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The cost of insuring against a catastrophic US default jumped to its  highest level in more than two years today after talks to prevent a breach of the nation’s $16.7 trillion (£10.5 trillion) debt ceiling faltered.

Portugal’s debt cut to junk in new euro crisis

Christine Lagarde began her first day as the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday facing a new eurozone crisis after the Moody's credit-rating agency consigned Portugal's debt status to junk.

Margareta Pagano: Eastward ho! Go on LSE, carve out a new silk route

I'm not at all surprised or the least bit disappointed that London Stock Exchange's attempt to buy Canada's TMX stock exchange has fallen through. Takeovers between exchanges are famously difficult to achieve as they are such political creatures, if not quasi-national institutions, which inevitably leads to protectionism, if not sentimentality, as the Canadians so vividly demonstrated.

Business Diary: Tepper defends his reputation

Hedge fund manager DavidTepper was yesterday forced to deny suggestions that he was the customer who withdrew $400 (£250) from a bank in the Hamptons. The gentleman in question left his receipt behind and some wit has now published a picture of it.

David Prosser: Equitable Life: An object lesson in how to fail at financial regulation

This will not be the end of the campaign for justice by Equitable savers – and we should not pretend that they have had anything but a raw deal

Lagarde confirmed as head of IMF – and first woman in post

The French Finance minister, Christine Lagarde, was last night named as the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and will begin her term of office on 5 July.

Christine Lagarde set to become new IMF boss

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is poised to become the next leader of the scandal-rocked International Monetary Fund, with a major endorsement from the Obama administration.

Business Diary: Rambourg's act of charity

Another moral victory for Guillaume Rambourg, the star investment manager for whom it all went wrong at Gartmore last year. You will remember he was suspended over allegations of trading irregularities, but subsequently cleared – the affair contributed to a plummet in Gartmore's value and it was eventually sold to Henderson. Now Rambourg has moved his entire stake in Henderson (Gartmore was paid for in paper) into a charitable foundation he runs together with his wife.

Business Diary: The French paint a picture in IMF race

As the final two candidates in the race to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund near the finishing line, their respective supporters are stepping up their campaigns. Especially in France, our correspondents tell us, where every article about the contest features a picture of finance minister Christine Lagarde looking slim and athletic as well as a wide-angle shot of her rival, Mexico's Agustin Carstens, which shows him in his full, corpulent glory. The message about who is more fit to govern the IMF is not even subliminal.

Business Diary: Fischer's bid over before it started

We'd be the last ones to indulge in ageism, but we can't help wondering whether Stanley Fischer, the Bank of Israel Governor barred from standing for election as head of the International Monetary Fund for being too old, was his own worst enemy. Aged 67, he has argued that the age limit of 65 is no longer appropriate, but if you want to show that you're still sprightly and on the ball, filing your job application late is hardly the best way to go about it.

IMF board refusal boost for Lagarde's bid

The International Monetary Fund's board has blocked Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer from the race for the top IMF job, further boosting the chances of French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

Business Diary: Billions of reasons for Scots to stay

The rise and rise of the Scottish National Party has got the Institute of Economic Affairs thinking about Scottish independence – and not in a good way. The IEA's message to the Scots is that if they want to break away from the rest of the UK, they'll have to take their share of the national debt with them. It reckons £110bn, around 10 per cent of the total, is fair because that's Scotland's share of spending. That should give Alec Salmond, the nationalist leader, something to think about.

Anti-capitalist hackers in the frame as IMF reveals cyber attack

Organisation reveals it has been under assault for months
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried