Analysis/Comment
Facts of 2014: Guinness not Irish; 110 people own 35% of Russia's wealth
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Dec 15, 2014 - 6:28 AM

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Facts of 2014: With the end of the year nigh, we have selectively looked at a number of interesting facts and the above chart in particular has fascinated Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder. Nearer home, the Economist revealed that Guinness, Ireland's unofficial national drink, was a porter taht was first brewed in London, while Russia and its "near abroad" including the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 with the loss of 298 lives, dominated news through the year.

Ireland

We already know that the Celts (Keltoi in Greek) of Central Europe never migrated to Ireland and DNA analysis shows that the ancestors of most Irish people came from the Iberian Peninsula, who moved north after the last Ice Age, which had depopulated Ireland.

The Economist in a blog post to coincide with this year's St. Patrick's Day said that Guinness had its origins in London and in the early 1980s at the height of the Northern Ireland troubles, Guinness came close to re-launching the brand as an English beer brewed in west London.

Guinness floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1886 and moved its headquarters from Dublin to London in 1932 in advance of the completion of its Park Royal facility.

Arthur Guinness' "descendants continued passionately to support unionism—one giving the Ulster Volunteer Force £10,000 in 1913 (about £1m, or $1.7m, in today’s money) to fund a paramilitary campaign to resist Ireland being given legislative independence. The company was alleged to have lent men and equipment to the British army to help crush Irish rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916, afterwards firing members of staff whom it believed to have Irish-nationalist sympathies."

Guinness now owned by Diageo, which has a portfolio of some of the world's biggest drink brands, says itself that: "Porter can trace its origins back to the brewer Ralph Harwood, a London brewer in 1722. This new drink, porter, used roasted barley for the first time and became so popular with the working class porters of Covent Garden and Billingsgate, that it adopted their name - 'Porter'.

Porter quickly established itself as the working class man's drink in England and soon began to be brewed in Ireland. Arthur Guinness began brewing this new drink in the 1770s as did many other Dublin brewers. However, he was the first Dublin brewer to cease brewing ale altogether in order to concentrate on brewing porter."

Some other interesting Irish facts from 2014:

Migration

There are more people living outside their home country than ever, with the UN classifying 232m people as international migrants in 2013. However, this is mainly a result of population growth. Since 1960, the percentage of the global population classified as migrants has remained steady at roughly 3%.

UK net migration in the year to June 2014 rose 78,000 to 260,000 despite the Conservative party’s promise to cut numbers by the end of this parliament.

According to The Financial Times, the US remains by far the biggest destination for migrants. There are now almost 46m people in the US classified as international migrants, or one in six of the population. India and Bangladesh have been the biggest net exporters of people in recent years.

Both US legal and illegal immigration have slowed. In the 1990s, more than 500,000 migrants a year crossed into the US from Mexico. Since 2010, that number has fallen below 200,000 a year, according to UN data.

A European Commission report says net migration into the EU to 2060 will total 55m people with almost 70% of migrants going to four of the EU’s 28 member states: 15.5m to Italy, 9.2m to the UK, 7m to Germany and 6.5m to Spain.

The report says that overall, the EU’s population is forecast to rise to 523m in 2060 from 507m last year. The UK will become the EU’s most populous country, rising to 80.1m from 64.1m. France will go up to 75.7m from 65.7m, but Germany will fall to 70.8m from 81.3m.

Global Temperatures

As of 2014, 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880 according to NASA scientists. With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record have all occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record. Earth continues to be hotter than it was several decades ago.

The average temperature in 2013 was 14.6 °C (58.3 °F), which is 0.6 °C (1.1 °F) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F) since 1880, according to a January 2014 analysis from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

In the Northern Hemisphere, where most of Earth's land mass is located, the three decades from 1983 to 2012 were likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years, according to the UN's  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

September 2014 was the warmest September ever recorded and that the past six months were the hottest April through September.

2014 hottest year in Europe in 500 years - linked to global warming

Two extreme climate tales: ThuleTuvalu - melting and sinking

Inequality

The English translation of "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" a 2013 book by Thomas Piketty, French economist, got a lot of attention in the US and the UK.

The OECD, a think-tank for 34 mainly developed countries said in a report this month that inequality damages growth.

The Guardian said in January based on an Oxfam report that "the world's wealthiest people aren't known for travelling by bus, but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker."

The typical American household income in 2013 was below the 1989 level according to data from the US Census Bureau, published last September.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in a new paper, New York University economics professor Edward Wolff notes that there has been “virtually no change in median wealth from 2010 to 2013.” Much of America’s gain in wealth is due to the stock market; the Dow has risen over 160% since its March 9, 2009 bottom.

