Out Of The Haze, A Singapore Spring?

When you are Singapore’s Lee family, and your clan has exercised absolute and uninterrupted control over its swanky specklet of Asia for 54 years, fellows like Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam are handy to have within your power court. K. Shanmugam, as he’s less tongue-twistingly known, may have escaped the attention of those … read more >>

Oranges and Lemons: The Royal Houses of Europe

TODAY in Amsterdam, the Dutch royal family will perform something their ennobled Spanish cousins further south in Europe aren’t much inclined to publicly do these days – their job. Admittedly, today’s majestic jollies at Amsterdam’s 15th century church, Nieuwe Kerk, are unavoidable if one’s privileged station is to bestride the … read more >>

Lite-Wing: Mellowing The UK Right For The Masses

IT’S just after dusk, ahead of a harsh winter’s night in Westminster. I’m inside Europe House, the European Union’s “embassy” in London, and Nigel Farage, one of its more controversial tenants, is late. People with gravitas rush into the building, en route to a discussion of doubtless importance, on something … read more >>

Europocalypse Now

What’s that shocking smell wafting around Europe? Well, if you were sniffing in a Netherlandly direction on Wednesday, you’d have caught an unmistakable tang of fear among the thrifty Dutch, who for a brief moment during a banking technical malfunction thought they’d become the latest Eurozoners to have their hard-earned … read more >>

The Triumph Of The Pissed Off

From Brussels to Rome, his political opponents dismiss him — at their peril — as a clown, but Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian-turned-activist movement, is nothing if not a man of his word. When The Global Mail talked to him for a few hours last May, he told us his grassroots … read more >>

German Banking Gets a Spanking

Gott im Himmel! Corruption in Germany? No matter that World War II ended 67 years ago, the jingoistic London publishers of the old British war comics Commando are going strong. And in Commando, lantern-jawed Germans still are always brutal, inhuman automatons, and most everyone else in Europe, particularly Brits, are … read more >>

EU Crisis: All For One, And Everyone For Themselves

Voters in Spain’s region of Catalonia gave secessionists a majority in November 25 regional elections. Why does Catalonia want to go it alone? As Spain suffers its sixth year of economic crisis, ‘Why not?’ might actually be the grumpy Catalans’ more likely question. Economic crises often create opportunities for long-simmering separatist … read more >>

EU: Austerity, Brie, Merci

Okay, let’s first deal with the boring but important bit — money. It’s Budget Time in Europe, and governments from London to Lisbon, from Rome to Riga are in a tizz over their commitment to the ailing European Union. On Thursday, a summit begins in Brussels at which Eurocrats — … read more >>

Conrad: The New New Black

Convicted fraudster Conrad Black, who once lorded over Australia’s Fairfax newspapers in another less-disgraced life, has been peddling around London, hyping his new book with the velocity of a Lance Armstrong EPO-ed to the eyeballs. And, like Lance, flogging The Big Lie that he’s innocent. Armstrong would have us believe … read more >>

Calling a Scumbag a Scumbag: Rupert Murdoch’s Revealing Twitter Habit

Isn’t it just grand that older folk have embraced the Internet with such gusto? Why, Gramps and Granny can now Skype with the far-flung grandkids, and bitter octogenarian megalomanic billionaires can tweet about all the “toffs”, the “scumbags”, and the “lying” who’ve tried to bring their media empires down. Bitter … read more >>

What On Earth Is Going On In Spain?

THESE are very difficult days for Spain. Summer’s tourists have returned home from sojourning in the world’s second biggest tourist economy. And as the northern autumn descends into winter, that means that even more Spanish will now be out of work than the near one-in-three that entered the short holiday … read more >>

Boris Bags Gold In London — But Beware The Curse Of Cameron

These Olympics have been stunning — stunning, that is, for the Brits and their much-lauded Team GB. So much so that last Saturday night, after Mo Farah streeted his 10,000-metre rivals and Jessica Ennis triumphed in the heptathlon — achievements which crowned four victories earlier that day, and capped off … read more >>

The Man Who Divides Germany. Again.

