EU ponders another round of Russia sanctions

By Mike Peacock
January 29, 2015

Ukrainian servicemen sit atop an armored personnel carrier as they patrol Orekhovo village in Luhansk

EU foreign ministers hold an extraordinary meeting today after their leaders have asked them to consider possible new sanctions on Russia. A final decision to impose them is likely to be left to their bosses who meet in next month and again in March.

Russia invites new sanctions

By Mike Peacock
January 28, 2015

Ukrainian servicemen stand guard on a street near the burning building after a shelling by pro-Russian rebels of a residential sector in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian separatists said they had pushed government troops out of two districts on the outskirts of their main stronghold Donetsk and their aim was to expand control to the entire eastern region.

Game on in Greece

By Mike Peacock
January 26, 2015

The head of radical leftist Syriza party Tsipras waves to supporters after winning the elections in Athens

Syriza has fallen tantalisingly short of an overall majority, winning 149 of 300 Greek parliamentary seats and taking 36.3 percent of the vote, 8.5 points ahead of the New Democracy party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in what amounts to a decisive rejection of austerity.

Volatility back with a bang

By Mike Peacock
January 16, 2015

The logo of the SNB is seen at the entrance of the SNB in Bern

Volatility is back with a bang.

The Swiss franc leapt by an unprecedented 40 percent at one point after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its currency cap out of the blue. Oil may have bounced but it’s still down the thick end of 60 percent since mid-2014, dragging the rouble and other oil-producer currencies with it. Copper, generally a barometer of world industrial demand, is barely finding its feet after plunging this week.

Politics to trump law in QE decision

By Mike Peacock
January 15, 2015

Deutsche Bundesbank President Weidmann arrives for the annual news conference in Frankfurt

If the law was the ultimate arbiter, the European Central Bank would have the most verdant of green lights for an unlimited bond-buying programme with new money. In reality, politics and German concerns will dictate.

EU talks investment, Germany balances budget

By Mike Peacock
January 13, 2015

juncker.jpg

The European Commission will unveil legislative proposals for its 315 billion euro investment plan and the findings of a public consultation on the investment elements of a planned EU-U.S. free trade deal which could significantly boost growth.

Europe’s security nightmare

By Mike Peacock
January 9, 2015

Members of the French GIPN intervention police forces secure a neighbourhood in Corcy, northeast of Paris

A massive manhunt continues for two brothers suspected of being the killers of 12 people at a satirical French weekly. The focus is on a large expanse of woodland northeast of Paris.

2015 and all that

By Mike Peacock
December 31, 2014

People watch as confetti falls during the annual "air worthiness" test in preparation for New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square, New York

The last day of the year and all is quiet – but not for long.

Unless the price of oil bounces markedly or Vladimir Putin walks away from Ukraine thereby loosening western sanctions – both unlikely – Russia could be heading for a serious economic fall. Reserves are being burned defending the currency. They are sufficient for now but without hefty tax increases, public spending cuts and/or a higher pension age the outlook for 2016 and beyond is much gloomier.

Russia’s plight

By Mike Peacock
December 22, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting of the Security Council at the Russian defense control center in Moscow

Trying to predict the rouble’s path is a fool’s charter but it’s fairly safe to say it won’t return to a level that will take pressure off the Russian economy. It has opened 2 percent higher versus the dollar in Moscow this morning, mirroring a rise in oil from $60 a barrel.

Putin faces the music

By Mike Peacock
December 18, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow

With a deep recession looming and the nose-diving rouble poised to push inflation through the roof, Russia’s Vladimir Putin faces the music at his end-of-year news conference when he will field questions from a studio audience as well as television viewers.