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Play now 18 mins

Creditwatch negative

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 06 December 2011

The markets have been demanding a "big bazooka" - a comprehensive response to the eurozone crisis - for months now. Yet the moment Germany and France deliver just such a grand bargain - new fiscal rules for eurozone countries - the credit rating agency Standards and Poor's gives warning that it has put almost the entire eurozone on what it ominously calls a "creditwatch negative". That's ratings-speak for an impending downgrade.

So why does S&P judge the eurozone's credit rating has slipped within hours of the big announcement? Justin Rowlatt interviews Andrew Walker, the BBC's economics correspondent.

Plus - can the trade in conflict minerals ever be stopped? The US Congress has passed a law which requires companies to trace the origins of some rare minerals used in their products. The law is part of the Dodd Frank Act, a big finance reform bill. The BBC's Michelle Fleury reports from New York on whether conflict in a country thousands of miles away can really be stopped at the stroke of a legislator's pen.

One of the key conflict minerals, Coltan doesn't look very exciting. It is a dull black metal without which our new world of potent, portable consumer electronics simply wouldn't exist. Tantalum from Coltan is used to manufacture the miniature electronic capacitors for mobile phones and computers. Michael Nest, has studied the tantalum industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is the author of the book Coltan. Justin Rowlatt asked him how this mineral fuels conflict.

And finally Justin Rowlatt interviews Aidan Daly, Director of the International Council on Mining and Metals, which advocates the case for sustainable practices in the mining industry. He asks whether Dodd Frank will actually reduce conflict in the DRC.

  • Can conflict minerals really be controlled?

    Can conflict minerals really be controlled?

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act signed by President Obama in August 2010 will have implications beyond the canyons of Manhattan and the wider US

    Read more on the BBC News website


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