1) ECONOMICS The FT’s chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, evaluates the impact of Baroness Thatcher on Britain’s economic performance both during her time in power and afterwards.
“For the UK, the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s did mark the first sustained period since the 19th century when GDP per head rose more than in the other large European economies. Unfortunately, the post-crisis economic malaise, the high inequality, the persistent regional imbalances and the over-reliance on an unstable financial sector mar this success.”
2) SOCIETY Hugo Young was a political columnist for the Guardian from 1984 until 2003, and wrote a biography of Margaret Thatcher, One of Us. Two weeks before he died, in 2003, he wrote this piece about Thatcher and her legacy. The Guardian published it on Monday. Young praises Thatcher’s self-confidence, and how little she cared if people liked her – a quality he notes is markedly lacking in today’s politicians. But he worries about the change in British social attitudes that she fostered: Read more
The future of the UK in the EU is, of course, already a subject of fierce debate. Everybody can see that the chances of a British departure have increased. The question is by how much.
I was interested to discover from a private conversation with a very senior continental official that his worry is that the rest of the EU really does not need this diversion of attention from its immediate concern, which is the reform of the eurozone.
He referred to two specific risks.
First, he is worried that the very fact that the UK may be on the way out will shake confidence in the future of the eurozone. As he noted, people in Asia or the Americas do not understand the details. They will just regard this British decision as calling into question the vitality of the European project, partly, no doubt, because the UK has deep relations with these parts of the world. Read more
The financial panics are over. Now we must deal with the longer-term aftermath.
I advanced this thesis at a private dinner last night and, to my surprise, Nouriel Roubini agreed with me. More precisely, he agreed that “tail risk” had been sharply reduced.
The big change of the last 12 months has, of course, been in the eurozone. This has something to do with policy improvements in vulnerable countries, particularly Italy and Spain. It has even more to do with the willingness of the European Central Bank, under the redoubtable Mario Draghi, to use its power to reduce break-up risk and offer potentially unlimited liquidity to banks and sovereigns under stress. Read more
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
By Esther Bintliff in London, with contributions from FT writers and editors in Davos.
All times GMT.
18.30: That’s all from us for now folks! But you can stay up to date with all the FT’s coverage of the World Economic Forum 2012 at www.ft.com/davos. For now, we’ll leave you with a quick recap of some of today’s top news and views:
- Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, put it bluntly when she got out her handbag and told a WEF panel: “I’m here with my little bag to collect a bit of money” (see the 11.23 post)
- At a global economy session, Chris Giles reported that the debate was “more sober than the general mood in Davos of increasing optimism”, with Donald Tsang, chief executive of Hong Kong, saying: “I have never been as scared as now” (see 11.45)
- Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s first female PM, was studiously vague when asked by Gideon Rachman whether and when her brother Thaksin would be allowed to return to Thailand (see 12.30)
- In his round-up on Davos 2012, Martin Wolf noted that Mario Draghi has emerged as the hero of the hour (see 13.15), a point confirmed by Lionel Barber, the FT’s editor, in his video interview (15.20)
- “Doha is dead. Long live the multilateral trading system” – Chris Giles on the message the World Trade Organisation wanted to send from Davos on Saturday (see 17.30)