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In story: 27 February 2015

Re: Economy and Finance
( / )
Palast to Syriza: Don't Lie, It's Impossible to End Austerity Within the Eurozone

One issue that has been largely shielded from public scrutiny is the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is essentially proposing to create a largely unregulated free-trade zone between the European Union and the United States. What would such an agreement mean, especially when looking at similar agreements and treaties such as NAFTA or TRIPS or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

Well, the biggest problem for a country like Greece is that, look, Greece has no problem selling olives to Americans or inviting American tourists in. You don't need a free trade agreement to trade goods. This is an agreement to trade bads. What I mean by that is that once you open yourself up to this agreement, then once again you are prohibited from barring all sorts of financial operations that are quite dangerous. You can't restrict currency derivatives trading; you can't restrict credit default swaps; you can't restrict banks moving money in and out freely. By the way, to avoid capital flight, Brazil and Argentina actually instituted capital controls, saying, "If you've removed your money, you've committed a crime." I mean, that's one way to keep the money in the country when you get out of the euro, to say that you can't take your money out - it's illegal. Most of the world, by the way, had rules against moving your money across borders without a good reason, until Ronald Reagan in the 1980s came along.

What this agreement does is - it doesn't create free trade in goods. That you already have in Greece, between Greece and the United States. It is an agreement to create a trade in bads, things you don't want, toxic assets. And let me tell you: Brazil survived the great 2007-2010 crisis in part because Lula, the left-wing president of Brazil, said no to privatization, no to the elimination of the state banks, and most importantly, Brazil was the only member of the World Trade Organization that refused to sign the financial services agreement saying that international banks could operate in Brazil. He said, no way, you can't sell your toxic assets, your derivatives; you can't play games with our currency; we are not allowing it. He absolutely refused, and it's one of the reasons Brazil did so well during the crisis.

If you had the opportunity to speak to the new prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, what advice would you give him?

Don't lie. Don't tell the people that you can say to the Germans, "No, we're not going to accept austerity, and more unemployment, and more cuts to pensions and pay and government services, and stay in the euro." That's a lie. If you want to use Germany's currency, you are under the control of Germany's finance minister. So make a decision: Do you want to be in the euro, or do you want to save Greece? At this point, you can't have it both ways. You can't say that you're going to eliminate the disease of austerity, that you don't want the leprosy, but you want to stay in the leper colony. You can't stay in the eurozone. And you have to be honest about it, because you will not be able to tell Europe, or Finance Minister [Wolfgang] Schauble of Germany, who is running your country's finances right now, you're not going to be able to tell him to go to hell, but yes, we want your currency.



by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on
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The Reality of Retreat | Jacobin

The first sophism: "Syriza has no mandate to quit the eurozone." If it had adopted such a position, it wouldn't have won the elections. Putting it that way, we see how absurd this reasoning is. Yes, of course it had no mandate to quit the eurozone. But it certainly didn't have a mandate to abandon the core of its program in order to hang onto the euro, either!

And, without doubt, if it had presented itself to the electorate saying, "here's our program, but if we find that its implementation is incompatible with keeping the euro, then we'll forget about it," then it wouldn't have achieved much success at the polls. For good reason: keeping the euro at any cost is exactly the same fundamental argument as the pro-memorandum parties who've ruled Greece all these years put forward.

And even if Syriza never fully clarified its position on the euro, it did always reject the logic of "the euro at any price." On that note, let's remember that contrary to what most commentators think, Syriza's programmatic texts do not rule out leaving the eurozone if forced to by the Europeans' intransigence, or defaulting on the debt payments. Though it is true that recently these texts seem to have been rather hidden away.

A second variant of this first sophism: Syriza had a dual mandate of breaking with austerity and staying in the euro. This sounds more rational than the first version, but nonetheless it is still sophistry. It's as if the two sides of this mandate were equally important and thus it would be politically legitimate, if we had to choose (and indeed we do have to choose -- that's precisely the problem), to sacrifice the break with austerity on the altar of keeping the euro. Without having even abandoned its mandate!

But then why not turn that reasoning around and say, "since I realize the two objectives are incompatible, I choose to stick to the break with austerity, since essentially that is the reason why Greeks voted for a party of the radical left?" That is, to opt for the rupture and not stability within the existing framework. We might at least think that this choice is more befitting of a radical left party that sets socialism as its strategic goal (even if that clearly wasn't the agenda on which it won the elections).



by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on
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Palast to Syriza: Don't Lie, It's Impossible to End Austerity Within the Eurozone

Syriza wants to do the impossible, which is to get rid of the austerity that comes with the euro, and yet keep the euro. They want to cure themselves of leprosy, but they don't want to leave the leper colony, and that's impossible.

Let's talk about the history of the euro. You've mentioned in past interviews and articles that you knew the founder of the euro, economist Robert Mundell. Tell us about the economic worldview of Mundell and what his views were in giving birth to the idea of the European common currency.

