Are the Tories and Labour the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of UK politics? In most things, there’s not much to choose between the UK parties’ economic election pledges. Both want to cut the deficit gradually. Both want to splash out on the National Health Service. And both have a smattering of silly micro-policies. The big differences are that Labour would tax the rich more and the Tories might take Britain out of the European Union.
Hugo Dixon is Editor-at-Large, Reuters News. The opinions expressed are his own.
Greece has two weeks to produce some red meat.
The default scenario is off the table for the time being after Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister, confirmed the country would meet a payment to the International Monetary Fund on April 9. But with more payments looming, the fear of bankruptcy will be back by late April if Greece doesn’t come up with some substantial reforms.
There are two schools of thought about how the euro zone should play its negotiations with Alexis Tsipras, the new Greek prime minister. One is that other leaders and the European Central Bank should back him into a corner. The other is that they should give the radical left Syriza leader time.
Matteo Renzi’s position has been strengthened by Italy’s presidential election. The prime minister persuaded the electoral college, made up mainly of parliamentarians, to choose Sergio Mattarella – against the wishes of Silvio Berlusconi, the media magnate, former prime minister and up to now Renzi’s quasi-partner.
A possible bank run is Greece’s Achilles’ heel.
The country probably won’t be forced out of the euro. But there is a scenario where this could happen. This involves Syriza, the radical-left party, winning the upcoming election and then running out of time before it can perform the policy U-turn necessary to keep its creditors on side. Depositors might then panic.