Daily Archives: November 12, 2012

The past week has offered a unique chance to compare politics in the world’s two biggest powers. The opaque formality of the Communist party congress in China makes an almost comic contrast with the made-for-television razzmatazz of the US presidential election.

One of the jibes that is sometimes aimed at the European single currency is that even the bank notes betray the frailty of European identity. I have made the charge myself, writing about a year ago:

If you want to understand why the euro is in such trouble, forget, for a moment, debt and sovereign bonds – and take a look at the bank notes. The images on euro notes are of imaginary buildings. While national currencies typically feature real people and places – George Washington on the dollar bill, the Bolshoi theatre on the Russian rouble – European identity is too fragile for that. Selecting a place or a hero associated with one country would have been too controversial. So the European authorities chose vague images that represented everywhere and nowhere.

But now the European authorities have moved to rebut this criticism. A couple of days ago, the FT reported that the new euro notes that will begin to be introduced next May will feature “a hologram and watermark of Europa, the Phoenician noblewoman who gave the continent its name. In Greek myth, she was abducted by Zeus disguised as a bull who wanted to seduce her”. Read more

Inter-factional feuding has always been the favourite blood sport of Moscow’s bureaucratic elite. The stakes are not as high as they were in Stalin’s time, but the tools are the same, writes Charles Clover.  Read more