The former Republican senator can expect a bumpy ride as he answers questions on how he would play the role of President Obama’s new defence secretary. Hagel needs to persuade at least five of his former colleagues to support him to avoid a filibuster that would torpedo his appointment.

Ben Fenton, from the FT’s Live News Desk, and Johanna Kassel follow the hearing.



Friday’s events from the World Economic Forum feature an address by Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and sessions looking at the challenges faced by, and presented by, the fast-changing Arab world. Reports from FT writers in Davos and by Ben Fenton, Lina Saigol and Lindsay Whipp in London

17.03: The Davos Live Blog is closing down now but for more reading and insight on today’s events, please visit the FT’s in depth page on the World Economic Forum.

16.41: Gideon Rachman, titular proprietor of this blog, has written his surmise from the earlier session on Syria.

16.16: Asked by the Amercian moderator of his panel session about corruption and banking regulation, Nigeria’s central bank governor Sanusi displays a little frustration:

He said: “We are the only country which has taken people out of banks and put them in jail. No bankers in your countries have gone to jail.”

16.12: Martin Wolf has recorded his view on the politics and economics at play in a “low-intensity” Davos this year:

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(Photo EPA)

Coverage of Thursday’s highlights at the World Economic Forum will include contributions from Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Henry Kissinger, brought to you by the FT’s team of reporters and columnists in Davos and by Ben Fenton, Claire Jones and Lina Saigol in London.


18.00: The Davos live blog is closing down for Thursday. For more reading and insight on today’s events, please visit the FT’s in-depth page on the World Economic Forum. We will be back with Friday’s highlights, including world wide wisdom from Sir Tim Berners-Lee and central forethought from Mario Draghi.

17.30: Gillian Tett reports on her own Davos session this morning and its compelling insights into China’s future:

One of the big guessing games in Davos this year is whether China will be able to maintain a growth rate of 8 per cent a year. But today I had a chance to interview Li Daokui, the renowned Chinese economist and former central bank official – and he insisted during the Davos event that the 8 per cent growth debate is entirely the wrong thing to worry about.

In the short to medium term, Li argued, there is every reason to expect China to keep expanding at a healthy pace since the economy is still “catching up” with other countries and it is rebalancing away from export-lead growth towards domestic consumption at a much faster pace than most Western observers recognise. And while many Western economists argue that the official statistics overstate the pace of growth, Li thinks that the data is pretty accurate: even if some state activity is inflated, that is being balanced by the fact that swathes of the “informal” Chinese economy are being under-recorded.

However, Li argued that the really big issue now is what model China will want to emulate in the future: will it be more “capitalist” like America, or more state-controlled like Singapore (or, a cynic might suggest, something more wild, like Russia). Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Li thinks that Singapore is the best option. But he stressed that it remains unclear whether the new leadership will be ready to embrace the radical reforms that he thinks will be needed in China over the next decade; it is also unclear whether public opinion in China will permit this. And while the citizens are not expressing their views via the ballot box, Li says it is a mistake to think that popular views do not count. Whereas America relies on democracy to test public views, China is now using Twitter, he argues: the social media forum has become such a crucial weather vane of public sentiment that it is being closely watched by top Chinese officials, and influencing policy. And it is not just politicians who are Twitter-focused: Li himself currently has some 5m Twitter followers, who are eagerly reading his economic tweets.

It is a fan club that even Beyoncé would be excited about; let alone any of the Western economists who are in Davos this week.

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Welcome to a live blog of events in Brussels as European leaders meet for a second day to discuss how far and fast to push integration of fiscal and economic systems in the 27-country bloc. Ben Fenton in London is watching.


14.46: And that seems an appropriately grim note on which to end live-blog coverage of the EU council summit, a meeting of which few had high expectations and yet most observers seem still to have come away disappointed.

Until next time.

14.34: Courtesy of Reuters, we have a jolly Christmas message from Chancellor Merkel:

“One reason I am careful with my forecasts is the adjustment process, the changes that we are going through are very difficult and painful.”

(Picture: AFP/Getty)

“Next year, and the ECB president said this, we will have very low growth rates, we will see negative growth in some countries, and we can expect very high unemployment levels to continue.”
“On the one hand we have accomplished a lot. But we also have tough times ahead of us that can’t be solved with one big step. There has been lots of talk about the one step, whether it be a debt haircut, euro bonds or some other measure that will solve everything. That won’t be the case.”

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Welcome to the final round up of media coverage of the US presidential election campaign, as Americans go to the polls. You can see a live blog of the unfolding events elsewhere on, but here we review the last moments of seemingly endless months of punditry and prognostication about what might happen today. Tomorrow, it is to be hoped, the headlines will be about what actually has happened.

