Italy could reignite euro crisis

By Hugo Dixon
February 26, 2013

Can the Italians be serious? That is likely to be the reaction of financial markets and the country’s euro zone partners as they ponder a disastrous election result, which could reignite the euro crisis. More than half of those who voted chose one of two comedians: Beppe Grillo, who really is a stand-up comic; and Silvio Berlusconi, who drove Italy to the edge of the abyss when he was last prime minister in 2011. Both are anti-euro populists.

The Bundesbank isn’t mad

By Hugo Dixon
February 18, 2013

The Bundesbank isn’t mad. In a world where it is increasingly fashionable to call for central banks to print money, the German central bank is one of the last bastions of orthodoxy. Although its stance is extreme, it is a useful antidote to the theory that easy money is a cost-free cure to economic ills.

Banks must probe clients’ motives

By Hugo Dixon
February 11, 2013

Should an investment bank worry about a client’s motive when it engages in a complex and potentially suspicious transaction?

Mario Draghi’s poisoned banking chalice

By Hugo Dixon
February 4, 2013

When euro zone governments agreed last year to give the European Central Bank the power to supervise its banks, that looked like another victory for its president Mario Draghi. It is more like a poisoned chalice.

MPS saga not just a local affair

By Hugo Dixon
January 28, 2013

The Monte dei Paschi di Siena saga is not just an Italian affair. Revelations that complex financial transactions used by the country’s third largest bank had the effect of hiding losses are causing a political storm in Italy.

UK faces five years of limbo-land

By Hugo Dixon
January 23, 2013

The UK faces half a decade of limbo-land. David Cameron’s promise of an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by the end-2017— provided he wins the next election – means an extremely long period of uncertainty for business. That will be bad for investment. It also heightens the risk of an eventual “Brexit” – a British exit from Europe – which would be even worse for the economy.

Hugo Dixon: When is it OK to avoid tax?

By Hugo Dixon
January 21, 2013

When is it OK to avoid tax? And when should taxpayers refrain from actions that will cut their bills, even if their actions are perfectly legal? 

EU positive contagion hinges on growth

By Hugo Dixon
January 14, 2013

Mario Draghi didn’t quite coin a new phrase last week. But the European Central Bank president certainly popularised the expression “positive contagion”. After years in which the euro zone has been suffering from plain old contagion – which doesn’t even need the qualifier “negative” – Draghi now thinks a positive dynamic is in play. 

The EU speech Cameron should make

By Hugo Dixon
January 7, 2013

David Cameron is planning a keynote speech on Britain’s relationship with the EU later this month. Here is what the UK prime minister should say.
 
 The euro crisis is forcing euro zone nations to rethink how they wish to run their currency union. It is also forcing European Union countries that don’t use the single currency, such as Britain, to rethink their relationship with Europe.

It’s 20.12.2012; and it’s the end of a magical era

By Hugo Dixon
December 20, 2012

One doesn’t have to be a Mayan to believe that tomorrow represents a numerological end of an era. Apocalyptic visions stem from reading the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar. But even using the widely used Gregorian Calendar, there’s something special about today: 20.12.2012.