Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch - 16 February

by Fran Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 04:00:15 PM EST

 A Daily Review Of International Online Media 


Europeans on this date in history:

1740 – Birth of Giambattista Bodoni, an Italian engraver, publisher, printer and typographer of high repute remembered for designing a family of different typefaces called Bodoni. (d. 1813)

More here and here

 The European Salon is a daily selection of news items to which you are invited to contribute. Post links to news stories that interest you, or just your comments. Come in and join us!


The Salon has different rooms or sections for your enjoyment. If you would like to join the discussion, then to add a link or comment to a topic or section, please click on "Reply to this" in one of the following sections:

  • EUROPE - is the place for anything to do with Europe.
  • ECONOMY & FINANCE - is where you find what is going on in finance and the economy.
  • WORLD - here you can add links and comments on topics concerning world affairs.
  • LIVING OFF THE PLANET - is about the environment, energy, agriculture, food...
  • LIVING ON THE PLANET - is about humanity, society, culture, history, information...
  • PEOPLE AND KLATSCH - this is the place for stories about people and off course also for gossipy items. But it's also there for open discussion at any time.
  • I hope you will find this place inspiring - of course meaning the inspiration gained here to show up in interesting diaries on ET. :-)

    There is just one favor I would like to ask you - please do NOT click on "Post a Comment", as this will put the link or your comment out of context at the bottom of the page.

    Actually, there is another favor I would like to ask you - please, enjoy yourself and have fun at this place!

Display:
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:03:50 PM EST
EUobserver: Ukraine leader considers post-election trip to EU capital
Ukraine's president-elect, Viktor Yanukovych, is considering going to Brussels in his first foreign trip as the country's leader in a bid to polish up his EU credentials.

Anna German, Mr Yanukovych's spokeswoman, told EUobserver on Monday (15 February) that the move is "possible," with invitations already received from both Brussels and Moscow, but that a final decision has not yet been made.

The country's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is to set a date for Mr Yanukovych's inauguration on Tuesday, clearing the way for foreign engagements.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:15:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL: The Eternal Rivalry of Joschka Fischer and Gerhard Schröder
They used to be the double act at the top of the German government. But now former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and ex-Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer are on opposing sides -- as lobbyists for two competing pipeline projects.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has his legs crossed and his arms behind his head. He has something he is dying to say about Joschka Fischer, who was German foreign minister under Schröder from 1998 to 2005.

"I doubt very much that it will be possible to run Nabucco profitably without gas from Iran," says Schröder, as a smug grin appears on his face. "But Joschka will undoubtedly resolve the conflict with Iran."

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:27:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver: Poland threatens Belarus with EU action after crackdown
Poland has threatened to freeze progress in EU-Belarus relations and to lobby the IMF to cut off aid following a crackdown on ethnic Poles.

Police on Monday (15 February) arrested the leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Angelika Borys, along with around 40 other activists on their way to a rally in Valozhyn, in the west of the country.

The sweep follows a raid on the union's headquarters in Grodno last week and a meeting between the Polish and Belarusian foreign ministers in which Warsaw told Minsk to back off.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:31:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NRC: Dozens feared dead in Belgian train crash
Two commuter trains collided head-on Monday at rush hour in a Brussels suburb. Rescue workers are still making their way through the wreckage, while confusion reigns about how many people were killed and injured.

The trains, each carrying between 100 and 150 passengers, collided at around 8:30 am in light snow just outside Buizingen station. The impact peeled away the front of one train car and threw another off the tracks, leaving passengers with amputated limbs and other severe injuries, witnesses and officials said. The force of the collision smashed one train deep into the front of the other, tearing back the metal sides. The trains tipped high into the air and broke overhead power lines.

Lodewijk De Witte, the governor of the province where the trains crashed, told reporters four hours after the accident that the official death toll was 12. He said one train "apparently did not heed a stop light". Emergency services were still trying to free people trapped in the wreckage in the early afternoon. Trauma helicopters landed near the tracks to transport those severely injured.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:34:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The trains were (or at least the older one was) probably secured only by the old French-Belgian Le Crocodile system, which does NOT stop a train passing a red signal.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 02:10:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The morning edition of the NRC confirms your suspicions. Since the last severe train collision in Belgium, plans were made to upgrade both trains and track with a better security system (ATB?). A spokespersion from Infrabel confirmed in the nespaper that the track on which the accident happened did have the system in place, but at least one of the trains didn't have it.

And I learned that even with improved ATB systems, trains below 40 km/h can still pass through a red sign without stopping... Dreaming of ERTMS...

by Nomad on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:35:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
plans were made to upgrade both trains and track with a better security system (ATB?).

TBL (both TBL and ATB are national systems). The problem is that TBL isn't installed system-wide, only on mainlines, and [checking] 80% of trains.

I learned that even with improved ATB systems, trains below 40 km/h can still pass through a red sign without stopping...

No, that's normal ATB (which made last year's collision at Barendrecht possible). ATB-NG would brake down to 10 km/h (I believe) and has the standard red light passing limit of 15 km/h, and upgrades of the old version solve the problem with extra trackside magnets (balises) -- but that, just like the balise-based ETCS Level 1, costs money.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 10:31:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver: Iceland to hold fresh talks with Netherlands, UK
Iceland is to hold talks with the Netherlands and the UK over the ongoing Icesave dispute between the three countries.

