Wukan protests rooted in finance not freedoms

By Wei Gu
December 19, 2011

Riots over land sales by local governments are getting more common. As prices rise and land gets scarce, villagers like Wukan’s want more of the profit. A government pay-off is usually the answer. But it looks like China’s model of rapid development is due for an overhaul.

Putin is on a collision course with change

December 29, 2011

Russia’s mass protests against election-rigging reflect a strong yearning for change. This won’t stop Vladimir Putin winning the presidential election. But his methods of government are losing their power. And those hoping that he can move with the times will be disappointed.

China could be North Korea’s ally of last resort

December 29, 2011

Conventional thinking has it that South Korea will one day absorb its impoverished cousin. But if the North collapses, Beijing may have more interest in propping it back up. Like bailing out a bank, doing so would require liquidity, capital and more accountable management.

2012: the year citizens will pronounce on the euro

January 4, 2012

Markets and governments have spoken. It’s the turn of populations to declare, in elections and referendums, whether they want to do what it takes to keep the euro together. Governments will have to build a strong case to convince voters that breakup would be the worst outcome.

Korean spending spree sets right tone

January 4, 2012

Seoul plans to blow most of its budget in the first half and is likely to end the year in deficit. It might seem an election-year stunt. But promoting domestic jobs instead of using a weak currency to boost exports is a path the rest of Asia should follow.

France is heading for a major spring crisis

January 4, 2012

Socialist presidential favourite François Hollande seems ill-equipped to deal with the financial crisis. And if re-elected, Nicolas Sarkozy might face a hostile parliament. Add recession and some scandals, and France could look like Berlusconi’s Italy, without the bunga-bunga.

For Obama’s 2012 hopes, it really is the economy

January 4, 2012

A reasonably reliable forecasting model puts the U.S. president with just over half the two-party vote in November. The Intrade electronic market gives him a 52 pct chance of re-election. A Breakingviews calculator shows how economic growth in 2012 could tip the result.

2012: another year of living euro-dangerously

January 5, 2012

Europe will keep the world on edge in 2012. More will be needed to shore up Italy and keep the single currency more or less intact. But the U.S. should keep recovering. And China and emerging markets may cut rates and help their consumers – and global rebalancing.

Fat cats have little to fear from Cameron curbs

January 5, 2012

The UK prime minister wants the rich to feel the nation’s pain. Good luck to him. No one can fully explain why bosses’ rewards started to rise in the 1980s, or why they fell after the Second World War. Cameron’s half-hearted nudging is unlikely to turn the social tide.

EU can’t afford to be soft on Hungary

January 5, 2012

Too much is at stake to go easy on Budapest. Hungary’s current authoritarian policies would disqualify it for EU membership. The country needs an IMF-EU bailout. The rescuers should keep the pressure on populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, even at the risk of a major clash.