Reuters blog archive
So what was all the fuss about?
A first rough draft of history would suggest the one opinion poll that gave the independents a lead nearly two weeks ago scared the Bejesus not only out of the British establishment but a significant chunk of Scottish voters too.
Prime Minister David Cameron has addressed the nation, promising to deliver new powers to Edinburgh to a very tight timetable, drafting laws in January in order to have it done after the 2015 general election.
He also promised more devolution for Northern Ireland, Wales and England, which is tantamount to a fiendishly complicated constitutional overhaul. It is not clear that the opposition Labour party is on the same page.
A lot of Cameron’s Conservative party are uneasy to angry about the Scots being handed so many devolved powers that the English don’t have.
True to its word, the EU agreed sweeping sanctions on Russia yesterday, targeting trade in equipment for the defence and oil sectors and, most crucially, barring Russia’s state-run banks from accessing European capital markets. The measures will be imposed this week and will last for a year initially with three monthly reviews allowing them to be toughened if necessary.
There was no rowing back from the blueprint produced last week – having already agreed to exempt the gas sector – and the United States quickly followed suit, targeting Russian banks VTB, Bank of Moscow, and Russian Agriculture Bank, as well as United Shipbuilding Corp.
Pro-Moscow protesters in eastern Ukraine took up arms in one city and declared a separatist republic in another yesterday and the new build-up of tensions continues this morning.
The Kiev government has launched what it calls “anti-terrorist” operations in the eastern city of Kharkiv and arrested about 70 separatists. Moscow has responded by demanding Kiev stop massing military forces in the south-east of the country.
Spain appears to be on the road to recovery, if you can call it that with around a quarter of the workforce without a job.
The government says growth hit 0.3 percent in the final quarter of the year, the second quarterly expansion in a row, and may upgrade its forecast for 0.7 percent growth in 2014.
Having done so with a t-bill sale on Tuesday, Spain will continue to try and cash in on the relatively benign market conditions created by the European Central Bank by selling up to 4.5 billion euros of 3- and 10-year bonds. It hasn’t tried to sell that much in one go since early March, when the ECB’s previous gambit – the three-year liquidity flood – had also imposed some calm upon the markets, albeit temporarily (there’s a lesson to be learned there).
Yields are likely to fall sharply from the most recent equivalent auctions but even so, it looks unlikely that Madrid can meet some daunting looking refinancing bills before the year is out, without outside help. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s hesitation about making a request for bond-buying help from the ESM rescue fund, with the ECB rowing in behind, has already pushed Spanish 10-year yields back up towards six percent after a more than two-point plunge since ECB chief Mario Draghi issued his “I’ll save the euro” proclamation in late July. They had peaked around 7.5 percent before that.