The North Atlantic nation's finance minister, Steingrimur Sigfusson, made the announcement while speaking to Icelandic public radio.

The discussions will remain at the informal level. Official negotiations between the parties, desired by Reykjavik, have yet to be agreed.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News: Libya bars Europeans in Swiss row
Libya has stopped issuing visas to citizens from many European nations, in apparent retaliation for alleged Swiss measures against the Gaddafi family.

Diplomats say Libya has barred people from the Schengen zone - which includes 25 European countries.

Reports say the measure is already in force at Tripoli's main airport.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 02:59:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Simon sez, "EU, audit"

But [Goldman Sachs' fiduciary doodie to various European central banks] is now out of Ben Bernanke's hands, and quite far from people who are easily swayed by the White House. It goes immediately to the European Commission, which has jurisdiction over eurozone budget issues. Faced with enormous pressure from those eurozone countries now on the hook for saving Greece, the Commission will surely launch a special audit of Goldman and all its European clients.

Read more...

He's hoping, the EC will, since the US, OCC, and FRB will not, ban GS brokerage of Eurozone sovereign debt sometime in our lifetime.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 05:34:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that Greece is not alone. Maybe it is the worst case. But other countries, even outside the European Union - and not as small as Greece - are in very similar situation. Japan and the United States are very close to the precipice and this is not people interested in taking advantage of any kind of financial speculation that touted concerns about it.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 06:07:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Italy.
by Nomad on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:36:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How come Italy? I know it's run by a dodering, leacherous  old fascist but is there something up with their solvency?

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 05:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
here.

Where it is reported that constructions developed by GS, JP Morgan and cohorts, similar to the ones used in Greece, also were applied elsewhere with Italy specifically named. And the best bit - the constructions all were supposedly legal!

Drip drip...

OT: You still in the Dutch capital?

by Nomad on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 06:28:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Italys public sector debt is mostly financed by domestic savers. Italy does not need foreign buyers of its debt, so should be able to go through any crisis of confidence easier than most.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 07:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Met Police sorry after disrupting Hackney funeral

The Metropolitan Police and Hackney Council have apologised after 83 people were searched in a churchyard while a funeral was being held.

They were taken to a marquee put up in St John's Churchyard, in Hackney, after being arrested elsewhere as part of an operation targeting youth knife crime.

The council admitted it was wrong to allow the police operation to be held at the same time as the funeral.

The vicar and family of the deceased could not be contacted for comment.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 04:43:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The initial bill has just been published. At this point it is just a rather general specification of intent. Here's what they have to say on libel tourism.



Misnotkun á breskri meiðyrðalöggjöf hefur mikið verið rædd á undanförnum árum og ega voru samþykkt lög í New York ríki í Bandaríkjunum sem kalla má lög gegn meiðyrða-hryðjuverkum (e. New York Libel Terrorism Protection Act). Sams konar lög tóku gildi í Flórída-ríki 1. júlí 2009 (e. Act relating to grounds for nonrecognition of foreign defamation judgments). Á alríkisgrundvelli hefur verið lagt fram frumvarp til sambærilegra laga. Áðurnefnd lög gegn meiðyrðamálaflakki mæla fyrir um að ekki skuli fullnusta dómsúrskurði sem ganga gegn ákvæðum bandarísku stjórnarskrárinnar um tjáningarfrelsi og gera gagnsókn  jafnframt mögulega. The abuse of British libel law has been much discussed in recent years and has recently been counteracted in New York with the New York Libel Terrorism Protection Act. A law with the same intent took force in the state of Florida on the first of July 2009 (Act relating to grounds for nonrecognition of foreign defamation judgments). A similar proposal has been made on a federal level, but has not passed into law yet. The method used in the United States is, on the one hand, to refuse to honour any court verdict that contradicts the first amendment of the US constitution, and on the other hand provides a framework for retaliatory cases against such lawsuits.
XXV. kafla almennra hegningarlaga, nr. 19/1940, er fjallað um meiðyrði. Vandamál hafa komið upp hér á landi þegar dómstólar í öðrum löndum hafa haldið því fram að þeir hafi lögsögu yfir verkum, greinum eða ummælum sem hafa verið birt eða látin falla á Íslandi. Meiðyrðamál gegn Hannesi Hólmsteini Gissurarsyni í Bretlandi fékk á sínum tíma mikla umfjöllun, m.a. með tilliti til fullnustu dómsins, lögsögu dómstóla og hinnar ströngu meiðyrðalöggjafar í Bretlandi.
Chapter XXV of the Icelandic general criminal code, law 19/1940 ("Almenn hegningarlög") contains the implementation of libel law. Problems have arisen when courts in other countries have claimed jurisdiction over publications or remarks that have been published or made in Iceland. A libel suit against Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson in the United Kingdom received considerable attention, partly because of the jurisdiction claims and the strict libel law in the United Kingdom.
Flutningsmenn þessarar tillögu vilja lögfesta ákvæði sambærileg þeim sem nýlega voru sett í New York ríki. Í því tilliti þarf að skoða reglur Lúganó-samningsins um fullnustu dóma í einkamálum í Evrópu. Jafnframt telja þeir rétt að lögfesta ákvæði sem mundi gera íslenskum aðilum sem hlotið hafa dóm erlendis kleift að höfða mál hérlendis gegn sækjanda erlenda dómsmálsins í þeim tilfellum sem dómurinn og fullnusta hans telst ganga gegn allsherjarreglu eða almennum lagaákvæðum. Slík ákvæði mundu einnig gera íslenskum aðilum kleift að sækja bætur til upphaflega gagnaðilans.
The supporters of this proposal wish to implement a law similar to those in place in New York and Florida. The rules of the Lugano Treaty on jurisdiction and enforcements of judgment must be carefully considered in this relation. They also believe that Icelandic defendents should be enabled to sue the original plaintiff for reparations in cases where the judgment is considered to be in breach of the general rule of law.
Does anybody know more about the US laws they propose to take as a model?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 06:28:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bischof Mixa gibt ''sexueller Revolution'' Mitschuld | Süddeutsche
Der Augsburger Bischof Mixa gibt der "sexuellen Revolution" Mitschuld an Missbrauchsfällen in der Kirche. Eine Verhöhnung der Opfer, sagt Grünen-Chefin Roth.
Walter Mix, the bishop of Augsburg, blames the recently discovered cases of child abuse by priests on the "so-called sexual revolution".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:24:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Für deutsche Politiker soll es kein Bankgeheimnis geben | Süddeutsche
Ein Abgeordneter der national-konservativen Schweizer Volkspartei (SVP) droht deutschen Politikern mit Enthüllungen über mögliche Steuersünden. Alfred Heer, Nationalrat aus Zürich, hat nach Informationen der Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) eine parlamentarische Initiative ausgearbeitet, um etwaige Steuerhinterziehung von deutschen Parteien anprangern zu können
A SVP politician is proposing that the Swiss parliament pass a law to publish bank details of German politicians if they don't leave Switzerland alone.
Bereits am Wochenende hatte die Bild-Zeitung von den Absichten Heers berichtet. Deutsche Politiker reagierten unterschiedlich. Der rechtspolitische Sprecher der Grünen-Bundestagsfraktion, Jerzy Montag, sagte, das Vorhaben Heers sei keine Drohung, sondern ein "begrüßenswertes Angebot"
A  spokesman for the German Greens welcomed the proposal. Is this the first time they've agreed with the SVP?...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:33:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:05:21 PM EST
Bloomberg: Germany's Weber Leads Race to Succeed Trichet as ECB President
Germany's Axel Weber leads the race to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet as president of the European Central Bank and Portugal's Vitor Constancio  is likely to be his deputy, a survey of economists shows.

