Greeks hold general strike against austerity measures – live updates

Unions have called a 24-hour walkout in protest at Greece’s latest package of tax rises and pension reforms

Protests in Athens this morning
Unions pledge to fight bailout measuresGloomy Draghi sends euro to seven-month low

9.05am GMT

9.03am GMT

It’s wrong to blame the European Central Bank for the austerity misery suffered by bailed-out eurozone members, Mario Draghi claims.

Since 2010, three countries have now successfully completed their programmes, and Ireland is a particularly good example of how such programmes can deliver the necessary adjustment and restore financial stability, economic competitiveness and fiscal sustainability. It has shown that a country which takes strong ownership of its programme can come out of it with robust growth and a more stable financial system, and that eventually employment will also rebound.

There is no doubt that the adjustment process was painful. But we should keep in mind that the adjustment would have caused significantly more hardship in the absence of financial assistance. The programmes had to address excessive macroeconomic imbalances which had accumulated over several years in the run-up to the crisis, often reflecting misguided national economic policies.

#Draghi on harshness of euro-area bailout programs: “don’t blame the fire damage on the fire brigade”

Draghi: Let’s not forget that Ireland’s banking crisis was “entirely home-made”

8.48am GMT

#Draghi talks, the euro tanks. Now below 1.07, new 7-month low.

8.47am GMT

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has begun testifying to the European Parliament, and sent the euro falling.

Draghi began by warning that the eurozone faces clear ‘downside risks’ from the global economy, and weakening inflation pressure too.

Euro draghid lower as #ECB’s Draghi sees downside econ risks.

Downside risks stemming from global growth and trade are clearly visible.

Moreover, inflation dynamics have somewhat weakened, mainly due to lower oil prices and the delayed effects of the stronger euro exchange rate seen earlier in the year. In addition, price pressures – such as from producer prices – remain very subdued.

#Draghi At our December monetary policy meeting, we will re-examine the degree of monetary policy accommodation #ECB #QE

ECB’s Draghi: QE would run beyond end-September 2016 if needed

8.32am GMT

Today’s walkout could be the start of a winter of discontent in Greece.

Unions are vowing to intensify the pressure against further austerity measures being implemented, arguing that Greek citizens cannot take any more.

“The winter is going to be explosive and this will mark the beginning,” said Grigoris Kalomoiris, a leading member of the civil servants’ union Adedy.

“When the average wage has already been cut by 30%, when salaries are already unacceptably low, when the social security system is at risk of collapse, we cannot sit still,” he said.

Related: ‘Our rage will be relentless’: Syriza faces mass strike in Greece

8.31am GMT

Back in the City, shares in UK engineering group Rolls-Royce have plunged by a fifth at the start of trading.

Related: Rolls-Royce share price plunges after latest profit warning

8.12am GMT

All Greece’s public services, including tax offices and utilities, are due to be closed today to mark the general strike:

Public hospitals will be operating with skeleton staff. Pharmacists, doctors, teachers and bank employees will also walk off the job.

The Athens metro will be shut throughout the day, as will the Proastiakos suburban railway and intercity trains. The Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway (ISAP) will only operate between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Buses in the capital will be out of service before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. There will be no ferry connections between the mainland and the islands as the Panhellenic Seamens’ Federation (PNO) is also joining in the strike. Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air have announced flight cancellations for Thursday.

8.01am GMT

Belgium’s finance minister has just blasted Greece’s ruling party for backing today’s general strike, against a bailout it signed up to.

Johan Van Overtveldt tweeted that the move “strange and dangerous”, at a time when Athens should be racing to meet its bailout targets.

Strange & dangerous logic in Athens: Syriza organises strike against program its own government pledges to execute. Sense of urgency needed.

7.58am GMT

In what may be a first for the eurozone, today’s general strike is actually supported by the ruling party, Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza coalition.

Yesterday Syriza’s Labor Policy Department called on all workers, unemployed, pensioners and students to join the general strike on Thursday.

#greek general strike is supported by the key Government party against the measures of which it is targeted. #oxymoron #surreal

7.40am GMT

Today’s walkout is the first general strike to hit Greece under prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s leadership:

It will be a new experience for the left-wing leader, as Bloomberg reports:

As Greek workers take to the streets in protest on Thursday, Alexis Tsipras will for the first time be on the other side of the barricades.

Unions — a key support base for the prime minister’s Syriza party — will chant the same slogans Tsipras once used against opponents. Doctors and pharmacists will join port workers, civil servants and Athens metro staff in Greece’s first general strike since he took office in January, bringing the country to a standstill for 24 hours.

Greece comes to a standstill as general strike sees unions turn against PM

7.26am GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

Plenty of Fed speakers today: #Yellen,Evans, #Lacker, #Dudley.First peep from Yellen since last week’s #payroll blockbuster. @newsdotmarkets

Engine maker Rolls-Royce cuts profit forecast again – fourth profit warning in just over a year

Continue reading…

Delicate but pivotal: Iran’s factional politics explained

Struggles intensify as elections loom in February. But succession to Ayatollah Khamenei as leader appears to be at the centre of the in-fighting, says Gareth Smyth

Iranian politics is entering a delicate and perhaps pivotal period. Factional struggles, always lively, have intensified since July’s nuclear agreement with world powers, while the reformists are also pushing gently to return to mainstream politics.

The economy has slipped, perhaps back into recession, as Iran waits for financial and energy sanctions to ease early in 2016. While growth should resume next year, this is an awkward time for the government of Hassan Rouhani as elections loom in February for both parliament and majles-e khobregan (Assembly of Experts), the directly elected body of clerics that chooses the supreme leader.

Related: ‘A new wave of repression is imminent in Iran’

Related: How Iran’s beleaguered reformist party has been reincarnated once again

Continue reading…