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De Volkskrant - Netherlands | 01/04/2015

ABN Amro bank should stay in state's hands

The Dutch government will make a new attempt at privatising the state-owned bank ABN Amro after its top managers decided not to accept controversial pay rises, Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced on Sunday. The left-liberal daily De Volkskrant sees the privatisation as a bad move: "The distrust is the result of the combination of a scapegoat mentality (the banks caused the crisis so they should pay for it), justified concerns (they've learned nothing from their mistakes: are they leading us into the next crisis?) and a sense of injustice (must they earn so much?). … As long as the distrust of the banks remains so strong and the financial world so unstable, everything speaks in favour of leaving ABN Amrom in the hands of the state. … This would give ABN Amro the chance to work out a stable strategy for the future and regain the public's trust." (01/04/2015)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland | 01/04/2015

ECB spread fears of deflation prematurely

According to a report published by EU statistics agency Eurostat on Tuesday, prices in the Eurozone dropped only minimally in March. The liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees this as evidence that the warnings of deflation were exaggerated, along with Mario Draghi's quantitative easing policy: "The main reason why the inflation rate has probably already bottomed out is the energy prices. The plunge in oil prices slowed inflation and drove it into the negative numbers in December. But in the meantime this trend has ended and most prognoses foresee steady inflation. … The most recent mood indicators are hitting higher levels than they have been for a long time. The ECB is therefore in danger of pursuing a pro-cyclical policy with all its side-effects in a quest to chase away a deflation that is already beating a retreat. It looks like it fired off its 'bazooka' needlessly and prematurely." (01/04/2015)

Diário Económico - Portugal | 30/03/2015

Better rating in election year unrealistic

The US rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Fitch have held out the prospect of upgrading Portugal's credit rating, which is currently still at junk status. The liberal daily Diário Económico doesn't believe the upgrade will come in the election year: "Luckily for Portugal and other Eurozone states the money euphoria we are experiencing thanks to the ECB is making the agencies' risk assessment less relevant. But that will change. When the discussion about the planned timing of the rise in our credit rating first began, Prime Minister Passos Coelho prudently dampened expectations. … Only the confused could really hope for a revision slap in the middle of an election year. Particularly since all the indicators are pointing to the structural reform programme slowing down. … And that at a time when achieving the agreed deficit reduction target seems a tall order and the debt burden is at 130 percent of the GDP." (30/03/2015)

Financial Times - United Kingdom | 30/03/2015

Western European immigrants finally coming to UK

According to a new study in the last five years a dwindling number of Eastern Europeans but an increasing number of West Europeans emigrated to the UK compared to the years before. This is good for the economy and the Conservatives should use it as a selling point in the election campaign that is just getting started, the liberal daily Financial Times points out: "The critical point is that the British economy depends on the UK attracting substantial numbers of highly-skilled Europeans to work in the City, the corporate world and the scientific community. The Migration Observatory's data show that the recent flow of migrants from 'old Europe' have precisely the kind of senior and skilled backgrounds that UK business and industry needs. This is good news. If the Tories ditched their simplistic net migration target they would be better placed to broadcast." (30/03/2015)

Svenska Dagbladet - Sweden | 30/03/2015

Grexit could strengthen euro

Greece exiting the Eurozone could actually strengthen the euro, writes Stefan Fölster of the pro-employee Reform Institute in the conservative daily Svenska Dagbladet: "While we bury our heads in the sand, like Greece, the crisis continues. Because a majority of the Greeks live in a fantasy world where growth and jobs are created in precisely the way many Swedes dreamed of in the 1990s before the crisis. … If Greece can make up its mind to reform this would be a major success for cooperation within the monetary union. If Greece is thrown out it will also be a kind of success. The Eurozone would thus define itself as a club of countries that are capable of reform when necessary." (30/03/2015)

