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- A rash of apparently random acid attacks against women in Iran, perpetrated by assailants on motorbikes, is sowing fear and sparking angry questions of the government
- For emerging market economies that have lived in a world of easy money over the last six years, the end of the Federal Reserve’s QE programme is both a watershed and a leap into the unknown
- Spain’s economic recovery has left many people behind, as the number of people visiting foodbanks for hand-outs nearly doubled to 1.5m between 2009 and 2013
- Iraqi TV comics are making fun of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Isis, in a hit comedy show, reports the LA Times. But they run great risks
- After a long battle, Japan is finally lifting its ‘no dancing’ law that banned jigs and hip-shaking in public places, reports Vice Media
- Hungary’s introduction of the world’s first internet tax is just the latest in a batch of unorthodox uneconomic policies, dubbed ‘Orbanomics‘, that some say are leading to increased government control over the economy
- Through their alliances with jihadis and actions that flout the democratic will, Libya’s Islamists are courting disaster for themselves and their country
- The disappearance of 43 students has brought attention back to Mexico’s security woes and away from its economic reforms, threatening to tarnish President Enrique Peña Nieto’s record of success
- Quantitative easing in the US has kicked back into gear Wall Street’s securitisation machine – providing a supply of risky assets that bundle together car loans, corporate debt and mortgages
- The forgotten Yazidi refugees who once captured the world’s attention now sit outside the spotlight, wondering how they will survive the winter, reports Foreign Policy
- “They gave us an order: who wants to go volunteer?” said one of the Russian soldiers sat in Lugansk’s only functioning restaurant, just the latest evidence that, despite its denials, Russia is sending troops for combat in Ukraine
- A spate of acid attacks on women are thought to be part of an increasingly bitter power struggle between Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, and his hardline opponents
- As it begins a new round of bond-buying, the European Central Bank faces a lack of faith among investors that policy makers can achieve its policy aims without delving into more risky markets
- Whoever wins the Brazilian presidential run-off on Sunday better be ready to kiss the ring of the PMBD: the kingmaker and real power in Brazilian politics
- Thousands of young Israeli emigrants are flocking to Berlin, bringing back Jewish culture to a country that nearly extinguished it but also sparking an uproar in Israel
Speaking on television earlier this year, Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, declared that his government’s budget would not be written to “satisfy Brussels”, adding – “We are a great nation . . . France is a sovereign country.”
What about the crisis in Greece? Over the past four to five years Europe, supported by the International Monetary Fund, has invested more time, effort and money in Greece than in any other struggling eurozone state. The aim is to reform a country so inefficiently governed, so riddled with corruption and so burdened with debt that it seemed, for certain spells in 2011 and 2012, to pose a threat to the eurozone’s survival.
So it seems reasonable to ask: if this time, effort and money have not changed Greece for the better, what has it all been for? Read more
The focus in last week’s European elections was on the seismic waves of the distinct currents of Euro-populism and reaction that “earthquaked” to the top of the polls in France, Britain (or at least England), Denmark and Greece. But arguably the most intriguing insurgency was Podemos (We Can) in Spain, a phenomenon worth examining outside the swish and swirl of populism.
Much of what I have seen written about Podemos has them “coming out of nowhere” – a cliché employed by politicians and analysts that means “we didn’t see them coming”. Yet a three-month-old party with a budget of barely €100,000 shot into fourth place with one and a quarter million votes and five seats in the European Parliament – similar to Syriza, the Greek left-wing party they plan to hitch up with.
The eruption of Podemos and its compellingly outspoken leader, Pablo Iglesias, has already triggered the fall of Alfredo Perez Rubalcalba, the Socialist secretary general who has presided over the party’s worst electoral performance since democracy was restored in 1977-78. But while obviously a rising current of a new left, Podemos could be a broader catalyst for political change in Spain and beyond. Read more
The fragile middle
Decades of rapid growth have created a new middle class in the developing world, prompting multinational companies to invest heavily in emerging markets as they attempt to serve millions of new consumers. But rising inequality and slowing growth has presented a risk to this new middle class and is forcing companies to rethink their strategy. In this week’s podcast, Ferdinando Giugliano is joined by Shawn Donnan, world trade editor and James Kynge, emerging markets editor to discuss this nascent middle class and its prospects in the face of slowing growth
The news that Greece is returning to the markets as an issuer of sovereign-debt is symbolic of the resurgence of interest in Europe among international – and particularly US – investors. As ever there is a circular logic in play here.
Because most investors no longer fear a collapse of the euro, Greece can come back to the markets. And the sight of Greece returning to the markets will confirm the prejudices of those who argue that the crisis in the eurozone is over.
But just as international investors were, in retrospect, too panic-stricken about Europe in 2012 – I suspect they are probably too relaxed now.
Greece’s return to the markets is one striking sign of this. Another is the fact that 5-year Spanish bonds now have a lower yield than their US equivalent – despite the fact that Spain is barely growing, that its budget-deficit continues to bust EU rules, while unemployment is more than 25 per cent. Read more