Feb 12, 2019

George Soros: The EU is heading toward a Soviet-style collapse

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros penned an op-ed in The Guardian Tuesday in which he argued that anti-EU forces in the U.K., Germany, Italy and elsewhere are driving the European bloc toward the same fate suffered by the Soviet Union in 1991.

"Most of us assume the future will more or less resemble the present, but this is not necessarily so. In a long and eventful life, I have witnessed many periods of what I call radical disequilibrium. We are living in such a period today."

The big picture: Soros argues that European parliamentary elections in May will be "an inflection point,"with nationalist, Eurosceptic parties projected to win at least one-third of seats, according to the European Council on Foreign Affairs. As kingmakers, these parties could use their vote share to block consensus and limit actions on the rule of law or civil liberties.

Soros highlights the precarious situations in Germany, the U.K., Italy and Hungary as those most threatening to the long-term health of the EU.

  • In Germany, the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has become the largest opposition party in the federal government — and has the establishment parties, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, in retreat.
  • In the U.K., where Brexit will be "the defining event for the country for decades to come," both the Conservative and Labour parties are bitterly divided.
  • In Italy, support for EU membership rests at just 44%, as the country's far-right, populist coalition continues to rail against globalism.
  • And in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has transformed the country into an "illiberal democracy," while the center-right European coalition to which his party belongs — the European People's Party — sits idly by.

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Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade in a $13 billion deal

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Morgan Stanley is planning to buy E*Trade Financial Corp. in a $13 billion all stock deal, the Wall Street Journal reports, with plans to restructure the company known for helping everyday Americans manage their money.

Why it matters: The deal, which would be the largest by a major American bank since the financial crisis, signals Morgan Stanley‘s desire to bulk up in wealth management.

Go deeper: Six of the biggest U.S. banks have weaknesses in their crisis plans

The new not-normal: The Trump state

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump changed how to run for president. Next, he changed the Republican Party. Now, he’s changing the presidency and the boundaries of executive power. 

In the past week, Trump has purged internal dissenters, imported loyalists, pardoned political and financial criminals and continued a running commentary on live Justice Department criminal cases — despite an unprecedented public brushback from his attorney general.

Bloomberg's rough debut

Photo: John Locher/AP

Mike Bloomberg was booed during his debut debate as a Democratic presidential candidate — indicative of a rusty outing where the former New York mayor looked unprepared to respond to obvious lines of attack.

Why it matters ... The debate underscored the Bloomberg’s campaign biggest fear: It's hard to hide to his prickly demeanor. Bloomberg had all the time, practice and forewarning money could buy — and still struggled mightily on the public stage.