February 20, 2012 |
Europe's ailing currency union approved its second bailout for Greece in less than two years, signing off on a $170-billion rescue package early Tuesday after weeks of bickering and rising ill feeling between Athens and other regional capitals. The deal should help ward off the specter of an imminent Greek default, which threatened to occur as early as next month and to throw global markets into turmoil. But the price for Greece is a fresh round of punishing austerity cuts that its parliament approved last week, despite an economy already gutted by previous belt-tightening measures.
February 13, 2012 |
As Europe tries to climb its way out of a debt crisis, the continent's largest and strongest economy, Germany, has pushed its neighbors to reduce budget deficits and pledge to keep long-term public spending under control. But with the Eurozone facing a recession, Germany's insistence on austerity — also known as fiscal consolidation — has drawn criticism from those who subscribe to British economist John Maynard Keynes' formula of increasing public spending during economic slowdowns to spark demand and economic recovery, and then reining in spending during prosperous times.
January 29, 2012 |
Legend has it that when the ancient Athenians defeated the Persians here in 490 BC, a messenger named Pheidippides ran over 25 miles of rough and rocky plains to announce the victory in Athens. "We have won!" he shouted. But then, exhausted, he dropped dead. Today, deeply indebted and nearly bankrupt, Greeks fear a similar fate. It's not because they haven't held up their end of the bargain, Greeks argue, enduring a punishing course of austerity measures to fix the country's disastrous economy.
January 22, 2012 |
Considering how many of his friends are unemployed, electrician Javier Ramirez felt like he'd hit the jackpot when his company scored a contract for government buildings here in Spain's sprawling capital. He gets paid by the hour, and rewiring 250-year-old marble halls is a formidable job that should feed his family for years. The problem is, Ramirez worked only about half of last month, and the time off wasn't his choice. It was courtesy of Spain's slate of religious and municipal holidays — a generous 14 per year, 40% more than in the United States — and a beloved little tradition called the puente , or "bridge.
December 11, 2011 |
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has faced criticism over the years for being too guarded and impersonal on the campaign trail. But on Sunday afternoon in Hudson, N.H., prompted by a voter who asked him to share an experience that had changed his world view, he opened up about how his experience as a Mormon missionary in France had given him an appreciation for the privileges of his upbringing. Romney - a wealthy former business consultant who has been under fire for offering rival Rick Perry a $10,000 bet in Saturday night's debate - noted that he had grown up "with a great deal of affluence" as the son of an auto executive who became Michigan's three-term governor.
December 10, 2011 |
By agreeing to knit their nations closer together on fiscal and economic policy, Europe's leaders are writing a potentially momentous new chapter in the continent's drive toward political integration. But at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels on Friday, it was unclear whether the enforced austerity demanded by France and Germany would help revive Europe's weakest economies, or condemn them to a cycle of deepening recession. And the chorus of oui , ja and si at the summit was punctuated by a resounding "no" from Britain, laying bare the widening rift between one of the region's biggest players and its neighbors on the European mainland.
December 1, 2011 |
Silence speaks elegant volumes this fall as Scandinavian filmmakers bring a spare touch to subjects that usually get presented by Hollywood in the-louder-the-better fashion. Spycraft, car chases and the apocalypse figure are dominant themes in award season contenders "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," directed by Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson; "Drive," helmed by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn; and "Melancholia," from Denmark's melancholy auteur Lars von Trier. Like Susanne Bier, the Danish specialist in angst-fraught relationship dramas who directed last year's foreign-language Oscar winner, "In a Better World," the Northern Europeans behind these English-language features share a gift for handling deeply dysfunctional characters with dry aplomb.
November 27, 2011 |
Reporting from London — One morning about two weeks ago, having made my way from central London to the site of next summer's Olympic Games, I stood on a wide terrace emerging from the just-completed aquatic center. From the edge of that building, designed by Zaha Hadid and nicknamed the "stingray," I had a panoramic view of the Olympic Park, which covers 500 acres in a once-industrial section of the Lower Lea Valley, on the eastern edge of London. The main Olympic Stadium, designed by American firm Populous in collaboration with the British architect Peter Cook, rose directly in front of me. I also had a clear view of Wilkinson Eyre's basketball venue, a temporary structure made of pillowy white fabric panels.
November 22, 2011 |
With the European debt crisis lapping up against France and threatening to crumple the continent's currency system, German Chancellor Angela Merkel finds herself increasingly standing alone at the center of the intensifying drama that begs for more help from Germany. But she hasn't budged — yet. Under intense domestic pressure, Merkel has continued to use the power of Europe's strongest economy to insist that her beleaguered partners accept a new financial order and, indirectly, a new political reality.
November 14, 2011 |
Eager to win back the confidence of financial markets, Italy's president on Sunday appointed economist Mario Monti to lead the country's new government. The move came almost 24 hours after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi submitted his resignation amid widespread celebration on the streets of Rome. President Giorgio Napolitano's announcement sets the stage for Monti, a former European Union commissioner, to form a new technocratic government that will try to navigate Italy out of the debt crisis with austerity measures sought by the European Union.