Austerity backlash in Europe and UN monitors in Syria

As the Dutch government falls, a socialist wins the first round of the French presidential election, and the UK slides back into recession, Brussels bureau chief Peter Spiegel and Europe editor Ben Hall discuss the backlash against Europe’s austerity politics. Read more

Welcome to our rolling coverage of the day’s developments in the eurozone.

Today the live blog comes from Paris, as France digests a surge of far right support in the presidential election, but we’ll also be updating you on news from around Europe. All times Paris time.

By Tom Burgis in Paris and Esther Bintliff in London with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

17.27 That’s about it for our live coverage from Paris today. A quick round-up of the day’s developments.

We leave you with news of a rare moment of accountability in said crisis:

Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland, has been found guilty of one count of negligence in the run-up to the country’s 2008 banking crash but will receive no punishment. The FT’s Michael Stothard reports from Stockholm:

Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland, has been found guilty of one count of negligence in the run-up to the country’s 2008 banking crash but will receive no punishment.

A special court of impeachment designed to deal with criminal charges against Icelandic government ministers found Mr Haarde guilty of failing to hold dedicated cabinet meetings ahead of the crisis.

But the court cleared him of three more significant charges that could have carried a sentence of up to two years in jail.

The full story is hereÀ la prochaine… Read more

Nicolas Sarkozy’s legacy in French politics
With the first round of the French presidential election upon us and the second round just around the corner, the FT’s Hugh Carnegy, Ben Hall and John Thornhill join Shawn Donnan to discuss the legacy of president Nicolas Sarkozy and his chances of reelection.

Cristina Fernández holds a sample of the first petroleum extraction in Argentina as she makes the YPF announcement (Getty)

On Monday Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president, announced the renationalisation of the oil company YPF, ousting the Spanish group Repsol as majority owner and prompting a furious response from Madrid. With Spain and the European Union pondering how best to respond, we cast an eye back at ten of the most momentous nationalisations of resource/commodity institutions. (We are omitting the across-the-board, everything-must-go nationalisations of Russia and China after their respective Communist revolutions, for reasons of space). Read more

You wait ages for a powerful and influential person to be caught trying to hide an extremely expensive watch – and then two come along at once.

Patriarch Kirill (AP Photo/

First it was Russian Patriarch Kirill I, whose photograph on the church’s website was digitally altered to erase a $30,000 Breguet watch from his wrist — except whoever made the change forgot about the clear reflection of the timepiece in the mahogany table. This did little to enhance the patriarch’s reputation or that of his church, which faces increasing allegations of corruption and criticism for interfering in Russian politics. Read more

Statues of North Korea's founding president Kim Il-sung (L) and his son Kim Jong-il are unveiled during a ceremony in Pyongyang on April 13 (Getty)

North Korea likes to celebrate on a monumental scale and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder, was supposed to be no different. But the long-range Eunha-3 rocket launched on Friday blew apart about 90 seconds into its flight.

 Read more

What to do in a race without Rick

After only one day without Rich Santorum, Mitt Romney started measuring the drapes in the White House. Meanwhile, Barack Obama solidified a key campaign issue. Read more

The World Bank presidency and Iraq’s impact on global oil markets

Alan Beattie, Xan Rice, Michael Peel and Guy Chazan join Gideon Rachman to discuss the battle for the presidency of the World Bank and the state of Iraq and its impact on the global oil market

Great expectations for Aung San Suu Kyi and the Obama administration’s healthcare bill

Gideon Rachman is joined by FT correspondents to discuss the great expectations for Aung San Suu Kyi in the upcoming by-election in Myanmar. They also examine the US Supreme Court case that will determine the fate of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform. Read more

Terrorism’s impact on the French election

With the first round of France’s presidential election a month away, how has the shock of the terrorist attacks changed the political climate? Paris bureau chief Hugh Carnegy and former Paris bureau chief Peggy Hollinger join Gideon Rachman.

'Pussy Riot' perform in Red Square on January 20. Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

Late last week, a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot agreed to chat with the Financial Times on Skype.

Famous for pulling stunts such as performing the song “Putin wet his pants” in the middle of Red Square, and “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, Expel Putin!” next to the altar at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the band has recently gone to ground after several members were arrested this month. Two are in jail awaiting trial for alleged “hooligan behaviour” in the cathedral stunt; a third member of the group was arrested on Friday, according to their lawyer.

So who are Pussy Riot? Read more

Yesterday, the European Commission slapped down a request by Ireland to defer a €3.1bn payment related to its banking debt.

“I actually wonder why this has to be asked at all,” said the EU’s top economic official, Olli Rehn. “The principle in the European Union and the long European legal and historical tradition is, in Latin, pacta sunt servanda – respect your commitments and obligations.”

So what commitment is Ireland trying to avoid, and why? Jamie Smyth, the FT’s Dublin correspondent, answers our questions.  Read more

Welcome to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis.

By Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

All times are GMT. This post should update automatically every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices.

19.15: That’s it for the liveblog for today. Follow through the evening for analysis of the day’s developments and more news of the deal as we get it. A few top stories from today to keep you going in the meantime:

 Read more

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from our correspondents around the world. All times GMT.

