Euro crisis: “We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.”

In the Irish Times, Arthur Beesley identifies “one of the fundamental dilemmas in political leadership” being faced by eurozone politicians caught in a manifestation of  “the political trilemma of the world economy” This presents a cocktail of nasty choices for EU leaders, many of whom seem more comfortable in the local arena than in the European amphitheatre. Previously, they were free to do as they pleased in a currency system that did not hold debt-addiction to be any great sin. Now, national … Read more

Euro crisis: The shrinkage of politics?

Via a post by Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram.  Here’s a point worth considering from Dani Rodrik on the growing crisis in the Eurozone. Deep down, the crisis is yet another manifestation of what I call “the political trilemma of the world economy”: economic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization. If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we … Read more

Euro crisis: The Hollow Euro

Twice in the past century Germans have learnt, the hard way, the value of sound money. Between 1921 and 1923 the Weimar Republic, under the strain of massive WW1 reparations, fell into a hyper-inflationary death spiral. The Mark plunged in value, measured against Gold Standard Marks it fell from a ratio of 1:1 to 1:1 trillion in 2 years. After the German defeat in WW2, their economy was in tatters and the Reichsmark once again worthless. In 1948 Ludwig Erhard, … Read more

Euro crisis: “decision to create a single currency in Europe was an eminently political decision.”

At the Cedar Lounge, WorldbyStorm has a lengthy post detailing his increasing scepticism as a pro-EU[ropean] over the EU Commission’s proposals to “co-ordinate fiscal policy in advance”. But more importantly to me, however pro-EU I am, as noted above I have to admit that I am becoming more and more dubious about the very notion of an EU polity that transcends national divisions. It seems to me that the distinctions between nations within the EU is so great as to … Read more

de Juana Chaos extradition appeal to continue in his absence

Despite having had no contact with their client since he jumped bail in March this year, lawyers acting on behalf of the convicted ETA killer, Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos, are “continuing with instructions” in the appeal against his extradition to Spain.  Which is nice…  But have they checked his Dublin address yet? Pete Baker

EU Commission: “essential cornerstone of reinforced economic governance is to coordinate fiscal policy in advance”

The EU Commission’s proposals for in-advance peer-review of proposed national budgets has provoked a heated political reaction in the Dáil.  As Miriam Lord wryly notes, the a vice-president of the European People’s Party, Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny is being accused of Euroscepticism. However Taoiseach Brian Cowen doesn’t seem as opposed to the proposals as, say, the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt. In Germany, despite a difficult week, Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the proposals Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the EU’s attempts to crackdown on irresponsible spending, and said … Read more

Stephanomics: “That is getting very close to a fiscal union…”

While our focus was on the Prime Ministerial negotiations, the European Commission was moving to shore up the eurozone – agreeing emergency measures worth €750billion ($975bn, £650bn). That’s on top of the earlier € 110billion three-year bail-out package to rescue Greece’s economy agreed with the IMF. Ireland’s contribution to that earlier plan, providing for bilateral loans up to € 1.312 billion from Ireland to Greece, is due to go before the Dáil next week. As, still everyone’s hero, Robert Peston warned … Read more

Trial begins of three arrested in MI5 sting operation

The BBC notes the start of the trial of three County Armagh men arrested after a two-year operation directed by “role playing Security Service officers”.  The three men were originally charged in June 2006 following a high profile joint PSNI and Security Service operation in Armagh and Fermanagh. At an earlier hearing, noted here, the prosecution applied for anonymity for the 35 Security Service agents due to give evidence in the trial. From the BBC report Mr McCaugherty faces  seven including conspiring … Read more

Derry Essays 7: Derry Culture or Londonderry Culture. Which?

Culture is a slippery concept to get a grip of. According to Chairman Mao: – “ People live and move in culture as fish live and move in water.” This is true of an homogeneous people like the Chinese. The people of Derry aren’t homogeneous but are culturally divided. A more apt view of Derry culture is that of Dr Goebbels: – “ Every time I hear the word culture, I reach for my Luger and release the safety catch.” … Read more

Britain’s Wizard of Oz election…

It struck me the other day that, in Britain at least, we’re witnessing something of a Wizard of Oz election… Now please forgive the crude charaterisations here, it’s certainly not intended to wound or make light of profoundly serious matters, but it seems to me that the three party leaders roughly approximate to the characters of scarecrow, the tinman and the cowardly lion… So for starters, you have Gordon Brown as the lion wishing he had the nerve… Then Nick … Read more

US economy grows, Greek Government agrees to deeper austerity, citizens riot

Bloomberg report that – The U.S. economy expanded at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter as households spent more freely, setting the stage for gains in employment that may help the recovery broaden and accelerate. and the Wall Street Journal note that Greece has agreed with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to take additional austerity measures expected to yield “around €23 billion” ($30 billion) as a precondition for financial assistance, a Greek official familiar … Read more

Roubini: “In A Few Days Time, There Might Not Be A Eurozone For Us To Discuss”

Via Business Insider – Reuters blogger – Felix Salmon writes up a Nouriel Roubini panel on “The Eurozone: Still One for All and All for One?” Nouriel, of course, takes that kind of thinking to its logical conclusion, and kicked off the panel by announcing that it was just in time: “in a few days,” he said, “there might not be a eurozone for us to discuss.” There’s no way that Greece can implement the 10% spending cut it needs … Read more

Greece hammered by the markets

Constantin Gurdgiev interprets the 2 year Greek bond yields – This is it, folks. No where else to run. Greek interest on public debt would swallow over 19 percent of their GDP annually! Ouch! FWIW, that is almost half what a normal country would take in tax revenues, being used to meet unproductive interest payments.. In The Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that the ECB will have to intervene soon and begin purchasing sovereign government debt. The European Central Bank may … Read more

Galbraith and Schiff go head to head

Interesting head-to-head, reprising John Maynard Keynes and Fredrick Hayek, between James Galbraith and Peter Schiff on CNBC – Galbraith and Schiff seem to regard the straight-jack of the Euro as equivalent to the old gold standard, typically Galbraith views this as something akin to Keynes’ barbourous relic. Greece’s inability to print money is a problem, while Schiff sees this as essentially a good thing that forces countries and citizens to live within their means. What’s most interesting however, is that … Read more

German anger at paying for luxury Greek pensions

Bild on the Greek bailout – It is only a matter of days until Germany starts handing out billions in aid to the Greeks, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel. But for some experts, Greece is just a bottomless pit. And now anger is increasing in Germany, with many asking why they should pay for things like the luxury Greek pension system. They highlight superior Greek pensions, that German workers will now be paying for – The fact is that in … Read more

“Art and science both lost blood when monsters vanished from the maps”

The Guardian has a fascinating essay by Jonathan Jones on the golden age of map-making, 1500 to 1700, to tie-in with a forthcoming exhibition at the British Library – Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art.  There’s also an equally fascinating BBC 4 series covering the same ground – The Beauty of Maps.  From Jonathan Jones’ Guardian article Magnificent Maps leads us deep into the mentality of awe and wonder his pictures of maps communicate. It tells the story of mural … Read more

Greece activates EU-IMF bailout

The Greeks have called in the IMF. RTE report that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has asked for the activation of an aid package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund aimed at pulling the eurozone member out of a debt crisis.

Irish 2009 budget deficit goes upwards to 14.3% (past Greece)!

Ireland surges past Greece into first place for 2009 European fiscal deficits. Per the Eurostat report In 2009 the largest government deficits in percentage of GDP were recorded by Ireland (-14.3%), Greece (-13.6%) the United Kingdom (-11.5%), Spain (-11.2%), Portugal (-9.4%), Latvia (-9.0%), Lithuania (-8.9%), Romania (-8.3%), France (-7.5%) and Poland (-7.1%). No Member State registered a government surplus in 2009. The lowest deficits were recorded by Sweden (-0.5%), Luxembourg (-0.7%) and Estonia (-1.7%). In all, 25 Member States recorded … Read more

Recessions – good for your health?

A couple of weeks back, writing in the Sindo, Gene Kerrigan made the not unreasonable assertion that severe recessions cause unnecessary deaths. We saw all this before. During the Eighties, savage cuts inflicted lasting pain and cost lives — someone had to pay for the crisis. Meanwhile, known to the establishment — who were up to their necks in it — the fortunes of the elite were safeguarded using massive tax frauds. An article in yesterdays Guardian refutes this – … Read more