Posts Tagged ‘Euro’

LinkSwarm for September 16, 2016

Friday, September 16th, 2016

It’s Friday! Something to be thankful for!

Its 52 days until the election! At least we can be thankful it isn’t more! (Alternate theory: We’ve all died and gone to Hell, and will be watching this Presidential race for the rest of eternity…)

  • Donald Trump widens lead in LA Times poll. “The poll shows Trump leading Clinton, 47%-41%.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Another poll puts Trump up by eight in Iowa. Downside: Same poll has Trump up by only seven in Texas. There’s no way in Hell or Terlingua that’s happening, but let’s hope Battleground Texas cons some national Democratic donors into throwing more money down that particular rathole based on that poll… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Scott Adams on Hillary’s 9/11 collapse: “The optics of a potential commander-in-chief collapsing at that holy place, and on an important anniversary, rendered her unelectable in my opinion.”
  • Hillary Clinton has stage-three Parkinson’s disease and suffers from seizures, according to three sources who have had a personal relationship with the Democratic Party presidential nominee.” Grains of salt, anonymous sources disclaimer, yadda yadda.
  • Did I miss this from 2015? “The charitable foundation run by Hillary Clinton and her family has received as much as $81m from wealthy international donors who were clients of HSBC’s controversial Swiss bank.” Including Frank Giustra. But why would you trust such a notoriously right-wing news outlet as The Guardian? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “It Was Easier To Cure Trump Of His Trumpiness Than Hillary of Her Hillaryness.” “For Hillary, the problem runs deeper. People think she’s corrupt and dishonest. That’s because she’s corrupt and dishonest.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Email leak exposes Democratic Party Pay-for-Play scheme, despite cleverly hiding their intent by actually using the phrase “pay-for-play.” Just think: This would have been a major story dominating the news for months if it were a Republican Administration. In the age of Obama and Hillary, it’s just another selection on a vast buffet of corruption. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • America’s trust in media hits all time low:

    Well, what did they expect when they went all in for Hillary? And now Trump is climbing in the polls — 6 points up in the new L.A. Times poll — and they’ve already squandered their credibility. They can’t help her now. They tried too hard before. Too bad the Democratic Party didn’t give us a democratic experience this time. They foisted a candidate on us, they rigged it, with the assistance of the media. And now the candidate we didn’t want zombie-walks and stumbles to the finish line, and there is nothing the Party or the media can do to stir up our affection. Meanwhile, the man the media loved to hate is powering through to the Presidency, looking only stronger for all the shots he took.

  • More Americans murdered in Chicago since 2001 than U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
  • The European Dream gives way to nightmare:

    Viktor Orbán, together with the prime ministers of the Visegrad countries and the Ukrainian prime minister, took part in a discussion where he highlighted: a whole generation of European politicians had a “secret dream”, that they can use the EU to achieve the weakening of the member states’ national, religious, and historic identities, and that all this would be replaced by a new European identity. But we found out there is no such identity that could replace the old ones, he said. He added: now it is proven that the only successful countries are the ones with strong identities.

    (Hat tip Director Blue.)

  • Someone is learning how to take down the Internet.

    Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar… The data I see suggests China.

  • Former Ohio mayor arrested for raping a 4-year old. Guess which party they were a member of, and guess how deeply the Washington Post buried that information.
  • Have an Android? Enjoy your Big Brother inside.
  • Happy Land Social Club arsonist dies in prison. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • The end of the Euro?
  • Austin to hire an official Social justice Warrior.
  • Local Texas school districts try to reduce or repeal Local Option Homestead Exemptions, get smacked down by Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton.
  • Labour, Brexit, and the Left-Wing Revolt Against Global Elites

    Monday, June 27th, 2016

    Among the more interesting storylines to emerge after the Brexit vote was how Labour blew it. Despite having a leadership far more Europhilic and in favor of transnational statist government than even Tory insiders, Labour’s support of Remain was markedly tepid, starting right at the top with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:

    Less than a month before the historic EU referendum, the team assembled by Cameron to keep Britain in the European Union was worried about wavering Labour voters and frustrated by the opposition leader’s lukewarm support. Remain campaign operatives floated a plan to convince Corbyn to make a public gesture of cross-party unity by appearing in public with the prime minister. Polling showed this would be the “number one” play to reach Labour voters.

    Senior staff from the campaign “begged” Corbyn to do a rally with the prime minister, according to a senior source who was close to the Remain campaign. Corbyn wanted nothing to do with the Tory leader, no matter what was at stake. Gordon Brown, the Labour prime minister whom Cameron vanquished in 2010, was sent to plead with Corbyn to change his mind. Corbyn wouldn’t. Senior figures in the Remain camp, who included Cameron’s trusted communications chief Craig Oliver and Jim Messina, President Obama’s campaign guru, were furious.

