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Nov 7, 2014
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Only Putin can stop rouble’s fall

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The rouble is down 28 percent since the beginning of the year. The Central Bank of Russia has not been able to cushion the fall against its chosen dollar-euro reference basket. It is not at fault.

Oct 8, 2014
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Russian central bank intervention is a dead end

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Russian central bank is doing what it can. The problem is that it cannot do much. It spent $1.4 billion on Oct. 3 and 6 to try stemming the rouble’s slide. But the currency keeps falling. Spending foreign exchange reserves can make sense – a little – when markets seem lost in a temporary moment of insanity. And the Russian central bank has $470 billion worth of it to spend. But there is nothing irrational about the rouble’s weakness. Its root causes are the deep flaws of the Russian economy, and the country’s new aggressive foreign policy.

Aug 26, 2014
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France’s housing slump is sign of deeper woes

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

François Hollande could live with a housing bubble. That would at least signal euphoria in a significant part of the French economy. But house prices are declining, a reflection of the depth of the country’s economic woes, and its president’s inability to address them.

Jul 30, 2014
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EU will find Russian sanctions worth the pain

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. 

It took time for European Union leaders to agree on tough economic sanctions against Russia. The EU is slow. Its members have conflicting interests. Their economies don’t all have the same exposure to Russia. Yet they have finally agreed with the United States on a list of measures to punish Russian banks and oil companies. The already weak EU economy will suffer in return. But over time, Europe will find that the sanctions were worth the pain.

Jul 8, 2014
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French persist in dead-end strong-euro moaning

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Once again, a senior executive of Airbus  is complaining about the euro’s strength. Fabrice Brégier, the pan-European aircraft maker’s current boss, told the Financial Times that the European Central Bank should do something about the “crazy” currency, the strength of which is hurting earnings. A few years ago it was Louis Gallois, then chief executive of Airbus’ parent EADS, who regularly vented his frustration with the central bank. Curiously, those complaints are never heard when Airbus or EADS is headed by a German executive.

Jul 2, 2014
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Sarkozy probe latest sign of sick French politics

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.  

France has sunk a little deeper into political paralysis with the corruption probe against Nicolas Sarkozy. The former president, who denies the charges, has been put under formal investigation for trying to convince a judge in France’s highest court to tell him about one of the many judicial probes of his behaviour.

Jul 1, 2014
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BNP’s Prot should go

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Baudouin Prot should go. The French establishment has circled the wagons, and there is little chance that the chairman of BNP Paribas, who was the bank’s chief executive at the time of the criminal activities it just admitted to, will resign or be asked to. He will then fail to do the decent thing after the bank’s unprecedented guilty plea and near-$9 billion fine.

Jun 23, 2014
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Investors beware: France will get more erratic

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The French government didn’t have to buy a 20 percent stake in Alstom. It could have smugly observed that its intervention in the acquisition of the French engineer’s energy assets by General Electric had yielded some success. Pressure from Paris forced GE to rework its offer, giving France a decisive say in the future of Alstom’s nuclear business. With that concession secured, there was no good reason to buy out Alstom’s main shareholder, construction-to-telecom conglomerate Bouygues.

Jun 16, 2014
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Gazprom/Ukraine dispute is proxy for Putin’s whims

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By Pierre Briançon 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Europe has long been used to the perennial drama of “Ukraine versus Gazprom,” but this year’s version is not your run-of-the-mill gas price dispute. Making good on a longstanding threat, Gazprom has said it will deliver gas to Ukraine only if it has been pre-paid. This comes after the Russian energy group failed to settle a dispute with Naftogaz, its Kiev-backed counterpart, over what it claims are more than $4 billion of overdue bills.

Jun 12, 2014
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BNP’s chief operating officer retires. Next?

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By Pierre Briançon

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.  

The only thing missing in the BNP Paribas release announcing the retirement of Chief Operating Officer Georges Chodron de Courcel is that he wanted a new challenge. Otherwise, it is business as usual at France’s largest bank: the long-serving No. 2 was planning to retire in September. He suddenly noticed that a new French law was putting a limit on the number of directorships he could hold, so in fact he will leave at the end of this month. U.S. probe, anyone? Sanctions violations? Multibillion-dollar fine?

    • About Pierre

      "Pierre Briançon is Reuters Breakingviews' Paris correspondent. He joined Breakingviews.com in 2006, after heading the Dow Jones Newswires Paris Bureau Chief for three years. Previously, he had been: business editor of Libération, then the newspaper's Moscow and Washington correspondent; deputy editor of L’Expansion; and a producer/columnist for French radio and TV. He is also the author of Messier Story (2002), on the fall of Vivendi’s former chief executive, Héritiers du désastre (1992) on the collapse of the Soviet Union, and San Quentin Jazz Band (2008)."
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