Gingrich makes Goldman 4-letter word – to no avail

January 31, 2012

The former House speaker is set to lose Florida despite labeling rival Mitt Romney an agent of the Wall Street firm. But Romney’s similar conflation of Gingrich’s work with Freddie Mac to the housing bust seems to have hit further home. It’s a small victory for Goldman’s image.

Euro zone ill-suited for long-term economic task

February 1, 2012

Yesterday’s problem - fiscal insouciance - has been addressed. Now euro zone leaders need to find ways to boost their economies, and keep Greece and Portugal from turning into economic deserts. That calls for long-term thinking from governments obsessed by the next election.

Google feeds regulators fresh meat to chew on

February 1, 2012

Antitrust concerns have swirled around the Internet search giant for years. Now, changes to its data-sharing policies are causing added alarm among lawmakers. So far, Google hasn’t crossed any major legal lines. But the company, led by Larry Page, seems destined to find them.

Europe can’t force Greece into never-default land

February 2, 2012

Germany would like to prevent Greece from ever defaulting, by forcing it to dedicate its resources to service its debt first. This looks both legally unenforceable and politically untenable. The reality is that Greece will default if it wants to.

China has moral high ground over “dirty skies”

February 6, 2012

Beijing’s principle of non-interference looks callous when it lends support to oppressive regimes, as in Syria and Sudan. But the refusal to pay the EU’s pointless, extraterritorial and unilateral airline carbon tax is right, even if Chinese doubts about global warming are not.

Still a long slog ahead for U.S. jobs

February 8, 2012

Employment growth in the United States has started picking up. But even at a rate of 250,000 a month, roughly January’s figure, full employment may not be reached until 2020. A new Breakingviews calculator shows how a faster or slower pace of job creation changes that picture.

Harsh IMF approach courts disaster in Romania

February 9, 2012

While the fund goes softly-softly in western Europe, it has imposed draconian conditions on Bucharest. Now the prime minister has resigned and anti-reform forces have been emboldened. Excessive IMF rigour threatens to harm the country’s economy and destabilize a weak democracy.

Pennsylvania sells out cheaply in fracking fight

February 9, 2012

It’s poised to levy a gas tax, ostensibly to cover drilling damages. Pennsylvania has been the nucleus of opposition to fracking and the charge may soften opposition. But with a levy less than half that of other states, the industry still has the upper hand in the Keystone State.

New Petrobras CEO needs to flex political muscle

February 10, 2012

A 52 pct drop in Q4 profit shows what Maria das Graças Foster is up against. The $200 bln Brazilian energy group’s refining losses, exploration bottlenecks and swollen capex budget are more political than operational problems. Foster’s engineering skills alone won’t solve them.

Obama and Xi may make unhappy Valentines

February 10, 2012

Iran, Syria and the yuan will all be on the agenda when the U.S. president meets his likely next Chinese counterpart on Feb. 14. Obama is under pressure to talk tough; Xi to keep cool. It’s a rerun of a similar meeting a decade ago, but pre-election timing adds to the tension.