'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?
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.
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 FT.com 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:
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 FT.com 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.
18.55 As expected, Herman Van Rompuy is elected for another term as president of the European Council.
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 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….
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
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.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
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.
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 morning.
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.”