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 Kennan. Read 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 zero. Read 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