Monthly Archives: September 2012

We’ve got plenty on the US, as the election draws ever closer, but Spain’s woes are also attracting a great deal of attention:

A t-shirt seller at an Obama rally in Virginia. Photo AP

Welcome to a quick look at how the media has been covering the campaign and what are the big stories from the past 24 hours, as well as what to expect today.


There is an increasing focus on next week’s debate in Denver, the first of three between President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. The website Politico says it has become “do-or-die-time” for the challenger as other elements of his campaign have failed to live up to expectations of efficient communication. Read more

Here’s what got us chatting this morning:

Welcome to a live blog with analysis and comment from FT experts as Spain’s cabinet gives details of a savage budget that will determine the immediate future of the country and relation with the rest of Europe. Watching closely: Eurozone partners; central banking institutions; the Spanish people; regional separatists, to name a few. Strong reaction is expected, from the market and the street, to further austerity measures. David Gardner, John Aglionby and Ben Fenton are collating the best of it.


18.22: FT experts are retreating into their fastnesses as we write to deliver cogent and considered views on what the Spanish government’s actions mean, and we live desk types gird our loins for the next challenge. Until then, que no hayan novedades, as they used to say in Spain.

18.06: Peter Spiegel has sad news from Brussels for friends of the European Financial Stability Facillity:

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While it is unlikely to be mourned, and there are no plans we know of for an FT obit, it was, in its full form, popular with macro-economic rappers. That “stability-facility” thing, just magic.

18.03: Currency market reaction to the Spanish budget from the FT’s Alice Ross, reminding us that there is more news to come tomorrow, principally on how much Spain’s banks need to recapitalise.:

After hitting its lowest level all day during the Spanish budget, the euro later recovered and was trading just under $1.29, a 0.2 per cent rise on the day. Other currencies related to risk appetite built on their gains, with the Australian dollar rising 0.8 per cent, the New Zealand dollar rising 1 per cent and the UK pound rising 0.4 per cent.

Currency analysts said the rise in the euro was perhaps more related to the removal of uncertainty following the highly anticipated budget, rather than an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the proposals. And the euro is not out of the woods yet, with the results of Spain’s banking stress tests tomorrow set to indicate how much Spain’s banks need by way of recapitalisation.

18.00: Very interesting post from Lisa Pollack over in FT’s Alphaville community, on whether capital flight from Spain is as straightforward as it seems to be.


17.56: Hold up, just a bit of news in at the end there. Montoro, the budget minister, refused to comment when asked whether Spanish state pensions would rise in line with inflation next year. A fairly significant “No Comment”, one would imagine.

17.54: In fact, according to @cataloniadirect, the Catalan parliament has just approved calling a referendum on independence. That is hardly likely to be the last word on the matter, but it does suggest that we haven’t heard the last of that story by a long chalk.

17.52: But, just as Chris Adams thinks it’s all over…it is now. Spanish government’s press conference has now ended. We may have a bit more market reaction for you though, so hang in for a bit. Read more

Welcome to FT’s summary of US election news


Mitt Romney (left) with the latest celebrity to offer him advice, golfing great Jack Nicklaus. Photo AP

Thursday sees a relatively quiet day on the road for the campaigns: there are no new polls to chew over and while both candidates head to Virginia, a state still in play according to surveys, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, have only one stop there.

Mr Romney then heads off to Pennsylvania, where US press reports suggested he has already stopped advertising. The average of state polls at gives Mr Obama an 8.3 point lead in Pennsylvania. The website’s overall poll has the president retaining a 4 point lead nationwide, but it is becoming clearer by the day that just a few states will really decide the outcome. Ohio is one of them. Read more

Is the worst over in the eurozone?
With the ECB committed to unlimited purchases of eurozone bonds, the German Constitutional Court in a forgiving mood, and the Dutch electorate surprising pundits by voting for pro-euro candidates, is the worst over in the euro crisis, or, with Spain still teetering, is this just another false dawn? Tony Barber, Europe editor, and Peter Spiegel, Brussels bureau chief, join Gideon Rachman.

Demonstrators outside the Spanish parliament on Sept 25 clash with police during a protest against spending cuts. Photo: Getty

The political gulf opening up between Spain’s growing separatist movement in the richest province Catalonia and the government of Mariano Rajoy, backed by King Juan Carlos and the Spanish military, has spooked the markets and provoked much debate in the press about whether Spain can survive in its present form. The country’s increasingly precarious financial position has also tilted the country further towards disaster.

In the FT:

The eurozone crisis now threatens the survival of a nation-state, writes David Gardener. The decision of Catalonia’s nationalist government to call a snap election in November – which in practice will amount to a referendum on independence – has opened the way to Catalan secession, and may give a lift to Basque separatists. “As a Spain trapped in the eurozone crisis tries to battle its way through a wrenching recession, it must now contemplate the real possibility that its plurinational state, which replaced the suffocatingly centralist Franco dictatorship with highly devolved regional government, may break up.” Read more

Photo by Getty

When crowds in the Muslim world attack US embassies in protest at an obscure video on the internet, it is easy to dismiss anti-American sentiment there as baseless fanaticism. I’ve done it myself. Pakistan is one of those countries where rage against the US is particulary rampant – and particularly baffling to the Americans, who recall the billions in aid that the US has sent to the country, and the damage that the Taliban has done to Pakistan itself.