THILO SARRAZIN, Germany’s most provocative author and self-styled public intellectual, wants to make a few things clear. Firstly, this economist who helped draft the template for the modern German welfare state is neither anti-euro nor anti-Europe. Yes, he has just written a book — which has soared rapidly on Germany’s … read more >>

Scrabble for Europhiles

A is for Absent. Leadership is made during crises: think Churchill, Giuliani and 9/11, Mandela’s inclusive grace, even Anna Bligh during the Brisbane floods. Overwhelmed by Europe’s most calamitous crisis since World War II, the rudderless European Union threatens to dissolve; it is in dire need of leadership. So where’s … read more >>

The Pain in Spain

Oh no, not another European economy going down the gurgler. What’s wrong with these people? Let’s start with The Binge, before we get to The Hangover. For the past 20 years, it’s been lots of fun to be Spanish. You got to party on someone else’s coin — Brussels’ and … read more >>

Laughing All The Way To Power

Italy’s most popular political figure has just told me to fuck off. At least that’s what Beppe Grillo’s hand gesture seems to say, emphatically “Vaffanculo!” as Italians like to curse. Or could his two-finger salute be more a Churchillian V-for-Victory gesture? Recent Italian events suggest as much — that his … read more >>


So what’s Greece’s problem, economically? And why is Greece’s problem also Europe’s? Hmm, how much time do you have? Here goes…Greece embarked on a decade-long borrowing and spending spree after it joined the eurozone in 2001. Membership of what was then a shiny, new, strength-in-numbers currency club — notionally anchored … read more >>

It’s Time, Rupert

IN THE blue corner, there’s ‘Dave Snooty’ as Private Eye depicts the British Prime Minister; a privileged old Etonian, an embodiment of the elite. He’s a royalist, the glorified PR schmoozer with little actual qualification except a profound sense of entitlement. In the other, more Thatcherite, corner, there’s Rupert Murdoch; … read more >>

Murdoch: All The Truth That Fits

AFTER swearing on the Bible to begin a two-day interrogation in Court 73 of London’s Royal Courts of Justice last Wednesday, an octogenarian once feared as the world’s most powerful media mogul began taking questions, the first few being perhaps the only ones he answered with clear and indisputable truth. … read more >>

Free The Billionaire! Would That Help President Putin?

IT’S unlikely that Forbes Magazine has too many subscribers in Segezha, a grim town of 35,000 in Russia’s wintry northwest at the edges of the Arctic Circle. But if by chance it did, the magazine would take some time to get there. Segezha is a train station that became a … read more >>

Australia: Hockey needs more than Google for his economic research

Federal shadow treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Joe Hockey presents as a pleasant enough chap, in a matey, Billy Bunter type of way. But he needs help. The man who seems poised to hold Australia’s economic future in his hands needs to try harder. At the least, he needs to read more extensively, more deeply and of … read more >>

How Euromoney’s finance minister award became an Aussie political football

ALTHOUGH it applauds sound stewardship of an important global economy, in jeering Australian hands Euromoney’s finance minister of the year award has become a political football punted around Canberra since Paul Keating was honoured in 1984, his first year in office, for floating the Australian dollar and rejuvenating a moribund … read more >>

Libya: Untainted talent leading from front

Ali Tarhouni

TUNIS: It’s somewhat alarming, when awaiting a flight to Benghazi, to receive word from Libya that the arranged interview with the economist one is flying to war-torn Libya to see is suddenly cancelled because he ”got the bullet”. Nuance is not always the strong suit of revolutionaries. And neither is … read more >>

Why David Cameron is sounding a lot like Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO: David Cameron doesn’t look like Hosni Mubarak — hated scourge of Egyptians. That would be Robert De Niro. Nor does dapper Dave look like Tunisia’s ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, or Syria’s aptly-onomatopoeaic Bashar al-Assad, or any other tyrant from Pyongyang to Minsk. But in making a … read more >>

