The Great Debate UK

Ben Bernanke could teach the EU a thing or two

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By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.

Markets thrive on certainty. Anything that smacks of uncertainty, fence-sitting or indecision will lead to market turbulence, as investors punish those who don’t tell them how it is.

This is exactly what we are seeing in Europe right now. The markets are losing patience with the EU’s inability to come up with a credible plan to fight the sovereign debt crisis and that is why it is escalating at an alarming rate.

In general, investors in credit markets are a canny bunch. Bond spreads between Germany and Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy have already blown out, but in recent days spreads between Germany and France, Belgium and even Austria have increased to their widest level for more than two years.

So what does this all mean? In short it suggests that bond investors are going off Europe, even those members who were previously considered safe are no longer out of harm’s way. The credit markets are turning against the political make-up of the currency bloc and until concrete changes are made to the structure of the euro zone the pressure on European credit markets is unlikely to abate.

from MacroScope:

Banking on a Portuguese bailout?

portgualprotest.jpgReuters polls of economists over the last few weeks have come up with some pretty firm conclusions about both Ireland and Portugal needing a bailout from the European Union.

Portuguese 10-year government bond yields have hovered stubbornly above 7 percent since the Irish bailout announcement, hitting a euro-lifetime high and giving ammunition to those who say Lisbon will be forced into a bailout.

from Global News Journal:

Croatia must read European Union signals carefully

The European Commission told Croatia this week that its negotiations to join the European Union have reached their "final" stage. Sounds promising, considering how reluctant many EU governments are to admit any new members at a time when the bloc is coping with financial difficulties.

But there was another, more subtle message in the text of the Commission's annual progress report on EU hopefuls. And it read quite  differently.

Regulatory gaps let banks off the bonus hook

– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

By Peter Thal Larsen

Investment banks have reined in their worst pay excesses. But inconsistent enforcement of bonus rules in the United States and Europe means some are still getting away with bad behaviour. If banks and regulators can’t agree common standards, they risk another political backlash.

German elections bring forward a possible stalemate situation for EMU

-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

Next month’s UK general election is not the only one of significance in Europe. There is the possibility that the German regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 9 could result in the end of the CDU/FDP government’s majority in the upper house of parliament.

from Global News Journal:

If Greece’s debt dam breaks, who gets wet?

The 16 countries that share the euro single currency have agreed they will help Greece out if it needs. So far so good. But only now is the nitty-gritty of how member states will go about paying for their contributions being hammered out. And suddenly things are getting a little complicated.

Italy announced on Tuesday it would have to issue government bonds -- known as BTPs --  to raise funds for its part in any Greek assistance. 

What’s next in EMU after Greece deal?

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Jane Foley-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The European Union has finally agreed that an Economic and Monetary Union member country in serious fiscal difficulties will be able to receive bi-lateral assistance from its Eurozone partners as well as draw support from the International Monetary Fund.

from Global News Journal:

Can a European diplomatic service really work?

As experiments in political unity go, Europe's External Action Service takes some beating.

The budding diplomatic corps of the European Union, with a name that sounds like an off-shoot of Britain's SAS, is supposed to represent the unified interests of the EU's 27 member states to the rest of the world.

from Global News Journal:

EU to tackle gender pay inequality

By Sangeeta Shastry

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

Men are still paid more than women in Europe but the European Union is promising to narrow the gap.

The executive European Commission set out its plans to address the pay gap between men and women at a news conference to coincide with International Women's Day, saying women were on average earning only 82 percent of male rates in the EU.

The spoils of EU reform

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eu- Alain Délétroz is Vice President Europe at the International Crisis Group, www.crisisgroup.org. The opinions expressed are his own. -

There is a sumptuous feast happening in Brussels, but some are better fed than others. What to many may seem an indigestible alphabet soup of new EU institutions dealing with foreign policy after the Lisbon treaty, is actually a smorgasbord of patronage, favour and influence.

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