Nicknamed ‘The Postman’ because he always delivers in the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter admitted the difficulty of winning the tournament on US soil – but hopes Team Europe can replicate their stunning 2012 victory.
The rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant is causing economists to worry that Europe’s brightening economic outlook risks being undermined by rising infection levels and the reintroduction of travel and social restrictions.
The lifting of most lockdown measures across the region in recent months has led to a surge in business activity, retail spending and household confidence, prompting many economists to upgrade their forecasts for European growth.
However, those assumptions are being thrown into doubt now that the highly infectious Delta variant already accounts for the majority of new cases in many European countries and is driving infection rates up to their highest level for months.
“I’m a bit more nervous that it could get derailed by Delta,” said Erik Nielsen, chief economist at UniCredit, which has raised its eurozone growth forecast for this year from 4 to 4.5 per cent. “It has to get quite bad before we get another lockdown, but Google mobility data shows that it is not so much the lockdowns that drive behaviour but voluntary restraint.”
On Friday, Germany and France warned their citizens against travel to Spain, where the coronavirus infection rate has surpassed Portugal to become the highest in mainland Europe, dealing a blow to its tourism sector at the start of the crucial summer season.
Pablo Hernández de Cos, governor of the Bank of Spain, said its forecasts for strong growth were “based on the assumption that the health crisis would be over after the summer” and that Spain’s tourism sector would achieve half its pre-pandemic income this summer, up from a fifth last year. He warned that there was still “uncertainty surrounding the emergence of new Covid-19 variants and the containment measures that these might necessitate”.
Cyprus also reintroduced rules on the number of people allowed at hospitality and entertainment venues last week after its daily coronavirus infection rate hit a high for the year. Meanwhile, Portugal said holidaymakers must be vaccinated, have a negative test or have recovered from the virus to stay in its hotels or eat inside restaurants in many areas.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Friday that the weekly Covid-19 infection rate for the EU and European Economic Area had risen to 51.6 per 100,000 people, up from 38.6 the previous week, while the hospitalisation and death rates were stable. It forecast the infection rate would exceed 90 per 100,000 people in four weeks.
“There are reasons to be concerned, as the risks are there and there seems to be negative momentum,” said Carsten Brzeski, head of macro research at ING.
Last week, the European Commission raised its forecasts for EU growth in 2021 to 4.8 per cent, after a record contraction of 6.2 per cent last year. Its prediction would be the most rapid expansion seen since 1976 and would mean the EU’s economy regained its pre-pandemic level of output by the end of this year.
Paolo Gentiloni, the EU’s economics commissioner, said the EU’s forecasts did not factor in the prospect of a new wave triggered by the Delta variant, but this was a “downside risk”. He played down the likelihood of fresh lockdowns, saying: “We don’t see a tendency towards new restrictions . . . we see a tendency towards easing restrictions in important countries.”
Some economists take comfort from the fact that most Delta infections have been among younger people who are less likely to fall seriously ill. Hospitalisations and deaths from the virus remain very low, while more than 44 per cent of EU adults are fully vaccinated.
“Thanks to rapid vaccination progress, we still consider it unlikely that countries will again have to impose serious restrictions to economic activity to contain the medical risks,” said Kallum Pickering, economist at Berenberg.
The Spanish government argues that hospitalisation rates remain low — with only 2.6 per cent of beds occupied by Covid patients compared with 2 per cent a week ago — and that the infection rate is less significant than the rising share of fully vaccinated people.
Additional reporting by Daniel Dombey in Madrid and Sam Fleming in Brussels
A DUTCH couple has moved into Europe’s first fully 3D-printed house -which could change the way we live in the future.
Elize Lutz and Harrie Dekkers’ bizarre new home is a 94-square meter two-bed bungalow in Eindhoven which looks a giant boulder with windows.
However, despite its natural look, it is actually at the cutting edge of housing construction and was printed at a nearby factory.
“It’s a form that’s unusual, and when I saw it for the first time, it reminds me of something you knew when you were young,” Elize said.
She will rent the house – which can be built in just five days – with Harrie for six months for £700 per month.
The house, for now, looks strange with its layers of printed concrete clearly visible even a few places where printing problems caused imperfections.
In the future, as the Netherlands seeks ways to tackle a chronic housing shortage, such construction could become commonplace.
The country needs to build hundreds of thousands of new homes this decade to accommodate a growing population.
Theo Salet, a professor at Eindhoven’s Technical University, is working in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to find ways of making concrete construction more sustainable.