Mundell, who taught at Columbia University, won the Nobel Prize for his writings on currency, and what's interesting is that he won the Nobel Prize for the theory of optimum currency areas, the theory that nations should join currency unions when they have similar economies. Therefore, agriculture economies should have a joint currency; he thought the US and Canada [should] have two different currencies, east-west, not Canadian-American, but the western US should have one currency with Canada, and eastern Canada and the eastern US should have one currency. In other words, he believed that a combination, like putting Germany in the same currency zone as France and Spain, would be ridiculous; it's a violation of his core theory through which he won the Nobel Prize.

Why is this important? This is the very same guy who is the inventor, you could say, of the euro, which he called the "europa" - that there should be one single common currency for all of Europe, damn the optimum currency theory. Now why would someone suggest a currency that is exactly the opposite of everything he's taught? I spoke to him about this, and he said that it has nothing to do with creating a good currency. It has everything to do with changing the politics of Europe. He was very, very right-wing. He is the creator of another economic theory, which wouldn't get him the Nobel Prize; in fact, it's called "voodoo economics," supply-side economics. That is, the more you cut taxes, the more tax revenue you get. The more deregulation of business you get, the better your economy - and if you deregulated the banks, there would be less risk in the banking system. All of those supply-side systems, which we call "Thatcher economics," "Reaganomics," after Ronald Reagan, it's all been discredited; it's all called "voodoo economics," and yet, that's what the euro is. It's an instrument of voodoo economics. "This was not a mistake; this was not something that they tried to avoid. It is what they wanted to happen, a crisis that would cause a realignment of political power and the end of the European welfare state."



by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on
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Varoufakis is, by now, IMO, a Greek national hero and deservedly so. As Finance Minister for Greece, at this time and this place, he is the classic right man at the right time. Other factors include:

  1. Varoufakis is highly knowledgeable about mainstream economics while being a harsh and effective critic. Thus he can provide a devastating critique of austerity politics from even the mainstream orthodox viewpoint, which drives a wedge between ignorant Fin-Mins and their own advisers, who know V is right and their minister is wrong.

  2. Varoufakis is a populizer of hetrodox economic views and of neglected, misrepresented economic history, such as the entire economic history of Europe from WW II on, as in Global Minotaur. He can and does explain things in ways comprehensible to the average, interested listener. Contrast this to the ability of most 'mainstream economists' who stand on their purchased platforms of authority and spout incomprehensible nonsense on behalf of the rich - mostly. Suffering Europeans could give a FF about posh economist's incomprehensible and counter-intuitive claims of TINA. It has always been my experience that it is those outside of the mainstream consensus that provide the most cogent explanations, IMO, because they actually WANT their reader's/listeners to understand, while the mainstream guys just want to confound them so the STFU. That doesn't work once they have gotten a clear explanation that does make sense.

  3. Varoufakis' persona, charisma and forceful defense of the underdog in this struggle has to strike resonant chords amongst all who are suffering under current rules of received stupidity, supported as they are solely by assertion and repetition on owned media. He is a man amongst curmudgeons, dolts, dotards, and two bit political posers.

Imagine had John Maynard Keynes occupied Varoufakis' persona and been in a comparable political position. We cannot know how this will unfold, but, at the least, the proponents of the status quo are or should be very concerned. But this brings up my last point:

4) Historically, revolutions succeed against incompetent and/or outmanned governments. I don't think the current leadership of Europe still gets the threat they are under and the refusal of Germany and the other beneficiaries of the current inequitable situation to allow the development of a coherent European state with effective European wide institutions is about to come back and bite them fatally. Even those who get the problem will not have the tools they need to fight against it.

I think the current EPP dominated politics and the existing EuroGroup arrangements, at a minimum, are going down along with the imposed reality that supported them - collapsing under the death of a thousand cuts. The nature of the succeeding regime is less clear and will likely vary country by country. That is better than having one malignant captured structure being used to oppress all in the interests of tiny elites. I believe we are at one of those points in history where the world can change as if in the twinkling of an eye. All is in flux. Interesting times! I am the most hopeful I have been in 50+ years as an adult.

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on
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I agree on both points, excepting Syriza's knowledge of the characters of its interlocutors. First, there was the public record, second, there were the sympathetic Greek leaders who had prior experience in government and passed this on to Syriza, and, third, there was Varoufakis, who has become a public figure and established many bases of support, including the LBJ Center at University of Texas with Jamie Gailbraith, who, it turns out, has long experience with and wide knowledge of the European governments, especially the treasury and finance ministers, as Congressional staff for Democrats in Washington. Upstate New York mentioned this in an earlier post. Similarly with Michael Hudson, who was also involved as an advisor to Varoufakis.

