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ECB President Christine Lagarde during a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Hard Numbers: ECB hikes rates, US seizes crypto-ransoms, Argentina plays with fire, jet stream breaks up

11: Faced with the highest inflation in the EU’s history, the European Central Bank on Thursday raised interest rates by half a percentage point. It’s the first hike in 11 years, bringing the rate to zero (the ECB had been running negative rates for almost a decade to spur sluggish growth).

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: EU (finally) tackles inflation

In its Thursday meeting, the European Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates by up to 50 basis points — its first hike in more than 11 years — in a bid to tame rising inflation. For months, the ECB has stubbornly resisted calls to boost rates as inflation soared to a record 8.6% in June amid fears of a looming EU-wide recession. The hike will end the ECB's eight-year experiment with negative interest rates, which make it less attractive to save money but help spur demand (and, in turn, inflation). We take a look at Eurozone interest rates compared to inflation over the past 20 years.

This article comes to you from the Signal newsletter team of GZERO Media, a subsidiary of Eurasia Group that offers balanced, nonpartisan reporting, and analysis of foreign affairs. Subscribe to Signal today.

Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: The 20-year euro vs. US dollar race

On Tuesday, the US dollar reached parity with the euro for the first time in 20 years. The euro's recent slump has a lot to do with high energy prices, fears of a looming EU-wide recession, and the European Central Bank dragging its feet on raising interest rates to tame inflation. Over the past two decades, though, 1 euro has consistently been worth more than 1 dollar because ... that's what the forex market decided, regardless of the strength comparison between the two economies. We take a look at how the euro has performed against the dollar since the EU launched the (physical) single currency on Jan. 1, 2002.

Chair Jerome Powell faces reporters after the Fed's meeting in Washington, DC.

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

What We’re Watching: Fed ups rates, zero-COVID shenanigans in China, Pakistan’s energy crunch, Russian Davos

Central banks unite vs. inflation

On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 75 basis points — the biggest hike since 1994 — as it scrambled to contain runaway inflation. What's more, new projections show that the Fed plans to hike rates by an additional 1.75 percentage points until the end of the year — the most aggressive pace since Paul Volcker engineered a recession with double-digit interest rates to tame sky-high inflation in the early 1980s. Just hours before the Fed concluded its meeting, the European Central Bank unveiled a new bond-buying tool to protect the Eurozone's weakest economies from higher borrowing costs, as the ECB gets ready to fight inflation by jacking up interest rates next month for the first time in 11 years. In recent days, rising premiums on Italian and Spanish bonds compared to German ones had rung alarm bells throughout the Eurozone, with painful memories of its debt crisis in the early 2010s. The twin announcements sent shockwaves through global financial markets, with investors already panicking that a recession might be unavoidable to ease out-of-control prices due to a combination of the war in Ukraine, pandemic-related supply chain snarls, and massive stimulus spending on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov & Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba meet in Antalya, Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

What We're Watching: Russia-Ukraine peace talks, EU & US fight inflation, Indian state elections

Ukraine peace talks fail, Putin pushes back

In the highest-level peace talks since the start of the war, Russia and Ukraine’s top diplomats met on Thursday in Turkey but failed to secure an agreement. The Ukrainians say the Russians refused a brief ceasefire to allow for evacuations of civilians from besieged cities. Russia, meanwhile, pointed fingers at Ukrainian “radicals” for occupying the Mariupol children’s hospital that was bombed on Wednesday. President Vladimir Putin, for his part, banned the export of Russian products to 48 countries in response to Western sanctions. The ban is largely symbolic as it excludes commodities such as oil and natural gas as well as minerals, wheat, and raw materials for fertilizer, all of which could make global prices soar further if the Kremlin removes them from the market. Separately, Russia also unveiled a new accelerated bankruptcy scheme for departing companies, stopping just short of nationalizing them altogether (for now). It seems Putin wants to keep some of his powder dry in case European countries decide to join the US ban on Russian oil imports, or more foreign corporations abandon the country.

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Who Is Italy’s New Prime Minister, Mario Draghi? | GZERO World

Who is Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi?

Only in Italy could a mild-mannered technocrat be widely popular for just being, well, competent. But that's exactly how Mario Draghi (nicknamed Super Mario) has been received since he agreed to lead the country at a moment of political turmoil this February. Why is Draghi so popular and why is he poised to be a leader of not just Italy but Europe as a whole? Ian Bremmer poses those questions to another former Italian prime minister, Enrico Letta, on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Podcast: Italy In Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

Listen: Whoever said, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" clearly could not envision what would become of Italian politics. Since 1989 the country has had 18 prime ministers, six in the last decade alone. And while the pandemic afforded the government some much-needed political unity in the short-term, the warm feelings cooled quickly this winter as political infighting forced a popular prime minister to resign. But Italy's new leader, Mario Draghi (nicknamed "Super Mario") looks like he just might break the mold and deliver positive change—and political stability—to Italy. That's according to Enrico Letta, one of those six prime ministers to have resigned in the last ten years. Letta joins Ian Bremmer on this episode of the GZERO World podcast.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Interview with ECB's Christine Lagarde, Behind Europe’s United Economic COVID Response | GZERO World

Interview with ECB's Christine Lagarde, behind Europe’s united economic COVID response

In an extended interview with GZERO World, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde joins Ian Bremmer to explain how European nations were able to overcome political divisions and act quickly to prevent an all-out economic catastrophe on the continent.

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