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Talk Cold Turkey

Henri Matisse View of Nôtre Dame 1914

Recep Tayyip Erdogan became Prime Minister of Turkey in 2003. His AKP party had won a major election victory in 2002, but Erdogan was banned from political office until his predecessor Gül annulled the ban. Which he had gotten in 1997 for reciting an old poem to which he had added the lines “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers….”

The Turkish courts of the time saw this as “an incitement to violence and religious or racial hatred..” and sentenced him to ten months in prison (of which he served four in 1999). The courts saw Erdogan as a threat to the secular Turkish state as defined by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey in the 1920’s. Erdogan is trying to both turn the nation towards Islam and at the same time not appearing to insult Ataturk.

The reality is that many Turks today lean towards a religion-based society, and no longer understand why Ataturk insisted on a secular(ist) state. Which he did after many years of wars and conflicts as a result of religious -and other- struggles. Seeing how Turkey lies in the middle between Christian Europe and the Muslim world, it is not difficult to fathom why the ‘father’ of the country saw secularism as the best if not only option. But that was 90 years ago.

And it doesn’t serve Erdogan’s purposes. If he can appeal to the ‘silent’ religious crowd and gather their support, he has the power. To wit. In 2003, one of his first acts as prime minister was to have Turkey enter George W.’s coalition of the willing to invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. As a reward for that, negotiations for Turkey to join the EU started. These are officially still happening, but unofficially they’re dead.

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

‘Anonymous’ Greece Takes Down Government Website Over Athens Fire Disaster Response

Cyber group Anonymous Greece have brought down the website of Greek government over the dozens of victims in the Athens wildfires. Access to the website “government.gr” was denied for a period of time and showed “Forbidden.”

As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, in a post on their Facebook page, Anonymous Greece sent their own message to the disaster. Expressing condolences for the victims, the group blamed the government for the unfair death of  more than 90 people. “Responsibility lies on the government that remained idle at the time of disaster and did not inform the citizens letting them burn alive,” the group argued.

“It is obvious that nobody would have died had the state reacted in time. People didn’t know the fire was approaching and we came to the point to mourn more than 90 dead families and children,” the message read.

The group claimed that “that was the goal” of the government.

The group also criticized the attitude of the Church and especially Bishop Ieremias who claimed three days after the tragedy that the people who died in the fires “with their death they cleaned their sins.”

“Dear Church, instead of offering help to the fire-stricken people you started accusing the citizens. ‘They were burned because of their sins’. What sins did the twin angels have?” the group notes with reference to the 9-year-old twin girls who died in the fires.

“Close to God is someone who offers to his fellow man and helps as much as possible for a better world. Who loves and offers support. You are just  pawns of the state, “the group concluded its message.

The message was uploaded on Sunday evening, the government website was down on Monday afternoon. The group page on Facebook has been closed down, notes newsit.

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

What happened in Attica, close to Athens, is without precedent. An ordinary fire, like the ones that occur in this area almost every other summer, met up with a terrible, sudden wind that turned it into real galloping inferno. The tragic result was 87 dead Greek citizens and more than 20 still missing. Huge questions loom on the horizon and only very limited answers are forthcoming. Are some of the lessons from this tragedy related to the wider geopolitical and political-economic questions?

Public-sector clientelism is leading to disastrous inefficiency

Why do tragedies like these occur in social environments with firmly entrenched clientelist political systems and in political entities that operate on the periphery of major, bureaucratic, modern empires? Sweden saw huge uncontrolled fires this summer. However, there was no loss of life or major disasters that befell the urban centers. In Portugal last year — and very recently in Greece  —  scores of people died, mainly due to the inability of the state machinery to efficiently deal with the problem. The major difference between these examples is the quality of the civil service. In Greece and Portugal there is no real ethics in the public administration, which frequently fails to meet any vigorous efficiency test .

