The architect, Lord Norman Foster, has been recently talking about his latest project, the InHub la puntin the Swiss Engadin Valley. Foster, in the video below, talks about the changing nature of buildings and how innovation can be accommodated, often in architecturally provocative ways, whilst offering communities new spatial and intellectual resources.
‘…designed as a centre for innovation, the project seeks to bring new visitors together with the local community to increase prosperity, create jobs, and revitalise local crafts and produce. Separate from the home or office, the setting is conceived as a ‘third place’ for collaboration and creativity. The 6,000-square-meter (64,583 square foot) project will comprise work and seminar spaces, sports facilities, retail outlets, a restaurant, as well as an underground car park…’
Foster is aware of the controversy some of his firm’s designs can create, but is always enthusiastic for intellectual collaboration and human engagement. He also reflects about the context of pandemics in the human experience and, importantly, the sustaining nature and enduring qualities of community.
An important, sustaining position to take, we would argue, in the current epidemiological climate.
European Week of Regions & Cities
Brussels 9-12th October 2017
A wide ranging sequence of workshops and event in Brussels, that will attract academics, poiticians and business organisations. We think there are elemental workshops that those of us, working in the social economy, will find useful.
Particularly useful is the opportunity to build new networks of contacts ahead of the social, political and economic schism that awaits us in the UK.
The European Week of Regions and Cities and its workshops, debates and networking activities are addressed to:
members of the European Committee of the Regions, members of the European Parliament and national, regional and local politicians;
European, national, regional and local government officials and experts in the field of managing and evaluating cohesion policy programmes;
representatives of private companies, financial institutions and European and national associations;
journalists from European, national, regional and local media outlets;
researchers, PhD or masters students and practitioners in the field of European regional and urban policy.
The typical participant is from the regional or local administration and new to the event, and is travelling to Brussels specifically for the event.
Discover now the 130 workshops, networking events and project visits organised in Brussels as part the 15th European Week of Regions and Cities!
Under the headline ‘Regions and cities working for a better future’, the programme tackles three main themes:
Building resilient regions and cities – #LocalResilience
Regions and cities as change agents – #TakeAction
Sharing knowledge to deliver results – #SharingKnowledge.
28 partnerships of regions and cities, 14 Directorates-General of the European Commission, several networks, associations and other institutions have partnered up for it. The Opening session takes place on 9th October in the European Parliament.
Despite misconceptions in the popular press, Professor Rogoff, he is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, argues for the deletion of high value notes from a national currency, not, as is often quoted, the dramatic end of cash all together.
Drawing on his international experiences, Rogoff served as an economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, he argued for the removal of high value notes from circulation as a methodology to reduce criminality and tax evasion.
Rogoff recognised, in passing, the recent currency changes in India, remarking that his advice to Prime Minister Modi would have been to move at a much slower pace, although India’s fiscal motives are not totally clear at present. Cessation of high value notes is now, he argued, a recognisably legitimate lever in the economic tool box, although ideally pursued over a period of perhaps two years, with currency withdrawn in batches of maximum value over that time.
Using the U.S. as an example, evidence was offered regarding the size of bank note holdings in a population – nearly always much, much higher than any official Treasury forecast, he argued.
In theory, in the U.S., every person should be holding about $4,200 dollars in $100 bills for example. However, we were told, current research indicated that only 5% of U.S. citizens ever saw bills of this denomination, and only once a year at that.
A simple show of hands in The Great Room at John Adam Street, saw only four members of the audience having used a £50 note in the last month. This exposition led on to an assessment of the underground economy in Europe. Undeclared transactions making up 16% of the German economy annually, with up to 25% in Italy and Greece. In the U.S., we were informed, this currently runs at about 8%. But in all cases these hidden economic transactions represent vast sums in the tax ‘neutral’ take of businesses, whatever their ethical make-up.
Cash and culture:
Rogoff referenced the U.S. economist, Neil Wallace, whom he argued failed to see the rise of electronic currency during his seminal economic work in the 1970’s. Now, Rogoff argued, there has been a step change, in young people particularly, for whom electronic banking and cash movements may have become the norm.
This could have resonating consequences for world economies. Governments make large cash transfers and could, he argued use free, subsidised debit cards for members of society and deliver benefits, refunds and payments to individuals without the repetitious ‘cost of cash’.
In his lecture Professor Rogoff appeared to be a strong proponent of the use of negative interest rates, to stimulate cash investment in business infrastructure, citing Sweden as an example where this policy had energised the real economy.
In rounding off his talk Professor Rogoff, cited the work of U.S. economist Robert Eisner, arguing that Central Banks could also have a role to play in the ‘new attitude’ to cash. The use of technical devices, such as deploying currency held in banking systems using a distinct and different exchange rate.
This was a quietly and elegantly delivered short lecture, drawn from a very telling book, The Curse of Cash, which provoked and underscored an interesting number of new ways of thinking about cash, banking and the cultural and fiscal exchanges between us all.
We recommend it.
The final exortation, light heartedly, was for us to remember that the Rogoff thesis is not about the abandonment of cash, rather its perpetuation in ‘smaller ‘ form.