Europe shares rise on renewed hopes for U.S. debt deal

Most worryingly for a movement born in the 19th century of organized labor’s struggle for better working conditions and living standards, the belief in collective social progress has lost much of its credibility in mature advanced economies. Income inequality has increased across the industrialized West since the crisis began, according to OECD figures, widening social gaps that the left set out to close. “Social democracy nowadays basically amounts to the defense of the status quo and preventing the worst,” says Olaf Cramme, director of Policy Network, a think-tank for progressive center-left politics. Germany’s opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have just recorded their second worst election result since World War Two. They now face an ugly trilemma between entering a “grand coalition” under Merkel on unequal terms, staying out and seeing her possibly team up with the Greens, the SPD’s natural partner, or being punished by voters at a rerun election. Socialists or social democrats still head 13 of the 28 EU governments and are in coalition in five others, but they are often driven to pursue unpopular policies that hit the interests of their own electorate. “It is an extremely difficult balance,” Social Democratic Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told Reuters in an interview. “We had some reforms that have been seen as quite harsh, but they have also been necessary. “I think we have found the right formula, not to be popular because we have not actually reached that yet, but to do the right thing for the country,” she said. Austria’s Socialists lost votes last month, though they remain the largest party. Italy’s center-left Democratic Party, which now heads a shaky left-right coalition, bled votes to the anti-establishment 5-Star protest movement in a February election and is driven by factional squabbling. In Greece, Ireland and Spain, center-left parties are paying a high electoral price for having supported public pay and pension cuts required by international creditors. FEWER MEMBERS, LESS MONEY In Britain, the opposition Labour party is still distrusted because it presided over a deregulated financial market bonanza that ended in the crash of 2008, wrecking the reputation for economic competence once built by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. In France, one of the few countries with an absolute center-left parliamentary majority, Socialist President Francois Hollande is deeply unpopular as his government dithers between old-style tax-and-spend policies and half-hearted welfare and labor market reforms, satisfying no one. With the membership and funding of mainstream parties dwindling in many countries, the center-left has rarely kept pace with new vectors of political action via social media and grassroots initiatives.

debt deal Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:58am EDT * FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.5 pct, Euro STOXX 50 up 0.4 pct * DAX hits record high, CAC 40 reaches 5-year high * Burberry drops 5 pct after CEO leaves * Nexans sinks 13 pct on profit warning, capital increase By Blaise Robinson PARIS, Oct 15 (Reuters) – European shares rose early on Tuesday, gaining ground for the fourth session in a row, boosted by signs that a deal could soon be reached in Washington to avert a damaging debt default. At 0726 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.5 percent at 1,259.15 points, while the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index added 0.4 percent to 2,988.35 points, hitting a fresh 2-1/2 year high. Positive signals from talks on Monday between Democrat and Republican Senate leaders fuelled hopes of an imminent deal to reopen shuttered U.S. federal agencies and prevent a default on federal debt, sending world stocks higher. “Relief that politicians have taken the U.S. to the edge and back again is clear,” said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. The plan under discussion would end a partial government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling by enough to cover the nation’s borrowing needs at least until mid-February 2014. Around Europe, the UK’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.6 percent, France’s CAC 40 was up 0.3 percent, reaching a five-year high, and Germany’s DAX index was up 0.5 percent, hitting a record high. “The consensus is bullish, everyone believes that a deal will be reached, so it could already be priced in,” said Guillaume Dumans, co-head of research firm 2Bremans. “Deal or no deal, the size of the U.S. Casino rose 3.6 percent after the French supermarket chain said sales growth accelerated in the third quarter thanks to robust demand in Brazil. French cable maker Nexans plummeted 13 percent after slashing its profit outlook and unveiling a capital increase. Investors will keep a close eye on U.S. corporate results on Tuesday, with several major U.S. companies including Citigroup , Intel, Johnson & Johnson and Yahoo scheduled to report earnings.

Europe prepares to come clean on hidden bank losses

“These arrangements must be in place before we conclude our assessment,” he said. But the ministers’ talks face an additional hindrance because Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, is not expected to attend the two-day Luxembourg meeting. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, in talks to form a new government. During the region’s debt turmoil, the European Union conducted two bank stress tests, considered flops for blunders such as giving a clean bill of health to Irish banks months before they pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy. The ECB’s new checks are seen as the last chance to come clean for the euro zone as the bloc tries to set up a single banking framework, known as banking union. The debate opens amid ebbing political enthusiasm for banking union – originally planned as a three-stage process involving ECB bank supervision, alongside an agency to shut failing banks and a system of deposit guarantees. It would be the boldest step in European integration since the crisis. “We have to find a solution now,” said Michel Barnier, the EU Commissioner in charge of financial regulation, urging faster progress in the slow talks. “The next financial crisis is not going to wait for us.” ANGLO-GERMAN AXIS? In one sign of the divisions, Britain has repeatedly refused to sign off on the first pillar of the banking union framework, allowing the ECB monitor banks. Having earlier agreed, London now wants additional assurances from ministers this week that Britain, which is outside the euro and polices its own banks, will not face interference from the ECB-led euro bloc.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/131015/bulgaria-has-europes-dirtiest-air-report-finds Art Basel gathers works from around the world for its annual shows. Photo Jaume Plensa’s “Tel Aviv Man” at Art Basel, the worlds premier trade fair for leading galleries and collectors focused on modern and contemporary art. – [/] Photo The front of the Art Basel building. This years show attracted 303 of the worlds top galleries from 36 countries, showing the works of more than 2,500 artists. It drew more than 62,000 visitors, a new record. – [/] Photo Platform Gallery’s Chen Wei and one of his “Recovery Room” series at Liste Young Artist’s show. By the time the week was over he had sold more than 10 works, with prices ranging from $1,800 to nearly $3,000. – [/] A performance spectator admires some of the pieces at Basel Art. – [/] Photo A performance piece at Basel Scope, done by an unidentified nearly naked man who moved in slow motion up and down the aisles dressed like a Greek version of Mars, the god of war. – [/] Photo A performance piece at Scope. The man clutched a staff, on which a plastic container for motor oil with the BP logo was impaled. – [/] An installation piece at Basel Art. – [/] An installation piece with paper tubes at Basel Art.