Tag Archives: Euro Crisis

Jurgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas during a discussion in the Mun...

Jürgen Habermas during a discussion in the Munich School of Philosophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The politico-social disaster that will evolve with the breakup of Europe, has been referenced by the German Thinker and Philosopher Jurgen Habermas.

Habermas is a noted intellectual in Germany, and he has added his voice to the cacophony of thinkers pleading for a new enlightenment in political thinking, to avert the dissolution of the Union. It must be a truism, that an inability of our politicians to think beyond their local and national agendas is prescriptive for dissolution. Survival of the Union can only happen when there is integration oriented leaders, and visionary statesmen or women. It is the current pity that we do not seem to have anyone of stature at this stage to lead the continent. The sapping of political will is a key ingredient of the current crisis.

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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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Simple Choices

Helmut Kohl - Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998...

Helmut Kohl – Chancellor of Germany (1982–1998) and architect of German Reunification – M.A. 1956; Ph.D. 1958 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well Oscar Lafontaine is talking the talk again. Having brought Europe together in one if the greatest social experiments in modern history, he is now set on dismantling the euro, in what would be an equally brave experiment. Hopefully he won’t turn around in 15 years time and want to reverse again. Isn’t it great to have leaders with such flitting vision!

Germany has been a big winner in Europe and will continue to be going forward, for a host of political, social and economic reasons. It is true to say that Germans have managed their affairs prudently, and have not over-borrowed, like many of their EU partners. However, Germany has not been a passive spectator in the entire fiasco that has unfolded. It was the chief designer of the Euro and it impressed on the EU/ECB a standard of rigorous inflation control, that was ill suited to the peripheral countries. German investors were happy to invest in the periphery when the gains to be made exceeded the more modest gains in their homeland. Germany was at the forefront of insisting that Ireland not “burn the bondholders” in the appalling Anglo Irish Bank scandal, – an insistence that has done more to destroy the Irish state than any other single issue in the current crisis.

Germany also gains substantially from the current low inflation, recessionary environment, which sees capital flows into German bonds, and German Funds. Germany as a major production driver of the EU gains more than most by the tariff-free environment that it can sell its goods and services into.

By contrast, if Mr Lafontaine gets his (new) way, and the Euro breaks up, the German exports are likely to be the first casualty, as the peripheral markets are lost to the stronger Deutschmark. So no one escapes. We all sink or swim together.

In some ways the breakup of the Euro, will be the answer to the problems of the periphery. The peripheral countries will be allowed to devalue, and a certain amount of relaxed inflation targets, will help deal with the debt problems. Debt will be nominalised in the new devalued currencies as there will be no Euro as standard. This alone will do what Governments failed to do when the crisis hit. The periphery will have hopefully learned the lessons of the last few years in respect to fiscal control.

The subtitle of this blog “The Living History of the Breakup of Europe”, is more of an observational title than an aspirational one.  We need to get some straight thinking if Europe is to stay together, or indeed even if its not. What we are going through is a transformational change that will either make us stronger or our continent will succumb to partisan nationalism again.

There are only two ways to proceed, and those are integration or dissolution.

If we are to proceed along the integrationist strategy then we need to deal with all the sovereign debt and deficit funding in the system. This cannot be done with pure austerity, which is an attack on the viability of nations, but rather with a program of development akin to the Marshall Plan

First page of the Marshall Plan

First page of the Marshall Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

, which provided vision beyond the pure economics, or even the unification program for Germany, which did likewise.

If Europe is to integrate then it should do just that. To see the issue as purely economic and fiscal will ensure the breakup of Europe. There is no leader in Germany the equivalent of Helmut Kohl, who was prepared, on both Europe and on German unification, to grasp the hand that history had dealt him, and play it with vision. The only vision we see now is accountancy, and the longer this visionary stupor persists, the more the spectre of nationalism will rise and the more inevitable will be the break up of Europe.

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That Man Again – MICHAEL D HIGGINS Speaks out again

English: Herman Van Rompuy, President of the E...

English: Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, at the press conference about the European Union during the 37th G8 summit in Deauville, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael D. Higgins: An Auld President.

Michael D. Higgins: An Auld President. (Photo credit: David Conch Condon)

TWO PRESIDENTS IN ONE DAY

– SOMETHING MUST BE HAPPENING!

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has done it again. He has broken the stodgy Presidential Protocols and expanded on his previously reported speech to the European Parliament in an interview he gave to the Financial Times, which has also complimented him in a very supportive Editorial.

“There is a real problem in what was assumed to be a single hegemonic model… The unemployment profile in Greece is different from the unemployment profile in Ireland. You need a pluralism of approaches… We have 26m people unemployed… There are 112m at risk of poverty, a contraction in investment and falling demand.”

Herman Van Rompuy , President of the European Union, has  also spoken out today, calling for fiscal stimulus, and inferring the great unmentionable (that anyone with two Betz cells knows now to be the truth), that this

Austerity Isn’t Working.

How many people have to hear this? The Future that the austeritocrats are playing with is yours, and they’re just not listening. I do not oppose austerity because I feel people shouldn’t pay back their debts. I oppose it for the exact opposite reason. I oppose it because the only way anyone will be able to pay back anything is if there is a viable economy, and we can’t have that if we are destroying the economy day-in and day-out, by everything Governments are doing. We have had five years of this now, and it is getting worse and worse. This is not the Europe that was ever envisaged by the founding fathers. It is time to call a halt. It is so heartening to hear reasonable men stand up, for a change.

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Spain

English: Registered unemployment rate in Europ...

English: Registered unemployment rate in Europe (EU-27) – june 2009. Data from Portal Euro-Indicators on EU Commission website (Eurostat) Français : Taux de chômage enregistré en Europe (UE-27)- juin 2009. Données Portail Euro-Indicateurs sur le site de la Commission Européenne (Eurostat) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spanish Unemployment Rate 27.2%.

6,202,700 out of work.

Spanish Youth unemployment of 57.22%.

Plan to pump €76 bn. euro into Spanish Banks.

Economist Fernando Fernandez says on CNN that it was a “good week for Spain”.

What else needs to be said?

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April 28, 2013 · 5:05 pm

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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