's domestic laws, namely the Lock Law and the Sovereign Payment Law, which prohibit the country from proposing terms to the holdouts that are better than those Argentina offered to its creditors in earlier restructurings. This deal would allow the return of Argentina to the international capital market after more than 15 years of exclusion, something that is imperative for the government to try to put the economy on a more sustainable path even though this would mean having to use a substantial part of its foreign currency reserves to pay off the holdout bond holders. Nevertheless, there are systemic implications of this deal to future sovereign debt restructurings which deserve careful examination and remedial actions.
Having spent 15 years coordinating care in emergency rooms, I know something about setting priorities. And, right now, politicians in Washington have their budget priorities backward. Budget writers are still relying on service cuts to make their numbers add up instead of targeting hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid corporate taxes. It’s time to reverse that pattern.
Working families have a hard enough time getting ahead without losing the essential services we have every right to expect from our government. Over the past five years of deficit reduction deals, we’ve absorbed $2.7 trillion in spending cuts—in everything from housing vouchers to preschool slots to meals for seniors. It’s time to restore and improve vital services by finally collecting the taxes big corporations owe us.
The success of the UN’s post-2015 development agenda is predicated on one underlying theme: no one should be left behind – and certainly not the world’s rural poor –in the fight to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030.
Over 70 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas and amongst indigenous communities which are deeply entrenched in rural environments.
The United Nations says these include subsistence farmers and herders, fishing communities and migrant workers, artisans and indigenous peoples – all of them struggling for economic survival.
African countries have been active in concluding international investment treaties. They are increasingly subject to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases, including claims that challenge regulatory actions of host countries in a wide range of areas, including public services and race relations. At the same time, African States have developed the ‘Africa Mining Vision’, which is aimed at introducing policy and regulatory frameworks intended to maximize the development of the region through the use of natural resources as catalyst for industrial development in order to diversify the economy.
This paper discusses the potential challenges that could arise out of rules established by international investment treaties and ISDS to policy space in African countries and the operationalization of the ‘Africa Mining Vision’. It provides an overview of the rising number of ISDS cases in the mining and extractive industries, including cases brought against African countries. It also reviews how investment treaties are increasingly imposing a wider net of prohibitions around performance requirements, which could potentially be crucial for the operationalization of the ‘Africa Mining Vision’.
The paper concludes that in the case of African countries, similar to other developing countries, the expansion of international investment agreements could carry significant risks to policy space and policy tools necessary for industrialization and development. In the case of African countries, this implies risks to the potential use of sectoral policies, such as policies in the extractive industries and the ‘Africa Mining Vision’, in order to support and promote African countries’ industrialization objectives.
The Investment Court System (ICS) proposed by the European Commission for all of the EU's ongoing and future investment negotiations to get around the massively unpopular Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, would still empower corporations to sue governments over measures to protect the environment, health, workers and other public interests, according to a just released new report.
According to the report, the proposed ICS does not put an end to ISDS. Quite the opposite, it would empower thousands of companies to circumvent national legal systems and sue governments in parallel tribunals if laws and regulations undercut their ability to make money.