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EU Concern Rising About Italian Debt

The EU Commission is deeply concerned that Italy is under pressure to spend frivolously because of the upcoming elections. The EU is apply more scrutiny for Italy’s huge sovereign debt. Because of the vast size of the Italian economy, the high level of total debt is a major cause for the Eurozone as a whole. The EU Commission sent a letter to the Italian government warning them not to deviate from the course of fiscal consolidation before the parliamentary elections in the spring.

Instead of creating simply a trade union, the idea that a single currency would save the day has seriously distorted reality. This idea of surrendering sovereignty by each member state to maintain a single currency if the worst possible design. Had the EU consolidated the debts and thereby created a federal EU debt, then each member state would have been responsible for themselves. In the USA, we have 50 states issuing debt in dollars, yet they have no part in the dollar. Had Europe consolidated the debts and drew the line in the sand at that moment, then states would be able to issue whatever debt the market would accept. This way, Brussels imposes austerity upon member states simply because they failed completely to comprehend the nation of the system they were creating.

Whose Private-Sector Debt Will Implode Next: US, Canada, China, Eurozone, Japan?

Whose Private-Sector Debt Will Implode Next: US, Canada, China, Eurozone, Japan?

Canadians, fasten your seat-belt. Here are the charts.

The Financial Crisis in the US was a consequence of too much debt and too much risk, among numerous other factors, and the whole house of cards came down. Now, after eight years of experimental monetary policies and huge amounts of deficit spending by governments around the globe, public debt has ballooned. Gross national debt in the US just hit $20.5 trillion, or 105% of GDP. But that can’t hold a candle to Japan’s national debt, now at 250% of GDP.

And private-sector debt, which includes household and business debts — how has it fared in the era of easy money?

In the US, total debt to the private non-financial sector has ballooned to $28.5 trillion. That’s up 14% from the $25 trillion at the crazy peak of the Financial Crisis and up 63% from 2004.

In relationship to the economy, private sector debt soared from 147% of GDP in 2004 to 170% of GDP in the first quarter of 2008. Then it all fell apart. Some of this debt blew up and was written off. For a little while consumers and businesses deleveraged just a tiny little bit, before starting to borrow once again.

But the economy began growing again too, and debt as a percent of GDP fell to a low 148% in Q1 2015. It has since picked up steam, growing once again faster than the economy, and now is at 151.7% of GDP, back where it was in 2005. This chart shows US private sector debt to the non-financial sector, in trillion dollars (blue line, left scale) and as a percent of GDP (red line, right scale):

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

EU Preparing for the Banking Crisis

Subtly, the EU is looking to establish preparations for the coming banking crisis and how to protect the banks from massive withdrawals. The solution? The EU wants to be able to temporarily free up credits for the banks and at the same time to freeze bank deposits, In other words, like Greece, you just won’t be able to withdraw funds.  Obviously, everything will be frozen. The current EU plan envisages blocking account disbursements for five working days and with the authority to extend any suspension to up to 20 days. They may need longer!

I recommend that you have 30 days worth of cash on hand. What the authorities do not understand is that if they freeze one bank, a run will unfold on all banks. The public will not believe whatever the government says. Therefore, banks that are not in crisis can be pushed into a crisis by a contagion. That is simply how it all unfolded in 1931-1933. The only way to stop a contagion will be a bank holiday and you have to close them all.

Is There a Way Out of the ECB’s Trap?

 

The ECB faces the Devil’s Alternative that Frederick Forsyth mentioned in one of his books. All options are potentially riskly. Mario Draghi knows that maintaining the so-called stimuli involves more risks than benefits, but also knows that eliminating them could make the eurozone deck of cards collapse.

Despite the massive injection of liquidity, he knows that he can not disguise political risks such as the secessionist coup in Catalonia. The Ibex reflects this, making it clear that the European Central Bank does not print prosperity, it only puts a floor to valuations.

