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Your profile on IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva rightly focuses on her proven ability to pick up the pieces after a catastrophe. It’s an unenviable position to find oneself in, but Geogieva has proven herself capable. She has always pushed for synergy in humanitarian aid and civil protection, an approach which has led to effective responses in various crises around the world. She tripled funding for the refugee crisis in Europe and has improved financing and social protection for migrants, refugees and has shown, and engendered, respect for international humanitarian law. Disasters come in two flavours: natural and man-made. This year has seen plenty of both, which Georgieva manages to tackle with compassion, disinterest and determination. She is definitely the woman of the hour, and organisations such as the IMF are bound to be instrumental in whatever solutions can be found to our myriad problems. If only we could find some breathing space so that she, and other leaders, could address some of those issues in a pre-emptive way.

Sarah Smythe Manchester, UK

 I read with interest your article describing the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, as “the safest pair of hands for mission impossible”. I understand the need to retain the confidence of the markets, and to keep as many people in employment as possible, but the prolonged and uncertain nature of the crisis makes me wonder about the longevity and viability of these recovery schemes. Balancing the books, when comes the time, will be a Herculean feat — and reports that Sunak intends to do this by hiking up corporation tax (from 19 to 24 percent) and removing the triple-lock on pensions cause me concern. How will this be received by the Conservative party´s increasingly ageing electorate, and the business class it purports to represent? We certainly live in interesting times.

Tobias Bentley Chipping Sodbury, UK

How refreshing to read the article “A new Development Vision for Latin America”. Much is written about the inherent socio-economic problems that beset the region, and how best to deal with them. The authors brought sorely needed clarity to the debate by pointing out that most public institutions in Latin America are ill-equipped to keep up with the dynamism and aspirations of their populations. A good many people have been lifted out of poverty, but this has not diminished social vulnerability. Many of the new jobs are informal and unstable and this, coupled with virtually zero social protection — as the authors rightly stated — prevents workers from seeking better paid and more stable positions. The three traps mentioned are interlinked, but I agree that governments´ dependence on the primary sector and subsequent lack of economic development has led to a decrease in productivity and reinforced the historical reticence in paying tax. It is difficult to see how the pandemic could possibly improve this situation — but in the past, crises have proven to be catalysts for change…

Gustavo Scarpa Yamasaki Maringá, Brazil

The European Union is not in the business of forging, or celebrating, “Hamiltonian moments” or any other monumental shifts or breakthroughs. I was somewhat saddened by the analysis of the EU’s financial response to the Covid-19 emergency proposed by Nouriel Roubini. Roubini is not alone in misunderstanding the project — arguably the greatest peaceful nation-building exercise in human history. He loses sight of the fact that the EU is a project for the ages — think one or two centuries, as opposed to a few decades. The goal is indeed a United States of Europe. Cementing a true and lasting union between disparate nations cannot be accomplished in a single generation, or two, or three. Moreover, it doesn’t require any degree of optimism to observe that the increasingly forceful and desperate attempts by the UK to breach the EU’s united front vis-à-vis its former member have failed to produce as much as a dent. For all its internal squabbling, the EU stands united. Lastly, Roubini courts the patently absurd when he mentions the rise of populist parties across Europe. First, those parties’ rise got stuck around the 15-percent mark. Second, the major powers of the Anglophone world, not Europe, have succumbed — almost collectively — to populism and nationalism by elevating into positions of power-grabbers, cheats and liars (the likes of whom are nowhere close to the levers of power within the EU). Before you mention Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán , please remember that he is but a recalcitrant choirboy whose antics pale in comparison to those of Messrs. Trump and Johnson.

Edgar Truss Claygate, UK

The idea that Germany’s sanctioning of EU debt and risk mutualisation is “nothing short of revolutionary” displays a gap in the writer’s knowledge of the country’s role and position in Europe and, more particularly, in the European Union. In its preamble, Basic Law — effectively the country’s constitution — states that the German state must promote European unity. Uniquely, Germany’s membership of the EU is anchored in Basic Law as well. The government of Germany has a constitutional obligation to preserve and unify, and to meet any and all threats to European unity with the full might of the German state. This is not optional, voluntary, or open to debate: it is what Basic Law determines. Chancellor Merkel correctly identified the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic and financial consequences as a threat to that unity, and a potential cause of division. She acted, abandoning the “frugals”. She knew that without German support those member states could at best hope for minor concessions, but did not let that stop her from discharging her constitutional responsibilities.

Barbara Kohler Bonn, Germany

As a keen motorcyclist, and the proud owner of a Commando 750 (albeit currently dismantled and in boxes), I read with interest — and dismay — your article about the crisis surrounding Norton. I knew things weren’t going brilliantly for the company, but I had no idea of the scale of the problem. I was vaguely aware that it had gone into administration, but somehow hoped things would be rectified and that Norton would join Triumph as another story of resurrection in the British bike scene. But while Triumph is celebrating 30 years as a “reborn” brand, it seems the Norton name has been consigned to history — unless the new owner, India’s TVS Motor, can work some magic. And it may well do that. India has become a world leader in the production of simple machines which hark back to another era. Royal Enfield’s 650 twins, and the little Himalayan 400cc all-roads contender, have undercut Japanese and European manufacturers in price and (almost) matched them in terms of quality and reliability. India’s capacity for revitalising and fettling machinery, rather than rushing for new developments, should stand it in good stead here. Will Norton ever ride again? I, for one, hope so. Asia plays no small role in the industry —even Triumph out-sources construction to Thailand nowadays. Let’s hope for another back-from-the-brink revival.

Scott Palmer Johannesburg, RSA