Qatar’s debt bonanza stores up problems for future

May 27, 2016

Too much of a good thing could be bad for the Gulf state. It has just raised a whopping $9 billion in the bond market thanks to investors’ hunger for yield. Loading up on debt will help Qatar cope with lower energy prices, but just dodges its biggest problem: lavish spending.

Darkening German economy could be Merkel’s nemesis

February 9, 2016

Falling industrial production and weak exports suggest emerging markets may be chipping away at Germany’s economic miracle. Chancellor Angela Merkel has ridden out a refugee crisis. But if economic weakness is allowed to reach labour markets, her political fate could be sealed.

UK’s Osborne is less austere than he makes out

November 25, 2015

Finance minister George Osborne isn’t quite the budget zealot his Nov. 25 spending cuts suggest. The UK has run bigger deficits relative to GDP than France during his tenure. He has also executed tax and spending U-turns when required. It helps that gilt investors buy the hype.

France can afford budget-busting security spend

November 17, 2015

Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the deficit is bound to miss EU targets as security spending rises after the Paris attacks. Brussels is unlikely to kick up a fuss over this exceptional overspending. Nor will investors, who are used to serial French fiscal slippage.

India’s infrastructure push could be envy of West

March 2, 2015

The government has pushed back its deficit reduction target in order to boost spending on roads, rail and power. New Delhi is now unmistakably pursuing a public investment-led growth strategy. It’s an opportunity that rich nations, which can borrow far more cheaply, are missing.

Germany’s economic miracle is past its peak

October 22, 2014

Germans are flirting with a recession that may usher in a new era of feeble growth in Europe’s largest economy. Many reasons for past performance are fading away, and misguided policies add extra burdens. Angela Merkel can still change tack before it’s too late.

Australia’s mistimed austerity could boomerang

May 12, 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott wants to raise taxes on top incomes and cut welfare. But tightening the government’s belt as the mining boom fades could prompt people to consume less, or borrow more against fickle housing wealth. With public debt low, a fiscal correction is untimely.

U.S. jobs rout should give fiscal hawks pause

July 8, 2011

The latest U.S. jobs report should give fiscal hawks pause. With economists expecting employment to rise by a modest 100,000 in June, the piddling increase of 18,000 proved a bitter blow for a country amid the throes of an austerity debate.

Timing of S&P U.S. downgrade couldn’t be better

August 7, 2011

The Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States couldn't have come at a much better time.

UK budget deserves lukewarm applause

March 22, 2012

George Osborne has trimmed income tax for the very rich and less well-off, and further eased the burden on corporations. But fiscal restraints mean that what the UK chancellor gives with one hand, he has to take with the other. Rebuilding Britain’s finances remains a long road.