By Gideon Rachman
The arrival of technocratic prime ministers in Greece and Italy has not been greeted with universal applause. Some complain that because Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti have not been elected, their appointments will simply confirm the elitist and undemocratic nature of the European project.
Mario Monti, Italy's newly appointed prime minister designate, in Rome on Monday. Photo: Pier Paolo Cito/AP
Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the eurozone crisis and the global fallout. By John Aglionby and Esther Bintliff in London with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.
Are calmer waters finally visible on the horizon of the eurozone? Perhaps – for now. Mario Monti’s first full day as Italian prime minister designate will be marked by a bond auction and his efforts to form a government. A confidence debate starts in Greece on Lucas Papademos’s government. And German chancellor Angela Merkel holds her Christian Democratic Union party annual conference in Leipzig.
19.50: That’s all for now, but before we go, here’s a whistlestop tour through today’s latest FT news and insights on the eurozone crisis:
- Greece has met financial requirements for an €8bn loan payment but still has to reassure “taxpayers abroad” that it is fully committed to implementing the terms of an international bail-out, the country’s new premier told parliament on Monday.
- Understanding Mario Monti – the view from Brussels
- Three key themes that will guide Mr Monti as he attempts to pull Italy out of its sovereign debt quagmire - financial rigour, promotion of economic growth and social equity
- Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, calls for Europe to build a “political union” to underpin the euro and help the continent emerge from its “toughest hour since world war two”
- Looking ahead to tomorrow: France’s third quarter growth figures, due out on Tuesday, will be watched with more than usual concern. Here’s why.
Thanks for reading.
A screen in Hong Kong displaying the Hang Seng index's turbulent day today. Image AP
Welcome back to the FT’s coverage of the eurozone crisis and its global fallout. Curated by John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and Orla Ryan on the news desk in London and with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.
Market reaction to events in Italy shows that the crisis is now truly global. Markets are looking for more clarity from Rome on timings, particularly of the austerity vote. Meanwhile the Greek establishment has finally settled on a new prime minister.
18.53 That’s the end of our live coverage today. See FT.com through the night for all the latest news and analysis.
18.45 Our reporting team in Italy has produced a profile of Mario Monti, frontrunner to be the next Italian prime minister:
Former European Commissioner Mario Monti at a news conference in Strasbourg in 2001 (Reuters)
Romans are already talking of the beneficial “Mario Monti impact” on Italy’s debt mountain – even before his appointment as prime minister is in the bag.
The spread between Italian and German 10-year bonds has fallen some 50 basis points since peaking at 576 on Wednesday, partly attributed to the prospect of the respected economist and former European commissioner taking over from Silvio Berlusconi to head a caretaker government.
Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the eurozone crisis. Run by John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and Orla Ryan on the news desk in London, with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.
20.00: So, Berlusconi has offered to resign – but only after parliament passes an austerity package. And then, he tells Italian television, he wants elections. We’re wrapping up the live blog now: see the new stories and analysis on FT.com for developments from Rome and elsewhere through the night.
19.46: In Rome Ferdinando Casini, head of the opposition party UDC, has told reporters he is “convinced that Berlusconi understands that the current economic and political situation does not allow for a long and extenuated election campaign“.
19.40: From Milan, the FT’s Rachel Sanderson reports that after meeting the president Berlusconi returned to his residence in Rome, Palazzo Grazioli, where he has been joined by Angelino Alfano, the young Neapolitan member of his party whom Berlusconi suggested earlier this year could be his successor. Berlusconi has also been joined by Niccolo’ Ghedini, his lawyer, and members of his coalition party the Northern League, according to Italian reporters at the scene. Read more
It seems somehow fitting that the European crisis is currently centred on the two great wellsprings of European civilisation – Athens and Rome. If Hollywood were making a film about it, it could be called – “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire II” and sub-titled – “This time they’re taking the rest of Europe with them.” Read more
By David Oakley
A decision by ratings agency Moody’s over whether to downgrade Italy’s triple A sovereign rating is imminent. As the debacle this summer over S&P’s decision to downgrade the US illustrated, such a move could have major repercussions in the markets. So, just what is going on? How worried should we be? And might there be more downgrades to come in the eurozone?
What is Italy’s current investment rating?
Moody’s announced that it had put Italy on watch for downgrade in the middle of June. The agency gives itself a deadline of three months to make a decision, which should be in the next few days. Read more
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. I have no idea whether Giulio Tremonti, the Italian finance minister, will be able to save his country or the eurozone from a truly dreadful fate. But I am nominating him for a prize for communication and services to journalism. Hitherto, this most dramatic of stories has generally been talked about in the deadest of language. It either gets wrapped up in finance-prattle (CDOs, debt-to-GDP ratios, sovereign risk etc); or smothered in the suffocating nonsense that fills up European Union communiques (“With this decisive step …” etc etc)
Now, at last, we have somebody with a gift for language. Over the past week, Tremonti has given the world three splendid soundbites. Read more
The phrase “I hate to say I told you so” is annoyingly insincere. Normally, there is nothing people love more than saying, “I told you so.” So I will simply admit to mixed feelings in pointing out, that I wrote a column three months ago, suggesting that Italy would be sucked into the euro crisis. There were two crucial facts that led me to that conclusion. First, Italy’s debt-to-GDP ratio at 120% was already higher than that of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, at the point where they were forced to apply for help. Second, Italy’s financial position was only sustainable in a climate of very low interest-rates. And that would not last forever. Read more
In Las Vegas they call the really big gamblers – the ones whose fortunes can make or break a casino – the “whales”. For the European Union, Italy is the whale – the country whose economy and debts are so large that the fate of the single currency and the EU itself hang on its future.
Italy has a huge national debt of something like 120% of GDP. But last week, I was told by a former top official in the Italian government that Italy has done an audit of all its possessions and found that the state’s assets still outweigh its liabilities. The difficulty is that many of the state’s possessions are difficult to realise. How do you cash in on the Colosseum, for example? Read more