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.

 

(AP)

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:

 

(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.

 

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.”

 

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 FT.com, 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. 

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.

RealClearPolitics.com 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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Politico.com 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. 

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.