Monthly Archives: January 2012

By Gideon Rachman

It took an economic crisis in Greece in 1947 to force the United States to assume world leadership. Now, more than 60 years later, another Greek crisis is showing what the world feels like without US leadership.

Gideon Rachman

In my last post, I quoted an anonymous German decisionmaker saying that the ratings agencies were deliberately trying to destabilise the euro. But this kind of paranoia is now being spouted, on-the-record. This morning’s FT contained these two choice quotes. Martin Schulz, MEP, called the S&P downgrade “a targeted attack” on the euro, designed to distract attention from the US budget deficit. (That would be the same S&P that downgraded the US itself, over the summer?) Elmar Brok, another German MEP, said the agencies were pursuing “Angl0-American interests.” I do wish Brok would stop beating about the bush. 

Nigerian unions may have agreed to suspend strike action and call off protests after the government partially caved into demands for the restoration of the longstanding fuel subsidy. But President Goodluck Jonathan is not out of the woods yet. 

Gideon Rachman

Conspiracy theories about the euro crisis go all the way to the top. A few weeks ago, I heard a key German decision-maker suggest that the ratings agencies are deliberately trying to stoke up the crisis, because they stand to profit from it. (He didn’t explain quite how.) No sooner have things calmed down a little, fumed this individual, then the ratings agencies will leak some depressing bit of analysis, and the markets start to panic all over again. 

The Eurozone, the Hildebrand affair and prospects for political reform in Myanmar

As Greece continues to haunt the Eurozone, Berlin bureau chief Quentin Peel and Europe news editor Ben Hall join Gideon Rachman to discuss the latest developments in the crisis. Also, Zurich correspondent Haig Simonian discusses the fallout from the Philipp Hildebrand affair at the Swiss National Bank, and Gwen Robinson, south east Asia correspondent, discusses the prospects for political reform in Myanmar

John Paul Rathbone

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad’s “Hate America Tour” continues. First stop was the obligatory visit to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the Iranian president’s usual window onto the region. Then Nicaragua, to attend the inauguration of newly re-elected president Daniel Ortega. Today it’s the turn of the Castro brothers in Cuba. Tomorrow it is Ecuador. 

John Aglionby

In his second video on the US 2012 presidential election campaign, FT columnist Edward Luce considers whether anything or anyone can stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican party presidential nomination after his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Alan Beattie

The euro has fallen to a 16-month low below $1.27 – run, run for your lives! Or recognise that it’s still around the trade-weighted average for the past decade and only slightly weaker in real terms than when it launched, that a weaker currency is just what a stricken economy needs and that there isn’t much sign that the fall is disorderly and hence generally hitting confidence in eurozone assets. (The eurozone authorities are doing that.) 

Tom Burgis

At least five Iranian scientists believed to have links to the country’s nuclear programme have been attacked in the past two years, four of them fatally.

Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes; western powers say Tehran is seeking to develop atomic weapons. 

Gideon Rachman

My friends in the press will do their utmost to keep a sense of excitement going, as the US presidential election heads to South Carolina and Florida. But the fact is that yesterday’s primary result in New Hampshire is clearly very good news for Mitt Romney. He is cruising towards the Republican nomination. But while this week has demonstrated Romney’s strength in the Republican race, it has also revealed a lot about his potential vulnerabilities in a face-off with President Obama.