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on
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The problem with keeping your country's surplus jingoist teenagers from joining militant groups overseas is that then they might join militant groups at home...

If I were willing to entertain the laughable notion of Dave from Marketing's government being competent, I would posit that they have here managed to kill three birds with one stone (and you should pardon the pun):

  • They are getting rid of three unwanted militants, courtesy of Kurdish bullets.
  • They might get rid of a few Kurds as well, which from the perspective of the British government would be a feature rather than a bug.
  • They get to salve their imperial phantom limb pain a bit by grandstanding to the Ottoman envoy Turkish ambassador.

From the perspective of the British government, the only thing that could go seriously wrong here would be for Turkey to actually find the girls and ship them back home alive.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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... the extent of what Greece had managed to secure in that deal. If Varoufakis' team had managed only half of what they in fact did achieve, I would have considered it a minor miracle.

The argument that they could have gotten more with a more conciliatory approach has at least two more strikes against it than the ones you enumerate:

First, Syriza was playing against the clock before this agreement. Every week by which Athens delayed even a partial retaking of its sovereignty would have killed on the order of two hundred Greeks, and soured several percentage points of the population on Syriza.

Second, at least some members of the Eurogroup either are or do a convincing impression of being flat out psychopaths acting in transparently bad faith. With psychopaths there are no long plays, and trust-building gestures are totally worthless. And Syriza had very little access to the kind of inside knowledge that would have allowed them to ascertain what fraction of their interlocutors fell in that group, or were effectively controlled by others who did.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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Here's the thing. They're making a big fuss about these minors travelling in Turkey, but nobody thought it unusual that they should travel to Turkey.

It isn't right that minors should travel internationally without the consent of their parents. Is this not an issue in the UK, for some reason?

by eurogreen on
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In story: The new Greek government program

Re: This could have gone worse, no?
( / )
Guess it would mean "The Troika don't need no stinkin books!"

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on
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In the longer term they will be waiting for him in the long grass if he has made any enemies. The next phase is about building trust, not ambushing people.

Varoufakis needs tactical victories right here, right now, or he won't have any "long term" to worry about.

In the long term, Greece can afford to have Varoufakis take the fall for their guerrilla tactics, as long as he wins enough fights first.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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Normally, I would fully agree.

However, Turkey has a bit of a history of taking a wink-wink-nudge-nudge attitude to mass murderers, slave traders, serial rapists and other scum traveling to Syrian Kurdistan to stir up shit.

So in this particular case I think it's totally justified.

- Jake

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on
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In story: The new Greek government program

Re: This could have gone worse, no?
( / )
The Troika doesn't have oversight.

The Troika is the oversight.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on
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It would have to be via a new complementary internal currency or equivalent that expansionary programs would be undertaken. The domestic electronic payment system will serve that purpose if it even just provides supplementary income to older workers, as would the re-purposed bit coin about which Varoufakis wrote.

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on
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In story: The new Greek government program

Re: This could have gone worse, no?
( / )
And if there are not what does that say about the 'oversight' of the Troika?

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on
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In story: 26 February 2015

Re: People and Klatsch
( / )
I think they have a little competition for who can say the most outrageous idiocy.

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on
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In story: 26 February 2015

Re: Living off the Planet
( / )
but of course. We are bonded to our corporate overlords land and we rent the air from them.

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on
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Because large wide-ranging governmental IT project have an unparalleled record of success in the UK....NOT!!!!

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on
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Am I the only one who thinks that summoning the ambassador to explain his country's inability to know where teenage runaways are is just a teensy bit patronising?

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on
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In story: 27 February 2015

Re: Economy and Finance
( / )
Gazprom threatens Ukraine gas cutoff by end of week | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

A spokesman for Gazprom appeared on Russian TV on Thursday saying that Ukraine was running short on gas.

"With the current level of supplies, prepayments will be enough only up till the end of the week," said Sergei Kupriyanov on Rossiya-24 TV. "If Kyiv doesn't make new payments, then naturally we won't be able to continue supplying Ukraine with gas."

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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German Jewish leader: Don′t wear kippa in Muslim areas | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015
A Jewish leader in Germany advised men not to wear kippas in Muslim-dominated areas of some cities. On Thursday, Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews, told the Inforadio radio station for Berlin's RBB public broadcaster that community members should not hide out of fear and that most religious institutions had sufficient protection, but added that men should nevertheless avoid displaying their faith in certain areas. Schuster said some Jews had reported verbal and even physical abuse against pedestrians in such areas.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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Argentina judge dismisses cover-up case against President Fernandez | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

An Argentine judge on Thursday threw out a case against President Cristina Fernandez, in which it was claimed she conspired to spare Iranian officials from prosecution over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Prosecutors had attempted to relaunch the case against Fernandez, following the mysterious death of their colleague Alberto Nisman. Nisman was pursuing the case himself when he was found shot dead in his apartment on January 18.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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In story: 27 February 2015

Re: Living On the Planet
( / )
Astronomers discover supermassive black hole | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

The mass of the extra-large black hole now discovered by astronomers is larger than that of 12 billion suns. Most laypeople have a hard time imagining what that means. Try to picture this black hole sucking in everything that comes too close, due to its enormous mass.

