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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?

Dec 31, 2010
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Khodorkovsky verdict shows Putin still rules

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

LONDON — There was no surprise after all. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian billionaire who ran afoul of Vladimir Putin, was handed the maximum sentence after a 22-month sham trial based on the same facts that had already landed him an eight-year prison term. The former head of oil giant Yukos will remain in jail until 2017. Those who were hoping that Russia might take the opportunity to send the signal that it is getting closer to a rule of law will have to wait — maybe for a long time.

Dec 17, 2010
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EU clouds bailout scheme in appropriate fuzziness

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

LONDON — You’ve got to know when to show ‘em — and now is not the time. In a nutshell this is the message to investors from European Union leaders in spite of investors’ eagerness to see the details of the permanent bailout mechanism being introduced in 2013. This week’s Brussels summit agreed on a small but significant treaty amendment that makes it possible to aid a euro zone member in financial difficulties. The words chosen are deliberately vague. This is partly the result of divisions. But it is also intentional: keeping markets guessing is the best thing governments can do for the moment.

Dec 10, 2010
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Wikileaks exposes corporate cowardice

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

LONDON — Will Visa Europe prevent its clients from subscribing to the Guardian? Will Mastercard allege it can’t handle payments to the New York Times because its behavior is “illegal?” That would be ridiculous. Yet the two credit card giants have been the latest to cut off Wikileaks for supposed unlawful behaviour in what looks like a pandering to U.S. sensitivities. This is hardly taking a stand: they don’t go against the two influential newspapers — or their equivalent in France, Spain and Germany — which published the contents of the 250,000-odd U.S. diplomatic cables. It is corporate cowardice.

Dec 9, 2010
via Newsmaker

Europe can’t afford to ignore IMF warning

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

LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters Breakingviews) — Dominique Strauss-Kahn is stepping up his criticism of Europe, and Europe should listen. The director general of the International Monetary Fund is a skilled politician and uses words with caution. He wants the euro zone to adopt a more comprehensive approach to the debt crisis. He says its piecemeal methods have a limited shelf life. This comes after the IMF suggested that the zone’s bailout fund should be enlarged and be more flexible, as Reuters revealed at the weekend.

Dec 7, 2010
via Breakingviews

Hermes can’t deal with LVMH by stiffing minorities

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

LONDON — The Hermes family thinks it has been wronged. But in its fight against an unwanted shareholder, it seems intent on sacrificing the French luxury group’s remaining minority investors.

    • 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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