There is no doubt that there are lots of people suffering in Greece. The FT and other newspapers have carried stories about people losing their jobs, having their pensions cut and being forced to rely on charity. But the villains in this piece are not primarily greedy foreign bondholders or mean-spirited German politicians. One of the main reasons that Greece is in a bad way is that its government and its budget have been captured by interest groups that have funnelled money and resources in the wrong direction. Changing this culture might be painful for some in the short-run. In the long-run, it is the route to national regeneration.
The health-care reforms that are going through parliament today are a fine example. Read more
By David Pilling in Hong Kong
The election for Hong Kong chief executive, the rather po-faced name the business-minded city gives to its mayor, may have passed you by. After all, with an election committee of only 1,200 members that takes its cue from Beijing and only two credible candidates, it surely lacks the slapstick spectacle of something like the Republican primaries.
Think again. What ought to be a boring exercise in “managed democracy”, in which a captured Hong Kong elite does Beijing’s bidding, has turned into something altogether more exciting. Read more
Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from our correspondents around the world. All times GMT.
18.58 That’s about it for the live blog today. Follow FT.com through the evening for all the news from the summit and analysis of the day’s developments. Before we go, a quick recap:
- Eurozone finance ministers held back more than half of Greece’s €130bn bail-out on the grounds that Athens has yet to jump through all the hoops lined up by its international creditors. That money could be released as soon as next week, though, and the ministers did sign off on a package of incentives and instruments to underpin a debt restructuring deal with private investors in Greek bonds
- ISDA, the industry body that decides what is and is not a “credit event”, ruled that the Greek debt restructuring does not constitute one – or not yet, at any rate. That means that $3.25bn of credit default swaps on Greek government bonds do not pay out – unless ISDA comes to a different view at a later date. The decision could have significant knock-on effects in the market for CDS, which serve as insurance against a sovereign default.
- There was more fallout from the Irish plan to hold a referendum on the eurozone’s fiscal compact, following the resignation of Fianna Fail’s deputy leader – and an apparent threat to execute a kitten (see 15.22)
- Unemployment in the 17-member eurozone jumped to an all-time high of 10.7 per cent in January, new data showed
- Spain held another successful bond auction and Italian yields fell too
And we leave you with a little light reading on the travails of Greece and one line — perhaps unfair, given today’s progress — that’s been raising wry smiles on Twitter.
18.55 As expected, Herman Van Rompuy is elected for another term as president of the European Council.
18.18 Now the finance ministers have done their work — well, some of it — it’s over the Europe’s leaders for the summit proper. Once again, all lenses on Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Angela Merkel arrives at the EU summit in Brussels (Photo: AP)
17.58 Earlier, Bill Gross, the manager of Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, was to be heard fulminating against ISDA’s decision not to deem the Greek restructuring a “credit event”, thereby preventing credit default swaps from paying out (15.27).
Our hawk-eyed colleagues at FT Alphaville have, however, been studying the list of the ISDA members that voted unanimously against calling a credit event. Check the last name….
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