Showing posts with label european union. Show all posts
Showing posts with label european union. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Relatives of the 12 people killed in December when a truck ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin have expressed their dismay at the negligent way they say they have been treated by German authorities. About 50 people who lost loved ones in the Islamic State-claimed terrorist attack reportedly told a private meeting called by Germany’s outgoing president, Joachim Gauck, and the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, they felt abandoned at a deeply upsetting time.   Relatives said the first official communication they had with authorities was a bill sent to them by the coroner’s office. The letter reportedly included a warning that if the bill was not paid within a certain timeframe, the recipients would face legal action.  One relative told Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt newspapers that when she received the letter she had thought at the very least it would be a letter of condolence from Berlin’s mayor.  Those who were certain that their family members were among the dead said they were prevented by security personnel from entering the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church on Breitscheidplatz for a religious service held the day after the attack on 19 December. The reason they were given was that high-ranking German politicians – including Gauck – were among the guests. According to the papers, which reported on the four-hour meeting at Gauck’s Bellevue Palace, the president told the relatives he was distressed to hear they had been unable to enter the church and that he had not known about it at the time.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The UN’s office for human rights has said refugee minors in Bangui, in the Central African Republic (CAR), have accused EU flag-wearing soldiers of sexual abuse. Two local girls, aged 14 to 16, said they were raped by peacekeepers in the Eufor-CAR mission. Two others, in the same age group, said they were paid for sex. Three of the four girls said the soldiers were from Georgia, which contributed 140 members to the EU’s 700-strong operation. Refugee children also accused French soldiers in the Sangaris operation, a unilateral mission. A seven-year old girl said she performed oral sex on a French soldier in return for a bottle of water and a pack of biscuits. A nine-year old boy said he, and several others, were abused. Children also accused UN peacekeepers. The UN assistant secretary general, Anthony Banbury, said on Friday (29 January) he knows of four new cases in Bangui. He said there were 22 UN cases in Central Africa last year, and 69 in total in the UN’s 16 missions around the world. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said, also on Friday, she alerted the EU, Georgia, and France on 19 January. She said she was “heartened” by their reaction. But she added: “Far too many of these crimes continue to go unpunished, with the perpetrators enjoying full impunity. This simply encourages further violations.” Banbury told press in New York: “It’s hard to imagine the outrage that people working for the United Nations in the causes of peace and security feel when these kinds of allegations come to light.” The Guardian, a British daily, said he was close to tears. For its part, the EU foreign service said it has “a zero-tolerance policy as regards sexual misconduct or criminal activity.” But it added that “responsibility for any investigation, disciplinary or criminal action remains in the hands of the contributing states.”  The Georgian defence ministry said: “In case such grave crimes are proven, perpetrators … will be brought to justice.” France made similar promises.  The EU sent Eufor-CAR to Central Africa in April 2014 to protect refugees in a brutal civil war. It pulled out in March 2015. Troops mostly came from EU states Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, and Spain.  Georgia, an EU and Nato-aspirant state, sometimes takes part in EU operations.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

“The markets have drawn comfort” from the Fed, said Mr Lewis after officials at the central bank said they believed economic developments would “warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate”.  However, Mr Lewis said further rises presented “a major uncertainty” hanging over both the Fed and markets.  “All territory is now uncharted”, he argued, as the US central bank attempts to raise rates from historically low levels, while the banking system is flush with cash.
