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.

Portugal’s ropey bank rescue comes home to roost

November 16, 2015

The “good bank” part of bust lender BES needs another 1.4 bln euros, EU regulators say. If it ends up being sold cheaply, fellow banks that part-financed its rescue could suffer. Had Lisbon taken a tougher line with senior creditors last year, it would be in less of a mess.

Dixon: Syrian peace process offers hope post-Paris

By Hugo Dixon
November 16, 2015

After the attacks, outside powers called for a ceasefire followed by a political transition. A big obstacle is that Russia and America don’t agree on what should happen to Assad. But it’s the best chance to end the war, crush Islamic State and solve the refugee crisis.

Paris attacks can both unify and cleave Europe

November 14, 2015

Deadly assaults across the French capital have sparked the sort of international solidarity which could help Europe surmount recent acrimony over issues such as migration. But the fears they generate may shape debates about security and cultural integration in ways that divide.

Barcelona at risk of being the Montreal of Spain

November 13, 2015

The uncertainties surrounding regional separatism contributed to the economic problems of Canada’s second city. The tensions of Catalonian nationalism could also harm its capital city. There’s no clear evidence of exodus yet, but Catalan politicians would be foolish to ignore the risk.

Catalonia’s risky secession threat may backfire

November 10, 2015

The Spanish region’s government has started a process of “disconnecting”, despite a doubtful mandate and a constitution that forbids a referendum. The plan is unlikely to win much international support, but may provoke Madrid into cutting off financing. Investors will steer well clear.

Portugal dangles between stasis and crisis

November 9, 2015

A group of left-wing parties could replace Portugal’s minority government after a key vote on Nov. 10. This communist-backed coalition could repeal reforms and make the country ineligible for ECB bond-buying. Or it may prove weak, in which case a damaging stalemate could follow.

Modi chooses awkward time for UK rock star welcome

November 9, 2015

India’s prime minister will address a crowd of 60,000 at London’s Wembley Stadium this week. Courting the diaspora makes sense. But the rapturous welcome is out of tune with UK-India business ties and a big local election defeat at home, where Modi mania is definitely over.

Boardroom gender targets only do half the job

November 4, 2015

Bonuses paid to City executives should be linked to how many senior women they employ, according to a review commissioned by the UK government. The idea probably has more merits than drawbacks. But promoting women to the highest echelons may be easier than retaining them.

Dixon: Tsipras’ biggest stress tests yet to come

By Hugo Dixon
November 2, 2015

A central bank verdict that the top Greek lenders must raise only 14.4 billion euros is welcome news for the prime minister. But he has to implement more tough measures before he can secure debt relief from his euro zone creditors. Until then, he faces political risks.