Abebe Aemro Selassie, Director of the IMF's African Department
Frustration is not an emotion the International Monetary Fund exhibits regularly. It likes to maintain cordial relations with governments to ensure economic growth and prosperity flourish.
But there is no hiding the fund’s waning patience with the commodity exporters of sub-Saharan Africa. Six months ago Antoinette Sayeh, the IMF’s then Africa director, diplomatically described the policy response of many regional governments to the slump in commodity prices as “behind the curve”.
Her successor, Abebe Aemro Selassie, is pulling fewer punches. Read more
Rwanda's capital city, Kigali, at night
Economic statistics for sub-Saharan Africa have been criticised for decades as unreliable, complicating efforts to measure wealth – and poverty.
But help might now be at hand, thanks to a light-bulb moment for three World Bank economists.
Tom Bundervoet; Laban Maiyo and Apurva Sanghi found a close correlation between the intensity of night-time lighting, as viewed from space, and countries’ gross domestic product over the 21 years to 2012 . Read more
For the first time, at midday today, the Bank of England is publishing simultaneously its decision on interest rates, the minutes of the rate-setting meeting and its quarterly inflation report. Mark Carney, the governor, is holding a press conference 45 minutes later. Key things to look out for include whether the vote on rates was unanimous and the Bank’s inflation prediction.
The European Central Bank, as expected, kept interest rates unchanged. Attention now turns to ECB President Mario Draghi’s press conference at 2.30pm CET, where the main topic is set to be what the eurozone central bank intends to do regarding its emergency liquidity assistance to Greece, which currently stands at €89bn.
Eurozone leaders have reached an €86bn deal on a Greek bailout after all-night talks in Brussels. The timetable is for the Greek parliament to pass a slew of legislation by Wednesday, the deal will then be put to some eurozone parliaments – notably Germany’s Bundestag – and then negotiations will begin with creditor institutions over the exact size of the bailout .
Global equities, the euro and German Bund yields are all sharply lower as markets react to the imposition of capital controls in Greece. Greek banks are closed this morning, triggering long queues at ATMs.
After another day of negotiations the Greek government has failed to reach an agreement with its bailout monitors – the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank – on Athens’ reform plans.
Eurozone finance ministers are going to meet again on Saturday to try and broker a deal before the Greeks’ June 30 deadline to repay €1.5bn to the IMF.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras flew to Brussels on Wednesday morning to try to salvage a bailout deal amid increasing signs of unease among his nation’s creditors over the compromise offer he presented on Monday. Eurozone finance ministers held a meeting on Wednesday evening but without an agreement in place after a day of tense negotiations, it was expected that talks would have to continue on Thursday, the first day of a planned EU summit of national leaders.
By John Aglionby, Ferdinando Giugliano and Mark Odell
Eurozone leaders are scheduled to hold an emergency summit on Monday evening to try to reach a last-ditch deal with Greece on a new bailout and to prevent it from defaulting on debts that are due at the end of next week. Athens submitted new reform proposals overnight but eurozone finance ministers said after a meeting there would not be a deal today. Markets, which rallied early on Monday on the cautious optimism, remain upbeat despite the politicians delaying the deadline.
By John Aglionby, Ferdinando Giugliano and Mark Odell
Scotland has voted decisively to reject independence, meaning the country’s 307-year-old union with England and Wales remains intact. The No campaign secured over 55 per cent of votes in the referendum, though the UK will now undergo a major period of constitutional change as powers are devolved outside of Westminster.
Voting ended at 10pm, and by 8am UK time, all but one of Scotland’s 32 councils had declared final results on a record turnout of over 85 per cent.
By John Aglionby, Claer Barrett, Gavin Jackson, Martin Stabe, Mark Odell and Lindsay Whipp
The stand-off between Russia and the G7 over Moscow’s intervention in the Ukrainian region of Crimea continued on Monday. Financial markets reacted sharply to developments: fears of a war wiped a tenth off the value of Moscow’s stock exchange, sent the rouble tumbling to an all-time low and pushed up the price of commodities. At the UN in New York, the security council meeting turned into a showdown between Russia and several other nations, including the US and UK, which strongly condemned its incursion on Ukraine’s territorial integrity. And tensions were high in Crimea where it was reported Russia had given Ukrainian military forces an ultimatum to surrender.
By John Aglionby and Leyla Boulton in London, Shannon Bond in New York and FT correspondents around the world
Bill de Blasio celebrates his election triumph with his family. Reuters
Three months ago, Bill de Blasio was trailing in fourth place in the crowded Democratic race to become the party’s candidate in the New York’s mayoral election. Yet on Tuesday night the 52-year-old public advocate swept to one of the largest victories in the city’s electoral history. This is how he managed it.
