Over here in Europe, I think there is still an assumption that Barack Obama is a strong favourite for re-election. That is not how it feels in the US. In fact, if you really want to look at the odds, then they are telling you that this is an increasingly tight race.
According to In-Trade, which tracks punters’ sentiment on the election, the likelihood of an Obama victory in November has reduced markedly in recent days. Last Thursday night, the odds on Obama winning re-election were rated 56.5%. Checking today, I see that he’s now down to 53.6%. Read more
A new lease of life in an old idea? The EU and the US are talking about some kind of bilateral trade agreement – as, to be fair, they have been for about the past 20 years. This time, so the optimistic argument goes, it is helped along by the fact that almost no-one can be bothered to pretend that the Doha round is alive any more, thus neutralising the criticism that the two biggest trading powers are stitching up deals between themselves and undermining the multilateral system.
The problem with the deal, though, as USTR Ron Kirk recently hinted, is that the Europeans want to go for a comprehensive deal covering as many sectors as possible. US business groups privately have similar worries about the overoptimistic views of their European counterparts. Read more
Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 5. BULENT KILIC/AFP/GettyImages
The World Economic Forum for the Middle East is usually held in an Arab capital and the usual controversy is over how many Israelis show up. This year, there are so many different Arab worlds, one in political transition away from autocracy, the other still solidly autocratic, and the third profoundly troubled by the old conflicts.
That is part of the reason we are in Istanbul, where 1,000 business and political leaders are gathered for a WEF that is now “on the Middle East, north Africa and Eurasia.” The other might be that the WEF has come where Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, will no longer tread – he vowed never to return to Davos after storming off stage in 2009 in a heated debate on Gaza. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
I set off for the US last week with a faint sense of regret that I would miss most of the diamond jubilee celebrations in Britain. But I needn’t have worried. American television offered wall-to-wall coverage of the flummery in London: from gushing profiles of members of the Royal Family (“Harry – the soldier prince”, “Kate – the commoner who could be Queen), to live pictures of the flotilla on the Thames. The fact that it was literally raining on the Queen’s parade was glossed over as various caricature Brits were wheeled on screen to say plucky things like “we love the rain”.