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The Only Real Europe is Greece


Eugene Delacroix Greece expiring on the Ruins of Missolonghi 1826
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, famous for his imbibition capacity and uttering -not necessarily in that order- the legendary words “when it becomes serious, you have to lie”, presented his State of the Union today. Which is of pretty much limited interest because, as Yanis Varoufakis’ book ‘Adults in the Room’ once again confirmed, Juncker is nothing but ventriloquist Angela Merkel’s sock puppet.

But of course he had lofty words galore, about how great Europe is doing, and how that provides a window for more Europe, in multiple dimensions. Juncker envisions a European Minister of Finance (Dutch PM Rutte immediately scorned the idea), and he wants to enlarge the EU by inviting more countries in, like Albania, Montenegro and Serbia (but not Turkey!).

Juncker had negative things to say about Britain and Brexit, about Poland, Prague and Hungary who don’t want to obey the decree about letting in migrants and refugees, and obviously about Donald Trump: Brussels apparently wants ‘to make our planet great again’.

What the likes of Jean-Claude don’t seem to be willing to contemplate, let alone understand or acknowledge, is that the EU is a union of sovereign countries. The meaning of ‘sovereignty’ fully escapes much of the pro-EU crowd. And if they keep that up, it will break the union into pieces.

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary must accept their migrant ‘quota’, as decided in Brussels, and that, too, constitutes an infringement on these countries’ sovereignty. And don’t forget, sovereignty is not something that can be divided into separate parts, some of which can be upheld while others are discarded. A country is either sovereign or it is not.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Catalan Bid for Independence Seen in Broader Context of European Disintegration

Catalan Bid for Independence Seen in Broader Context of European Disintegration

Catalan Bid for Independence Seen in Broader Context of European Disintegration

Catalonia’s secession movement has been growing in Spain for decades. The region has its own language and culture. On August 28, two pro-independence parties in Catalonia, the Junts Pel Sí («Together For Yes») coalition and the radical-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), submitted a bill to the regional parliament, which outlines the legal framework for the transition to independence. The two parties currently hold the balance of power in the assembly and, therefore, control the regional government.

The bill is set to be passed before the next referendum on secession will take place on October 1, fulfilling a pledge made by a majority of Catalan MPs. According to opinion polls, a majority of Catalans favor holding a referendum on their status.

While Catalonia has been steadfast in its determination to hold a separation vote, the idea of referendum has been firmly opposed by the central government in Madrid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government is attempting to use the courts to prevent it from happening. Spain’s Constitutional Court has previously quashed Catalonia’s resolution to hold a referendum.

The court and Spanish government have also warned Catalonian officials that they could face legal repercussions and sanctions if they help organize the vote. The war of words between Catalonia and the central government has escalated recently. The recent terrorist attack in Barcelona has failed to bring unity against a common foe. The Catalans are reluctant to comply with Spanish courts’ rulings and the use of force by the central government is hardly an option.

Catalonia, a prosperous region in northeast Spain, which generates a fifth of Spain’s GDP and already has wide sovereignty, managing its own education system and police forces. But it lacks the privilege the Basque Country enjoys, running its own taxes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Migrations Always Bring Infectious Diseases

A new report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), has confirmed that there has been a sharp rise in disease since 2015 with the arrival of the refugees in Germany. The disease is tuberculosis and just being exposed to a person in the same restaurant carries the rise of you becoming infected as well. Of course raising this topic will cause many to call it racism. Yet in fact, travel to Asia and if you even look sick, they pull you over and will send you to quarantine.

Back in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue as they say and returned with more than discovering a new continent. He and his crew brought back a new disease to Europe – Syphilis. New skeletal evidence confirmed that Columbus and his crew brought back syphilis to Europe. In turn, Europeans brought disease to America that wiped out Indians.

Take AIDS or HIV. Scientists have identified the origin of HIV tracing it to a specific type of chimpanzee in West Africa. It was probably transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat.

Gaëtan Dugas (1953 – 1984), was a Canadian flight attendant who became regarded as “patient zero” for AIDS in the United States, although that was disputed by others claiming there were others around the same time. Nevertheless, regardless of who brought it from Africa to America, someone did. Such disease travels historically with migrations. The reintroduction of tuberculosis to Europe can end up being a serious epidemic in the years ahead.

Surplus or Stimulus

Surplus or Stimulus

René Magritte Le Cri du Coeur 1960

Austerity is over, proclaimed the IMF this week. And no doubt attributed that to the ‘successful’ period of ‘five years of belt tightening’ a.k.a. ‘gradual fiscal consolidation’ it has, along with its econo-religious ilk, imposed on many of the world’s people. Only, it’s not true of course. Austerity is not over. You can ask many of those same people about that. It’s certainly not true in Greece.

