The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

EU prosperity at stake in crisis disunity

Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

The global financial crisis has been a stark reality check for the European Union, exposing divergences over economic policy and highlighting the European Commission's growing difficulty in enforcing common rules.

The European response to the turmoil shows that most real power still resides with member states, not in Brussels. Even after 50 years of integration, governments instinctively reach for national solutions at the risk of harming EU partners.

The 27 EU leaders, especially the big three of Germany, France and Britain, need to take a deep breath before next week's summit and measure how much damage they could inflict on future prosperity and on Europe's credibility in the world if they continue down this path.

The EU united briefly in October behind a plan to avert a meltdown of the financial system and a call for a global summit to reform financial supervision, incorporating the emerging economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

from The Great Debate:

Credit cards unkindest cut for U.S. consumers

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Government intervention or not, banks will be cutting up America's credit cards at an unprecedented rate, with grave implications for the economy and company profits.

The U.S. Federal Reserve last week added more nutrition to its alphabet soup of rescue programs when it unveiled the Term Asset-backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), under which, among other things, it will lend up to $200 billion to investors in securities backed by credit-card, auto and student loans.

from The Great Debate:

Dollar demise much exaggerated

John Kemp Great Debate-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Perhaps the most surprising development over the last three months has been the surging value of the currency at the heart of the crisis. It is almost as if investors have responded to a fire alarm by running towards the source of the fire.

From a recent low on July 15, the U.S. dollar's trade-weighted value has risen 19 percent. The dollar has been broadly stable against China's yuan (+1 percent) while posting massive gains against the Swiss franc (+20 percent), the euro (+26 percent), the British pound (+35 percent) and the Australian dollar (+52 percent). Only against Japan's yen has the currency slipped marginally (-6 percent).

from FaithWorld:

Did climate change stoke past religious persecution?

A thought-provoking new book on Christianity's "lost history" holds that one of the central causes of 14th century religious persecution may well have been climate change. You can read my interview with author Philip Jenkins about "The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa and Asia -- and How It Died" on the Reuters website here.

"The Chronology of Christian sufferings under Islam closely mirrors that of Jews in Christian states," he writes, noting that "Around 1300, the world was changing, and definitely for the worse."

Few British cheers for euro amid crisis

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paul-taylorPaul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The financial crisis has rallied support for euro adoption in many European countries outside the currency bloc, yet in Britain the discussion is so far confined to a few voices among the policy elite.

The politics of the issue remain as fraught as ever, and Britons appear no more willing to lose monetary sovereignty in a recession than they were in the boom years.

Is Ecommerce losing its immunity to economy woes?

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Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnists. The opinions expressed in this column are his own.

For years, Web retailers have touted their convenience and efficency over conventional retailers, and enjoyed surging double-digit sales growth, especially in the crucial year-end holiday shopping season.    But the steady draining of consumer confidence reflected in recent government data and the latest market research reports suggest the online retail industry is bracing for a humbling first-ever year of flat or even contracting holiday sales.

Tough year ahead for UK plc – but longer term future sound

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Peter Hemington is a Corporate Finance Partner at BDO Stoy Hayward. The views expressed are his own.

peterhemingtonbdo-stoy-haywardOver the past few weeks several business surveys, including our own BDO Business Trends report, have painted a very gloomy picture of the UK economy. Short and medium term business confidence continues to plummet as the credit crunch takes its toll on unemployment figures, the housing market, the ability or desire that banks have to lend and consumer spending.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Mumbai attack and Obama’s plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama of stabilising Afghanistan was not difficult enough, it may have just got much, much harder after the Mumbai attacks soured relations between India and Pakistan -- undermining hopes of finding a regional solution to the Afghan war.

As discussed in an earlier post, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group outside India for the attacks which killed at least 121 people. The coordinated attacks bore the hallmarks of Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says was set up by Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

from The Great Debate:

Light at the end of the tunnel

John Kemp Great Debate-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist.  The opinions expressed are his own --

After more than a year of denial, misdirected policies and a steadily worsening outlook, the past fortnight has witnessed a marked improvement. For the first time, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic that the economy faces a recession rather than a prolonged slump, and recovery could get underway in H2 2009.

Markets share some of that optimism. The Dow Jones Industrial Index has risen 15.5 percent over four consecutive sessions, the most sustained rally since April 2008. It is not yet time to break out the champagne. But there are reasons to start looking through short-term weakness to focus on an eventual, albeit modest, recovery by the end of next year.

from The Great Debate:

Even UK guarantee can’t stop housing crash

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Britain needs to reflate its mortgage markets to save its economy and its banks. Problem is, few want to borrow and there is precious little money to lend.

British property prices are down about 15 percent in a year and mortgage approvals are down 52 percent. Given the freeze in the securitization market and the scarcity of savings in Britain, new net mortgage lending may even fall below zero in 2009, according to James Crosby, former head of UK mortgage bank HBOS, who authored a government report on the mortgage market.

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