- Interest rates (a key tool of monetary policy) are a fundamental driver of where the global savings that swish around the planet are parked.
- Industrial world interest rates have been zero or close to zero for a while now - the US will be the first to raise rates.
- So already have seen a global move towards buying US$ assets, hence US$ stronger - a rate rise will reinforce this trend.
- Both want Syria falling under their sphere of influence.
- Political interests: Russia supports the core, secular base of the Assad regime (and the army), while Iran supports pro-government militias.
- Geographic interests: Russia focus on the western coast where it has a port and airbases, while Iranian interests are in the south (wants to keep supply corridor open to Hezbollah in Lebanon).
- Big commodity exporter hence suffering as commodity boom has ended (due to weak demand from China).
- So most Australia macroeconomic variables looking cloudier.
- Growth slower, budget deficit up, unemployment up.
- Marine Le Pen's far right National Front (FN) performed badly in 2nd round of local elections, failing to gain control of any regional governments, despite a very strong showing in the first round.
- Voting surge + Socialists (under Hollande) withdrawing candidates (to avoid diluting opposition to the far right) ensured success for Republicans (under Sarkozy).
- But despite the lack of success here, the FN still gets stronger every election as French society shifts to the right.
- Yes - now the new normal in China.
- Tighter restrictions on expression widespread.
- Old habits returning - businessmen and the press now face choice between ideological conformity or punishment (censure/jail/being fired/humiliation).
- Yes - desire for order, feeling that society has gone too far to the side of liberalism & individualism.
- Roots lie in economic woes of former socialist president François Mitterrand's two terms (1981-1995).
- Amplified by recent terrorist attacks and fears of immigrants.
- Populist, nationalist party in power, rewriting constitution, backtracking on commitments to the EU.
- New leader admires Hungary's right wing PM Orban, who aspires to "illiberal democracy".