April 20th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Roundup: Lagarde warns of 'dark clouds'

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned of a fragile global economic situation with "dark clouds on the horizon" (NYT), at the start of the IMF and World Bank's spring meetings in Washington yesterday. Lagarde's comments come as borrowing costs are on the rise in Europe and high oil prices are draining spending power in the United States, potentially undermining the global recovery. This weekend's meetings are expected to focus on the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis and global efforts to boost growth. The IMF has called on member states to pledge an additional $500 billion to increase the fund's lending capacity (VOA).

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Analysis

"In some ways the crisis may have become more serious now, as today's policy tools lose some of their edge. Spain is a far larger problem than Greece, and it could drag down Italy and perhaps even France. The euro's financial firewall has been strengthened, but it remains inadequate," says the Economist.

"The missing ingredient is trust. What's needed is a plan to revive economic growth and to strengthen the credibility of medium-term fiscal retrenchment. It is surely not beyond the wit of the politicians to recognize as much. As things stand, markets are un-persuaded both of Germany's willingness to sustain the euro and of the political will of debtor states," writes Philip Stephens for the Financial Times.

"And the anxiety is hardly quelled by the responses from policy-makers. On the upside, this week's IMF meeting has seen nations slowly but surely giving cash to boost the eurozone rescue fund. On the downside, very few serious investors have much confidence that the rescue fund will be especially effective in the event of Madrid needing a bailout," notes this Guardian editorial.

PACIFIC RIM

China Allegedly Assisted North Korea's Missile Program

China aided North Korea in building up its ballistic missile program (VOA), U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Congress yesterday. However, China has insisted it did not violate UN Security Council Resolution 1874, which prohibits assisting North Korea's weapons program.

CHINA: Chinese police were aware that the UK's Neil Heywood had been murdered last November in Chongqing, and moved quickly to cover up the incident, a senior Chinese journalist reportedly told the BBC.

Politician Bo Xilai's related fall from grace unmasks long-discussed corruption within the political ranks and undermines a smooth leadership transition for the Communist Party, says CFR's Elizabeth Economy in this CFR Interview.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Escaped Taliban Prisoner Shown in Video Footage

Adnan Rashid, a high-profile militant who escaped from prison last week, appeared in video footage that allegedly showed him being welcomed by the Taliban in northwest Pakistan (Dawn). Rashid was convicted in a plot to kill former president Pervez Musharraf more than eight years ago.

Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants, that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

AFGHANISTAN: A U.S. military helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan (Reuters), potentially killing all four people on board.

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Calls for Bolder Action Against Assad

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the UN Security Council to adopt an arms embargo against Syria (al-Jazeera) to halt President Bashar al-Assad's ongoing crackdown on opposition groups, even as Syria and the UN reached an agreement to allow a UN observer mission to monitor the implementation of a cease-fire.

ISRAEL: Sirens were sounded for two full minutes across the country yesterday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day (LAT), as Israelis and others around the world commemorated the deaths of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

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AFRICA

Tanzania Arrests Suspected Pirates

Tanzania arrested five suspected Somali pirates (Reuters) on an island near the country's natural gas reserves, the army confirmed today. A Spanish vessel captured seven more pirates who were aboard a so-called mother ship, and is transporting them to Tanzania today.

A surge in Somali pirate attacks in recent years has prompted the deployment of an international coalition of navies, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

MALI: Former president Amadou Toumani Toure, ousted in a military coup last month, fled to Senegal with his family (BBC). Toure had been credited with ending decades of military rule in Mali.

EUROPE

Germany, France Propose New Border Controls

German and French officials called for amending the Schengen Agreement (DerSpiegel) by temporarily reintroducing border controls in order to prevent illegal immigration from southern and eastern Europe, Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung reported today.

EUROPEAN UNION: The EU parliament approved a deal that will allow U.S. authorities to access data on EU citizens flying to the United States (DeutscheWelle), part of a broader U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

AMERICAS

Venezuelan Judge Seeks Refuge in U.S.

Eladio Aponte, a Venezuelan Supreme Court justice who was removed from his post for alleged ties to drug trafficking (WSJ), is seeking refuge in the United States, two weeks after fleeing Venezuela for Costa Rica.

CAMPAIGN 2012

Romney Picks Foreign Policy Spokesman

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney added Richard A. Grenell to his presidential campaign staff (WashPost) as national security and foreign policy spokesman. The Republican communications strategist worked for President George W. Bush for eight years as director of communications and public diplomacy at the United Nations.

A new Gallup poll finds 50 percent of voters have strong confidence in President Obama to do the right thing on the economy, compared to 39 percent of voters who said the same about Romney, members of Congress, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Romney visited a shuttered Lorain, Ohio, factory Thursday to make the case that President Obama's economic policies are not working (LAT). Obama's staff was quick to point out (Politico) that the factory closed under George W. Bush's administration, and that the economy is slowly but steadily improving.