Novi List - Croatia | 30/03/2015

End of milk quota bad news for Croatia's farmers

The EU's milk quota will end on April 1 after 31 years in force. While large producers are rubbing their hands in glee many small Croatian farmers will lose their livelihoods, the left-liberal daily Novi List fears: "The Irish will celebrate the end of the milk quota with a big party. As of Wednesday European milk production will be left to the rules of the free market. Above all the big producers will benefit from the freedom to produce as much milk as they want. The Irish plan to double the volume of milk produced in the next ten years. Everyone's in the starting blocks but us. No one is celebrating here in Croatia. People are awaiting the end of the milk quota with trepidation because things don't look good for small farmers: many won't survive the imports of cheap milk from abroad." (30/03/2015)

Gazeta Polska Codziennie - Poland | 27/03/2015

Euro would be fatal for Poland

The Polish presidential candidate of the national conservative party PiS, Andrzej Duda, has warned in his election campaign against introducing the euro on the grounds that - as in Slovakia - such a move would cause food prices to rise rapidly. The conservative daily Gazeta Polska Codzienna also warns of the risks the single currency entails: "For Poland, where the average per capita monthly income is a shameful 1,340 złoty [335 euros], introducing the euro would be tantamount to suicide. The cost of living would increase massively. Furthermore our exports would lose their competitive edge. And they, in turn, are the key factor for economic growth. In addition, it would then no longer be possible to influence markets by setting a fixed exchange rate. And that would strip us of an important financial policy instrument. The liberal-conservative governing party PO believes we should abandon the złoty. This shows that they've lost touch with reality." (27/03/2015)

Diena - Latvia | 27/03/2015

Latvia right to introduce the euro

Latvia's Economics Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola said in a televised interview this week that the Baltic state would have avoided a financial disaster even if it had not introduced the euro at the start of the year. The liberal daily Diena holds the opposite view: "No doubt she wanted to remind us that Poland's economy is strong even though it doesn't have the euro. However the investment potential of the Polish market isn't comparable with that of Latvia. The Poles can do things that we cannot. In addition, the mantra about the Polish success story that was so popular two years ago has aged somewhat: the złoty has fluctuated considerably on the money markets, and there have been other problems too. So Poland is no example for what would have happened in Latvia if it had postponed joining the euro club." (27/03/2015)

Blog Mozgástér - Hungary | 26/03/2015

Quaestor bankruptcy: Orbán saved tax money

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is increasingly coming under fire in the scandal over the bankruptcy of brokerage group Quaestor. Apparently he withdrew state investments from the company shortly before its bankruptcy but failed to warn small investors. Political analyst Gerda Bunford defends Orbán's actions on the pro-government blog portal Mozgástér: "It wasn't the state's money that was taken out of the brokerage group but our money, in other words tax money. … Leaving tax money in a place that wasn't secure would have been a major mistake and grossly negligent. But thank God that didn't happen. And if the government had warned the people at that stage it would have been in vain anyway - the money was no longer with the brokerage group because it had already been squandered by the investment firms' top management long ago. Precisely for this reason the senior ruling party (Fidesz) recently drew up a law to compensate all the private individuals affected." (26/03/2015)

Der Standard - Austria | 26/03/2015

Plane crash hits Lufthansa where it hurts

The plane crash in the French Alps will cause financial difficulties for the German airline Lufthansa for a long time to come, the left-liberal daily Der Standard predicts: "The shock over events like this tends to grow not only in proportion to one's proximity to the crash site. The fact that this has hit a German company - and a subsidiary of Lufthansa - adds to the sense of shock and dismay. Although it's been hard hit by cuts, Lufthansa has until now managed to maintain its excellent reputation as far as safety goes. And that's the most important currency in civil aviation. Trust in the famous German precision, quality and thoroughness has been dealt a hard blow. Never has the crash of a German airliner had so many fatalities. What that means for the future of Europe's biggest carrier is impossible to say right now." (26/03/2015)

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