In public bureaucracies that sprout favoritism the way trees grow branches, it is very difficult to design long-term plans to handle critical and life-threatening situations. Likewise, the political system lacks the prerequisites to draw upon informed societies that are trained to be cooperative and disciplined when there is a need for coordination. When clientelism dictates and forms the essence of the political culture, this culminates in fractured societies that are infected with spreading islands of lawlessness and limited possibilities for administrative coherence.

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

Italian debt; a financial disaster waiting to happen

Italian debt; a financial disaster waiting to happen

The new Italian government will increase public spending and public debt. It promised to reduce taxes, introduce basic security and reform pensions. Italy’s Northern League’s leader Mateo Salvini surged in the polls and the party is now the strongest in Italy. A couple of years ago it was inconceivable that this regional group could become Italy’s leading political party. We should expect more to come. As the saying goes, it just could not happen till it happened. The financial establishments in North European countries like Germany and the Netherlands assume that the politicians of M5S and Lega Nord will follow the Greek script and will backtrack on their promises. But Mateo Salvini and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte know that if they do not live up to the expectation of the voters, they will be voted out of office. They are also aware of it that the Italian voter has still another alternative called “CasaPound”, a much more radical, if for the time being insignificant, social and anti-migration movement.

The planned reforms could burden the state budget with an additional 125 billion euros per year. Can the Italian government afford such a thing?1)

The question is rhetorical when you look at Italy’s growing debt mountain.

It amounts to €2300 billion, of which 1900 billion are government bonds. What should worry investors, however, is the structure of this debt. Ten years ago, when the last financial crisis broke out, 51% of these government bonds were hold by foreign investors. When the climate for investment in a country deteriorates, they sell these bonds immediately. When in 2011 the Berlusconi government threatened to withdraw from the eurozone budget rules because of the huge budget deficit, German and French banks sold Italian government bonds BTP (Buoni del Tesoro Poliennali) worth a total of €150 billion. In the following years, foreigners bought Italian debt instruments again for around €100 billion, but their share is now very low at 36%.

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

The Macedonian “Name Deal” Is A Dystopian Nightmare Of Totalitarian Control

The Macedonian “Name Deal” Is A Dystopian Nightmare Of Totalitarian Control

Marketed as a long-awaited diplomatic breakthrough to a supposedly irreconcilable identity issue, the “name deal” represents nothing less than the full and total capitulation of the post-“constitutional coup” Macedonian authorities to their Greek neighbors with implications that stretch far and beyond simply fast tracking Skopje’s subsequent membership to the EU and NATO. Regardless of how one might personally feel about the finer details of this dispute, it’s undeniable that the “resolution” being presented in the agreement is really just a thinly veiled cover for implementing a new type of post-modern control, one which will basically turn the Republic of Macedonia into a Greek puppet state whose people will continue to undergo socio-political experiments prior to having the “perfected” form of this model rolled out all across the EU.

To explain, the various “joint” structures that are created by this document will enable Greece to determine what Macedonian schoolchildren learn by granting Athens the power to censor their textbooks and affiliated materials. Furthermore, undefined “politically incorrect” concepts and so-called “propaganda” that vaguely allude to what the document describes as being “likely to incite violence, hatred, or hostility” through the purported promotion of “chauvinism, hostility, irredentism and revisionism” are banned, with the Macedonian authorities being obligated to prosecute any person or organization that Greece accuses of violating these terms. Not only that, but the Macedonian government officially agrees to consider the Greek-controlled region of Macedonia as constituting “Hellenic civilization, history, culture, and heritage…from antiquity to present day.”

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

Boomeranging

Juan de la Corte (1597–1660) Lot And His Daughters Escaping From The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah

There is no migration crisis, said an article in Toronto’s Globe and Mail a few days ago. French President Emmanuel Macron followed up over the weekend with “there is no migrant crisis”. Really? If this is not a crisis, what is? Yes, numbers of refugees landing in Europe are down from 2015. But it’s not a numbers game. It’s about people.

