July 29th, 2011
09:47 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Libyan rebel chief killed

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

The head military commander of the Libyan rebel movement, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, was assassinated Thursday, triggering violence and fueling fears (NYT) that a tribal feud could erupt and undermine efforts by the rebels to overthrow embattled Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. A former interior minister for Qaddafi, Younes defected (BBC) and joined the rebel uprising in February, though rumors have circulated that he maintains ties with Qaddafi.

Younes was killed before he could appear before a judicial inquiry over alleged ties (al-Jazeera) to the Qaddafi regime. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), said Younes had been summoned over a "military matter." He added that rebel security had arrested the head of the group behind the murders, but had not located the bodies. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Libya • Middle East • Military
July 28th, 2011
09:49 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Investor Fears Rise over U.S. Debt Crisis

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

Investors are looking for alternatives (NYT) to U.S. Treasury bonds as Washington lawmakers remain deadlocked over a plan to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling just five days ahead of an August 2 deadline that could see the U.S. default. Institutional investors are increasingly concerned that if the U.S. defaults – or even has its AAA credit rating downgraded in the absence of a long-term deficit-reduction plan – the value of Treasury securities would plummet, prompting some to invest in a strengthening Swiss franc, and others in rapidly growing emerging markets like China.

Following losses on Wall Street at the end of Wednesday, stocks in Europe and Asia (FT) fell sharply after markets opened Thursday. U.S. debt markets faced diminished foreign interest, as yields for insuring U.S. debt rose. While U.S. stock futures made small gains (WSJ) Thursday morning, markets remained focused on Washington's inability to resolve the debt standoff. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Debt Crisis • Economy • United States
July 27th, 2011
09:36 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Global fears over U.S. debt impasse

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

As Republican and Democratic plans for raising the U.S. debt ceiling ahead of the August 2 deadline stalled, the dollar fell (WSJ) to a new 2011 low against the yen and a record low against the Swiss franc.

Wall Street bondholders worry that even if a last-minute agreement is reached, the political deadlock and lack of a significant deficit-reduction package could still spur credit rating agencies to cut the nation's long-held credit rating (Bloomberg) of AAA. Such a move alone, which could add $100 billion a year to government costs while increasing treasury yields, would likely damage U.S. credibility (Politico) on the global stage and shake international investors. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Debt Crisis
July 26th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

CFR.org Daily Roundup: Obama, Boehner in deadlock over debt deal

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

U.S. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner used separate nationally televised addresses last night to attack one another over a failure to reach a compromise over a so-called grand bargain, deficit-reduction plan that would allow the United States to raise its debt limit ahead of next week's August 2 deadline.

Warning of an economic calamity (NYT) if the United States were to default on its debt obligations, Obama blamed House Republicans for holding up a compromise because of their steadfast resistance to any tax increases. In response to the president, Boehner said that Obama was unfairly insisting on a "blank check" from Congress.

Earlier on Monday, the Senate and House unveiled new, competing plans (WSJ) to raise the debt ceiling.

Boehner proposed a $3 trillion deficit-reduction package that would allow for raising the debt limit in two stages, a move Obama strongly rejects. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a plan to increase the limit just enough to allow the United States to pay its bills through 2012, coupled with equal spending cuts. House and Senate votes on the respective plans could come as early as Wednesday. FULL POST

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Topics: Current Events • Daily Roundup • Debt Crisis • Economy • Politics • President Obama • United States
July 25th, 2011
11:23 AM ET

CFR.org roundup: Norway attacks highlight anti-Muslim views

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

The massacre of nearly one-hundred Norwegians in Oslo and on nearby Utoya Island by an apparently lone assailant on Friday shed light on the rise of anti-Muslim and anti-immigration political movements throughout Europe. In a 1,500-page online manifesto, the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, preached against the “Islamization of Western Europe” (WSJ) and multiculturalism, voicing similar concerns to that of many European populist parties throughout the continent.

The manifesto – in which the suspect calls Muslims “wild animals” – shows that Breivik was also influenced by a vocal group of American bloggers (NYT)and writers who have warned of a growing Muslim threat to Western culture.

FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Terrorism
July 22nd, 2011
09:51 AM ET

CFR.org roundup: EU leaders decide new Greek bailout

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

At a summit to tackle the eurozone’s ongoing sovereign debt crisis yesterday, European officials agreed on a new $157 billion bailout (FT) package for Greece. Most notably, the plan calls for an additional $53 billion in contributions by private bondholders, expected to lead to a selective Greek default.

Eurozone leaders also agreed to an expansion of its $634 billion bailout fund (WSJ), which will now be authorized to buy eurozone bonds on secondary markets and to lend directly – at lower rates – to troubled countries before they lose access to market financing, as happened with Greece, Ireland, and Portugal over the past year. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Economy • Europe
July 21st, 2011
10:24 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Debt fight shifts to Congress

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

With two weeks until an August 2 deadline that could see the U.S. default on its debt obligations, and talks over a deficit-reduction plan all but dead, congressional leaders (WSJ) in the House of Representatives and the Senate are pushing forward with last-minute, alternative legislative measures.