Behind Wendi Deng’s billion-dollar spike

TIGER WIFE or Trophy wife? Slam-down Sister or caring partner doing a Tammy Wynette? New York socialite or about-to-be global media mogul? When Wendi Deng soared on Tuesday, 42 and pretty-in-pink, left across our TV screens to clobber the idiot cream-pieing her struggling octogenarian billionaire husband, my first thought was … read more >>

Murdoch: No profile

LAST WEEK, as the corruption eating at Rupert Murdoch’s British operation threatened gangrene over the rest of his global empire, I sent an email to Judith Whelan, editor of Good Weekend magazine. This was ‘the media’s Arab Spring,’ I wrote. ‘Nobody is scared any more… no more meetings in the … read more >>

Getting away with murder in Colombo

COLOMBO: When governments kill the people they are mandated to protect and help prosper, what is the world’s tipping point for outrage? How horrific must despotism be to compel the ”international community” to pursue and prosecute national leaders whose regimes commit war crimes? In the Bosnian war of the 1990s, … read more >>

Syria: I would like you to meet my cousin

Illustration: John Spooner

THEY lurk in the shadows of every autocracy, monopolising business deals and jealously guarding their access to the political power that provided them. In economies across Asia and the Middle East, they’ve become a virtual proxy for the dictators crucial to the massive commercial fortunes they’ve built, often impervious to … read more >>

The Philippines: ‘Sick man of Asia’ looking a bit better

Philippines president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III

PERMANENT sick man of Asia? Or tiger in waiting? Once Asia’s richest country save Japan but now with reasonable claims to be one of its poorest, the Philippines confounds. Progress in the Philippines can be measured in unexpected ways. The first time I arrived in Manila, the Marcos kleptocracy was … read more >>

Indonesia is no role model for Egypt

JAKARTA: Let’s hope life after Mubarak does not resemble the post-Suharto era From Barack Obama to prolix purveyors of punditry in Australia and abroad, it has become fashionable in these heady revolutionary times to cast Indonesia as the democratic vision for a post-Mubarak Egypt — largely, it seems, because the … read more >>

Asian sirens cast a spell but leave some things to be desired

THEY’RE robust and the road to the future, but our nearest and dearest could resolve to do better, writes Eric Ellis THE new year is upon us, a fine time for cleansing resolutions. Corporate Asia could use a few, too, if only to make it more user-friendly for corporate Australia … read more >>

Australia: Our Julian

FOR ONCE, Australia really is punching above its weight in the world My mother, Sage of Winchelsea, Skyped me from her rural Victorian hearth to ask what I was doing in Cairo. ‘Profiling Egypt’s richest man, and  writing about Australia’s relevance in the world,’ I told her as the Nile … read more >>

A model democrat in Burma

AUNG San Suu Kyi is the dissident tailor-made for Western luvvies Had she been so inclined, when Aung San Suu Kyi got her release papers from Burma’s junta last weekend, she could have left the dilapidated family home in which the generals incarcerated her for 15 of the past 21 … read more >>

Evangelical business network takes Asia

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Afghanistan doesn’t have to be Obama’s Vietnam

A seven-point plan to halt the country’s eight-year decline   IRAQ seems, at last, yesterday’s war. Now the Forgotten War in Afghanistan, the one that’s been going on longer, has become — again — the Just War. Barack Obama insists Australians do more of the heavy lifting against a resurgent … read more >>

Is Turkey Ready for the EU?

ISTANBUL: It was Kylie Minogue who made me think Turkey and Europe might just about be ready for each other. There was the pop poppet — well, life-size images of her — flaunting her curvaceous clunes at shoppers in the Agent Provocateur lingerie outlet at Istanbul’s Kanyon Mall. It was … read more >>