Lead kindly light
Uncertain reading in Europe and Singapore today, after viewing press opinions generally.
The IMF seem particularly gloomy. Together with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, they (the troika) will see if Greece has made sufficient remedial progress to qualify for the bail-out loans. They appear to be putting it off until the last moments in the hope of a miracle, one fears. But, Greece has only days before it runs out of money and to avoid ultimate civil disaster the decision is really as good as made. More a matter of being seen to make the effort.
[Troika was perhaps not the best collective noun; it is also a unique Russian three-abreast harness / driving system where the middle horse trots while the other two canter, not therefore, an equal effort. One wonders which horse is which.]
Italy too is suddenly in the (unwelcome) spotlight. It is not the same sort of country, at least in the North, having both agrarian and industrial economies, but here the pressure seems to be pure politics.
S&P started the ball rolling, rather too promptly for comfort some might think, when they dropped Italy's rating a notch. They didn't hold back: "even under pressure, Italian political institutions, incumbent monopolies, public sector workers, and public- and private sector unions impede the government’s ability to respond decisively to challenging economic conditions".
Support, of a sort, from down under, however; Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan today urged European nations to "get their act together" after the IMF's comments.
The hot topic here has been UBS of course. Our sovereign wealth fund GIC has called for "firm action"; we suspect that is the polite version. To add to UBS's embarrasment they had convened a board meeting in Singapore this week to coincide with the F1 race, which is sponsored by them.
There is quiet disappointment over the Manchester United flotation. The mandate had been very sweet indeed in August as it was snatched from under Hong Kong's nose, locals said. Timing will now be subject to market conditions, sources said today.