Osborne stakes out election ground with little fiscal leeway

By Mike Peacock
March 19, 2014

The annual UK budget is always a big set piece but it’s hard to remember one where there have been fewer advance leaks – indicative of a steady-as-she-goes approach by George Osborne.
Having put so much political capital into reducing the deficit, to switch now at a time when the economy is recovering strongly would be politically risky. And with debt falling only slowly there is little fiscal leeway.

Putin welcomes Crimea in

By Mike Peacock
March 18, 2014

Vladimir Putin has told Russia’s Duma that he has approved a draft treaty to bring Ukraine’s Crimea region into Russia and in doing so continues to turn a deaf ear to the West’s sanctions-backed plea to come to the negotiating table.

Last-ditch talks on Crimea

By Mike Peacock
March 14, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in London, a last chance by the look of it to make diplomatic headway before Sunday’s Crimean referendum on joining Russia which the West says is illegal.

Brazil looking most vulnerable in Latam to any bursting of China’s credit bubble

March 13, 2014

Higher taxes, rising prices, political turbulence. The outlook for Brazil over the next months and years is tough, as Reuters reported on Wednesday, but it could get a lot worse if there is a banking crisis in China, according to the British firm Oxford Economics.

Sanctions loom for Russia

By Mike Peacock
March 13, 2014

The European Union, as we exclusively reported yesterday, has agreed on a framework for sanctions against Russia, including travel restrictions and asset freezes, which goes further than many expected. The list of targeted individuals is still being worked on but will be ready for the bloc’s foreign ministers to look at on Monday.

Odds on Britain leaving EU shift again

By Mike Peacock
March 12, 2014

Kiev has appealed for Western help to stop Moscow annexing Crimea, where a referendum on joining Russia will be held on Sunday. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk will take that message to Washington and the United Nations.

Banking — union or disunion

By Mike Peacock
March 11, 2014

EU finance ministers face the mammoth task of finalizing everything on banking union that was set out in principle by their leaders at a December summit, since when not much has happened. Last night, the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers made little progress bar agreeing that they needed to agree quickly.

Marathon banking union talks

By Mike Peacock
March 10, 2014

Shots were fired at an international team of monitors in Crimea over the weekend, violence flared in Sevastopol as thousands staged rallies and Angela Merkel, who perhaps has the most receptive western ear to Vladimir Putin, rebuked him for supporting a referendum on Ukraine’s southern region joining Russia. But in truth we’re not much further forward or backwards in this crisis.

Weather to make February jobs report a crap-shoot too

March 7, 2014

Blaming bad economic news on winter is getting as tiresome as tales of snarled traffic, flight cancellations and trips out with the snow shovel in freezing winds.

Putin unmoved by carrots or sticks

By Mike Peacock
March 7, 2014

Vladimir Putin said this morning Russia and the United States are still far apart over Ukraine. Moscow, he said, could not ignore “illegitimate decisions” imposed on the east and south of the country and calls for help by ethnic Russians there but the two powers should not sacrifice relations over it.