Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Baroness Ashton: I don't know any oligarchs. Mary Riddell , The Telegraph (en)
" ... A novice. Scant international experience. The criticisms levelled at the new European Trade Commissioner suggest that the UK has produced a homegrown Sarah Palin. Baroness Cathy Ashton is sanguine about the barbs.

UK to be worst hit by European recession. Bruno Waterfield in Brussels, and Harry Wallop , The Telegraph (en)
" ... Unemployment will increase by 25 per cent next year to hit 2.25 million, the budget deficit will spiral, and the economy will contract by a full 1 per cent, according to the European Commission. According to European Union economic forecasts, Gordon Brown, once praised as a "prudent" role model for other high-spending European governments, will be presiding, by 2010, over one of Europe's highest rates of public debt at the same as Britain's economy shrinks ...
... The expected continuation of the downward correction in house prices will also weaken the collateral value of housing for secured borrowing, thus compounding the ongoing tightening for credit conditions," the Commission said.
"Private consumption will be dampened further as household spending responds to falling employment as well as to net falls in housing and financial wealth " ... "

The French find our local obsessions simply ridiculous. Dominic Lawson, The Independent (en)
" ... The Frenchman in the Eurostar lounge threw the international edition of his English newspaper aside and asked me a question I found difficult to answer. "Tell me, when the Americans are about to decide on their President, and the markets are still collapsing, and mass murder is about to take place in the Congo, why is the biggest story in this newspaper about people who don't matter at all?" ..."

Saudis will help stricken economies, says Brown. The Times (en)
" ... Privately Saudi officials have acknowledged that in recent decades the state has failed to invest in the country’s infrastructure and public services and now want to rectify this. They intend to invest in education and skills, as well as to improve the living conditions of ordinary families.

French call for eurozone summits wins scant support. Tony Barber, The FT (en)
" ... several European Union finance ministers said Mr Sarkozy’s proposal, though it had merits, struck them as misguided and possibly motivated by a desire to question the independence of the European Central Bank ...
... However, some countries acknowledge that France has a point when it argues that meetings of eurozone leaders would help plug a possible gap in European policymaking next year, when the EU’s rotating presidency will be held by two non-eurozone states – the Czech Republic and Sweden ..."

Leftwing French district falls into red. Ben Hall, The FT (en)
" ... Claude Bartolone, a Socialist who deposed the hard left as council leader this year, said 98 per cent of the district’s debts of €864m ($1,094m, £690m) were in the form of “toxic” loans, or structured products linked to the US, Swiss and Japanese currencies. The costs of servicing the debt could easily double to €80m a year as a result, said Mr Bartolone.
Seine-Saint-Denis is believed to be one of only half a dozen French local authorities that converted nearly of all their standard loans into derivative products ..."

Spanish unemployment jumps. Victor Mallet , The FT (en)
" ... More than 6,000 people lost their jobs each day in Spain last month as the economic downturn deepened and unemployment rose for the seventh month in a row to reach 2.82m, according to official statistics released on Tuesday ..."

European Union to Be Led by Former Soviet Satellite. Dan Bilefski, The NYT (en)
" ... But instead of welcoming the opportunity for this country of 10 million to shepherd the world’s biggest trading bloc, the fiery Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has invoked the Munich agreement of 1938, when the European powers helped to carve up Czechoslovakia.
He said in late October that the Czech presidency would be “insignificant” since Europe, now as then, was controlled by France, Germany, Italy and Britain. Czech politicians, he warned, should not think they could change anything ...

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