This doubtless reflects my political prejudices, but I think Sarkozy just about edged the French presidential election debate with Francois Hollande tonight. But Sarko certainly didn’t land a knock-out blow. So, unless the polls are wildly out, his presidency is drawing to a close. The French vote on Sunday, and Sarkozy seems to be 7-8 points behind Hollande. Read more
After my column arguing that there is “no alternative to austerity”, I seem to have become an unofficial ringleader of the backlash against the argument that “austerity in Europe is mad”. This was, of course, itself a backlash against austerity itself. Now, as people respond to my article, we are several iterations back. I think it’s the backlash against the backlash against the backlash.
But enough of this hall-of-mirrors. Writing on his blog today, Paul Krugman suggests that I was setting up a straw-man – by arguing against Keynesianism in Spain and Italy. He agrees that this is not feasible. The point, he says, is that you need a Keynesian response in Europe, as a whole. In this, as Krugman points out, he is echoing a critique made by Ryan Avent, over at The Economist. Read more
President Evo Morales of Bolivia – following in Argentina's nationalisation footsteps? Reuters
There seems to be a domino effect in Latin America. Two weeks after President Cristina Fernández nationalised Spanish oil company Repsol’s stake in Argentina’s YPF, President Evo Morales has nationalised Spanish electricity grid operator Red Eléctrica’s business in neighbouring Bolivia.
In both cases, troops were sent in to underline the glorious nationalism of the occasion. But does this mark a new wave of populism and nationalisations in the region? Almost certainly not. Read more