Counting the Cost
Portugal from the top
We talk to Portugal's prime minister about the eurozone debt crisis, plus, Chinese president Hu's visit to the US.
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2011 15:21 GMT

My apologies that the blogs for this show can be a bit intermittent, but - as they say - where does the time go?! Splitting duties between News and CTC can stretch one a little thin sometimes ... but then I'm sure I've made that excuse before.

Anyway, this week is quite a special edition of Counting the Cost.

For the first time we have the sitting leader of a country appearing exclusively on the show. He is José Sócrates, the prime minister of Portugal - a country we featured only last week because of its apparent declining fortunes.

"We don't need any kind of help but confidence"


I say 'apparent' because PM Sócrates is an extraordinarily confident man, for the leader of a country considered Europe's next financial basketcase. 

He said, quite frankly, that when he became prime minister in 2005 Portugal was facing a not-dissimilar public deficit crisis, and that he was successful in reducing that deficit.

His exact words after that were "I've done it before and I'll do it again". 

He also said, repeatedly, that Portugal does not need any financial assistance.

I had to admire the man's fortitude, whilst never losing the (so far avoided) image of him announcing an IMF/EU bailout for Portugal.

More Europe, not less

PM Sócrates also makes an impassioned case for 'the power of Europe'. 

Whilst many now look upon the eurozone as something of a failure, Sócrates seems to be saying that this is Europe's time to show how strong it really can be, and to come good on the promises made by those who formed it. He is a Euro-tragic and believes the answers to the continent's problems lie within.

And I guess it does bear reminding that the Euro as a currency is only 12 years old and clearly hasn't had to deal with this level of crisis before. This is its moment of reckoning, in a way. I think it will still be a while before there will be any huge level of confidence again in the Euro again, but speaking to PM Sócrates did make me consider its worthiness for a moment.

Apple's Christmas present

Not a story we are covering in this show, but something I looked at in some depth on Al Jazeera News during the week.

Apple had, as they say, 'mixed fortunes' this week. 

First the news that CEO Steve Jobs was taking extended sick leave. We don't know exactly why, but we DO know he's had to deal with cancer in the past ... so it is undoubtedly worrying for the company, its employees and its investors. True, one man does not maketh a company, but he is a huge part of its resurgence in the last decade or so. 

So there was a bit of a dip in Apple's share price in Europe, but luckily Wall Street was on a public holiday so it largely missed the bad news. Europe recovered quickly too.

That was in no small part due to Apple's quite extraordinary fourth quarter results.

How extraordinary? Well, watch this:

Apologies for the quality of the clip ... but I was actually rather proud of this little segment. Obviously it's not a real touchscreen in the videowall, but I reckon I made it look like it was!

Anyway hope you will join us for CTC this week ... commercial-free and in-depth, just for you!

This episode of Counting the Cost can be seen from Friday, January 21, at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.

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