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from Breakingviews:

Irish politics could complicate EU bailout

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

LONDON -- Ireland's politics could complicate its bailout with potentially devastating consequences. Even though the ruling coalition has applied for financial aid, political turmoil means it may not survive long enough to negotiate a deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund. With years of painful austerity on the way, the desire for a political fresh start is understandable. But any delay could further undermine confidence in the country's fragile banks.

Ireland's government is on life support. The Green party -- the junior member in the ruling coalition -- has promised to withdraw its support from the Fianna Fail party once the bailout is finalised. Meanwhile, two independent parliamentarians on whom the government relies for backing have indicated that they may not even support the crucial budget on Dec. 7. The government's three-seat majority is likely to be reduced to two following a by-election later this week. So the administration may need the support of opposition parties to get the budget through.

Failure to pass this needed round of austerity measures would scupper the bailout -- and throw Ireland into deep financial turmoil. In an effort to defuse the political crisis, Prime Minister Brian Cowen on Nov. 22 promised to call an election once the bailout is agreed. But even this may not be enough. Opposition parties could insist on an immediate election in return for sanctioning more cuts. If that were to happen, a new government would probably not be in place before January.

from Global News Journal:

Cometh the hour, cometh Van Rompuy?

van rompuy2Three months ago, Herman van Rompuy might have struggled to be recognised on the streets of his native Belgium, let alone Paris or London. The bookish former prime minister, a fan of camping holidays and Haiku poetry, was nothing if not low-key; a studious consensus builder in the world of Belgian politics.

Three months on and Van Rompuy, 62, may not outwardly have changed much, but his title and the expectations surrounding him certainly have. In November he was chosen to be the first permanent president of the European Council, the body that represents the EU's 27 leaders, and on Thursday he will host those heads of state and government at an economic summit in Brussels -- the first such gathering he has chaired.

from MacroScope:

Crisis? What Crisis?

The title of this post is taken from two sources. One was a headline in British tabloid, The Sun, in January 1979, when then-prime minister James Callaghan denied that strike-torn Britain was in chaos. The second was the title of a 1975 album by prog rock band Supertramp that famously showed someone sunbathing amidst the grey awfulness of the declining industrial landscape.

Are we now getting blasé about the latest crisis? Not so long ago, perfectly respectable economists and financial analysts were talking about a new Great Depression. The world was on the brink, it was said. Now, though, consensus appears to be that it is all over bar the shouting. The world is safe.

from MacroScope:

Live Blogging G20

Finance ministers from the G20 are meeting in London on Friday and Saturday to discuss the next steps in battling the world's worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Reuters correspondents from around the world will be at the event, taking you behind the scenes and and providing unprecedented coverage through this live blog.