Brussels

Brexit means Brexit? Not if the Eunatoed States of America has anything to do with it.

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Published on the The Slog on August 21, 2016

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Mesnip29616HM Sloop Brexit should be sailing the high seas in search of new trading links beyond the European Union and its dysfunctional currency, economic and fiscal policies. But if Theresa MayorMaynot (and the people she represents) get their way, the less than seaworthy sloop of salvation will stay in port, making only occasional day trips to Ostend. Eight macro events may yet foil the plan to sabotage Brexit, but none of them are going to emanate from the Mayflower crew.


When it comes to Brexit, things seem to be moving along very nicely. If you voted Remain, that is. In just 48 hours, it will be exactly two months since The Historic Shock Vote. This is the current state of play:

  • The woman who acts as Commander in Chief is a Remaindeer. The man with his hands on the purse strings is a Remaindeer. The woman in charge of the security services is a Remaindeer who’s only been in the House for five years. She’s supposed to be working out a points system for immigrants in the light of Brexit. The Commander in chief keeps her in a pocket, under a thumb.
  • The Brexiteers have been given the job of squabbling with each other. Thus far, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies are making a fine job of it. To ‘help’ him in his task of securing Brexit, Davies has been given a smaller office with fewer staff than anyone else in the Cabinet.
  • Although it is of course far too early to tell, all the business, trade and employment data since Brexit has been positive; the EU – in stark contrast – faces major political, fiscal and trade crises in Spain, Italy and France respectively. In the light of this, the Pound is falling (what else?) just as all those holidaymakers go away and discover how expensive it is in the US and Europe.
  • Every business medium around the world – with the honorable exception of the Wall Street Journal – continues to treat Brexit as a global economic disaster of inestimable proportions, despite the fact that a first year secondary school kid could do the maths to show that Japan, China and Italy are infinitely more dangerous and immediate problems.
  • Theresa Queen of the Mayflower and her crew have pissed away 57 days during which the official Brexit process has moved forward not one millimetre. Both old and new media are full of trolls declaring Article 50 to be irrelevant, but that is not credible for one simple reason: there is no way a group of control freaks like the EC would have put it in the Lisbon Treaty if there was no point to it. More damning is the complete absence of any logical or halfway convincing reason why the application hasn’t been made. Brexit, after all, means Brexit. Well, so they keep saying anyway.
  • Either way, every time Cap’n Theresa signals to her fleet that Article 50 will probably be triggered around, oooh, March 2019, there’s a leak from the Brexiteers….and then the bumboys at the Telegraph are briefed to reassure the 52% (for we are the 52%) that actually no, it will be done before March 31st 2017. This, as you will know by now, is a date of no importance whatsoever – but nevertheless has an uncanny habit of turning up over and over again.

     

     

     


What’s going on?

Let’s rewind the tape to a Slogpost of January 11th this year, in which I wrote this:

11116Brexitban

I very rarely write statements as definitive as that, because too often they quickly become hostages to fortune. But it was based on sources in Brussels, Westminster and Washington and the information was solid: you will not be allowed to leave.

There was, I suspect, nothing wrong with the information – which two out of three sources described as ‘common knowledge’. Indeed, the Washington source insists that the emails of a certain H. Clinton do (or did) make reference to the facts as laid out before me.

The facts were right, but my interpretation was wrong. I was, to be frank, a bit thick about what they were driving at: I assumed electoral rigging.

Perhaps that was indeed considered, but then rejected as unecessary – I don’t know. Certainly, the result came as a bombshell in Whitehall, where absolutely zero work had been done on what to do if Cameron lost the Referendum.

However, Our Man in Brussels (not that senior, as I’ve said before) remains unshakeable. And in the last 72 hours, he has reaffirmed what he first told me at the turn of the year: “It will not be allowed to happen”.


Among the upper ranks of UKIP and Tory Leavers, there remains a fatalistic clarity about what will (or rather, won’t) happen now.

Pro-Brexit Tory leadership candidate Leadsom has been suitably scared off, and the Conservative grassroots denied their chance to vote for her. The Blair/Campbell PR axis is pulling out all the stops to get at best lukewarm Remain doubter Jeremy Corbyn ousted as Labour Leader, and corporate stooge Owen Smith installed as his replacement.

Meanwhile, the mini-sloop Brexit sits in dock with its anchor firmly attached to the bottom. And apart from the odd cruise trip designed to give the illusion of action, that is exactly where it will stay.

Unless, that is, one or more of the following events occur:

  1. Donald Trump becomes President of the US
  2. Marine Le Pen becomes President of France
  3. Deutsche Bank finally crashes
  4. The Italian banking system collapses
  5. A Japanese meltdown triggers a rates panic
  6. The Fed gives rates another hike in September
  7. The Dutch vote to leave the EU
  8. Brazil defaults on its debts.

As the Buddhists say, all things must pass, everything is connected, nothing lasts forever. I would venture to suggest that the Pieces of Eight above will sooner or later do for globalist neoliberalism and financialised capitalism. At which point, the EU will be swept away, and Brexit – along with Article 50 – will cease to be issues of any importance.

Stay tuned.

Britain Goes Bonkers After Brexit: The End of the Beginning

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on June 26, 2016

 

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Brexit Discussion with Jason Heppenstall, Monsta & RE

 

The carnage across the markets and the political hornet's nest unleashed on Friday after the Brexit Vote came in with a LEAVE result has been truly amazing to behold, and this is only on Day 1.

We can be sure the Central Banks have been working furiously over the weekend to get a strategy for calming the markets on Monday, which undoubtedly will amount to huge injections of liquidity to keep any of the large systemic banks from locking up.  However, there is so much PANIC right now through all sectors in all markets it's hard to imagine how they can plug all the leaks here.

HERE THEY COME TO SELL 'EM AGAIN!

http://www.monologuedb.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/braveheart.jpg For the crowd supporting Brexit, there is some initial Blowback which nobody predicted, which is that on the heels of this it Split the UK itself, with Scotland and Ireland in favor of Bremain, while Britain and Wales voted Brexit.  So now Scotland and Ireland are talking about holding their own Referendums on leaving the UK so they can stay part of the EU.  Scotland already held one of these referendums last year where the Leave camp lost, but with this latest change probably would sswing a new referendum the other way.  Ireland is a really peculiar example here of how confused things are, because way back when they actually voted AGAINST joining the EU initially, but then the thunbscrews were put on them and in a revote were persuaded to join.  “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again to get the voting result you want”.

Speaking from this POV, Paul Craig Roberts doesn't think the Leave Vote will stand up, with Brussels and the IMF, World Bank etc again putting the thumbscrews down to either force a new vote or to force Parliament to go against the vote of the people and Bremain anyhow.  The Referendum is supposedly “non-binding”, and in order to be enacted into Law, Parliament has to send a Letter or at least make an Official Statement invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

Even after such an “official” declaration by Da Goobermint, the negotiations to unwind this marriage have a timeline of 2 years.  That is a LOT of time for still more SHTF in both the UK and in the EU as a whole.

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01528/Van-Rompuy_1528073c.jpg Far as the Brit Pols and the Eurocrat Clowns & Jokers are concerned, you have 2 opposing camps on this part of the debate also.  Current Prime Minister David Cameron is stepping down, but not for another 3 months.  As a Bremain supporter, he doesn't think he is the Man for the Job of negotiating a Brexit, which is about the first true thing I have heard out of the mouth of a politician in a long time.  Kudos to DC for that.  However, DC was also the person who actually suggested a Referendum, confident at the time I suppose that Brexit was a laughable idea and would be soundly defeated.

Unfortunately in the interim, the Refugee Crisis escalated out of control and the EU Clowns & Jokers have proved ever increasingly ineffective, anti-democratic and just plain stupid.  Any credibility they may have once had has long since been lost.  Really NOBODY in the entire EU except the Political Class beholden to Brussels can STAND these people, or being under their thumb economically, and as a result politically as well.  You don't bow to the will of Brussels, they make your life miserable.  See the Greeks for this, who after a brief and fairly impotent attempt at getting some kind of reasonable deal on their small mountain of debt totally capitulated to their Masters in Brussels.

The Brits (and Welsh, Scots & Irish) are in a slightly better position than the Greeks were.  First off, when they joined the EU they never gave up their own currency of Sterling.  So they can still print their own money.  Second, the UK is home to the City of London, one of the largest financial centers in the world, exceeded only perhaps by Wall Street.  This bollixes up all their operations, and while maybe they can move to Frankfurt or Brussels itself over some period of time, that would be an extremely expensive and difficult move to make.  Thus you get still further turmoil in the financial markets during this period.

http://www.galadjianlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/divorce-argument.jpg In any event, the EU Clowns are pushing the Brits to Invoke Article 50 IMMEDIATELY, to get on with this divorce! "Let's get it OVAH with here already!  We HATE each other and we don't want to sleep together anymore!  The Marriage is OVAH!"

The Brits on the other hand are shuffling their feet here on this, as mentioned Cameron won't send this letter and is stepping down to let some other Pol do the dirty work.  From the Brexit side, they are in no rush either to carry through with the Referendum Results, especially given the already nasty fallout from the first day!  They want to now use this to try to negotiate a better deal with the Euroclowns, but like the Greeks before them they don't REALLY want to leave the EU.

Problem on this of course is that at least by EU standards, the Brits ALREADY had the best deal, they got to keep their currency but ALSO had access to the Eurozone trading market with low or no tariffs, etc.  The Euroclowns don't want to negotiate a STILL BETTER deal with them, since of course directly after that everybody will be clamoring for the same deal.

Which now brings us to another perhaps even larger problem than Brexit (which certainly is a big enough problem on its own!), which is the fact that in just about all the countries in the Eurozone, there are simmering Populist Movements that want OUT, extant even before the Brexit Vote.

Podemos in Spain under Pablo Iglesias wants Out.  5 Star in Italy under Beppe Grillo wants Out.  The National Front under Marine LePen in France wants Out.  The Party for Freedom in the Netherlands under Geert Wilders wants Out.  Just about every country on the Balkan Migration Route of the MENA Refugees does NOT want Brussels dictating to them precisely how many Refugees they should or should not give Asylum to.  This includes places like Austria, Hungary, Croatia etc.  So Brussels is under a LOT of political pressure here, and in the medium to long run simply will not hold together as a union.  That does not mean though that in the near term they will not use all tools at their disposal to keep this Ponzi afloat, they most certainly will do that.  Everything depends on this, the solvency of the banking system leading the way on this.

Next week certainly will have a lot of Market Turmoil as all the Big Players try to reposition themselves in the aftermath of the initial carnage.  How well the Central Banks can contain this and prevent Financial Contagion from spreading throughout the entire system is an Open Question.  Interest Rate tools are pretty much shot since they are at ZIRP or NIRP all through the bond market.  Ouright monetization of debt would destroy whatever is left of credibility here, and beyond that there still is no mechanism to deliver freshly printed money to the consumers who spend that money.  Without that, you have no flow of funds, velocity of money drops to zero and it does not matter how much you print.

To sum it up, this would be a good time to load up on preps.

RE

Danger! EU Demolition in Progress

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Published on the 22 Billion Energy Slaves on February 22, 2016

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It’s getting harder all the time to distract oneself from how threadbare the fabric of our societies is becoming. No matter how much you avert your eyes it is all but impossible not to notice things unravelling around you. This is happening on every level, from the local to the international, manifesting itself in a multitude of ways.  Just as a fractal pattern has both the macrocosm in the microcosm, and the microcosm in the macrocosm, we are seeing signs of collapse small and large all around us.

 
 
At the micro level I could mention the town in which I live. In the past year we’ve seen a couple of big box retailers close down at one end of the scale, and quite a few small independents as well, some of which have been trading for decades. Streets have so many boarded up shop-fronts that the local council has taken to plastering them with posters showing images from happier times. Homelessness has spiked too, as has drug and alcohol abuse. The police station hasn’t officially closed down, but try getting hold of an officer when you need one – as I did when some drunken youth vandalised my car. The building is still there but instead of it being open there is a phone beside the front door that you must use to report a crime.
 
Aside from the police and the shops closing, public toilets are closed virtually all of the time, and the Post Office too is soon to close down, having been privatised and now asset stripped. The council is being forced to raise its taxation rates by 4% this year to cover the shortfall caused by spiralling costs and diminished funding from central government. Clinics and charities are being squeezed out of existence and the local council tried (and failed) to privatise the town’s midsummer festival.
 
