By Gideon Rachman

The fate of Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy on refugees has assumed global significance. Nationalists from Russia to the US are pointing at the German chancellor’s policies as a symbol of the failure of an out-of-touch liberal elite. In the most recent US presidential debate, Donald Trump denounced Ms Merkel, adding: “Germany is a disaster right now.” Even within the EU, many leaders, particularly in the east, echo that sentiment.

The Atlantic magazine’s article on “The Obama Doctrine” has caused ripples all over the world, because of the frankness with which the US president discussed his foreign policy with Jeffrey Goldberg, the article’s author. In the UK, most of the headlines have concerned President Obama’s criticism of David Cameron, over Libya. But, in fact, the article is full of fascinating stuff on all sorts of subjects. Here are some of my selected highlights:

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Donald Trump’s press conference in Florida today was like a Peter Sellers movie. Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who recently quit the race, endorsed Trump and said there were “two different Donald Trumps” – the public persona and the private “cerebral” persona who would be appearing more frequently on the trail.

Asked about this, the cerebral Trump said: “Perhaps there are two Donald Trumps”. But minutes later his alter-ego corrected him: “I don’t think there are two Donald Trumps”. Trump likes to shout “Stand up!” to human props at his rallies. Well, would the @realDonaldTrump please stand up! Read more

 

What are we to make of President Barack Obama’s on-the-record criticism of the role of UK Prime Minister David Cameron over Libya? I would make four points. First, Mr Obama is trying to protect himself from criticism. Second, broadly speaking, Mr Obama is right. Third, that said, it is not clear that there were good alternatives in Libya that Mr Cameron somehow failed to embrace. Fourth, the larger context is US exasperation and alarm at the decline of Europeans as effective security partners in the Middle East and elsewhere. Read more

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President Barack Obama said it was “novel” that Republicans were blaming him for their primary “circus” and criticised the GOP for “creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive”. Here are his comments, made at a press conference alongside Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. Read more

Can the EU-Turkey deal resolve Europe’s migration crisis?
European leaders have negotiated a deal with Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into the European Union. But can it work? Gideon Rachman puts the question to Alex Barker, the FT’s European diplomatic editor, and Tony Barber, the FT’s Europe editor.

The ECB has cut rates further into negative territory as it seeks to stimulate the eurozone amid the global economic downturn.

Mario Draghi has unveiled a whole host of new measures in response to the slowdown in growth in emerging markets and the sharp fall in the oil price.

Key developments

  • Headline deposit rate cut by 10 basis points to -0.40%

  • The asset purchase programme increased from €60bn to €80bn

  • Scope of QE expanded to include non-bank corporate bonds issued in eurozone

  • A new series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations aimed at providing cheap liquidity

  • GDP and inflation forecasts revised down:

  • GDP: 1.4% in 2016, 1.7% in 2017 and 1.8% in 2018

  • Inflation: 0.1% in 2016, 1.3% in 2017 and 1.6% in 2018

  • By Emily Cadman and Mark Odell

 

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Donald Trump is going for the kill in Florida on March 15. After sweeping three of the four states that voted on Tuesday, the pugnacious tycoon wants to knock out “Little Marco” – his pet name for Marco Rubio who has seen his Marcomentum turn into Marcollapse after he failed to win a single delegate on Tuesday night. Read more

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Polls will soon close in Michigan and Mississippi. Republicans are also voting in Idaho and Hawaii, but the focus is Michigan, which has the most number of delegates on offer and may give an indication of how rust-belt states, including Ohio on March 15, will vote. In the GOP race, the big question is whether Donald Trump is losing steam. Ted Cruz did better than expected on Saturday, winning two states and giving the mogul a run for his money in Kentucky and Louisiana – a performance that landed the Texas senator with more delegates than Trump on the night. Read more

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Michael Bloomberg is not running for president. The New York billionaire ended months of speculation that he might challenge another New York billionaire – no prizes for guessing who that is – and the Democratic contenders. The former New York mayor concluded that he could not win enough electoral college votes in November and worried that entering the race would hand the White House to a Republican.

“There is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience,” he said in deciding not to launch an independent bid. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

He has been called a phoney, a fraud and a threat to democracy — and that is just by members of his own party. Other critics have compared Donald Trump to Hitler and Mussolini. I have shared in the widespread horror at Mr Trump’s rise but at the same time, a small voice in the back of my head has sometimes asked: “Is he really that bad? Might all this hysteria be a bit overdone?”