The House will vote on a "Cap, Cut, and Balance" bill (CNN)Tuesday–legislation that would cut government spending by $2.4 billion over ten years, set strict caps on future spending, and lift the debt ceiling, though only on the condition that Congress pass a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. The legislation is expected to pass the House but not to make it through the Senate.  The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama would veto any such measure. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Economy • Politics
July 20th, 2011
11:14 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Obama supports "Gang of Six" deficit plan

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

President Barack Obama expressed his support for a deficit-reduction plan put forth by the bipartisan "Gang of Six" senators (BBC), reported to include a blend of new revenues and cuts to military and social spending to reduce the nation's budget deficit by about $3.7 trillion over the next decade. Meanwhile, conservative lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed a "cut, cap, and balance" plan that calls for steep spending cuts, a cap on future spending as a percentage of GDP, and an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. Analysts say the bill is a symbolic gesture with no chance of becoming law. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Economy • Politics • President Obama • United States
CFR.org Roundup: Debt Fight Shifts to Congress
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are working on a debt ceiling fallback plan.
July 19th, 2011
09:35 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Debt Fight Shifts to Congress

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

With two weeks until an August 2 deadline that could see the U.S. default on its debt obligations, and talks over a deficit-reduction plan all but dead, congressional leaders (WSJ) in the House of Representatives and the Senate are pushing forward with last-minute, alternative legislative measures.

The House will vote on a "Cap, Cut, and Balance" bill (CNN)Tuesday–legislation that would cut government spending by $2.4 billion over ten years, set strict caps on future spending, and lift the debt ceiling, though only on the condition that Congress pass a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. The legislation is expected to pass the House but not to make it through the Senate.  The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama would veto any such measure.

Meanwhile, the Senate is moving forward with a plan being drafted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would empower the president to raise the debt ceiling in tranches (WashPost), while only implementing around $1.5 trillion in savings already agreed upon by Republicans and Democrats. The plan would also establish a bipartisan congressional committee to draft a more comprehensive and long-term deficit-reduction plan.

The bipartisan Senate proposal has triggered infighting among the GOP (Politico), and it is still unclear whether House Republicans could ultimately support the McConnell-Reid plan.

FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Economy • Politics
July 18th, 2011
10:25 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Phone-hacking scandal threatens British Prime Minister


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

Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the UK's Metropolitan Police, commonly known as Scotland Yard, resigned (DailyTelegraph), following revelations that he had employed former News of the World editor Neil Wallis as a personal advisor.

Wallis was arrested last week on suspicion of phone-hacking while at the newspaper, though Stephenson claimed that Wallis was not involved in the scandal while working for him in 2009.
 Stephenson said he had not told Prime Minister David Cameron about Wallis's employment so as not to "compromise" Cameron (FT), whose former communications chief, Andy Coulson, was also arrested for phone-hacking activities at News of the World. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • United Kingdom
July 14th, 2011
09:59 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Raters Threaten U.S. Downgrade

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

With President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders locked in a stalemate over a deficit-reduction plan necessary to raise the nation's $14.29 trillion debt ceiling ahead of an August 2 deadline, two of the "Big Three" global credit rating agencies–Moody's and Standard and Poor's–said they were considering downgrading the United States (WSJ) from its top AAA status. Moody's cited the "rising possibility" that the U.S. debt limit will not be raised in time to avoid default.

The talks have been marked by clashes between Obama and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who also sparred with fellow Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell proposed authorizing the president (WashPost) to raise the debt limit without the requirement of prior spending cuts so that the United States does not miss any credit payments.

Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin S. Bernanke warned of a "huge financial calamity" (NYT) on par with that of 2008 if the White House and Congress do not agree on a deal to raise the debt ceiling. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Economy • United States
CFR.org Roundup: Ireland downgraded to junk, debt contagion fears rise
July 13th, 2011
09:18 AM ET

CFR.org Roundup: Ireland downgraded to junk, debt contagion fears rise

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

Credit rating agency Moody's downgraded Irish debt to junk status Tuesday, suggesting the country may need a second bailout, just a week after the agency provided Portugal with a similar assessment.  European Union officials have expressed public frustration (DerSpiegel) toward the "Big Three" rating agencies–Moody's, Fitch, and Standard and Poor's–for exacerbating the European sovereign debt crisis with speculative ratings.

At the same time, markets feared that Italy could be the next victim in the ongoing eurozone crisis, as the yields on the country's ten-year bonds reached a high of 6 percent (Bloomberg) Tuesday for the first time since 1997. Bonds gained today, after Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed to push a €40 billion deficit-reduction (FT) plan through Parliament by the end of this week. FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Economy • Europe
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