Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Reforming the ECB to be actually useful requires rewriting at least the unwritten part of the German constitution, as well as both the written and unwritten parts of the fundamental treaties of the Union.

The ECB certainly must be brought to heel and eventually fully subjected to intrusive democratic controls. But by the time that happens, Greece and Spain and probably Italy will have already played out to their conclusion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 02:14:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Which is why I am suggesting that pressure be brought to bear via moral suasion. The ECB is 14 people with fuckall formal oversight at all. Pressure them. Personally. People do not resist explicit moral censure from large groups very well.
This will either work, or inspire sufficient panic among the mighty once they grasp the magnitude of the vulnerability they have created that the board gets reformed quickly. So, either we win, or austerity looses.  
by Thomas on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 04:05:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spelling it out further - the problem is that board independence means the ECB can do whatever the heck they care to, short of printing fourteen billion and walking home with one each. Currently what they care to do appears to be  "burn the european economy and project down". Charitably, because they are morons.
Apply all legal measures of persuasion and pressure you can think of until their desires change, and their new course of action is every bit as formally unstoppable.

Once people realize that the ECB is essentially an endrun around the entire formal political structure, the status quo will last.. a month?

by Thomas on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 04:13:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The entire German political establishment appears to agree that the ECB is configured as it should be. Central bank independence, interpreted fundamentalistically as a prohibition of monetary financing of fiscal policy, is part of the German basic law. No promiment German politicians question austerity, and most economists who do are in "exile".

What you propose will be done over Germany's dead body.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2013 at 04:36:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that Germany cannot stop it. Convince, by hook or crook, the 14 people of the ECB board to do something, and there are no legal pathways available for Germany, or anyone else, to stop it from happening. So convince them to do quantitative easing by mailing out 300 million checks or monetarising every european national debt across the board until unemployment hits zero, and all they can do is have seizures. They are ideologically committed to a framework that includes the central bank having near-total freedom of action. This can, and should be, turned against them.
by Thomas on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 01:28:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"They" being shorthand for "the austerity coalition"
by Thomas on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 01:32:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Central Bank independence cuts both ways.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 02:02:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Somehow, I'm sure that they would suddenly find arguments to change the ECB board as they had evidently betrayed their mandate.

Which is not to say it should not be tried (or that they would fully succeed). But the last 40-50 years (and maybe beyond that) have had a striking tendency of the laws being interpreted differently when presented with a right-wing or left-wing situation.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 02:36:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought ECbankers were unimpeachable...

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:24:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine that tomorrow they all became (literally, not figuratively as now) brain-dead, while still alive. Do you doubt that a solution would be found to replace them?

Accusation of criminal treason would probably at least trigger a temporary replacement. Especially if they were to act in a not insanely far right wet dream commie way.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 04:35:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A memberstates parlament-appointed central bank borad can fire their CB boss (thus changing on of the heads at ECB), though the CB boss has the right to appeal that to the Court. So that is the mechanism, but in order to affect ECB decisions a majority of euro-states must do it at roughly the same time.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 09:48:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a fundamental contradiction between the doctrine of CB independence and the insistence on a tight definition (and the tightest interpretation of that definition) of what the CB is allowed to do.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:00:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The doctrine of central bank independence has always been a shell game designed to protect Lysenkoist idiocy from public censure.

There is no contradiction at all in enshrining far-right policies into the constitution and then setting up an economic junta which is unaccountable as long as it enforce those policies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:13:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No contradiction at all -- from the point of view those who wish to impose those far-right policies.

But for the majority of public opinion in Europe today, the contradiction between the doctrine of independence and the fact of tight limits on independence should be a perfectly perceptible one -- if it were given sufficient play, of course (admittedly not easy to bring about).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At the rate things are deteriorating I would not be too surprised if there were violence directed at the persons comprising the ECB board. Why should they feel so smug and safe when the policies they are enforcing are costing the lives of thousands of people each year. Those people have relatives and some may have some idea of taking personal revenge. This is not an unknown concept in some of the affected countries.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 01:18:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Central bank independence, interpreted fundamentalistically as a prohibition of monetary financing of fiscal policy, is part of the German basic law. "

Avtually no. Part of the european treaties, yes. But the independence of the bundesbank rested on a ordinary law.

>The entire German political establishment appears to agree that the ECB is configured as it should be<

A good part of said establishment now actually thinks that the ECB is misconfigured, Germany only having as much of a vote as the smaller states.

by IM on Thu Feb 21st, 2013 at 03:38:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apply all legal measures of persuasion and pressure you can think of until their desires change, and their new course of action is every bit as formally unstoppable.

Not so: Presumably the ECB and/or its board could be prosecuted for violating Art. 123A.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:14:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can EU institutions and/or officials be prosecuted on the federal level for violating treaties? If so, who prosecutes, what is the procedure and what punishments are possible?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:29:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, but I'd assume that it would work the same way as it does when a member state is sanctioned for breach of its treaty obligations. Particularly since the Eurosystem doesn't actually conduct any operations at the ECB level - the operational side is still carried out at the local member central bank.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pressure them. Personally. People do not resist explicit moral censure from large groups very well.

Under contemporary terrorist law, I suspect that the ECB would resist it exceptionally well.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What aspects of contemporary terrorist law prevent the democratic expression of criticism and moral censure?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 03:55:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The part where you are not allowed to make your criticism known by any means (such as picketing their place of employment) that cannot be deflected by any halfway competent secretary.

The suggestion was to personalize the matter. I doubt that any currently legal pressure tactic can penetrate their protective bubble of studied indifference to the opinions, or well being, of the hoi-polloi.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By alluding to terrorist law, I think you're stretching a point.

It is possible today to get widescale movements of opinion going, and they may certainly include nominal criticism of persons in prominent public employment.

Possible, but difficult, I admit.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:13:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's not the point Thomas was making. See above re. personalizing the issue.

The ECB governing council is (according to that view) a for all practical purposes a group accountable only to itself and its cronies. Public opinion, in this view, doesn't matter. At all.

So the suggestion was, as it was euphemistically put, to "pressure them. Personally."

And since we are for the most part talking about experienced Lysenkoist hacks, the legal avenues for applying effective pressure to their persons are unlikely to be effective. People who are persuaded to abandon politically convenient idiocy by the mere fact that it kills people don't tend to make it to the governing board of the ECB.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:24:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
legal avenues for applying effective pressure to their persons are unlikely to be effective

That much I agree with.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:45:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, I don't agree with the basic premise that the ECB isn't accountable either.

Pretending that the ECB is impartial and unaccountable, as if it were a court of sorts, is a shell game, not a serious statement of institutional reality.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 02:00:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Thomas thoughts are spot on, if undeveloped. European Tribune - Does public opinion matter? With chart!
1. Can they affect you personally?
(Everything from a big payoff or nice lunch to being scorn at the supermarket or getting relatives whacked counts.)
==YES=> Ok, they matter. Weigh them against other concerns. (Like what benefits your position and power. Oh, and personal opinions if any are left.)
So of the top of my head, ways to reach them personally:

Rewards: Bah, we don't have the means. Not compared to what te other side can offer.

Punishments:

Clog the administration. ECB is a fairly small agency, so if there are requests they have to at least answer this is possible. Or if you can clog their lines of communication with requests from the public (this is essentially what happens when Amnesty gets going). But are there any such ways? Do ECB have to answer question from MEPs for example?

Reputational. ECB board members appear to prefer secrecy. Would they react to naming and shaming? This can be done online, but posters targeting them personally in their home cities could also get interesting.

Social. Everyone is sensitive to peer pressure. Blair apparently was, according to books about his fall. But is there any way to get their club members to scorn them? After all, the function of places like the City is to create a safe bubble. And I suspect terrorist legislation would be used if suffraget tactics were employed to make them and their peers feel uncomfortable.

Financial. Do any ECB members or immediate family own or by name are connected to major brands that can be damaged? Selective boycotts?

Physical. Not a fan. Even if one sets aside moral issues Sharp argues convincingly against trying to grapple with the state on the states strongest grounds.

Then we also have Thomas other suggestion which attacks this point:

European Tribune - Does public opinion matter? With chart!
4. Can your position and power be affected by voting? ==NO=> They do not matter
This needs to change and may be efficient to argue together with actions from the list above.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 02:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was the basic premise of my unfinished novel on exactly this subject. Perhaps I should post some quotes.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 10:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that could be interesting. If you are a bit stuck it could also perhaps be inspiring.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 19th, 2013 at 02:16:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, we're talking about "democratic expression of criticism"?

Thomas was talking about much more pointed action, bordering on harassment:

Pickets.
Boycotts (of the original, "noone will deal with or provide services to you, personally, for any amount of money" kind).
Arrange for their kit and kin to join the ranks of the unemployed.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Among Thomas's suggestions only picketing really seems susceptible of falling under terrorism law definitions. He does also talk about democratic expression of criticism.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 04:38:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The other two would lead to immediate arrest...

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 05:14:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a diary with all the members, bios, connection, lines of power, pictures?

who are these people and how did they claw their way to such positions of nubridled, unregulated, unnaccountable power? why doesn't everyone know them, since their attitudes and actions determine the quality of life, even survival of hundreds of millions just inside the EU.

who coded this idiocy into the european constitution?

and how can it be undone as long as its presence and power are so shadowy? do they go through revolving doors into other positions of galactic power?


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 09:24:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Family trees with photos, addresses and maps placed on the web by Anonymous or some such organization, fliers with the same information spread around various cities where there has been acute suffering,.... They will begin to get the idea. Of course packages of such information could be sent to the 14 after the preceding.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2013 at 01:24:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series