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Thu May 14th, 2015 at 02:31:41 AM EST
Tue May 12th, 2015 at 08:02:47 AM EST
A recent satire,
Wed May 6th, 2015 at 07:28:12 AM EST
Thu Apr 2nd, 2015 at 07:23:29 AM EST
Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:44:51 AM EST
TB is coming to a country near you.
We talk about pain, suffering, unemployment, falling discretionary income, new classes of people rummaging in the garbage for food, and homelessness. All true, all so painfully true.
But it goes further than this: austerity kills.
It kills in the form of limited access to health care in the face of cuts to healt spending in Portugal. It kills in the form of suicide among the desperate in Greece, who really haven't yet come to grips with what is befalling them, not unlike workers of the earliest generation of the industrial revolution, and where Dmitris Christoulas, distraught pensioner seeing his access to health care cut and the pension for which had had worked a lifetime ripped out from under him.
Austerity, all in the name of aid from EU institutions and the IMF.
We've been here before. After the the fall of the various Comecon régimes in the 1990's, the IMF was also on the scene providing "development" loans to newly autonomous countries of the former Soviet Union as well numerous countries in eastern and central Europe. "Aid" and technical "advice," but as always with the IMF, with a major string (even a rope) attached: liberalisation, austerity, elimination of as many vital roles of the previously social states as possible.
front-paged by afew
Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 09:04:16 AM EST
I think we agree in varying measuresthat the EU and the Euro project both face existential challenges, with symptoms of those challenges being an increasingly acute financial crisis, a progressive deficit in democratic institutions among member states (with the EU effectively installing caretaker governments in, so far, two member states, Greece and Italy) as well as a persistent deficit in the putatively democratic institutions of the EU itself (whose parliament has been shown to be effectively irrelevant in confronting any of the major issues of the EU day).
In this, and especially as regards the first point, we are far from alone, with numerous commentators, though principally in the English-speaking world (accompanied by some on Europe's non-anglophone periphery, and in particular in Greece, where the crisis is most acutely felt), lamenting the rank inability of those insitutions which have the power to confront these challenges (principally among them the ECB, the European Commission and the dominant memberstate institutions behind these, notably the Bundesbank and the governments in Berlin and, to a lesser extent, Paris) to actually do anything other than fiddle and fudge, declaring victory as they negotiate yet another "historical" yet inconsequential (or, at least, far from up-to-the-task) accord, agreement or memorandum of understanding.
Today, George Soros, on the pages of the FT, adds his voice (paywall) ever more explicitly to the chorus, arguing that far from abating, the euro crisis is getting worse. The ECB may have provided temporary relief (in the form of 1tn free liquidity) to the sovereign credit crunch, stabilizing markets for the time being, a time which will not last long.
Why? Because the fundamental problems have not been solved; the BOP issues between debtor and creditor member states have worsened and will not improve without action. He therefore argues "the crisis has entered what may be a less volatile but more lethal phase."
Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:19:09 AM EST
Today comes news, via Le Monde, that the Pirate Party has surged to third place in a major German poll in advance of next years elections:
Dans la foulée de ses très bons résultats aux élections du Land de Berlin, fin 2011 (8,6 % des voix), le Parti pirate allemand (PiratenPartei, PP) grimpe à grande vitesse dans les sondages. Pour la première fois, un sondage réalisé par l'institut Forsa pour le compte de RTL et du quotidien Stern place les Pirates devant les Verts, avec 13 % des intentions de vote.
Following its very successful election of Berlin, 2011 (8.6% of the vote), the German Pirate Party (Piratenpartei, PP) is rising rapidly in the polls. For the first time, a poll by Forsa institute on behalf of RTL and Stern peg the Pirates ahead of the Greens, with 13% of the vote.
Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:49:45 PM EST
Yesterday and today, a bit of a spat has broken out between Daniel Cohn-Bendit,supposed "revolutionary" of 1968 and EELV Eurodeputy, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate for French President who actually talks the language of Revolution and polling well because of it . Cohn-Bendit gave an interview to Le Monde, the press organ of the centre and centre-left professional classes in France. In that interview (reproduced below) Cohn-Bendit attacks Mélenchon for being, among other things, simplistic, not committed to Europe, anti-American, and unrealistic.
