This is the beginning of the regular feature “Five Stories You Might Have Missed.” In it, I will briefly summarize five of the most important stories from the previous week. Enjoy!
1. On Sunday, President Bush agreed to begin discussions with the Iraqi government over the development of a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. The concession by Bush to the al-Malaki government marks a dramatic reversal of the administration policy, which had previously asserted that the development of such a timeline would constitute a victory for the terrorists. Stay tuned for a more detailed discussion of this story tomorrow. In the meantime, read more about it on the Financial Times website.
2. On Friday, opposition leaders in Bulgaria began debate over a bill that would impeach President Geogi Parvanov, who stands accused of having ties to organized crime. As one of the newest member states in the European Union, Bulgaria is under pressure to reduce corruption and mismanagement in government, or face the prospect of losing more than €600 million (approximately $950 million) in transfers from the EU.
3. The government of Taiwan announced it had ended its effort to purchase 66 F-16 fighter jets from the United States. The deal, which had been sharply opposed by the government of China, was part of a general trend in expanding military sales to Taiwan over the past seven years.
4. Farming and automotive interests in Europe, combined with the governments of some member states, pressured European Union negotiators not to offer any additional concessions at trade talks scheduled for next week in Geneva. The talks, designed to rekindle the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round, target reductions in agricultural subsidies and liberalizing trade in industry and services. The talks have been stalled for more than two years, and the Geneva negotiations are widely seen as the last chance to salvage the round.
5. In testimony before Congress on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke commented that inflation, estimated at an annual rate of 5% in June—the highest level in the United States since 1991—was “too high” and that fighting inflation was a “top priority” for the Fed. The primary mechanism the Fed would use to cut inflation would be an increase in the funds rate, an action that would almost certainly slow the economy, already teetering on the brink of recession.