If Angela Merkel’s political career is forced to a close next week because the EU cannot agree on a unified refugee policy, will they call it a crisis then? Oh wait, both Macron and the G&M agree that there is a crisis, just not a migration one. No, “the crisis is political opportunism”.

But can the crisis be placed squarely on Trump and Italy’s Salvini, or is perhaps what led to their popularity partly to blame for that popularity? Salvini didn’t bomb Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, nor did Trump cause the mayhem in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which is where most migrants come from. That was Bush, Obama, Billary, Blair, Cameron and their ilk. And before them Kissinger etc.

So who are the political opportunists exactly? “We” have exploited all of Africa, the Middle East and South and Central America for so long and so disgustingly thoroughly that it’s today the zenith of misleading arrogance to blame the consequences on Salvini, Trump and other right wingers.

You could see them coming from miles away. You created them. You literally built the space they occupy. What is happening is that the chaos we created in all these places is now boomeranging right back at us, on our own borders. And we’re not getting out of that chaos until we stop creating it in places where we don’t live. Until we allow people a future where they are born.

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

Greece Economic Crisis Declared Over: It Isn’t

Mainstream media is all aglow over the alleged end of the Greek economic crisis. Mainstream media is wrong.

Can-Kicking Deal

This was another can-kicking announcement according to Eurointelligence.

Here it is. Finally, a deal on debt relief for Greece. It is a fudge of sorts, but a deal that ends the eight-year-long Greek debt crisis – for now. These are the main components of the deal:

  • A €15bn loan disbursement at the end of the programme, of which €3.3bn can be used to buy back IMF loans;
  • A 10-year extension of the EFSF loans, and a ten-year deferral of interest payments and amortization starting from 2033; and
  • A return of profits from Greek bonds (SMP and ANFA) held by Eurozone central banks, a total of €4bn, with semi-annual payments and subject to reform targets.

There is no growth clause, no interest-rate cuts, no major buyback programme. This is not debt relief in the way the IMF defines it, but debt relief of the kicking-the-can-the-road variety.

It also leaves Greece with a significant exposure to IMF loans. Even if Greece were to use the €3.3bn to buy back IMF loans, that still leaves €7.1bn to be repaid by 2024.

The IMF abstained almost entirely from the debate as it is now officially leaving the programme and will only participate in the post-memorandum oversight, writes Kathimerini. Christine Lagarde refused to make any statements about Greece. What this means for the IMF role after the programme ends is yet to be seen.

So this is it, after eight years, three bailout programmes and endless eurogroup meetings. And with debt nearly at 180% of GDP, there is still the potential for things to turn wrong. But for now, everyone seems happy.

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

Fed’s Dilemma: Debt-to-GDP Ratios Dramatically Understate the Debt Problem

Reader Lars writes Debt-to-GDP ratios understate the true nature of the problem. He uses Greece as an example.

Reader Lars from Oslo, the capital of Norway, and a long-time reader of this blog, questions the widespread use of debt-to-GDP as the true measure of the debt problems of a country.

Hello Mish

As we approach the next debt crisis it’s time to ask some questions.

The widespread measurement of the debt problems of a country is DEBT as a percentage of GDP.

Few analysts question this ratio. But this is how I see things.

GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government Spending + Net Exports.

In simpler terms, GDP is the sum of the private sector plus the public sector plus the net trade balance.

However, only the Private Sector pays taxes and that is what enables debt service. In fact, the private sector must service its own debt as well as that of the public sector.

Thus, a better metric to measure debt levels is private sector GDP as reflected in tax income. This tells us the true brutal story of the debt problem.

Using Greece as an example, the real public debt is over 300% of GDP. Given that Greece’s private sector is less than 50% of GDP, the brutal reality is that Greece has a debt level which is over 600% of Private Sector GDP.

The Greek state takes in around €65 billions in tax. This is approximately 10% of total debts.

During the previous Greek debt crisis, economists noted that Greek debt was less than 2% of global debt.

