Davos – in avalanche country – conceals an overriding fragility | Larry Elliott

As global economy booms, crises in social, environmental and political landscape abound

There are more beautiful towns in Switzerland than Davos but the high alps that ring the valley in which it sits are picture-postcard perfect, especially when the rising sun kisses the mountain tops at dawn. But appearances can be deceptive and the snow defences that girdle the slopes are a reminder that this is avalanche country, stunning yet fragile.

This is something members of the 1% would do well to remember as they gather in for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum this week.

Davos is like a giant gated community where the 1% can pretend that they care about the other 99%

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Britain’s tired old economy isn’t strong enough for Brexit | Phillip Inman

Leave campaigners’ visions of national renewal depend on a level of commercial vibrancy that the UK can no longer muster

Brexit, at its heart, is a recognition that Britain has become steadily weaker since it spent much of its empire wealth fighting two world wars – too feeble in the years before the 2016 referendum to sustain an exchange rate of $1.60 and €1.40, just as it was too poor to cope with $4 to the pound in the 1950s and $2 to the pound in 1992.

Manufacturers were unable to make things cheaply, reliably or efficiently enough against the headwind of a high-value currency, forcing many to give up. An economy that boasted 20% of its income coming from manufacturing in the 1980s found it was the source of barely 10% at the beginning of this decade.

Brexit is only something – even if you accept the premise of socialism or free-market bonanza – that works on paper

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Banks extend £225m lifeline to Carillion subcontractors as firms offer jobs

Taskforce of high street banks, trade bodies and businesses draw up measures to limit job losses as unions press government to act

High street banks have made more than £225m available to help businesses put at risk by the failure of Carillion, while companies have offered to take on staff who were working for the firm when it collapsed into receivership.

A taskforce of banks, businesses and construction industry trade bodies met with the business secretary on Thursday to discuss ways to contain the impact of Carillion’s collapse on jobs and the wider economy.

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Mario Draghi told to drop membership of secretive bankers’ club

EU ruling follows claims G30 group has too much influence with ECB president as member

The president of the European Central Bank has been told by the EU’s watchdog he should drop his membership of a secretive club of corporate bankers, after claims the group had been given an inside seat from which it could influence key policies.

Following a year-long investigation, Mario Draghi was informed on Wednesday by the European ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, that his close relationship with the Washington-based G30 group threatened the reputation of the bank, despite his assurances to the contrary.

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Quarter of UK’s poorest households are getting deeper in debt, IFS warns

Poorest households are spending 25% of monthly income servicing debts as UK borrowing rockets

One in four of Britain’s poorest households are falling behind with debt payments or spending more than a quarter of their monthly income on repayments, according to a study.

The latest evidence of mounting debt problems for some of the most vulnerable in society is shown in a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, at a time when borrowing on credit cards, loans and car finance deals returns to levels unseen since before the 2008 financial crisis.

Related: Personal debt: how you can shred your borrowing this year

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Are we heading for another developing world debt crisis? | Larry Elliott

Western bank loans for projects in Africa were to be paid off via rising commodity prices. At least that was the theory …

Global interest rates are rising. Poor countries are finding it tough to pay back money borrowed from banks in anticipation of a commodity windfall that never materialised. Stir in some dirty dealing that has seen funds stolen and what do you have? That’s right: the makings of another debt crisis.

Poor country debt was supposed to have been sorted back in 2005, the year the Guardian changed from a broadsheet to its Berliner format. Now, 13 years later, we are changing format again and debt is back albeit in a different form. Last time, the focus was on public debt, money that poor-country governments owed to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and individual rich nations – and which was mostly forgiven as a result of the Gleneagles G8 agreement in 2005. These days, the issue is private-sector debt and while as yet only a handful of countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – are in serious trouble, the warning signs are there. The IMF and the World Bank both know it.

Related: Why should Somalia’s children starve to pay for a debt crisis they didn’t create? | Kevin Watkins

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Bankers work around the clock to iron out EU finance reforms

New MiFID II rules seek to apply lessons from financial crisis and aim to force banks to report details of trillions of euros in transactions

Bankers will work through the night to iron out last-minute hitches before Wednesday’s launch of a major change to European Union financial markets that aims to apply lessons from the financial crisis nearly a decade ago.

The new rules are already a year late due to their complexity, with regulators having to issue 11th-hour guidance to banks and financial firms to avoid freezing up trades as well as calming nerves of those not yet fully compliant.

Related: Complacent regulators have two years to prevent a financial crash

Related: Financial markets could be over-heating, warns central bank body

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Some joy for the business world in 2018: but quite a few fears too

Predictions for the global economy next year are positive, but our writers also foresee a rise in inequality, and some sectors facing significant problems

The consensus view among economists is that the global economy will put in a strong performance in 2018, carrying on its strong momentum from 2017. However, that does not mean that every sector and every company will have a trouble-free year. Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary will need to repair staff relations, jobs will leave the City of London and inequality will widen. Our financial and economic specialists predict the big stories in 2018.

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