    So to Corbyn, a vote many in Labour leadership regarded as the most important in their lifetime took a backseat to his bitter hatred of even appearing with the Tories. “An old school socialist, the Labour leader had in the past attacked the EU as an undemocratic, corporatist conspiracy that threatened workers’ rights. He never looked the part to save Cameron in a referendum the Conservative leader brought on himself.”

    From the same piece:

    Hardened by close-run contests in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum and last year’s general election, the strategists running Stronger In decided to follow the playbook that worked in those campaigns, particularly the 2015 Conservative sweep, and focus mainly on economic security.

    It failed spectacularly. The depth of public anger over the influx of workers from other EU countries, and more broadly the rejection of political and business elites, was more significant than they had anticipated.

    Also this:

    Internal polling found just weeks before June 23 one in five Labour voters did not know the party’s position in the referendum. As party aides canvassed voters around the country, they discovered a deep well of concern about immigration.

    Labour leadership no doubt found it quite shocking that so many traditional Labour strongholds voted in favor of Brexit. There were also a small but notable number of Labour MPs who supported Brexit. Some hail from those same hinterland locales that voted for Brexit, and thus could be said to actually represent the wishes of their constituents (try to contain your shock).

    But Labour MP Kate Hoey represents a constituency smack dab against the south bank of the Themes in central London, an area that voted heavily to Remain. Yet Hoey was an early and notable voice for Brexit:

    I’m tired of people thinking that only those on the right of politics are Eurosceptic. This is far from true.

    The reputation of the EU has fallen sharply among many on the Left. The sight of the EU establishment imposing unprecedented levels of austerity on Greece was a real wake-up call. This was not a benign political institution guaranteeing social protection and international solidarity, but an unaccountable force bringing crippling pain on a people who cannot hope to repay the loans that are recapitalising their banks.

    Meanwhile, the EU is willing to require ever-greater sacrifice to living standards in order to keep the Euro and the wider European “Project” moving forwards. Ever closer Union is what is on the tin – and even if the words are removed to satisfy the Prime Minister, the contents will still be the same.

    The Labour Party has traditionally had a sceptical view of the European institutions. From Attlee to Foot, and until the late 1980s, Labour was predominantly Eurosceptic – but then, following three Thatcher victories, many on the Left looked desperately to Europe to block her policies. Wise Labour voices like Peter Shore and Tony Benn, however, argued that democratic faith in the wisdom of the public was a better guarantor than the benevolence of transitory political elites. They have been proved right as the EU is no longer motivated by Jacques Delors’ ‘Social Europe’, but is increasingly out of touch with the needs of its people.

    Familiar voices try to scare us into believing that leaving the EU would ruin the UK, but these are the same people who told us that we had to join the Euro or face disaster. We stayed out of the Euro and have therefore been spared much of the chaos of that unsustainable currency – but we still give £7.3 billion net a year of our money to the EU.

    How can we protect civil liberties when the EU forces on us unaccountable extraditions through the European Arrest Warrant? How can we ensure the jobs and growth that we need when vital contracts for work go to preferred bidders on the continent and not to British firms? How can we preserve and improve our public services when the Services Directives help force the privatisation of the Royal Mail and EU rules against state aid will make it almost impossible to renationalise the railways? TTIP is a gift to the multi-national corporations. I don’t trust the EU to negotiate on our behalf, and I certainly don’t trust it to be on the side of small businesses or Trade Unions.

    The Labour Party is looking at radical policies to tackle the problems in our country. We need to take back real control from the unelected and unaccountable European Commission if we are to have a chance of implementing any of these.

    My politics are very far indeed from those of Hoey, but she’s not wrong. Greece’s government may have brought upon the crisis by spending radically more money than they took in even after it became apparent they were going broke, but the EU responded in exactly the way described. It was born as an undemocratic organization, a fact the Euro crisis finally made apparent even to the those on the left, with the decisions of democratically elected officials overruled by unelected bureaucratic elites. And the self-serving agendas of those elites tend to be at odds with the goals of both left and right.

    The question isn’t why Hoey supported Brexit, but why so many Labour MPs didn’t.