My wife works in the care sector. The stories I get to hear will make you never want to be dependent on the state in your old age. If you can’t rely on your kids to look after you in your dotage it might be wise to keep a bottle of whisky and a revolver in your bottom drawer. Or maybe you'd rather die of thirst lying in your own mess because the 19-year-old unqualified carer who works for minimum wage is too busy checking Facebook on her phone to hear you pressing the emergency button by the bed.
 
Food banks are popping up. Schools are cancelling the more costly trips due to a lack of pupils being able to afford them, and local councils are cutting down trees in public places as they are ‘costly to maintain'. Streets are lined with weeds.  
 
This might sound like a laundry list of woes, but despite it all there is still a reasonably solid façade of normality. Potholes in the road get fixed, people are still buying shiny new cars and householders do up their homes. The county council is still pressing ahead with its plans to install super-fast broadband that will ‘connect us to the world’ as if we weren’t already, and the newspapers continue to repeat that the economy is recovering, that everyone who wants a job now has one, and that generally speaking things are pretty good and getting better all the time. Children’s TV programmes are still talking about us all going off to live on Mars at some point in the future, Richard Branson has unveiled a new spaceship and true believers are still talking earnestly about self-driving robot cars that are fuelled by water.
 
All well and good if you are not paying attention, but on another level it is also getting harder to ignore the cracks that are appearing around us. And crack-ups don’t get much larger than the EU. The UK prime minister David Cameron recently announced there would be a referendum on whether Britain should remain a part of the EU aka ‘Brexit’. This has had the effect of a starting gun being fired in the race to win votes for the respective ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns. If the ‘ins’ win then the UK will remain within the EU, albeit still on the periphery and with various half-measures in place to ward off unwelcome EU policies. If the ‘outs’ win then the UK will be out of Europe and millions of lawyers can expect to look forward to years of lucrative work as we try to disentangle ourselves from the biggest bureaucratic mess the world will have ever seen.
 
Even though it is early days, a basic and simplistic narrative has emerged in the debate. It goes something like this:
 
From the INs: “The EU brings us peace and prosperity. It has eliminated borders, improved the environment and lifted consumer standards. We would be X b/million (insert random number from your favoured think tank) pounds worse off if we left. It protects us from Russia and ISIS and the Brexiters are nothing but a bunch of right-wing racist Neanderthals who want to steal the EU’s (benign) power and use it against us.”
 
From the OUTs: “The EU is undemocratic and nobody should have the right to decide our national policies – especially immigration. It is run by unelected technocrats who are paid a fortune to make up silly laws. The European Court of Human Rights is the go-to place for Islamic terrorists and paedophiles who should be tried (and hopefully hung) in Britain.”
 
That might be a bit simplistic, but that’s the kind of level of debate that is going around at the moment. Everybody is talking about whether the EU is a good thing or not to be part of, but nobody is asking whether it can exist at all for much longer. I would argue that it cannot. The EU, at heart, is a vast trading bloc of half a billion people. Its very existence is predicated on capitalism, acquisitive expansion and favourable trade deals at the expense of the third world. It runs on cheap energy – the kind of energy that will not be readily available for much longer, and when the inevitably huge financial unwind picks up pace it will severely curtail European access to capital markets and energy. The EU might be rich but it is only rich because of historically unfair trading conditions that have impoverished half the world. And it has very few viable energy sources that would keep it in the manner to which it is accustomed.
 
The EU has always contained the seeds of its own destruction. By regarding monetary union as an inevitability (an inevitability that has steamrollered democracy in the process) it would logically reach a point where the weaker member states would not be able to keep pace with the stronger ones. By flooding the southern periphery nations with cash – and then asking for it back with interest – the EU looks from the outside to be a self-cannibalising monster. Peace in Europe? Let’s see how long that lasts. There are many in Greece, Spain and Portugal who see ‘the EU’ as Germany in disguise.
 
Pro-EU liberals tend to regard the continent in terms of what consumer benefits they can extract from it. To be ‘pro Europe’ is to retain one’s right to fly to Barcelona for the weekend on Easyjet and enjoy tapas on Las Ramblas. They warn that this kind of easy living won’t be possible if we leave the EU.
 
 
If the EU were to quit the EU it probably wouldn’t be a death blow. Britain has a vastly over-inflated sense of its own importance in world affairs and the reality is that the EU might barely notice our exit. A far bigger existential threat to the EU comes in the form of the immigration crisis, which it is already at war itself over. So far, only a tiny number of refugees have arrived in Europe and yet people are already whipped into a frenzy of fear and anguish. In 2015 around a million beaten-down desperate people fled war, drought and economic collapse, to arrive on the shores of Europe – many of them drowning along the way. A million sounds like a lot of people until you remember that there are already half a billion people living here in an area of 1.7 million square miles. If the refugees were spread out equally they would have nearly two square miles each. Lebanon, by contrast, has some two million refugees – and Lebanon is a country you could lose under a crumb on a world map. A Belgian minster's response to the EU's refugee ‘crisis’; tell Greeks to push them back into the sea. There’s your liberal EU for you.
 
 
This is also the same organisation that is trying frantically to get a secret trade deal ratified that would hand over yet more power to trans national corporations and take it away from nation states. If TTIP goes through we can kiss goodbye to basic rights and freedoms, such as being able to choose whether our kids eat genetically modified food or can be told that smoking is bad for them.
 
By now you’re probably thinking that I’ll be ticking the ‘Out’ box on my voting slip on June 23rd. I will be, but its more or less irrelevant as the EU cannot last much longer anyway. This point of view, alas, will not go down well with many people. To be a ‘Brexiter’ is conflated with being a pig-headed xenophobe who refuses to regard social justice issues as the most important battle in human history. The ‘debate’ is far too tribal in any case. The arguments of the ‘Ins’ are confusing and make no sense to me. They talk about democracy yet want to give it away, and they celebrate diversity but at the same time think a ‘one size fits all’ mindset will deliver that.
 
The irony of being called anti-European is that I am ardently pro-European. I’ve lived in four different EU countries, travelled all over and am married to an Italian Dane. Europe, to me, is the most diverse place in the world and has an amazing spread of history and culture. My ideal life would involve spending several months each year travelling around Europe in a camper van and getting to know it in an even more intimate manner. The EU is not Europe; it’s an abstract concept masking a faceless undemocratic organisation that funnels wealth from one place to another and keeps its modesty intact behind a fig leaf of supposed liberalism.
 
It doesn’t have to be that way. We could still have a Europe united around some core values other than money and power and capitalism. How about a Europe focused on an emerging eco consciousness? Or what about remaking it as a loose cooperative of bio-regions? Or perhaps, at the very least, we could all agree on a shared constitution founded on liberty, equality and fraternity. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has suggested something along those lines, setting up a pan-European umbrella group called DiEM25 that aims to shake things up ‘gently, compassionately but firmly.’ Perhaps there could be more debate about what kind of Europe would be better suited to weathering the coming financial, ecological and energy shocks without causing so much collateral damage to both itself and other nations.
 
Until that happens we’ll just have to stand back and watch the fireworks. Big institutions like the EU are like skyscrapers; they don’t come crashing down to the ground without taking out plenty of other nearby buildings and the EU is like the leaning tower of Pisa on steroids.  Big things are an artefact of the age of oil – the future is necessarily smaller and more local. The best course of action is to stop arguing over whether it is best to be stood on top of the creaking tower it or beside it, and simply get the hell out of the way before it goes over. 

Greece: No Plan B

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on July 15, 2015

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Snippet:

…I took a break from the Greek Souvlaki Kabuki Theater last week, after being thoroughly saturated with this nonsense for the last month, beginning about the time that Souvlakis stormed out of negotiations with the Euroclowns and the Tsipras called for an impromptu referendum on the terms being offered to them in order to get fresh input of Funny Money they would never see, but merely go to pay interest on old loans that are steadily accumulating over time here.

In what should have been a fairly predictable outcome, the Greek population soundly reected the proposals in a 61-39% majority, but according to Brit Prep School Butt Boy Ambrose Evans-Prtchard Alex the Less than Great did not predict that, but rather thought they would lose this referendum and then Syriza could go ahead and sign the slavery contract with the approval of the slaves. Unfortunately for Alex his pollsters got this wrong, leaving him in the unenviable position of having to go back to the bargaining table once again, this time himself without Souvlakis running interference…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Yanis Varoufakis Intervention

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Published on Yanis Varoufakis Blog on June 28, 2015

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As it happened – Yanis Varoufakis’ intervention during the 27th June 2015 Eurogroup Meeting

The Eurogroup Meeting of 27th June 2015 will not go down as a proud moment in Europe’s history. Ministers turned down the Greek government’s request that the Greek people should be granted a single week during which to deliver a Yes or No answer to the institutions’ proposals – proposals crucial for Greece’s future in the Eurozone. The very idea that a government would consult its people on a problematic proposal put to it by the institutions was treated with incomprehension and often with disdain bordering on contempt. I was even asked: “How do you expect common people to understand such complex issues?”. Indeed, democracy did not have a good day in yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting! But nor did European institutions. After our request was rejected, the Eurogroup President broke with the convention of unanimity (issuing a statement without my consent) and even took the dubious decision to convene a follow up meeting without the Greek minister, ostensibly to discuss the “next steps”. 

Can democracy and a monetary union coexist? Or must one give way? This is the pivotal question that the Eurogroup has decided to answer by placing democracy in the too-hard basket. So far, one hopes.

 

Intervention by Yanis Varoufakis, 27th June 2015 Eurogroup Meeting

Colleagues,

In our last meeting (25th June) the institutions tabled their final offer to the Greek authorities, in response to our proposal for a Staff Level Agreement (SLA) as tabled on 22nd June (and signed by Prime Minister Tsipras). After long, careful examination, our government decided that, unfortunately, the institutions’ proposal could not be accepted. In view of how close we have come to the 30th June deadline, the date when the current loan agreement expires, this impasse of grave concern to us all and its causes must be thoroughly examined.

We rejected the institutions’ 25th June proposals because of a variety of powerful reasons. The first reason is the combination of austerity and social injustice they would impose upon a population devastated already by… austerity and social injustice. Even our own SLA proposal (22nd June) is austerian, in a bid to placate the institutions and thus come closer to an agreement. Only our SLA attempted to shift the burden of this renewed austerian onslaught to those more able to afford it – e.g. by concentrating on increasing employer contributions to pension funds rather than on reducing the lowest of pensions. Nonetheless, even our SLA contains many parts that Greek society rejects.

So, having pushed us hard to accept substantial new austerity, in the form of absurdly large primary surpluses (3.5% of GDP over the medium term, albeit somewhat lower than the unfathomable number agreed to by previous Greek governments – i.e. 4.5%), we ended up having to make recessionary trade-offs between, on the one hand, higher taxes/charges in an economy where those who pay their dues pay through the nose and, on the other, reductions in pensions/benefits in a society already devastated by massive cuts in basic income support for the multiplying needy.

Let me say colleagues what we had already conveyed to the institutions on 22nd June, as we were tabling our own proposals: Even this SLA, the one we were proposing, would be extremely onerous to pass through Parliament, given the level of recessionary measures and austerity it entailed. Unfortunately, the institutions’ response was to insist on even more recessionary (aka parametric) measures (e.g. increasing VAT on hotels from 6% to 23%!) and, worse still, on shifting the burden massively from business to the weakest members of society (e.g. to reduce the lowest of pensions, to remove support for farmers, to postpone ad infinitum legislation that offers some protection to badly exploited workers).

The institutions new proposals, as expressed in their 25th June SLA/Prior Actions document, would make a politically problematic package – from the perspective of our Parliament – into a package that would extremely difficult to push through our Parliamentary caucus. But this is not all. It gets worse much worse than that once we take a look at the proposed financing package.

What makes it impossible to pass the institutions’ proposal through Parliament is the lack of an answer to the question: Will these painful measures at least give us a period of tranquillity during which to carry out the agreed reforms and measures? Will a shock of optimism counter the recessionary effect of the extra fiscal consolidation that is being imposed on a country that has been in recession for 21 consecutive quarters? The answer is clear: No, the institutions’ proposal is offering no such prospect.

This is why: The proposed funding for the next 5 months (see below for a breakdown) is problematic in a variety of ways:

First, it makes no provision for the state’s arrears, caused by five months of making payments without disbursements and of falling tax revenues as a result of the constant threat of Grexit that has been wafting in the air, so to speak.

