Politics — North Korea
There is little more unnerving in international relations than the long-running feud between North Korea and the US over nuclear weapons. Donald Trump’s particular brand of Twitter-fed rhetoric, especially during a recent UN speech, has ramped up tensions, which Pyongyang has responded to in kind. Much to everyone’s relief, the US and North Korea appear to have opened up direct dialogue between themselves.
Country — Spain
There’s plenty of tension across Europe but Madrid’s anger over a unilaterally declared independence referendum in Catalonia has Spain wondering about the constitutional integrity of the country. Madrid used the courts and police with batons in an attempt to head off the poll, but its actions have met with widespread condemnation, accusations of undemocratic behaviour and has potentially destabilised the country.
Economy — Eurozone
Commentators believe a meeting of the European Central Bank in October will be one of the most crucial in its history as it considers reducing the vast bond-buying programme, which has been underpinning Eurozone growth. The decision is further complicated by figures for September, which showed inflation at 1.5%, lower than expected.
Company — Ryanair
Once an aviation business success story, budget airline Ryanair hit a crisis after being forced to cancel tens of thousands of flights over problems with pilots’ annual leave. After a storm of critical headlines the airline then came under pressure from regulators at the Civil Aviation Authority over the information it provided to customers about their rights. It remains to be seen how the crisis will affect its “no frills” business model.
Sector — Tech companies
French president Emmanuel Macron has launched a crusade against “Anglo Saxon” tech companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook over fears that their size distorts markets. The French government is heading European efforts to tax the companies on turnover rather than profits, an effort to regulate their business models.
Regulatory — MiFID II
January sees the coming into force of MiFID II, a vast piece of EU financial regulation intended to bring more transparency to the trading of stocks, bond and derivatives. MiFID II will also change the way investment banks trade in shares on their own account. The big question is whether its mind-boggling complexity will produce the effect it was intended for.