We start with a look at how the media have covered the crazed deadline hours of campaigning, as the candidates hurtle around swing states trying to energise voters to support them. Read more

The final stretch: Barack Obama presses the flesh at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday (AP)

Welcome to the penultimate summary of media coverage of the 2012 US election campaign on a day when geography means nothing and psephology everything as the candidates make their final push for the few, surely very few, remaining undecided voters.

The polls on this last day of campaigning suggest President Barack Obama has a slight edge in the states he needs to hold – Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada – to keep the White House, but his opponent Mitt Romney is easily close enough for polls to be wrong and an upset to be possible. shows “Obama (D)” ahead of “Romney (R)” by a sliver – half of a percentage point. Five national polls on Sunday gave the following margins: Obama +3; Obama +1; Obama +1; Tie; Tie. The possibility, last seen in 2000, of the victor losing the popular vote but winning in the electoral college, remains open. Read more

Welcome to a summary of US election coverage of a day when President Barack Obama had the luxury of dominating television screens without having to pay an extra cent in advertising, while his opponent Mitt Romney was forced into an uncomfortable position in the wings of a great drama.


In the Financial Times, Alan Rappeport reports from Atlantic City that Mr Obama’s position as incumbent gave him the opportunity not only to be pictured coming to the aid of a storm-battered New Jersey, but also inspecting damage alongside the state’s governor, Chris Christie, who has been one of Mr Romney’s main surrogates in attacking the president. Read more

Welcome to a summary of US election coverage on a day when the advantages of incumbency will surely continue to work on behalf of President Barack Obama.

His role in supervising the clear-up of damage caused by the biggest storm to hit the eastern US in 75 years puts the president in centre shot of news footage that for at least the next 24 hours will be broadcast into every home of the US, airtime that could not be bought.

Latest polls show the presidential race is still being fought on the thinnest margins in states that have either been dealt glancing blows by Sandy – Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, – or know only too well what it is like to be mangled by the forces of nature – hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Iowa. Read more

Welcome to a storm-curtailed review of US election coverage after a day on which both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney stopped campaigning because of Tropical Storm Sandy.

As the Financial Times reports, the campaigns caught their breath as a combination of practical difficulties in travelling and organisation, and a desire not to be seen to be practising politics as usual at such a moment took hold. Mr Obama was assuming his commander-in-chief role at the White House. asked a question few were expecting to have to pose: could Sandy delay the election next Tuesday? Forecasting that seemed as difficult as predicting the weather.

“Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “There’s very little precedent for such an act.”

Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state “has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”

The flooding that hit the north-eastern coast of the country, killing at least 16 people, was a disaster big enough to stop the juggernaut of campaigning, so the only non-storm news was the latest set of polling data. Read more

It may be a contest to become the most powerful human on the planet, but even the US presidential race has to bow to the might of nature sometimes. As Hurricane Sandy summoned up her powers to hammer the east coast of the US, organisers of the two campaigns hurriedly changed their plans and moved inland.

The weather is likely to have two effects, according to the US press, with practical concerns about travel and safety affecting both. But the campaign of President Barack Obama will be worse hit by a second factor, as the Wall Street Journal explains:

Today is the last day for in-person and mail-in voter registration in deadlocked New Hampshire, where the weather threatens to scuttle campaign stops planned by both camps next week. First lady Michelle Obama has canceled a Tuesday trip to the University of New Hampshire campus, which will be closed Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Sandy.

Mr. Obama’s campaign team is relying on banking votes during the early voting period in many states. Campaign aides are privately nervous about a potential disruption in early voting in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Welcome to a round-up of presidential election news and the quadrennial process of the “last dash for votes” stories has begun early this time around. Concepts like “momentum”, “campaign groundwork” and “heavyweight endorsements” are here to stay for the next 10 turbulent days.

Having voted in his home state of Illinois, President Barack Obama’s idea of momentum appears to consist of sitting in the Oval Office recording media interviews, while his challenger Mitt Romney has a slightly less hectic schedule than in the immediate post-debate days, with only two states, Iowa and Ohio, on his agenda on Friday. Read more

Welcome to a round up of media coverage of the presidential election as the campaign reaches the stage where the air miles really begin to stack up for those following the candidates on their jet-powered whistlestop tours.

Today, President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney criss-cross the country in search of support in critical states. The president begins the day in Florida before flying up the east coast to Virginia, then home to Chicago to cast his own (early) vote before hopping to Ohio, two states to the east, for an evening rally.

With just 11 days of campaigning left, the citizens of these states can expect to see the candidates plenty more times and hear an awful lot of speeches, but Thursday’s headlines feature remarks made by the president in what he thought was a private conversation. Read more

Welcome to the round-up of reaction to Monday night’s third and final presidential debate, in which President Barack Obama went on the offensive.

The debate’s topic was foreign policy and it saw an unusual inversion of what might have been expected, with the incumbent taking up the cudgels and the challenger assuming a statesmanlike position. Mitt Romney frequently agreed with his opponent’s foreign policies, although they clashed more fiercely on China, the final subject of the final debate. Read more

Welcome to the election news round-up on the morning before the third and final presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy.

