Like the European Christmas, America’s Thanksgiving is edging towards being an entirely retail-driven festival. Black Friday, the day after the holiday, has been the busiest shopping day of the year for a while; we now also have Small Business Saturday and Cyber-Monday (for online buyers), and no doubt some marketing fiend somewhere is seeking to theme Sunday and Tuesday also.
Those capitalistic Puritans would have been proud, right? Max Weber says so. Liberated from the clutches of a static and stultifying Europe (and skipping all those EU summits), they worked hard, saw profits and wealth as evidence of God’s calling, and we ended up with the greatest economy on earth.
Well, not really. Not only were they pretty feeble producers themselves to begin with – Bill Bryson claims the Mayflower carried not a single cow or horse or plough (plow, whatever) or fishing line – but the Massachusetts colonists had some peculiar views about business. Read more
Intriguing piece in the Economist about “Chilecon Valley”, Chile’s attempt to snaffle some of the start-up tech talent driven out of the US by self-destructive American immigration laws. Some public seed capital and easy-to-get work visas and the sector is up and going.
So where does this leave the argument that a tough intellectual property rights regime, particularly with software and other tech patents, is necessary for innovation? Chile was forced to tighten up its patent and copyright law as a result of its 2004 bilateral trade deal with the US, but Washington remains unhappy about the implementation. Chile is one of the dirty dozen countries (actually 13 in 2012) on USTR’s ominously named annual Priority Watch List for poor IP protection, and Washington is trying to raise the IP bar yet higher for Chile and the other countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Read more
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Yesterday, I was all “the emerging markets have a point about running the IMF”. Read more
Greece is usually labelled the eurozone’s most reform-resistant economy, but perhaps that’s because Cyprus slips under most people’s radars, writes Tony Barber. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Over the past three years, conventional wisdom divided the world’s major economies into two basic groups – the Brics and the sicks. The US and the EU were sick – struggling with high unemployment, low growth and frightening debts. By contrast the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and, by some reckonings, South Africa) were much more dynamic. Investors, businessmen and western politicians made regular pilgrimages there, to gaze at the future.
Demonstrators outside the Spanish parliament on Sept 25 clash with police during a protest against spending cuts. Photo: Getty
The political gulf opening up between Spain’s growing separatist movement in the richest province Catalonia and the government of Mariano Rajoy, backed by King Juan Carlos and the Spanish military, has spooked the markets and provoked much debate in the press about whether Spain can survive in its present form. The country’s increasingly precarious financial position has also tilted the country further towards disaster.
In the FT:
The eurozone crisis now threatens the survival of a nation-state, writes David Gardener. The decision of Catalonia’s nationalist government to call a snap election in November – which in practice will amount to a referendum on independence – has opened the way to Catalan secession, and may give a lift to Basque separatists. “As a Spain trapped in the eurozone crisis tries to battle its way through a wrenching recession, it must now contemplate the real possibility that its plurinational state, which replaced the suffocatingly centralist Franco dictatorship with highly devolved regional government, may break up.” Read more
Welcome to our rolling coverage of the eurozone crisis. Mario Draghi has unveiled the ECB’s bond-buying scheme. By Tom Burgis, Ben Fenton, John Aglionby and Ruona Agbroko on the newsdesk in London and Anjli Raval in New York with contributions by FT correspondents around the world. All times are BST.
21.40 As we close up today’s blog, here is a last US markets round-up from Arash Massoudi in New York:
What a day for equities on Wall Street. US stocks jumped to their highest closing level since January 2008 as investors piled into risk assets.
The benchmark S&P 500 rose 2.04 per cent to finish at 1,432.12. All ten broad sector groups on the index moved more than 1 per cent higher. Financials were among the day’s top performers with bulge bracket banks enjoying hefty gains. Bank of America rose 5 per cent to $8.35, Citigroup climbed 4.5 per cent to $31.12 and JPMorgan Chase gained 4.3 per cent to $38.69. Broadly, the S&P 500 is up 13.9 per cent since the start of the year.
The Nasdaq closed at its highest level since December 2000.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a fairly critical piece about Mitt Romney’s foreign policy stance. In my column I suggested that Romney’s rhetoric was reminiscent of George W. Bush. But now Romney has made a move that is more reminiscent of George H.W. Bush, which is much more encouraging.
That move is the appointment of Robert Zoellick as the head of Romney’s national-security transition team. This is taken as a strong hint that Zoellick might be Secretary of State in a Romney administration – and he will certainly have a major influence on the senior appointments. Read more
The debate around US corporation tax and offshoring points to American political dysfunction, says Alan Beattie. Read more