I found myself mesmerised on Monday looking at the Italy page of a website called National Debt Clocks.org. A 13-digit figure, representing Italy’s outstanding national debt, goes up by a couple of thousand euros every second. Now the debt is just under €2.2tn, or about 133 per cent of Italy’s annual economic output.

Despite its astronomical debt burden, the Italian government succeeded last October in selling two-year bonds at a negative yield. In other words, investors paid Italy, one of the planet’s most indebted nations for the past quarter of a century, for the honour of buying its debt.

This is a topsy-turvy world that inspires me with something less than full confidence in financial markets. It leads me to the topical question of whether Italian banks own too much Italian government debt for their own good. On this issue Matteo Renzi, Italy’s prime minister, holds forthright viewsRead more

Some of the thousands of refugees and migrants queuing at the Greek-Macedonian border

Rarely has the EU needed Turkey so badly. And rarely has Turkey looked like such an unattractive partner.

The EU’s strategy to end its “migrant crisis” hinges on an effort to persuade Turkey to stop the flow of would-be refugees heading from Turkish shores to Greece. That plan will be the focus of an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on March 7th. So it is particularly unfortunate that the Turkish government should have chosen the days before the summit to raid and effectively take over the country’s largest opposition news group in an apparent bid to end its critical coverage of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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The Republican debate on Thursday ​elevated farce to new heights. ​​Donald Trump ​raised eyebrows when he hit back at earlier innuendo by Marco Rubio about his masculinity.

“He referred to my hands [suggesting that] if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee,” he told the roughly 17m viewers who tuned in to the debate. Read more

By Gideon Rachman

There was a time when Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was widely tipped to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany. Good-looking, aristocratic, married to a descendant of Bismarck and beloved by the popular press, zu Guttenberg had cut a dash, first as a decisive economics minister, and then as Germany’s youngest defence minister — appointed at the age of 37 in 2009. And then, in two disastrous weeks in early 2011, his gilded career fell apart, after it was revealed that he had plagiarised large parts of his doctoral thesis. Within two weeks, zu Guttenberg had resigned from the German government. Shortly afterwards, he left for a career in business in the US.

The Donald Trump media feeding-frenzy is in full flow. But beyond all the fun stuff about the horse-race and the insults, have there been any really good articles explaining the Trump phenomenon? I have found two recent pieces particularly interesting. Thomas Edsall explains how – “The economic basis for voter anger has been building for over 40 years” – and has some interesting numbers on the stagnation of real wages, the shrinking of the middle-class, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs and the impact of Chinese accession to the WTO.

Another good analysis, this time on the Vox site, looks at the kinds of people who are attracted to Trump’s rhetoric – and in particular at political scientists’ work on the rise of authoritarian attitudes in America. Apparently, people’s attitudes to parenting are a good predictor of their attitudes to Trump. Those who value obedience in children, above all, are “authoritarian” types, who also like Trump. But there are also is a large group of people with “latent authoritarianism”, which is aroused when they feel under threat. Read more

Just when you thought the White House race could not get any uglier, Mitt Romney, the patrician former Republican presidential nominee, took direct aim at Donald Trump, the clear GOP frontrunner following Super Tuesday.

Mr Romney skewered Mr Trump, calling him a “fraud” who was unfit to serve as president. Read our story for the full attack, but here is a taster: “There is dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War while John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.” Read more

Donald Trump is the only story in town. As I write in a hotel in Boca Raton, the punters at the bar are waxing lyrical about the billionaire who last night said he felt “awfully good” at his plush resort just up the coast. Trump will now focus on winning Florida on March 15 to try to deliver a fatal blow to Marco Rubio, the young Cuban-American from the Sunshine State, who was the great hope of the establishment but has only won one state so far, Minnesota.

The Republican establishment is in complete shock over the state of the race, which has widened the deep fissures in the party of Reagan. Read our story on how a group of Republican foreign policy experts, including former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick, are about to release a harsh attack on Mr TrumpRead more

Is Trump a threat to American democracy?
Donald Trump now looks highly likely to secure the Republican nomination for the US presidency. Gideon Rachman discusses what this means for US democracy and the rest of the world with FT columnists Ed Luce and Martin Wolf.

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For anyone outside Trumpistan who thought the tycoon could never win the Republican nomination, this may be the time to reassess your views. Donald Trump won a sweeping victory on Super Tuesday, taking relatively liberal states such as Massachusetts and Vermont and conservative southern states that included Georgia and Alabama. Read more