debt

  • With India in the middle of elections, David Pilling argues that the Congress party – which looks set for a drubbing – has done itself out of a job by actually making progress in its mission to eradicate poverty: Indians “have graduated from what Rajiv Kumar of the Centre for Policy Research calls the ‘petitioning’ class to the ‘aspirational’ one.”
  • A Chinese regulatory loophole means that the internet sector enjoys the most foreign equity investment of any part of the Chinese economy, though foreigners do not own a single share. Regulators have turned a blind eye but there is a risk it could all go wrong, writes the FT’s Charles Clover (riffing off the proposed IPO for Alibaba).
  • Want to know who to watch for in the European elections? Explore our interactive feature on the European Parliament – we profile 25 people to watch, from old guard to budding stars, power brokers and iconoclasts, federalist core and political fringe.
  • Sweden’s central bank sounded the alarm on the household debt burden: the average indebted Swede owes 296 per cent of their annual income, while the average mortgage holder owes 370 per cent.
  • The Tea Party is facing a struggle in Georgia, the state which has anchored its movement in the past five years. The Washington Post reports on how some of the Tea Partiers risk being squeezed out in a crowded field by some of the movement’s most reviled Republicans.

 

(DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty)Austerity appears to be an increasingly dirty word in Europe. The past week alone has seen European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Bill Gross of Pimco and Italy’s new prime minister Enrico Letta calling for an easing of austerity.

Spain’s surpassing of the 6m unemployed mark on Thursday added fuel to the debate. But even in Germany, the austerity police of the eurozone, cracks are beginning to show ahead of the elections with the emergence of an anti-euro party.

a) Are there any austerians left? Yes. Here are some of them.

- UK: Chancellor George Osborne hit back at criticism over his apparent excessive austerity by claiming there is no other alternative. And after a tough week when he was criticised by the IMF over the excessive pace of his austerity programme, this week has brought better fortunes for his stance as figures showed a lower deficit and the economy expanded 0.3 per cent in the first quarter.

- Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s view as articulated this week couldn’t be clearer: “I call it balancing the budget. Everyone else is using this term austerity. That makes it sound like something truly evil.” Germany is the only eurozone country with a 2012 budget surplus.

- US: The situation here is different because of sequestration, which triggered automatic spending cuts and tax rises. And the White House faces a July deadline to raise the borrowing limit or default on its debt.

- Latvia: The tiny Baltic state is emerging from a state of uber austerity – part of its bid to join the euro later this year – and it could end up being seen as a poster child for successful deficit cutting implementation, with real growth of more than 5 per cent in 2011 and 2012, despite the broader recession in Europe.

- Spain: The push by Europe’s fourth-largest economy to cut spending and raise taxes has led to record unemployment topping 6m for the first time in its recent history. The government of Mariano Rajoy announced economic reforms and structural measures on Friday.

- Italy: The technocrat government of Mario Monti has been steadfast in carrying out fiscal consolidation. All eyes will be on Mr Letta, who has already said: “Europe’s policy of austerity is no longer sufficient”. 

Esther Bintliff

Want to make your own mind up over Reinhart-Rogoff? Here are links to the original working papers that gave us the mother of all economic dust-ups, the responses of the two sets of authors, and some great secondary sources.

PRIMARY sources:

The working paper by Carmen M Reinhart and Kenneth S Rogoff, published in January 2010:

The critique of the Reinhart-Rogoff research, by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, published on April 15 2013:

Reinhart and Rogoff respond:

Ash and Pollin respond to the response:

And a selection of SECONDARY sources:

Here’s the post by Rortybomb blogger Mike Konczal that brought the critique to the attention of the masses. Konczal notes that the episode is “good evidence for why you should release your data online, so it can be properly vetted.”

Over at Slate, Matthew Yglesias asked:

FT Alphaville’s Cardiff Garcia and Joseph Cotterill shared their thoughts on the debate:

Paul Krugman has been busy:

 

The world desk’s reading picks from around the world… 

Mario Monti arrives to unveil his new government at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

Mario Monti arrives to unveil his new government at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

Welcome back to the FT’s rolling coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Esther Bintliff and John Aglionby on the world news desk, with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times GMT.

