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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.

Margareta Pagano: Should we care about all these alpha males?

What a week it's been for alpha males behaving badly.

Cameron prefers France's Lagarde over Brown to be new head of IMF

The Prime Minister and Chancellor have briefed against the former PM

Business Diary: Men only at the top of the IMF?

If Christine Lagarde does get the top job at the International Monetary Fund, as so many people now expect her to, she might want to cast her eyes over the by-laws of the authority, which aren't exactly what one would call inclusive – indeed, they appear to discount any chance of the French Finance Minister being appointed.

Europeans race to nominate Strauss-Kahn successor

European leaders raced today to nominate a successor for fallen IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn before a G8 summit next week, with French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde in pole position.

Lagarde the early favourite to take over as head of IMF

If a European does get the IMF job, it is difficult to see one getting the World Bank job. Mr Brown may be stymied

Business Diary: Time is cheap for Bank's Tucker

Paul Tucker, the Bank of England's Deputy Governor, was sporting what appeared to be a newish Swatch timepiece at yesterday's big bash on banking regulation. Until recently he could be seen wearing something a bit chunkier and more expensive-looking. Is he following in the footsteps of Standard Chartered boss Peter Sands, who has worn his trademark Swatch for years? And could understatement now be making a belated comeback in the City?

Lagarde profile: An alternative to the conventional politician

Christine Lagarde is, after President Sarkozy, the most recognisable face of the French government outside the country.

Sean O'Grady: Not a job for Europe's rock star

The IMF used to be an organisation in which the rich economies of the West bailed out the distressed economies of the emerging world. Now the position is precisely reversed.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn quits IMF over charges

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has been widely praised for his leadership of the Intentional Monetary Fund and its involvement in solving Europe's woes, resigned today to devote "all his energy" to fighting sexual assault charges in New York.

Leading article: This decision should not be made in haste

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation in which Dominique Strauss-Kahn currently finds himself, the US Treasury Secretary was clearly right to say he was "not in a position to run the IMF". Adding his voice to that of European officials who have hinted broadly that Mr Strauss-Kahn should step down, Timothy Geithner said directly that the IMF's executive board should designate an interim head.

Cameron says Brown is wrong man for IMF job

Gordon Brown's hopes of becoming head of the International Monetary Fund are fading as he struggles to win support at home and abroad.

China reluctant to get involved in balancing act

Hopes for an agreement to address the huge trade surpluses being run up by China, Japan, Germany and other successful exporters – the most important of the so-called global imbalances – were dashed even before the first G20 summit under French chairmanship got under way in Paris.

Christine Lagarde: 'There should never be too much testosterone in one room'

The Monday Interview: France's image abroad has not always been enhanced by Nicolas Sarkozy. Which makes Christine Lagarde's value to her country all the greater. John Lichfield met her

It's time to grow up, advisers tell Sarkozy

Almost four years after taking office, President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to become the President of France. That is to say, he has been instructed by his advisers that his hopes of re-election next spring will increase enormously if he acts in a more "presidential" manner.

Margareta Pagano: Quotas for women! Why their time has come

France's Finance Minister was set against forcing firms to put more females on their boards, but she has changed her mind – and with good reason
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
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Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee