11 tips to save on heating costs

It is estimated that each household spends on average more than 700 euros a year on heating. However, with the war in Ukraine, the price of energy has skyrocketed. So, this year, homes with accumulators and electric radiators could pay twice as much as last year. From 11Onze, we offer you 11 tips to save on heating.

 

With the current price fluctuations, the first basic measure to save money when you switch on your heating is to check whether your utility company is offering you the best price. But, even if the price is tight, our goal should be to optimise energy consumption to minimise both the amount of the bill and our carbon footprint. To this end, we offer you some practical tips that will enable you to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat your home. 

 

Check your windows and doors

Window and door frames are essential for keeping your home warm. Any gap can create an unwanted draught. If your window and door frames are old and the windows do not close tightly, you can improve the insulation by fitting foam weather stripping or even some insulating tape. And, if you have a fireplace, don’t forget to close it when not in use.

 

Make the most of sunlight

The sun is our great natural ally against the cold. That’s why it’s best to keep the blinds up and the curtains drawn during the day. In this way, the sun’s rays will enter your home and help to raise the temperature. The orientation of the different rooms in your home will determine the hours when the sun’s rays enter directly through each window. 

 

Protect yourself from the cold darkness

When the sun goes down, the outside temperature drops, so we should insulate ourselves as much as possible so that heat is not transferred from the inside of the house to the outside. To do this, we should do the opposite of what we do during daylight hours: lower blinds and draw curtains so that the heat that has built up during the day does not escape when it gets dark. Thick, opaque curtains, better if they are made of thermal fabric, will help you to keep the heat in, as they will help to insulate the window areas better.

 

Do not ventilate more than necessary

Ventilating the house every day is an essential health and hygiene measure that allows you to renew the air and oxygenate the rooms. However, when the cold weather arrives, it is advisable to do so for 10 or 15 minutes, no more. And preferably in the morning or in the middle of the day, when the outside temperature is higher, so that heat loss is minimal.

 

Put the heating where you need it

Keeping unused areas of your home warm is a waste of energy. That is why it is a good idea to leave all the rooms that you are not going to use closed and to turn off the heat sources you have in them. If, for example, you are going to spend the morning between the living room and the kitchen, why keep the rest of the rooms warm? Close the doors and turn off the radiators in the rooms. If the surface area to be heated is smaller, energy consumption will also be lower.

 

Wrap up warm

It makes no sense to go around the house wearing a t-shirt when the cold weather arrives. It is a waste of heating. All the warmth you gain through clothing will translate into heating savings. You don’t need to wear gloves, but thick socks, fuzzy slippers, a light fleece or a dressing gown will allow you to lower the thermostat a little and reduce your energy bill. And don’t forget a blanket on the sofa is very nice.

 

Turn off the heating at night

A good way to save on heating is to turn it off at night, as in most cases blankets and duvets provide enough warmth. Materials such as wool or flannel are very good choices for bedding. And keep in mind that the traditional hot water bags still work.

 

Use rugs

Carpets help to insulate the home better and keep our feet warm. They also provide a feeling of warmth and comfort when you walk on them. 

 

Do not use radiators as a dryer

The function of radiators is to provide heat, not to dry clothes. Therefore, avoid using them as a dryer when it is not raining and you can hang clothes outside. We must ensure that the heat sources are left free to make the most of the heat they give off. 

 

Keep the heating system in good condition

It is estimated that 60 % of gas boilers in the European Union are inefficient, requiring excess energy to heat homes. Properly regulating pressure, purging radiators, cleaning burners and checking filters for replacement can help to optimise system performance and achieve more heat with less energy.

It should not be forgotten that the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine made many countries to switch back to or increase the share of highly polluting energy sources. Unfortunately, the issue of climate change has been put on the back burner despite the urgent need for action in this decade to prevent global warming from reaching levels that would have irreversible effects.

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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What many suspected has been confirmed: Black Friday is actually a big marketing campaign. Discounts hardly ever reflect reality and prices on electronics and household appliances are on average 3% higher than the lowest price recorded in the previous 30 days, according to the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU).

 

According to a survey by Tandem Up, 85% of consumers planned to buy something on Black Friday. And the fact is that more and more people are bringing their Christmas shopping forward to take advantage of the supposed sales of this campaign. However, the reality is that the advertised discounts that they found were almost always false, according to a study by the OCU.

This research has compared the evolution of 16,000 online prices over more than a month, mainly for electronics and household appliances, but also in other areas. Its main conclusion is that 99% of the advertised discounts are not real. In fact, the theoretical average discount of 25% labelled for Black Friday turns into an average increase of 3% on the minimum price recorded during the last month.

 

Non-compliance with regulations

For most products, online retailers do not use the lowest price of the last 30 days as a reference for comparative savings, but any other price recorded during that period or even the recommended retail price, which breaches current legislation.

It should be borne in mind that Law 7/1996 on the Regulation of Retail Trade, recently amended to adapt it to European directives, establishes in article 20.1 that whenever articles are offered with a price reduction “the previous price must be clearly shown together with the reduced price” and that “the previous price shall be understood to be the lowest price that had been applied in the previous 30 days”.

Fortunately, if you think that your rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Catalan Consumer Agency, a Municipal Consumer Information Office or one of the Consumer Arbitration Boards.

 

Catalonia is no exception

Bad practices on Black Friday seem to be widespread if we take into account research on the previous Black Friday campaign in the UK that reaches very similar conclusions to those of the OCU.

After checking 214 offers at seven of the UK’s leading home and technology retailers (Amazon, AO, Argos, Currys, John Lewis, Richer Sounds and Very) during the 2021 Black Friday campaign, it found that 86% of these items had been offered cheaper or at the same price at some point in the six months prior to Black Friday

It’s clear that Black Friday discount labelling can’t be trusted, so the only alternative, if you’re looking for bargains, is to keep track of price trends for the products you’re interested in. This is the only way to make sure you get them at the right time.

 

If you want your business to make a giant leap, use 11Onze Business. Our business and freelancer account is now available. Find out more!

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11Onze is launching the sale of gold coins as gifts. Buyers will receive the coins, an exclusive Christmas postcard and a gold note as proof of purchase. Gold, for tomorrow’s future.

 

Christmas holidays are a time to think of others and wish them well. In many Catalan households, this wish translates into an envelope of money for tomorrow’s future. In other words, fathers, mothers, grandfathers or grandmothers are in the habit of giving money as a gift so that it will be helpful to their children or grandchildren in the future. But does this make sense right now? With rampant inflation, a depreciating euro and uncertainty about the future of fiat currencies, money does not seem as valuable or as secure a gift as it did a few years ago.

For this reason, at 11Onze we thought that this role could be played by gold. Gold is the best option if you want to give a gift that will not lose value over time and can be converted into cash quickly. For tomorrow’s future, give gold as a gift.

Until now, with Preciosos 11Onze you could buy gold bullion for as little as €3,000. We now offer the option of buying gold coins, starting at €220. For 11Onze members with an El Canut account, shipping is free. For all other buyers, it costs €9.99.

How are they delivered?

If you want to buy gold coins as a gift, you have to fill in this form and an agent will contact you. Once everything is ready, you will pay directly by credit card. At home, you will receive a Christmas card and a personalised gold ticket that certifies your gold purchase. We will send it all to you, along with the coins. The campaign runs from 1 December to 6 January, but we recommend ordering as early as possible to ensure delivery of the coins during the festive season. In the event that the stock of coins runs out, the gold banknote will be sent first, followed by the coins.

 

The magic of Christmas

The 11Onze gold banknote connects directly with the fantasy created by Roald Dahl in the novel ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory‘. There, children who found the golden ticket inside the chocolate bar were invited to visit the chocolate factory of the bizarre Willy Wonka. The 11Onze gold ticket will not be used to take any children to meet the Oompa Loompa, but it will have a function that we believe is very valuable: it will ensure that they have gold for tomorrow’s future.

I’m interested!

If you want to discover the best option to protect your savings, enter Preciosos 11Onze. We will help you buy at the best price the safe-haven asset par excellence: physical gold.

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In the second edition of “Que no faltin!”, Susana Rodríguez Urgel, founder of The Digital Advisory Board, shared her knowledge of crypto-economics with the audience at La Plaça.

 

The possibilities offered by new technologies have opened the way to crypto-economics, a new techno-economic concept that coordinates different actors in the FinTech sector, with the aim of creating a decentralised economy through blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

As Rodriguez explains, “The digitalisation of the economy and, in particular, what blockchain is, leads to ‘ownership’. We will all be owners of what we can associate with our digital identity“. Collaboration between users gives rise to a new generation of platforms that thrive on the contributions of a decentralised global talent blockchain, which does not have to seek permission from any government entity.

However, as the expert in crypto-economics points out, “all freedoms bring more responsibility“, the decline of the cryptocurrency market is not caused by new technologies “the problem we are experiencing now is not the cryptocurrencies, the technology is not to blame. It is the people who are making use of this technology who are sometimes unethical.”

In this context, governments have seen how they have been left behind in the face of a paradigm shift that may present a challenge to the established power structure, and under their domination. Will the creation of central bank-controlled digital currencies (CBDCs) be the basis on which the centralised financial system will survive? You can watch the full episode here.

“Que no faltin!” Chapter: 3

David Garrofé, businessman and secretary general of the Catalan employers’ association CECOT from 1988 to 2021, will talk to us about the future of the labour market. You will be able to follow the conversation live from La Plaça, from 19:00 on Tuesday 13 December. If you would like to participate as an audience member, you can reserve your place by writing to [email protected].

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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Despite having the highest average salary in history, the average Spanish wage is almost 450 euros lower than the EU average and continues to have one of the highest rates of job insecurity in Europe.

 

Inflation has eaten into wage increases and reduced citizens’ purchasing power to an extent not seen for thirteen years. This economic mess is not unique to Spain, but it is exacerbated by Spain’s low wage levels, an endemic problem that has been dragging on for decades.

Although the latest unprecedented rise in the minimum wage has reduced the gap, both the average gross wage (1,126 euros) and the Spanish minimum wage (1,751 euros) are among the lowest in the European Union, 20.2% lower than its European partners.

Within the Western bloc, with average wages above 2,500 euros per month, Spain is at the bottom, followed by Portugal (1,106 euros) and Greece (1,034 euros). There are wide differences with countries such as France (2,446 euros), Belgium (2,830 euros), the Netherlands (2,883 euros) and Germany (3,303 euros). Spain only does well when compared with the less developed countries of Eastern Europe.

 

Minimum Wage EU

Average Salary EU

Low productivity and high unemployment

The precariousness of employment for a large part of the population in the face of the business world is an endemic historical evil in Spain. The insecurity created by the fear of unemployment makes workers accept low wages and working conditions that would be unthinkable in other developed countries.

When, after the sanitary crisis, the media spoke of “The Great Resignation“, referring to the fact that in many Western countries many employees were rethinking their priorities, giving up their usual jobs to get better ones, from here, with more than three million unemployed and salaries equivalent to a Western European China, we looked at it as if they were talking about another planet.

The high number of part-time and temporary full-time workers means that many employees do not receive proper training and do not maintain a professional career, which negatively affects productivity. This is exacerbated by the heavy weight of the service sector in the Spanish economy, which has little added value, low wages and is prone to outsourcing labour activity. The composition of our productive fabric has suffered a gradual deterioration in sectors that historically had better salaries.

Added to this is another trend that is prevalent in Catalonia and in Spain, but which is not observed in the developed European bloc: the enormous wage gap between younger and older employees. The low salaries received by the youngest employees, who will have to sustain the economy in the future, jeopardise the economic support of the country and a solidarity-based pension system.

 

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Do you know what’s covered by your home insurance? The most common mistake when taking out insurance is not checking the details of the policy. To avoid unpleasant surprises at the last minute, we detail some points of the contract that you should look out for.

 

Building cover covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home in the event of a disaster. To differentiate it from the contents, a very graphic formula is to imagine that we can turn our home upside down. Everything that would fall down would be the contents, while what would not fall down would be the building.

Keep in mind that the value of the building coverage does not represent the purchase price or market value of your home. Nor should it include the value of the land on which the house or building was built. In reality, it is the amount that would be needed to rebuild the home back to the way it was. This value is known as the “reconstruction cost”.

Home insurance also includes a section dedicated to your “contents”, or your things (TV, clothes, computer, bicycle, etc.). The amount that appears in that section is the amount that the insurance will pay you as a maximum if something happens to your things, so it should more or less correspond to their real value.

The clauses of the policy, under scrutiny

Here are some elements that you should take into account so that you don’t overpay and so that the insurance doesn’t underpay you in the event of a claim:

  • Avoid duplication. If your building has insurance, check its coverage, as you will be able to exclude from your policy the elements of the building that are already included in the community insurance. Bear in mind that, in the event of a claim, if an element is covered by both the community insurance and your private insurance, you will not be paid twice.
  • Make sure the valuation of the building is correct. If the sums insured are much higher than the value of your home, you are paying for protection that you do not need, as, in the event of a claim, the insurance will only pay for reconstruction, nothing else. On the other hand, if the reconstruction value of your home is higher than the insured sums, the insurer will only pay up to the insured sums, leaving you with a shortfall in your recovery. Therefore, you should adjust your policy to be slightly above the value of your home, but without paying for unnecessary cover. As a guideline, bear in mind that the valuation should range from around 800 euros per square metre for normal flats to 1,300 euros for a detached house.
  • Check that the valuation of the contents is adequate. Be aware that insurers impose limits on the individual value of the personal things they cover by default. Normally, your valuables will need additional cover. You need to register them or your insurance will only reimburse you up to the individual limit you have by default in your policy. We recommend that you take photos (or a video) of all your things. To estimate their value, first, make a list of the valuable items and calculate their cost, and then estimate the figure for less valuable items such as clothes and kitchen utensils and round up their value.
  • Keep an eye on how glass cover reflects. Glass cover includes everything from windows to mirrors. You should make sure that windows are included among the building covers, while mirrors are included in the contents. Sometimes insurers use this separation to exclude part of the windows from the coverage, so check if they are all covered.
  • Consider coverage for aesthetic damage and sanitary ware. Toilets, countertops and other items should be protected by these coverages. Some insurers include these elements as part of the contents, which can be detrimental if the insured capital is lower than the real one. In addition, it can lead to bathrooms and kitchens being excluded from specific coverage, such as aesthetic damage if only building damage is covered and bathrooms and kitchens are considered as contents. You should check that the coverage for aesthetic damage covers the necessary repairs to maintain the aesthetic uniformity of your home after an incident, as insurers play a lot with the limitations of this coverage, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure that your insurance covers sanitary ware as a building and does not have hidden exclusions. Neither does the clauses regarding aesthetic damage, which must cover a minimum capital of 2,000 euros.
  • Make sure that the insurance covers the replacement value of the contents. The actual value is the value that most insurers calculate to replace your stolen or damaged items. It is calculated on the basis of what the same item would cost today (the replacement value) minus the loss of value due to age, wear and tear (depreciation). Hence the importance of the insurance not covering the actual value, but the replacement value, which is the price for which your item (of the same maker and model) could be bought today if it were new. In short, the replacement value is the market price. If your insurance uses the actual value, you will probably want to look for insurance with a similar price but using the replacement value.
  • Check that the policy includes legal defence. Without such coverage, your insurance will not offer you the support of a lawyer in the event of a legal dispute. This is one of the first coverages that insurers tend to cut back on in order to offer lower prices.
  • Check if the price reflects security features. The fact of installing a security door makes most insurers lower the price of coverage related to burglary. The same applies to security measures such as alarms or grilles. Also, elements such as smoke or water sensors should help you reduce the price of water-related and fire-related coverages. Make sure that these modifiers are included in your insurance if you have them.

