Monthly Archives: November 2011

So the ECB and the Bundesbank don’t want to bail-out Italy via the IMF. But could national eurozone central banks do it? They already lend to their own commercial banks through the Emergency Liquidity Assistance programmes and there is nothing to stop the IMF accepting loans from any central bank. Could this be behind Jean-Claude Juncker and Olli Rehn’s cryptic comments on Tuesday night?

Obvious huge snag: such lending would have to be OK’d by the ECB, since it ultimately stands behind all the national central banks. But if the ECB (and the Bundesbank) want to give way on their “No pasaran!” on lending to the IMF, letting the eurozone national central banks do it might be a convenient way of retreating with a shred or two of dignity intact. Read more

“It’s time to bid farewell to the Brics,” wrote my FT colleague Philip Stephens this week. Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist who first coined the acronym which groups Brazil, Russia, India and China, seems to feel the same. His new book, also reviewed this week by Stefan Wagstyl, the FT’s emerging editor, is called ‘The Growth Map: Economic Opportunity in the BRICs and beyond‘.

The italicisation of “beyond” is my own. Nevertheless, as an intellectual grouping, the Bric term never sat that comfortably with anyone – except, perhaps, as an investment idea. The differences separating its four members are as many and as deep as their similarities. In fact, the only feature these countries really share is immense size. This was lucidly captured several years before Mr O’Neill by none other than George KennanRead more

Chief UN climate official Christina Figueres at the opening of the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa. Photo Reuters

UN climate talks kick off this week in South Africa, with delegates from nearly 200 countries trying to produce a global pact that legally obliges countries to stop emitting so much carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

The chances of success are seen as slim to zeroRead more

Rick Perry eat your heart out. According to the Jakarta Post, Indonesia’s government plans to dissolve 10 of 88 state bodies deemed inefficient or with overlapping authority.

That easily beats the timid reform proposal from the Republican presidential candidate who appears content to get rid of just two government departments – or was it three? Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Could things go bad again? I mean really bad – Great Depression bad, world war bad? The kind of cataclysmic event my generation has learned to think belongs only in the history books.

As the European Union’s crisis deepens, the search is on for scapegoats. A new candidate for this role was recently brought to my attention – the Hungarians. This is not because they have done everything wrong. It’s just that when it comes to international politics, Hungary is congenitally unlucky.

A Hungarian acquaintance argues that every organisation that Hungary has joined for the last 150 years has collapsed shortly afterwards. The Hapsburgs were one of the Europe’s most successful dynasties. But then in 1867, the Austro-Hungarian empire was formed, and by 1918 it had disappeared. Hungary chose the losing side in both the first and second world wars. After 1945, it became a member of the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. Given this long record of failure, the EU should have been on its guard when it welcomed Hungary as a member in 2004.

Kamala Persad-Bissessar. Photo Reuters

Unfortunate shades of Mexican drug violence in Trinidad and Tobago. On Thursday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the country’s first female prime minister, said her government’s security forces had foiled an assassination plot. The plan, which allegedly involved members of the army and the police, aimed to take her life, and that of her ministers of National Security, Foreign Affairs and Information, as well as the Attorney General. In short, the heart of her government. Read more

Each week World Weekly will be focusing on some of the major international political stories that are making the headlines – drawing upon the FT’s team of foreign correspondents and international analysts, to make sense of world events

Presented by Gideon Rachman Read more

Just a couple of months ago, the idea of foreign military intervention in Syria was regarded as all but unthinkable. But now important people are indeed thinking – and talking – about it. The latest is Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, who has spoken of the idea of establishing “humanitarian zones” to protect civilians. This sounds like a strictly limited idea. But, as the Chinese and Russians would swiftly remind us, the Libyan war started as a limited intervention to protect civilians – and morphed into regime change. Read more

Protesters clash with riot police near Tahrir Square. Photo AFP/Getty

Welcome to our live blog of the turmoil in the Middle East. Written by John Aglionby and Tom Burgis on the news desk in London and with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