The wealth gap between minorities and whites has continued to increase despite the economic recovery, according to a report by the Pew Research Center that was released Friday.

According to the report, which analysed data from the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances, the median net worth of white households in 2013 was $141,900, about 13 times that of black households at $11,000.

In 2007, when the recession began in the United States, the median net worth of white households was $192,500, or 10 times that of black households at $19,200.

For Hispanics in 2007, the median net worth of a Hispanic household was $23,600, and in 2013 it was $13,700.

A History of Balance of Power: Sources - GDP data for years 1-2000: Angus Maddison, University of Groningen; 2016 IMF Projected GDP Growth; 2050 PricewaterhouseCoopers Projected GDP Growth

First World War Start Anniversary

Dan Snow, a historian, debunked on the BBC some of the myths about the end of Europe's longest period of peace in its history to 1914.

He said that fifty years before WW1 broke out, southern China was torn apart by an even bloodier conflict. Conservative estimates of the dead in the 14-year Taiping rebellion start at between 20m and 30m. Around 17m soldiers and civilians were killed during WW1.

"Although more Britons died in WW1 than any other conflict, the bloodiest war in our history relative to population size is the Civil War, which raged in the mid-17th Century. A far higher proportion of the population of the British Isles were killed than the less than 2% who died in WW1. By contrast, around 4% of the population of England and Wales, and considerably more than that in Scotland and Ireland, are thought to have been killed in the Civil War."

The Treaty of Versailles confiscated 10% of Germany's territory but left it the largest, richest nation in central Europe.

It was largely unoccupied and financial reparations were linked to its ability to pay, which mostly went unenforced anyway.

The treaty was notably less harsh than treaties that ended the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War and World War Two. The German victors in the former annexed large chunks of two rich French provinces, part of France for between 200 and 300 years, and home to most of French iron ore production, as well as presenting France with a massive bill for immediate payment.

After WW2 Germany was occupied, split up, its factory machinery smashed or stolen and millions of prisoners forced to stay with their captors and work as slave labourers. Germany lost all the territory it had gained after WW1 and another giant slice on top of that.

Centenary of gunshots that ended 43 years of fragile European peace

China

Bill Gates wrote on his blog that the statistic on China's usage of cement came from 'Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization,' by his favourite author, Vaclav Smil, the historian.

In October the International Monetary Fund updated its data on the world economy and for the first time it ranks China’s economy as the world’s biggest in purchasing-power-parity terms. Historians, though, point out that China is merely regaining a title that it has held for much of recorded history. In 1820 it has been estimated by the late Angus Maddison, the renowned economic historian, to have produced one-third of global economic output. The brief interlude in which America overshadowed it is now over.

Russia

PJ O'Rourke, the Irish-American writer, wrote earlier this year in a book review:

In the first ten years after the collapse of the USSR, Russian population fell by about six and a half million. It is rebounding slightly now but only because of high birth rates in Muslim ethnic regions like Chechnya and Dagestan and immigration from former Soviet republics in Central Asia. These are not places Russia wants its Russians to come from.

Russia’s mortality rate is horrific. According 2012 World Health Organization statistics, a fifteen-year-old Russian male has a life expectancy that’s three years less than a fifteen-year-old Haitian boy’s.

The life expectancy of a fifteen-year old Russian female is sixty-one, three years less than in Cambodia.

Russians die from cardiovascular disease and from accidents, murder, and suicide. They smoke, they drink, they despair.

Russia’s great wealth is based on extraction of oil and gas. Even so, the value of Russia’s exports in 2013 barely exceeded Belgium’s. And energy prices are falling."

In the recently published book, "Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?" Karen Dawisha, an American political science professor, wrote according to a review in The Economist that Putin had transformed “an oligarchy independent of and more powerful than the state into a corporatist structure in which oligarchs served at the pleasure of state officials, who themselves gained and exercised economic control…both for the state and for themselves.” The result is that 110 individuals control 35% of Russia’s wealth, according to Dawisha.

In the mid-1990s Yegor Gaidar, the architect of Russian market reforms, feared that the repressive Soviet bureaucracy could morph into a mafia system. “A union between mafia and [bureaucratic] corruption can create a monster which has no equivalent in Russian history—an all-powerful mafia state, a real octopus,” he wrote in 1994.

Cambridge University Press of the UK decided not to publish the book as reported here in an Economist blog post.

Simon & Schuster of the US didn't feel intimidated.



From Owen Jones' "The Establishment... And how they get away with it" via Zero Hedge


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