The ECB wants a weak euro. But it is a game of juggling to pretend a weak euro and at the same time a strong economy. The European Union countries export mostly to themselves. Member countries sell more than two-thirds of their goods and services to other countries in the eurozone. Therefore, the more they export and their economies recover, the stronger the euro, and with it, the risk of losing competitiveness. The ECB has tried to break the euro strength with dovish messages, but it has not worked until political risk reappeared. With the German elections and the prospect of a weak coalition, the results of the Austrian elections and the situation in Spain, market operators have realized – at last – that the mirage of “this time is different “in the European Union was simply that, a mirage.

A weak euro has not helped the EU to export more abroad. Non-EU exports from the member countries have been stagnant since the monetary stimulus program was launched, even though the euro is much weaker than its basket of currencies compared to when the stimulus program began. The Central Bank Trap, which I explain in my new book.

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

European Banking Crisis

There is intense resistance building against the stricter new rules on bad loans among the European banks. This will hit Italy hard and may push off the edge more than one Italian bank. With the elections coming next year in Italy, the banking rules may be the straw that breaks the back.

The background to the dispute is the demand of the ECB’s banking supervisor that banks must withhold higher reserves for the default-prone loans in their portfolios. The crisis stems from the fact that as taxes have increased, the economy has declined. The total bad loans in the Eurozone add up to about €844 billion euros. About 25% of this figure is concentrated in Italian banks.

A good stiff wind may blow over the European banking system

Where are Europe’s Fault Lines?

Where are Europe’s Fault Lines?

Beneath the surface of modern maps, numerous old fault lines still exist. A political earthquake or two might reveal the fractures for all to see.

Correspondent Mark G. and I have long discussed the potential relevancy of old boundaries, alliances and structures in Europe’s future alignments.Examples include the Holy Roman Empire and the Hanseatic League, among others.

In the long view, Europe has cycled between periods of consolidation and fragmentation for two millennia, starting with the Roman Empire and its dissolution. Various mass movements of tribes/peoples led to new political structures and alliances, and a dizzying range of leaders rose to power and schemed their way through an equally dizzying array of wars, alliances and betrayals.

Regardless of the era or players, security is a permanent priority: this includes defensible borders, alliances to counter potential foes, treaties to end hostilities and whatever is necessary to secure access to resources and trade routes.

When consolidation served these priorities, then fragmented polities either consolidated by choice or by conquest. When smaller polities served these priorities, then imperial structures fragmented into naturally cohesive territories that were unified by language, culture and geography.

Security is also economic, as people support structures that keep their bellies filled and enable social stability and mobility.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the European Union is the high water mark of consolidation, and the next phase is fragmentation. Where are Europe’s natural fault lines? Much has changed in the past 600 years, but geography hasn’t changed, and that defines some basic security threats.

German Army Prepares For “Break-Up Of European Union” Or Worse

The Germans are making contingency plans for the collapse of Europe

 

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Centrally Planned UK Generation Scenarios for 2030

Centrally Planned UK Generation Scenarios for 2030

The economies of the European Union have centrally planned energy delivery strategies where the amount of electricity to be generated from a particular source by a particular time is planned in minute detail by legions of civil servants and academics.

This post summarises some of the scenarios for 2030 from The UK Committee on Climate Change and discusses the consequences for the grid, companies and consumers.

Dieter Helm’s recent independent review into the UK’s Cost of Energy (big pdf) provides a stark reminder of the scale of State intervention into the electricity generation sector. Figure 1 (Helm p40) summarises the various State sponsored organisations involved.

Figure 1 17 State-sponsored organisations involved in the centralised planning and delivery of UK electricity supplies.

Helm also reminds us of the Committee on Climate Change (COCC) plan for the UK 2030 (Figure 2) which forms the basis of the analysis presented in this post.

Figure 2 The plan for the fifth carbon budget ~ 2030 (Helm p11) showing scenarios for installed generation capacities.

With four scenarios offered, and 12 months/year to analyse, this presents a total range of 48 monthly scenarios to evaluate. In this post, I have reduced this to 4 monthly scenarios looking at the High Nuclear (High N) and High Renewables (High RE) scenarios for the months of January and July.

Notably the COCC has a low electricity demand scenario simultaneous with the policy of electrifying motor vehicle transport and heating.

