Reuters blog archive
from Thinking Global:
Occasionally a public opinion survey surfaces that signals a seismic event. That is the case with a new report from the Pew Research Center that measures the widening tremors of a political earthquake now shaking Europe.
Although the report leads with evidence that Europeans are increasingly losing faith in the European Union (which I wrote about here), the more troubling problem is the fast-growing divide between France and Germany. This schism is ripping apart the bonds that have held Europe together for 60 years – just when they are most urgently needed.
There is a second, powerful underlying message: Germany has more economic weight and political will to determine Europe’s future than it has had since World War Two. Now, though, it lacks a partner that can replace France’s pivotal importance. Beyond that, Germans are increasingly out of step with most other Europeans in their economic optimism, their faith in their national political leadership and their continued support for European institutions.
A sudden turn for the worse across German companies should clinch an interest rate cut from the European Central Bank next week, or in June at the latest.
That's because the latest PMI surveys, which have a decent correlation with economic growth, suggest the German economy shifted back into reverse this month, against the expectations of economists.
from Photographers Blog:
By Yorgos Karahalis
I've been working in the media industry since 1986 and I can’t recall the last time Cyprus, the small divided Mediterranean island, attracted so much attention since the 1974 invasion by Turkey, which stills keep the island and its residents separated.
A decision by the European Union for a "haircut" on deposits in all Cypriot banks made the country one of the top stories in the region and across the world. Various scenarios for Cyprus’s financial meltdown appeared everywhere.
Optimism in Germany is roaring and consumers across the euro zone are starting to become less gloomy. But the latest hard economic data are a reminder of the difference between confidence that things are going to get better, and the hope that they will.
For the moment, we only have the latter.
Friday's German Ifo business climate survey topped even the highest expectations, as did the ZEW economic sentiment indicator on Tuesday. Euro zone consumer confidence improved this month too, and the mood in financial markets has been largely buoyant since the start of the year.
from Photographers Blog:
Juan Les Pins, France
By Eric Gaillard
Several days prior to the winter truce for evictions in France for people who are behind on their rent, I asked myself how I could illustrate and make contacts with people who could help. The local associations I spoke with seeking help to make contact with those in precarious living situations were not helpful as they saw this as voyeurism, that these individuals were ashamed and would not permit a photographer to follow them.
Thinking that the story idea had hit a dead end, a local elected official from Antibes, 30 kms (18 miles) from Nice, informed me that he took care of people in precarious situations. At their local offices I studied their listing to learn that a man was living in an underground carpark in nearby Juan Les Pins. The official and I contacted Paul to explain the reason of my reportage. He accepted my invitation to meet.
from The Edgy Optimist:
Barely had the counting ceased in last week’s presidential election when the news took a somber turn. Two of the next day’s headlines read “Back to Work, Looming Fiscal Crisis Greets Obama” and my favorite, “America has Sown the Seeds of Its Own Demise.” Politicians either celebrated or decried the results, but regardless of party affiliation most warned of formidable challenges and a perilous future.
How did it come to pass that even the resolution of a contested election brings almost zero relief from the relentless focus on problems and threats? How did a country that for much of its history exhibited a (sometimes naive) willingness to ignore obstacles and plunge forward become a society that struggles to turn its gaze away from the dangers that loom just ahead? In short, how did the United States become so pessimistic?
Folklore and modern horror are replete with tales of people summoning ghosts by recanting their name or chanting a particular phrase. Centuries ago there was Bloody Mary. The 1980s brought us the Evil Dead trilogy and Beetlejuice, while Candyman appeared in the 90s.
And in the 21st century there is the euro zone debt crisis, conjured repeatedly by the phrase from Europe's leaders, "The worst is over," and variations thereof.
Forecasts about the future for the euro zone economy are starting to resemble a multiple-choice novel. Are you an economist working for an Anglo-Saxon institution? Then turn to p.65 -- "Recession for the euro zone". A German bank? Go to p.80 -- "Happy days are here again!"
That simplifies the case slightly, but there's more than a grain of truth in it. We've noted repeatedly that predictions about the euro zone are coloured heavily by whether someone works for an employer based inside the currency union or not.
from Expert Zone:
There are apprehensions that the U.S. and EU could drift into recession again. The economic crisis of 2008 unnerved every country, with growth either turning negative or falling drastically. The recovery from that recession was weak and any relapse could be prolonged.
from Photographers Blog:
By Jon Nazca
I have taken a look back through the archives for the first pictures illustrating the crisis in Spain. It was a story about a protest of goat herders and farmers in Malaga in May 2008. They protested with their goats to demand measures from the government to solve the crisis they were facing.
Months later, Spanish truck drivers protested against the rising fuel costs paralyzing the country for several days.