Daily Archives: May 2, 2012

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

Chen Guangcheng in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing (Getty)

The blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng had been under home arrest for 19 months until last week, when he escaped, took shelter at the US embassy, and appealed in a video for Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to intervene on his behalf.

Mr Chen left the US embassy on Wednesday for a Beijing hospital as part of a deal brokered by the US. But within hours confusion was surrounding that deal and Mr Chen was telling news agencies he wanted to leave China.

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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