The war in eastern Ukraine, which has had more impact on the European economy than any news coming out of Frankfurt or Brussels, appears to be ending. Despite the sporadic attacks that have wrecked previous ceasefire attempts.
As the World Cup kicks off in Sao Paolo this week, the home team is the runaway favorite, with a 45 percent chance of winning the tournament, according to Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight and 48.5 percent probability according to the statistical boffins at Goldman Sachs. But apart from the bookmakers — who stand to lose a fortune if Brazil wins, since they are offering odds of around 3 to 1, instead of the 1 to 1 suggested by Silver’s and Goldman’s calculations — another, more surprising, group is secretly rooting against the favorite: Brazil’s own financial and business community, along with much of the country’s middle class.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin signed Russia’s historic $400 billion gas-supply agreement with China, he must have felt the satisfaction of a chess grandmaster revealing the inexorable outcome of a complicated endgame.
President Vladimir Putin has disastrously miscalculated and Russia now faces deeper isolation, tougher sanctions and greater economic hardship than at any time since the Cold War. So declared President Obama after the NATO summit in Brussels.
Vladimir Putin could restore Russia’s great power status and maybe go down in history as the country’s most visionary leader since Peter the Great. He could win respect from Beijing and Washington for averting a second global financial crisis and he could prove that Russia understands market economics better than the EU. His miraculous opportunity to do all this started with the Mafia-style “offer you can’t refuse” presented by the EU to Cyprus on Sunday. It will end on Tuesday morning, if Cyprus banks then re-open under the conditions imposed by the European Troika, as currently planned.