Reuters blog archive
France is unveiling its 2015 budget right now and it’s not making pretty reading, confirming that Paris will not get its budget deficit down to the EU limit of three percent of GDP until 2017, years after it should have done.
The health minister has said the welfare deficit is expected to run nearly one billion euros over budget this year and data on Tuesday showed France's national debt hit a record high in the second quarter, topping two trillion euros for the first time. It will near 100 percent of GDP next year.
All this is predicated on growth picking up and the proportion of national income going on public spending will fall only glacially.
French President Francois Hollande and Italy’s Matteo Renzi are leading a drive to use the maximum amount of flexibility within EU rules to allow a bit more spending or lower taxes to get growth going – French Finance Minister Michel Sapin has just said the pace of budget consolidation in the euro zone must be adapted to reflect the reality of a stagnant economy.
Germany, as usual, is sceptical and is making great play of the fact it will have no net new borrowing next year for the first time since 1969 even though its economy is barely growing. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has also called for more active fiscal policy from euro zone governments, a hint perhaps that he thinks the ECB has done as much as it can.
Euro zone inflation figures are due and after Germany’s rate held steady at 0.8 percent the figure for the currency bloc as a whole could marginally exceed forecasts and hold at 0.4 percent.
One upside for the currency bloc is the falling euro which has broken below its 2013 lows and is down almost nine percent from the peak it hit against the dollar in May. With U.S. money printing about to end next month and speculation intensifying about the timing of a first interest rate rise from Washington, there are good reasons to think that this trend could continue.
from Photographers' Blog:
By Michael Dalder
Many of us have been invited to wedding ceremonies and receptions in our time, as guests or even as photographers. One Saturday, at five o’clock in the morning, my colleague Lukas Barth and I prepared our camera gear to photograph a wedding party, with around six million guests.
I’m not sure how many of them were aware of the fact that the party they were attending – “the Oktoberfest” – originally celebrated and honoured the marriage of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810.
Who says Europe is broken? The Ryder Cup stays here again and even Nigel Farage, leader of Britain’s anti-EU party, said he wanted Europe’s golfers to win.
The euro zone is not winning the economic competition however, despite the European Central Bank’s best efforts (it should be noted that only 3 of the 12 Ryder Cup team come from euro zone countries).
The British parliament will vote today on whether UK forces should join U.S.-led air attacks against Islamic State militants. Any action will be confined to Iraq, which has asked for help, not Syria where IS also controls swathes of territory. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a separate vote on that if it comes to it.
Unlike last year when action to stop Syria's Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons against his own people was voted down, all the main parties appear to be broadly in support, probably swayed by the beheading of captives by the Sunni militants.
Having largely sailed through this year’s choppy (to say the least) geopolitical waters, markets are a little discomfited by U.S. air strikes in Syria targeting Islamic State militants ... though only a little.
The U.S. military said Monday’s onslaught was just the start, suggesting it could take years to “degrade and destroy” the group, as Washington puts it. It remains to be seen how effective air attacks alone, which have been conducted in Iraq for some time already, will be in that regard.
The United States and some Gulf allies have launched air strikes inside Syria against Islamic State militants.
A combination of fighter, bomber and Tomahawk attack missiles sounds like a formidable barrage so if intelligence about where the militants are is good, a significant blow could have been dealt.
Surprisingly low take-up at last week’s first round of cheap four-year loans by the European Central Bank begs a number of questions – How low is demand for credit and what does that say about the state of the economy? Are banks cowed by the upcoming stress tests? Does this make an eventual leap to QE more likely?
The ECB is playing up the prospects of a second round in December after the stress tests are finished. But having pledged to add the best part of 1 trillion euros to its balance sheet to rev up the euro zone economy, it can’t have been happy to see only 83 billion euros of loans taken. ECB President Mario Draghi testifies at the European Parliament today.
from The Great Debate:
Who is the world’s No. 3 arms exporter, after the United States and Russia? Surprise. It is Germany, a country bound by law to supply only allies and peaceable folks like (neutral) Switzerland or Sweden. Off limits are “areas of tension” -- bad neighborhoods that actually need the stuff.
Yet somehow, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both living in the world’s powder keg, are among Germany’s best customers. So are Algeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
By Quentin Webb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Bayer’s plastic float could sow the seeds for another sale. Investors added more than $5 billion to the German blue-chip’s $114 billion market capitalisation on Sept. 18, after it unveiled plans to float MaterialScience, its capital-intensive plastics and polymers business. Once again, investors are rewarding a company for adopting a sharper focus. A logical follow-up for Bayer Chief Executive Marijn Dekkers would be to quit agrochemicals and create a pure healthcare business.