Monthly Archives: September 2011

Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted in late 2010 (AP photo/SITE intelligence group)

Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in an air raid in Yemen, the US confirmed on Friday. He was regarded by western intelligence agencies as the most dangerous figure in the global al-Qaeda network. But what else do we know about the US-born cleric?

Q:  Who was Anwar al-Awlaki?

Al-Awlaki, a US citizen and son of a former high-ranking Yemeni official, was a radical cleric and advocate of “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” based in Yemen.  The Yemeni offshoot of the global terrorist movement has carried out several innovative attacks aimed at the US.  Notorious examples include the shipping of explosives hidden in printer cartridges, and the attempt to kill a Saudi official with explosive powder lodged in an attacker’s body cavity. Read more

Welcome to day four of our rolling coverage of the eurozone crisis.

All times are London time. Curated by Esther Bintliff and John Aglionby on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

19.20: We’re wrapping up the blog here, but many thanks for reading (and commenting). You can follow the rest of our coverage at ft.com/world and on twitter, @FTWorldNews

19.15: What are the chances of Greece being able to meet its commitment to cut the general government deficit from €24.1bn to €17.1bn this year?

It’s an incredibly tough task – equivalent to about 7.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

Kerin Hope, our Athens correspondent, has taken a good look at the numbers:

Greece faces a desperate catch-up effort to achieve this year’s budget targets after reporting the central government deficit widened an annual 22.2 per cent for the first eight months of this year.

Talks with international lenders, which resumed on Thursday, are intended to wrap up details of the 2012 budget and of structural reforms to reduce public sector spending so that Athens can receive its next €8bn slice of bail-out funding, according to Greek officials.

But the current shortfall in this year’s budget indicates new measures may be needed…

Read the full story hereRead more

Alan Beattie

The answer is “not Tobin”, no matter what this might seem. The Tobin tax is specifically a tax on foreign exchange transactions, originally designed to damp down movements in a notoriously volatile market rather than to raise money. Campaigners for a Financial Transactions Tax(FTT) have sensibly switched attention from said currency tax – which, given the lack of regulation of FX trading, is susceptible to traders simply switching jurisdictions – to levies on bonds and equities sales. Bill Gates, who was asked to look into this issue for the G20, sounds like he will be in favour of something similar, together with eminently sensible ideas such as raising tobacco taxes in developing countries and levies on shipping and airline fuel.

That said, the EU FTT doesn’t look particularly workable – and I’ve even heard rumours it was made deliberately so by sceptical Commission officials trying to sabotage it from within. A tax on transactions in a particular exchange, if it can’t be bypassed, makes perfect sense at least as a money-raising device. The UK, despite its continual whingeing and mewling about an FTT, has taxed British stock transactions through Stamp Duty for a very long time – and added a new version to cope with sales of uncertificated stock. A levy based on the tax residency of the investor looks more difficult to implement, as it is subject to the usual shifting of registration offshore. Read more

Alan Beattie

The news that the “troika” – the EU, the ECB and the IMF – will be returning to Athens on Thursday is a pretty strong signal that the next tranche of the current rescue programme is going to be released – a small mercy for Greece, at least, even if the next version of the bail-out is mired in division and uncertainty.

Among the various other displays of poor coordination in the bail-out is the difference of style: the IMF tends to send its mission chief back to a borrower country only when the negotiations are pretty much done and the fund is ready to disburse the next tranche; the EU thinks substantive negotiations should be done in-country and generally wants to send its top officials in at an earlier stage. Read more

Alan Beattie

Great back-and-forth from the Europeans on how much of a writedown they want private bondholders to take in the Greece bail-out but, as far as I can tell, not much of a strong opinion being expressed by the International Monetary Fund (and publicly none at all). Given that the IMF once expended a lot of political capital valiantly, though ultimately unsuccessfully, trying to institute a kind of sovereign Chapter 11 mechanism to  allow private investors to be “bailed-in” to any rescue, this seems slightly odd. Read more


Welcome to our rolling coverage of the eurozone crisis.
All times are London time. Curated by Esther Bintliff and John Aglionby on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

19.23: We’re winding up the rolling blog for today but thanks for reading, and do follow the rest of our coverage at ft.com/world. We’ll be back tomorrow to cover the crucial German parliamentary vote on expanding the EFSF (will Merkel preserve her absolute majority?) aswell as any other eurozone shenanigans…

19.21: Earlier we referred to some comments made by Angela Merkel in an interview with Greek TV late last night. Here’s the full story, from which:

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has warned Greece that a €109bn rescue package, approved by the 17 eurozone leaders in July, may have to be reviewed if Athens fails to meet deficit reduction targets agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

 Read more

Gideon Rachman

I thought that spending a week in Singapore might provide some respite from the euro-crisis which, as Paul Krugman wrote the other day, is now simultaneously boring and terrifying. But there is no getting away from it. Even the staid Straits Times, the local paper here, led on the euro yesterday. And at a dinner I went to last night – mixing Asians and Europeans, financiers and policymakers – the talk was mainly of Greece, Germany and the single currency. Read more

Roula Khalaf

It is a testament to the sorry condition of Saudi women that any step towards empowerment, however small or marginal, is greeted with joy. Women reacted warmly to King Abdallah’s pledge to include them on the advisory shoura council and allow them to vote and stand in municipal elections. Read more

Welcome to the second day of our rolling coverage of the eurozone crisis. All times are London time. Curated by Esther Bintliff and John Aglionby on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

20.00: We’re wrapping up the blog for today but we’ll be back bright and early tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow the rest of our coverage at ft.com/world

19.52: BREAKING The FT’s Peter Spiegel and Quentin Peel report that a split has opened in the eurozone over the terms of Greece’s second €109bn bail-out with as many as seven of the bloc’s 17 members arguing for private creditors to swallow a bigger write-down on their Greek bond holdings, according to senior European officials.

The divisions have emerged amid mounting concerns that Athens’ funding needs are much bigger than estimated just two months ago. They threaten to unpick a painfully negotiated deal reached with private sector bond holders in July.

Full story hereRead more

By Gideon Rachman

The world could do with some glad tidings at the moment, to cope with a global economic crisis and turmoil in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin does not qualify as good news.