We can highlight that it is essential you review the insured capitals and adjust them to the characteristics of your home; check that all the limits are adequate and cover what you expect, and that your insurance includes some modifiers in the price to adjust what you pay each year to the changes you make to your home.

 

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The ‘small print’ of any contractual relationship often goes unnoticed by the consumer when contracting a service or purchasing a product. Some companies take advantage of this fact to introduce clauses with abusive agreements. The law says that contracts have to be written in a clear and understandable way, but, even so, the traps of the ‘small print’ are repeated. Why? Jordi Coll, 11Onze agent, explains it to us.

 

If we talk about size, the ‘small print’ no longer exists, at least in reference to the contracting of services. Since 1 June of this year, the law obliges banks, insurance companies and any other service company to write the contracts they offer to consumers in characters with a minimum size of 2.5 millimetres.

The new regulation aims to avoid the damage caused to customers as a result of illegible contracts, which are impossible or more difficult to read because of the small print. The scandal of the ‘preferentes’ shares and subordinated debentures, which particularly affected the most vulnerable sectors of the population, such as the elderly, highlighted the urgent need to reform the regulations.

As Coll explains, “companies often use the small print with contracts that are not negotiable, and in order for them to go unnoticed by consumers”, and he continues, “they are even used to introduce clauses with abusive agreements”.

Size isn’t everything

Will this new regulation change anything? The previous law already set a minimum size for the small print, as well as calling for clarity and transparency in contracts. But despite the court rulings in favour of customers, condemning the companies involved, abuses were repeated. Why? Because it is good business. The percentage of affected customers who complain is negligible, so, bearing in mind that the profits are considerable, it pays to pay the fines, sanctions and lawsuits without changing anything.

Despite the fact that, as Coll points out, “current legislation allows consumers to request the non-application of these clauses when they have not been drafted with adequate clarity and transparency, or to declare them null and void when they are abusive”, bad practices have not been eliminated.

When asked to explain abusive credit card contracts or banking products such as preference shares, the excuse used by banks to justify themselves is to pass the buck to the customer, claiming that they should have read the contract. Does the size of the text characters really make a difference? Or is it the wording of the clauses and the ethical integrity of the institutions that should also be corrected?

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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With more than 4,000 entities, community banking remains central  to financing the productive US economy and continues to be an example of good practices. Its roots in the local communities where it operates continue to give it a fundamental competitive advantage over large banks.

 

It is estimated that in the United States, community banks are responsible for 60% of small business lending, over 80% of agricultural lending and 43% of Internet lending. 

These banks tend to operate in a small geographic area and, unlike the large financial institutions, remain focused on the core functions of banking: deposit-taking and the provision of mortgages, loans and lines of credit to businesses. 

Being smaller, community banks cannot offer the product range or branch networks of large banks. On the other hand, because of their deep knowledge of the local community, they are able to lend to businesses and individuals who sometimes do not meet the impersonal rating criteria of the big banks. In addition, community banks also tend to offer better interest rates on deposits than the big banks, as a study by DepositAccounts shows. 

 

Close and agile banking

It is clear that the close relationship of community bank employees with customers is a competitive advantage for community banks. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, himself acknowledged the advantage of the proximity of these small banks to the communities they serve, since “their senior corporate officers live in the same neighbourhoods as their customers”. As a result, according to the head of the largest bank in the United States, “they are able to forge deep and lasting relationships” and bring “a deep understanding of the local economy and culture”, which allows them to “offer specialised, high-level banking services”.

Another advantage of community banking is agility. According to the Independent Community Bankers of America, community banks tend to make lending decisions faster than large regional or national banks. This is not surprising considering that decisions are made locally in the case of the former, while larger institutions often have to convene approval committees whose members are far away and completely unfamiliar with the applicants.

