Merkel

Which way forward? Photo: Getty

Welcome to our first eurozone live blog of 2012. By John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and Esther Bintliff on the news desk in London with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

It may be a new year but it’s the same old eurozone crisis. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a bilateral summit in Berlin this morning

Tom Burgis

David Cameron arrives for the EU summit. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

A summit  in Brussels ended in deep division, with the UK refusing to back a new treaty for all 27 EU members and leaving the eurozone countries plus at least six others to forge ahead with a pact of their own to enshrine strict new rules on deficits and debt. It was meant to be the summit that would decisively chart a course out of the eurozone’s debt crisis. 

19.03 That’s the end of our live coverage today. We’ll leave you with a quick summary of the day’s developments. See FT.com for more news and analysis through the evening.

  • The European Union’s 27 leaders, minus David Cameron, struck a deal in the early hours to draw up a treaty by March that would bind them to strict new rules on debt and deficits, with automatic sanctions for countries that break them
  • The UK courted isolation as it refused to sign up to a treaty for all 27 members after David Cameron’s early-hours pitch for safeguards to protect UK financial services met a chilly reception from his counterparts
  • Markets were volatile before a tentative rally lifted equities in Europe and the US. The euro strengthened against the dollar but yields on Italian and Spanish bonds climbed once again
  • The IMF welcomed the European deal, which included €200bn for the fund to ensure it has enough cash to deal with any more fallout from the eurozone crisis, with Christine Lagarde, its head, saying she was “hopeful that others will also do their part”

 

eurocoasterWelcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis, Esther Bintliff and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura on the  newsdesk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

Europe’s leaders gathered in Brussels for another crunch summit. Expectations are running high for a new grand bargain to restore sanity to the eurozone’s finances and chart a course out of the debt crisis. Also today:

  • The European Central Bank cut interest rates by a quarter point to 1 per cent, as expected, and announced that it would accept more forms of collateral and offer longer-term loans to try to protect the banking system
  • Mario Draghi, ECB president, poured cold water on hopes the central bank was poised to take more aggressive action
  • The European banking authority unveiled its updated stress tests of 70 banks, which tripled the capital shortfall for the German banking sector and pushed up the Europe-wide deficit from €106bn in October to €115bn now

20:15: We’re winding up the liveblog for tonight, but you can follow the rest of the action at FT.com and we’ll be back again on Friday morning. Thanks for reading and for all the comments. Bon courage!

19.54: BREAKING – Peter Spiegel, the FT’s Brussels bureau chief, has this scoop from the summit:

EU leaders have begun their late-starting summit, and they were given a 6-page draft of their conclusions at the start. According to people who have seen it, some of the most interesting new language is on the eurozone bail-out funds.

The current version says the existing €440bn fund, the EFSF, will continue running for another 2 years financing its current programmes – which would not be transferred to the new fund, the €500bn ESM.

That would free up the ESM’s resources, giving the eurozone significantly more firepower, with the two funds running in parallel.

The conclusions say the ESM would have its maximum €500bn lending capacity, regardless of how much the EFSF is committed to.

That could mean as much as €200bn in new “bazooka” weaponry.

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Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel prior to their meeting at the Elysee Palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP

Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel before their meeting at the Elysee palace on Monday. Photo: Remy de la Mauvinere/AP

Welcome back to our live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Esther Bintliff on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

This post should update automatically every few minutes, but it may take longer on mobile devices. All times are GMT.

 

19.40: So, after a relatively quiet morning, this afternoon and evening have proved to be a bit of a rollercoaster.

  • First, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel surprised everyone by announcing they had reached “comprehensive agreement” on a new set of fiscal rules ahead of the EU summit later this week. Of course we knew they were going to meet, but to be honest, we hadn’t expected them to say very much in public at this stage. So stock markets rallied, bond yields fell and suddenly it looked like a resolution to the eurozone crisis might be in sight…
  • Then, just when you thought it might be safe etc etcthis story broke. In brief: Standard and Poor’s has warned Germany and the five other triple A members of the eurozone that they risk having their top-notch ratings downgraded as a result of deepening economic and political turmoil in the single currency bloc. The US ratings agency is poised to announce later on Monday that it is putting Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, and Luxembourg on “creditwatch negative”, meaning there is a one-in-two chance of a downgrade within 90 days.

Understandably, investors took fright, and stock markets pared many of the gains made earlier in the day. There will be more news on this story tonight – see FT.com for all the latest. In the meantime thanks for reading, and for all the comments. 

Tom Burgis

A tram passes the euro sign sculpture in front of the European Central Bank ( ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany. Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. All times are GMT. By Tom Burgis, James Crabtree and John Aglionby on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

The turmoil in the eurozone has taken a troubling turn in recent days, with anxiety spreading from Europe’s periphery to its “core” countries. Even as Italy’s Mario Monti readies his economic agenda to be presented today, investors are looking at France, the Netherlands and Austria with increasing unease and wondering whether the ECB might yet ride to the rescue. Over in Greece, today is the anniversary of 1973′s mass student protests – with demonstrators once more planning to take to the streets. And the bond markets are showing ever more strain, with today’s Spanish bond auction souring sentiment still further. 

Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the eurozone crisis and the global fallout. By Tom Burgis and David Crouch in London with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

Italian bond yields are back up over 7 per cent, and French and Spanish bonds are also under pressure. Stock markets are down across Europe. Meanwhile, Mario Monti – Italy’s prime minister designate – is battling to create a new government capable of dragging Italy out of the eye of the storm.

