“For those who can’t read Greekdebtspeak, well, you’re on your own”

With European leaders, including Syriza’s erstwhile ally the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, warning Greek voters that they will be, effectively, deciding whether or not they want to stay in the eurozone, the BBC takes a side-ways look at the wording of the controversial 5 July referendum the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras suddenly announced at the weekend.  From the BBC article Voters go to the polls for the Greek referendum. pic.twitter.com/xpp3OWEvgX — Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) June 29, 2015 Here’s the … Read more

Harry Fitzsimons extradited from Senegal to Italy

The Belfast Telegraph has an update on the whereabouts of Harry Fitzsimons – a former member of the Provisional IRA who was jailed for bombing the Woodburn House Hotel in Belfast in 1971, he was released in 1981.  Fitzsimons was one of a number of people for whom arrest warrants were issued in Italy in March this year in connection with an alleged money laundering property scheme run by the ’Ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia.  As Mick noted at the time some interesting … Read more

West Belfast Property developer wanted by Italian police…

INTERESTING ‘developments’ in Italy… Harry Fitzsimons former IRA man and director of a property development business which, in the words of his business partner Antonio Velardo in his award winning company: …despite the fact that the company is now so successful, it really is just over two years old, and came about following a meeting between myself and my now fellow CEO, Harry Fitzsimons. However, whilst that history is a short one it is also a dynamic one and, although we only … Read more

Italy’s Five Star Movement – is this what The End of History looks like?

In 1992, Francis Fukayama predicted in The End of History that the end of the Cold War would impend not only an era of triumphant liberal-democratic capitalism, but one where political evolution had reached its final form. Western democracy, he argued, was the best form of state organisation practically achievable by humans. The folly of such naïve Western triumphalism, already being challenged by China’s authoritarian wave of economic growth when Fukayama wrote his book, was laid bare by Mohamed Atta … Read more

Italy: “Unless of course all polls and projections so far turn out to be wrong …”

They’re still counting the votes in Italy…  But the early projections are contradicting exit polls predicting, as the Guardian reported, “strong support for alliance led by Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic party and bloody nose for Mario Monti”.  Not contradicting the bloody nose for the Borg Mario Monti, that is.  But Silvio Berlusoni’s centre-right alliance seems to be edging ahead in the Senate, at least… The Guardian is live-blogging the actual results as they come in.  Here’s their latest post to date Before … Read more

Italy: “History risks repeating itself…”

The BBC’s Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt has been looking to Italy ahead of a general election brought 2 months early after Silvio Berlusconi’s party withdrew support for Mario Monti’s technocratic government – voting begins on Sunday.  The FT notes that Strong, stable government will be needed to continue the reform process put in place by Mr Monti’s technocrats, and to argue in Brussels for more growth-oriented policies and a possible relaxation of fiscal deficit targets. However, the worst-case scenario emerging from … Read more

Euro crisis: “This time it’s really, really serious…”

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is off to Greece for “a regular meeting” with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.  His first visit to Athens since June 2009.  Meanwhile, the rising cost of Spanish and Italian Government borrowing has prompted a declaration of intent from European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. “To the extent that the size of these sovereign premia hamper the functioning of the monetary policy transmission channel, they come within our mandate,” Mr Draghi said in a speech at the Global … Read more

Euro crisis: “Hold your sides and laugh out loud, otherwise you’ll have to cry.”

Despite some optimistic noises overnight, it still seems more likely than not that Limbo Greece will face new elections.  As the Guardian live-blog noted earlier today The Democratic left party in Greece has said it will not back a pro-bailout government. That almost certainly means that Venizelos’s attempts to form a government coalition around agreement on the bailout terms are dashed and that the country will face fresh elections In the meantime, there are still a few days left to catch eurosceptic Michael Portillo’s … Read more

Euro crisis: April is the cruellest month…

Apart from all the others…  And it doesn’t matter how big your umbrella is.  BBC Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, on springtime in Europe What is being exposed is a major flaw with Mrs Merkel’s fiscal pact. It is undemocratic. It ties the hands of future governments – and that, of course, was its intention but it doesn’t stop voters opposing further cuts. In the eurozone, deficits are being reduced. But debt – in many cases – is still growing. Growth … Read more

Euro crisis: “It is nice to have a big umbrella…”

The Guardian’s Economics blog starts with an interesting observation Those who watched Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund a year ago say he played a blinder. Although he was to leave Washington under a cloud shortly afterwards, DSK impressed with his no-nonsense approach to his fellow Europeans. The IMF‘s managing director asked Jean-Claude Trichet, then president of the European Central Bank (ECB), and Christine Lagarde, at the time France’s finance minister, who they thought they … Read more

Euro crisis: “The worst, I fear, still lies ahead.”

