Monthly Archives: August 2012

Esther Bintliff

José Manuel Barroso (R), who is set to unveil plans for a "banking union" on September 12, shown here in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in June.

In times of crisis, a fast-forward button can be pressed on decisions that would usually take years of discussion and planning. So it is with the creation of a European ‘banking union’, which analysts at the Bruegel thinktank describe as an endeavour “in some respects no less ambitious and complex than the creation of monetary union itself”. The aim is to brace eurozone banks against future shocks by bringing them under a common regulatory and supervisory structure, introducing common deposit insurance and a shared system for crisis resolution. In June, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, told the FT he’d like to enact a banking union as soon as 2013. But is that really feasible? And what hurdles stand in the way?  Read more

These articles caught our eye today:

Gideon Rachman

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (R-WI) with their families on the final day of the Republican National Convention (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

After three hours of the Republican convention on Thursday night in Tampa, I was all but convinced that the party is on course for victory in the presidential election. And then Mitt Romney gave his speech. The Republicans have some powerful themes to hammer away at. But the fact is, they are stuck with a wooden, dull and charmless candidate. In fact, it seems almost incredible that the anti-charismatic Romney is the best they could come up with – until you remember the motley crew that he ended up running against: Gingrich, Cain, Bachmann, Santorum.  Read more

The Republican convention and the future of the GOP
This week’s Republican Convention has been showcase for a strong next generation of potential leaders for the party, but is Mitt Romney’s campaign also the last throw of the dice for a party that may need to adapt to a rapidly changing electoral demographics? Richard McGregor and John McDermott join John Aglionby to discuss the indications from Tampa.

Alan Beattie

According to the New Zealand Herald, it is Tim Groser, New Zealand’s trade minister, who has ambitions to replace Pascal Lamy as director-general of the World Trade Organization, when the Frenchman steps down next summer.

In Mr Groser’s favour, he is smart and experienced. Formerly New Zealand’s ambassador to the WTO, he chaired the agriculture talks in the Doha round, which is not a job for the easily-frustrated or detail-averse. Read more

Edward Luce

Condoleezza Rice at the Republican National Convention (Stan Honda/AFP/GettyImages)

Every few years someone takes a convention by storm. At Bill Clinton’s convention in 1992 it was Mario Cuomo, the Hamlet-like governor of New York, who gave delegates a taste of what could have been. In 2004 it was the unknown Barack Obama, who comfortably outclassed John Kerry.

In Tampa in 2012, that moment was expected from Chris Christie, the generously-girthed New Jersey governor. Alas, Mr Christie belly-flopped. Instead, it was Condoleezza Rice, the only prominent former Bush official to be given a speaking slot, who delivered the best speech of the convention – and probably of her career. It was all the more impressive because it was unexpected.

Most people assumed that Ms Rice was invited for two reasons – she isn’t white (a big plus for a Republican nominee who recently got zero – yes zero – per cent rating among African Americans), and because her presence would “validate” Mr Romney. The content of her speech would be neither here nor there. In her short address, Ms Rice pretty much inverted expectations. Read more

We selected these articles for you today:

Alan Beattie

Much wonkery is going on as academics pore over the Republican platform for November’s elections, adopted by the convention on Tuesday.

Given Mitt Romney’s sharpish turn towards China-bashing on the campaign trail, the section on trade is worth a detailed look. Scott Lincicome does a thorough number on it here - but I’m also thinking, cynically, about how much of the frothy combative stuff a Romney presidency (and a Republican Congress) could execute in the least trade-warmongering fashion possible – i.e. keep to the letter but not the spirit of the platform. Read more

Edward Luce

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If there was a word observers most repeated about Barack Obama’s convention in Denver four years ago, it was “soaring”. For Mitt Romney in 2012 it would be “humanising” – making him seem like he is flesh and blood is the key deliverable from the Tampa convention.

By that yardstick there is still some way to go.

On Tuesday night, Ann Romney cleared the low bar the media sets for political spouses by bringing to life a husband who, after 43 years of marriage, “still makes me laugh”. She gave a plausible description of a man who would outwork any other applicant for the job. “He will not fail,” she said to the biggest applause line of the night.

Most tellingly, she described a generous philanthropist who did not like people to know about how generous he is: “This is important. I want you to hear what I am going to say,” she said, lowering her voice. “Mitt doesn’t like to talk about how he helps others, because he sees it as a privilege, not as a political talking point.”

Leaving aside the fact that Mr Romney has authorised others to talk about his charitable record (from whom we will hear during the rest of the convention), his wife’s words are not as straightforward as they seem. They contain two messages that Mr Romney will be hoping avoid further scrutiny. Read more

The FT’s Anna Fifield took this photo in Tampa yesterday, of delegate Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman who attended the Republican convention dressed as Wyatt Earp. Apparently, fancy dress is not all that unusual at US political conventions. Check out our FT.com slideshow which includes a few other snaps of costumed delegates, as well as some general scenes from this week’s Florida shindig, as photographed by Anna and Stephanie Kirchgaessner.