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

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Topics: Daily Roundup

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Hahahahahaha

    Hey everyone!!! Look at your money!!!! Mine's made out of..................PAPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! aaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahaha.

    April 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  2. ✠ RZ ✠

    Interest rates are low. The gov'ts are printing money like mad and pumping billions into the banks to keep them liquid. But for unknown reasons, the lending isn't getting passed on to the small guy. People seem to be spending less. Cash flows seem to be getting tighter. Prices and costs seem to be increasing across the board. So are receivables and the effort needed to collect them. If this is the calm before the storm........oh oh...

    April 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Reply
  3. Marine5484

    Unless they decide to dissolve the Eurozone in Europe and the U.S. decides to cut it's excessive and unnecessary military spending here, things do look rather grim indeed.

    April 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      We do not understand the connection you are trying to make.
      Can you explain?

      April 21, 2012 at 8:28 am | Reply
  4. JAL

    Banks are waiting for a mark. Then it is pedal to the metal. Teamwork synergy and conflict resolution are the new industry solutions. If you have to hurl, find a barf bag, it is going to get rough.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  5. Muin

    In the past, people liked politicians because politicians were active and accomplished a lot for people regardless of technological disadvantage. Now we have lazy politicians who would come to power and use laws to transfer wealth from one group to another. It's not even subtle anymore. Republicans, democrats all do it. I don't know why America is doing this. This is actually south east country politics model. Rich people actually use the laws pretty openly to bring more wealth to their side. It's been going on for years.

    April 21, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Your statement is way too generalized.
      To ensure some credibility, you will have to provide some examples.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    "The missing ingredient is trust", wrote Philip Stevens for the Financial Times. Yes, the joint efforts "MERKOZY" were supposed to win trust. Much is at stake in the Eurozone, would Sarkozy lose his re-election. Angela Merkel has been counting on him to pull through. It explains why she has been campaigning for him.

    April 21, 2012 at 5:11 am | Reply
  7. j. von hettlingen

    Neil Heywood's death shows that the life of a convival Brit could go terribly wrong if he looked for adventure and a life of leisure.

    April 21, 2012 at 5:17 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      He didn't die for nothing. His death will be remembered as a catalyst for a political turmoil in China.

      April 21, 2012 at 5:24 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Heywood was found dead in a Chinese hotel room in what was initially blamed on excessive alcohol consumption. But the case took a shocking turn last week when Xinhua announced Gu was being investigated for alleged murder.

      China is generally safe and foreigners rarely report any cases of violence against them.

      But the mysterious death of Heywood has been classed as "a serious criminal case involving the kin and aides of a party and state leader", prompting a pledge to "thoroughly" investigate the scandal.

      Bo, the son of a revered communist revolutionary, had launched a draconian crackdown on criminal elements in Chongqing and a "red revival" campaign marked by the mass singing of old Maoist-era songs.

      Many analysts saw the moves as a bid for entry to China's inner circle.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
  8. j. von hettlingen

    According to Dawn, the escaped Taliban Prisoner Rashid could use cellphones in his cells. It just shows that prisons in Pakistan don't have a regid regime or their personal is corrupt.

    April 21, 2012 at 5:36 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      The escaped Taliban Prisoner Rashid is a moslem; therefore, he lies.
      To repeat "lies" makes you an enabler.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:31 am | Reply
      • Travis

        Talk about lying Patrick, the Amreican and European politicians do it all the time! In fact, the Muslims are just as credible as any Western politician. Just look at what's been going on in Europe lately and do you honestly believe that either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama are any better?

        April 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
      • Patrick

        without examples, we have no idea what you are talking about.

        April 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  9. j. von hettlingen

    France and Germany reintroduce border controls because of the lax practice on the Italian borders. Many in Europe complain about the influx of Roma people (gypsies) from the East. Their children are trained to beg on the streets for up to 14 hours a day. Some break into homes and steal. The police is powerless vis-à-vis crimes committed by these minors. The money flows back to Romania and their "king" indulges a life in a palatial home while the rest of the population lives in huts without sanitation.

    April 21, 2012 at 5:59 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      France and Germany want to reintroduce border controls to stem the flow of illegal immigrants entering the European Union’s southern and eastern fringes, the Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.

      Such a move, which would entail rewriting the EU’s Schengen border agreement, would not be decided before June and is designed to be temporary, the newspaper said, citing a joint Franco-German letter.

      April 21, 2012 at 10:28 am | Reply
  10. matt a

    Missing ingredient is trust? Dark Clouds? The clouds are about to dump and the missing ingredient is nothing short of sovereign default.

    April 22, 2012 at 12:53 am | Reply
  11. .

    The problem with socialism is eventually you run out of other people's money.

    And then Atlas shrugs.

    The Europeans and Barack Obama just haven't figure this out yet.

    April 22, 2012 at 2:13 am | Reply

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