Monthly Archives: September 2011

Esther Bintliff


As fears of a possible Greek default continue to sway financial markets, time is running short for policymakers to agree a solution to the eurozone crisis. The FT will be running live coverage of the latest developments here on our foreign affairs blog, The World.

All times are London time. Curated by Esther Bintliff, assistant Europe news editor in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

19.30: We’re wrapping up the blog for today, but we’ll be back on Tuesday to cover the latest developments from Greece – where a parliamentary vote is due to take place on the unpopular new property tax – and Germany, where the Greek prime minister is due to meet with chancellor Angela Merkel. In the meantime, please follow the rest of our coverage at ft.com/world

19.18: There was a teensy bit of good news today – or not so bad news. German business confidence, as measured by the Munich-based Ifo institute, fell in September – but by far less than in August. That counts as a positive in these turbulent times…

19.10: The European Central Bank is likely to significantly extend its provision of liquidity to banks next week as it seeks to counter the escalating eurozone debt crisis, reports Ralph Atkins, our Frankfurt bureau chief. But he says it’s still an open question whether the ECB will cut official interest rates as well.

18.55: Donal O’Mahony, global strategist at Davy Capital Markets, points out that the “current convulsions in global markets and economies offer some depressing comparisons to the events of 2008″:

“Once again, nerves are being shredded by the perception of bank solvency and liquidity risks, albeit this time with balance-sheet concerns more focussed on “toxic” sovereign than credit exposures… Once again, the spectre of another calamitous debt default now hangs heavily in the air.”

O’Mahony argues that while the eurozone’s crisis resolution efforts have thus far been hampered by “deep ideological conflicts”, a “more decisive policy approach may finally prevail”, given the dangerously high stakes: namely, the “entire fate of the single currency ideal hanging in the balance”.

18.40: Moves to save the euro have come and gone but it now looks like policymakers recognise the urgency of addressing the problems underlying the eurozone structure. In this video, Lex’s Vincent Boland and Nikki Tait discuss what needs to be done and whether we’ve reached a turning point.

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John Paul Rathbone

Amid so much uncertainty and change, it is cold comfort that at least some things remain the same: Fidel Castro is still alive. A long absence from the public eye had prompted rumours that the 85-year-old revolutionary icon might have died. But on Monday, the former Cuban president, who handed power over to his brother Raúl in 2008 because of ill health, published another of his Reflections.  Read more

Gideon Rachman

Amidst all the gloom about the world economy – and the excitement about Palestine and the UN – another big story is getting remarkably little play. The United States has come out and openly accused Pakistan - an ostensible ally to which it sends billions of dollars of aid – of being behind a deadly attack on the US embassy in Kabul. Read more

Palestine, Turkey, Hong Kong

In this week’s podcast: As president Mahmoud Abbas presses his argument for Palestinian statehood at the UN – we ask former editor of the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz and head of the Palestinian government media centre, Ghassan Khatib, what the people on the streets of Israel and Palestine really think about the prospect; then we talk about an activist Turkish foreign policy which sees Turkey facing confrontation on many borders; and finally, rising inflation and soaring property prices in Hong Kong open up the gap in living standards between the rich and poor. Read more

John Paul Rathbone

More than a few readers of the FT, thinking politicians a useless lot, must regularly imagine “I could do better”.  It must be a particularly tempting line of thought for any “Master of the Universe”.

President? No problem. Those politicians are all second class brains. I, by contrast, run a bond desk/am a successful hedge fund manager/private equity honcho/chief executive of a multinational corporation. After all, if I already manage an operation with the annual revenues equivalent to the GDP of a small country, I could surely run a small country. It’s only logical. Well dream on. Chile ’s Sebastian Piñera, president of a small but rather successful country, is the counter factual that should make such fantasists think again. Read more

Gideon Rachman

The  bomb that went off in Ankara today killed three people and looks like the work of the PKK, the Kurdish group that has been fighting Turkey for decades. It probably makes a Turkish army incursion into northern Iraq, pursuing the PKK, all but inevitable. I was in Ankara yesterday. It was the first day back for all the public schools and universities, so the traffic was terrible. A bomb this week was likely to cause maximum mayhem. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

If you want to understand why the euro is in such trouble forget, for a moment, debt and sovereign bonds – and take a look at the bank notes. The images on euro notes are of imaginary buildings. While national currencies typically feature real people and places – George Washington on the dollar bill, the Bolshoi theatre on the Russian rouble – European identity is too fragile for that. Selecting a place or a hero associated with one country would have been too controversial. So the European authorities chose vague images that represented everywhere and nowhere.

Roula Khalaf

This week is Mahmoud Abbas’ Arab spring moment.

The Palestinian leader, often dismissed as weak and powerless, is defying friends and foes and going straight to the UN Security Council with a request for recognition of Palestine as a state.

A risky strategy no doubt – everyone had advised him against a move that is certain to provoke a US veto: he appears to have been struck by the winds of change blowing through the Middle East. He knows that the upheaval requires bold moves if it is not to leave the beleaguered Palestinian Authority irrelevant, and confirm his presidency as another bleak chapter in Palestinian history. Read more

Gideon Rachman

Just a day after the visit to Tripoli by Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, the Libyan National Transitional Council played host to another foreign leader – Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The Brits and the French might have regarded it as a bit cheeky of Erdogan to roll up in Tripoli to try and bask in the success of the revolution, given that the Turkish prime minister had initially opposed Nato intervention. But the Turks saw it a bit differently. Some of the papers here in Istanbul reported that the British and the French leaders had rushed to Tripoli to upstage the Turkish prime minister. Erdogan himself seemed to see things this way, remarking sniffily – “We’ll see who gets the better reception.” Read more

Brics buying debt, Greece in trouble again, Palestine lobbies for statehood

In this week’s show: As Europe looks to China and other Bric nations to buy up its debt – we ask, is the global economy at a tipping point? Back in the Eurozone – rumours are flying again about the possibility of a Greek debt and Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel is under pressure; and, Palestinian leaders prepare to present their case to the UN for statehood. Read more