Yet Americans who ask that old question – “Why do they hate us?” – might be well-advised to read a new report, produced by the law schools at Stanford and NYU. Entitled, “Living Under Drones”, it documents the damage and terror that drone-strikes have inflicted on the tribal areas of Pakistan. Read more

Here’s what we’ve been chatting about today:

Welcome to the FT’s morning summary of US election news


The crowd at a Romney rally on Tuesday. Photo AP

If it’s Wednesday, it must be Ohio…again.

On a day the Washington Post published a poll showing him eight points ahead in the critical state, President Barack Obama made his 29th visit to Ohio since the 2008 election. Citizens may or may not be weary of his visits, but there are benefits, the Post reports, as presidential boons are raining down on their state.

It cites one example of this downpour of federal grants and business loans, which the president himself mentioned on Tuesday, after he turned his back on the opportunity to hob-nob with world leaders at the UN general assembly in order to shake hands with Buckeye State voters: Read more

A thought on intellectual property rights following yesterday’s magnum opus. As is often the case in trade deals, political economy means that the remedies are at a tangent to the real problem.

The main complaint I hear from US companies is that their IP is being stolen in emerging markets, particularly but not exclusively, China. It’s not just about the quality of the laws on the books: it’s about getting them enforced. Even if you can get the evidence together for a case (especially tough for industrial espionage), Chinese IP courts have limited recourse and are subject to local political pressure. Read more

Here are today’s reading nuggets for you:

Add Poland to the list of European Union countries turned off by the incoherent, self-isolating policies of Britain’s Conservative-led government towards Europe.

First there was Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel restricts her visits to the UK these days to the barest minimum. She has been lukewarm about David Cameron, the UK prime minister, ever since he pulled the Conservative party out of the pan-European centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), of which her Christian Democrats are a leading light.

Next came France. President François Hollande hasn’t forgotten how Cameron refused to meet him when he visited London on an election campaign trip earlier this year. Hollande is not inclined to do Cameron any favours on crucial issues such as the protection of British interests in a more deeply integrated Europe. Read more

Welcome to a new round-up of US coverage of the 2012 presidential election.

With just 41 days of campaigning left – and no new national polls to set the campaigns into nail-biting mode – foreign policy is set to make an impact on the campaign on Tuesday as President Barack Obama addresses the UN general assembly on the Middle East and Mitt Romney is expected to hit back with accusations that the incumbent has failed in his policies there.

Most papers report that the White House is presenting this as a “real moment for the US to assert its values and leadership in this period of transition”.

But CBS News queries why, after making the trip to New York, the president is spending little time at UN headquarters. Unlike last year, he has scheduled no bilateral meetings with world leaders.

Simply put, the White House is prioritizing the president’s reelection effort. Most heads of state will be here all week, but the president will be in New York less than 24 hours, and even then will spend most of his time away from this conference.

 Read more

By Gideon Rachman

The highway leading out of Delhi is lined with adverts for new housing developments with names such as “Exotica Dreamville”. A typical hoarding shows a smiling young couple, standing on a manicured lawn, under the slogan: “Lifestyle is here.”

Here’s some thought-provoking material to start off your week:

I have just been down my local Sainsbury’s – here in the London suburbs – and was distressed to see that it was full of shoppers. This distress is, of course, entirely hypocritical. I am one of those shoppers. Still, I cannot help feeling bad about the local corner-store, a few doors down. It is a run by a friendly and hard-working family of Indian immigrants. And I know their trade has suffered badly since Sainsbury’s opened up a mini-mart, six months ago.

The whole experience reminded me of the debate they were having in India itself, when I was there, earlier this week. The government of Manmohan Singh has just announced its plans to allow foreign supermarkets, such as Walmart and Tesco, to open up in India. But the scheme has provoked big protests, from those who say that small shopkeepers will be crushed. Read more

Ever feel you’ve read all there is to read about China’s growth as a world manufacturing power? Well, did you know that China now has almost complete control of the world’s umbrella market?

China exported over $2.4bn of umbrellas, walking-sticks and whips in 2010, over three quarters – and rising – of global export share.

 Read more

We’ve got a bumper selection to take you through to the weekend:

Mitt Romney has already chalked up one achievement. He is making George W. Bush look very good by comparison.

The full effect of Romney’s comments disparaging 47% of Americans has yet to be gauged. But his dismissive tone towards those “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing” contrasts sharply with George W. Bush – who trademarked the term “compassionate conservatism”. Instead Romney seems to have embraced a Randian “survival of the fittest” model, in which it is even questionable that people have a right to be fed. Read more