These factors result in higher customer satisfaction for community banking. According to a survey, 76 % of small businesses that received a loan from these institutions were satisfied with their overall experience, while this percentage drops to 62 % for large banks.

 

Deeply rooted in the territory

The fact that community banks are rooted in their environment means that they reinvest a large part of their profits in the community, contributing to the growth of small businesses and the creation of local jobs. Deep down, they realise that they only thrive when their customers and communities thrive.

Unlike large financial institutions, the managers of community banks do not have to be guided by the interests of large shareholders thousands of miles away. And this makes a fundamental difference. As the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) points out, it allows community banks to “weigh the interests of shareholders, customers, employees and the local community differently than would a larger institution with closer ties to the capital markets”.

 

A forced decline?

Regulatory changes favourable to large banks and mergers have significantly reduced the number of community banks in recent decades. In 2021, there were 4,490 community banks insured by the FDIC, down from 7,442 in 2008 and 14,323 at the end of 1988. 

Despite this decline, US community banking remains an example of good practice in the financing of the productive economy. As Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the US Federal Reserve, acknowledged a few years ago, “community banks play a critical role in sustaining the vitality and growth of their local economies”. 

It should not be forgotten that the proven ability of community banks to raise short-term deposits to finance longer-term investments is essential in any economy. And, as an article by the Fundación de las Cajas de Ahorros (Funcas) points out, community banks can continue to be “disruptors of larger banks, either as allies of fintech companies or through their own innovations”. 

 

If you want your business to make a giant leap, use 11Onze Business. Our business and freelancer account is now available. Find out more!

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The two great world powers, China and the United States, know that they will have to face an imminent global debt crisis, but each has decided to take opposite paths. While Beijing needs to continue stimulating the economy of emerging countries, Washington believes that interest rates must be raised to control inflation. Behind these two divergent strategies, there are strong geopolitical motives. At 11Onze, we take a closer look.

 

Behind the scenes of the economy, there are always political motives that we are often unaware of. If Xi Jinping and Joe Biden want economic conditions to stabilize, it is not only to safeguard the economy of their respective countries, but also because both of them will have to face a re-evaluation of their political leadership in the autumn of 2022. To achieve this, they know that important interest rate decisions must be made. Yet each is approaching this challenge from very different perspectives and strategies.

While the United States (US), like the UK and the European Union, is concerned about an economy under pressure from high inflation and supply constraints, which has pushed up prices and sent the purchasing power of citizens plummeting; China is worried that a rise in interest rates will hurt the sovereign debt of the emerging economies with which it has trade deals —and there are many of them, as we shall see— which could trigger an unprecedented global crisis. Which of the two hegemonic economies will emerge as the winner in this contest?

 

US: controlling inflation to withstand the onslaught

This is how, at one end of the planet, US President Joe Biden will have to face the elections to renew Congress in November. If this contest does not favor the Democrats, he will lose the ability to manage the inflation crisis, in a context in which his popularity continues to fall. For this reason, Biden is convinced that public opinion must be satisfied by attacking the disproportionate increase in the prices of basic consumer products due to inflation.

In this sense, and in line with classic economic movements, he considers it an essential strategy to raise interest rates. And this task, it is clear, falls to the US Federal Reserve. In fact, leading economic analysts are certain that the Fed wants to start raising interest rates in March.

Moreover, the US is not alone in tackling this runaway rise in inflation. The decision is in line with what the Bank of England wants to do. And, likewise, it remains to be seen what decision the European Central Bank will finally take, which has decided, for the moment, to leave interest rates at 0%. Despite this, it is under increasing pressure to raise them to at least 0.5% to show that the eurozone also has enough determination.

But the balances in the economy are precarious: if action is taken to lower inflation at a time when most countries, especially in emerging markets, have off-limit sovereign debt, this could lead to a debt crisis of biblical proportions. As we have explained in 11Onze, analysts such as Bill Dudley in ‘Bloomberg’ warn that as the Federal Reserve begins to tighten monetary policy, “funding costs will rise and less credit will be available.” This is because interest rates reduce the incentive for investors to seek the kind of returns offered by these emerging countries.