  • Where next for Egypt now that the protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have rejected the ruling military’s offer of an accelerated handover to civilian rule?
  • After three broken promises, Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen, has finally bowed to mounting pressure and signed a deal to begin the transfer of power
  • A major report on human rights in Bahrain has been published – and is analysed here by a Chatham House expert
  • Syria remains in crisis

18.52 That brings us to the end of our live coverage of the Middle East today. See FT.com through the night for updates from Tahrir Square and analysis of what Saleh’s promise to depart means for Yemen. We’ll leave you with this exclusive analysis on the political implications of today’s report into abuses by Bahrain’s security forces from Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow in the Middle East and North Africa programme at the Chatham House think-tank (emphasis ours). Read more

Can the army and the politicians stop a second revolution in Egypt? The images from Tahrir square suggest we are back to February, except this time the protestors’ demand is to get rid of the ruling military council which, despite having the run the country with shocking incompetence this year, has been negotiating a role for itself after it hands over power to civilians. Read more

Chevron’s oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro last week will have many repercussions. For the company – a $28m fine. For Brazil, perhaps, a re-consideration of the development of its massive deep-sea oil reserves. And, for Washington, a reminder of potential problems closer to home – in fact, less than 30 miles outside US waters, namely Cuba’s looming “oil crisis”Read more

By Gideon Rachman

Last year, Angela Merkel promised to show the markets who is boss. “There is a kind of battle over what power the financial markets have and how much room for policymaking the politicians have,” said the German chancellor. It was vital, she added, to assert the “primacy of politics”.

Less than a year after the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian army is once again clashing with demonstrators in Tahrir Square. The army’s effort to control the post-revolutionary process have clearly misfired. But is it a cock-up or a conspiracy? It seems to be a bit of both – a cocked-up conspiracy. Read more

Yesterday evening I went to a dinner in Brussels, featuring a group of senior politicians and diplomats. These dinners can be dull. But not this one. The sense of crisis in Europe made for an extraordinary conversation. The official speeches were not that exciting – featuring the usual, “we’re living in tough times, but I’m confident we’ll see this through type of rhetoric”. But it was the talk around the tables that was so striking. Three remarks in particular stuck with me. Read more

A tram passes the euro sign sculpture in front of the European Central Bank ( ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany. Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. All times are GMT. By Tom Burgis, James Crabtree and John Aglionby on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

The turmoil in the eurozone has taken a troubling turn in recent days, with anxiety spreading from Europe’s periphery to its “core” countries. Even as Italy’s Mario Monti readies his economic agenda to be presented today, investors are looking at France, the Netherlands and Austria with increasing unease and wondering whether the ECB might yet ride to the rescue. Over in Greece, today is the anniversary of 1973′s mass student protests – with demonstrators once more planning to take to the streets. And the bond markets are showing ever more strain, with today’s Spanish bond auction souring sentiment still further. Read more

A new phase in the eurozone crisis?

In this week’s show: after a week in which the prospect of a country leaving the eurozone has been floated, where do we go from here? We look at the possibility of closer political and fiscal union in the eurozone, the state of relations between Germany and the UK, and the prospects for a financial transaction tax. Read more

My favourite recent cartoon came in the New Yorker. While watching television the husband says to the wife: “He could be psychotic or he could be appealing to the base.” Already ten debates into the Republican season – and another sixteen to go before the Iowa caucus on 3 January – viewers could be forgiven for having forgotten there is another candidate in the race: Barack Obama. Read more

Businessmen run companies, technocrats run bureaucracies, and politicians run governments. Sometimes they cross-over roles – which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Silvio Berlusconi was a businessman-turned-politician – and that clearly didn’t work for Italy. Mario Monti is a technocrat who has taken Mr Berlusconi’s place – hopefully he will. I had such thoughts in mind as I listened to Ricardo Martinelli speak at a conference in London this week. Read more

by William Wallis, Africa editor

David Cameron’s relatively liberal stand on gay rights is causing a predictable backlash in Africa. The reacton is not just fuelled by a clash of sexual mores – although Mr Cameron threatening to make British aid conditional on the relaxation of laws against homosexuality, as he did at the recent Commonwealth summit, was guaranteed to raise hackles on a continent where homosexuality is mostly taboo. Read more