1) He played the the “Tale of Two Cities” card – the wealthy and less well off – to great effect. He promised to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 a year to pay for pre-school education – a policy President Barack Obama supported. Despite this, according to an exit poll in the New York Daily News, he still won among voters earning more than $100,000. Read more
Ted Cruz takes the Senate floor
Ten things about Senator Ted Cruz, 42, the junior senator from Texas, who has been talking for more than 14 hours on the Senate floor in a bid to cut off funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
1) Cruz was one of only three senators to vote against the nomination of John Kerry as secretary of state. “We’ve got two pending nominations, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, both of whom are very prominently anti-US – less than ardent fans of the US military.”
2) In his speech in July 2012, after winning the Republican nomination to run for the Senate he invoked Milton Friedman, the economist. “We should take it as a providential sign that today would be the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman,” Mr Cruz said. “A true champion for liberty, and we are walking in Uncle Milton’s footsteps.” Read more
Detroit filing for chapter 9 bankruptcy might have come as a shock to outsiders and anyone glancing at the city’s slick official website, but people who know the home of Motown well say there has been a certain inevitability to its demise.
Doron Levin, who first reported from the city in 1984, in a blogpost for Fortune, blames generation after generation of elected officials who were blind to the long-term implications of their policies:
“[They] dithered and dissembled and argued, instead of undertaking tough measures to close fiscal gaps. In truth, the city’s financial liabilities were created by the very people who should have been resolving them: one administration after another promised wages, job guarantees and pensions to city workers that were simply unsustainable.”
The allegations against Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, an accountant in the Vatican’s internal accounting administration, are – albeit tangentially – the latest in a litany of scandals to affect the Vatican bank. Over the last three years, the 71-year-old Institute of Religious Works, as the bank is officially called, has been tainted by claims of money-laundering, corruption and incompetence.
The crisis began in September 2010 when it came under investigation by Italian authorities who had frozen €23m the bank was trying to transfer to accounts in Italy and Germany without releasing full details of the intended beneficiaries. The bank denied any wrongdoing. The funds were released but the investigation continues.
The Vatican responded with striking rapidity to the bank’s top two officials, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and Paolo Cipriani, being placed under investigation; Father Frederico Lombardi, the chief spokesman, even wrote to the FT defending the two men. Read more
A demonstrator holds a Brazilian flag in front of a burning barricade during a protest in Rio de Janeiro on Monday
The protests sweeping Brazil began in São Paulo, the country’s commerical capital, last week as a demonstration by students against an increase in bus fares from R$3 to R$3.20 ($1.47) per journey. They have swelled into an outpouring of popular discontent over everything from the billions of dollars the 2014 football World Cup will cost the taxpayer to the police’s heavy-handed reaction to last week’s protests. Commentators say they are probably the country’s largest since the end of the 1964-1985 dictatorship.
Here’s a reading list to help assess whether they are likely to escalate further or fizzle. Read more
The US government’s secret internet surveillance programme, codenamed Prism, began when the National Security Agency signed up Microsoft as its first partner on Sept 11, 2007, less than a month after the passing of the Protect America Act which authorised it.
♦ Yahoo was added on 12/3/2008, Google on 14/1/2009, Facebook on 3/5/2009, PalTalk on 7/12/2009, YouTube on 24/9/2010, Skype on 6/2/2011, AOL on 3/3/2011 and Apple in October 2012, , according to a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Guardian and the Washington Post .
♦ The companies liaise with the NSA through the FBI’s data intercept technology unit. Twitter is conspicuously absent from the list. Read more
- ‘The troika decision-making [is] baffling and the vision of the founding fathers of the single currency [is] a mockery,” argues Christopher Pissarides, an adviser to the president of Cyprus, as other small eurozone nations are feeling increasingly defensive about their economies.
- Stefan Wagstyl suggests that the latest Brics summit has exposed the limits of the five nations’ possible co-operation. (Imagine a group of five friends who get together to build a holiday house but can’t agree on what it should cost, where to put it or who should pay for it.?) Meanwhile Gideon Rachman reckons that Brazil is the only Brics country that still qualifies to be a member of the club. Read more
The US House of Representatives easily but grudgingly passed a compromise bill to avert the fiscal cliff but the deal triggers a fresh showdown in two months, over spending and the deficit.
Andrew Higgins of the New York Times reports from Latvia on how the government’s austerity measures have revived the economy. Read more
Predictions that the world would end today proved misplaced but Jamil Anderlini has shone a light on the crackdown on a Chinese doomsday cult – Eastern Lightning.
Roula Khalaf writes in a Global Insight how the shifting balance in Syria presents a new opportunity to end the conflict, while the New York Times reports on the impact of President Bashar al-Assad’s use of cluster bombs. Read more