IMF Says Austerity Is Over

Austerity is over as governments across the rich world increased spending last year and plan to keep their wallets open for the foreseeable future. After five years of belt tightening, the IMF says the era of spending cuts that followed the financial crisis is now at an end. “Advanced economies eased their fiscal stance by one-fifth of 1pc of GDP in 2016, breaking a five-year trend of gradual fiscal consolidation,” said the IMF in its fiscal monitor.

In Greece, the government did not increase spending in 2016. Nor is the country’s era of spending cuts at an end. So did the IMF ‘forget’ about Greece? Or does it not count it as part of the rich world? Greece is a member of the EU, and the EU is absolutely part of the rich world, so that can’t be it. Something Freudian, wishful thinking perhaps?

However this may be, it’s obvious the IMF are not done with Greece yet. And neither are the rest of the Troika. They are still demanding measures that are dead certain to plunge the Greeks much further into their abyss in the future. As my friend Steve Keen put it to me recently: “Dreadful. It will become Europe’s Somalia.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Bag Holder and His Bag

Can you see those swans coming in for a landing on Pond USA? They’re not exactly black swans, because you knew they were out there circling, but they’re dark enough against the twilight’s last gleaming to give you the heebie jeebies.

Troubles and portents of more trouble are stacking up as we approach the Ides of March zone of financial turmoil. You must surely surmise that a debt ceiling impact, a Federal Reserve interest rate hike, and the election of a Dutch anti-EU leader all scheduled for that one day are a good start on the greater unravel to follow. Glowering in the spotlight at center stage will be President Donald Trump, designated bag-holder of the Deep State and its myrmidons. And what’s in that bag he’s holding? Just a couple of shit sandwiches and a hair shirt for his journey down the lonely road to exile. But getting rid of Trump would only leave the Deep State with a bigger problem: itself. That is, an economy and a society that can’t be governed by any means.

I think many professional observers-of-the-scene are missing something in this unspooling story: the Deep State is actually becoming more impotent and ineffectual, not omnipotent. Case in point: RussiaGate — come on, let’s finally call it that — the popular idea that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election. It’s popular because it’s such a convenient excuse for the failure of a corrupt, exhausted, and brain-dead Democratic establishment. But all the exertions of the Deep State to put over this story since last summer were negated this week by two events.

First, there was former NSA Director James Clapper’s appearance on NBC’s Sunday Meet the Press show with Chuck Todd featuring the following interchange:

CHUCK TODD:
Does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

European Parliament Censors Its Own Free Speech

Europe or Anti-Europe?

Europe or Anti-Europe?

MILAN – A knowledgeable friend in Milan recently asked me the following question: “If an outside investor, say, from the United States, wanted to invest a substantial sum in the Italian economy, what would you advise?” I replied that, although there are many opportunities to invest in companies and sectors, the overall investment environment is complicated. I would recommend investing alongside a knowledgeable domestic partner, who can navigate the system, and spot partly hidden risks.

Of course, the same advice applies to many other countries as well, such as China, India, and Brazil. But the eurozone is increasingly turning into a two-speed economic bloc, and the potential political ramifications of this trend are amplifying investors’ concerns.

At a recent meeting of high-level investment advisers, one of the organizers asked everyone if they thought the euro would still exist in five years. Only one person out of 200 thought that it would not – a rather surprising collective assessment of the trending risks, given Europe’s current economic situation.

Right now, Italy’s real (inflation-adjusted) GDP is roughly at its 2001 level. Spain is doing better, but its real GDP is still around where it was in 2008, just prior to the financial crisis. And Southern European countries, including France, have experienced extremely weak recoveries and stubbornly high unemployment – in excess of 10%, and much higher for people younger than 30.

Sovereign debt levels, meanwhile, have approached or exceeded 100% of GDP (Italy’s is now at 135%), while both inflation and real growth – and thus nominal growth – remain low. This lingering debt overhang is limiting the ability to use fiscal measures to help restore robust growth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Strange That The Same Point In Time For The Economic Crisis Keeps Coming Up

Strange That The Same Point In Time For The Economic Crisis Keeps Coming Up

This video was produced by X22 Report

Netherlands is making a move to leave the EU. Theresa May is worried that a Scottish Referendum vote will happen at the same time as the Article 50 vote. Former IMF chief sentenced to jail in Spain. The EU says no bail-ins at this time because it would hurt the creditors. Maine drops 9,000 from Food Stamp roll says people need to look for jobs. Pending home sales tumble. Durable goods decline. David Stockman says it will begin on March 15 and the economy will really go down hill in the summer and the fall will be a disaster.

