Sunday, March 12, 2017

Iceland to end all capital controls; World's first flying car unveiled; Ethiopia rubbish dump landslide kills nearly 50

1 Iceland to end all capital controls (BBC) Iceland will lift all capital controls on its citizens, businesses and pension funds from Tuesday. Capital controls, such as those to restrict money flowing in and out of the country, were imposed in 2008 after the country's biggest banks collapsed.

The government thinks the economy has recovered sufficiently to end controls. Controls were imposed after the collapse of the country's three biggest banks - Glitnir, Landsbanki and Kaupthing. At the same time Iceland's national currency, the krona, fell in value.

The removal of the capital controls - which helped stabilise the currency and economy during the country's financial crash - represents the completion of Iceland's return to international financial markets. Since the nation's financial collapse, the economy has seen a robust recovery, helped by a boom in tourism. Last year around 1.8 million people visited the the nation, a 40% rise on 2015.

That tourism boom, coupled with strong investment by business and in the housing market, helped the economy grow 7.2% in 2016. Capital controls were implemented in 2008, with the support of the International Monetary Fund, to shield the economy from severe depreciation.

2 World’s first flying car unveiled (Khaleej Times) Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Swiss city as the 87th Geneva International Motorshow opened its doors to experts and the media ahead of a public opening on Thursday.

As the doors opened, the show was abuzz with talk of Peugeot-owner PSA's acquisition of Opel, the European subsidiary of General Motors, a 1.3-billion-euro ($1.4 billion) deal that will create the continent's second-biggest carmaker.

During the motor show, Italdesign and Airbus world-premiered Pop.Up, the first modular, fully electric, zero emission concept vehicle system designed to relieve traffic congestion in crowded megacities. Pop.Up envisages a modular system for multi-modal transportation that makes full use of both ground and airspace.

With European sales almost back to levels last seen in 2008, carmakers are celebrating the end of a crisis which saw the global financial meltdown inflict deep dents on the industry. Despite a wave of political uncertainty and the persistent shadow of the 2015 emissions scandal, executives were largely upbeat about the prospects for the coming year.

3 Ethiopia rubbish dump landslide kills nearly 50 (The Guardian) At least 46 people have died and dozens more have been injured in a giant landslide at Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump outside Addis Ababa, a tragedy squatters living there blamed on a biogas plant being built nearby.

Dozens of homes of squatters who lived in the Koshe landfill site, on the outskirts of the capital, were flattened when the largest pile of rubbish collapsed on Saturday. Construction materials, wooden sticks and plastic sheeting could be seen in the wreckage. The Koshe site has for more than 40 years been the main garbage dump for Addis Ababa, a rapidly growing city of about 4 million people.

Koshe, whose name means “dirt” in local slang, was closed last year by city authorities who asked people to move to a new dump site outside Addis Ababa. But the community there did not want the landfill, and so the garbage collectors moved back. Poverty and food insecurity are sensitive issues in Ethiopia, which was hit by a famine in 1984-85 after extreme drought.

In recent years, the country has been one of Africa’s top-performing economies and a magnet for foreign investment, with growth in near-double digits and huge infrastructure investment. Still, nearly 20 million Ethiopians live below the poverty line set by the World Bank.

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