While investors may increasingly focus on the threat of the so-called fiscal cliff facing whoever wins on November 6, this potential catastrophe for the US economy will remain off the agenda as Washington DC remains obsessed with the minutiae of an incredibly tight race. Read more

Welcome to a round-up of media coverage of a presidential election now so close that the candidates, with less than three weeks of campaigning left, are paying visits to states with only four votes of the 270 needed to win the electoral college on November 6.

President Barack Obama was in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, a town accustomed to the paraphernalia and pageant of primary campaigning in December and January, but not so much to autumnal visits by the victors of those primaries.

The latest poll for the New England state shows Mr Obama tied with his Republican rival Mitt Romney.
One local paper, the Eagle Tribune, reports that an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 saw an energised president repeating many of the attack lines he used against Mr Romney in Monday’s presidential debate. Read more

Welcome to a review of media stories about the US presidential election with just 18 days to go until the next occupant of the White House will be decided. The day after the second presidential debate found the candidates addressing the distaff side of the US electorate.


Polls show that President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney are locked in a struggle for women’s votes, but the president obviously felt he picked up an advantage in the debate. At a rally in Iowa, the Financial Times reports, he pointed to a perceived flaw, the vagueness of Mr Romney’s economic plans, as well as milking one of his rival’s few uncomfortable moments in Tuesday’s clash.

“Everyone here has heard of the new deal, the fair deal, the square deal? Mitt Romney is trying to sell you a sketchy deal,” Mr Obama said to wild applause from his supporters.

With his sleeves rolled up and his tie loose, the president mocked his rival for an awkwardly phrased line in the debate. Answering a question about equal pay for women, Mr Romney touted his record as governor of Massachusetts by saying he had received “whole binders full of women” to help him recruit qualified females. The line quickly went viral on the internet.

Mr Obama said: “We don’t have to collect a bunch of binders to find qualified talented women.”

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Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama pulled any punches in the debate. (Getty)

Welcome to the US election round up on the morning after a debate – described by one veteran observer as “immeasurably the best” in US history, where President Barack Obama was seen to have rediscovered his combative style, but Mitt Romney stood his ground against a flurry of rhetorical punches.

According to the Financial Times, the first post-debate polls showed Mr Obama as the perceived victor, just. A CBS poll reported that 37 per cent of respondents said Mr Obama won, while 30 per cent said Mr Romney did. A CNN survey said 46 per cent of those asked thought Mr Obama won, while 39 per cent said Mr Romney won the clash held in a town hall format at Hofstra University in New York state. Read more

Ready and waiting – the venue for tonight's second presidential debate. (Reuters)

Welcome to the US election round-up on the morning of the second presidential debate, with polls showing the closest race for the White House since the Bush/Gore election in 2000 that was finally decided in the Supreme Court.

The RCP rolling average of polls is constantly changing – hardly a surprise when 10 national surveys of voting intention are published every day – but after showing a tie late on Monday night, Tuesday dawned with Mitt Romney holding a 0.1 per cent lead over President Barack Obama. Read more

Preparation for Tuesday's second presidential debate, at Hofstra University, New York. (AFP/Getty)

Welcome to the US election round-up at the beginning of a week which may be President Barack Obama’s last chance to halt the momentum of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

The Romney surge, which sees him up by 1.3 percentage points nationally and with races tightening in critical swing states, began at the first debate in Denver 11 days ago. Tomorrow’s second clash at Hofstra University in New York will give Mr Romney a platform, in the so-called “town hall” format, to win over Americans in the one area where he is still well behind Mr Obama – namely the perception that he favours the rich.

[14.21 BST 9.21 EST update: The RCP polling average has closed sharply this morning, after inputting data more favourable to the president, to a lead of 0.2 percentage points for Mr Romney 47.3 - 47.1. NB, an earlier draft of this round-up had Mr Romney's lead at 1.8 percentage points. This was a typographical error.] Read more

Welcome to the FT’s summary of instant reaction to Thursday night’s vice presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, between the incumbent Joe Biden and his Republican challenger, Paul Ryan. The general verdict was that it was a feisty affair that the Democrat may have edged at the expense of showing a condescending side which could come back to haunt him.

Anna Fifield, the Financial Times correspondent in the audience at Centre College, reports:

Mr Biden, the sitting vice-president, achieved his goal of putting forward a passionate case for a second term for the Democratic team, a week after President Barack Obama confounded supporters with a lacklustre performance during his first debate with Mitt Romney, his Republican rival for the White House.

But Mr Ryan also offered plenty of lines to cheer his party’s base, outlining Republican plans to boost the economy and attacking the Obama administration over the deficit. He also sharply criticised the Obama administration’s approach to Syria and Libya.

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