Centre-left may have UK election edge

January 5, 2015

Britain’s three main parties are weak. Its two nationalist groups are stronger. The economy might help the in-power Tories – or give voters confidence to swing left. If they also want public spending, a new Breakingviews calculator suggests a Labour-led coalition could win sway.

Europe returns to Franco-German axis of neurosis

January 2, 2015

A prolonged economic slump highlights Europe’s core problem: a crisis in the French-German partnership. Populist parties are rising and the UK could leave the EU. Although many countries still want to join, it’s up to Paris and Berlin to make the case for a rejuvenated Europe.

Vienna offers a model for stable foreign policy

December 31, 2014

The 1815 Congress of Vienna ended the Napoleonic Wars, and its participants worked together over the next decade to prevent destabilizing regime change. This principle could have reversed many bad intervention decisions over the last 40 years. Its lessons are worth studying.

Accounting fraud is ripe for fresh scrutiny

December 30, 2014

Dodgy numbers will replace insider trading as U.S. watchdogs’ preferred prey in 2015. New auditing and analytics arms give the SEC a head start, even if SarbOx reforms make cases harder to track down. With the likes of SAC chastened, it makes sense to refocus on the next Enron.

Bad ideas catching up with Latin America in 2015

December 29, 2014

For four years, the region has mostly lagged world economic growth. The IMF predicts another year of the same. While Pacific-oriented countries will shine, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela will suffer. With a couple of exceptions, misguided policies are coming home to roost.

Ukraine crisis forced into suspended animation for 2015

December 29, 2014

Markets worried about Europe’s economy in 2014. They will worry about Europe’s security in 2015. EU sanctions over Ukraine will weigh heavily on Russia’s economy. A lot depends on Vladimir Putin, but Europeans need to define what they want sanctions to achieve.

Review: Fixing the CIA – a novel approach

December 26, 2014

Could an outsider best reform the CIA in the wake of torture revelations? In David Ignatius’ novel “The Director,” a pro-privacy tech CEO tries to drag an agency that has lost its way into a new world of tighter rules, leaky secrets and cyberthreats. Good idea, uneven results.

Uncle Sam stoked to hash out marijuana in 2015

December 24, 2014

Now that four U.S. states and D.C. have legalized recreational cannabis, commerce and safety warrant better regulation. But federal rules prohibiting the drug create obstacles. For the fledgling industry to mellow, Washington needs to tweak laws to consent to states’ will.

Euro zone will flit between crisis and catharsis

December 24, 2014

Elections in Greece or Spain could trigger fresh crises. Populist parties are on the rise, the economy is stalling and governments are paralyzed by their divisions. On the other hand, the euro zone has stronger banks and an activist ECB. There is cause for hope, but it is tiny.

Even a weaker Islamic State will drag on economy

December 23, 2014

Cheap oil may now be the biggest worry for Middle Eastern economies, but the struggle against the radical group also has the potential to undermine growth. Even if IS has peaked, its ideology remains a problem, especially for Iraq and Turkey. Iran could end up gaining ground.