Daily Archives: February 28, 2012

Gideon Rachman

It is a measure of how much the ideological climate has changed over the last thirty years that Francois Hollande’s announcement today – that he would increase France’s top rate of income tax to 75% – seems so outlandish.

Even by European standards, a top-rate of tax at this level would make France a real outlier. Currently, Sweden has the highest top-rate of tax in Europe at 56.5%. Germany’s top rate is 47.5% and France is at just 41%. The fact that Britain has a top-rate of 50% – currently significantly higher than France – is a source of considerable embarrassment to George Osborne, the UK chancellor. He, for one, would be delighted if Mr Hollande is elected president of France in May, and makes good on his promise. Read more

From the FT’s Brussels Blog:

Over the last 24 hours, a flurry of activity has taken place surrounding Greece’s €200bn debt restructuring, most of it expected but some of it potentially destabilising. Because the moves involve highly technical – but still significant – judgements by occasionally obscure groups, Brussels Blog thought it was time for another guide to what to watch for in the ensuing days.

The most eye-catching announcement was the one made last night by Standard & Poor’s declaring Greece to be in “selective default”. Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the group of eurozone finance ministers, put out a statement saying the move was “duly anticipated” – and he’s right. S&P signalled this way back in June when the first talk of a Greek restructuring began.

 Read more

John Paul Rathbone

Cuban President Raul Castro (left) welcomes Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to Cuba last Friday for cancer treatment. Photo: AP

One of the more interesting lines of speculation about Hugo Chávez’s deteriorating health and possible death is what it might mean for the socialist Venezuelan president’s many foreign allies. These include Cuba and Nicaragua in the Venezuelan near abroad, to further-flung friends in Syria and even China. Read more