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Nov 28, 2011
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Italy shakes off the Berlusconi stigma

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

France and Germany are going out of their way to show how the change of Italian prime minister has changed the way they treat Italy. The Nov. 24 three-way meeting between Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Mario Monti seems mostly designed to demonstrate that Rome is back in the top troika, after months of conflicts over the reforms needed to get Italy out of its funk. The fresh diplomatic context doesn’t solve Italy’s problems. But it will help strengthen Monti at home, as he tries to push through difficult reforms.

Nov 22, 2011
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France, Germany could agree on ECB’s euro role

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

Everyone is a back-seat central banker in the euro zone these days. Well-wishers are flooding Mario Draghi, the new president of the European Central Bank, with advice on how to rid the world of its misery. French government officials have joined the chorus, insisting that the ECB should be “part of the solution” to the euro crisis. So far the ECB is sticking to its longstanding line – it is up to governments to sort out the mess they created. Germany agrees. This doesn’t mean it is on a collision course with France. A deal could even be in the works.

Jul 20, 2011
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Three questions the Greek debt summit must answer

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

LONDON — The best signal that the euro zone may be nearing a Greek debt deal is that its leaders have decided to hold a summit. With investors questioning Europe’s determination to tackle its debt problems, ending the high-profile meeting on an inconclusive note would be unconscionable. But how should success be gauged? That depends on the answer to three key questions.

May 23, 2011
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Lagarde is wrong choice to head IMF

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

By Pierre Briançon

Speaking fluent English and being European shouldn’t be the only two qualities required of a managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Yet some of the IMF’s major shareholders — many European members, probably the United States, and possibly China — seem to agree that Christine Lagarde should head the institution now that Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned. Yet after four years spent as French finance minister, it’s hard to see what qualifies her for this job, save for fawning by the international media.

Mar 7, 2011
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Arnault bags Bulgari for expensive 3.7 bln euros

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

LONDON — In the last few years Bulgari has stood out as the luxury goods industry’s most famous officially-not-for-sale takeover target. The Italian jeweller and watchmaker is tightly controlled by a family who kept protesting, as recently as last year, that it wasn’t about to relinquish control. But money talks, and it looks like Bernard Arnault found a number that couldn’t be refused.

Mar 4, 2011
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Renault should stick to carmaking — not sleuthing

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

LONDON — There was a funny smell about Renault’s espionage case from the start. In January, the French carmaker fired the top three executives in charge of its electric-car programme, alleging that the trio had taken bribes in an espionage case. Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn went on national TV to say it was “serious”. Now it looks like the only damage Renault may have to worry about is self-inflicted.

Feb 22, 2011
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IMF tarnished by praise of ousted despots

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

LONDON –  Less than two weeks ago, the International Monetary Fund’s executive board — its highest authority — assessed a North African country’s economy and “commended” its government for its “ambitious reform agenda”. The IMF also “welcomed (its) strong macroeconomic performance and the progress on enhancing the role of the private sector”, and “encouraged” the authorities to continue on that promising path. By unfortunate timing, that country was Libya. The IMF mission to Tripoli had somehow omitted to check whether the “ambitious” reform agenda was based on any kind of popular support.

Feb 11, 2011
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End of Mubarak rule isn’t end of problem

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

By Pierre Briançon

This won’t be the best of weekends for Middle Eastern autocrats. The forced departure of Egypt’s 30-year president Hosni Mubarak, less than 24 hours after he pledged to stay in power, gives victory to the Tahrir square protesters. Other dictators will worry about the trend. After all, it was only last month that the Tunisian despot Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from office.

Feb 9, 2011
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Weber exit won’t reduce Germany’s influence on ECB

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

LONDON — Axel Weber’s exit wouldn’t reduce Germany’s influence over the European Central Bank. News that the Bundesbank chief isn’t likely to be on the list of candidates to replace Jean-Claude Trichet in October has more bearing on the euro zone’s politics than on its monetary policy. Whatever the identity of its future president, the ECB’s near-term future will remain firmly anchored in the hawkish, German-inspired orthodoxy that presided over the euro’s creation 11 years ago.

Jan 5, 2011
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EU must pressure Hungary into policy change

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

The Hungarian government is taxing foreign companies and nationalising its private pensions to fill its coffers. It has taken forceful steps to muzzle the media, tame the courts and subjugate the central bank. This could hardly be a worse moment for Hungary to take over the chairmanship of the European Union. Doesn’t Europe have enough problems of its own?

    • 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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