Dutch Parliament to Debate Leaving the Eurozone: Nexit on the Way?

Dutch Parliament to Debate Leaving the Eurozone: Nexit on the Way?

Potential Eurozone disruption possibilities keep compounding. The Netherlands Parliament will now debate leaving the Eurozone.

For example, the Netherlands Parliament will now debate leaving the Eurozone.

In long-winded wording for a potential “Nexit”, Reutersreports Dutch relations with euro up for debate after lawmakers commission probe

The Netherlands’ future relationship with the euro will be comprehensively debated by its parliament following elections in March after lawmakers commissioned a report on the currency’s future.

The motion approving the investigation by the Council of State, the government’s legal advisor, coincides with a rising tide of euroscepticism in Europe, which populist parties are hoping to tap into in a series of national elections this year also taking in eurozone powerhouses France and Germany.

The probe will examine whether it would be possible for the Dutch to withdraw from the single currency, and if so how, said lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt.

Omtzigt, of the opposition Christian Democrats, tabled the parliamentary motion calling for the investigation, which legislators passed unanimously late on Thursday.

It was prompted by concerns the ECB’s ultra-low interest rates are hurting Dutch savers, especially pensioners, and doubts as to whether its bond purchasing programs are legal, he said.

Its findings will be presented in several months, by which time the make-up of parliament will have changed dramatically.

While most Dutch voters say they favor retaining the euro, the eurosceptic far-right party of Geert Wilders is expected to book large gains though it is unlikely to win enough votes to form a government.

The most probable outcome of the March 15 vote is a new centrist coalition including some parties, such as Omtzigt’s Christian Democrats, that have been vocal in their opposition to current ECB policy.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EU Bailout of Portugal Has Failed

Lisbon

This year, 2017, is the beginning of the Sovereign Debt Crisis. While Greece is popping up on the financial radar, the Euro rescue in Portugal has also completely failed to reverse the trend of the country. There has been no effective relief from the debt crisis in Southern Europe. The debt in Portugal is also once again as high as before the crisis of 2010. The 78 billion euros of the European taxpayers money did nothing to reverse the economic trend, but in fact the funds simply went to save the banks.

IBEUUS-Y TEK TO 2020 1-22-2016Politicians really should be criminally prosecuted for trying to manage an economy. They have no experience and their own political careers always come first. As I have stated before, when the Euro was being planned, the commission in charge attended our World Economic Conference in London. I warned them that the Euro would fail unless the plan consolidated all the debts of member states. They said they understood the problem, but that the European people would never vote for that plan and so they wanted to get the currency through first and deal with the debt later.

That Phase II never came and as a result, as the euro then rallied from 80 cents to the dollar to about $1.60, all PREVIOUS debt of  member states DOUBLED in real cost. Joining the euro effectively destroyed Southern Europe and the politicians still cannot figure this out. It is as simple as you borrowed a foreign currency to buy your house and then that currency double in price. You now owed twice the amount in your home currency.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

From New World Order to Hazy Global Disorder

From New World Order to Hazy Global Disorder

From New World Order to Hazy Global Disorder

The Donald Trump administration and the Brexit severance of ties between the United Kingdom and the European Union have, in a matter of a little over a half year, changed the world from a post-Cold War «new world order» based on American supremacy to a global «disorder» of altered alliances on a multipolar geo-political chessboard. In many respects, the new global disorder has also placed in jeopardy various post-World War II contrivances, including NATO, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) alliance.

Every international relations textbook and playbook can be thrown away with the advent of the new global disorder. Trump has kicked off his foreign policy by introducing an incoherent foreign policy. On one hand, Trump claims he wants to partner with Russia on the war against «radical Islamic terrorism». Yet, Trump has also indicated, through his UN ambassador Nicky Haley and Defense Secretary James Mattis, that he is committed to NATO and wants Russia to withdraw from Crimea. It is well known that the annual National Football League’s Super Bowl coordinates its patriotic military-oriented events with the Pentagon. In recent past years, U.S. troops serving in places like Afghanistan and Iraq were featured during and after the game on the host stadium’s jumbotron television screens.

