1 2015:Year of sharing economy for cities (April Rinne in Straits Times) The sharing economy – based on the idea of “access over ownership” – is not a panacea to global problems. However, it is an incredibly powerful tool that allows individuals, companies and communities alike to do more with what they have.
It provides new and flexible opportunities for income generation, cost savings, sustainable consumption and social value. Looking ahead, I see the sharing economy becoming an increasingly important part of the new global context this year.
When it comes to the sharing economy, cities are becoming more: Supportive: Portland, Oregon, announced its Shared City partnership with Airbnb last year and has taken a very open, proactive approach to enabling the sharing economy. It is also the first city in the world to persuade Uber to cease operations in the city for a three-month period while they assess policy options.
Resourceful: Seoul launched its Sharing City initiative in 2013 which continues to grow. The South Korean capital is not only enabling sharing businesses, but it is also putting its own underutilised assets into shared use. For example, it has opened up more than 900 city-owned spaces to residents for creative and productive purposes, from music ensembles to yoga.
Engaged: Several cities in Europe, including Amsterdam and Milan, have launched sharing-economy platforms, research agendas and public consultations. They are proactively assessing how the local government can best support what residents want, need and strive for.
And it’s not just cities. The British government recently commissioned an independent sharing-economy review with the goal of making Britain the sharing capital of Europe. This year will be a pivotal year for the sharing economy, cities and the new global context. Davos provides an ideal forum to catalyse these opportunities and shift the tone of the conversation.
2 ECB move sends euro to 11-year low (Phillip Inman in The Guardian) The euro hit an 11-year low against the dollar on Friday as financial markets continued to digest the effects of the European Central Bank’s unprecedented €1.1tn quantitative easing stimulus package.
Analysts said the euro, which has dived 7% since the start of the year, was on track for its biggest monthly fall against the dollar since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009, and predicted that the single currency could yet reach unseen lows.
Manufacturers across the eurozone cheered the weakening of the euro, noting that it would make exports more competitive. Carmakers were among the biggest gainers, with BMW shares up nearly 5% to hit a record high and Peugeot Citroën rising 3.7%.
But the erosion of euro savings is expected to anger older voters in Germany, Finland, Belgium and the Netherlands. Some politicians have already warned that the ECB’s move, which cheered beleaguered southern European governments with large debts and high unemployment, will increase costs for German holidaymakers heading for popular destinations in the Caribbean and far east.
3 South Korea growth at six-year low (BBC) Growth in Asia’s fourth largest economy, South Korea, fell to a six year low in the fourth quarter of last year. The economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the October to December period from the previous quarter when growth hit 0.9%.
Economists said a slump in infrastructure spending and exports had a big impact on the country’s growth. Construction investment fell by a seasonally adjusted 9.2%, the worst since 1998 as weaker tax revenue led the government to cut back spending on projects.
The disappointing data could lead the country’s central bank to cut interest rates again to boost the economy, according to economists. Last week the central bank did cut its growth forecast for this year to 3.4% from an earlier forecast of 3.9%, anticipating the slowdown in the economy.