By Pierre Briançon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
MOSCOW – What a difference a plunging ruble makes. A few short days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin was a strategic genius, outplaying Western leaders everywhere – in the Middle East, in China, and especially in Ukraine. Today, he's the destroyer of his country and his political life could be in jeopardy.
The “day of silence” observed this week by the Ukrainian army and its pro-Russian rebel opponents was an event of enormous economic importance for global economics as well as geopolitics.
Is the good life possible without economic growth?
Merely raising the question challenges the conventional contemporary wisdom that a society’s prime goal should be to boost its income continually. But it is one that the West, especially Western Europe, may have to confront. Europe is not just suffering the after-effects of a nasty cyclical downturn, it has probably entered an era of low growth.
With six months to go until the next general election and a few days from an all-important by-election, Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the global economy is at risk from another recession. This came less than a week after the Bank of England said that the UK economy is likely to grow at a healthy 3.5 percent this year and it could even weather the storm from weak growth across the Channel.
A central pillar of George Osborne’s 2014 budget was the announcement that pensioners will no longer have to buy an annuity upon retirement and that they would have more control of their pensions pots, including the freedom to withdraw cash without incurring penalty tax changes.