In response, Mélenchon, who is polling in the mid-teens and is in many polls now in third place for the first round of voting in a fortnight (ahead of both the National Front's Marine Le Pen and the New Centre's François Bayrou, not to mention EELV's candidate, Eva Joly, polling in the 1-2% range and going nowhere), hits back hard (also reproduced below).
More over the flip.
Thu Mar 15th, 2012 at 11:58:11 AM EST
The European Supercup has, for three year's running, been won by a Spanish side, as have the past six of ten. Four of the past eight Uefa cup winners have been Spanish, as have three of the past seven Champion's League title holders. No less than five Spanish clubs have regularly vied for top European honors: FC Barcelona and Réal Madrid, of course, but also Atletico Madrid, FC Sevilla, and Valencia. No other nation comes close in terms of honors won over the past decade of European club play, Italy a distant second with not even half the success measured in titles. And, financial crisis or no, five Spanish clubs have qualified for the quarterfinals of the two main European club championships, four of the aforementioned in addition to Atletico Bilbao.
(To put this into context France has seen no European club champion in any of the three cups since 1993).
But success isn't the only thing Spanish football sides have in common, far from it. In addition to sticking it to the competition over the years, Spanish footballers and their owners have also been sticking it to the taxman:
Wed Mar 14th, 2012 at 07:31:07 AM EST
We've been on and on lately about the economic orthodoxy emanating from Germany, and supported by its allies the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg and Finland, the jist of which is that there is no macro-economic problem in the Eurozone which cannot be solved by austerity. Eurozone-wide budget rules pushed forward by the German Bundesbank as the price of Germany's entry into the single currency, and first enshrined in what Romano Prodi rightfully described as the Growth and Stupidity Act, were meant to be respected! And never mind that the two largest Eurozone economies, Germany and France, have already breached those rules in pre-crisis times, now that we have a proper economic crisis, with huge balance of payments imbalances provoking severe fiscal strain on the Eurozone's periphery, it is time for the "garlic belt" in the south + Ireland to "tighten their belt" in ever-deeper waves of cuts to salaries, public services, pensions and other government participation in the economy so that
bank shareholders in the Eurozone core can be protected from the logical losses they would otherwise suffer due to systemic risk inherent in their investments in Europe's periphery budgets can be balanced and European citizens can get the government they deserve.
Mark Rutte's "pro-business" government in the Netherlands has been out front, if this were possible, of Germany in efforts to force the laggards in the south and in Ireland to heel, being behind a sovereinty-stripping proposal (without, this being Europe, any institutionalised democratic underpinning for it) to create a Eurozone czar to control member-state fiscal policy. After previously contributing the Bolkestein Directive ostensibly meant to liberalise service provision in the EU, ,the Netherlands is again leading the way to providing anti-democratic neo-liberal regression solutions to the rest of our lot. After all, the 3% of GDP public deficit rule enshrined in the Growth and Stupidity Act must be obeyed, and a friendly and newly-empowered bureaucrat from Brussels is here to "help" you do it.
So it is with no small amount of schadenfreude that we see the Netherlands struggling with its own budget issues:
Promoted by Colman
Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:37:23 PM EST
At the beginning of the financial crisis, in 2008, many of us could see what was coming, at various speeds we many of us came to similar conclusions concerning the mess our respective economies were going to find themselves. And as we came to similar conclusions albeit at differing speeds, the lag between those speeds gave rise to some occasionally ill-tempered discourse. I recall in particular, in viewing the fallout from Lehman, seeing aggregate demand plummet nearly immediately, and globally (I direct the planning and analysis department of a medium-large multinational whose topline, statistically-speaking, tracks GDP growth nearly in real time, with a beta of a bit more than two).
Many subjects were covered, starting back then - stimulus (we were already talking about this in the fall of 2008!), the coming unemployment crisis (I think I called Spain's 20+% unemployment rate back in September 2008, it was around 10% then), banking reform, Iceland, Ireland...and later, Portugal, Greece, et c....and it is fun to watch the arguments rehashed over and again. Of late, those arguments have been spiced up by some German contributors who've dutifully repeated for us German economic conventional wisdom, but this is just the latest chapter in the saga...
But I read something today which gave me pause:
Sun Jun 19th, 2011 at 04:27:31 AM EST
As unemployment among the newest working generation passes 50% on the "periphery," (aside...periphery = Anglo-German euphemism meant to encapsule Spain, country clearly at the center of Europe, at the front lines of the last time we actually fought over something worth fighting for), and as a whole new generation decides to take a pass on "democracy," an institution which serves no one but our elites...
Wed Nov 10th, 2010 at 05:47:22 AM EST
Closer to home, accross the Channel from here, our neighbours in the UK await the impact of austerity measures agreed by a centre-left/rightwing coalition government, the result a a systemic failure by the previous centrist Labour government to represent its core constituency: workers.
NLR's latest issue editorializes on what this means for Britain, and in fact, for all of us:
Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 08:35:11 AM EST
Suspecting there's a lot of anxiety and sadness hereabouts given the successes of the Sarkozy government to ignore overwhelming popular rejection, in the streets and in polls, of his retirement "reform" package, similar austerity measures in Germany, far worse in Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and coming soon the UK.
Add to this the drubbing the centre-right Obama government in the US took from the far-right, and it appears that those of us who aren't extremist neo-liberals in the West are losing on all fronts.
What to do? Despair? I note this a bit in comments to ATinNM's diary, as well as in the diary itself. And yet, and yet, these are exciting times for those of us on the left, we only have to look at it a bit differently.
Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 05:41:50 AM EST
"Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should."
Alan Greenspan, Letter to the Editor of the NY Times, 1957, in defence of Ayn Rand's seminal work of ressentiment, Atlas Shrugged
I never thought I'd agree with Alan Greenspan on anything, ideologically speaking, until earlier this week. As the chief practitioner and high priest of Anglo-American, so-called "laissez faire" Capitalism, the great oracle of Objectivist Social Darwinism stood for everything which was wrong with first England, and shortly thereafter America, beginning in the late 1970's. The ideology he represented, rightfully seen as the reactionary, hateful musings of a bitter bourgeoise émigrée from the Soviet Union back when they were first published fifty years ago (Mr. Greenspan's letter, excerpt reproduced above, was in response to a NY Times book review critic who rightfully opined that Atlas Shrugged was "written out of hate"), has done more damage to human progress in the West than any other ideology in the post-war period.
Bubbles from the diaries - afew
Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:00:02 AM EST
In the SW Suburbs of Paris, wedged between the lungs of Paname, Forêt de Meudon on one side, Forêt de Fausses-Reposes on the other, my house sits, with a big ass barbeque grill which braved the -20 Minnesota winters but alas isn't a big fan of the 3 degrees and rain Paris winters. (Note from bbq...wtf? You promised me the Var. Why have you forsaken me?)
But, I am told, Paris actually becomes tolerable, climate wise, in March. So, it's time for couscous and barbeque at my place.
Thu Feb 19th, 2009 at 02:47:53 AM EST
The Anglo-American banking system is collapsing all around us. Each day brings a new revelation. Insane executive pay packages to reward substandard management practices, leading to predictable systemic financial failure and implosion of the businesses they poorly led. Credit then freezes, as no one in a position of fiduciary trust trusts anyone else in such a position. Since credit is the grease which has smoothed the edges of the present global expansion, the credit freezes squelches economic activity far and wide, leading to mass lay-offs, or if you are "lucky," wage cuts, reduced pensions and benefits, and an all around increased sense of vulnerability.
No one is immune. The Americans and their Anglo-allies in London may have driven this credit boom predictably off off a cliff, but theirs was, as in transportation, a hub and spoke operation, and it isn't only the hub taking a beating. So are the many spokes, with unpredictable effects far afield from the collapse itself. It is therefore not surpising, in retrospect, that the Japanese and the Germans also pursue the same logic of downwardly spiraling economic prospects.
And, of course, none of our elites are accountable for their crimes, war or economic.
So you're saying, "sure Redstar, I get all this, I read the news same as you. It's Anglo-disease or so other neo-liberal rot, but what are we to do?" The short answer, increasingly finding a refrain in the words of Nobel Prize winners Stiglitz and Krugman, not to mention Doctor Doom himself, is one word: Nationalisation.
"Sure," you're saying, "I heard that too, but I don't have a pig in the pot, little debt, I rent my place, the banks aren't my problem. I mean, sure, I want the bastards to give back the money they stole, but how does this effect me other than my rage? Let `em go bust and the hell with them. It's not in (insert name of your country)'s cultural values to nationalise anything, that's so mid-20th century.
In short, the reason why you should care whether the government runs the banks: your job depends upon it, as does that of a number of those close to your.
from the diaries - afew
Wed Feb 18th, 2009 at 12:28:48 PM EST
Jérôme has already blogged the unrest in France spreading out from Guadelope on the front page. And indeed, the unrest is spreading to other DOM/TOM, to neighbouring Martinique,with a general strike called not just for Guadeloupe, but for the rest of the DOM/TOM and, hopefully, to the Metropole as well:
After nearly a month of general strikes in Guadeloupe and the beginning of social unrest in Martinique, a 4,000-strong protest for better purchasing power in the islands.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon's Parti de Gauche, Lutte Ouvrière, Olivier Besancenot's NPA and other anti-capitalist movements on the left protested against the effects of the crisis alongside Antillais living in Paris. (n.b. if you watch the video, you'll see Pierre Laurent representing the PCF as well, right next to Mélenchon, Besancenot, Laguiller for LO...is there unity on the left again?)
Cost of living increases, declining living standards, insecurity: activists in Paris think metropolitan France is effected by "Pwofitasyon," (exploitation in Créole) and hope the general strike will spread to other DOM-TOM and to the metropole as well.
This has everything to do with the unwinding of the financial crisis, as it takes out the weakest among us while our respective governments protect their patrons, the wealthy, the bankers, the industrialists, the contributors.
Surprise, surprise....as usual, the PS is nowhere to be seen. Now why could that be?
Fri Feb 6th, 2009 at 05:49:01 AM EST
What Europe are we working towards?
Well, this is the one we have:
...Last week ended with the Lithuanian police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators. Some of them were throwing stones at the Parliament building in Vilnius in protest of the government's austerity plan. Five thousand people had responded to calls from the trade unions. The demonstration was marked by 80 arrests and some 20 injured. The scenes resembled those seen on Tuesday 13 January in neighbouring Latvia. In Riga thousands assembled in front of Parliament in a peaceful demonstration demanding early elections. By the end of the protest clashes had caused injuries to eight people and led to the arrests of 126 more. These demonstrations are the largest the Baltic States have known since leaving the Soviet Union in 1991.
Well, The Baltic countries are, like many new EU entrants, being battered by the Anglo-American financial sector meltdown, having participated, as many former Eastern-bloc nations in deference to US and UK cold war "benefactors," did. As in the US, the UK, Ireland and Iceland, their financial sectors are collapsing, real estate bubbles bursting, and severe recession is setting in.
Time to go after those who drove these poor countries off the cliff, right? Not if French Socialist Party luminary Dominique Strauss Kahn, hand in hand with the European Commission, were to have their way:
Tue Feb 3rd, 2009 at 05:19:21 PM EST
I have to tell you, it's hard to take Brussels seriously much of the time. Out of touch meddling bureaucrats, some populists in various official languages say, telling me my sausage or my cheese shouldn't be available for public sale or my cigarettes have too much nicotine in them. Ineffectual bureaucrats who do nothing for regular Europeans, are incapable of making Europe and the EU relevant for its citizens, and whose wooden language in PR efforts fail in all member languages. And economically-challenged, parochial tinkerers who never miss an opportunity to think small.
As we face a serious economic challenge, with member states Hungary, Latvia, Spain, Ireland, Romania and the UK (beyond the perennial economic basket case Italy) facing severe economic challenges causing hardship among our fellow European citizen, it's a fair question: what the hell good does the EU do? And what the hell good does the Euro do? (And, trust me, it's not a polite topic of conversation among "educated" Europeans, but listen closely at the market square...even the Euro is being called into question by those referred to by my president as the "gens d'en bas," the "little people," who have an unfortunate tendency to vote their own interests and worldview.
The more I think about it, I have to say, not a hell of a whole lot. After all, it doesn't take a genius to observe how easy it is for 1% of Europe to scuttle pretty much anything. And you may not like Lisbon or Nice or even Marseille (though I'll sternly take issue on this last one) but think about it...1% of the EU could be condemning praise of motherhood and your right to a decent blood sausage, and next thing you know it, what is important to you have been cluster-fucked by a well financed campaign in one of those tiny little English-speaking countries, where certain rich people tend to have lucrative contracts with the US military. And we, Europeans, are supposed to be ok with this, and think those 1% of people who stupidly are taken in by this (among other things) should be considered proper partners?
I for one have had enough of this shit.
Europe can only be strong if we are together. Not some bullshit customs union whereby the bosses use the lowered level of sovereignty to drive a race to the bottom to fuck each of the rest of us, but a real country, where we are all the same, all with the same rights in each place, same privileges, same opportunities for our children, and where you have a bad Spanish accent, Antonin has a curious french one, Jerome speaks english like an American and we don't mind.
This means three things. Economic. Cohesion. Diplomatic.
On economy, we are politically together, on matters of economic policy, of solidarity, of foreign policy. No social opt out. No exceptions. I am unemployed in France, I get those benefits in Poland and vice versa. Same general and largely progressive tax structure, same liveable minimum benefits, same educational opportunities for all, right to housing, et c.
We either stupidly follow the American to war together, or we don't.
On foreign policy we are on the same page. Either we all follow the Americans into their next stupid adventure, or none of us do. And if the English remain in Europe, they lose their vote on this for 50 years due to rank stupidity over the past 50 regarding their foreign policy.
Finally, on cohesion. This is where we fail miserably and where the Americans kick Europe's ass. It's not neo-liberalism that made the US strong in the post war era. It's cohesion policy. This means everyone is American, even the backwater morons who kiss their cousins in the South, and deserves investments, income transfers, infrastructure to help it grow and education to help it, via its children, out of collective illiteracy.
We now have two shining opportunities. Integration of formerly poor parts of Europe, in large part victims of our complicity in the proxy war waged by the US on the Eastern bloc. This takes investment. This requires money. These monies would be most efficiently managed by and transferred from Europe. And yet, Brussels expenditures account for less than one percent of EU GDP.
Compare with the US in times of proper investment, and laugh.
Second, we have a major economic crisis facing all of us, and yet, instead of acting together, as Europeans, making sure that the infrastructure development goes where it is most needed and therefore generates the most prosperity for all of is, we legislate so that the advantages of our initiatives fall only on our immediate neighbors and not our fellow Europeans.
This is where we most abjectly fail, and this is where the Americans have historically had the advantage.
It is for this reason, and not because I am some daily mirror reading racist as some have supposed, that I sincerely think Europe needs to get smaller. There are countries in Europe that are part of the EU but, via their political culture, of course driven by the elite (but also, of course, sanctioned over and over again by their electors), are not in the Europe I want to be a part of. This is a political preference of mine, of course, and I am not ashamed of it.
It's time to make Europe smaller, more focused, less distracted by the English-speaking countries with their special relationships across the globe which have the habit of getting the way of them being properly European. Let them have the customs unoin they thing the EU should be limited to, and let it be called the UK. And, Ireland, having rejected Europe not once, but twice, and bought in, election after election, to Anglo-American neo-liberalism, should be invited to join in.
Similarly, countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, also keen advocates of what Jerome calls anglo disease and in any event trojan horses against the Europe I want to see, should also be invited to join it...in both cases virtually no one in those countries does not speak English and small wonder since that's the world view to which they've married themselves.
And above all, spare us talks of early accession for more egregiously and chronically neo-liberal catamites like Iceland. We've had enough of letting in country after country to water down our own socialism. If you;re not ready for it, apply for membership in the US. They need the application fees, I hear.
After all, anglo is as anglo does. And in the anglo business world, when the shit hits the fans we talk of consolidation. This means closing down non-core businesses for that the rest becomes cohesive. Non-core businesses are those which don't fit with the rest of the company, which maybe have never really turned a profit or only recently have before going south quickly again thanks to crappy management.
Time for consolidation. The english, the irish, the italians, the dutch, the danes may not like it, but if we are going to make a go of this, we can't be wasting our time on branches that aren't part of the programme.
Two speed europe? Either that, or no speeds.