Monthly Archives: December 2011

By Pilita Clark and Andrew England in Durban

He was young, he was from French-speaking Senegal, and his English was excellent. But at the end of yet another briefing in English at the UN climate talks this week, he made an urgent plea. “This subject is so technical it makes it very difficult for those who speak English as a second language,” he said. “So please could we have translators at the next briefing?”

Good luck, muttered a nearby native English speaker. “We can’t understand most of it either.” 

Tom Burgis

David Cameron arrives for the EU summit. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

A summit  in Brussels ended in deep division, with the UK refusing to back a new treaty for all 27 EU members and leaving the eurozone countries plus at least six others to forge ahead with a pact of their own to enshrine strict new rules on deficits and debt. It was meant to be the summit that would decisively chart a course out of the eurozone’s debt crisis. 

19.03 That’s the end of our live coverage today. We’ll leave you with a quick summary of the day’s developments. See FT.com for more news and analysis through the evening.

  • The European Union’s 27 leaders, minus David Cameron, struck a deal in the early hours to draw up a treaty by March that would bind them to strict new rules on debt and deficits, with automatic sanctions for countries that break them
  • The UK courted isolation as it refused to sign up to a treaty for all 27 members after David Cameron’s early-hours pitch for safeguards to protect UK financial services met a chilly reception from his counterparts
  • Markets were volatile before a tentative rally lifted equities in Europe and the US. The euro strengthened against the dollar but yields on Italian and Spanish bonds climbed once again
  • The IMF welcomed the European deal, which included €200bn for the fund to ensure it has enough cash to deal with any more fallout from the eurozone crisis, with Christine Lagarde, its head, saying she was “hopeful that others will also do their part”

 

Egyptian elections, pressure on Iran and demonstrations in Moscow

This week, Gideon Rachman talks to Roula Khalaf, Middle East editor, about the results of the Egyptian elections, where Islamist parties have won almost two-thirds of the vote and discusses the growing international pressure on Iran with James Blitz, defence and diplomatic editor. Also this week, David Crouch, Europe news editor, talks to Charles Clover, Moscow bureau chief, about the demonstrations in Moscow against Vladimir Putin. 

Gideon Rachman

The British delegation that set off for the European Union summit in Brussels today was in no doubt that it faced a rough ride. The British are being accused of worsening the crisis, by adopting a hardline negotiating position. This is regarded as a little unfair in London. As a senior member of the British delegation puts it – “You can blame Britain for lots of things. But we didn’t invent the euro.” 

eurocoasterWelcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis, Esther Bintliff and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

Europe’s leaders gathered in Brussels for another crunch summit. Expectations are running high for a new grand bargain to restore sanity to the eurozone’s finances and chart a course out of the debt crisis. Also today:

  • The European Central Bank cut interest rates by a quarter point to 1 per cent, as expected, and announced that it would accept more forms of collateral and offer longer-term loans to try to protect the banking system
  • Mario Draghi, ECB president, poured cold water on hopes the central bank was poised to take more aggressive action
  • The European banking authority unveiled its updated stress tests of 70 banks, which tripled the capital shortfall for the German banking sector and pushed up the Europe-wide deficit from €106bn in October to €115bn now

20:15: We’re winding up the liveblog for tonight, but you can follow the rest of the action at FT.com and we’ll be back again on Friday morning. Thanks for reading and for all the comments. Bon courage!

19.54: BREAKING – Peter Spiegel, the FT’s Brussels bureau chief, has this scoop from the summit:

EU leaders have begun their late-starting summit, and they were given a 6-page draft of their conclusions at the start. According to people who have seen it, some of the most interesting new language is on the eurozone bail-out funds.

The current version says the existing €440bn fund, the EFSF, will continue running for another 2 years financing its current programmes – which would not be transferred to the new fund, the €500bn ESM.

That would free up the ESM’s resources, giving the eurozone significantly more firepower, with the two funds running in parallel.

The conclusions say the ESM would have its maximum €500bn lending capacity, regardless of how much the EFSF is committed to.

That could mean as much as €200bn in new “bazooka” weaponry.

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Tom Burgis

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

18.25 That’s the end of our live coverage of the eurozone crisis today. We’ll be back tomorrow morning for a day that includes the ECB rates decision and Mario Draghi’s press conference, as well as the meeting of centre-right European leaders in Marseille ahead of the start of the EU summit in Brussels in the evening. And, just as the leaders tuck in their napkins for a working dinner, the European banking authority will unveil the details of which banks need to raise what capital.

We’ll leave you with a round-up of today’s developments. 

By Gideon Rachman

In retrospect, it was all desperately naive. 

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel before their meeting at the Elysee palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

This post should update automatically every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices. All times are GMT.

 

19.40: So, after a relatively quiet morning, this afternoon and evening have proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster.

  • First, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel surprised everyone by announcing they had reached “comprehensive agreement” on a new set of fiscal rules ahead of the EU summit later this week. Of course we knew they were going to meet, but to be honest, we hadn’t expected them to say very much in public at this stage. So stock markets rallied, bond yields fell and suddenly it looked like a resolution to the eurozone crisis might be in sight…
  • Then, just when you thought it might be safe etc etcthis story broke. In brief: Standard and Poor’s has warned Germany and the five other triple A members of the eurozone that they risk having their top-notch ratings downgraded as a result of deepening economic and political turmoil in the single currency bloc. The US ratings agency is poised to announce later on Monday that it is putting Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Luxembourg on “creditwatch negative”, meaning there is a one-in-two chance of a downgrade within 90 days.

Understandably, investors took fright, and stock markets pared many of the gains made earlier in the day. There will be more news on this story tonight – see FT.com for all the latest. In the meantime thanks for reading, and for all the comments. 

Gideon Rachman

I have often hesitated over whether to describe Russia as a democracy. Yes, the country has elections. But so much about the political system seemed to be rigged: from the harassment of the political opposition, to the slavishly favourable coverage given on television to Vladimir Putin and the United Russia party. There were also frequent rumours of ballot-box stuffing during elections. But, whatever the flaws of Russian democracy, it is robust enough to have delivered a genuine slap-in-the-face to Putin’s United Russia party, which looks as if it could well lose its majority in the Duma, after the elections today. 

Gideon Rachman

The original Socrates died thousands of years ago after being forced to drink hemlock. The modern version died yesterday, aged 57, after an intestinal infection. Socrates was captain of the Brazilian football team, but looked charmingly like an Athenian philosopher. His fantastic performances in the 1982 World Cup also provoked one of the great lines in football commentary - “And Socrates scores a goal that sums up the philosophy of Brazilian football.” A shame that he won’t be around when the World Cup is played in Brazil in 2014.