Yanis Varoufakis: ‘Macbeth is at the mercy of forces beyond his control, like Theresa May’

The Greek former finance minister talks about the lessons politicians could learn from Shakespeare, ahead of a lecture in London

Is Theresa May Macbeth? Might King Lear agree with Jeremy Corbyn? On Monday night, one of Europe’s leading political thinkers – former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis – will tell a London theatre audience the lessons for contemporary politics and economics that he believes can be found in Shakespeare’s plays.

Varoufakis achieved Europe-wide celebrity in 2015 when he attempted to renegotiate Greece’s debt to the European Union during a financial crisis that paralysed his country. The politician resigned after a bailout plan was rejected by Greek voters in a referendum, but has remained a high-profile figure due to his style – he is often filmed riding motorbikes in black leather – and his ideas, outlined in books such as 2016’s And the Weak Suffer What They Must?

Related: The six Brexit traps that will defeat Theresa May | Yanis Varoufakis

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Developing countries at risk from US rate rise, debt charity warns

Jubilee Debt Campaign says 126 nations spend more than 10% of revenues on interest

The expected rise in US interest rates will increase financial pressures on developing countries already struggling with a 60% jump in their debt repayments since 2014, a leading charity has warned.

The Jubilee Debt Campaign said a study of 126 developing nations showed that they were devoting more than 10% of their revenues on average to paying the interest on money borrowed – the highest level since before the G7 agreement to write off the debts of the world’s poorest nations at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005.

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Trump is on path to full-scale trade war: first China, then Europe

US protectionism is in accord with the spirit of the times – but it won’t have a happy ending

Much to the delight of Hollywood, Donald Trump wants to open a new front in his trade offensive by punishing China for theft of America’s intellectual property rights.

The US entertainment industry is not awfully keen on Trump, having strongly backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, but is even less keen on its movies and TV shows being ripped off by the world’s most populous country.

Related: Trump tariffs: China warns trade war would be ‘disaster’

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Trump and trade tariffs: big lies founded on small truths | Yanis Varoufakis

The president claims he wants to support blue-collar workers – but that notion soon collapses into a pool of implausibility

Donald Trump is perhaps the US president best equipped to understand that some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.

His personal business plan always involved racking up enormous deficits and debts, before finding a way to unload them on to others – his employees and creditors mostly.

Related: Minted: the rich guys in Trump’s cabinet who can’t resist public money

The fact is, Donald Trump is only pretending to care about the trade deficit

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Finland’s story shows equality is the best route to happiness

The country named the world’s happiest in a UN report was relatively slow to recover after the financial crisis

If you can’t buy happiness, perhaps you should move to Helsinki. Finland has emerged from a 10-year economic depression to be ranked by the UN last week as the happiest place to live on the planet. The most important factor in Finland topping the UN’s happiness ranking is the country’s history of equality. It has managed to strike an amicable balance between the sexes, between workers and bosses, and within the education and welfare systems. An equal society can bond together to survive the bad times when so many countries pull themselves apart.

At the turn of the century Finland was riding high. It boasted one of the world’s most successful tech companies – Nokia – and a had a well-deserved reputation for embracing the internet revolution. It had escaped from the shadow of the Soviet Union to become a robust neighbour to Russia.

There is balance between the sexes, between workers and bosses, and within the education and welfare systems

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Trade war could derail global economic recovery, warns OECD

Thinktank upgrades its growth forecast but says tit-for-tat tariffs would make international trade vulnerable

The west’s leading economic thinktank has warned Donald Trump that a trade war prompted by US protectionism threatens to derail a recovery in global growth, which has reached its highest level in seven years.

In its latest interim forecasts, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said it expected the world economy to expand by 3.9% in both 2018 and 2019 – a 0.3 percentage point upgrade in each year from its last set of predictions last November.

1. Extreme weather events

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‘Fight fire with fire’: IMF’s Lagarde calls for bitcoin crackdown

IMF chief says cryptocurrency’s own blockchain technology could be used to control it

Christine Lagarde has called for a crackdown on bitcoin by using the technology behind the digital currency to “fight fire with fire”.

The head of the International Monetary Fund said authorities around the world could harness the potential of cryptocurrencies to help bring them under control, warning that failure to do so would allow the unfettered development of a “potentially major new vehicle for money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.

Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, “cryptocurrency” – a decentralised tradeable digital asset. Whether it is a bad investment is the big question. Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption – or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it is hard (but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person.

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The Guardian view on the chancellor’s spring statement: another missed opportunity | Editorial

Tuesday’s speech promises studied blandness. Instead it should promise an end to the austerity causing such damage to families and public services

This week Philip Hammond will rise to make what will be perhaps the most unmemorable speech on the economic state of this country’s affairs that MPs have ever heard. Reports say that it will feature no spending increases and no tax changes in a low-key oration designed to go largely unnoticed by the wider public. The chancellor’s attempts to keep his speech out of headlines might be derailed by an assessment of Brexit Britain’s future annual payments to the European Union. If it were not for a legal requirement to respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility, Mr Hammond would not be saying anything at all.

This is a mistake; Britain is at a pivotal point in its history. It has recovered more slowly from the economic shock of 2008 than any other crash in modern times. UK GDP growth is slowing while our biggest trading partners have seen their economies infused with vigour. Mr Hammond says there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. Yet Britain’s prospects look dim – and the shade of Brexit is barely upon the nation.

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