The problem is that the rest of the world is not going to service the Greek debt. The Greek taxpayer will service the Greek debt, and for him the bill is insurmountable.

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

Greece & the Debt Crisis

The entire EU Crisis began precisely on schedule on the Political Pi Turning point from the major high in 2007. Precisely on the day of the ECM turning point, April 16, 2010 (2010.29) Greece notified the IMF it was on the verge of bankruptcy. By April 22nd, the Euro fell to near year-low levels amid concerns about Greece’s debt crisis. The IMF activated the loan facility and Greece received its first €45 billion on April 23rd, 2010. Then on May 9th, the IMF approved a bailout package for Greece with the largest loan and exceptional, fast-track access. Of course, that turning point of April 16th, 2010 was also the first time the SEC charged Goldman Sachs with outright FRAUD is selling its Mortgage Backed Securities.

Mother-MerkelIn dealing with Greece, the German head of state Chancellor Angela Merkel, had promised the German taxpayers that any loan to Greece they will be held to the fire and forced to repay. The polls were turning hard against Merkel as she was being bashed in the world press for Greece had forgiven Germany’s debt after World War II, but Merkel refused to provide any relief for Greece because of her campaign promise. The divert the press from here hardline policy on Greece, Merkel then summarily announced that she would take the refugees from Syria with open arms. That then began the European Refugee Crisis and Merkel then force the rest of Europe to share the burden she created unilaterally. The entire European Refugee Crisis was created by Merkel, and this has been at the center of the crisis which is tearing Europe apart at the seams. That came as the next ECM wave turned from its peak 2015.75.

Now as we approach the next political Pi Turning Point due on November 21st, 2018, which will be 8.6 years from when the Greek debt crisis began, the EU Commission has demanded from the Eurozone states that debt relief should be provided to Greece. 

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

Why Turkey Wants to Invade the Greek Islands

Turkey Threatens to Invade Greece

Can a Country Commit Suicide by Taxation?

Can a Country Commit Suicide by Taxation?

Certainly, an economy can be seriously damaged by reckless taxation, but Greece seems determined to see if it can be outright destroyed by it, too.

Greece has confirmed that a nation can spend itself into a fiscal crisis.

And the Greek experience also has confirmed that bailouts exacerbate a fiscal crisis by enabling more bad policy, while also rewarding spendthrift politicians and reckless lenders (as I predicted when Greece’s finances first began to unravel).

So now let’s look at a third question: Can a country tax itself to death? Greek politicians are doing their best to see if this is possible, with a seemingly endless parade of tax increases (so many that even the tax-loving folks at the IMF have balked).

At the very least, they’ve pushed the private sector into hospice care.

Let’s peruse a couple of recent stories from Ekathimerini, an English-language Greek news outlet. We’ll start with a rather grim look at a very punitive tax regime that is aggressively grabbing money from taxpayers with arrears.

Tax authorities have confiscated the salaries, pensions and assets of more that 180,000 taxpayers since the start of the year, but expired debts to the state have continued to rise, reaching almost 100 billion euros, as the taxpaying capacity of the Greeks is all but exhausted. In the month of October, authorities made almost 1,000 confiscations a day from people with debts to the state of more than 500 euros. In the first 10 months of the year, the state confiscated some 4 billion euros.

But the Greek government is losing a race. The more it raises taxes, the more people fall behind.

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

The Greek Fraud Reads Like a Crime Novel


Tamara de Lempicka The refugees 1937
Note: I feel kind of sorry this has become such a long essay. But I still left out so much. You know by now I care a lot about Greece, and it’s high time for another look, and another update, and another chance for people to understand what is happening to the country, and why. To understand that hardly any of it is because the Greeks had so much debt and all of that narrative.

The truth is, Greece was set up to be a patsy for the failure of Europe’s financial system, and is now being groomed simultaneously as a tourist attraction to benefit foreign investors who buy Greek assets for pennies on the dollar, and as an internment camp for refugees and migrants that Europe’s ‘leaders’ view as a threat to their political careers more than anything else.

