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Europe’s Arabian Reflection

Amidst the commentary on the incredible protests breaking across the capitals of the Middle East, one of the most common reactions is that of suprise; European commentators seem genuinely startled to discover, that on their southern frontier there are peoples, equal in number to themselves, ready to stand, and be counted. In many ways, however, …

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Predictions for 2010 (Revisited)

Around this time last year, I did something that commentators are frequently advised not to do: I made predictions of how events in Europe would unfold in 2010. As a year has now passed, it is time to take a look back and briefly take stock of how those fared. • Prediction 1) For the first …

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Is Germany Acting Like a Hedge Fund?

In recent years, the German government has been very keen on attacking hedge funds. It all started in 2005 with Müntefering’s “locusts” diatribe, and the current Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has kept up the act, most recently by demanding that funds be placed “under surveillance” by intelligence agencies. Yet, observing German government behaviour over the last …

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On Leadership

I was recently sent an article written by Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former candidate for President of the European Council, which includes a couple of interesting comments on the vexed topic of Europe’s leadership – or lack thereof. Among these are the views that, first, the current crop of European leaders are little if at all worse …

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The Rise and Rise of Nationalism

Something of a controversy was stirred two weeks ago, when Charles Kupchan declared in a Washington Post editorial that Europe was ‘dying’ of nationalism. His argument earned a surprise rebuke from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who was speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum, but his evidence is not so easy to dismiss. From German reluctance to …

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Democratic Deficit or Surfeit?

Does Europe need more democracy or less? In the late-18th to mid-19th century, the grand intellectuals of the era, such as Voltaire and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, also felt that Europe needed to overhaul its creaking system of governance. However, they were afraid of strengthening the role of parliament, fearful that this might further entrench …

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“Why Do They Hate Us?”

Shortly after September 11th, a frequent refrain among the American commentariat was: “why do they hate us?” Americans had always seen themselves as a benevolent power, and found themselves confused by the sight of jubilant crowds in Gaza or Lebanon, celebrating the destruction of lower Manhattan. Juxtaposing these with dated images of protesters burning US …

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Britain Entering the Twilight Zone

In recent weeks, something odd has happened in British politics — something that has the potential to significantly transform the way the country relates to the European Union in the years to come. And yet, nobody seems to have noticed it: or if they have, to have not quite thought through the implications. The ‘something’ …

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The Euro is Still a Better Reserve Currency

The euro has fallen 12 per cent against the dollar since December, leading some to question the euro’s value as a global reserve currency. Yet as the following chart from Clemens Kownatzki shows, such fears are overblown. The data show the euro-dollar relationship all the way back to 1972, using a currency basket to derive values …

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What the Eurozone Can Learn from Africa

Among the torrent of cliches about Greek dramas, tragedies and trojan horses that have filled the business pages in recent weeks, there has been no shortage of apokálypsis and huperballein. Neither apocalypse nor hyperbole are in short supply, for example, in Liam Halligan’s recent article in the Daily Telegraph, which argues that the euro may …

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