Monthly Archives: April 2014

The differing responses to the Ukraine crisis
This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington for talks with President Barack Obama, and Ukraine will top the agenda. Washington has led the way on sanctions, imposing asset freezes and travel bans on dozens of senior Russians and scores of companies, in an attempt to show Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that his interference in Ukraine will bring rising economic costs. The EU on the other hand, seems deeply resistant to tougher economic sanctions, given the much more important ties between Europe and Russia. In this week’s podcast, Ben Hall, world news editor, is joined by Geoff Dyer, Washington correspondent, and Stefan Wagstyl, Berlin bureau chief, to discuss how the two leaders should handle the escalating situation

  • Gideon Rachman thinks Narendra Modi is the jolt that India needs, but in his risposte Edward Luce argues that the risk is not worth taking.
  • China is poised to pass the US as the world’s leading economic power this year. This moment has come sooner than expected: FT economics editor Chris Giles explains the working out.
  • David Gardner thinks Bashar al-Assad is more vulnerable than he looks.
  • The recent freeze in east-west relations has revived interest in Moscow’s Cold War museum.

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Gideon Rachman

Vladimir Putin still has some friends in the West. This week, he was seen sharing a comradely hug with Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor, who was celebrating his 70th birthday, at a party in St. Petersburg. The image of Schroeder whooping it up with the Russian leader is a reminder of how lucky Germany and the West is that Schroeder is not handling the Ukraine crisis – since he lost office to Angela Merkel in 2005. As a former East German, Merkel has few illusions about the nature of a Russian government, run by ex-officials of the Soviet Union. As the saying goes, she has “eaten in this kitchen before.” Read more

Edward Luce

If you want the best case for Narendra Modi, you can do no better than read my colleague Gideon Rachman’s latest column – India needs a jolt. After a decade of prevarication under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (to put it politely), India’s economy is languishing and investors have lost confidence in its reform story. Delhi is almost permanently mired in corruption scandal and politics has turned into a national joke. India desperately needs a change. Who better than Gujarat’s chief minister to give the subcontinent the decisive governance it craves? Read more

Containers sit stacked on a cargo ship berthed at Qingdao Port in Lianyungang, China

According to the latest estimates from the International Comparison Program, hosted by the World Bank, China is poised to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy later this year, toppling it from a perch it has held since 1872.

That is several years ahead of all previous estimates and reflects just how much more important the Chinese economy is now to the rest of the world. Read more

  • Gideon Rachman argues that India needs a jolt and Narendra Modi is the man to provide it.
  • When the political class tries its hand at populism it radiates inauthenticity, says Janan Ganesh.
  • The FT explores the looming crisis in the US infrastructure network.
  • A new and bloody front has been opened in eastern Syria as the country’s two most powerful jihadist groups battle for control of the region’s oilfields.
  • Judge Saed Youssef, nicknamed “the Butcher”, has gained notoriety in Egypt: he has sentenced 1,212 people to their deaths in the past five weeks.
  • The latest US sanctions don’t affect Putin’s personal fortune, they threaten Putin’s actual pressure point: the oil that is Russia’s lifeblood.

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By Gideon Rachman
There is something thrilling about the rise of Narendra Modi. Indian politics has been dominated by the Gandhi dynasty since independence. In India’s current elections, the standard-bearer of the Congress party is Rahul Gandhi – whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all prime ministers. Mr Gandhi, an insipid figure, was truly born to rule. By contrast, Mr Modi, prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata party, comes from humble origins in small-town India. As a teenager he ran a tea stall at the local bus terminal.

  • Seoul’s response to the ferry catastrophe has added to growing accusations of authoritarianism.
  • As the European elections approach, Alex Barker looks at the European Parliament’s growing power.
  • Edward Luce argues that, with the US always struggling between a push for freedom and a Calvinistic urge to meddle, the pendulum is now swinging back towards intrusion.
  • A defence pact between Washington and Manila will help the US put more muscle behind its pivot to Asia.
  • Simon Kuper argues that inequality is the new apartheid: your life path is largely determined before birth.
  • As the tourism industry in the Sinai has slumped, bedouins are turning to illegal opium production.
  • The US has dispatched its first advanced weapons to Syria since the conflict began, raising hopes among rebels that the Obama administration will lessen its resistance to military aid.
  • Russia could create a weak, neutral Ukraine almost instantly. But will it?
  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been discussing the blunders that have fed Putin’s myth that “fascists” have taken power in Ukraine.

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  • Martin Wolf thinks private banks should be stripped of their power to create money.
  • Voting in Mumbai has been a tale of two cities as the most downtrodden residents of India’s financial capital have turned out to vote in large numbers.
  • The Naples tailoring industry has adapted to the 21st Century better than the city in which it resides.
  • Despite concerns over its reliance on the GCC, Egypt is now well placed to engage and negotiate some favourable terms from the IMF.
  • Emerging economies such as Mexico are the fastest-growing source of demand for many of the big food and drinks companies, but intensifying pressure from health authorities in developed markets could deprive them of growth opportunities.

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Obama’s state visit to Japan
This week, we look at Japan, where President Barack Obama is concluding a state visit. The US leader and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have vital business to discuss, from Japan’s delicate and rather dangerous relationship with China, to the state of the Japanese economy and hopes for a major new trade deal. David Pilling, Asia editor, and Lindsay Whipp, former Tokyo correspondent, join Gideon Rachman to discuss