I would almost say: here we go again, but in reality we never stopped going. It’s just that Greece’s 15 minutes of fame may be long gone, but its ordeal is far from over. If you read through this, you will understand why that is. The EU is deliberately, and without any economic justification, destroying one of its own member states, destroying its entire economy.

A short article in Greek paper Kathimerini last week detailed the latest new cuts in pensions the Troika has imposed on Greece, and it’s now getting beyond absurd. For an economy to function, you need people spending money. That is what keeps jobs alive, jobs which pay people the money they need to spend on their basic necessities. If you don’t do at least that, there’ll be ever fewer jobs, and/or ever less money to spend. It’s a vicious cycle.

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

The Great Oil Swindle

silentera.com

The Great Oil Swindle

Is leading us to destruction

When it comes to the story we’re being told about America’s rosy oil prospects, we’re being swindled.

At its core, the swindle is this: The shale industry’s oil production forecasts are vastly overstated.

Swindle:  Noun  – A fraudulent scheme or action.

And the swindle is not just affecting the US.  It’s badly distorted everything from current geopolitics to future oil forecasts.

The false conclusions the world is drawing as a result of the self-deception and outright lies we’re being told is putting our future prosperity in major jeopardy. Policy makers and ordinary citizens alike have been misled, and everyone — everyone — is unprepared for the inevitable and massive coming oil price shock.

An Oil Price Spike Would Burst The ‘Everything Bubble’

Our thesis at Peak Prosperity is that the world’s equity and bond markets are enormous financial bubbles in search of a pin. Sadly, history shows there’s nothing quite as sharp and terminal to these sorts of bubbles as a rapid spike in the price of oil.

And we see a huge price spike on the way.

As a reminder, bubbles exist when asset prices rise beyond what incomes can sustain.  Greece is a prime recent example. In 2008 when the price of oil spiked to  $147/bbl, Greece could no longer afford imported oil. But oil is a necessity so it was bought anyway, their national balances of payments were stressed to the point that they were exposed as insolvent and then their debt bubble promptly and predictably popped.   The rest is history.  Greece is now a nation of ruins and their economy might as well be displayed alongside the Acropolis.

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

Cradles of Capitalism: The City-States of Greece and Italy

There long has been a persistent academic debate as to whether an “ancient economy,” referring mainly to Greece, even existed at all. In a field dominated by Marx, Marxists, the 19th century sociologist Max Weber, and such scholars of renown as Sir Moses Finley, the lingering image of the economic world of the Greek polis is that of something very static. We imagine a leisure class lounging at the sandaled foot of an orator while slaves tended to the fields, flogging cows harnessed to ploughs stuck in the mud. It is the notion of a “primitive” economy: money made for status, not investment; credit extended for the purchase of slaves, war waged for the capture of booty, elites in control of craft guilds and tyrant-kings keeping the peace by randomly doling out the goods.

Then there is ancient epic itself, with the noble Odysseus disdaining seafaring for profit (though he did take all the pay-offs he could collect) and the great Achilles pondering a discovery of precious treasure only so far as it might estimate his aristocratic worth. From this rudimentary foundation, an entire field of Socialist-Keynesian views on the Greek economy has prevailed, with occasional libertarian scholars such as Murray Rothbard and Jesús Huerta de Soto getting a word in edgewise. In recent time, however, academia has found much more evidence of technological advances and market-driven considerations on the part of the classical polis than previously thought.

Keeping in mind that in both ancient Greece (and Renaissance Italy) that democracy was not incompatible with aristocracy, and that oligarchies and tyrants were not necessarily illiberal, several points may be made in defense of the economic model of the city-state: 1) that the stronger the city-state, the greater the industrial and economic expansion; 2) that private property was considered a fundamental economic principle; 3) that banking standards were relatively conservative;

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

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