Of 27 economists in the Bloomberg News survey, 24 said Weber will be chosen to replace Trichet, whose term ends on Oct. 31 next year. Only three picked Italy's Mario Draghi, Weber's main rival for the job. Twenty economists said Constancio will succeed Lucas Papademos as vice president when his term expires on May 31 this year. Euro-region finance ministers are due to vote on the vice president post today.

Jockeying for the ECB presidency has already started as governments across the 16-nation euro region grapple with a fiscal crisis that has prompted investors to question the sustainability of the monetary union. Installing Weber at the ECB's helm next year would give Europe an outspoken inflation fighter who has stressed the need for fiscal discipline to protect the euro.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ibid:
Weber is perceived by economists as one of the ECB's toughest inflation-fighting "hawks" because of the emphasis he places on curbing risks to price stability.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 11:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daily Kos: Germany: "Goldman broke the spirit of Maastricht Treaty..."
Tonight we learn from Simon Johnson, over at his Baseline Scenario blog, that one of the two leading candidates (in fact, the more moderate candidate, according to Johnson) for the presidency of the European Central Bank is none other than Mario Draghi, Governor of the Banca d'Italia and the current chair of the Basel, Switzerland-based Financial Stability Board, an offshoot of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).

Draghi also happens to have been the person who was running the show in Europe (while Henry Paulson was running the whole Goldman shooting match in New York) for none other than Goldman-Sachs when that firm developed and managed many of the ethically-challenged, European government-related derivatives deals which a German foreign affairs spokesman referred to,  on Sunday (specifically focusing upon the Goldman-Greece transactions), in the following manner: "Goldman Sachs broke the spirit of the Maastricht Treaty, though it is not certain it broke the law."

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 06:08:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv: Greece against new measures, says finance minister
Ahead of today's meeting of eurozone finance ministers, the Greek finance minister announced his government will not be adding new measures to the public sector cuts and higher fuel taxes unveiled last week.

"Two weeks ago the European Commission gave the green light to Greek measures [to recover its deficits] and just a few days ago, Greece announced new measures," George Papaconstantinou said, defending his government's position three hours before facing 15 other finance ministers from the euro zone.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:28:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bloomberg: EU Finance Ministers to Resist Obama Plans for Banking Overhaul
European Union finance ministers are uniting to oppose President Barack Obama's proposal to limit banks' size and risk-taking, saying his plan may run counter to EU policy, according to a draft document.

Their position, which they will ratify at a two-day meeting starting today, comes after Obama last month urged the adoption of the so-called "Volcker rule," named for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. The plan would bar commercial banks from owning hedge funds and limit how much they can trade for their own account.

The finance officials gathering in Brussels will express "their concern that the application of the `Volcker' rule in the EU may not be consistent with the current principles of the internal market and universal banking," the document obtained by Bloomberg News said. "Any policy choice should avoid pushing risks to other parts of the financial system."

