Tag Archives: Cyprus

Slovenia on the ropes

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slovenia is selling the family silver, yet is still being jilted. The effort to save the sub-alpine country from bankruptcy takes an aspirational turn. The unfortunate quote that the new scheme is like  trying to control a falling airplane is juxtaposed to the plan to sell the airport and the National Airline!

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George Soros

George Soros, billionaire

George Soros, billionaire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One can almost get encouraged when wise council abounds. However wise council is ignored, and partisan political interests prevail. Germans can see no further than their forthcoming elections, and are busy claiming the high ground as the tsunami of European Disintegration approaches. To quote Yeats “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity”. The crisis becomes more acute by the day, and the political inertia seems to deepen.

George Soros, has put forward a succinct analysis of the situation in The Guardian. He is saying what anyone with a brain has been saying since Cyprus. He has, however, put his mind to finding good constructs for the remedy of the situation. His options are the issuance of Eurobonds, or alternatively Germany leaving the Euro. Again, this is the choice between integration and dissolution, which has been a theme here at Paddyspiigs.

If Germany did leave the Euro, who else would go with them,- Austria? Denmark? Holland? This would lead to a two speed Europe with the separation of the Northern nations from the indebted nations. A natural consequence of the current political atmosphere. This is a solution that totally ignores the political, social, and strategic aims of the European Union. It would be a sad message to send out to the world at large.

Soros’s analysis does however make a significant contribution to the current debate. Hopefully someone will listen to him!

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Pressure, Pressure – 13 out of 25 in the Bold Corner.

English: Italian cannons in Ljubljana

English: Italian cannons in Ljubljana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last couple of weeks have seen a breather from the Cyprus Crisis, but the pressure keeps building. Portugal’s constitutional Court have thrown a spanner in the works of THE AUSTERITOCRATS, by ruling against €1.5bn budgetary measures. Portugal’s finance minister has blocked all capital spending as a result. Portugal’s government may fall, leading to further instability, and the formation of another Coalition. The Irish Trade Unions have given the two fingers to more austerity, paving the way for industrial unrest, public service cutbacks and a division between the state sector demands and the ability of the taxpayer to fund it. The downward social spiral continues.

E.U. Commissioner Oli Rehn has issued a warning about Spain and Slovenia, suggesting they are not meeting their targets in the austerity drive, and their Banks are failing. The Slovenian Government, which failed to privatize the banks, after the fall of communism may well have underestimated the cost to underwrite them, and confidence is ebbing. Although the Slovenian situation is but a dot on the landscape compared to the Irish situation, the mood, statements, reassurances have a familiar tone to them. The €70 Billion deficit in a country of 2 million people is slightly better than the Irish €190 Billion for four million people.

Aside – isn’t it wonderful the way the word “Billion” just rolls off your tongue these days, when ten years ago no-one had heard of it, and a million was a lot of money!! 
 
Further aside –  France’s War Debt to the US after the Second World War was about $2.8 Billion (about €2.15 Billion) – Ireland could wage 88 world wars for the money we owe – at least we could if all our young people hadn’t emigrated already leaving a sorry bunch of old farts to take up the cause!.

Sorry – Back to the main story – The Slovenian economy is well beyond my poor brain, but I do recognize another canary when I see one! Slovenia may be the next canary in the cage. How will the troika deal with the next crisis? Will we find out whether Cyprus was indeed a special case in how Ljubljana fares?

Ireland may receive extra time to repay its loans, according to opinions around Dublin. This is a rare bit of good news for the beleaguered island. It was celebrated like we had just won the Eurovision, with smiling faces and congratulatory handshakes. The fact that the Irish taxpayers still have to carry the full responsibility of the international lending disaster that took place in this country, still seems to be conveniently ignored by the powers that be. A debt that has left every man, woman and child in the country owing €50,000 (a goodly sum for a baby, or an nanogenarian!) to bail out speculators, who must have felt all their Christmases had come at once. A second bit of good news, that was celebrated with fanfare, was the downward projection of the Government deficit projection for 2015, to €2 Billion from €3 Billion. With progress like this we should exit the crisis in the year 2202 A.D.!!

Its not only the laggards that have been admonished this week however, the EU has warned that no less than13 countries in the union, including France, the Netherlands and Belgium need to take urgent action to reform their economies. 

I’ll post something more upbeat next – Promise!

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The Last of Europe?

Are we witnessing the break-up of Europe? Is the Grand Dream over, and was it ever a reality? Has the initial vision of Adenauer and his co-founders come to its conclusion?

Europe - Satellite image - PlanetObserver

Europe – Satellite image – PlanetObserver (Photo credit: PlanetObserver)

Has the pendulum moved from progressive integration to the rise of nationalism?

Over the last five years the European Union, in the face of the world monetary crisis, has shown itself unwilling to act or incapable of acting in a cohesive way. While the economists struggle with the budgetary implications of the crisis, the politicians seem incapable of seeing anything of the original vision. The cost of everything is calculated except for the cost of chaotic disintigration.

There are no good countries or bad countries in this crisis, though there is endless evidence of appalling and contradictory decisions being made by management. Voters tire of austerity and will always revert to secular self interest when push comes to shove. Ther is no affinity between Larnaca and Leipzig.  The pity is that every country is now only looking after itself, and the very democracy that Europe so espouses is the mechanism for bringing the house of cards down.

Like an observer looking at a fire in a house, hoping it will somehow go out, or be tamed, I am watching incredibly from the periphery of the continent. I am aghast at what I have seen in my own country, Ireland, and throughout the continent. After Ireland was bullied into underwriting international speculators, in the name of European Solidarity, we now find that it wasn’t necessary after all, and that Cyprus can not only “burn the bondholders” but also the ordinary citizens. Cyprus has reached new bounds in so many ways, and it points to a sad vista that undermines the very fabric of the EU, and paves the way for resurgent nationalism with all its nastiness.

I am starting this blog to document the crisis that is unfolding. I want to have an “ordinary person’ perspective on what is going on. I have no training in economics, and I consider that an advantage. My heart will always be hoping for European Integration in the greater sense. I would not care for integration that is based on a monetarist view of Europe that is schewed towards the transfer of power and money to the politico-industrial powerbase, and ignores the contribution of the periphery. Such a Europe is an anathema to the dreams of Adeneaur and Co.

Are we witnessing the end of his dream – Hopefully not.

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