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

The Myth of European Democracy: A Shocking Revelation

The Myth of European Democracy: A Shocking Revelation

The Myth of European Democracy: A Shocking Revelation

It’s an open secret that the “Soros network” has an extensive sphere of influence in the European Parliament and in other European Union institutions. The list of Soros has been made public recently. The document lists 226 MEPs from all sides of political spectrum, including former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt, seven vice-presidents, and a number of committee heads, coordinators, and quaestors. These people promote the ideas of Soros, such as bringing in more migrants, same-sex marriages, integration of Ukraine into the EU, and countering Russia. There are 751 members of the European Parliament. It means that the Soros friends have more than one third of seats.

George Soros, a Hungarian-American investor and the founder and owner of Open Society Foundations NGO, was able to meet with President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker with “no transparent agenda for their closed-door meeting”, and pointed out how EU proposals to redistribute quotas of migrants across the EU are eerily familiar to Soros’s own self-published plan for dealing with the crisis.

The billionaire financier believes that the European Union should receive millions of immigrants from the Middle East and Northern Africa, provide each one with an annual 15,000 EUR in aid, and resettle these migrants in member-states where they do not wish to go and are not necessarily welcome.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has accused the EU of “eating out of the hand” of Soros. He believes that the billionaire open borders campaigner is behind the attacks on Hungary. The reason is the government’s attempts to take legal action over a new law which requires foreign-supported ‘civil society’ organizations — many funded by Soros — to list their big overseas donors in a public register and be transparent about their funding sources in their publications.

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

 

100+ Respected Academics Slam EU in Letter to Juncker Citing “Rule of Law”

On Thursday, over 100 well-respected academics slammed the EU in a letter sent a letter to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk. The academics cited the rule of law.

The open letter , signed by highly-respected academics and members of the European Parliament, cited Spain’s “undisputable abuse of power”.

We are deeply concerned that the EU’s governing bodies are condoning the systematic violation of the Rule of Law in Spain, in particular regarding the Spanish central authorities’ approach to the 1 October referendum on Catalan independence. We do not take political sides on the substance of the dispute on territorial sovereignty and we are cognizant of procedural deficiencies in the organization of the referendum. Our concern is with the Rule of Law as practised by an EU Member State.

The Spanish government has justified its actions on grounds of upholding or restoring the constitutional order.

  1. The Tribunal has violated Constitutional provisions on freedom of peaceful assembly and of speech – the two principles which are embodied by referendums and parliamentary deliberations irrespective of their subject matter. Without interfering in Spanish constitutional disputes or in Spain’s penal code, we note that it is a travesty of justice to enforce one constitutional provision by violating fundamental rights. Thus, the Tribunal’s judgments and the Spanish government’s actions for which these judgments provided a legal basis violate both the spirit and letter of the Rule of Law.
  2. In the days preceding the referendum, the Spanish authorities undertook a series of repressive actions against civil servants, MPS, mayors, media, companies and citizens. The shutdown of Internet and other telecom networks during and after the referendum campaign had severe consequences on exercising freedom of expression.

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

Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

Spain Just Lit a Fuse Under Catalonia — its Richest Region

Acute uncertainty is like sand in the gears of the local economy. 

It’s amazing how fast the wheels of the Spanish justice system go round when the establishment wants them to, and how slowly they revolve when it doesn’t, which is usually when members of the same establishment — senior politicians and civil servants, bankers, business owners, or even royalty — are in the dock, which is happening with disturbing regularity these days.

On Thursday we saw Spanish justice at its fastest. In the dock was the recently sacked vice president of Catalonia’s separatist government, Oriol Junqueras, and seven other elected representatives of the breakaway region who stand accused of a litany of charges, including rebellion, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment.

The counsel for the defence had less than 24 hours to prepare the case. After just a few hours of hearing preliminary evidence, the National Court Judge sent half of Catalonia’s suspended government to jail without bail. On Friday,the same judge issued an international arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the disputed Catalan president who fled to Brussels on Monday, as well as four other former ministers who did not show up to court on Thursday.