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:33:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So why do they oppose this, other than it being Obama's proposal. Why not push to make it stronger. Do they think their TBTFs can beat the USA's TBTFs when they all fall down?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 11:47:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe's continental banks have largely developed around the concept of universal banks, which do everything. This was tempered by an emphasis on long term relations with corporate clients.

US investment banks have swooped in and taken the juicy capital markets deals away from European banks; some have been fighting back by setting up their own capital markets teams (like Deutsche Bank) and breaking them up would mean once again giving up the capital markets part of financing (which corporations increasingly use) to US banks wholesale, because the capital markets offshoots of European banks would not be strong enough.

Now if you have serious restrictions on what capital markets can do, it's another thing...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 08:01:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now if you have serious restrictions on what capital markets can do, it's another thing...

It would seem that the high ground would consist of embracing Obama's proposal, but only if it is extended to include serious restrictions...

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 12:50:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lessons from Hewlett-Packard's massive job cuts:
Normally, the cost of job cuts comes out of a company's bottom line for the year. But when HP acquired EDS, it counted the job cuts as part of the price of the acquisition. That changed the accounting treatment and allowed HP to deduct the costs from profits over several years.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 06:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece presents a policy trilemma?  Naked Capitalism

At the danger of taxing the patience of regular readers, I want to reintroduce a construct of Dani Rodrik's which has direct bearing on the Euro struggles:

   I have an "impossibility theorem" for the global economy that is like that. It says that democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full.

    To see why this makes sense, note that deep economic integration requires that we eliminate all transaction costs traders and financiers face in their cross-border dealings. Nation-states are a fundamental source of such transaction costs. They generate sovereign risk, create regulatory discontinuities at the border, prevent global regulation and supervision of financial intermediaries, and render a global lender of last resort a hopeless dream. The malfunctioning of the global financial system is intimately linked with these specific transaction costs.

    So what do we do?

    One option is to go for global federalism, where we align the scope of (democratic) politics with the scope of global markets. Realistically, though, this is something that cannot be done at a global scale. It is pretty difficult to achieve even among a relatively like-minded and similar countries, as the experience of the EU demonstrates.

    Another option is maintain the nation state, but to make it responsive only to the needs of the international economy. This would be a state that would pursue global economic integration at the expense of other domestic objectives. The nineteenth century gold standard provides a historical example of this kind of a state. The collapse of the Argentine convertibility experiment of the 1990s provides a contemporary illustration of its inherent incompatibility with democracy.

    Finally, we can downgrade our ambitions with respect to how much international economic integration we can (or should) achieve. So we go for a limited version of globalization, which is what the post-war Bretton Woods regime was about (with its capital controls and limited trade liberalization). It has unfortunately become a victim of its own success. We have forgotten the compromise embedded in that system, and which was the source of its success.

    So I maintain that any reform of the international economic system must face up to this trilemma. If we want more globalization, we must either give up some democracy or some national sovereignty. Pretending that we can have all three simultaneously leaves us in an unstable no-man's land.

The EU tried to have all democracy, national sovereignity, and economic integration, and the result is the unstable no-man's land that Rodrik foretold.


Seems right. Ever since NAFTA US Trade policy has proceeded in disregard for the interests of the US population. But we are too stupid to notice, so there is not too much protest. But noticing the lack of objections, both Democratic and Republican governments have felt less constrained in accumulating more and more power and paying less and less attention to the niceties of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, all in the name of National Security. Nor have the citizens of the USA noticed or cared that their elected representatives no longer really respond to them, but rather to the big donors who provide the campaign contributions and at whose behest government policy is conducted.

Eternal vigilance may well be the price of freedom. But instead we have exhibited continual stupor. That stupor is the real Road to Serfdom.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 12:23:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Titlos PLC (Special Purpose Vehicle) The Downgrade Catalyst Trigger Which Will Destroy Greece?  Zero Hedge

The media world is aflutter with recent revelations that Goldman may have facilitated Greece in creating an SPV that "rebalanced" budget payments via an interest rate swap arrangement, which the NYT describes as "a currency trade rather than a loan, [which] helped Athens meet Europe's deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means." For those curious to get a much more detailed perspective on the mechanics of not just this, but a comparable Goldman-facilitated transaction, we suggest the following article in Risk Magazine, which focuses on a similar prior deal completed over six years ago. Yet we are fairly confident that all this barrage of information is merely a Houdini distraction act: the prospectus of the February 2009 securitization deal clearly delineates the mechanics of the deal; it was full public knowledge. Of course, a Europe gripped by sudden chaos due to their aggressive and quick "bail out" response with no regard for public backlash, is now taking full advantage of this recent "discovery" to make it seem that Greece and Goldman were hiding even more information: Bloomberg reports that "Greece was ordered by European Union regulators to disclose details of currency swaps it may have used to deal with the debts that threaten to swamp its economy." Germany's CDU has gone one step further and claims that the "Goldman deal broke the spirit of Euro rules." Alas, this is nothing but more scapegoating while Europe tries to find its bearings and, if possible, back out of the bail out while finding more pretexts to throw Greece out of the euro zone entirely. If it takes a Goldman smear campaign, so be it.

