Monthly Archives: July 2012

Roula Khalaf

Last week, as the battle for Aleppo got under way, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said territorial gains made by Syria’s rebels would eventually result in a “safe haven” inside the country. And she called on the opposition to start preparing for a transition of power.

The rebel commanders too have been talking about Aleppo as their Benghazi ( the wellspring of last year’s Libyan uprising),  insisting that with much of the rural countryside in Idlib already under their control. Taking Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, would mean they could control territory all the way to the Turkish border. 

Youngsters shout slogans during a demonstration in Madrid on March 29, 2012 on a national strike day. (DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

FT reporters have written about the issue of youth unemployment around the world as part of our Left Behind series this summer. They covered the fears and hopes of young people struggling to find jobs amid the worst economic crisis since World War II – and the governments’ responses.

 

By Gideon Rachman

A cynic inspecting Mitt Romney’s foreign itinerary of Poland, Israel and Britain might mutter: “Polish vote, Jewish vote, Olympics.” But there is also a genuine philosophy behind Mr Romney’s choice of destinations.

James Blitz

Mitt Romney in Israel (Getty)

Mitt Romney has caused something of a stir over recent days with comments that he and his campaign team have made about Iran. On a visit to Israel he and his aides said two things on the Iranian nuclear weapons programme that have left politicians and commentators wondering how he would act on this issue if elected.

First there was a comment made in Jerusalem by Dan Senor, Mr Romney’s senior foreign policy aide, who suggested that his boss supports a unilateral military strike on Iran by Israel. “If Israel has to take action on its own,” Mr Senor said in a briefing, “the governor would respect that decision.” 

These are the pieces that caught our attention this morning: 

By Gideon Rachman

After thousands of leaks and teases, most attentive viewers had some advance warning about the contents of the Olympic opening ceremony that took place last night. There would be sheep, there would be techno-music, there would be an artificial cloudburst – and maybe a real one too. 

Geoff Dyer

Mitt Romney meets David Cameron (Getty)

American cable television has come a day late to Mitt Romney’s troubled visit to the UK, but is making up for lost time by giving lots of air time to the coverage in this morning’s British press. CNN has been running items every hour about Romney’s procession of gaffes and how they have been received. Pride of place has gone to the headline in The Sun: “Mitt the Twit”. 

Here’s what we’ve been reading, while keeping an eye on the Olympics:

Conflict intensifies in Syria
This week the FT’s world news editor Shawn Donnan is joined by James Blitz, diplomatic editor and Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut to discuss the conflict in Syria. Violence in the capital Damascus and commercial centre Aleppo, the disclosure that the regime possesses chemical weapons, refugee flight and the risk of instability spreading into Lebanon – is there now a case for western intervention?

Alan Beattie

You are not alone. The renminbi is with you. But it has managed to pull off the impressive trick of being a lot less undervalued without actually having risen very much.

The IMF said this week what others (especially the Peterson Institute, whose estimates often get a lot of airtime on Capitol Hill) have also suggested: the RMB is a lot less undervalued than a year ago. The Fund, which now combines various different concepts of currency valuation to take a judgment, called it “modestly undervalued” without putting a number on it.

The Peterson gurus are less coy: they reckon the RMB needs to rise just 2.8 per cent in real trade-weighted terms (i.e. against a basket of currencies, adjusting for inflation), and by 7.7 per cent against the dollar, to achieve a sustainable external position. These are big changes from a year ago, where the trade-weighted and dollar undervaluations were 16 per cent and 28.5 per cent respectively.  (Naturally these changes don’t seem to have made much difference to the China-bashers in Congress or out on the campaign trail, who tend to use the Peterson estimates when it suits them and ignore them otherwise.)