A speech on taxes that would help Romney’s run

January 19, 2012

The Republican U.S. presidential front-runner’s private equity background and low personal tax rate have put him in an awkward spot. Romney needs to address them in a way to both quell the attacks and appeal to moderates. Here’s an imagined, if bold, way to handle the matter.

Unravelling India, Part 3: Demography

January 20, 2012

It’s common in India to say that, even if the country suffers from short-term political paralysis, the long-term growth prospects are great because of its burgeoning population. But is that really so?

French socialist picks fight with faceless finance

By Pierre Briancon
January 24, 2012

Presidential contender Francois Hollande says his adversary is “the world of finance”. Appealing to anti-bank sentiment allows him to pre-empt one of his rival Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign themes. But Hollande’s serious proposals aren’t scary, while the scary ones aren’t serious.

Bonus for RBS boss hangs on two provisos

January 24, 2012

Stephen Hester should get his annual bonus – but only if Royal Bank of Scotland can clearly justify the award. The state-controlled lender, and its chief executive, also need to show they understand the toxic political dimensions: and give any proceeds away to charity.

Counterpoint: Donating a bonus doesn’t reduce it

January 24, 2012

Breakingviews columnist George Hay suggests RBS chief Stephen Hester should take a payout but give it to charity so as to neuter the toxic politics of receiving it. That’s humbug. Philanthropy is praiseworthy and to be encouraged, but it’s not a valid defense for a bonus.

Obama’s appeal to 99 pct won’t sway a key minority

January 25, 2012

In his last State of the Union address before facing voters, the U.S. president outlined a radical agenda. He would tax millionaires more, target big banks and punish outsourcing. The ideas will resonate, but not with Republicans in Congress. They won’t let Obama accomplish much.

Uninvited guest, Mr 99 Percent, crashes Davos

January 26, 2012

The rich and the powerful at the World Economic Forum are haunted by the shadow of the unemployed and disenfranchised. The specter is in the panels, hallway conversations and political speeches. What’s less clear is whether the gathered plutocrats can deal with income inequality.

UK’s problem: it’s the best in Europe

January 26, 2012

British GDP fell in the fourth quarter and will grow only slowly this year. Even that will be stronger than anywhere in Europe, the IMF predicts. UK government cuts hurt but the euro zone crisis is a bigger problem. It deters exports and endangers recovery.

U.S. private sector emerges from government shadow

January 27, 2012

Headline annualized U.S. GDP growth of 2.8 pct in the fourth quarter looks more anemic when inventory growth is netted out. But private sector output expanded at a more robust 4.5 pct. The government retreated in 2011 as a whole, but private enterprise is regaining strength.

EU must learn to cope with new German leadership

By Pierre Briancon
January 31, 2012

Berlin will get the euro fiscal treaty it wants, and even Nicolas Sarkozy is using Germany as an example for French reforms. The euro zone has to get used to the new regime. The shock over the tough German line on Greece shows adjustments are needed -from both sides.