18.58 That’s about it for the live blog today. Follow through the evening for all the news from the summit and analysis of the day’s developments. Before we go, a quick recap:

  • Eurozone finance ministers held back more than half of Greece’s €130bn bail-out on the grounds that Athens has yet to jump through all the hoops lined up by its international creditors. That money could be released as soon as next week, though, and the ministers did sign off on a package of incentives and instruments to underpin a debt restructuring deal with private investors in Greek bonds
  • ISDA, the industry body that decides what is and is not a “credit event”, ruled that the Greek debt restructuring does not constitute one – or not yet, at any rate. That means that $3.25bn of credit default swaps on Greek government bonds do not pay out – unless ISDA comes to a different view at a later date. The decision could have significant knock-on effects in the market for CDS, which serve as insurance against a sovereign default.
  • There was more fallout from the Irish plan to hold a referendum on the eurozone’s fiscal compact, following the resignation of Fianna Fail’s deputy leader – and an apparent threat to execute a kitten (see 15.22)
  • Unemployment in the 17-member eurozone jumped to an all-time high of 10.7 per cent in January, new data showed
  • Spain held another successful bond auction and Italian yields fell too

And we leave you with a little light reading on the travails of Greece and one line — perhaps unfair, given today’s progress — that’s been raising wry smiles on Twitter.

[blackbirdpie url="!/sickipediabot/status/169089627783827457"]

18.55 As expected, Herman Van Rompuy is elected for another term as president of the European Council.

[blackbirdpie url="!/euHvR/status/175291547821158401"]

18.18 Now the finance ministers have done their work — well, some of it — it’s over the Europe’s leaders for the summit proper. Once again, all lenses on Germany’s Angela Merkel.

Angela Merkel arrives at the EU summit

Angela Merkel arrives at the EU summit in Brussels (Photo: AP)

17.58 Earlier, Bill Gross, the manager of Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, was to be heard fulminating against ISDA’s decision not to deem the Greek restructuring a “credit event”, thereby preventing credit default swaps from paying out (15.27).

Our hawk-eyed colleagues at FT Alphaville have, however, been studying the list of the ISDA members that voted unanimously against calling a credit event. Check the last name….

embed1 Read more


Still super, Mario?

By Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from our correspondents around the world. All times GMT.

Another big day for “Super” Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president. 800 banks borrowed a total of €529bn under the ECB’s liquidity programme — more than last time. We were watching too for ripples from Dublin’s decision to hold a referendum on the eurozone fiscal pact.

19.20: We’re going to wrap up the live blog for today, so here’s a final round-up of today’s events:

  • In round two of the European Central Bank’s Long-Term Refinancing Operation (or LTRO), 800 European banks borrowed €529.5bn
  • A larger number of banks borrowed money than last time (when 523 banks borrowed €489bn)
  • About €310bn of net new liquidity was added to the system
  • More than two thirds of the volume was taken up by banks in three countries, thought to be Spain, Italy and France. Among the biggest takers of funds was Italy’s Intesa SanPaolo, with €24bn, double the amount it took in the December operation. UK bank Lloyds is believed to have been the biggest non-eurozone taker of funds, receiving €11.4bn.
  • In the markets, risk assets were initially firm on the back of the LTRO figures, but later fell back as Fed chairman Ben Bernanke spoke to Congress and dampened speculation that further monetary easing was on its way
  • On the plus side, US growth data for the fourth quarter was revised upwards, from 2.8 per cent to 3 per cent
  • The FT’s Brussels bureau chief Peter Spiegel got a copy of the draft conclusions from the EU council summit that begins tomorrow
  • EU Commission president Barroso met with Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos – see our 17.58 update

 Read more

Diplomatic response to Syrian crisis in the balance and elections in Uttar Pradesh

With a diplomatic response to the crisis in Syria in the balance at the United Nations, Middle East correspondent Michael Peel, who recently visited Syria, and Middle East editor Roula Khalaf join Shawn Donnan to discuss the situation.
And, as India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, goes to the polls, FT south Asia bureau chief James Lamont and James Fontanella-Khan explain the importance of the election and the risk faced by the Congress party and the scion of the Gandhi dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, in particular.



Welcome to the FT’s rolling coverage of the World Economic Forum. By Esther Bintliff and Claire Jones in London, with contributions from FT editors and writers in Davos.

18.30 That’s it for day 1 of our Davos rolling blog.

The eurozone crisis dominated proceedings, but Merkel’s speech was a bit of a let-down by most accounts, notably Martin Wolf’s (see post at 17.25).

Income inequality was another talking point – see posts at 13.45  and 15.00 and Gillian Tett’s blog here.

This evening delegates can catch a screening of “The Lady” with director Luc Besson, find out their social network status, or share a nightcap with “the princess of Africa”, singer and president of the Princess of Africa Foundation Yvonne Ntombizodwa Chaka Chaka.

Join us again tomorrow at 07.30 when we’ll bring you more trenchant analysis, quotes (both vacuous and profound), and hats from the slopes of Davos.

18.11 A tip from the FT’s banking editor Patrick Jenkins: if you’re going to Davos never book a hotel in Klosters. Read more

Which way forward? Photo: Getty

Welcome to our first eurozone live blog of 2012. By John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

It may be a new year but it’s the same old eurozone crisis. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a bilateral summit in Berlin this morningRead more

The race for the White House: what’s next after Iowa

Will Mitt Romney secure the Republican candidacy? How far will the economy determine the course of the US election? Is Obama’s position looking weak or is he poised for a better second term? Anna Fifield, White House correspondent, and Edward Luce, chief US commentator, join Gideon Rachman for a discussion of what’s next after Iowa.

By Pilita Clark and Andrew England in Durban

He was young, he was from French-speaking Senegal, and his English was excellent. But at the end of yet another briefing in English at the UN climate talks this week, he made an urgent plea. “This subject is so technical it makes it very difficult for those who speak English as a second language,” he said. “So please could we have translators at the next briefing?”

Good luck, muttered a nearby native English speaker. “We can’t understand most of it either.” Read more