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from MacroScope:

Nearer the brink

A man walks past cutting boards, that have been painted with images of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, at a street store in the center of St. Petersburg

Ukraine is nearer the brink with Russian forces now pretty clearly operating over the border. The past week has seen Ukrainian forces flee in the path of a new rebel advance which Kiev and its western allies says has been directly aided by Moscow's forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Sunday for immediate talks on "statehood" for southern and eastern Ukraine, though his spokesman tried to temper those remarks, that following an aggressive public showing in which Putin compared the Kiev government to Nazis and warned the West not to "mess with us".

The deputy leader of the breakaway east Ukrainian region said he would take part in talks with representatives of Moscow and Kiev in Minsk today but did not expect a breakthrough. Russian foreign minister Lavrov is out saying the Minsk talks will aim for an immediate ceasefire without conditions although he also said Ukrainian troops must vacate positions from which they can hit civilian targets. Meanwhile, eight Ukrainian seamen have been rescued, two are still missing, after a patrol boat was sunk by artillery.

Despite some vacillation at an EU summit on Saturday, there seems no way that Europe and the United States can avoid tougher sanctions to halt what they say is direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine.

from Breakingviews:

Vivendi boosts shareholder credentials in GVT sale

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. 

Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi’s chairman, is doing right by his shareholders. The French media group says it has entered exclusive talks with Telefonica on the Spanish group’s 7.5 billion euro bid for its Brazilian business GVT. The French conglomerate spurned a lower bid from Telecom Italia. It might have squeezed a bit more from Telefonica, but has chosen the surest exit. That leaves rival bidder TI facing an uncertain future.

from Breakingviews:

France’s housing slump is sign of deeper woes

By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

François Hollande could live with a housing bubble. That would at least signal euphoria in a significant part of the French economy. But house prices are declining, a reflection of the depth of the country’s economic woes, and its president’s inability to address them.

from MacroScope:

Euro zone recovery snuffed out

A BMW logo is seen the wheel of a car in Mexico City

A glut of euro zone GDP data is landing confirming a markedly poor second quarter for the currency area.

The mighty German economy has shrunk by 0.2 percent on the quarter, undercutting the Bundesbank’s forecast of stagnation. Foreign trade and investment were notable weak spots and the signs are they may not improve soon.

from Breakingviews:

A French revolution could disrupt U.S. mobile

By Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

U.S. mobile is at risk of a French revolution. On July 31, Xavier Niel’s Iliad emerged as a surprise bidder for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US, the Deutsche Telekom-backed operator. The billionaire is little-known in America, and Deutsche rejected his $15 billion opening gambit. But Iliad is roughly to French telecoms what Ryanair has been to European air travel, or Aldi to retail. If it wins T-Mobile US, market share and margins at AT&T and Verizon could face the guillotine.

from Breakingviews:

Flaky Iliad bid muddies T-Mobile US sale odyssey

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Iliad has delivered what could be a Trojan horse for Sprint’s plans to buy T-Mobile US. In a rival approach, the $16 billion French telcom has offered $33 a share, or $15 billion, for 57 percent of the No. 4 U.S. mobile operator. It’s a flaky offer on several levels. But the intervention may intensify antitrust objections to Sprint’s wish to merge.

from Breakingviews:

French T-Mo bid looks like peak TMT Entrepreneur

Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

TMT-men are the superheroes of finance today. A market boom has let telecoms, media and technology dealmakers such as John Malone of Liberty Global and Masayoshi Son of SoftBank finance ever-bigger dreams. Xavier Niel, the billionaire behind French telecoms group Iliad, is now bidding $15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US, listed but two-thirds owned by Deutsche Telekom. Maybe this idea should have stayed in the lab.

from MacroScope:

Q3 rebound but at cost of price cutting?

A woman walks past a shop in Madrid

Manufacturing PMI surveys across the euro zone and for Britain are due. The emerging pattern is of an improving third quarter after a generally poor second three months of the year.

The UK economy continues to romp ahead – growing by 0.8 percent in the second quarter – but on the continent there are signs of a new slowdown. The Bundesbank now forecasts no Q2 growth at all in Germany and though the euro zone flash PMI, released a week ago, showed the currency area rebounding in July, that largely came at the cost of companies cutting prices further, thereby pushing inflation lower still.

from Hugo Dixon:

Euro crisis is sleeping, not dead

Euro zone policymakers may feel they can afford to relax this summer. That would be a terrible error. The euro crisis is sleeping, not dead.

The region is suffering from stagnation, low inflation, unemployment and debt. The crisis could easily rear its ugly head because the euro zone is not well placed to withstand a shock.

from MacroScope:

A dissenting voice

A train carrying the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 arrives in Kharkiv

Interesting intervention from former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin late yesterday who warned that Russia risked isolation and having its efforts to modernize derailed.

That sort of internal criticism is rare but Kudrin has done so before without censure which suggests Vladimir Putin is – or has been - willing to hear it. Kudrin added that Moscow should not intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine.

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