Mario Monti exits a voting booth on February 24 (AFP/Getty)
Paul Krugman has got in early to comment on the political demise of Mario Monti – who now seems certain to trail in fourth in the Italian elections. According to Krugman, Monti’s reputation for wisdom is wildly overblown. On the contrary, he more or less deserves his fate because he was “in effect, the proconsul installed by Germany.”
Worse, according to Krugman, Monti’s policies did not even work. As in the rest of southern Europe, the economy has shrunk and so debt-to-GDP ratios have risen. There was only one “piece of good news” in the Monti era – that “bond markets have calmed down.” However, Monti cannot claim the credit even for this, because it is “largely thanks to the stated willingness of the ECB to step in and buy government debt when necessary.”
As ever, with Krugman, the argument is forcefully made. But it misses out a crucial stage in the argument and therefore unfairly denigrates the role of Monti in stabilising the Italian economy. Remember, when Monti came to power, the steady rise in the interest rates that Italy was having to pay to finance its debt was eating up more and more of the Italian budget. There was a real prospect that Italy might simply be unable to finance itself through the bond markets – and that might have sparked a terminal crisis in the euro. Read more
Friday’s events from the World Economic Forum feature an address by Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and sessions looking at the challenges faced by, and presented by, the fast-changing Arab world. Reports from FT writers in Davos and by Ben Fenton, Lina Saigol and Lindsay Whipp in London
17.03: The Davos Live Blog is closing down now but for more reading and insight on today’s events, please visit the FT’s in depth page on the World Economic Forum.
16.41: Gideon Rachman, titular proprietor of this blog, has written his surmise from the earlier session on Syria.
16.16: Asked by the Amercian moderator of his panel session about corruption and banking regulation, Nigeria’s central bank governor Sanusi displays a little frustration:
He said: “We are the only country which has taken people out of banks and put them in jail. No bankers in your countries have gone to jail.”
16.12: Martin Wolf has recorded his view on the politics and economics at play in a “low-intensity” Davos this year:
Welcome to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. We’ll bring you all the developments. By Tom Burgis and Ben Fenton in London with contributions from FT correspondents across the world. All times are GMT.
17.37: As the EU’s political leaders get down to talks, we are closing down the live blog for today, but it will be up again bright and early tomorrow to pick up on whatever is decided overnight. Meanwhile, elsewhere on FT.com you’ll be able to find coverage of the summit kept fresh by our sleep-deprived Brussels team.
17.29 More bleak news for the UK’s Triple A credit rating, via FT markets editor Chris Adams:
17.24 More twists and turns in this tale of what said what to whom about the Italian elections at the centre-right EPP’s pre-summit meeting today (see 15.49 and 17.06).
Antonio Tajani, the Italian EU commissioner and a Berlusconi ally, is quoted by Italian news agency Adnkronos as saying that none of the leaders of the EPP “expressly asked Monti to be a candidate”.
“Everyone spoke well of Monti but no one wants to interfere.”
The polls have opened in the US and our liveblog is up and rolling. Here is some reading to get you through until the numbers start coming in:
By Ruona Agbroko
Today’s selection of interesting articles from around the web:
By Ruona Agbroko
Here are some of the articles that have grabbed our attention from today’s FT and elsewhere:
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.