US politics

By Gideon Rachman
For Barack Obama, striking a nuclear deal with Iran may turn out to be the easy part. The president’s biggest struggle now is facing down Israel and its supporters in the US as they attempt to rally opposition to the deal. The administration knows this and it is quietly confident that it can take on the Israel lobby in Congress – and win.

President Barack Obama’s nominee for Federal Reserve chair appeared before the Senate banking committee on Thursday. She mounted a vigorous defence of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy as she faced lawmakers in her first big test of political and communications skills.

Gina Chon and Shannon Bond reported from New York with James Politi in Washington.

 

Spying scandal spotlight moves from US to UK
As the scandal around spying and surveillance continues, Gideon Rachman is joined by James Blitz in the studio and Geoff Dyer down the line from Washington, to discuss the latest developments. Much of the focus in recent weeks has been on the activities of the US National Security Agency, but this week it was the turn of the British intelligence chiefs to give evidence in an open session of a Parliamentary committee, the first time that has ever happened. Did they say anything interesting? And are the intelligence agencies being held to account in the US?

Bill de Blasio (Getty)

By Luisa Frey

On Tuesday night 52-year-old Bill de Blasio won the New York mayoral election in one of the largest victories in the Big Apple’s electoral history.

De Blasio beat Joseph Lhota by a 49-point margin (73 per cent to 24 per cent), which is the widest in a mayoral election since Edward Koch won a third term in 1985 by 68 points. De Blasio is also the first Democrat to win in nearly 25 years. Read more

John Aglionby

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

By Gideon Rachman

America’s debt-ceiling crisis achieved something quite remarkable. It made the EU look well governed by comparison. Both the EU and the US systems are weighed down with checks and balances that make it hard to get things done. But Europe currently has one thing going for it that America lacks. All the most important decision makers in Brussels are committed to making the system work. There are no Tea Party types who regard compromise as a betrayal.

The Republican role in the budget battles gripping Washington DC
As the government shutdown drags on into its second week and the US teeters on the brink of defaulting on its debt, Ben Hall, world news editor, is joined by Richard McGregor, Washington bureau chief, and Edward Luce, chief US commentator, to discuss how badly the Republicans have been damaged by the budget battles and whether they should be worried about the political consequences of their uncompromising stance.

Janet Yellen’s nomination for the Fed chairmanship is a significant mark in the history of female central bankery – mainly because there isn’t much of a history.

As Claire Jones, the FT’s economics reporter, points out: advanced economy central banks are severely lacking in female representation in their upper echelons.

In other markets, however, women have more of a presence in monetary policy. Outside of advanced economies, the list of women at the head of central banks is longer than the list of women on the ECB governing council (0).

Gill Marcus (Getty)

South Africa: Gill Marcus spent time in the UK as her parents were anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. She joined the ANC and worked for its department of information and publicity, then returned to South Africa after the ANC ban was lifted. She was appointed deputy minister of finance in 1996 and became deputy governor of the South African Reserve bank in 1999. After a few years working outside the central bank system, she was appointed governor in November 2009. In 2010 she said, “Developing countries are more conscious of women’s emancipation – we’ve all got better statistics in relation to gender than in the developed world. Read more

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Janet Yellen is soon to be the first woman to be the chair of the US Federal Reserve – the most powerful job in the world economy.

The 67-year-old was an academic for many years, and also served as chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and president of the San Francisco Fed. She became vice-chair of the Fed in 2010 and has been the frontrunner for the chairmanship since Larry Summers rescinded his nomination.

A graduate of Brown University and Yale, she is married to the Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof, and has one son.

Her track record of calling events like the housing bubble long before they occur has built her a strong fan base. We look at what’s been written about her and what that says about her likely stance as Fed chair. Read more

By Gideon Rachman
Watching the US budget crisis unfold, I was reminded of a famous passage in The Great Gatsby. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” wrote F Scott Fitzgerald, “they smashed up things, and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together.”