In a recent column in the FT, Wolfgang Münchau asked an interesting question [free reg req] The markets have concluded that the eurozone crisis has ended. Several politicians said that they, too, believed that the worst was over. Complacency is back. I recall similar utterances in the past. Whenever there is some technical progress – an umbrella, a liquidity injection, a successful debt swap – optimism returns. If you think the European Central Bank’s policies have “bought time”, you should … Read more

Six Nations – Another boring weekend.

OK – in the prediction contest we have two joint leaders, Johnny Boy and Reader. Neither have gone for Tommy Bowe as top try scorer so it’s still very open. Today it’s Wales v Italy and Ireland v Scotland. Tomorrow England travel to Paris. In the Western Mail Michael Owen hails the best Welsh team he has ever seen. I agree – we just need to click- could be today. Is International Rugby good for Andy Robinson’s health? …he likes … Read more

Six Nations – Weekend 3

It’s time to start building a fortress. From the Irish Times: WHEN IRELAND first returned to Lansdowne Road in the autumn of 2010, Brian O’Driscoll spoke for all when declaring Ireland’s need to make the Aviva a fortress. Alas, not helped by the IRFU’s ticketing fiasco, as fortresses go it’s been more akin to the Maginot Line, which the Germans stormed in about a day. Should be comfortable – Italy can be awkward – but in areas where Ireland are … Read more

Six Nations – wide open.

This weekend sees the start of the most unpredictable Six Nations for a while. (There’s still time to make your predictions here). Are those Polish freezers still working for Wales? (BBC) Keith Earls has some pretty big boots to fill….(Belfast Telegraph) If you were Mr Lancaster would you like to start things anew at a freezing hostile Murrayfield…..? From the Record Andy Robinson is pressing the right buttons. Of England’s World Cup: What surprises me about England is they fell into a … Read more

Six Nations 2012 Prediction Contest

Ok – it’s that time of the year. Same rules as usual which are: 1 point for a correct home win, 3 points for a correct away win, 7 points for a correct draw. This year we need the top try scorer. 3 points if it’s one bloke, 2 if it’s joint, 1 if it’s shared by three. Any more than 3 top try scores it’s nowt. Tie breaker is total points scored. Here’s the fixtures: 1  France v Italy … Read more

Euro crisis: “Anyone who claims to know what is about to happen to Europe is a fool.”

In the Guardian, Simon Jenkins identifies a key point missing from most analysis of the aftermath of the EU crisis summit.  From the Guardian article Anyone who claims to know what is about to happen to Europe is a fool. An unprecedented collapse in world credit has hit against years of reckless state borrowing to produce economic meltdown. Where there is economic meltdown, there is always a danger of political meltdown. While all other sciences have advanced over the ages, … Read more

Euro crisis: “it is time to send for the Borg…”

You can follow the latest developments in the eurozone crisis at the Guardian’s live-Business blog as pressure mounts on Italian Prime Minister designate, Mario Monti – who was nominated to replace Silvio Berlusconi three days after the Italian President, Giorgio Napolitano, appointed Monti a Lifetime Senator.  From his Wikipedia entry In 2007, Monti was one of the first supporters of the first European civic forum, Etats Généraux de l’Europe, initiated by European think tank EuropaNova and European Movement. In December 2009, he … Read more

Berlusconi to resign [once key economic reforms have been approved]

As I mentioned here, Italy have called in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but no money has changed hands, according to Berlusconi…  Tonight, following a technical vote which saw Silvio Berlusconi lose his parliamentary majority, and with rising yields on Italy’s 10-year benchmark bonds, the Italian Prime Minster has “confirmed he intends to resign after key economic reforms have been approved.” Speaking on TV, the [Italian] prime minister said he would have preferred to call early elections but the final decision rested … Read more

Sarkozy: “We will fight to defend Europe and the euro”

With apologies to Moochin, here’s the real POTD [of the week? – Ed] when the Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, had his card marked at Cannes by Frau Bundeskanzlerin.  Via Daniel Hannan at the Telegraph blog. Italy have called in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but no money has changed hands, according to Berlusconi… Answering questions at a press conference in Cannes this afternoon, Mr Berlusconi said he had no intention of resigning and did not believe his time in government was coming … Read more

“if you want to show some proper respect and courtesy to the Holy See…”

In the Irish Times Paddy Agnew has an interesting, and prompt, response to last night’s announcement of the Irish Government’s decision to close the Irish Embassy to the Vatican.  From the Irish Times article In practice, there are two types of Holy See ambassadors – those who have their own embassies in Rome and those who work out of the embassy in a neighbouring country such as France, Switzerland or Malta. Senior Vatican diplomats point out that as far as … Read more