Catalonia’s separatist politicians are paying a very high price for overplaying their hand. As we warned months ago, many in the Catalan government had hoped that threatening to declare independence unilaterally, or even following through on the threats (which it kind of did on Friday), might be enough to push the Spanish government into having to compromise. It was a massive bluff, and it’s hugely backfired.

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

The Rising Separatist Movements in Europe-Eastern Europe

There are many in Spain who just outright disagree with any right of Catalonia to be independent. History, culture, language, nothing really matters. Some have said it is the Spanish Constitution and all of Spain should vote to let Catalonia leave or stay. All of that said if Madrid had just allowed a fair referendum then whatever the vote was should have stood.

This is all about saving the EU and not Spain. It was the oppression that probably made others vote to leave. All of Spain cannot vote against one region. London did not vote on Scotland and neither did Toronto against Quebec. California has people pushing to separate and that is not a right to be decided by me in Florida.
Separatist movements are now rising throughout Europe. We see Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the UK all have separatist movements. There is even talk in Bavaria among friends I have there and Prussia wants more autonomy. Then there is Normandy and Brittany in France. There is a long list starting with Moravia, Lombardy, Insubria, South Tyrol, Carinthis, Friule-Venezia, Hungarian minorities, Savoy, Liguria, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Rijeka Istria, Veneto, Padania, Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, Sandzak, Serbian Republic, Vojvodina, Szekely Land, Gagauzia, Transnistria, Donbass, Crimea. Latgale, Ingria, Skameland, Samogita, Bornolm, and don’t forget Northen Cyprus. Some of these are asking for full independence and other more autonomy.
It is the economic issues intermixed with the refugee crisis that is sparking these movements today.

Devolution everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain and the problems of complexity

Devolution everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain and the problems of complexity

The narrative about Catalan independence is that two major cities, Madrid and Barcelona, are competing for power, and one has decided that the best path forward is to declare independence from Spain and free itself of Madrid’s dominance.

There is certainly something to this narrative. As CNN reports:

Catalonia accounts for nearly a fifth of Spain’s economy, and leads all regions in producing 25% of the country’s exports.

It contributes much more in taxes (21% of the country’s total) than it gets back from the government.

Independence supporters have seized on the imbalance, arguing that stopping transfers to Madrid would turn Catalonia’s budget deficit into a surplus.

Catalonia has a proven record of attracting investment, with nearly a third of all foreign companies in Spain choosing the regional capital of Barcelona as their base.

But the spread of independence-seeking across Europe points to something more than just sibling rivalry. In 2016 British voters shocked the world by voting narrowly to withdraw from the European Union (EU). Just this month two of Italy’s richest regions held non-binding referendums on seeking increased autonomy from the central government. More than 95 percent of those voting said yes.

The immediate effects of Britain withdrawing from the EU and of Catalonia becoming independent (if, in fact, either actually ends up happening) could be quite negative economically, cutting both off from established trade arrangements that power their economies. (The vague desire for more autonomy among the provinces of Veneto and Lombardy in Italy does not yet spell economic and political divorce.)

Given this outcome, why would the people of Britain and Catalonia seek to disconnect from central authorities? For Britain perhaps the impetus was that most of the people of Britain did not feel they were sharing in the prosperity generated by the country’s affiliation with the EU.

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

Grexit

GREXIT

QUESTION: I just read an article about Grexit and the MoU that expires in the summer of 2018. Let’s assume Greece exits EU and the Euro, what would happen to Greece and it’s people? What hardships would Grexit bring to the Greek people and what could individual Greeks do to prepare themselves for these hardships?

Thanks for your blog.
Greetings from Greece!
Cheers,

J

ANSWER: Things will be much brighter once Greece gets out of the Euro. Brussels is desperately trying to keep Greece in the Eurozone for their survival, not what is best for Greece. The major data is published by various agencies that are directly or dependent upon government and they will always champion staying in the Eurozone. If you look beyond those headlines, you see a different picture. Most of our clients in Britain who were against BREXIT, now report that things are much better. Themanufacturing industry experienced a job boom in the last quarter. Compared Q3 2016, the job market data with that for 2017 showed that the manufacturing sector witnessed a 24% increase in advertised vacancies over the past 12 months. Jobs have been created in Britain at a faster pace since the BREXIT vote, despite the headlines of the fake news.

