Reuters blog archive
Euro zone inflation – due at 0900 GMT - is forecast to hold at a paltry 0.7 percent in May, in what European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has labelled the danger zone below 1.0 percent for the eighth successive month.
After German inflation fell to just 0.6 percent on the EU measure on Monday, well below forecasts, the bloc-wide figure could also undercut. We already know the Spanish and Italian inflation rates were just 0.2 and 0.4 percent respectively last month. If that comes to pass, any doubts about ECB action on Thursday, which are thin on the ground anyway, must surely be banished.
A clutch of senior sources have told Reuters the ECB was preparing a package of policy options for its meeting on Thursday, including cuts in all its interest rates and targeted measures aimed at boosting lending to small- and mid-sized firms (SMEs).
Measures being cued up included taking the ECB's deposit rate negative for the first time - thereby charging banks to park money with the central bank in the hope they will lend it instead.
from Nicholas Wapshott:
For some, the veterans hospitals scandal is a human tragedy pure and simple. Those who loyally served their nation in uniform, putting their lives on the line, were shunned when they sought medical help.
For others, however, the troubles at the Department of Veterans Affairs have provided what one pundit called “A gift from God.”
from Global Investing:
A wide range of topics -- from North-South relations, human rights, a potential nuclear test to a new generation of young diplomats -- were discussed, but under the so-called Chatham House rules (meaning I cannot reveal who said what).
from The Great Debate:
The line between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party has blurred. That spells trouble for the GOP in the long run. Possibly this year, more likely in 2016.
It might not look like it right now. The Republican establishment, which has been on the defensive since the Tea Party emerged in 2009, is on a roll. Establishment candidates have won contested primaries in North Carolina, Florida and now Kentucky and Georgia. Republican voters seem to be turning away from the kinds of fringe candidates they went for in 2010 and 2012, like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware (“I am not a witch”) and Todd Akin in Missouri (“legitimate rape”). Candidates like that cost Republicans their chance to take back control of the U.S. Senate.
By Rob Cox
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
As the eagle flies, it's a long way from Bunkerville, Nevada to Slovyansk, Ukraine. Right now, though, the two places have something insidious in common: armed vigilantism. That parallel sadly seems to escape the many American policymakers who have accused President Barack Obama of adopting the logic of appeasement in his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They're missing a big point. If the United States can't uphold the rule of law at home, it can have no credibility abroad.
from The Great Debate:
The economic debate is now sharply focused on the issue of income inequality. That may not be the debate Democrats want to have, however. It's negative and divisive. Democrats would be better off talking about growth -- a hopeful and unifying agenda.
Democrats believe income inequality is a populist cause. But it may be less of a populist issue than an issue promoted by the cultural elite: well-educated professionals who are economically comfortable but not rich. There’s new evidence that ordinary voters care more about growth.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington for talks with Barack Obama after Europe and the United States imposed wider sanctions on Russia.
Obama is already looking ahead to a third round of measures and has hinted at impatience with Europe, saying there had to be a united front if future sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy were to have real bite. At home, the Republicans are accusing him of weakness so will he put pressure on Merkel to move ahead in a way that the European Union has shown it is entirely unready to, at least yet?
from Anatole Kaletsky:
Why did the U.S. and European sanctions against Russia earlier this week trigger a rebound in the ruble and the Moscow stock market?
To understand this paradox it is worth recalling Yes Minister, the British TV comedy about a blundering politician who stumbles from crisis to crisis with the same justification for every panic response: “Something must be done. This is something --– therefore it must be done.”
from The Great Debate:
No matter how counterintuitive it may seem, Washington needs to stop lecturing Russian President Vladimir Putin if it wants to resolve problems with him.
In George Kennan’s celebrated 1946 “long telegram,” the diplomat and scholar explained why Russia’s conduct was so often duplicitous. Kennan might well have been writing about Putin when he laid out the West’s problems with the Kremlin leaders’ behavior. Being annoyed with them wouldn’t help, Kennan advised, since their conduct was based on a fierce Russian nationalism complicated by a serious streak of insecurity about Moscow’s position in the world, evident whenever Joseph Stalin felt the Soviet Union was not receiving the respect he believed it was due.
De-escalation? Forget it. Ukrainian forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels in the east yesterday and Russia launched army drills near the border in response.
The big question now is whether Russian troops will cross into eastern Ukraine following a constant stream of warnings from Moscow about the security of Russian speakers there.