He added: “The Fed and other major central banks have maintained emergency policy-settings for so long that the global economy cannot be presumed to react in standard fashion to a rise in interest rates, however small that might be.”  The central bank, led by chairman Janet Yellen, plans to keep increasing rates by quarter-point increments after raising rates by a quarter of a percentage point from their 0pc to 0.25pc range last month. Stephen Lewis, chief economist at ADM ISI, said that Fed policymakers would regard “the mildness of the response to their action as a tribute to their success”. While the main US index, the S&P 500, closed lower in 2015 as a whole – its first annual loss since the financial crisis – economists have not attributed this to the Fed’s move. Annual wage growth is expected to have picked up from 2.3pc to 2.8pc in December, generating inflationary pressures. Central bank watchers will also pay close attention to the minutes of the Fed’s December meeting, being released on Wednesday. These will show how confident policymakers are in returning inflation to target. The Fed has a mandate to promote full employment and to steer inflation towards 2pc. The inflation measure tracked by US policymakers stood at just 0.4pc in the year to November. Analysts at Barclays said that they expected to see “disparate views on the current state of inflation” and they would “be attentive” to how this impacts on “different views on the most likely path of monetary policy in 2016”.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Eurozone has no fire-power to strengthen. QE has failed because they are already mired deep in a Japanese style deflation trap to which there is no easy escape. Draghi's peashooter has allowed them to standstill for a few months and nothing more.  The only thing to be done now is to forcibly devalue the currency and drive it through dollar parity as policy. This is what is necessary to re-establish inflation and growth on the continent.  This would be European style economics but may be the only way to save the euro. It must be done now though. The alternative is a slow death and definitely lose the euro.  My bet is that the Europhiles cannot face up to what they have done and will therefore opt to do nothing. So it will be the slow death then...the Central Banks are in trouble...and relying on Draghi's monthly or quarterly QE payroll. It's as simple as that. Deflation will hit their books hard. Notice the pressure on Banks to impose charges, more now than ever before. As for Deutsche Bank; it's all their satellites that will feel the pinch....something that Merkel has overlooked at her peril....There is no money. Nobody can buy anything so nobody can sell anything so there is no growth and all kinds of social bills still to be paid through more borrowing along with all the previous debt service costs. Reciprocal debt forgiveness: for some nations temporary retreat from an utterly inappropriate €conomic instrument used as a political weapon that has failed on both battlefields: sustainable, as equable as possible, benefit reduction and an opening of the democracy door to all of the peoples with the same voting weight at all levels are the only answers now. But I think the burden is too great and it is too late, especially with the utterly divisive irritant of the imperial court's decrees on immigration to add to the stew....The ECB printing up more trillions of fiat currency to lavish on their .1% cronies in the financial sector "to combat deflation" (and buy up the distressed assets of the increasingly pauperized middle and working classes at fire sale prices) - my, how groundbreaking.  Remind me again of the clinical definition of insanity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

EU - Observer -- Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has put the painful question of German war reparations back on the table, saying his country was never paid for the infrastructural damage inflicted in World War II.  In a highly emotive speech before parliament on Tuesday (10 March), peppered with references to Nazism, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust, Tsipras said Berlin had an "unfulfilled moral, as well as material historic debt".  He acknowledged that Germany paid 115 million deutschmarks (€59 million) to Greece in 1960, but said this went only to individual victims of Nazis and did not compensate for the "destruction" of the country.   "This agreement, however, provided compensation only for the victims of the Nazis in Greece and not for the damages inflicted on the country itself," he said.  "And of course it did not relate either to the obligatory occupational loan or the claims for damages due to war crimes as a consequence of the nearly total destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the economy’s disintegration during the war and the occupation".  He accused Berlin, which has long said it has honored its war obligations, of using "legal technicalities" to get around paying.  "They see the mote in their brother's eye but not the beam in their own," he added, quoting a passage from the Bible, and speaking of a "moralistic tone" in Europe in an apparent allusion to Berlin's statements on Greece.  He also said that a parliament committee on "claiming the German debts owed to Greece" is to be reconstituted and upgraded and that his government will offer "political and legal assistance" so that its efforts "bear fruit". The motion to re-establish the committee was then backed unanimously by parliament late on Tuesday.  For his part, Nikos Paraskevopoulos, the Greek justice minister took the rhetoric a stage further on Wednesday by saying that German property in Greece could be seized as compensation.  He said he is "ready to approve" a Greek Supreme Court ruling in 2000, which ordered Germany to pay around €28 million to the relatives of 218 civilians in the village of Distomo, massacred by Nazi forces in 1944. The ruling said that assets such as property could be seized as compensation.  "The law states that the minister must give the order for the Supreme Court ruling to be carried out ... I am ready to give that order," he told Antenna TV, reports AFP.  The Greek statements come after weeks of uneasy relations between Berlin and Athens since the Greek far-left/nationalist coalition government came to power in late January.  Tsipras' first move as PM was to vist a memorial honoring  Greek resistance fighters killed by the Nazis in 1944 - a symbolic gesture that did not go unnoticed in Berlin.  Since then, the Greek government has sought to make good on its election promises to restructure its debt and to end EU-imposed austerity.  But tough negotiations with its creditors have seen it win only small concessions, such as renaming the hated Troika (representing its three international creditors) as "the institutions".   Contrary to what it wanted, the government was forced to extend an existing bailout - by four months - and is currently trying to reach a deal on which reforms it needs to carry out to get the next tranche of cash.  Germany is at the forefront of those saying Athens must stick to its prior commitments on reforms. Rhetoric between the two countries has turned nasty on several occasions since Athens' first bailout in 2010, with Greece - wracked by high unemployment and low growth - viewing Germany as too single-minded on austerity and with Germany seeing Greece as slow to undertake major changes.  The current talk from Athens is much harder than anything before, however.  It comes amid criticism of Tsipras by his own, hardline backbenchers, who expect him to deliver more of his campaign pledges.   Tsipras' defense minister Panos Kammenos, from the nationalist party in the coalition, also recently threatened to "flood" Europe with migrants if Greece does not get a debt deal.  "If they [the Eurogroup, a body which oversees eurozone governance] strike us, we will strike them. We will give to migrants from everywhere the documents they need to travel in the Schengen area [the EU's passport free zone], so that the human wave could go straight to Berlin."

