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Jun 1, 2012
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Review: Nations fail when people can’t hope

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

The book begins in Nogales, a city divided by a fence along the border of Arizona and Mexico, and ends 450 pages later in China, with the story of a young entrepreneur arrested in 2004 for having started a large steel plant competing with the state-owned companies. In between “Why Nations Fail” is a highly readable narrative of a breathtaking trip: from the Neolithic Revolution to 16th century England, from Spain’s Philip II to Stalin, from the Mayan city-states to the Portuguese colonisation of the Moluccan archipelago.

May 24, 2012
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Summit silence on Greece is best option for now

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By Pierre Briançon

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

For once euro zone leaders did the right thing, the very thing they have been unable to do throughout the euro crisis: shut up. Their nine-line communiqué to say nothing on the subject was the only sensible option after their informal dinner Wednesday night. The other alternatives would only have made things worse. And whatever the pundits’ or markets’ expectations may be, it’s better for the euro summiteers to keep mum than to pretend having the answer which only the Greeks can provide.

May 16, 2012
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Hollande-Merkel agenda is more Greece than growth

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By Pierre Briançon

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

With growth on the menu and Greece on their mind, François Hollande and Angela Merkel have reasons to dispense with the usual niceties for their first meeting. The French president chose to fly to Berlin to meet the German chancellor on the very day of his inauguration – and not simply because he wants to smooth over some of the rough edges of the electoral campaign. His trip is also an acknowledgment that there is a fire in the euro house: neither France nor Germany can afford to waste any time before trying to put it out.

May 9, 2012
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Let Germany inflate while others deflate

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By Pierre Briançon

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

The Bundesbank keeps raising concerns about a possible surge of inflation in the euro zone. But the fears are premature at best. The European Central Bank hasn’t failed on that front. While the current 2.7 percent inflation rate is above the ECB’s official goal of “below but close to 2 percent”, it expects to be back on target in early 2013. The question is whether sticking to that stubborn 2 percent goal makes sense as recession threatens.

May 7, 2012
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Hollande won’t have much time to learn on the job

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

The French have chosen a socialist president without any experience of executive power and little taste or knowledge of international matters. When one considers where the certified “experienced” leaders have led Europe in the last three years, this shouldn’t be much of a worry. But if newly-elected François Hollande thinks he can plan for a few months of learning on the job, the situation in Greece is a pressing reminder that he should cut the training period short. 

May 4, 2012
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French banks hope to end balance-sheet shrinking

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By Pierre Briançon

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

BNP Paribas and Société Générale are nearing the end of their crash diets. At least, that’s what the French top banking duo hope after a first quarter in which they shrank their balance sheets following last year’s euro zone-induced funding squeeze.

Apr 26, 2012
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Draghi’s growth babble is no retreat on austerity

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By Pierre Briançon

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

Is it still possible to mention the word “growth” without becoming a hostage in the French presidential campaign? Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, has been hijacked by the French socialist party because he has called for a euro zone “growth compact”. Presidential candidate François Hollande sees it as a sign that his ideas are gaining ground. But Draghi’s statement to the European parliament wasn’t a seismic shift. More important, what he means by growth compact has nothing to do with what Hollande plans to do if elected.

Apr 19, 2012
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IMF’s euro gloom points to right fiscal path

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By Pierre Briançon

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

Euro zone members won’t meet their fiscal targets, but that doesn’t mean they should all force themselves to be even more austere. This is the message that the International Monetary Fund is sending to Europe’s troubled economies. Both disciplinarian central bankers and populist politicians should take note. Austerity remains a must. But too much, too fast will be lethal.

Apr 5, 2012
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Rothschild Anglo-French union secures family grip

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By Pierre Briançon

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

Keep the mystique of the Rothschild name while managing it like a luxury brand: this seems to be the goal of the investment bank’s decision to fold its French and British arms into a single, listed entity.

Mar 23, 2012
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Review: Putting a face on the Kremlin’s autocrat

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

Twelve years after Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin first became president of Russia, we know as little about him as when Boris Yeltsin pulled him from bureaucratic anonymity to make him his last prime minister and successor. And Russians themselves still don’t know: witness both the bizarre popular support he enjoys in parts of the country, and the contemptuous hostility in which he is held by the swelling ranks of his opponents. Is he a Soviet throwback or a Russian moderniser? A statesman or a crook? A closet reformist or a ruthless despot?

    • 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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