The Friday Fish

This week's haul from behind the headlines

No 21: Endearing Robots; Blood Antiquities; EU-Iran Banking; Latvian Reforms; The Pursuit of Happiness

Endearing Robots

The first reference to robots came from the Czech play R.U.R, written by Karel Capek, in which the term “roboti” was the name for artificial people who–disclaimer–mastermind a rebellion of the mechanical proletariat against humankind. Today, a different breed of robots modelled after Pepper the humanoid and designed by the French robotics firm Aldebaran, will be for sale in Europe for as low as €10,000. Its purpose? To help people in their daily lives, aid in customer service and assist in caring for the elderly.

Blood Antiquities

Search for antique cylinder seals on eBay, and you’ll find a list of what could be ancient artefacts dating back to Mesopotamia or Babylonian periods. The buyer might wonder whether they are genuine. But he should also ask himself how such goods ended up online. Many such antiquities have been looted from archaeological sites and museums throughout Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, and Cambodia to name a few. The profit made from their sale may even benefit criminal or terrorist organisations–think ISIL or Al Shabaab–whose notoriety is global. The OECD has lined up guidelines for companies to take responsibility for their supply chains and to crack down on illicit trade and the exchange of blood antiquities.

EU-Iran Banking

When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on Thursday with a group of financial institutions to encourage them to do business with Iran, he left them divided on how to interpret his advice. Some expressed caution, considering the potential consequences of investing in Iranian markets, particularly if the US position toward the Iranian government changes. In 2012, when international embargoes against Iran expanded to prohibit EU banking, several European banks faced hefty US-led lawsuits for sanctions violations. However, since the July 2015 resolution to relieve sanctions has taken effect, European policymakers like Philip Hammond see trade with Iran as “the first hurdle in the race.”

Latvian Reforms

Latvia has managed to bolster its fight against corruption and money laundering, has made reforms to its health care system, and has brought in independent boards to lead some of the country’s largest state-owned companies. The OECD recognized Latvia this week by inviting it to become a member country. The invitation is as much a pat on the back as it is a push toward further reforms, including trade liberalisation, stronger banking regulations, and new tax and investment policies.  

The Pursuit of Happiness

Subjective well-being (SWB) is catching the interest of economists, policymakers, and psychologists as they try to find out whether people are satisfied with their quality of life. Weighing the balance of positive factors like health, income and socializing with negative factors like unemployment and insecurity, the OECD has drawn up guidelines for building policies to increase quality of life.  But is SWB a fair representation of what makes people happy, and what would people change about the factors it considers to make it more relevant for their own lives? A Huffington Post survey found that people do indeed seek the maximization of life satisfaction, confirming the importance of SWB, while 40% of respondents to the survey would make changes to how it measures satisfaction.




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • COP21 Will Get Agreement With Teeth: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on Bloomberg

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.

  • Climate change: “We should not disagree when scientists tell us we have a window of opportunity–10-15 years–to turn this thing around” argues Senator Bernie Sanders.

  • In the long-run, the EU benefits from migration, says OECD Head of International Migration Division Jean-Christophe Dumont.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Unemployment
Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016