By Andy Mukherjee
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The best journalists get front-row seats to the most tumultuous years of a nation. Rajdeep Sardesai, one of India's best-known journalists, was in such a position for this year's general election in India, in which 815 million people voted. Their decisions brought the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leader Narendra Modi into power, ending 67 years of near-uninterrupted control of Indian politics by the Congress Party and the Nehru-Gandhi clan.
Count the Washington press corps as unintended beneficiaries of last night's slaughter of the Democrats by the Republicans. Now, with the Republicans taking of the Senate in addition to the House, leaving them in control of all congressional committees, we can expect up to twice as many Capitol Hill investigations into alleged fraud, abuse, waste, and perfidy by the Obama administration. Witnesses called! Testimony given! Evidence subpoenaed! Executive privilege claimed!
This week is chock full of events to keep investors interested, be it in election day this Tuesday or jobs data on Friday. It’s hard to escape the notion that the United States may be starting to hit a stride when it comes to growth. There’s some expectation that this may positively affect U.S. earnings, which generally came out looking good with companies like Caterpillar and Union Pacific saying relatively good things about the U.S. in their earnings. There is also the worry that the U.S. may be dragged down by the rest of the world, but so far that effect has been limited.
After the Federal Reserve wound up its bond-buying programme, as expected, and the Bank of Japan sprung a surprise by sharply increasing the pace of its money-printing, this week the European Central Bank takes its monthly bow and will probably come up with nothing new.
One of the themes that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried out to besmirch the Ukrainian revolt against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich earlier this year was that fascists and anti-Semites were behind the uprising. The protesters, he proclaimed, were revolting in both senses of the word: They had chased out an elected president (true) and their actions had allowed “anti-Semitic forces [to go] on a rampage” (not true).
Europe is at a make or break moment. Two very different events on Sunday, occurring at opposite ends of Europe, will largely determine the entire continent’s direction for years ahead: the parliamentary election in Ukraine and the bank “stress tests” and Asset Quality Review conducted by the European Central Bank. Before explaining the significance of these two events, and their unexpected linkage, I need to mention a third announcement, due next Wednesday: the European Commission’s verdict on the budget for 2015 submitted last week by the French government.