He figures houses can be printed in the future using 30 per cent less material.
“Why? The answer is sustainability,” he said. “And the first way to do that is by cutting down the amount of concrete that we use.”
He explained that printing can deposit the material only where you need it – saving waste.
A new generation of start-ups in the US also are among the companies looking to bring the futuristic properties to the mainstream.
The Eindhoven home is made up of 24 concrete elements printed by a machine that squirts layer upon layer of concrete before the finishing touches, including a roof, were added.
The layers give a ribbed texture to its walls, inside and out.
“This is also the first one which is 100 per cent permitted by the local authorities and which is habited by people who actually pay for living in this house,” said Bas Huysmans, chief exec of construction firm Weber Benelux.
“If you look at what time we actually needed to print this house it was only 120 hours,” he said.
“So all the elements, if we would have printed them in one go, it would have taken us less than five days because the big benefit is that the printer does not need to eat, does not need to sleep, it doesn’t need to rest.
“So if we would start tomorrow, and learned how to do it, we can print the next house five days from now.”
The home is the product of collaboration between city hall, Eindhoven’s Technical University and construction companies called Project Milestone.
They are planning to build a total of five houses, honing their techniques with each one. Future homes will have more than one floor.
The process uses concrete with the consistency of toothpaste, Professor Salet revealed.
That ensures it is strong enough to build with but also wet enough so the layers stick to another.
The printed elements are hollow and filled with insulation material.
The hope is that such homes, which are quicker to build than traditional houses and use less concrete, could become a factor in solving housing shortages in the Netherlands.
In a report this month, the country’s Environmental Assessment Agency said that education and innovation can spur the construction industry in the long term.
But other measures are needed to tackle Dutch housing shortages, including reforming zoning.
Prof Salet believes 3D printing can help by digitizing the design and production of houses.
“If you ask me, will we build one million of the houses, as you see here? The answer is no. But will we use this technology as part of other houses combined with wooden structures…then my answer is yes,” he said.
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Harrie has already noticed great acoustics in the home even when he’s just playing music on his phone.
And when he’s not listening to music, he enjoys the silence that the insulated walls provide.
“It gives a very good feel, because if you’re inside you don’t hear anything from outside,” he said.
Germany and other European countries, which invested billions of dollars in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to get cheaper Russian gas, still support the project despite mounting US pressure and threats of sanctions.
RT’s Boom Bust spoke to author and host of the Economic Update, Professor Richard Wolff, to discuss the situation. He says Nord Stream 2 was spared from the latest round of sanctions on Russia because the US was afraid to offend the Europeans, who already refused to cave in to the pressure from the previous administration of Donald Trump.
“They are not receptive to the kinds of pressure tactics of the past, where they used to fold the minute the American president said something. Those days, I think, are over and we’re seeing it around the Nord Stream pipeline,” Wolff said.
He also noted that the actions of the US are only pushing Russia and China closer, with both countries becoming more self-sufficient. This puts the US in a difficult position, according to Wolff, as the two states are working together to lure third world countries away from American influence.
Europe’s busiest freight train route connecting Genoa and Rotterdam won’t be able to resume operations until April after a massive rock slide that choked tracks in the Rhine Gorge, a World Heritage Site in Germany.
“We are assuming that operations will be resumed in April,” Volker Hentschel, board member for asset and maintenance management at DB Netz AG of Deutsche Bahn, said as quoted by FAZ, Frankfurt-based media.
One of the major European trade routes was closed on March 15 after a rock slide that left about 15,000 cubic meters of loose rock in the area.
“Of course, we want the trains on the right [bank of the] Rhine to start rolling again as quickly as possible, but safety comes first,” the official said, stressing that the extensive securing of the slope with nets can only begin after further blasting of loose rock. Also on rt.comWorld may be facing another toilet paper shortage due to shipping container crisis, industry boss warns
Freight trains are reportedly being diverted to the left bank of the Rhine, while passengers are carried by temporary bus shuttles on the right bank of the river.
The statement comes shortly after Salvager, the Dutch company working on releasing a giant container ship grounded in the Suez Canal, said the troubled cargo would be freed by the start of next week if heavier tugboats succeed in dislodging the vessel. The Panama-flagged container ship Evergreen got stuck in the canal – one of the world’s busiest water routes – on Tuesday, after it veered off course in high winds.
More news regarding roadblocks came from China, where a truck carrying an Evergreen shipping container crashed, causing a massive traffic jam on the Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway in Nanjing.
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