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Mar 21, 2012
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Vatican bank struggles to be cleansed of past sins

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By Pierre Briançon

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

The failure of the Vatican bank to comply with the basic rule of the Sacrament of Penance is odd. The Holy See’s financial arm has been seeking absolution for past sins for two years, but remains reluctant to confess to what it did wrong. Of all institutions, it should understand that one cannot go without the other.

Mar 16, 2012
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Euro left is powerless against austerity zealots

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By Pierre Briançon

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

There may be some residual skirmishes, but the rear-guard resistance against the euro zone “fiscal compact” doesn’t stand much of a chance.

Mar 14, 2012
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RUSAL oligarch row isn’t about governance

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By Pierre Briançon

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

Viktor Vekselberg is shocked – positively shocked – that the company he has chaired since its inception could find itself in such a “deep crisis”. So he says he is quitting his chairmanship of UC RUSAL, while the Russian aluminium giant’s controlling shareholder, Oleg Deripaska, says he would have fired his former ally anyway. Of course the row has little to do with corporate governance.

Mar 5, 2012
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Deficit target fetishism could deepen EU recession

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By Pierre Briançon

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

The euro zone is turning into a cult whose members think the best way to survive is to chant hymns to austerity to the rhythm of a German tambourine. Having just agreed on the terms of a “fiscal compact” to reinforce budgetary discipline and avoid another life-or-death experiment, some member governments seem to be eager to implement it without waiting. Spain looks set to become the first victim of deficit target fetishism. Other countries could follow. But insisting on corrective measures and even more austerity just to meet targets will cripple the economy, which in turn will make the targets impossible to meet.

Feb 14, 2012
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Chaos in Greece is not just a Greek problem

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By Pierre Briançon and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The Greek parliament has approved yet another austerity package. The governments of the euro zone and investors around the world can just about pretend that all is now well. The agreement on Greek reforms, which opens the way for a package of private creditor concessions and new public money, is supposed to bring the country’s debt back to a sustainable level. But this is little more than wishful thinking. European leaders are sighing with cowardly relief, hoping that they have finally insulated themselves from the Greek problem.

Feb 1, 2012
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Euro zone ill-suited for long-term economic task

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

The fiscal treaty euro zone leaders finally agreed on this week adds a solemn touch to their oft-repeated promises that the days of financial insouciance are over. But most of the treaty’s content had already been passed in EU legislation in October, and all monetary union members were already well on the path to stricter budgets anyway. Now that yesterday’s problem has officially been solved, the euro zone has to tackle the challenge of boosting long-term growth, while two of its members – Greece and Portugal – threaten to turn into economic deserts.

Jan 31, 2012
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EU must learn to cope with new German leadership

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

It wasn’t the most subtle idea ever developed by German diplomats. The suggestion that a special euro zone commissioner might take control of Greece’s budget was met in Athens with predictable outrage. Athens has failed to implement its bailout programme, and hasn’t done anything to combat the scourge of tax fraud. Europeans everywhere are tiring of pouring into Greece the money its own citizens are sending abroad. But the Kommissar proposal’s insensitivity is a reminder that the new lone German leadership of the euro zone will need some adjusting.

Jan 24, 2012
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French socialist picks fight with faceless finance

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By Pierre Briançon

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

French bankers, traders and hedge fund managers should resist the urge to book a one-way flight out of Paris if François Hollande becomes president in May. The French socialist leader has identified the “world of finance” as his main adversary – simultaneously discarding outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy and stealing a theme from his upcoming campaign. Tapping into anti-bank sentiment is a popular political strategy. But the wrath of blind punitive socialist justice isn’t about to descend on French finance. In fact the serious reforms Hollande proposed aren’t particularly scary, and the scary ones he hinted at aren’t serious.

Jan 18, 2012
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France is capable of wasting a good ratings crisis

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By Pierre Briançon

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

France’s two main political parties have greeted the long-expected Standard & Poor’s ratings downgrade in a depressingly familiar way. The socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande said that it was Nicolas Sarkozy’s policies, not France, which was downgraded. In return, the French prime minister Francois Fillon suggested Hollande submit his electoral platform to S&P for evaluation. Bickering and escapism are the order of the day, and France is on track to waste what could have been a good ratings crisis.

Jan 5, 2012
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EU can’t afford to be soft on Hungary

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

A year ago the European Union sat in unease as Hungary took over its rotating six-month presidency term. Viktor Orban, the country’s prime minister, was already starting to make good on the populist promises that had given his party a two-third parliamentary majority. He was taxing foreign companies, threatening banks and silencing the media with a law making “lack of objectivity” an offence. He was also preparing to put serious limits on the central bank’s independence. EU officials and member governments expressed “concerns”, and Orban toned down the rhetoric.

    • 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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