The Great Debate UK

from Global News Journal:

Does Greece really deserve such a market pummelling?

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So there's no question Greece has work to do to improve its bookkeeping.

Not only must it get spending in check,  but it needs to be a bit more honest about where its finances stand in the first place. After all, it's not often an EU country says one month that its budget deficit is a little over three percent of GDP and admits a few weeks later that, oh dear, it's actually nearer 13 percent.

Yet it's hard not to have a little sympathy for Greece at the same time.

Its government bonds have been hammered and the price it has to pay to finance its debt has soared as financial markets have relentlessly taken it to task over the past six weeks for its profligacy.

The yield on 10-year Greek government bonds over dependable German Bunds (the spread) rose to more than 400 basis points -- a euro-era record -- at one point last week, meaning Greece had to offer a 4-percentage-point premium over Germany to entice people to buy its debt, offering a yield of more than 7 percent. That obviously increases its debt financing costs and leaves it even more in a fiscal hole than it needs to be at a time when it's trying to raise more than 50 billion euros to finance the budget -- and when finances are already under pressure following the economic crisis.

Undoubtedly some of that 400-point spread was justified. It's clear that Greece is not Germany when it comes to the administration of public finances.

from Global News Journal:

Russia’s security proposals – about much more than security

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medvedevWestern responses to President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new European-Atlantic security body that stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok have ranged from dismissive to lukewarm. None have been enthusiastic.

But some inside and outside Russia argue it would be unwise for Europe and the United States to reject the proposal out of hand, not least because, as one Russian official put it, this is one of the few occasions where Russia isn’t disagreeing but coming up with something constructive.

from UK News:

Is Blair the man for the EU job?

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BLAIR/Once he was regarded as an obvious front-runner for the job of EU president, then it was pointed out that it was unlikely anyone would be chosen from a country that is not in the eurozone, not in the Schengen border-free area and which has an exemption to the bloc's charter of fundamental rights.

Ah, but if you don't choose someone with proven political clout to fight Europe's corner, a G2 of China and the United States will have things all their own way soon, declared Foreign Secretary David Miliband over the weekend.

from Global News Journal:

YOUR TURN TO ASK: Karel De Gucht, EU humanitarian aid chief

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** This post is from Alertnet, the Thomson Reuters Foundation's global  humanitarian news Web site.**

Earthquakes, floods, the global recession and recurrent famines have been keeping aid professionals across the world as busy as ever. Such crises hit poor countries the hardest, focusing increasing attention on preventing and preparing for disasters rather than dealing with their devastating aftermath.

Why Britain must deliver enduring constitutional reform

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lester- Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC is a leading constitutional and human rights lawyer. The views expressed are his own -

Almost alone on the democratic world, we British have no written constitution protecting our basic civil and political rights. We have no constitutional charter defining the scope of the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government or the relationship of these branches with the European Union (EU). Parliament struggles to assert its power while the government uses its ancient monarchical authority — that is the prerogative power vested in the Queen — to exercise its executive powers.

Wrong, wrong and wrong again – a response to “Latvia: let the lat go”

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morten-hansen1- Morten Hansen is a guest columnist, the views expressed are his own. He is head of the economics department at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga -

The debate for or against a Latvian fixed exchange rate rages on. There are good pieces of analyses on both sides of the debate, there are less good ones, there are mediocre ones – and then there is Jonathan Ford’s “Latvia: let the lat go” from 29 July.

Reining in Lloyds

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paul-taylor– Peter Thal Larsen and Paul Taylor are Reuters columnists. The views expressed are their own –

Sir Win Bischoff appears to relish a challenge. His brief spell as chairman of Citigroup was spent resisting regulators who wanted to break up the bank. If the veteran banker takes over as chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, his first fight will be with competition authorities in Brussels. This is one battle where it would be better if Sir Win did not live up to his name.

Europe votes conservative in crisis

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paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Europe’s voters trust conservatives more than the left to handle the most severe financial and economic crisis since World War Two.

What European election campaign?

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Richard Whitaker- Richard Whitaker is a lecturer in European politics at the University of Leicester, UK. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Europe rarely features highly in European election campaigns in Britain. In the 2004 campaign the word Euro more often than not referred to a football tournament rather than the single currency. And for at least two reasons, we shouldn’t expect European integration to be much discussed.

Reasons to Vote in the EU Elections

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colin_pritchard_edit- Professor Colin Pritchard is a Research Professor in the School of Health & Social Care, Bournemouth University, whose research is increasingly linking problems of deteriorating human health and the wider environment. The opinions expressed are his own. -

One reason to vote in the EU elections is that on June 6, 1944 Europe was a slaughterhouse – the second time within 30 years. The EU may be imperfect but in the last analysis is one of the greatest progressive achievements of the 20th century, as it seeks to achieve the great political trilogy of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and, albeit hesitatingly, seeks to implement the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

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