And all this has to happen at the same time as the moratorium by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank agreed with the G-20 countries during the pandemic comes to an end. Dudley proposes that the IMF leave the aid tap open, so that emerging countries can assume their sovereign debt and no longer continue to be subjugated to private lenders and large lenders such as China.

China: the risks of colonizing the emerging market

On the other side of the world, Xi Jinping needs the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank to continue their soft monetary policy, which has stimulated the world economy throughout the pandemic. And he needs it, first, because he wants to get to the fall National People’s Congress through the big door, since it is the political event that has to endorse his leadership for a third five-year term. And, second, because the Asian giant’s colonizing economy is faltering.

“If the major economies slow down their trajectory or make a U-turn in their monetary policies, it will have serious negative repercussions and challenge global economic and financial stability. Emerging countries will bear the brunt,” the Chinese leader said at the last Davos conference.

In fact, if China’s GDP has shown signs of recovery after the pandemic, it has only been thanks to exports, which have increased by 30% throughout 2021. In contrast, wholesale and retail sales within the same country do not exceed 1.7% and 3.9% respectively, compared to 2020, the year in which the Asian leader’s growth came to a screeching halt due to the effects of Covid-19.

As things stand, it is much more in China’s interest to continue exporting smoothly than to control inflation. And it has good reason to want to do so. According to a report by the College of William & Mary, China has literally colonized the emerging market in recent years. As the chart above shows, nearly 70 developing countries have incurred debts to China in excess of 5% of their GDP.

If a combined action by the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England raises interest rates, this threatens the strength of these emerging economies, which will have serious problems repaying sovereign debt, as Dudley explains. In this context, the main loser is China, which has granted many of these debts.

 

A chain crisis of unknown dimensions

Experts warn that the first effects of this chain debt crisis will drag down the entire Chinese real estate sector, which has already shown good signs of tension in recent months with the bankruptcy of the country’s second largest real estate group, Evergrande, due to dubious financial policies that have given wings to sovereign debt – and now put it at risk.

As the World Bank predicts, “the risks and potential costs of contagion from a sharp deleveraging of large firms, especially in the real estate sector —with combined onshore and offshore liabilities amounting to almost 30 percent of GDP and strong linkages to various parts of the economy— far exceed any potential damage from the collapse of a typical large industrial company.” 

Be that as it may, and provided that the monetary policy decisions of the capitalist West are confirmed, complicated months lie ahead, both for the emerging economies and for the Asian giant —and, therefore, for the entire planet—. If the most pessimistic predictions come true, we will have to start taking measures to face this debt crisis that already seems inevitable.

 

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Fans of this mountain sport are well acquainted with the Catalan and Andorran slopes, but perhaps we are not so familiar with the range of ski resorts in Europe. Let’s make a brief compilation of the best-known and some of the not-so-typical ones.

Switzerland

Known for the world’s best skiing resorts, the breathtaking views are enough to calm a first-timer’s nerves. For your non-ski-loving companions, there’s still plenty to do—explore the Matterhorn, go white water rafting, or take a tour through the mountains via train.

Poland

Bordering Slovakia, Czechia, and Germany, the Polish mountains are famous for their ski slopes. Nestle down into the comfy lobby sofa of your chalet with a warming mug of the region’s renowned take on mulled wine, known as grzaniec Galicyjski, and some tasty pierogi. For the voyeurs, it’s not all about the slopes—plenty of hot thermal baths, quad tours, and unique hikes to enjoy.

Italy

Italian ski slopes are among the best in the world, especially if you’re trying to please sun holiday lovers and adventurous skiers. Up high in the mountains of Italy, the sun is usually beaming. Sure, it may be chilly, but that is what spa jacuzzis are for.

France

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe. If you’re a film buff, you’ll recognise the location from the Bond movies. You’ll find some travelling treasures at the foot of some of the highest peaks, like the dainty commune called the Chamonix Valley or the spa town Aix-les-Bains.

 

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