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Greece's finance minister spoke to ECB chief Mario Draghi in Frankfurt (Source: Getty)
In return, Mr Varoufakis assured German voters his government would seek to dismantle the "cronyism and corruption" that has held back the country for decades.
"Germans have to understand that it doesn’t mean we’re turning away from the reform path if we give an additional €300 a year to a pensioner living on €300 a month. When we talk about reforms, we should talk about cartels, about rich Greeks who hardly pay any taxes."
The finance minister ruled out any plea for financial aid from Russia, and called on the German Chancellor to put forward a "Merkel Plan" based on the post-war Marshall loans granted by the United States to rehabilitate Germany after the war.
"I believe the EU would benefit if Germany conceived of itself as a hegemon," said Mr Varoufakis. "But a hegemon must shoulder responsibility for others.
"Germany would use its power to unite Europe. That would be a wonderful legacy for Germany’s federal chancellor."
Who owns Greek debt?

(Source: Open Europe)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"DRAGHI SAYS EU BUDGET RULES ARE THERE TO BE RESPECTED" - Draghi also realises that big countries will ignore them with impugnity - just like they did the first time around. France is already in violation and knows full well that the EU and the ECB are utterly importent in the face of that.  Just as they were when Germany - yes, Germany - lead the way in breaking the rules shortly after the euro came into being. All countries remember this, espescially the ones on the receiving end of imperious Germanic lectures about "doing their homework".  Germany has made the classic mistake of doing well when others around it are doing badly, presuming this state of affairs will persist eternally and feeling it has a free hand to treat it's neighbours as it pleases. The moment German needs demand it, the Fiscal Pact will be out of the window; Anegla Merkel would be out of office within weeks if her government were to attempt the sort of austerity it has, in essence, forced upon Greece. The Netherlands were, if anything, even more hawkish than the Germans regarding "lazy Southerners" and wanted things like automatic fines. Then their own economy began to suffer the same problems and they also breached the rules - you don't hear much from them these days. Our Scottish friends may wish to ponder the huge difference in the treatment meted out to small countries as opposed to large ones in the EU. Of course, none of this should be greeted with any Satisfaction in the UK. A recession in the eurozone is bad for us too. Though thankfuly we have at least managed to dodge the madness of dropping a hand-grenade into the economy via a Scottish separation. Now, a worsening recession means there will be less taxable income for governments to fund ever growing entitlements. Add that to a huge pile of moldering away bad debts. What I see is not a solvable problem the way the world works today.
Neither Draghi or any of the bankers even bother to talk about the real problem of not enough regional income and too much government spending. Draghi’s only solution is some form of money printing. Printing money to pay bills might work over the short term. But long term, it cannot. If money printing works in the real world why not print and give every one a billion dollars, euros or yen?
The most Draghi can do is have the ECB print money to service existing bad debts made by banks and governments. But printing money to pay interest and principle on loans is not debt service. That is called money printing, debasing the currency whatever. Yes, governments want to do whatever possible to avoid bad times for its citizens. But, as someone else once said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Russia's ruling party is heading to a convincing victory in Crimea's polls, less than six months after annexing the region.
A preliminary count on Monday showed Crimea's regional branch of the United Russia party was leading with 71.04 percent of votes, after 50 percent of the ballots had been counted, Crimea's electoral commission said. The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), led by firebrand lawyer Vladimir Zhirinovsky who backs the Kremlin, was running second with just over eight percent of the vote. No other party appeared to have broken the five percent barrier for representation in the Crimean regional parliament, with a turnout of around 52 percent. The residents of the Black Sea peninsula were voting to select politicians for the parliaments of Crimea and Sevastopol, and for local city councillors. In polls for the regional parliament of the city of Sevastopol, United Russia had won 76 percent, while LDPR won 7 percent, with 65 percent of the votes counted.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who leads the United Russia, said the vote proved Russia was acting legitimately in Crimea.  "All the participants in the electoral campaign in Crimea have proved to us and our neighbours that power in Russia is based on legal procedures," Medvedev said on Monday in remarks released by the government. However critics called foul, saying politics in the region had come to resemble the Soviet political landscape, with the election characterised by favoritism towards Russian President Vladimir Putin's ruling party. "Suddenly, in three months everything became United Russia here," Andrei Brezhnev, head of the Communist Party of Social Justice said.  Ukraine condemned the votes as illegitimate in a statement issued by its foreign ministry.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Word on the Street is Germany will allow PIIGS to deficit spend in order to prop up German economy for a couple of years, before the EZ is finally broken up.
They want to squeeze every last dime out of the suckers' pockets before ditching them...You know I could swear that somebody once said "the worst of the eurocrisis is behind us". Now who was it again ? Oh yes, Draghi, arch Eurolooney at the ECB. Maybe his crystal ball wasn't a CE approved model so he can blame that on his duff statement. The EZ should be referred to more accurately as GZ, the German Zone. Within the GZ there are areas being sacrificed on the alter of German economic superiority. The utter economic chaos in Spain, among the other broken economies of the GZ, has no chance whatsoever of recovering. Germans failed with Tiger tanks, but they have conquered with economic weapons that have secured their growth over the last several years, whilst others languish in decline. Germany is still the European menace, and there is a growing realisation that they have masterminded a piece of economic trickery, and continue to do so. The nations who fell for German economic idealism have themselves to blame, but how this utter financial mess will develop over time has many speaking of rebellion and revolution. Frankly, whatever happens there is only deeper chaos ahead...Spot on in € being a D-Mark and look what happened when locked in trading bands with that, In effect you must have your economic needs exactly the same otherwise you fail. People signed up to €, and in Spain, and maybe Portugal, Greece, they will stick with it as it's their defence against dictatorship. Franco was in charge till when, Greece abolished became a republic when, ditto Portugal. € membership gives them a seat at the 'top table p art of Worlds no.2 currency' for that they keep willing to pay what seems a crazy price...
While the great and good of the EU financial wizards make their plans and predictions regarding the Euro and banks and stability et al, they are ignorant, deliberately or otherwise, of a simple and economically uncomplicated set of facts.
While, Prima Face, the Europe Central Bank has not indulged in quantitative easing, the reality is that the individual banks and industrial companies have done. They have achieved this by the banks extending loans to businesses which in normal times would be unable to raise finance. Those businesses though add a multiplier effect.
Where in the UK, an SME business would normally work with one bank or two where there is a specific reason, in Europe, a company will work with ten, fifteen or twenty banks or more.
The problem in Europe lies in invoice/sales order/purchase order backed finance, especially related to export sales. It is not unusual to find a company raising finance against a customer order, then raising finance to purchase goods/material to fulfill that order with a separate bank and then, when shipped, to discount the invoice with another bank and then discount it again with another or even another still. The outcome is one order/sale boosting the money supply maybe two, three, four or five times the value of the order. And they are all at it because the culture within Clubmed is that it's all OK. The banks must be aware but are turning a blind eye.
Compound this further with a general move of banking facilities from long term to short term, replacing existing borrowings with more expensive new ones and the associated transactional costs paid for by the borrowing businesses; then the whole system is awash with short term debt that is based on collateral many times less than the money borrowed, so it doesn't take a genuis to work out what will happen when the merry-go-round finally, inevitably, grinds to a halt.
All the economists will be wrong footed by this and when the crash comes it will be epic. Nobody has asked the simple question; why has it been so easy for businesses in the Eurozone to access cash when the rest of the west has been at the opposite end of the scale and why have no European banks needed rescuing? The answer is that they are simply kicking the can down the street in a dwam of general stupidity. The nettle hasn't been grasped, the bullet is unbitten and the chickens are coming home to roost.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dynamic, fast-growing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are driving a recovery that will transform the UK’s economic landscape, London Stock Exchange chief executive Xavier Rolet said yesterday.   Speaking at the launch of the LSE’s publication 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain, Mr Rolet gave an upbeat assessment of their impact on economic growth.   “Vibrant, dynamic SMEs are the engine of the capitalist economy,” he said. “Large caps and the public sector have created no new net jobs over the last eight years – SMEs are powering our recovery”.   The 1,000 companies identified by the research agency Growth Intelligence have an average revenue growth of 80pc over the last three years and span 100 different sectors and every region. Far from being dead, manufacturing accounts for nearly one in five of the list – significantly more than the 105 technology companies represented.   While 267 of the companies are London-based, more come from the north of England than from the South East excluding the capital.  Mr Rolet said the debate over SME finance had focused too much on bank lending: “We need to balance bank financing with equity, building a funding ladder that starts with Business Angels and goes up through venture capitalists to private equity and the public markets”.  He praised initiatives, such as the abolition of stamp duty on AIM shares, making it easier to invest in SMEs and contributing to the strongest AIM performance since 2007 with 45 IPOs.  Featured companies include Mulberry, Addison Lee and Hunter Boot, as well as “hidden gems” specializing in everything from motor racing to animal antibiotics.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A major Swiss gold refiner is being investigated on suspicion of money laundering linked to the processing of gold allegedly looted from DR Congo. Swiss federal prosecutors confirmed criminal proceedings against Argor-Heraeus SA, over claims it knew gold it handled in 2004 and 2005 had been taken from DR Congo during an armed conflict. The case has been brought by the Swiss non-governmental organisation TRIAL.  Argor-Heraeus has strongly refuted all allegations in a statement.  The Swiss gold refiner said the allegation had "arrived like a bolt out of the blue" and there had been "no request or contact whatsoever from TRIAL beforehand".
It said "Argor-Heraeus has been cleared of all above mentioned allegations", referring to an investigation at the time by the UN, SECO and FINMA.
The firm said it would "collaborate in complete transparency with the authorities" to prove its innocence.
'Growing pressure'
The Swiss federal prosecutor's office said on Monday that after reviewing the criminal complaint submitted by TRIAL, it had decided to initiate proceedings against Argor-Heraeus "for suspected money laundering in connection with a war crime and complicity in war crimes".
"Given the secrecy of the investigation and function, we are not able to provide more information for now," it said.
TRIAL alleges that gold looted from DR Congo in 2004 and 2005 was smuggled to Uganda and then refined in Switzerland by Argor-Heraeus.
According to TRIAL, the refinery knew or should have assumed that the gold resulted from pillage, a war crime.
DR Congo was in the midst of an armed conflict at the time, driven partly for control of natural resources.
An estimated six million people are believed to have been killed in DR Congo since 1997.
TRIAL says the sale of the gold "contributed to financing the operations of an unlawful armed group in a brutal conflict".
A report at the time by a UN Group of Experts recommended sanctions against Argor, saying the company must have known the gold was obtained illegally. Sanctions were imposed only on Ugandan businesses involved in the trade. TRIAL alleges that Argor escaped sanctions because of pressure applied at the UN by Swiss diplomats.
However, Argor says that "subsequent detailed in-depth verifications executed by SECO and UNO resulted in the removal of the name of Argor-Heraeus from the report and confirmed that the company was in no way directly or indirectly involved in the alleged claim".
Most of the world's gold is refined in Switzerland and the country is also a major trading hub for gold and other commodities.
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says there is growing pressure for traders and refiners to be more transparent.
Argor is owned partly by German company Heraeus, Commerzbank, and the Austrian Mint.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Six of the world's leading central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, say they will provide each other with ready supplies of their currencies on a standing basis, extending arrangements set up to steady the global financial system during post-2007 turbulence.
The decision, announced on Thursday, extends currency swap arrangements that until now had been considered temporary measures.
The central banks are: the Fed, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada and the Swiss National Bank.
The so-called swap lines enable those central banks to make sure banks in their home countries can always borrow ready cash from them in any of the currencies involved, should they need it.
The ECB said the arrangements "have helped to ease strains in financial markets" and "will continue to serve as a prudent liquidity backstop".
The Fed and the ECB started their first dollar-euro swap arrangement in December 2007 as the losses on mortgage-backed bonds began to shake the banking system. Subsequent bilateral deals between the different banks were added during the financial turbulence that followed, which included the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008, sudden extreme falls on stock markets, the subsequent recession and Europe's crisis over too much government debt in several countries.
Central banks serve as custodians of their countries' currencies and play an important role in supporting the stability of banks so companies can do business and the economy can function properly.
They typically provide liquidity – ready cash to meet the demands of everyday business – to their banks, even when banks may be having trouble borrowing elsewhere due to market trouble. With the new currency arrangements, they can do this in currencies other than their own.
For example, the European Central Bank holds credit offerings in US dollars for periods of seven days and three months, offering as much in dollars as European banks may want in return for collateral such as bonds or other securities.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Once again, European leaders believe that they are out of the woods.....

Europeans have lost the sense of clear and present danger. Once again, European leaders believe that they are out of the woods. Well, miracles happen. But it's my impression that the formula is being applied that promises the least amount of success in the longer term and is the least painful -- a little reform here, a little tinkering there, and a dose of business as usual.  Europe will not be buried by ashes, like Pompeii or Herculaneum, but Europe is in decline for sure. It's certainly horrifying to consider its helplessness in the face of the approaching storms. After being the center of world politics for so long, the old continent now runs the risk of becoming a pawn.
Freedom, human rights, social justice are all wonderful, and I don't want to minimize the achievements of European societies. But a role model? Europe is much too weak to play a civilizing or moral role in world politics. Nice speeches and well-intentioned admonitions carry little weight when made from a position of weakness. In fact, all they do is aggravate China and Russia. Such reproofs are presumptuous, insincere and, unfortunately, often ridiculous. Under the current circumstances, Europe would be well advised to keep a lower profile.  I believe that Europe has largely squandered its moral credit. It shies away from imposing sanctions; it has a very hard time intervening in crises outside Europe; and it has even demonstrated its general impotence in wars in its own backyard. Most European governments, not least the German government, don't even have the guts to admit that they are playing a double game.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Syriza's Tsipras pushes war reparations issus -- Wolfgang Schäuble may be on a charm offensive but behind-the-scenes there is much talk of war reparations. War reparations are a neuralgic point that few German politicians can ever avoid and today, as finance minister Schäuble held talks with prime minister Antonis Samaras and other officials in Athens' governing coalition, the main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras ensured it was raised.Meeting Greece’s octogenarian head of state, Carolos Papoulias, barely a block away, the radical leftist repeated that it was wrong to sweep the issue of compensation for crimes committed during the Nazis’ savage occupation of the country “under the carpet.”A world war II veteran, Papoulias has strongly supported the compensation claim. Schäuble has been one of the most fiercest critics of Greece’s attempt to win further reparations from Berlin saying “the issue was settled a long time ago. Paying reparations is out of the question.”His rejection has added to the sour mood between the two countries. In the war of words between Athens and Berlin over the issue, Tsipras hopes to at least have embarrassed Schäuble on his home turf....Schäuble is "who many in Greece blame for pushing the tough cutbacks forced on the country in recent years." Hardly surprising, given the deft way Greek politicians have of passing the laws that they've negotiated, and then blithely putting the blame on the Troika for everything.
"I'm not the super-troika" commented Schäuble to German TV, before setting off.  The cuts in the public sector aren't new. They've been in every memorandum since 2011. Maybe even since 2010, the first memorandum.  So, the Papandreou, and then Papademos, and now the Samaras administration ducked and they weaved and palavered for a few years, until it finally hit the top of the prior items list. They'd have been better to have got it done fast, back when their was more popular support for reforms. A point made by the extremely annoying Alexis Papachelas at ekathimerini. But he, too, has this Samaras habit of just deftly putting it on the Troika.
The troika’s big mistake...Those among us, however, who could see a little bit further down the road had seen that the socialist PASOK’s party old guard, together with the unionists and the core members of the administration, would seek to block any ambitious reform effort.
Ably helped by Mr. Samaras and New Democracy, naturally. This weary "we could see it all coming" tone really gets on my wick. If New Democracy were so clever and far-seeing, then they should have formed a government of national unity to get the Reforms through. Which is what Samaras was requested to do.

Monday, July 15, 2013

...confidence of investors strong...

France's fiscal problems were pressing "owing to the uncertain growth outlook and the ongoing eurozone crisis, even assuming no wavering in commitment to fiscal consolidation", Fitch said.
Since Socialist Francois Hollande became president in 2012, his government has raised taxes and implemented targeted reforms and spending cuts to try to whittle down the country's huge debt load.
But with the eurozone crisis still alive, and the currency bloc still mired in recession, the measures have proven ineffective and unemployment soared to a 15-year high of 10.9pc in May.
"The weaker economic outlook is the primary factor behind increases in the budget deficit and France" needing more time to meet EU rules on government spending, it said.
Fitch forecasts that the French economy will contract by 0.3pc in 2013 and then return to slight growth of 0.7pc in 2014.
This is more pessimistic than the government's outlook of 0.1pc growth this year and 1.2pc in 2014.
French Finance Minster Pierre Moscovici brushed off the downgrade, maintaining that "French debt is among the safest and most liquid in the eurozone". With the confidence of investors strong, French borrowing prices were low and "this confidence reinforces the government's conviction that its strategy is the right one", he said.... Fitch, which is part French-owned, had warned in its previous appraisal that France had reached the very limit of being able to hold on to its top grade grail.  But with Fitch now expecting public debt to peak next year at 96pc of gross domestic product, the agency said it had no choice but to lower the mark, though with a stable outlook.  "The agency commented at the time of its previous rating review that this was the limit of the level of indebtedness consistent with France retaining its AAA status assuming debt was firmly placed on a downward path from 2014."
France's debt ratio, the agency added, was "significantly higher" than the AAA median of 49%.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The European Commission released the details of its proposals for a single bank resolution mechanism. Here's the run-down of their plans - stupidity has no limit ...it seems...:
 
1. The ECB, as the supervisor, would signal when a bank in the euro area or established in a Member State participating in the Banking Union was in severe financial difficulties and needed to be resolved.
2. A Single Resolution Board, consisting of representatives from the ECB, the European Commission and the relevant national authorities (those where the bank has its headquarters as well as branches and/or subsidiaries), would prepare the resolution of a bank. It would have broad powers to analyze and define the approach for resolving a bank: which tools to use, and how the European Resolution Fund should be involved. National resolution authorities would be closely involved in this work.
3. On the basis of the Single Resolution Board's recommendation, or on its own initiative, the Commission would decide whether and when to place a bank into resolution and would set out a framework for the use of resolution tools and the fund. For legal reasons, the final say could not be with the Board.
4. Under the supervision of the Single Resolution Board, national resolution authorities would be in charge of the execution of the resolution plan.
5. The Single Resolution Board would oversee the resolution. It would monitor the execution at national level by the national resolution authorities and, should a national resolution authority not comply with its decision, it could directly address executive orders to the troubled banks.
6. A Single Bank Resolution Fund would be set up under the control of the Single Resolution Board to ensure the availability of medium-term funding support while the bank was restructured. It would be funded by contributions from the banking sector, replacing the national resolution funds of the euro area Member States and of Member States participating in the Banking Union, as set up by the draft Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Oh, NOOOO...trouble in "natziland"???

The FTSE fell 74 points, or 1.2%, while the German Dax and French CAC tumbled 1.5% as markets digested rumors that the resignation of Portugal's finance minister and foreign minister could be followed by more colleagues. Market unease over the health of the world economy was exacerbated by the political drama unfolding in Egypt and a weakening in China's growth.
The Portuguese ministers quit the coalition government this week in a row over the ruling party's handling of the country's economic plight, amid fears that they will be followed by two ministerial colleagues who are members of the junior coalition partner. If that happened, observers fear that they could take down the centre-right government. However, the junior coalition party, CDS-PP, said this evening that there would be no more ministerial resignations.
European commission president José Manuel Barroso, a former Portuguese premier, said the indebted nation risked damaging its hard-earned financial credibility after two years of closely following its €78bn (£66.4bn) bailout programme, coordinated by the International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank.
"This delicate situation requires a great sense of responsibility from all political forces and leaders," he said.
The government's future hung in the balance after president Aníbal Cavaco Silva's office said he would meet the leader of the main opposition Socialists and other parties to discuss the deepening schism in the coalition. Under the constitution, he has the power to dissolve parliament and can invite opposition parties to form a government.
Speaking in Berlin, where he was attending the EU summit on youth unemployment, prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho reiterated that he had no plans to resign. He said: "I am confident that we will be able to surpass this difficulty … I hope this internal crisis can be overcome very quickly."
With no solution imminent, the euro fell and the interest rate on Portuguese government debt soared past the 7% level – where debts are considered unsustainable – to hit 8.1% at on point, before settling back at 7.5%. The PSI 20 stock index in Lisbon fell by 5%, led by sharp losses of over 10% in bank shares

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Money by itself has little value : it is a government permit allowing you to make transaction. It's like a building permit. And, even a thousand building permits do not make a single building if nobody wants them. In the desert a hundred dollar bill is useless if there is no water and nobody around to sell it to you.
The rich put their money in banks, buy assets, invest in companies, and get money income from it. But their (eternal) problem with that is that they are rich already. Lucky for them ,these assets and companies give them "control" and now the game has no end. And of course becomes more and more unreal all the time (not even Napoleon Bonaparte, with all his brothers and his marshals managed to control Europe} In the end the rich do no longer control those assets, but only the (tax free) foundation that does it. Such control usually ends up (in the long run) in watered down control and spin off in monetary assets i.e. money again and little control. Only the poor guy, who picks up a dollar bill in the street ,gets full value ,as well as control at full value, until he finishes his beer.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spain's banking crisis wiped out billions of euros of family savings on Tuesday as small investors who bought shares in the nationalized giant Bankia were finally able to trade them – but at only a fifth of their original price. The wipeout on Madrid's stock exchange means that Bankia, which was created by the fusion of seven savings banks, has now lost 99% of its stock exchange value since it was listed 22 months ago.  Preference share owners had been given the tradable shares, which came with a hefty haircut, as part of a cash injection worth billions of euros into the bank that wreaked most damage on Spain's financial system after suffering huge losses on toxic loans to real estate developers.  Bankia's 11bn new shares, part of a €15.5bn (£13.3bn) recapitalization, tumbled as soon as they started trading on Tuesday morning. By the end of the day they were worth half their €1 book value. Trading in the new shares was meant to have marked a new start for the country's fourth-largest bank by market capitalization. Last year it needed a €24bn bailout as part of a wider European rescue of Spain's financial system.
"They're cheating us again, like they did before," Maricarmen Olivares, whose parents lost €600,000 in life savings made from selling her father's car workshop, told Reuters. "Everything is a swindle, the share listing, the compensation package, the value of the stock now."
Spain took €42bn of the €100bn offered to help it clean up banks that were drowning in a sea of bad real estate loans left behind by the country's burst housing bubble. Bankia was the biggest of four nationalized banks that needed funds, along with NCG Banco, Catalunya Banc and Banco de Valencia.
Questions are already being raised about whether banks will have to find yet more capital, amid worries that they have not owned up to all their bad property loans and as the country's economy continues to deteriorate. Reports suggest they may need €10bn more, though Spain can now easily raise any additional funds the state may have to provide on the markets.  Bankia may raise several billion euros from the sale of stakes in the British Airways owner International Airlines Group, electricity company Iberdrola and insurer Mapfre. It agreed last week to sell City National Bank of Florida to the Chilean bank BCI for $883m. NCG Banco said on Tuesday it would sell its 80-branch EVO network as part of the restructuring plan negotiated with the EU after the injection of €10bn of public money into the lender.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

In Portugal, pessimism about the country's chances for prospering in the euro zone is growing as the economy remains depressed, even though Portugal has done everything asked of it under its €78 billion ($101 billion) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Budget cuts have hit domestic demand hard, while exports aren't growing much amid slumps in other euro-zone economies, including Spain, Portugal's largest customer. Indeed, the Portuguese economy is expected to contract for the third consecutive year in 2013.   This past Thursday, at one of the many recent public debates on the euro. Mr. Ferreira do Amaral faced off against prominent Socialist politician and euro supporter João Galamba. "I believe we should openly discuss all the alternatives there are for us to exit this crisis," Mr. Galamba said, though adding: "Leaving the euro isn't a solution, unless we want to isolate ourselves completely from the rest of the European Union, which would be a catastrophe."  The debate sparked a lively discussion in the audience, with many arguing for a return to the former national currency, the escudo. "People say if we leave the euro our salaries and savings will fall, and we will find ourselves isolated again; but how is that different from now?" said Nuno Pires, a 30-year-old business consultant who attended. "I now think we have a better chance of recovery if we leave," he added.  Mr. Ferreira do Amaral, a 64-year-old economics professor at the Technical University of Lisbon and a former finance-ministry official, says the only hope is to return to a national currency that would devalue sharply, making Portuguese products cheaper abroad and spurring exports.  Under Portugal's 2011 bailout, deep public spending cuts, tax increases and labor-market overhauls were supposed to attract investment and spur economic growth by this year. But the benefits aren't in sight. And slumping economic output is keeping Portugal's deficit wide, as austerity forces the government to cut spending and employment further.  "We are now at a stage where it is becoming clear the austerity policy isn't working despite all our efforts," says Mr. Ferreira do Amaral says "The next step is for us to realize the euro simply isn't sustainable for Portugal." The idea of leaving the euro makes many uneasy. In a televised debate, ex-Finance Minister João Salgueiro warned that even talk of leaving may harm Portugal. "All the investments that come in will be at a higher cost," he said.Mr. Ferreira do Amaral is getting some high-profile backers. This month, Supreme Court of Justice President Luís António Noronha Nascimento called for Portugal and other Southern European countries to quit the euro, warning the gap between Europe's richer and poorer states will keep widening otherwise.Whether the debate gains traction depends on the economy, analysts say. Portugal's government insists the long-awaited recovery will arrive in 2014, but many economists doubt that. If the recession continues, politicians will need to enact even more budget cuts to meet EU deficit targets. "It may become too hard for politicians to sell austerity measure after austerity measure," says Antonio Costa Pinto, political scientist at the University of Lisbon. "This could create the perfect environment for a shift of ideas."...A version of this article appeared May 28, 2013, on page A16 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Idea of Euro Exit Finds Currency in Portugal.