owever, where the rub truly lies, and where things for Greece may get very hairy fairly quick, is in the interplay between the rating agencies and the rating of the Goldman underwritten swap agreement securitization SPV known better as Titlos PLC.H As one recalls, it was precisely the rating agencies that were the proximal catalyst that started the collateral call cascade that ultimately resulted in AIG's failure and subsequent bailout (ignoring for a moment the pent up toxicity on AIG's books: both AIG then, and Greece now, are in deplorable shape: the question is what will bring it all to the surface). So here are some recent facts: On December 23, 2009, Moody's downgraded Titlos, following the prior day's downgrade of Greece itself from A1 to A2 with a negative outlook. Fact: last week Moody's said it could further downgrade Greece to Baa1. Fact: the Titlos PLC rating mirrors that of Greece itself. Fact: according to Moody's "Framework for De-Linking Hedge Counterparty Risks from Global Structured Finance Cashflow Transactions Moody's Methodology" a counterparty can enter into a hedge transaction with an SPV and continue to participate in that transaction without collateralizing its obligations so long as it maintains a long-term senior unsecured rating of at least A2. When (not if) Titlos is downgraded again, and its rating drops below the A2 collateralization threshold, look for AIG's margin call driven liquidity crisis escalation from the fall of 2008 to spread to Greece. And that's not all. The Titlos SPV itself may be null and void should the rating of the National Bank of Greece, as the Hedge Provider, drop below a "relevant rating" as defined in the hedge agreement. Should Greece then be forced, at Titlos' option, to unwind the swap agreement, and be forced to cash out to the tune of €5.4 billion (net of the 107.54 issuance price), look for all hell to break loose.


But Greece is not Lehman Bros. It is a sovereign state. Just where are sovereign states taken and by what means when in breach of financial agreements if they do not agree to go along peaceably? What would prevent Greece from dealing selectively with its creditors and on its own terms?


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 12:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Alas, this is nothing but more scapegoating while Europe tries to find its bearings and, if possible, back out of the bail out while finding more pretexts to throw Greece out of the euro zone entirely. If it takes a Goldman smear campaign, so be it.

funny how they feel the need to bash Europe more than Goldman Sachs...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 08:08:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is less their OPINIONS about Europe and the Euro-zone than their argument about mechanisms and the sequence of events they see as likely to unfold that led me to post this comment. The one can be of interest even if the other is distasteful and I did not want to misrepresent their views.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 12:46:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Joseph Stiglitz speaking in Paris on Feb. 13, about asset bubbles, debt and speculation against European states.
You can ignore the French subtitles if you don't read French :)


by Bernard on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 04:49:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:06:44 PM EST
European Voice: EU suspends Sri Lanka  trade preferences
The member states of the European Union decided today to suspend trade preferences for Sri Lanka because of violations of human-rights agreements.

The suspension comes into effect six months from now and preferences could still be reinstated if, at the European Commission's suggestion, a qualified majority of member states so chose.

If the suspension enters into force, Sri Lanka's exporters - primarily in the textile industry - will face tens of millions of euros in additional duties annually.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SPIEGEL: 'Iran Won't Simply Sit There and Accept an Attack'
Hans Blix is the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and also worked as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He talks to SPIEGEL about whether Iran really has the ability to enrich uranium and if economic sanctions can ever be effective.

SPIEGEL: Tehran has announced that it has enriched a "first batch" of uranium from 3.5 to 20 percent. Does this mean that we now face a new stage in the escalation of the conflict with Iran?

Hans Blix: The government in Tehran originally declared that it only intended to enrich uranium to 3.5 percent, to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. But now it needs uranium enriched to about 20 percent for its research reactor, in order to produce isotopes for medical use. Tehran had the same problem once before, in the early 1980s. The United States had built a research reactor for Tehran, Iran had ordered nuclear fuel and had even paid for it, but then came the mullahs' revolution, and America refused to deliver the fuel. The West has faced a dilemma since then: If we don't supply them with the fuel, Iran has a reason to produce it itself. That's what led to the compromise proposal of enriching Iranian fuel abroad.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:18:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was already noted at ET that the shortage of isotopes for medical use in Iran was extremely dire at least as early in January, and "the West" has refused to resolve this shortage whatsoever, because it was apparently akin to handing fuel to Iran. I read about estimates that isotopes for medical use in Iran would be entirely exhausted by March - at this point Iran can practically jusitfy playing the humanitarian card for starting up a reactor to enrich to 20 percent.

And I hear that isotopes for medical use for the rest of the world is getting problematic as well, as one of the two world's producers, the Dutch reactor in Petten (responsible for some 30% of the world's production), is again shut down for repairs, and the largest producer, the Chalk River reactor in Canada (responsible for 40%), is still not doing so great either... Which means that 70% of the entire world's production of medical isotopes has come to a halt. Anyone got more on that?

by Nomad on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
he Chalk River reactor in Canada (responsible for 40%), is still not doing so great either

Not doing too great is a polite way of putting it. It's actually closed for an indefinite time. If Iran actually gets theirs to work, they may have a good export product for the rest of the world...

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 04:06:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks... I note that in my above post I left out the word "largest" - there are still ~4 reactors left on the world producing medical isotopes, but together they produce only 30 to 40% of the world supply. I hear the University in Delft in the Netherlands has offered to use its research reactor for the production of medical isotopes, but that will probably only suffice for the Dutch supply.

In the meantime we all should not get cancer or something...

by Nomad on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 05:28:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 05:15:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Democratic Senator Bayh will not run for re-election
U.S. Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana will not seek re-election this fall, a Democratic source confirmed, potentially adding to President Barack Obama's difficulty in pushing his initiatives through a balky Congress.

Bayh becomes the fourth sitting Democratic senator to decide against re-election -- leaving seats up for grabs in Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota and Connecticut -- and analysts say six more Democratic seats are vulnerable to a strong Republican challenge in November.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:57:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Talking Points Memo: Broken
Saying Washington is broken and getting a few shout-outs from the Broder gang is almost de rigueur for middle of the road senators, especially Democrats, when they retire. And it's hard to disagree with the judgment in general. Watching what's happened over the last year it's hard not to believe that something is fundamentally off-kilter in our national government -- just not, I think, what Bayh thinks it is. I think the most generous read of Bayh's decision is simply that he was bored. He just said that his decision was in part because he was "an executive at heart," which is probably a very honest explanation. He just preferred being governor. And that's fine. It's another way of saying he was bored.

But let's not paper over the fact that he says our national government is broken. And his decision is to walk away.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 02:20:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to today's Süddeutsche, the Deutsche Bahn plans to use German in the future. So, no more Service Point, Call a bike (now "das Mietrad-Angebot der Deutschen Bahn"), Counter, Kiss & Ride ("Kurzzeitparkzone"),  or Flyer ("Handzettel").
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:29:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, will those damn DB-Lounges (an Anglicism even the English don't understand!) be renamed Warteraum? ReiseCenter to Fahrkartenausgabe, Regionalzug (R) to Nahverkehrszug (N), RegionalExpress (RE) to Eilzug (E)?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 05:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't find the reference, but they have promised that the IC and BahnCard will remain. They didn't say what will happen to bahn.comfort.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 06:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IC is a pan-European brand, so it better remain, even if I have nostalgy for the D and FD brands.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 17th, 2010 at 07:03:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More bizarre U.S. politics, from TPM. Evan Bayh has said he won't run for reelection, leaving only a few days for the Democrats to select a candidate. Usually this would mean that, since there are no candidates for the primary, the leadership would get together behind closed doors and pick the candidate that the banks and insurance companies prefer. But there's a catch: there might be a candidate after all
Tamyra d'Ippolito, a cafe owner who has been seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Evan Bayh, just told TPMDC that she does have the minimum number of ballot-petition signatures need to get on the ballot for the Democratic primary. If her petitions do in fact work out, that would seriously complicate the efforts by the party to pick a new candidate to replace Bayh, the retiring incumbent Democrat, on the ballot this November.

In order to appear on the primary election ballot for Senate, a candidate in Indiana must obtain 500 petition signatures in each of the state's nine House districts -- and the deadline is today. Yesterday, d'Ippolito said she was about 1,000 short of the overall goal of 4,500. However, she said, in the last day signatures picked up considerably -- and she is prepared to fight any potential efforts by the Democratic Party to have enough signatures invalidated to put her below the quota.

It's not clear if she's telling the truth or not, but if she is we might face the situation where the Democrats try to convince voters to write in the name of the candidate they chose.  Fox is pushing d'Ippolito's candidacy, and she might get the missing signatures from Republicans.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:58:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:07:37 PM EST
EurActiv: Brussels faces 'tough fight' opening EU energy sector
Günter Oettinger, the EU's new energy commissioner, faces an uphill battle against national interests in opening up electricity and gas markets, warns Georg Zachmann, energy expert at think-tank Bruegel. In an interview with EurActiv, he says member states risk dragging their feet in implementing EU rules.

"One threat, arguably the biggest one, would be the failure to implement the existing energy packages," said Zachmann, who also advises policymakers in Ukraine and Belarus on energy sector issues.

But he warned this "will not be an easy task because many member states are still reluctant" to implement 'ownership unbundling' rules that encourage integrated energy companies to sell off their transmission grids.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:23:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv: EU biofuels target could starve millions of people
Millions of people could starve if member states deliver on the EU's target of sourcing 10% of its transport fuel from biofuels as a way of tackling climate change, argues a new report from ActionAid, an NGO.

"The huge expansion in industrial biofuels use must be stopped," said ActionAid's biofuels expert Tim Rice, calling for EU governments to refrain from increasing their use further while drafting national action plans for renewable energy for the next 10 years.

Currently made from maize, wheat, sugar cane and oil seeds such as palm oil, soy and rapeseed, industrial biofuels compete with crops grown for food, "driving food prices higher and affecting what and how much people eat in developing countries," notes the ActionAid report on the impact of industrial biofuels on global hunger.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EurActiv: Controversy mounts over EU biofuels fall-out
Fresh controversy is mounting within the European Union over biofuels and their unintended impact on tropical forests and wetlands, documents show.

One leaked document from the EU's executive, the European Commission, suggests biofuel from palm oil might get a boost from new environmental criteria under development.

But another contains a warning from a top official that taking full account of the carbon footprint of biofuels might "kill" an EU industry with annual revenues of around $5 billion.

The European Union aims to get a tenth of its road fuels from renewable sources by the end of this decade, but has met with criticism that biofuels can force up food prices and do more harm than good in the fight against climate change.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In 2006, Boulder voters approved the nation's first "carbon tax," now $21 a year per household [!], to fund energy-conservation programs. The city took out print ads, bought radio time, sent email alerts and promoted the campaign in city newsletters. But Boulder's carbon emissions edged down less than 1% from 2006 through 2008, the most recent data available....

"If a place like Boulder that regards itself as being in the environmental forefront has such a tough time, these types of efforts are not going to work as a core policy" for the nation, says Roger Pielke Jr., who studies the political response to climate change at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

One problem: People don't want to give up gadgets. Recently, Prof. Pielke taught a seminar on energy demand. The university had installed motion-detector lights that shut off when the room is vacant to save energy. But when he asked his 17 students to lay all their iPods, cellphones and laptops on their desks, they had 42 electronic devices among them. Powering those up, he said, negated any conservation value from the fancy lights.

Read more...




Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 10:06:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates that Apple will sell 6 million iPads this year. By contrast, the market for mobile phones will reach 1 billion units and PC sales will be about 300 million. Still, the iPad is a high-profile attempt to crack a market that other companies have set their sights on, according to ISuppli analyst Jagdish Rebello.

Samsung's tablet computer plans also show how the Suwon, South Korea-based company aims to offer more higher-end mobile devices. The company said on Feb. 14 that it will start offering a 1-gigahertz processor handset, called the "Wave," as it aims to bolster its smartphone business....

The "Wave" handset is the first one running Samsung's own Bada operating system. Bada will become a "tough" competitor for operating systems from other companies including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp, Shin said. Samsung will continue to offer phones with operating systems from other companies "for the time being," Shin said, adding that the market for operating systems will consolidate in the future.

Samsung earlier this year predicted its handset shipments may grow 19 percent to more than 270 million units in 2010, helped by demand for smartphones. The company, which shipped 227 million mobile phones last year, also aims to triple shipments of smartphones this year from 6 million in 2009.

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 10:11:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
GS Tech seems to overhype APPL, so I'm guessing around 3 million. Might even make the 4, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 11:15:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Me neither.

And I'd swear, I saw an ad for a $79 (after rebate) Samsung Android OS phone last week on Yahoo! FP.

Pass the salt 'n' pepper, would ya...

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 12:21:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Studying failures and dilemmas is fine but there are plenty of successes and synergies Pielke jr. might include in the curriculum. I hope his students are vocal!
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 01:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:08:29 PM EST
NRC: Eroding nightlife is a political issue in Rotterdam
Long praised for having a better dance scene than Amsterdam, Rotterdam today sees mostly cheap entertainment on its dance floors. Part four in a series on nightlife in European cities.

Eight police officers, all wearing fluorescent smocks, watched as partygoers crowded in front of the entrance of the Maassilo on a recent night. No one could miss the police van they had parked in front of the popular Rotterdam nightclub.

Rotterdam police are everywhere a large crowd gathers to party, since a beach rave resulted in riots and one man was killed by a police bullet. "Gone are the days when only the local bobby would come take a look," said Koos Hanenberg, the organiser of tonight's party.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:43:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Hottest temperature ever heads science to Big Bang
Scientists have created the hottest temperature ever in the lab -- 4 trillion degrees Celsius -- hot enough to break matter down into the kind of soup that existed microseconds after the birth of the universe.

They used a giant atom smasher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to knock gold ions together to make the ultra-hot explosions -- which lasted only for milliseconds.

But that is enough to give physicists fodder for years of study that they hope will help them understand why and how the universe formed.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 02:03:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Black children are an endangered species [sic]

"To use racist arguments to try to bait black people to get them to be anti-abortion is just disgusting," said Professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall, who teaches women's history and feminist thought at Spelman College....

The billboards, sponsored by Georgia Right to Life, are part of a push to have legislation established in Georgia that would make it a crime to "solicit a woman to have an abortion based on the race or sex of the unborn child."

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 09:07:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The largest Silicon Valley companies lost more than one in ten black and Hispanic employees from 2000 to 2005, leaving their workforces just 7 percent black and Hispanic, even as their overall employment grew 16 percent, accoring to federal employment data obtained by the San Jose Mercury News. And that's among the 10 companies who allowed the newspaper's Freedom of Information Act Request to clear the Labor Department.

Read more...

"One of the main ways that we track how society is doing in terms of race relations, in terms of eliminating discrimination, in terms of promoting diversity, is by looking at statistics," said Richard Ford, a Stanford University law professor who is an expert in civil rights and anti-discrimination law. "But if we can't get the data, we can't know if it's a problem or not."

John Sims, a law professor at the University of the Pacific and an expert in FOIA law, called the objections of Google, Apple and other companies "absurd."...

[T]he Labor Department accepted arguments filed by lawyers for Google, Apple, Yahoo, Oracle and Applied Materials that release of the information would cause commercial harm. The department declined to share the text of the detailed arguments made by the companies.

"Such data can demonstrate a company's evolving business strategy," William W. Thompson II, an associate solicitor with the Labor Department, wrote in the agency's notification of its final action. "The companies have articulated to us that they are in a highly competitive environment in which less mature corporations can use this EEO-1 data to assist in structuring their business operations to better compete against more established competitors."

Read more...

Possibly related news:
Annual EEO-1 Survey, EEOC.gov
$750 - $6,000, price of reporting by establishment size. Ledbetter Discount 15%. Limit one per LLP. Offer expires 10/01/09.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 09:34:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The case of the decimal place: teenage pregnancy - The F-Word

The Tories published a report meant to highlight inequalities under Labour, which accidentally overstated the rate of teenage pregnancy among girls in deprived areas by a factor of 10, reports The Guardian.

The actual rate of teen pregnancy is 54.32 per 1000 girls aged 15-17, or 5.4% in the 10 deprived areas referred to by the Tories. But the Conservative party slipped up by a decimal place, instead claiming that 54% of teen girls in these areas become pregnant.

To top it all, in the same 10 deprived areas Labour said that, since 1998, there had been a 10.5% decline in the under-18 conception rate, reversing a previous upward trend.

Moreover, as The Economist noted recently, "Today, only half as many girls between 15 and 19 bear a child in their teens as when their grandmothers were that age." (Part of an interesting dissection of whether or not Britain is, as Cameron suggests, "broken": they conclude not. Via Wonderland).



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 04:58:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 12:10:22 PM EST
Guardian: Film director is thrown off US plane for being 'too big for seat'
In the age of micro-blogging it will never be a wise move to bar an outspoken and popular filmmaker from a passenger aeroplane because of his size.

Having done just that to Kevin Smith, who is the director of films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy, Southwest Airlines was forced into hasty public apology after he handed out a severe Twitter-lashing to the airline and mobilised complaints from his 1.64 million followers.

In a row played out on Twitter, Smith issued an expletive-laden series of messages aimed at the airline for ejecting him from a flight from Oakland to Burbank on Saturday because he was apparently too overweight to fit in his seat.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 01:51:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Chubby Kev blogs about it

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Australia race politician Pauline Hanson moving to UK

Australian former anti-immigration politician Pauline Hanson is selling up and heading to Britain, according to an interview with an Australian magazine.

She told Women's Day that Australia was no longer a land of opportunity and she had "had enough" of living there.

Ms Hanson built a career on claims that Australia was being "swamped by Asians"

She was jailed briefly for fraud before the conviction was quashed. Her efforts to stage a political comeback in recent years have failed.

"I'm going to be away indefinitely. It's pretty much goodbye forever," said Ms Hanson, 56.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 07:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funnily enough my browser could not find its Bodoni Type Font today. Coincidence?
by PeWi on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 07:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gawker XXX-posé grew legs

"I'm in the process. Let me be clear. I pay my quarterly estimates," he told YNN, a Buffalo affiliate of NY1 "I will file a return for the first time, [for] last year, come April, when taxes are to be filed."...

Friday, [publicist Tammy] Sun wouldn't say specifically whether Ford paid taxes here for 2007 and 2008 as a nonresident. Her explanation: If he doesn't run against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary, "he and his family are entitled to a certain level of privacy as private citizens."

Read more...

Ford has declined to detail how much he was paid as a Merrill Lynch executive and on what he paid in New York income taxes in 2007 or 2008 before becoming a full-time resident.

He has said he will make disclosures only if he becomes a candidate. "There's been a lot of serious questions raised, and I think New Yorkers have a right to know," Gillibrand said after a morning speech to the Association of Towns. "They want to know whether he received a taxpayer-backed bonus and whether taxes were appropriately paid."

Read more...



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Feb 15th, 2010 at 09:00:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New financing puts Mannerheim movie project back on track

Finland's most expensive cinematic project, on Finland's wartime military commander Marshal Carl Gustav Mannerheim, is being revived, thanks to a promise of new financing.
      A contract was signed on Sunday evening in Berlin, where the biopic project got a new financier and co-producer from Germany. The new partner in the project is producer Harald Reichebner, whose company, Global United Entertainment Ltd. is joining the project
      "I am quite sure that it will be produced now", said the project's Finnish producer, Markus Selin.

It is highly unlikely that Finnish action movie director Renny Harlin (b Lauri Harjola) will be able to handle the complex ambiguities of Finland's past relationships with Imperial Russia, the Soviet Union and Germany. OTOH there will be plenty of historically-based opportunities for blowing things up. There are also fantastic newly-restored Imperial locations in St Petersberg for backdrop.

Renny is not crass - I've spoken to him and quite like him. But he needs a powerful producer to keep him in check. His long-term partner amoral Markus Selin is not that producer.

The movie - if it is finally made - will be well lit and photographed, with good sound, good art direction and excellent wardrobe. Finland has imo world class movie technicians who can work within tight budgets and tough conditions. It might even have good music - there are enough interesting movie composers in Finland. (i've no idea who has been chosen) Where it will fail is in story insight and acting.

A far more interesting story would be the wartime presidency of Risto Ryti, who guided Finland through those complex ambiguities. As part of the post-war surrender to the Soviets, he was sentenced by a retroactive act of the Finnish Parliament to 10 years in prison, of which he served 4 years. But this was in the context of punishing war reparations and the ceding of 10% of territory. Incidentally, those war reparations were paid (Finland was the only combatant of WWII to do so) and created a short Industrial Revolution that still echoes today.

Ryti is the real Finnish hero, but he built things rather than blew them up.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 16th, 2010 at 03:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries

Impeachment gets real

by ARGeezer - Jan 17
25 comments

A Final Warning

by Oui - Jan 10
112 comments

Environment Anarchists

by Oui - Jan 13
4 comments