Secondly, the idea of cannibalising the HFSF in order to repay the ECB’s SMP-era bonds constitutes a clear and present danger: These monies were earmarked, correctly, for strengthening Greece’s fragile banks, possibly through an operation that deals with their mountainous NPLs that eat into their capitalisation. The answer I have been given by senior ECB officials, whose name will remain unsaid, is that, if need be, the HFSF will be replenished to cope with the banks’ capitalisation needs. And who will do the replenishing? The ESM, is the answer I was given. But, and this is a gigantic but, this is not part of the proposed deal and, moreover, it could not be part of the deal as the institutions have no mandate to commit the ESM in this manner – as I am sure Wolfgang will remind us all. And, moreover, if such a new arrangement could be made, why then is our sensible, moderate, proposal of a new ESM facility for Greece that helps shift SMP liability from the ECB to the ESM not discussed? The answer “we will not discuss it because we will not discuss it” will be very hard for me to convey to my Parliament, together with another package of austerity.

Thirdly, the proposed disbursements’ schedule is a minefield of reviews – one per month – that will ensure two things. First, that the Greek government will be immersed every day, every week in the review process for five long months. And well before these five months expire, we shall enter into another tedious negotiation over the next program – since there is nothing in the institutions’ proposal capable of inspiring even the faintest of hopes that at the end of this new extension Greece can stand on its own two feet.

Fourthly, given that it is abundantly clear that our debt will remain unsustainable by the end of the year, and that market access will remain as distant then as it is now, the IMF cannot be counted upon to disburse its share, the 3.5 billion that the institutions are counting as part of the funding package on the table.

These are solid reasons why our government does not consider it has a mandate to accept the institutions’ proposal or to use its majority in Parliament in order to push it through and onto the statutes.

At the same time, we do not have a mandate to turn down the institutions’ proposals either, cognizant of the critical moment in history we find ourselves in. Our party received 36% of the vote and the government as a whole commanded a little more than 40%. Fully aware of how weighty our decision is, we feel obliged to put the institutions’ proposal to the people of Greece. We shall endeavour to spell out to them fully what a Yes to the Institutions’ Proposal means, to do the same regarding a No vote, and then let them decide. For our part we shall accept the people’s verdict and will do whatever it takes to implement it – one way or another.

Some worry that a Yes vote would be a vote of no confidence in our government (as we shall be recommending a No vote), in which case we cannot promise to the Eurogroup that we shall be in a position to sign and implement the agreement with the institutions. This is not so. We are committed democrats. If the people gives us a clear instruction to sign up on the institutions’ proposals, we shall do whatever it takes to do so – even if it means a reconfigured government.

Colleagues, the referendum solution is optimal for all, given the constraints we face.

  • If our government were to accept the institutions’ offer today, promising to push it through Parliament tomorrow, we would be defeated in Parliament with the result of a new election being called within a very long month – then, the delay, the uncertainty and the prospects of a successful resolution would be much, much diminished
  • But even if we managed to pass the institutions’ proposal through Parliament, we would be facing a major problem of ownership and implementation. Put simply, just as in the past the governments that pushed through policies dictated by the institutions could not carry the people with them, we too would fail to do so.

On the question that will be put to the Greek people, much has been said about what it should be. Many of you tell us, advise us, instruct us even, that we should make it a Yes or No question on the euro. Let me be clear on this. First, the question was formulated by the Cabinet and has just been passed through Parliament – and it is “Do you accept the institutions’ proposal as it was presented to us on 25th June in the Eurogroup?” This is the only pertinent question. If we had accepted that proposal two days ago, we would have had a deal. The Greek government is now asking the electorate to answer the question you put it to me Jeroen – especially when you said, and I quote, “you can consider this, if you wish, a take or leave it proposal”. Well, this is how we took it and we are now honouring the institutions and the Greek people by asking the latter to deliver a clear answer on the institutions’ proposal.

To those who say that, effectively, this is a referendum on the euro, my answer is: You may very well say this but I shall not comment. This is your judgement, your opinion, your interpretation. Not ours! There is a logic to your view but only if there is an implicit threat that a No from the Greek people to the institutions’ proposal will be followed up by moves to eject Greece, illegally, out of the euro. Such a threat would not be consistent with basic principles of European democratic governance and European Law.

To those who instruct us to phrase the referendum question as a euro-drachma dilemma, my answer is crystal clear: European Treaties make provisions for an exit from the EU. They do not make any provisions for an exit from the Eurozone. With good reason, of course, as the indivisibility of our Monetary Union is part of its raison d’ etre. To ask us to phrase the referendum question as a choice involving exit from the Eurozone is to ask us to violate EU Treaties and EU Law. I suggest to anyone who wants us, or anyone else, to hold a referendum on EMU membership to recommend a change in the Treaties.

Colleagues,

It is time to take stock. The reason we find ourselves in the present conundrum is one: Our government’s primary proposal to you and the institutions, which I articulated here in the Eurogroup in my first ever intervention, was never taken seriously. It was the suggestion that common ground be created between the prevailing MoU and our new government’s program. For a fleeting moment, the 20th February Eurogroup statement raised the prospect of such common ground – as it made no reference to the MoU and concentrated on a new reform list by our government that would be put to the institutions.

Regrettably, immediately after the 20th of February the institutions, and most of colleagues in this room, sought to bring the MoU back to the centre, and to reduce our role in marginal changes within the MoU. It is as if we were told, to paraphrase Henry Ford, that we could have any reform list, any agreement, as long as it was the MoU. Common ground was thus sacrificed in favour of imposing upon our government a humiliating retreat. This is my view. But it is not important now. Now it is up to the Greek people to decide.

Our task, in today’s Eurogroup, ought to be to pave the ground for a smooth passage to the referendum of 5th July. This means one thing: that our loan agreement be extended by a few weeks so that the referendum takes place in conditions of tranquillity. Immediately after 5th July, if the people have voted Yes, the institutions’ proposal will be signed. Until then, during the next week, as the referendum approaches, any deviation from normality, especially in the banking sector, will be invariably interpreted as an attempt to coerce Greek voters. Greek society has paid a hefty price, through huge fiscal contraction, in order to be part of our monetary union. But a democratic monetary union that threatens a people about to deliver their verdict with capital controls and bank closures is a contradiction in terms. I would like to think that the Eurogroup will respect this principle. As for the ECB, the custodian on our monetary stability and of the Union itself, I have no doubt that, if the Eurogroup takes a responsible decision today to accept the request for an extension of our loan agreement that I am now tabling, it will do what it takes to give the Greek people a few more days to express their opinion.

Colleagues, these are critical moments and the decisions we make are momentous. In years to come we may well be asked “Where were you on the 27th of June? And what did you do to avert what happened? At the very least we should be able to say that: We gave the people who live under the worst depression a chance to consider their options. We tried democracy as a means of breaking a deadlock. And we did what it took to give them a few days to do so.

POSTSCRIPT – The day the Eurogroup President broke with the tradition of unanimity and excluded Greece from a Eurogroup gathering at will

Following my intervention (see above) the Eurogroup President rejected our request for an extension, with the support of the rest of the members, and announced that the Eurogroup would be issuing a statement placing the burden of this impasse on Greece and suggesting that the 18 ministers (that is the 19 Eurozone finance ministers except the Greek minister) reconvene later to discuss ways and means of protecting themselves from the fallout.

At that point I asked for legal advice, from the secretariat, on whether a Eurogroup statement can be issued without the conventional unanimity and whether the President of the Eurogroup can convene a meeting without inviting the finance minister of a Eurozone member-state. I received the following extraordinary answer: “The Eurogroup is an informal group. Thus it is not bound by Treaties or written regulations. While unanimity is conventionally adhered to, the Eurogroup President is not bound to explicit rules.” I let the reader comment on this remarkable statement.

For my part, I concluded as follows:

Colleagues, refusing to extend the loan agreement for a few weeks, and for the purpose of giving the Greek people an opportunity to deliberate in peace and quiet on the institutions’ proposal, especially given the high probability that they will accept these proposals (contrary to our government’s advice), will damage permanently the credibility of the Eurogroup as a democratic decision making body comprising partner states sharing not only a common currency but also common values.

 

PRESS CONFERENCE PRESENTATION IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE 27th JUNE 2015 EUROGROUP MEETING

Greek Deadline Fatigue

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on April 24, 2015

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Greece: Deadline fatigue is in danger of boring us all to death

I went for a long lie down in a cool room this afternoon after a morning full of chores, followed by a lunchtime laying gravel, and then bordering it with rocks the size of Earth-threatening asteroids.

All of this, I’m here to tell you, was less tiring than Deadline Fatigue – a new board-game for all the family invented by the Eurogroupe-Varoufakis-IMF Toy Company.

I’m up and about again now, preparing dinner while lighting the fire-pit outside because the weather’s gone a little grey and chilly here. Things also seem to have gone a little chilly in the ‘tough’ negotiations between sound economics on the one hand, and Jeroboam Drivelclown on the other. Tough or not, this ridiculous paint-drying championship could have been predicted from Day One.

I shrink, as always, from the limelight; but as it happens, The Slog did piss off just about everyone at the outset by suggesting there were no grounds at all for optimism on the subject of compromise.

I posted this gentle mickey-take on the chances of building bridges between Frankfurt and Athens last January 28th. What followed was obduracy after obduracy: the Draghi/Schauble ambush of Yanis Varoufakis in late February, and the rise and rise of their Dutch bumboy Dieselbang…with Pristine Lowgrade joining the ‘non’ tendency despite a Varoufakis attempt to charm the charmless.

The timeline, as one looks back now, really is almost funny: Greece must default on February 26th, then March 11th, then March24th, then April 14th. Reuters might just as well have had a daily column called ‘Another day, another deadline’.

All this week we’ve been fed with spin about ‘rapid progress being made’, but today’s free-for-all presser was nothing more than a statement of the obvious: the two sides are no nearer a compromise today than they were almost three months ago to the day.

The following realities need to be borne in mind in this poker marathon:

1. The weak card in the Syriza hand is without doubt that they have a mandate to tell Brussels to piss off, but not to take Greece out of the euro.

2. Over 50% of all Greeks believe they could be kicked out of the euro, although legally this is an impossibility.

3. The weak card in the Troika2 hand is that – despite what the markets might suggest now – the reality of a Greek default within the eurozone is that discontent contagion will swiftly follow….and whether or not that’s reflected immediately in bond yield spikes is neither here nor there. The markets would have to be deficient in all the primary senses not to spot that rebellion on such a scale spelt the end of the euro.

4. If Troika2 really was comfortable with the idea of Greek default, they would’ve engineered it by now: you are a boxer and you have the other guy on the ropes….do you just tickle him under the armpits and spin things out until the bell goes for the end of the round? I think not. Bear in mind that twice now, Draghi has continued to drip feed ELA funds to Greek banks. It is a very odd general indeed who plays to keep his enemies in the game.

5. Far away to the West, we are a little over 12 days away from the UK General Election. Nigel Farage is very excited because a new poll in the constituency he’s fighting – Thanet – puts him nine points clear…when just two weeks ago he looked in danger of losing. This is Nigel looking very excited:

nigelexcited24415Nigel gets excited by almost anything…a media crew, a flood, a camel hair coat, a pint of Old Scrotum and so on. But if there really is a Ukip surge about to take off, while it is highly unlikely to deliver more than four seats in total, this will nevertheless represent a third front opening against beleaguered Brussels-am-Berlin: not only an austerity rebellion in Greece and euro rebellions in Italy and Spain, but suddenly an EU rebellion in Britain. Marine Le Pen in France may very well intensify in the nightmare in two years time.

I do think now that the time is long past when anyone can credibly raise an argument to say that Master Tactician Yanis Varoufakis knows exactly what he’s up to, and every step is carefully planned: as I have written before, Yanis overestimated the leverage available to produce a compromise, and Troika2 drastically underestimated the unwillingness of the Greek electorate to buy into any more “serves you right” bollocks.

I still believe that in late February Varoufakis should have revealed the Eurogroupe perfidy and walked away from the ambush. But all this is now water under the bridge. The reality is that if a deal were to be reached now, it would have zero credibility in the markets, and a Syriza having done that deal would have zero electoral credibility at home.

Yanis thought it necessary to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Syriza was holding an olive branch, whereas the Troikanauts were wielding baseball bats. I suspect this was the truth: but it’s not the way the Western MSM have portrayed it.

The only honourable path ahead for Tsipras and Varoufakis now is to say, “Right – do your worst: we are not going to accept your neoliberal crap thinly disguised as “reform”. We will default inside the eurozone: let’s see how you like them apples”.

The Battle of Yesterday vs Tomorrow

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on April 19, 2015

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ANALYSIS: Why the standoff between Greece and the EU is really the first major battle in the war between Yesterday and Tomorrow

2day2morrow19415As the days drag on towards some kind of dénouement to what is rapidly becoming the silliest, longest and most empty threat of a death sentence in political history, I continue to be amazed that the Western media are reporting the Greece-eurogroupe ‘deadlock’ as if it was a purely technical matter.

There are only two elements of the ‘crisis’ that concern me: the emotional dimension of an at times infuriating but fundamentally sound culture I’ve loved for over forty years being pelted by a salvo of Brussels sprouts, controlling sauerkrats, and past-sell-by date Frankfurters; and the former politics student’s fascination with the factions and rivalries on both sides.

If you’re a Python nut like me, then you will remember the Life of Brian sequence where Graham Chapman innocently asks the anal splinter-group leader Michael Palin if “we” are the People’s Group for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palin snaps back, “Are you f**king mad? We f**kin’ spit on the PGLOP. We, my friend, are the People’s Army for Palestine Liberation. There’s a world of difference”.

Sadly, a great deal of contemporary in-fighting between Middle East opponents of the US, Israel and NATO have proved in the 36 years since that movie how madness will eventually – somewhere – become reality. But it is also one of the strongest arguments against large States like Europe, China, the US and Russia that the citizens reach a point where a substantial minority no longer feel any affection for the much-vaunted body. For them, it’s more of a cadaver: a giant corpse they simple cannot remember as the flower of their youth.

More and more, this anthropological reality both colours and muddies European affairs.

The current impasse/standoff/crisis/negotiation is not – let’s get this straight for starters – a conflict between the EU and Greece. It is not even a war between national liberty and superstate dictatorship.

Rather, it’s the first battle in what could be a long war between yesterday and tomorrow. And be aware: the battle is no way as simple as ‘EU yesterday vs Greek tomorrow’: this is a battle in which there are more false flags, civil wars around the edges and power struggles going on than in the emerging Nazi Party of 1931.

*********************

Let’s deal quickly with my first concern: although depicted as the punishment of corrupt Greek politicians, backhanding officials and tax-evading taverna owners, none of that is even closely related to the facts. Far from punishing Nia Demokratia, PASOK and their serially unpleasant leaders, the Troika has insisted from Day One that it will only deal with these gargoyles. This is the same principle as hanging the war criminals at Nuremburg….up to but not including rocket scientists the victors wanted on their sides.

Germany largely benefited from corrupt officials (especially during the various insane arms deals with Greece) rather than suffering in any way; and precious few of those Fat Crats have been brought to justice….although Syriza is now on the case.

And finally, small businesses evade tax in Greece because the tax system is corrupt, not through greed in many cases: they know that every pol and bureacrat wants a kafelaki (small envelope). And people evade the Troika taxes today because they see them for what they are: a disgraceful attempt to pick the pocket of the vagrant in the gutter. I live in France now, and I’ve visited Greece between forty and fifty times in the last half-century; everything I see related to le noir francais is exactly the same as in Greece – except for one thing: it’s a far bigger problem in France.

I’m told by some that the desire to evade tax became an act of patriotic resistance during the Ottoman hegemony over Greece, but that was a long, long time ago: more accurate, I think, is the phrase used to me over and over again: “It’s a national sport”….and the trophy is nothing more than sticking it to the depraved elites that have been sitting on real Greeks for decades.

The punishment meted out by the Troika fits not the crime, but the greed, geopolitical ambitions and cynical control freakery of its three prongs – Wall Street, the US/EU, and Berlin/ECB interest groups. This is far from empty conspiracist assertion: the investment banking firms and Hedge Funds got clean away with a fat profit during the initial bailouts, Schäuble stands accused of conspiring with Venizelos to exaggerate the size of debt hole in 2010, a German-controlled and run concept of Fiskalunion has emerged directly from this totally unnecessary mess, the federalisation of the EU has been accelerated, and above all the euro was saved to die another day.

Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are on Calvary at the moment, but they’re dying to cleanse a worthless currency of its flaws, not to save anyone’s soul. And no amount of crucifixions from here to Warsaw via Budapest are going to remove the euro’s flaws.

Greece is saddled with an obscene debt and carpet-bombed economic structure because Schäuble wanted to convince the markets of eurozone viability, Trichet’s borrowing controls were hopelessly lax, Goldman wanted to sell credit, Sarkozy was terrified of the effect on his banks, and Berlin wanted – plus ca change – to run Europe using the best alternative to military force: the munnneeee.

There is little difference in general substance between QE and Zirp killing economies across the globe, and ClubMed austerity killing most of the ezone economy: except of course, the one in Germany. Gott in Himmel: perish the thought that such a thing might occur.

*********************

Nobody in the neoliberal owned and controlled press is ever going to accept that version of events, no matter how empirically databased it is. But no other explanation can explain the consistent actions of those in charge of the fiscal policies involved….policies that cannot possibly be related to sound economic actions – or even sound minds.

The mistake many observers and commentators make is to get the motive for the Greek tragedy wrong: get it right, and everything makes complete sense. Read the MSM account, and none of it does.

However, as I pointed out at the start of this mini-essay, there’s no simple tug-of-war going on. The best analogy I can summon up for the moment is to see the EU/ECB/Berlin attack on Greece as akin to Abe Lincoln deciding to attack Samuria-Shogun-Meiji fractured Japan just after the first Battle of Bull Run.

The two ‘sides’ in 2015 square up as follows:

EC vs Eurogroupe vs Frankfurt vs IMF vs ECB vs Berlin vs Paris vs UK

vs

Syriza vs KKE vs PASOK vs Nia Demokrita vs Golden Dawn vs To Potami vs ephiles vs ephobes

Without getting into too much detail, Jean-Claude Junker’s power base is the EC. Inside that, he has an anti-austerity rebuilding fund of allegedly €350bn, whose purpose he has kept deliberately vague. He befriended Alexis Tsipras, and could shaft the eurogroupe royally if he decided to invest it in Greece on a bigger scale than at present. This is because the eurogroupe’s attempt to wrest power from Juncker gets up his nasal orifice – and threatens the Cyprus-style tax evasion racket he runs in Luxembourg.

But the Frankfurt Bundesbank hardliners think the eurogroupe and its ally the ECB will have a disastrous effect on money supply and inflation via QE…plus (they assert) it was a mistake to let the US-controlled IMF and its mathematically dyslexic boss Christine Lagarde loose anywhere in Europe. In Berlin, however, Schäuble wants to have total control over the reins of euro-fiscal policy, and so would do anything to vapourise ECB boss Mario Draghi…while Chancellor Merkel (whom Schäuble dislikes, but who has the electoral appeal he lacks) has similar doubts to me about what Draghi’s really up to: is he working for the euro, or is he working for its replacement, the Dolleuro?

Paris, meanwhile, is infinitely more guilty of fiscal vandalism than Greece (as are Germany and Holland) but is no longer avoiding the consequences of its soi-largesse with quite the ease it was. The French Establishment has been rattled by some of the fiscal disciplinary methods imposed on France after the March eurogroupe summit: but Berlin must beware of pushing too many French voters towards the undiluted anti-EU nationalism of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale.

And last but not least, dear old Blighty stuck out there in the island limbo of “Ukip if you want to, but we’re wide awake, and we want out”.

You may think the Sceptred Isle doesn’t count, but I would suggest you’re wrong. At the moment, the Eunatics face threats on four ClubMed fronts, interference from the US, and an allegedly weak Putinesque Russia which suggests that it isn’t either weak or stupid. The last thing the EU elites need is to roil the markets with a secession request from Britain in 2018….even if it is only England by then.

This does, I think, go a long way to explaining why Draghi has of late switched tack, and begun persuading his ‘colleagues’ that the time is not yet quite right for the Greeks to default. Much smart money had been targeting April 26th as the moment of truth for Athens. But yesterday the ECB boss told a Washington audience that he “won’t even contemplate” the possibility of a Greek default on its debt repayments during April, because such an event would throw the eurozone into “uncharted waters.” This from the man who six weeks ago claimed that Greek default would be no more than a gnat-bite on the bum for eurobanks…because this time, the system “is prepared”. Yeh, right: that must be why he arm-twisted the ELA into coughing up the liquidity to help Greece pay off the last IMF kilo of flesh, sorry, installment.

Far more money is now being placed on a Greek default on or after May 9th. And spookily, that just happens to be two days after the UK General Election finishes. I think it would be safe to say that – were a Greek default to throw everything into European bond-spiking confusion before April 26th – there would be a massive Ukip surge, as well as potential pressure on the UK’s George Osborne in terms of borrowing rates. The continued UK national debt explosion is, after all, the Chancellor’s Achilles heel.

So there you have it. Or rather, you don’t: because twixt you, me, the gatepost and the other girls, trying to discern 8 x 8 possibilities producing 64 possible outcomes (when any new left-field factor could make that 4096 scenarios) is the original mug’s game.

Much better, I’d opine, to stick to the basics. And I’ve remained consistent about these since this rapidly dwindling time-window began last February 24th.

Those who would rather have a meteorite collide with Earth than give up on the euro project have far, far more to lose than a nation of 11.5m people who would (in my view) be much better off deserting the euro. But there remains that Greek inferiority complex pride thing of not wanting to be the catalyst of destroying a single market that acts as an economic and political bulwark against American multinational domination of the Globe.

I think that viewpoint to be muddled, but then I’m not Greek, or foraging in the Athens garbage cans. My gut feeling is that Varoufakis underestimated the Cosa Nostra nastiness of those with whom he must deal, and Troika2 underestimated the fatigue of the Hellenic population at large with being made a scapegoat.

Either way, a lot of very sour derivative bets placed on euro success cannot be allowed to trigger an omni-directional bazooka aimed at Wall Street. Sorry to repeat myself, but I still think the high face-cards are in the Greek hand.

Exposing the Euro Clowns

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Published on The Slog on April 10, 2015

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EXPOSED: The reason why none of us can be sure what’s going on in the EU v Greece yawn

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When there is only cacophony, nobody can follow the tune

I’ve posted many times before about why a neolib minority constantly dissembles to confuse: there is so little ‘truth’ behind their ridiculous socio-economic and fiscal theories, they have no choice but to do what they do.

The same thing applies to the European Union, the ideas behind which – non-sovereign federalisation and yet a single currency ambition – make no anthropological, banking, libertarian or Bond market sense at all.

But there is another reason why second-guessing what comes next in the EU has been an impossible task in recent years: the people allegedly running it (another Slog hobby-horse this) are split along several crucial dimensions. So apart from the banking lies and the let’s-rewrite-history school of mogul-lapdog tabloid journalism, we have this factor added to the witch’s brew: if they don’t know what’s going to happen next, how the hell are we supposed to speculate with any accuracy?

We are now, little by little, beginning to see the odd glimpse of holey stocking beneath the holy, long skirts of sanctimony pumped out by the various power points in Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris and Brussels. Even better, we can catch these glimpses…..and view them alongside what the BSDs – preparing for what they think is to come – put out their agenda in the media they own and/or influence.

This morning offers a classic example of this. The Americo-Austropathicus threat Rupert Murdoch puts out this version of the immediate future in his Times newspaper this morning:

‘….Eurozone countries are secretly drawing up plans to expel Greece from the European Union’s single currency as they prepare for the country to be declared bankrupt next month.

A memo drawn up by the finance ministry in Finland, which is closely allied to Germany, has revealed preparations for a Greek exit from the euro.

The document warns of “very difficult political decisions” this spring amid predictions that Greece will be bankrupt next month unless the eurozone agrees the next tranche of aid for it within the next three weeks.

Greece has been given until next Friday to come up with…..’

Here the message ends, the rest of it hidden behind Roop’s paywall – which continues not to get many people paying to climb over the wall. This is slightly different to the Telegraph, where the Barclay Twins peddle their corporate bias completely free, but both readers and journos are climbing a Berlin Wall in a desperate bid to get out.

But the tone is clear: Greece is a disaster area, they’re all scrounging mongrels, so like dogs they shall be kicked out of the house. Except of course this can’t happen legally without treaty change….so here we see more Turdcock readying the ground for something illegal that will be accepted by the Sleeple because they, er, read it in a quality newspaper recently or something and what should we download from Netflix tonight?

Here, Murdoch is doing the will of ECB boss Mario Draghi….because he agrees with what Mario and the Goldin Sacks lads see as the future.

But this is just one power centre. Wolf Street pointed out yesterday in another smart piece that the Jean-Claude Drunker view of the world is quite different, because he leads the EC – an unelected bedlam of corruption which is seeing its power rapidly eroded by the ECB and Berlin, plus the odd Weidbombe thrown in by Frankfurt.

This time, the road being followed conjures up an entirely different future…one in which the FuhrerJuncker’s Luxembourg will be left alone to pull every tax-evading bank stunt in the book, but those in the commercial sector will be asked to return to some vague version of recognised value.

We’ve been here before, but the subhead is ‘Clubmed banks no longer able to disguise loan made in 2002 to Tartan Paint Co Venezuela sa as an asset’. This is going to cause all kinds of mayhem in Greece, Italy, Portugal and especially Spain – where the practice has been used to suggest the banks are still solvent, when of course we all know they’re broke.

More importantly, although the ECB pays lip-service to reforming ezone banking accountancy, the EC policy will put it on a collision course with Mario Draghi.

But we don’t want to leave it like that, good God no – get a grip dear reader: this is the EU, where disaster must be meticulously planned to ensure that it moves from probable outcome to racing certainty.

And so we move on to Wolfgang Schauble the Secret Wheelchair Weapon…and Jens Weidmann, the Bundesbank’s Big Banana. While they share the ECB-Eurogroupe-Troika’s general approach – “Let’s blame Greece and show the markets we’re safe” – the Dutch Donkey Dijessilbloem is hated by the ECB because he’s a threat to their power….and despised by Weidmann as a fiscal lightweight. Dieselboom also has a tendency to blab, a trait which doesn’t endear him to Wolfie.

Where the two Germans chiefly differ from the rest of the pack is that they believe in fiscal and currency discipline – and of course, the ulltimate right of Berlin to run the Fiskalunion. Also their heads are stuck in 1923.

Two days ago, Weidmann went public again to say he did not think Greece should issue any more Treasury Bills – to help stave off the bankruptcy forced upon Greece by a Berlin-exaggerated problem and a Wall Street/Troika inspired infinite slavery repayment ‘programme’ – and he did not think QE was necessary. In short, real monetarism rules, OK.

I’m sorry to labour this point, but these are thus the three ‘strategies’ being proposed by ‘A United Europe’:

1. Greece should be kicked out (ECB)

2. Banks should be telling the truth about their balance sheet fraud (EC)

3. We should stop QE now and get Greece back in the programme at all costs (Germany)

Now, what we are not going to get is a debate followed by a decision, because this is The Fourth Reich, and we don’t do discussion…we do divide and rule. Also we have a crypto-Queen in Berlin who never makes any decisions until one eventuality or another is crystal clear. (The real sign to watch for is Frau Doktor Merkel moving her Chancellery fridge down into the bunker. Or Moscow. Or Frankfurt. Or Washington. Those wanting to have it all must “get on their bikes”).

What we will get is all three being followed at the same time. And this must involve a continuing QE blast alongside Greek forced exit from the eurozone (breaking the Lisbon Treaty on at least five counts) but still in the EU plus a contagion outwards towards Italy and Spain accelerated by the EC’s search for Beyond Basel III to come into force plus the German financial and fiscal power centres trying to effect the exact opposite on all fronts.

There are thus in turn three potential (ie, realistic) outcomes:

1. Chaos

2. Draghi & the Eurogroup cut off the EC’s balls, leaving Juncker as a very loose but fully-loaded cannon, and with a very high voice.

3. Merkel sides with the 1923 Tendency, and leaves the eurozone.

Many other related events will of course follow – and the above trio of troubles aren’t mutually exclusive. But my view remains the same as it was by the end of 2010: the euro is dead, and the EU is eating itself. Only Mario Draghi launching a putsch to get himself declared Supreme Emperor of Europe could stop the process.

That isn’t going to happen. Draghi’s view of chaos is “bring it on”….because down that road lies US domination of all european transactions. For in this, the epoch of Western decline, that is what the Looney Tunes on Wall Street, inside the State Department/CIA axis and in Texas want.

The bottom line: anything could happen, and nothing will change on the road to global corporatocracy.

Yet.

But eventually, top-down will collapse…as all flawed administrative processes do. And after the chaos, things will very slowly get better.

I end where I started. With too many factions wanting different things from the Greece deadlock – external and internal – the reason no clear interpretation of outcome is possible swings on the surreal 3D hinge of there being no united Sovereign, and little or no commonality of aims between the factions.

Greece & the Eurozone Crisis

Off the keyboard of Brian Davey

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Published on FEASTA on February 17, 2015

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Note: this is an update to my shortly-to-be-published book Credo: Economic Beliefs in a World in Crisis.

The Syriza government has been elected to power in Greece with an electoral mandate to end the austerity policies imposed on Greece by the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank.

The first point to make about this is the obvious one that a government that has power to issue a national currency of its own can always cover a deficit – an excess of spending over tax revenues. This is because, in the end, it can print money to make up the difference. (Or, if you like the government can issue bonds and the central bank can create money to buy them). Countries entering the Eurozone lost this power and with the replacement of the Greek Drachma with the Euro so did Greek governments. The Maastricht Treaty is explicit on this – Eurozone governments cannot be funded by money creation by their own central banks. Money creation is a prerogative of the private banks in Europe, and of the European central bank . If states get into financial difficulties they can get loans, but on conditions. The conditions are taking steps to balance tax revenues and government expenditure.

With the benefit of hindsight it seems almost inevitable that Greece would fall foul of Eurozone financial rules because it had been running a government deficit since 1973 and very high deficits since the early 1980s. Much of government expenditure was used to pay for a very large military budget. After the USA, Greece spent a higher % of its GDP on the military than any other country in NATO. This is partly because of enmity with Turkey but it might also have something to do with keeping the military types happy given that Greece had emerged from a military dictatorship – so the soldiers were given lots of high tech toys to keep them sweet. A lot of these toys were bought from German arms companies who did not complain.

At the same time economic development in Greece was limited mainly to tourism and shipping. Against larger northern European nations, particularly Germany, there was little chance of competing in most forms of industrial production. Instead Greek governments used money to provide public sector jobs, generous pensions and social benefits in a form of “development” that, with hindsight, was never going to be long run sustainable. At the same time many of Greek people, like many the populations in other countries absorbed the idea that the good life was all about self-display, leisure and consumption – an idea that they might have got partly from the stream of tourists from northern Europe to whom they catered.

One commentator has described how the development model was “underpinned by a historically influenced mentality in which property counted for more than work and people admired people who possessed wealth for which they had not had to work”.[1]

In other words the inflated state was associated with a system of patronage – not unlike the systems of well connectedness between business and state that characterise most other “developed countries” – the USA, UK, Germany.

However, all clubs of power not only have insiders but they are formed over and against everyone else – and in Greece the young people excluded by this corrupt club of power organised in resistance against it. It is this that explains the rise of Syriza as a new political force. What we are witnessing with the new government in Greece is a political transformation that is also a generational change.

What has brought this about has been the radicalisation of the population as a result of a humanitarian crisis in which the old “development model” collapsed.

When they entered the Eurozone Greek governments could not continue as before. By joining the Eurozone at the rate of exchange that they did the Greek people got a lot of Euros for their converted drachma and thus plenty of purchasing power to buy lots of imported consumption goods from abroad at very favourable prices. Interest rates were also low.

Times were good – but not for long. The short Euro honeymoon prepared the collapse. The excess of imports over exports can be thought of as an “export of their purchasing power” to northern Europe and a corresponding worsening of the competition situation of the Greek economy. This made the government deficit even worse too – while Greek purchasing power was helping to boost the German economy, it was not flowing back into the Greek economy, and not flowing into domestic tax payments.

The solution which governments used was to disguise what was going on was fiddling the statistics. They fell into a deadly embrace with international financial sharks like Goldman Sachs which, with other banksters, received generous fees for disguising the true extent of the borrowing. Loans were disguised as swaps.

The global financial crisis of 2007/2008 brought the real situation out into the open with the inevitable crisis and recession. With falling tax revenues and rising government expenditure the state financial crisis got worse. The extent of the fiscal fraud was revealed. Nevertheless it was still possible in 2010 for the Greek government to refinance their deficit by again borrowing mainly from European and international banks – albeit at much increased rates of interest. Paying these very high rates of interest then made the government deficit even worse. As so often happens in economics a self reinforcing vicious spiral was occurring.

The subsequent bail out loans made available to Greece by the European Union were mainly used to pay off these bank loans – with only a part going to cover an underlying deficit (ie the part that did not include servicing and repaying bank debt). It was thus not  “Lazy greeks” who were being bailed out  but the banks of Germany, France and Holland. However the ordinary people of Greece were now on the hook to pay back European taxpayers whose governments had made available taxpayer money so that European banks did not make a loss.

The austerity policies imposed in Greece have, in turn, produced a humanitarian crisis and a collapse in its national income. Unsurprisingly, a country whose national income has fallen by 25% is even less able to pay its taxes and its debts and a new political force has been elected to reject a policy direction that is both futile and creating massive distress.

One of the themes of my book is that of bias – economic textbooks claim that economists describe the world as it is rather than describing the world as it should be. There is a claim that economists are aware of the “fact” – “Value” distinction and that they stick to the facts rather than express their values.

Unfortunately, “bias” is not so easily banished as that. When you try to explain the world it involves a choice of where to look for explanations, as well as a choice of the directions and issues you do not to look at. In a political-economic crisis there are conflicts and thus at least two points of view. There are at least two ways of explaining things. Typically the two explanatory narratives have little in common and are about different things. What then happens is that people are pressured to take sides and exposed to arguments where protagonists reduce the complexity of the situation dramatically – this is particularly the case when the public relations industry and the popular press seek to simplify. Then it becomes “Lazy Greeks who will not pay their debts” versus “Greedy bullying Germans”.

If it is almost impossible to avoid “bias” one can at least be explicit about where one is coming from. What interests me, since economics is supposed to be about wellbeing, is the measurement of wellbeing through public health data. When we use public health data to look at the Greek situation what is immediately clear is that there is a “humanitarian crisis”. Instead of measuring wellbeing with a nebulous idea of “happiness” we can use instead use actual mental health data – with statistics for suicides and depression telling us what is going on in .

In this regard firstly, the prevalence of major depressive disorders in Greece has more than doubled from 2008 to 2011, with people facing serious economic problems being most at risk [2]

Secondly increasing numbers of people are killing themselves. A study published in the British Medical Journal tells us that:.

“In 30 years, the highest months of suicide in Greece occurred in 2012. The passage of new austerity measures in June 2011 marked the beginning of significant, abrupt and sustained increases in total suicides (+35.7%, p<0.001) and male suicides (+18.5%, p<0.01). Sensitivity analyses that figured in undercounting of suicides also found a significant, abrupt and sustained increase in June 2011 (+20.5%, p<0.001). Suicides by men in Greece also underwent a significant, abrupt and sustained increase in October 2008 when the Greek recession began (+13.1%, p<0.01), and an abrupt but temporary increase in April 2012 following a public suicide committed in response to austerity conditions (+29.7%, p<0.05). Suicides by women in Greece also underwent an abrupt and sustained increase in May 2011 following austerity-related events (+35.8%, p<0.05). One prosperity-related event, the January 2002 launch of the Euro in Greece, marked an abrupt but temporary decrease in male suicides (−27.1%, p<0.05).”[3]

So let’s be clear on that. Suicides went down when the euro was introduced and went up – not only when the recession started (suicide rates went up all over the world during the recession) but also particularly when the austerity policies were introduced.

In a recession all sorts of people suffer – including some of the rich. Austerity policy induced poverty is, however, particularly directed at those who are most vulnerable. It is those who are most vulnerable that are reliant on others and on the state, so their needs are downgraded. The attack on vulnerable people is to find the resources to save those who are “too big to fail” – particularly the banks.

Austerity policies are also an attack on ordinary people because austerity is not just about economic resources, it is also an exercise in social psychology. Austerity also has elements of scapegoating. In an economic crisis a society is undergoing an immense amount of anger, fear, tension and distress. This is dangerous for the elite that has taken the society into this crisis and the emotions from the crisis must be re-directed away from them. A lot of those negative feelings are thus directed downwards, on more vulnerable people in a process of emotional displacement – in a word in scapegoating.

We have seen similar things in the UK and many countries – groups like disabled people, migrants become targets for the hatred and distress generated as people seek to manage the practicalities of their lives and relationships under more difficult conditions. Powerful emotions are generated and people wonder “who is to blame?”. Governments keen to divert discontent away from themselves work with the media to fix on groups who cannot fight back.

In my book I also described the way in which particular groups of people are pre-disposed to see “the solution” to economic problems as being in pushing around more vulnerable people – “loyal bullies” I call them. Loyal bullies get a chance to persecute people through austerity policies which appear to be exercising greater control, for example over benefit “scroungers and cheats”. An explicit ideology emerges that sees the problems of society in a lack of discipline and cheating and finds the apparent solutions in bullying, bureaucratic harassment and forms of violence. It creates growing fascist tendencies among people, petty autocrats in state bureaucracies and in the police and armed forces. In Greece this has led to the development of groups like “Golden Dawn”.

It is thus no wonder in circumstances like this that mental health problems are on the rise.

Another indicator of the crisis in Greece has been a rising trend in infant mortality which increased by 43% between 2008 and 2012.

One of the main themes of my book is that those who bear the worst consequences of economic crises are rarely the people responsible for bringing that the crisis about. The most powerful people are protected by their wel- connectedness, their favoured client status and access to friends in high places – whether in political office at home (in Greece) and abroad (in international political and financial centres) . They can get themselves bailed out or protected. That’s why responses to economic crises are all about shifting burdens downwards onto more vulnerable people.

You could not get more dramatic evidence in the Greek case than rising infant mortality – obviously infants and children have no role in economic policy formation yet in increasing numbers they pay for austerity with their lives. “Sustainability”, of course, is supposed to be about the rights of future generations – but the evidence shows that the policies increase the chance of children dying before you reach adulthood. Of course most children do survive but when they try to enter the labour market in Greece young people have found that there are no jobs for them. In 2014 youth unemployment was averaging over 50%.

When the IMF and financial technocrats visit a country you can expect a number of things – income will fall, unemployment will rise and the local healthcare system will be attacked.[4]

As a matter of fact, as a proponent of degrowth I actually do see a need for economic contraction – but austerity has a number of features that make it very different from degrowth. Austerity is about attacking the poorest, the weakest and most vulnerable – as well as asset stripping publically owned assets by forcing privatisation on governments in crisis. In Degrowth it would be those who can afford to bear the cuts who would do so while attempts are made to help the most vulnerable cope with the economic contraction. However, this is difficult to achieve in today’s globalised world since, if governments take steps against the rich and well-connected, this elite group have a large number of ways to put their money out of reach.

At the same time as the crisis in Greece was back into the news it was being revealed how the HSBC bank had been helping rich people all over the world avoid tax by setting up swiss bank accounts to put their money in them. Places like the city of London and its associated network of tax havens are all about helping rich people put their money out of reach. That means that when the Greek ruling elite felt threatened they took their money abroad. The technical term is “capital flight”.

Just how huge the sums of money involved are can be seen graphically. A look at this graph reveals that in just a few months in 2010 capital flows out of Greece were roughly of 60% of the 2014 GDP while another 30% was taken out the country in 2011. In the last 5 months of 2014 money was again leaving the country at the rate of 12% of GDP.

If you want to balance a state budget then who exactly is it that has the pockets deep enough to pay taxes with? It is the people responsible for this kind of capital flight. It is that money, shifted out of the country, that needs to be targeted. Successive Greek governments had no intention of doing that – it would have involved taking action against their cronies. In any case they did not have an administrative machinery to do it with. This is what they lost when Greece joined the euro since there can be no exchange control between countries to prevent money moving from one part of the Eurozone to another. Successive governments squeezed ordinary people and the Greek welfare state instead – and were put under pressure to put publically owned assets for sale to global financiers at a knock down price.

The results of this are entirely predictable. When people are impoverished – in the case of Greece losing 25% of GDP – they are less able to pay their debts and their taxes, not more. The debt situation has spiralled out of control and a humanitarian crisis was created. However the next act in this drama has been the election of a government of outsiders who are not part of the crony circle – with a mandate to oppose austerity in order to end the humanitarian crisis.

What happens next?

One thing we can be sure about – neo-liberal politicians in the financial centres over the world want to see Syriza fail. If Syriza are successful they will inspire people throughout southern Europe and Ireland – not to mention any other government under the thumb of the IMF. They will also want to see Syriza fail because Syriza have only one option for reform – to clean up the old corrupt elite and tax where the resources really are. There are policies that could be deployed – like land valuation taxation which would be hard to evade. But policies have to be set up. Administrative machinery has to be created and corruption rooted out. This takes time – and the new Greek government does not have time. Money is being withdrawn from the banks and from the country. To prevent that requires capital controls that the government does not have access to under European union rules. The government will run out of money shortly – and again it cannot create money under European Union rules. The kind of action that the Greek government has to take will be opposed by financial and political elites the whole world over – a new generation of outsiders, who are not compromised and co-opted, is a genuine nightmare and they must be shown to fail.

That is why I find it difficult to believe that European politicians will give any leeway or support to Greece. If Greece were now to exit the Eurozone the process would be chaotic so if I were a politician in Greece I would be playing for time and doing what Argentinian local authorities did – paying the bills with low denomination IOUs which can effectively function as a currency alongside the Euro (Patacones).Then, if the eurozone authorities rule against the Greek government’s actions it would be the European authorities that have slung Greece out and, further, an alternative quasi currency would already be in circulation.

Greek exit from the eurozone would not be painless for the Greeks because it would probably mean a devaluation of the new currency of perhaps 40%. Imported goods would be 40% more expensive. However, the experience of other countries like Argentina is that a devaluation of this sort can lead to an economic recovery. This would give the Greek government time to start working on cleaning up the corruption of the old elite. The new generation could settle in to do their job properly.

In the rest of Europe this would set a number of processes running. It is being said that Grexit would not now lead to a financial crisis as the larger European banks and financiers are no longer so exposed and Greece is, after all, one of the smaller countries in Europe.

Perhaps – however they underestimated the impact of letting Lehman Brothers go bankrupt badly. Even if the financial repercussions are small – the political repercussions in other countries in a similar situation to Greece would be huge.

Endnotes

1.

http://www.taz.de/Neue-Regierung-in-Griechenland/!154307/

2. http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7988/rr/694119
3. Branas et al “The impact of economic austerity and prosperity events on suicide in Greece: a 30-year interrupted time-series analysis” 2nd February 2015
http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e005619.full?sid=2cfe20f5-31b3-4ea5-9ca5-d85645fa4ecf
4. http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e7988/rr/694119

Featured image: money in sock. Source: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1433053. Author: Uros Kotnik

Eurosummit Breakdown

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on February 17, 2015

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Who did what and why?

As one Troika dies, another is born

Practically every Western press title and news bulletin this morning uses the word ‘defiant’ in relation to Greece’s rejection of the New Troika’s terms, and it isn’t a compliment.

The Greek contingent rejected the ‘deal’ because it wasn’t a deal, it was just the same old same old. But up until 90 minutes before closure, it had been something else. Allegedly drafted and then pushed hard by French finance minister Pierre Muscovici, the first draft (a copy of which Varoufakis still has) offered Greece more time, few targets, and then an attempt at economic growth.

It was taken off the table by yet another Troika – in most cases, remotely: Mariano Rajoy, Wolfgang Schäuble, and of course (no drum roll required) Mario Draghi. During the final day, Spanish PM Rajoy (for purely selfish political reasons, it would appear) scrambled around desperately trying to get the hawks to play more of a vulture role. His ginger-group plus the EC/ECB/Berlin/Frankfurt axis canned the original draft, and insisted on a return to all the original demands.

Then some of them briefed the press pack with pernicious spin about Greece messing them about, moving goalposts etc and being (this week’s insult of choice) “anti-European and irresponsible”. The truth is that, some time around 10.45 am CET, Varoufakis was lining himself up to sign the draft. Getting back to the realities:

– Greece cannot be allowed concessions, because Podemos would immediately demand the same (Rajoy)

– Greece’s load cannot be reduced, because then they might pay it back (Draghi)

– Greece’s flagrantly spendthrift behaviour must not be rewarded, and more austerity is the only answer (Schäuble).

So then – as many of us always suspected – the deal was scuppered by a hardline, corrupt, anti-libertarian Spaniard, a banker whose career is followed by clouds, and who retains his loyalty to Wall Street, and the residue of a tragically failed assassination attempt upon Germany’s top spook.

The only vaguely satisfying things to emerge from this charade are first, that once again the quintessence of controlling fascism that lies at the EU’s heart has been revealed; and second, the Western MSM really do not have a clue about how to handle the Greek attitude.

Four days ago, I wrote in reply to Merkel’s assertion that “Europe’s success is that it will always find a compromise”:

‘The small issue I have with this bollocks is that the movement by either side so far is tiny – in fact, barely above homoaeopathic…. In just 36 hours we have gone from “Drop Dead” to “Let’s compromise”. But where can it go from here? In my view, nowhere: the two sides are incompatible unless one or the other radically invents itself. Neither of them will do that.”

Sure enough, the Brussels Brigade reverted to type with black arts and making up new rules as they went along. And as they promised, Syriza refused to renege on its election commitments.

Watch those markets crash as the bond yields spike. The euro is dead, the EU dream has become a nightmare, and the fundamental attitude split between Berlin and Paris  is once again there for all to see.

Stay tuned.

Greek Debt Chicken Game

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on February 6. 2015

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Diner Special Lunch Menu

Souvlaki                  or                    Strudle

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…Once again, the Greeks have taken the Center Stage in the Collapse Kabuki theater, with the newly elected Syriza Goobermint under the leadership of Alex Tspiras attempting to follow through on their many promises to throw off the Debt Choke Hold held on them by the Brussel Sprouts.

The new “Rock Star” player in the game here is the new Greek FinMin, Yanis “Souvlakis” Varoufakis. Yanis is making a lot of headlines in the Econ blogosphere since Syriza took power, first with the threat to outright default and lately with some more creative phrasing of concotions like “perpetual bonds” in some kind of new game of debt musical chairs.

On the other side of this nonsense is Yanis’ Evil Twin, the Kraut FinMin Wolfgang “Strudle” Schauble. Wolfy won’t take any shit from Yanis, and has made it clear he thinks the Greeks are responsible for every penny of the debt that the ECB and by extension the Kraut population extended to the Greeks, despite of course the reality that the Krauts never had the money before the last Greek Goobermint of Bankster Sock Puppets signed for it…

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Who CHICKENS OUT first?

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Prior Rants on the Greek Debt Kabuki Theater you may have missed:

Syriza Hits the Ground Running

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on January 26, 2015

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GREECE ANALYSIS: SYRIZA HITS GROUND RUNNING AS TSIPRAS BROKERS ANEL COALITION DEAL TO SEAL MAJORITY RULE

 Prime Minister Tsipras faces a cold dawn of Monday reality

In a rapid (and smart) move that demonstrates both energy and planning, Alexis Tsipras is this morning 95% of the way into a Coalition with ANEL – better known in the West as the Independent Greeks. This is an anti-euro Party of right-wing Greek nationalists.

In going for this option, Tsipras shows that – unlike most on the Left – he can unite against a common enemy. I also suspect that his advisers see this as one dimension in an overall strategy designed to calm down bank depositors and bond markets. But shrewd or not, the new Prime Minister is going to face several waves of attack from those hostile to his election – both inside and outside Greece.

The first thing to set off screaming headlines will be the effect on the euro. Overnight, the single currency plunged down to 1.12 against the Dollar – before the weekend it was around 1.15. We should expect to see a further weakening during the day.

A second and highly likely immediate threat is a spike in Greek bond yields – pushing Greece’s borrowing costs through the roof. This will add urgency to the blatant destabilising strategy of the ECB’s Mario Draghi, who for spurious reasons announced last Thursday that Greece would be locked out of the QE programme.

A third issue is the bank withdrawals that preceded Syriza’s stunning victory yesterday. Here too, threats have been forthcoming from both Brussels and Frankfurt to cut off ELA (emergency liquidity assistance) to four big banks in Greece.

Last but not least is the worryingly high poll achieved by the Greek Nazi Party, Golden Dawn – which now becomes the third largest Party in the country with 17 seats. They will, I have no doubt, use that bloc to disrupt as much Parliamentary business as possible…and plot with the hard Right to take over should things look to be spiralling out of control.

A weak euro is technically good for Greek exports, but Syriza will of course be blamed for “beating the euro to death on its sickbed” and the pro-Euro professional classes will weigh in heavily on that angle. So then, apart from Europe-wide opprobrium, soaring borrowing costs, the chance of a Putsch and imminent bank collapses, there’s nothing at all for the new Prime Minister to worry about.

∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀

But there is also another side to this. My own hunch is that the Greek voter really did three things in the election: first, vote for a radical change of strategy; two, kick Samaras out with the biggest boot available; and three, decide to give the new generation a chance. I looked up Tsipras’s date of birth last night, and he is of course the leader of that generation who never knew life under the Colonels’ Junta. He is also surrounded by people with zero respect for tradition: Varoufakis has already promised to “completely demolish the Greek oligarchy” as a matter of priority. Corruption in high places has been a Greek given forever; rooting it out would get approval from all but the fatties who support Samaras.

Secondly, the Greeks ignored all the EC/ECB/IMF/Juncker/Schäuble veiled threats and scaremongering. That bullying will now, without any doubt, be stepped up. I predict it will backfire, and further unite the country. Because in the light of the previous paragraph, it will play very badly against the prevailing atmosphere of ‘give them a chance’ and Troika-hatred.

I have made my view clear about Draghi: he has already decided for his own reasons to Grexit Athens from the equation: he’ll be delighted to get the euro down to Dollar parity, and supremely confident in his ability to mess up any plans Syriza have. I expressed the view strongly early last year that Tspiras should never have dropped his opposition to the euro, but it now looks to have been a wise idea: without doing that, he would never have been elected with such power – and with it he can (quite justifiably) evade blame for its collapse…he can play the Good European.

It’s too early to call this kind of stuff. But it’s good to know where the touchlines are. All we need to do now is find the ball.

∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀∀

As for the poppycock streaming nonstop from Brussels-am-Berlin about the ‘zero effect’ Syriza’s success and Grexit is having or might have on the euro – indeed, the EU itself – it is beneath contempt. It will spike ALL Clubmed bond prices, keep liquidity away from Europe, confirm the europhobia in Italy, and encourage the growing Left support in Spain…where they have the added problem of Sovereign fragmentation.

In other areas too, the knock-on effect will have geopolitical consequences. Moscow will I’m sure see this development (and what must inevitably follow) as likely to move Greece more into its orbit: and you can be sure that Viktor Orban in Hungary (and Polish voters) will welcome further opposition to the juggernaut. Orban is one of the few, I think, who has not only grasped that the Brussels Bus is actually being driven by Washington, but is also prepared to talk about it openly.

In the UK, it can only spur on the UKip camp. But Nigel Farage blotted his copybook very badly last night by referring to the Syriza win as “a cry for help”. What a profoundly pompous and patronising twerp he is.

SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on January 18, 2015

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http://cdn.news12.com/polopoly_fs/1.5585827.1372415753!/httpImage/image.PNG_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.PNG…The folks worst hit here in the short term are the Forex traders who were short on Swissies, figuring they would stay pegged to the Euro as promised by the SNB. At least two of the currency trading firms blew up immediately after this, FXCM and Excel with losses in the $100s Millions, and somebody out there took that hit, although we don’t know precisely who that is yet. Client accounts are supposedly segregated out here, but anything caught up in the trading when this went down is now GONE. Precisely how much anyone with an account with these two firms will be able to get back out and when is an open question. No doubt quite a few folks will get Corzined on this one.

Meanwhile, over in Greece in a not entirely unrelated event, now all 4 of TBTF Greek Banks had to go to the Greek Central Bank for “Emergency Liquidity Assistance”, basically because there is an ongoing RUN of the Greek Banks and everyone with any CFS is trying to get their money OUT of them before they go Tits Up and convert everybody’s savings to New Drachmas, destined to be about IMMEDIATELY worth less than a roll of Charmin.

These banks, which Zero Hedge has reported as “systemic” have basically run OUT of collateral that even the ECB which accepts almost any stinking dogshit will accept for them to hand over a few more Euros. At first it was just 2 banks referred to as systemically important, without revealing which onesd they were. The obvious reason here that the identity of these banks is not being revealed is that would of course ACCELERATE and already ongoing diarreah attack they are undergoing and they would squirt out still more liquified Brown-25. This ploy however did not work, so now the run is on all of them. LOL…

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ANOTHER Greek BAILOUT!

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on December 3, 2014

tsipras14COMETH THE HOUR, IS HE THE MAN?

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GREECE: Slog vindicated again as Athens calls for new €10bn bailout

It does strike me as very odd (as I’ve written many times before) than an old pro-am hack like me, hunkered down in the south west of France, seems able to understand the real Greek debt situation…..but most experts don’t. Or do, but don’t write about it – I’m never entirely sure.

Last January, I posted a long piece – “Mind the Gap” – pointing out with the use of simple maths that, without further bailout monies, Greece would default in May 2014; and even if they got that money, they’d be in trouble again during the Autumn and early winter.

So it proved. With the European elections as a handy distraction, I was nevertheless able to confirm on March 27th that the Samaras Coalition would be given €8.5bn toavoid default in May. The Wall Street Journal  ran a piece soon afterwards agreeing with the view. After some deliberate obfuscation, on 10th May Athens got the money it needed to make a dent in over €11bn of bond maturaties that became due.

The previous year, Angela Merkel had gone into the German elections and lied her fat head off about the Volk not being asked for any more money, and how the future was bright. She plodded home with ease, since when –  in general eurozone and specific Greek terms – things have gone from very bad to a whole lot worse.

Now Mish’s Global Analysis (which reblogged my January piece) reveals that, yes indeed, Athens needs more money. To be more exact, €10bn. Back in January, I said it would be €5.6bn….but then other targets were missed as the economy got worse and worse; and last week in Paris, the Troika up and mentioned that there were €2.5bn of cuts that the Greeks hadn’t fulfilled. So as I say, now it’s worse than ever.

One side of the devalued coin in this farcical saga is that – even allowing for the fact that Homo Kalamatus Antonikis Samaras has an olive stone where his brain should be – he has lied three times on national Greek television about the reality of the situation. So not surprisingly, Alexis Tsipras’s Party Syriza is now comfortably leading in the polls…..and with the Assembly vote for a new President coming up, Samaras possibly lacks the support required to carry the day. Technically, under the Greek constitution this is a resigning issue, and so we’ll get elections early next year rather than in 2016.

For Brussels, this has all the makings of the sort of nightmare in which a loose nuclear cannon is careering all over the eurozone and fomenting revolt. But sadly, Tsipras has toned down his rhetoric: today he claims that the loan package will have to be renegotiated, but he doesn’t want to dump the euro. Economically this is idiocy, but the Syriza leader knows he can only win the election by appearing ‘reasonable’…ie, he is – as David Cameron would say – a non-violent extremist.

I confess to being disappointed by Tsipras, and here’s why. If you look at the numbers involved in ‘saving’ Greece, then the four bailouts represent probably the most expensive face-saving exercise in history. To protect a potential original loss in the region of €40bn, the Troika threw confetti money at a debt write-off roughly equivalent to Cameron’s HS2 folly. As of this latest bailout, it will have poured €240bn of confetti money onto a debt conflagration that is raging like a Greek forest fire in August.

Do the Sprouts feel humble about this? They do not: “Greece is not in a position to negotiate“, they told the media last week. That is about as Betty Swollocks as Brussels fantasy gets: Although it has a huge debt, Greece at last has a current account surplus. If it renounces the debt, it could reverse the austerity nonsense, leave the euro and be quids in. Which is why I think Tsipras, if he does win the election, needs to play some serious hardball.

I posted at the weekend that 2 euros in 3 being ‘repaid’ by Greece are funny money. The truth is that – with most of the vultures having had their kilo of flesh – the ECB could write off two-thirds of the debt without losing any real money at all. Better that, I would’ve thought, than a defaulting defector with Italy now looming over the same horizon.

In licking the creditors like this, Tsipras is sending a signal to say he’ll be happy with a compromise. He says he wants “a €chunk” of the debt “forgiven”, whereas I think he should shout “fraud” and shoot for the Moon. It’s actually Brussels-am-Berlin that’s in no position to press too hard with the jackboot on this one.

Juncker Doctrine

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on November 3, 2014

https://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/camerkjunckpt.png

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EU EXCLUSIVE: JUNCKER DOCTRINE SPELLS OUT WHY UK CANNOT CHANGE THE ESSENTIALS

Cameron bombed by Berlin & Brussels

HAS THE PRIME MINISTER READ THE JUNCKER DOCTRINE?

In a post last week, I chastised David Cameron for complaining about the €1.7bn additional payment…the principle of which is (literally) on Page One of the EU contributions manual. If he goes to the website of Jean-Claude Juncker, he can read that his latest moan is non-negotiable…confirmed this morning by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Why does he keep using a bike to reach the stars? The Slog reveals the Juncker Doctrine and injects some reality into the saga.

The Füherin from Berlin has warned David Cameron about freedom of movement. “One false move Britischer Scwheinhund,” she told him, “and you vill be sent to ze Eastern Front”. The thing about Dave is, he tries ever so hard to persuade the Brits that we should stay in the EU and reform it….but every time he tries to reform it, he gets kicked in the teeth. He’s a game girl and all that, but he should learn from the experience.

In the last six weeks alone, he has lost three in a row: Juncker as President, the €1.7bn additional UK payment, and now the freedom of movement question. And he is making no headway on the issue of being forced into the euro….a subject that is still being given an oddly low profile in the British media, of which more later.

But returning to Camerlot the Brick Wall Bouncer, surely he can reach these simple conclusions:

1. Chances are we shouldn’t be in this Union….especially as it’s even more bankrupt than we are

2. If I’m going to have to win a Referendum on EU membership, maybe it would be smart not to tilt at windmills all the time.

These two posers are rhetorical, because there’s a dead simple reason why Cameldung can’t do either: he’d split the Party down the middle, and be bashed by the flapping of Left and Right wings respectively. Further, he’d have to admit that UKip has been right all along. So he should be like one of those blokes in the pub, ready for a fight – but constantly insisting his mates hold him back. Instead of which, he keeps trying to biff the iceberg.

All newer EU member states have to adopt the euro by a target date, and with three exceptions all referendums are forbidden: the three exceptions are the UK, Denmark and Sweden…but Denmark already has one foot in the grave. Several of the newer arrivals have put back target dates anyway, and the UK, Sweden and Hungary have made it clear that joining the euro is absolutely off the agenda. Only defeat for Viktor Orban in Hungary would facilitate them ditching the Florent – that’s very unlikely to happen – and the idea of joining the euro is very unpopular in Poland.

All of this (it goes without saying) is academic, as the chances of the eurozone as we know it surviving the coming storm are near-zero. But that isn’t really the point: however radically the eurozone changes, it is very clear that Britain is going to become a second-class member of the EU – with all the costs and none of the influence – if it stays in the EU.

If you go to European President Jean-Claude Juncker’s website, he is remarkably frank about not only wanting to settle Britain’s issues within the next five years, but also what the maximum is we can expect as a result of the process: (his emphases not mine)

‘No reasonable politician can ignore the fact that, during the next five years, we will have to find solutions for the political concerns of the United Kingdom. We have to do this if we want to keep the UK within the European Union – which I would like to do as Commission President. As Commission President, I will work for a fair deal with Britain. A deal that accepts the specificities of the UK in the EU, while allowing the Eurozone to integrate further. The UK will need to understand that in the Eurozone, we need more Europe, not less. On the other hand, the other EU countries will have to accept that the UK will never participate in the euro, even if we may regret this. We have to accept that the UK will not become a member of the Schengen area. And I am also ready to accept that the UK will stay outside new EU institutions such as the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, meant to improve the fight against fraud in the EU, but clearly rejected by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. We have to respect such clear positions of the British Parliament, based on the British “opt out” Protocol. David Cameron has recently written down a number of further key demands in an article published in the Daily Telegraph. As Commission President, I will be ready to talk to him about these demands in a fair and reasonable manner. My red line in such talks would be the integrity of the single market and its four freedoms; and the possibility to have more Europe within the Eurozone to strengthen the single currency shared so far by 18 and soon by 19 Member States.

To the best of my knowledge, I have not seen this extract published anywhere in the UK media…and that’s confirmed by even drawing a blank on Google:

junckersearchBut basically, the Juncker Doctrine isn’t even implication: it is explicitly warning that if Britain stays in, EU financial regulation will continue, centralised financial systems will tighten, the EPPO will be closed to UK citizens, and the four basic tenets of the EU are sacrosanct…ie, not open for negotiation. Particularly telling is the ‘more Europe within the Eurozone to strengthen the single currency’ line.

Not only is it absolutely crystal that Juncker has learned three-fifths of -30% from the inflexibility of the euro; he’s saying there’ll be more, not less rigidity and central control…courtesy of Wolfie Wheelchair. And the four “freedoms” remaining forever come what may are:

free movement of goods, capital, services and persons

Hence warnings from Geli von Fridgidaire about freedom of movement. As always with our Prime Minister, one is left with two potential ways to interpret his tactics in constantly playing this ram against the Boulder Dam game. This isn’t the way to stifle UKip and keep his Party together: so is he…

1. Just very thick, or..

2. is there a sub-text?

Either way, every statement that comes from Brussels, Berlin and Luxembourg now adds another million+ votes to Faisal Naraj’s Salvation Army. Mark Reckless must be rubbing his hands with glee at this latest flying brick from Berlin.

Brussels Imperial Insanity

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on October 7, 2014

Euro_collapse

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ANALYSIS: HOW THE BRUSSELS IMPERIAL INSANITY COULD KILL THE FRENCH ECONOMY, AND LET IN LePEN

https://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/2waystreet.pngWhen the Unhinged Empire headed east, it forgot that life is a two-way street

In what seems to most people of my generation a terrifyingly rapid process, the EEC has gone from being an economic community to a political free-trade bloc and then a hopelessly botched attempt at currency and fiscal federalism. After 1990(ish) however, the EU lost its mind…and borrowed others belonging to idiots – based in Brussels, but increasingly genuflecting towards Berlin. The Belgian Rome has since morphed into the an expansionist EU…aka Empire of the Unhinged.

The degree of marble-loss became really clear when the van Rompuys and Barrosos began gaily talking of recruiting from the Arab Spring, via the introduction of Turkey into the EU. But long before that, the collapse of the USSR gave the Eunatics (prodded from behind by Washington) the chance to annexe twelve former Soviet satellites: these were Finland (1995), the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia (2004), Bulgaria, Romania (2007), and latterly Croatia (2013). They effectively whipped 11 satellites from under the Russian bear’s twitching nose in nine years.

This was about geopolitics, not sound fiscal economics and gradual organic growth. In one year – 2004 – the Euronauts added eight new East European members. One might more exactly say that this was egopolitics. And although myriad other factors were at play (of equal malignancy on both sides of the conflict) it inevitably set up and exacerbated the Ukrainian crisis.

As the egopolitics of Brussels-am-Berlin were lubricated by Washington’s energy obsessions in these early years of the new millennium, I doubt whether anyone thought much about the third dimension being added to the cage these clowns had built for themselves. Not only had they corruptly allowed far too many countries into the eurozone – and thus created the makings of a brittle, inflexible currency – they now admitted former Communist countries to EU membership: countries where the nature of living standards and marketing expertise were in almost every case several divisions below those of Western Europe. Further, they inherited a surprising number of former soviet functionaries whose only motivation was the continuation of life in a feather bed. Overnight, the Zil drivers became, variously, trade emissaries, eurofanatics and lickers merely of a Brusslin arse – as opposed to the rather more ample one in Moscow. (The ease with which these leaches made the transition says a great deal about the true nature of the EU).

But the killer effect has been the speed, vigour and commercial acumen with which the poorer central and Eastern novices grabbed the opportunity offered by free movement of labour…and the increasingly obvious advantage of not being in the euro.

As early as 2008, the world economic trade institute was writing about ‘rapidly growing [Polish] exports to western Europe’ and adding – significantly – “income disparities and rapid adoption of high-technology in Poland offer enormous opportunities for growth”. In fact, six years on, the growth centres in Warsaw, Poznan and Wroclaw – spreading to Cracow – are making huge continental share gains against Western countries in several key basic industrial sectors – multiple retailing, metal, wood, stone, plastics, decor, automotive software…and the poorer areas to the east received €2.3 billion from the EU’s structural and cohesion fund Between 2007 and 2013. For along with growth, Poland’s parallel problem has been chronic agrarian unemployment.

Brussels has handed three things to the Poles on a plate: market access minus import duty, freedom of labour movement plus welfare, and investment in the economic infrastructure. As a result, In Q1 2014, the Polish economy grew by 3.4% – and is expected to grow by 3.4% in 2014, 3.7% in 2015 and 3.9% in 2016. Since 2011, Polish exports have doubled. It is now the 6th largest economy in the Union.

In Germany, competing with those advantages is meat and drink: in France, Italy and Portugal, it isn’t. Poland’s young workforce and growing entrepreneurial class are today supplying anyone in the West who wants it with better made, cheaper, and far more reliably delivered materials….and labour that costs half the French equivalent with almost twice the productivity.

Far from blaming the former centro-eastern Soviet satellites for grabbing this opportunity, I salute them. But for those supposedly in charge of ‘running’ an EU already in need of reform, creating higher costs alongside tough margin competition before that reform had been undertaken was a crass, uncommercial and disastrous decision taken on the basis of dick size rather than left brain.

For most Western EU members, the Eastern imperial ambitions of Brussels have thus been the equivalent of taking poison with one hand and giving money away with the other.

While it is smaller and has further to climb as yet, the economic situation in Hungary is if anything even more dynamic. It has a debt/gdp ratio of 80% – which is too short term in some structural elements, but well below most Western competitors. In turn, it has the florint rising against the euro, and thus offering potential to cut that sovereign debt. And its controversial but hugely popular leader Viktor Orbán has kept the euro-sellers, IMF leaches and Banker-prodded globalists at bay.

Everything is a trade-off between competiveness and debt these days, but the Hungarian leader both knows his mind and is good at reducing his strategies to easy-to-grasp populism. Speaking last Saturday in Székesfehérvár, 60 kilometres west of Budapest, Orbán  said that the coming development period will be an era of giving Hungarian businesses with the will to expand “colossal new opportunities”. Expressing as usual his preference for local nationalism over global colonialism, he added that he expects “Hungarian businesses to grow stronger, expand, innovate and help make the create the five million jobs Hungary needs”.

Orbán thinks that Hungary’s economy will be safe from “the coming global cataclysm” if Hungary’s companies have sufficient local business power to keep the economy running. Either way, there have been some notable successes: in 2013,, economic trends developed even better than expected: budget deficits levelled off at under 3% of GDP, public debt was reduced, and in the third quarter of 2013, Hungary’s economy grew 1.8%, rising to  around 2.5% by the year end.

It has the same three advantages that Poland enjoys: an expansion of manufacturing (by 10% YOY), employees prepared to work better, harder and cheaper than the West, and a currency not tainted by the euro.

It will come as no surprise to most better-informed observers that Brussels is working very hard to destabilise the Orbán regime because it doesn’t kiss ass – and succeeds where they have failed. It has a successful mining sector, and rapidly growing exports in metallurgy, construction materials, processed foods, textiles, chemicals (especially pharmaceuticals), and cars. Again, all these are of higher quality and at lower prices than those on offer in the Western EU.

French difficulties in particular have been increased massively by imperial EU expansion. What an irony it would be if Marine LePen rides to victory in the Presidential elections by blaming the country’s ills on foreign workers and EU membership. It suits her book perfectly, and the case is easy to make. Once more, the EU’s greed will have spawned a lurch to the intolerant Right. Plus ca change, and all that.

 

Financial WWIII: Secessions, Sanctions & Anti-Dollars

logopodcastOff the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on September 13, 2014

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Don’t miss the earlier Rants in this series:

Secession: Scotland to Texas to Alaska…and BEYOND!

It’s SHOWTIME!

ANTI-DOLLAR III: Fining Putin

ANTI-DOLLARS II

ANTI-DOLLARS!

Financial WWIII

http://media.boreme.com/post_media/2013/rothschild-nations-money.jpg

Snippet:

braveheart…As interesting and topical as the last week before the Scottish Vote on Secession is, I don’t wanna bog down too much on this potential major Black Swan and rant on just this one all week, even though the ramifications are endless to this, no matter which way it goes though definitely greater if a YES Vote for secession prevails.

There are secessionary movements all over Europe these days, most well known are is the one in Catalonia trying to divorce from Spain, but really in many places in Europe you have Nation-States cobbled together with different tribal groups, like for instance the Flemish in the Netherlands and the Magyars in Hungary etc. If the Scots do manage to break away from the UK, this will breath new life into about all of these secessionary movements. Which of course goes a long way toward explaining WHY there is a snowball’s chance in hell the Scots will be able to pull off a secession merely by voting for it.

TPTB that run the monetary system through the BIS simply cannot ALLOW such secessions, they aren’t geared up for that. They are geared for ever further consolidation into a New World Order, not only do they view Europe as a “single state”, the objective would be there to eventually bring Russia and China in as well, eventually running the entire world with a monetary and taxation system all determined by a few Clowns in Brussels. They did pretty good with this in the years since WWII, cobbling together the Euro as a cross border currency in Eurotrashland and developing Financial Warfare methods to drop on any Nation-State that would DARE to try to break free of the Hegemony over financial transactions Wall Street and the City of London have held onto for 300 years, but cracks in this edifice are appearing all over the place now as the realities of Irredeemable Debt and Resource Depletion become more apparent everywhere…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Bonus from the Peak Oil years,  the Doomstead Diner Comic Strip #5…

doomsteaddiner5

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Truth is Timeless…

Also: Don’t miss our upcoming Sunday Brunch Cli-Fi Vidcast with Ugo Bardi, James Howard Kunstler and Jim Laughter

The Novorossiyan 300

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on September 3, 2014

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Don’t miss also the recent related Podcasts with Dmitry Orlov

Analysing Ukraine and MENA

Supply Chains, Population & Community

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300 movie image Gerard Butler

Snippet:
…However, for a while there the Ukies also had superior equipment, more artillery, tanks etc that were legacy gifts from Mother Russia from the Soviet era. So Novorossiyan  irregulars armed mainly with rifles and RPGs were on the retreat, consolidating inside their home region for a Final Battle for all the Marbles.

You all know the story of the 300 from the film by the same name, which was a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. From Wiki:

“Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending native soil. The performance of the defenders at the battle of Thermopylae is also used as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers and has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. “

You also may have heard the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charge of the Light Brigade. I will read it in full.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

ANTI-DOLLAR III: Fining Putin

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 2, 2014

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Discuss this Rant at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

Snippet:

…The Financial Warfare game continues to heat up, with the premier Bombshell of the Week dropped down on Vlad the Impaler from a $50B Fine from the Hague in Brussels, which is starting to get into the territory of real money.

Besides that the Italian Gestapo just made a Grab for $150 M in assets from Nomura, which is chump change of course but still a significant development to watch. Then also the Portuguese Holding Company of Espirto Santo is in the process of being carved up for whatever assets it has on its books, which all are likely quite worthless but still significant for Contagion reasons across the banking sector.

In the past I predicted this sort of occurrence, which I label under the category of Pigman vs Pigman, like the old Spy vs Spy from Mad Magazine. You have a variety of different Thieves and Gangstahs all at work here, and now with little left to STEAL from J6P, they are in the process of cannibalizing each other…

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!

This Rant is Part III in a series that began with ANTI-DOLLAR and ANTI-DOLLAR II.  Follow the links if you missed those to get the context here.

RE

Eurobanksters Pray for Jesus

Off the microphone of RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on July 13, 2014

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Snippet:

…Back today to real Diner MEAT, the Economic Kabuki ongoing across the globe as the Jokers & Clowns in charge scramble to keep all their Balls in the Air here, rather than being strung up by them. Even Master Juggler Ray Jason could not keep so many Testicles in the air at the same time.

The latest Testicle to come crashing to earth is in Portugal, Banco Espirito Santo is now on the rocks since its parent company defaulted on some debt payments. Espirito Santo translates to Spirit of the Saint, and these folks can only hope that Jesus drops down from Heaven and multiplies the Deposits in their bank like Fishies and Loaves of Bread….

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HQXq-3B_U0w/UB3Z-S37cDI/AAAAAAAABF4/sUgjIYpQy-o/s1600/Jesus+Feeds+the+5000.jpg

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!

RE

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Thanks for the links! I don't agree with everything, but the charts are good. In particular, St [...]

By the way, thanks for your comments on the political orthodoxy during the 1970s and 1980s. I wasn [...]

I remember reading about the water problem for lithium extraction in Chile before. This is a fairly [...]

The farmers who worry about our phone batteries https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/130BB/pr [...]

Good point. It need coal both for making the concrete for the dams and for power 24/7/365. [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

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Technical Journals

Barocaloric is a solid-state not-in-kind technology, for cooling and heat pumping, rising as an alte [...]

Terrestrial ecosystems and their vegetation are linked to climate. With the potential of accelerated [...]

The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) is a paleoclimate temperature cycle that originates in th [...]