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17.59 We are wrapping up our rolling coverage – thank you for reading. But before we go, here is a quick reminder of today’s latest FT news and insights on the eurozone crisis:

  • Italian prime minister designate Mario Monti will see president Georgio Napolitano on Wednesday morning to present his new government, after he received the backing of outgoing premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Lilverty party
  • Following anaemic data on European economies today, more than three quarters of fund managers predicted Europe will slide into recession next year
  • Italy’s 10-year bond yield once again soared above the 7 per cent mark and French yields hit a record spread over German Bunds, causing global markets to wobble
  • US Treasury yields were close to unchanged as better-than-expected retail sales data offset safe-haven buying due to rising eurozone yields
  • The Austrian coalition government, faced with rising yields on government debt and a possible downgrade, decided to accelerate the pace of spending cuts
  • German frustration over Britain’s approach to the eurozone crisis was laid bare after a close ally of Angela Merkel accused the UK of selfishly pursuing its own interests just days before a meeting in Berlin between the German chancellor and UK prime minister David Cameron

 

John Aglionby

Silvio Berlusconi – shutting one's eyes won't make the problems go away. Image AFP/Getty

Welcome back to the FT’s coverage of the eurozone crisis. Curated by John Aglionby, Tom Burgis and David Crouch on the news desk in London, with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

Greece really is expected to get a new prime minister today – 48 hours later than expected. Italy, well who knows what’s going to happen there as bond yields surge and the EU’s economic inspectors arrive … And policymakers and financiers are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of the crisis on global liquidity levels.

18.53 That’s it for our live coverage today. We leave you with a round-up of where we stand at the end of another turbulent day in Europe – and some cold hard numbers (and letters) for your bedtime reading.

 

Tom Burgis

 

Getty

Welcome back to the FT’s live coverage of the eurozone crisis. By Tom Burgis and John Aglionby on the news desk in London, with contributions from correspondents around the world. All times are GMT.

One issue dominates the agenda for today and tomorrow’s summit of the Group of 20 leading economies: the fate of the eurozone amid the turmoil in Greece.

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19.30: And what will tomorrow bring? Who knows. It’s day two of the G20 summit, the confidence vote in the Greek parliament and the US non-farm payrolls (monthly unemployment data) are announced.

Thanks for all your comments and tweets today – especially the song suggestions! For further updates from the late-night meetings in Cannes follow ft.com 

Tom Burgis

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. In the early hours of the morning, eurozone leaders emerged from their summit in Brussels with a deal designed to stem the sovereign debt crisis. The markets seem pleased but big questions on the details remain. We’ll bring you reactions, news and commentary as we get it throughout the day.

All times are London time. By Tom Burgis on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

18.34: It’s time to wrap up the live blog for today. But keep reading FT.com through the evening for:

18.13: Der Spiegel has a nice tale about whether or not Angela Merkel did in fact apologise to Silvio Berlusconi for appearing to smirk when asked publicly if she still had faith in his leadership.

18.07: Chatham House has just published a paper arguing that international debt bailout systems are ill-equipped to handle any further instability.

“As the problems in the eurozone deepen and threaten to spread globally, action is required to strengthen financial safety nets beyond what was agreed by EU Heads of State on 27 October 2011.”

Read the full report by Stephen Pickford, former managing director at the UK Treasury and former executive director at the IMF.

18.00: An evening update of the day’s developments:

  • At the end of trading in Europe, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 finished 3.69 per cent higher for the day at 1,020. US stocks rose too, with GDP numbers that matched expectations adding to a positive reception for the EU’s moves
  • Despite the ebullience in equities markets, concerns remained over soveriegn debt in the eurozone. Italian government bond yields first sank to 5.7 per cent, before rebounding to 5.9 per cent, near their euro-era highs
  • Questions remain over the details of the eurozone deal, notably over the terms of the new bonds that will replace existing Greek debt as part of the agreed 50 per cent “haircut” (see 13.17), how banks will go about raising new capital and where the cash to fund the various eurozone plans will come from
  • European officials are keen to involve China and other Bric nations in a fund to buy eurozone debt, though here too there are no firm plans yet

 

Tom Burgis

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis as we head into the evening. Europe’s leaders have gathered in Brussels to try to deliver a solution to the sovereign debt crisis. It has been a nervy day in the markets and national capitals – all of which you can read about on our live coverage from earlier on. Tonight we should discover whether Europe’s leaders can overcome their differences and chart a course towards recovery or whether they will once again fail to reach a deal. We’ll bring you news and commentary as we get it.

All times are London time. By Tom Burgis on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

22.38: We’re going to wrap up our live coverage from London now. But fear not, the FT reporters at the summit will not rest until we have an outcome from the evening’s second summit, of all 17 eurozone leaders. See ft.com for all the latest news.

It seems only right to give the final word on today’s developments to Justin Timberlake, whose new film, In Time, has the strap line: “Tomorrow is a luxury you can’t afford.” Over the coming hours we’ll discover whether European leaders – and the markets – share that sentiment.

22.35: A quick recap on what we know so far

  • The 27 EU leaders agreed a statement as per a leaked draft, fleshing out some headline details of how the bank recapitalisation will work
  • Silvio Berlusconi’s letter to his fellow eurozone leaders included a commitment to raise the Italian retirement age to 67
  • Nicolas Sarkozy will call his Chinese counterpart tomorrow in what seems to be part of efforts to win Chinese investment for a fund to buy eurozone debt
  • US markets dealt with all of this pretty calmly, finishing the day in the black