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The euro and the eurozone crisis
The past week was about the euro and whether or not it would remain the EU’s single currency. Last Thursday eurozone leaders reached consensus with private banks and insurers and accepted a 50 percent loss on their holdings in Greek government bonds. This will lower Greece’s debt burden and hopefully contain the two-year-old eurozone crisis.
According to The Council on Foreign Relations, officials billed the deal as a “three-pronged” agreement (BBC) that will provide Greece with a second bailout package to meet its debt obligations, including a “voluntary” 50 percent write-down by private creditors. The agreement also requires $150 billion in recapitalizations for the continent’s exposed banks and leverages the $610 billion temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), bringing its lending capacity to around $1.4 trillion.
The EFSF will be reconstituted as an insurance fund (WSJ) related to investor losses on high-risk Spanish and Italian debt. Most significantly, a separate fund will also be seeded with EFSF monies and investments from international investors (Bloomberg), including the International Monetary Fund and cash-rich emerging markets like China.
More broadly, the two-year sovereign debt crisis has instigated an important debate over whether the monetary union can survive without greater fiscal and political integration. “A key reason why the eurozone is under challenge is that markets have become conscious of a fundamental weakness in its design,” argues Jean Pisani-Ferry, director of Brussels-based Bruegel, in an article in the Financial Times.
Gaddafi’s son urged to surrender
Reuters reported that on Friday international war crimes prosecutors confirmed they have had contact with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was urged to give himself up or risk a mid-air interception if he tries to flee by plane to safe haven.
The International Criminal Court said in a statement: “Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif,” confirming reports from Libya’s new leadership to Reuters that the fugitive son and heir-apparent of slain strongman Muammar Gaddafi has been negotiating a possible surrender.
Labor strikes end at Air France and Musée d’Orsay
Two labor union strikes affected travelers last week. According to Reuters, Air France flights were affected in a strike that started yesterday. Today started as a strike day and Air France said about 15 percent of flights were affected. It was scheduled as a five-day strike.
The SNCF state railway unions—including by far the biggest SNCF union, the CGT—have also called for a strike on Saturday, November 8.
Musée d’Orsay reopened Thursday after a six day labor strike by workers closed the museum. Workers are demanding 20 more people to staff four stories and an additional 21,500 square feet of space added in the museum’s new addition.
The strike kept thousands of would-be visitors from viewing the museum’s impressionist masterworks collection that attracted three million visitors in past years.
The strike was called off after the French culture ministry promised union representatives it would now launch a staff recruitment instead until waiting until early next year as planned.
Twenty-five years after its creation in a century-old former railway station on the south bank of the Seine, the Orsay has renovated approximately half of its exhibition space at a cost of 20.1 million euros ($27.6 million) according to France24.
France turned clocks back for Daylight Saving Time
If you live in France and didn’t set your clock back last night, this is a reminder to do so. Fall is here.
© Paris New Media, LLC
Photo credits: Saif al-Islam
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