As black holes do, this supermassive black hole sits at the center of its galaxy, like a spider in its web. It swallows up everything around it - gas, dust, stars - getting bigger and bigger that way. Shortly before all this material disappears forever in the hole's greedy gorge, a bright light is emitted due to extreme heat that is created in the process.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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Lynch′s US attorney general nomination advances | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Loretta Lynch 12-8 in Thursday's vote, clearing her path to a confirmation hearing in the Senate. The 55-year-old career prosecutor is currently the chief US attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Only three Republicans - Arizona's Jeff Flake, Utah's Orrin Hatch, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - endorsed Lynch's nomination. The panel's nine Democrats unanimously backed her.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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′IS′ abducts Syria Christians, destroys Iraq artifacts | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

The US-led coalition launched airstrikes against "Islamic State" after the group kidnapped 220 Assyrians - one of the highest hostage tolls since the sudden "IS" seizure of territory in both Syria and Iraq last summer. The fate of the Christians, believed to still be in Syria, remains unknown.

On Wednesday evening, the UN Security Council had "strongly condemned" the abductions, which began earlier this week, and demanded the immediate release of hostages taken by IS and similar groups. The United States also condemned the attacks, threatening that the international community had united in its resolve to "end ISIL's depravity," using an acronym for the group's former name.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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German nurse convicted of patient murders | Germany | DW.DE | 26.02.2015
On Thursday, a court in the northern German city of Oldenburg sentenced 38-year-old nurse Niels H. to life behind bars. As well as stripping him of his nursing license, the court also ruled out the possibility of parole after serving 15 years, due to the particular severity of the crime.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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In story: 27 February 2015

Re: Economy and Finance
( / )
Germany set to approve Greek bailout extension | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) voted overwhelmingly in a test ballot on Thursday to approve the proposed extension of Greece's bailout.

News agencies cited CDU sources who said just 22 of the conservative party's parliamentarians voted against extending the bailout, while five abstained. Together, the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, CSU, have a total of 311 seats in the lower house Bundestag.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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In story: 27 February 2015

Re: Living On the Planet
( / )
Unexploded WWII bomb found near Dortmund′s Signal Iduna Park | Germany | DW.DE | 26.02.2015
Just hours before Dortmund head coach Jürgen Klopp was due to give his press conference ahead of the derby against Schalke, a 250-kilogram (550-pound) unexploded bomb of British origin was discovered near Borussia Dortmund's stadium, the Signal Iduna Park. The bomb was difused at just after 15:00 local time (14:00 UTC), whereupon it was taken to a temporary holding in Hagen before it will later be destroyed in a disassembly plant in North Rhein-Westphalia.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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′Islamic State′ executioner with London accent identified, media reports | News | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

The BBC and Washington Post reported on Thursday that the man who appeared wearing a ski mask in the execution videos had been identified as Mohammed Emwazi.

In his mid-20s, Emwazi is said to be from a well-to-do family and to have a degree in computer programming. He is said to have grown up in west London after moving to the UK with his parents from Kuwait at the age of six. After that, the Post reported that he was believed to have traveled to Syria in 2012.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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Opinion: Foreign policy in times of crisis | Germany | DW.DE | 26.02.2015

Two foreign office departments will be merged into one, a new department established, routine work eliminated and new priorities set. At first glance, the results of "Review 2014" don't seem to be particularly sensational. It was under this banner that the foreign ministry closely scrutinized foreign policy for more than a year, with contributions from experts, from the public and department employees.

What is running smoothly, and what is going wrong? What does the new German foreign policy have to look like?

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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In story: 27 February 2015

Re: Economy and Finance
( / )
′Greece′s problem is lack of demand, not skills′ | Business | DW.DE | 25.02.2015
Rania Antonopoulos: I've been working on a "job guarantee" concept since 2006. It's intended to give any unemployed person who asks a publicly funded job at minimum wage if they are unable to find work in the private sector. In 2011-12, I worked with the Greek labor ministry on a small-scale trial project. Now Syriza has announced it will try to create 300,000 jobs, to help deal with Greece's humanitarian crisis.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on
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News and Views

 27 February 2015

by In Wales - Feb 26, 32 comments

Your take on today's news media

 26 February 2015

by dvx - Feb 25, 54 comments

Your take on today's news media

 Open Thread of the Week

by afew - Feb 23, 40 comments

23/02 - 01/03

 Open Thread of the Week

by afew - Feb 16, 38 comments

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