The 2017 Super Bowl in Houston was different. This year the live shot of U.S. troops with the 3rd Brigade Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was from a military base in Zagan, Poland. The Pentagon’s psychological operations specialists wanted to convey the message that under Trump, the new U.S. front lines were no longer in Afghanistan and Iraq in a war against Muslim radical insurgents but in Poland with Russia as the new «enemy». The optics simply do not match Trump’s statements about seeking closer ties with Russia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Cash No Longer King: Europe Moves to Begin Elimination of Paper Money

The financial uncertainty amplified by Brexit has incentivized governments throughout Europe to seize further control over their banking systems. France and Spain have already criminalized cash transactions above a certain limit, but now the commission has unilaterally established new regulations that will affect the entire union. The fear of physical money flowing out of the trade bloc has manifested a draconian response from the State.The European Action Plan doesn’t mention a specific dollar amount for restrictions, but as expected, their reasoning for the move is to thwart money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Border checks between countries have already been bolstered to help implement these new standards on hard assets. Although these end goals are plausible, there are other clear motivations for governments to target paper money that aren’t as noble.

Negative interest rates and high inflation are a deadly combination that could further destabilize the already fragile union in the future. With less physical currency circulating, these trends ensure that the impact of any additional central bank policies will be maximized. If economic conditions deteriorate, the threat of citizens pulling cash out of their accounts and starting a bank run is eliminated in a cashless system. So long as the people’s wealth is under centralized control, funds can be shifted at will to conceal any underlying problems. But the longer this shell game is allowed to persist, the more painful it will be when reality overrides the manipulation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy’s Banking Crisis Is Even Worse Than We Thought

Italy’s Banking Crisis Is Even Worse Than We Thought

The insider blame game has begun.

In this late winter of generalized discontent, it is not easy to pinpoint just where the biggest threat to Europe’s increasingly flimsy union lies, so intense is the competition. One obvious contender is the Eurozone’s third largest economy, Italy, which faces a banking crisis, an economic crisis, a debt crisis, and a political crisis all at the same time.

The country’s Five Star Movement is gaining momentum both in the polls and in its efforts to call for a referendum on euro membership. In the meantime, Italy’s newly installed government wants — indeed, needs — to bail out a growing number of banks but has neither the money nor the political capital to do so.

Things had gotten so bad that the country’s two bad banks (Atlante I and Atlante II), ostensibly created to stabilize the financial system, were themselves on the verge of collapse. Turns out that things are even worse than we had thought, following a blistering tirade on Tuesday from Italy’s bad banker-in-chief, Alessandro Penati.

“There is no clear vision of the problem and no strategy,” Penati told a financial conference in Milan, according to Reuters. He said he was virtually working alone on rescues that had revealed “horror stories” within some banks.

In short, the insider blame game has begun.

Penati, whose boutique asset management firm, Quaestio Capital Management, was chosen to oversee the supervision of Atlante in late 2015, directed much of his ire at the banks themselves, in particular Italy’s two largest financial institutions, UniCredit and Intesa Sao Paolo. Atlante’s investors had, he said, shown “zero long-sightedness,” after declining to invest more in the fund, which has used 80% of its money to rescue two mid-sized banks in northeast Italy — Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza. Both these lenders now need more capital.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy Increasingly Likely to Abandon the Euro

Italy Increasingly Likely to Abandon the Euro

An analysis of the political setup in Italy shows eurosceptics are on the verge of taking control of the country.

The only missing ingredient is an early election. And early elections are now the odds-on favorite.

Let’s back up a bit to fill in the pieces as to how things got to this point.

  1. Former prime minister Matteo Renzi stepped down in December after holding a referendum that failed miserably. See Renzi Resigns Following Crushing Referendum Defeat: Beppe Grillo, Marine le Pen, Matteo Salvina Tweets
  2. Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, appointed Paolo Gentiloni as the new prime minister after Renzi resigned. See Meet Paolo Gentiloni, 4th Consecutive Italian Technocrat Appointed Prime Minister: Renzi Not Vanquished Yet
  3. The president said he would not hold new elections until differences between how the lower house of parliament assigned seats were resolved.
  4. Point number three has been resolved. Both houses of Parliament are back on a proportional system.

New Elections

  • New elections are possible now but the next scheduled elections are not until 2018.
  • Matteo Renzi wants new elections in June. Even though he resigned, he wants back in. Renzi wants new elections this year because PD may oust him if he waits.
  • Beppe Grillo wants elections as soon as possible because he believes he will win, and also because FI leader Silvio Berlusconi cannot run for prime minister until 2018 because of a tax fraud conviction.
  • Berlusconi does not want early elections, but he is in the minority.

It is up to the president to call new elections, and there is pressure from at least two fronts for him to do so.

Election Polls

italian-polls-2017-02-03

Chart from Opinion polling for the next Italian general election.

The situation for Renzi is actually way worse than it appears. Not only do polls tend to over-play support for PD, the party is about to splinter. Via email, Eurointelligence explains …

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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