Europe's governments are turning their attention to prostitution, drugs and contraband as possible ways of boosting their economic growth profiles, as they struggle away from their debt crises. Italy caused a stir when it announced last month that it would begin including revenues from drug trafficking and the sex trade, as well as contraband tobacco and alcohol, to calculate gross domestic product (GDP) from next year. In 2012, Italy's central bank estimated the value of the criminal economy at 10.9 percent of GDP. Last month, Britain said including illegal activities such as prostitution and drugs into national accounts would add about 10 billion pounds (12.3 billion euros, $16.8 billion) to GDP, equivalent to about one percent of national output.
The last time Thailand had a coup, the stock market crashed when the kingdom imposed draconian capital controls. "The military government struggled to manage the economy, reflecting the lack of technocratic skills in economic management and administration," recalled Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia economist at the IHS consultancy firm. After the 2006 coup, markets were particularly frightened by drastic foreign capital controls introduced several months later to try to curb the rise of the baht, noted Ryan Aherin, Asia analyst at risk advisory company Maplecroft. The Thai stock market suffered a plunge of 15 percent in just one day before authorities quickly backtracked.
Hillary Clinton embarks this week on her most high-profile tour since leaving the State Department, a cross-country bonanza where the American public and media will focus as much on her political future as her past. "Hard Choices," which details her four-year tenure as President Barack Obama's first secretary of state, hits bookshelves Tuesday and is the rationale for the publicity blitz. But the optics of Clinton's weeks-long book tour, when she comes face to face with voters and refreshes some of the skills she has not used as much since leaving public office last year, unavoidably suggest the opening salvo of a 2016 presidential run. Team Hillary has spent months carefully crafting a systematic rollout of the most anticipated book of the year, teasing the Beltway press corps with excerpts about her response to the deadly attacks in Benghazi and how America remains the "indispensable nation."
Home Secretary Theresa May's special adviser has resigned in a row between two prominent government ministers over claims that Islamists took control of some schools in Birmingham. Fiona Cunningham quit on Saturday night after Prime Minister David Cameron received the results of a civil service review into the dispute between May and Education Secretary Michael Gove.
First Minister Alex Salmond said Sunday that the "eyes of the world" were on Scotland as the 100-day countdown to the independence referendum approaches this week. The September 18 independence referendum will be "one of the most exciting and historic days this nation has ever seen," Salmond said ahead of Monday's milestone, which is likely to see campaigning stepped up even further. "The eyes of the world are on Scotland and we should be proud of the example we are setting in terms of the profoundly democratic and peaceful nature of the debate on our future -- not something that is always the case elsewhere," the Scottish National Party leader added. The most recent independence poll, released by Populus for the Financial Times on Saturday, found that 47 percent of people in Scotland wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom while 40 percent wanted to leave.
A strike by subway workers snarling Brazil's biggest city Sao Paulo threatened Saturday to disrupt the World Cup with the kickoff in the city just five days away. The stoppage over a wage claim by staff has caused misery for commuters since Thursday in Brazil's business hub of 20 million people. With Brazil hosting Croatia in the brand new but much delayed Corinthians Arena, fans are set to become caught up in the chaos as some 70,000 people descend on the stadium unless a swift end to the dispute is reached. Overnight, with disgruntled Brazilians protesting the cost of the Cup, sport and politics became enmeshed once again as President Dilma Rousseff denounced a "systematic campaign" against her government and the tournament.