Europe’s two new technocratic prime ministers consolidated their respective grips on power today. Lucas Papademos in Greece won a confidence vote in parliament, while Mario Monti, his Italian counterpart, announced his new cabinet and was sworn in as prime minister.

19.03: We’re going to wrap up the live blog for tonight, but you can read lots more on FT.com. Here’s a quick update on today’s events:

  • In Greece, prime minister Lucas Papademos won an overwhelming vote of confidence in his new interim government – 255 votes in favour, 38 against
  • Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute for International Finance, is about to meet with Mr Papademos (see our 12.15 update). The IIF has been negotiating with Greece on behalf of investors holding Greek sovereign debt
  • In Italy, Mario Monti unveiled his new technocrat cabinet (see our 12.52 update, and this article) and said he would serve as both prime minister and finance minister. ”We finally have a competent government, not one of dwarves and ballerinas,” declared Antonio di Pietro, former anti-graft magistrate and head of the Italy of Values party.
  • Italy’s statistics agency spooked the market by announcing that it wouldn’t be releasing preliminary Q3 GDP data
  • The number of jobless in the UK reached 2.62m, a 15-year high, while the number of young unemployed topped one million for the first time since these records began in 1992
  • In its November Inflation report the Bank of England revised downwards its growth and inflation forecasts, and prompted economists to predict that quantitative easing would be ramped up sooner than expected
  • Mervyn King, the Bank of England governor, said he had “great sympathy” with the ECB in “not going around and buying all sorts of assets”
  • Angela Merkel said Germany was prepared to “give up a little bit of national sovereignty” in the name of strengthening the wider eurozone area (see 13.44 update)
  • Portugal passed its latest troika exam - or rather, the European Union and International Monetary Fund approved the disbursal of the next €8bn tranche of the country’s €78bn financial rescue package after concluding a second quarterly review of the the government’s progress with the bail-out programme (16.04 update)
  • Italy’s 10-year government bond yield spent the day fluctuating around 7 per cent – and finally settling at that level, reports Dave Shellock on our markets team. Reported buying by the European Central Bank of both Italian and Spanish debt offered only limited support

 

Esther Bintliff


As fears of a possible Greek default continue to sway financial markets, time is running short for policymakers to agree a solution to the eurozone crisis. The FT will be running live coverage of the latest developments here on our foreign affairs blog, The World.

All times are London time. Curated by Esther Bintliff, assistant Europe news editor in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

19.30: We’re wrapping up the blog for today, but we’ll be back on Tuesday to cover the latest developments from Greece – where a parliamentary vote is due to take place on the unpopular new property tax – and Germany, where the Greek prime minister is due to meet with chancellor Angela Merkel. In the meantime, please follow the rest of our coverage at ft.com/world

19.18: There was a teensy bit of good news today – or not so bad news. German business confidence, as measured by the Munich-based Ifo institute, fell in September – but by far less than in August. That counts as a positive in these turbulent times…

19.10: The European Central Bank is likely to significantly extend its provision of liquidity to banks next week as it seeks to counter the escalating eurozone debt crisis, reports Ralph Atkins, our Frankfurt bureau chief. But he says it’s still an open question whether the ECB will cut official interest rates as well.

18.55: Donal O’Mahony, global strategist at Davy Capital Markets, points out that the “current convulsions in global markets and economies offer some depressing comparisons to the events of 2008″:

“Once again, nerves are being shredded by the perception of bank solvency and liquidity risks, albeit this time with balance-sheet concerns more focussed on “toxic” sovereign than credit exposures… Once again, the spectre of another calamitous debt default now hangs heavily in the air.”

O’Mahony argues that while the eurozone’s crisis resolution efforts have thus far been hampered by “deep ideological conflicts”, a “more decisive policy approach may finally prevail”, given the dangerously high stakes: namely, the “entire fate of the single currency ideal hanging in the balance”.

18.40: Moves to save the euro have come and gone but it now looks like policymakers recognise the urgency of addressing the problems underlying the eurozone structure. In this video, Lex’s Vincent Boland and Nikki Tait discuss what needs to be done and whether we’ve reached a turning point.