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Jan 4, 2012
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France is heading for a major spring crisis

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

France is heading for a major political and financial crisis in the spring that could dwarf the big Italian euro scare of 2011. Next May’s quasi-simultaneous elections of a new president and parliament may well spark the conflagration.

Jan 4, 2012
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2012: the year citizens will pronounce on the euro

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

Euro zone governments want to save their currency. In 2012, citizens must decide whether they agree. Forget for a moment about the ECB’s bazooka or other instruments of mass disruption. Ignore Italy’s 7 percent bond yields, and debt topping 125 percent of gross domestic product. After a series of national crises or rebellions, and government changes across the European landscape, the euro zone is nearing the crucial moment when its citizens from Lisbon to Leipzig must choose whether they’re ready to do what it takes to keep the single currency alive.

Dec 29, 2011
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Bini Smaghi’s ambiguity advice is welcome

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

On the eve of his departure from the European Central Bank, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi is delivering a welcome reminder of what the modus operandi of such an institution should be: pragmatism in a little bit of mystery. The only thing that counts, Bini Smaghi says in an interview with the Financial Times, is the mandate – price stability. But the central bank can, and should, keep an open mind about the means it uses to accomplish its mission.

Dec 14, 2011
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Prokhorov no torch-bearer for Russia’s reformers

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

Financial markets feel the oligarchs’ pain. This week investors have been punishing companies whose owners are deemed a bit too close to Vladimir Putin. It’s as if they remember the Russian president’s original bargain with the robber barons – you can keep the money, but don’t get near politics. Genuine democratisation could leave Russian billionaires’ past and present deals open to more intense scrutiny than ever before.

Dec 13, 2011
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France is serial loser in unfolding euro drama

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

Once again Nicolas Sarkozy has made the world believe he scored a great success at a European summit. But once again, this was thanks to diverting attention away from the substance of the talks to a third-party drama where he played the tough guy. In the latest instance, he used the opportunity provided by the unprecedented diplomatic amateurishness of a UK prime minister. Sarkozy may have fooled pundits and part of French opinion. But the bigger truth is that France has lost to Germany on all the important arguments about how best to fight the euro crisis.

Dec 12, 2011
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Euro zone gets tighter as Europe splits further

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

In the end, it was neither a bazooka nor a breakup. Those who expected more drama from the euro zone summit may find the potentially far-reaching fiscal reforms agreed by its leaders rather pedestrian. The long-term plan does not address investors’ immediate concerns about some countries’ debt burdens. But together with improved bailout resources, and the European Central Bank’s support of the banking sector, the package could give governments time to prove they have become serious. If, that is, they start implementing the plan quickly.

Dec 9, 2011
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Draghi pours cold water on euro zone grand bargain

By Pierre Briancon and Neil Unmack
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

We’ll take care of the banks; you deal with your debt. That’s the stern message European Central Bank President Mario Draghi chose to send to euro zone governments on the eve of their high-stake summit. By insisting repeatedly on the “spirit” of the European Union’s founding treaties, Draghi has scotched any speculation that the central bank could save the single currency by stepping up its sovereign bond-buying programme.

Dec 8, 2011
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Putin’s Russia may not be so stable after all

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

Any reports of Vladimir Putin’s demise are premature, but alarm bells have started ringing in the Kremlin. It’s only-in-Russia irony – the Russian prime minister’s governing party has just lost a parliamentary election that it rigged. This reinforces the feeling that it can’t even manage autocracy properly. But it also emboldens protesters who can rightly surmise what the result would have been if fraud hadn’t been so obviously massive. The conventional wisdom about the Putin regime has been that it was stable and, partly because of that, popular. The fact that it’s not that popular could soon make it less stable. It may be time for investors to take notice.

Dec 7, 2011
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S&P warning won’t change euro zone equation

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

Standard & Poor’s mass warning was spectacular, but its impact will be limited. The rating agency is threatening to downgrade all the euro zone’s members – with the exception of Greece and Cyprus, which could hardly be punished further – if leaders don’t come up with a credible plan at their summit this week. S&P’s statement may add a little pressure, but it doesn’t change the terms of the euro zone equation. Governments must show that they are serious about fiscal reform in order to clear the way for the European Central Bank to put out the most urgent fires.

Nov 29, 2011
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France isn’t ready for recession

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

France may pay a heavy price for 37 uninterrupted years of budget deficits. Even after two significant rounds of fiscal tightening in the last three months, the government may fall short of its goal of shrinking the deficit to the euro zone-imposed limit of 3 percent by 2013. Markets are already impatient with the country’s half-hearted approach to tackling its structural primary budget deficit. They are likely to become harsher if high government bond yields across the monetary union tip the region’s economy into a recession next year.

    • 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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