I have explained before that when Britain abandoned the gold standard in 1931, they instantly recovered from the Great Depression. This was the case study that George Warren used to demonstrate to Roosevelt that the dollar had to be devalued to reverse the economic decline. Maintaining the gold standard back then was the equivalent of “austerity” imposed upon Europe by Germany. Everyone just gets this whole issue of currency and the Quantity of Money dead wrong. The Austrian School of economics predates the massive government debt era. Today, the government is the biggest borrower within society and they compete against the private sector reducing economic growth.

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

The EU Just Did the Big Banks a Massive Favor

The EU Just Did the Big Banks a Massive Favor

“Testimony to the iron grip the financial industry’s lobby still exerts on governments and legislators.”

The European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, made a lot of bank executives very happy this Tuesday by abandoning its multi-year pledge to break-up too-big-to-fail lenders. Despite the huge risk they still pose to Europe’s rickety financial system, big European banks like Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, ING, and Santander can breathe a large sigh of relief this week in the knowledge that they will not have to split their retail units from their riskier investment banking arms.

Breaking up the banks would remove much of the risk from today’s government-backed banks, such as derivatives and other instruments that were heavily involved in the Financial Crisis. Without these hedge-fund and investment-banking activities, even large banks would be smaller, less interconnected, and could be allowed to fail without jeopardizing the entire global financial system.

According to the Commission, such a drastic measure is no longer necessary since the main rationale behind ring-fencing core banking services from investment banking divisions — i.e. to make Europe’s financial system less disaster prone — has “already been addressed by other regulatory measures in the banking sector.” That’s right: Europe’s banking system is already safe, stable and secure. Bloomberg:

The proposal, which hasn’t progressed since 2015, was made to boost financial stability and safeguard taxpayers from the risk of future bailouts. While the commission and the conservative lead lawmaker on the file said this goal had been achieved by other laws on supervision and resolution, the socialist lawmakers backing the “Bank Structural Reform” bill disagreed.

“The too-big-to-fail financial behemoths still pose a danger to financial stability, to the taxpayer and to clients,” German Social Democrat Jakob von Weizsaecker said in a statement. “The withdrawal of the BSR file marks an unfortunate turning point in the European agenda on regulating large banks.”

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Europe: Journalists Against Free Speech

  • Gone is all pretense that journalism is about reporting the facts. These are the aims of a political actor.
  • Being bought and paid for by the EU apparently counts as “press freedom” these days.
  • According to the guidelines, journalists should, among other things, “Provide an appropriate range of opinions, including those belonging to migrants and members of minorities, but… not… extremist perspectives just to ‘show the other side’…. Don’t allow extremists’ claims about acting ‘in the name of Islam’ to stand unchallenged…. where it is necessary and newsworthy to report hateful comments against Muslims, mediate the information.”

The European Federation of Journalists (EJF), “the largest organization of journalists in Europe, represents over 320,000 journalists in 71 journalists’ organizations across 43 countries,” according to its website. The EJF, a powerful player, also leads a Europe-wide campaign called “Media against Hate.”

The “Media against Hate” campaign aims to:

“counter hate speech[1] and discrimination in the media, both on and offline… media and journalists play a crucial role in informing…policy … regarding migration and refugees. As hate speech and stereotypes targeting migrants proliferate across Europe… #MediaAgainstHate campaign aims to: improve media coverage related to migration, refugees, religion and marginalised groups… counter hate speech, intolerance, racism and discrimination… improve implementation of legal frameworks regulating hate speech and freedom of speech…”

Gone is all pretense that journalism is about reporting the facts. These are the aims of a political actor.

A very large political actor is, in fact, involved in the “Media against Hate” campaign. The campaign is one of several media programs supported by the EU under its Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (REC). In the REC program for 2017, the EU Commission, the EU’s executive body, writes:

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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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