    Other Brexit News:

  • Eight Labour shadow ministers quit.
  • You know who had a good day after the Brexit vote? Nigel Farage. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “In the end, it came down to the issue of immigration. The British people wanted to reclaim their nation. They wanted their nation to be their nation. They did not want it to turn into Germany. They wanted the hordes of immigrants camped out in Calais to stay in Calais. They had had had enough with British girls being ‘groomed’ by Muslim men.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Instapundit on the Brexit: “A lot of people felt powerless, and the political system not only didn’t address that, but seemed to glory in it.”
  • David Stockman sees Brexit not only as a revolt against the EU, but against the entire world financial elite’s low interest rate regime. “The ECB will soon be embroiled in an existential crisis as the centrifugal forces unleashed by Brexit tear apart the fragile consensus on which Draghi’s lunatic monetary experiments depended.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • As soon as the Brexit vote was announced, the EU announced that they were coming after people’s toasters and tea kettles. (Ditto.)
  • The previous Megan McArdle piece on Brexit was good. This one is even better:

    The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. But perhaps, like the fellow I once saw lose a packet by betting on 17 for 20 straight turns of the roulette wheel, they reasoned that the recent loss actually makes a subsequent victory more likely, since the number has to come up sometime.

    Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp what I noted in a column last week: that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment — a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.

    In many ways, members of the global professional class have started to identify more with each other than they have with the fellow residents of their own countries. Witness the emotional meltdown many American journalists have been having over Brexit….

    A lot of my professional colleagues seemed to, and the dominant tone framed this as a blow against the enlightened “us” and the beautiful world we are building, struck by a plague of morlocks who had crawled out of their hellish subterranean world to attack our impending utopia.

  • I’m always up for a good Morlock reference. And if you haven’t read H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine (which you should, because it’s a great novel), that analogy is more apt than you know. In Wells’ novel, the Morlocks were the underground race that actually ran things, the ones that maintain the machinery the Eloi depended on to live. Just like those inbred redneck freaks from JesusLand (or, to use a UK analogy, those Northern monkeys), the Morlocks are the essential population that keep things running, not the beautiful, useless Eloi.

    LinkSwarm for December 28, 2015

    Monday, December 28th, 2015

    I hope everyone had a merrier Christmas than I did. (My father recently went on hospice care after a two year fight with cancer, so I was back home helping my mother care for him.) Here’s a LinkSwarm to start your week with.

  • Inside Obama’s pity party.
  • Remember, Obama’s policies never fail, and all opposition to him is because his opponents are bitter clinging racists.
  • We live in a nation founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
  • “Many Obamacare customers pay more than 10 percent of their incomes toward coverage (and some paying considerably more).”
  • What would Democrats do to defeat the Islamic State? Not a damn thing.
  • Iraqi government forces retake Ramadi, the Anbar province city the Islamic State took in May.
  • “Two weather occurrences – the Arctic Oscillation and El Niño – are combining to shake up temperatures from coast to coast in the U.S., bringing springlike conditions to the Northeast for much of this month and leaving parts of the West colder and wetter than usual.”
  • 2015: The year Europe reached the breaking point:

    Adjusting for inflation, the gross domestic product of the 19 countries now sharing Europe’s common currency, the euro, was less in 2014 than it was in 2007. Widespread joblessness and diminishing opportunities confront an entire generation of young Europeans, especially in Spain, Italy, France and Greece. The economic malaise tinges everything: Young people resist marriage for lack of economic opportunity. Poorer European countries are experiencing brain drains as many of their best young professionals and college graduates move abroad. Numerous Greek doctors, for instance, now work in more prosperous Germany while Greece’s health system is in crisis.

  • Sweden tries to force a cash-free society on its citizens. Wait, did I say “citizens?” I meant “vassals.”
  • Spain continues to be screwed.
  • Democrat Jim Webb contemplating an independent run for President.
  • Pennsylvania’s insane, disgraced Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane accused of suborning perjury.
  • Democrats in congress have proposed a sweeping gun control bill. Because that’s always such a big electoral winner. It just kills liberals that free citizens are allowed to remain armed…
  • The left eat their own.
  • Black teenagers riot, shut down mall in Kentucky.
  • Another entry in the annals of criminal SUPERgenius. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Database Leak Exposes 3.3 Million Hello Kitty Fans.” This is a real headline from the real world we live in…
  • Here’s a swell Christmas story from Dwight.
  • And the Eternal Greek Farce Starts Up Again

    Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

    Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that just two (or is it three, this past summer is one big blur) months after Greece voted through its third bailout, one which will raise its debt/GDP to over 200% on a fleeting promise that someone, somewhere just may grant Greece a debt extension (which will do absolutely nothing about the nominal amount of debt), its creditors have already grown tired with the game and are refusing to pay the next Greek loan tranche of €2 billion.

    Specifically, the payment of the first €2b tranche of €3b is now sait[sic] to be delayed because Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to implement reforms on schedule, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports, citing unidentified senior EU official.

    And evidently one of the latest sticking points is that Tsipras wants to prop up deadbeat home loans for houses worth as much as $331,185.

    Greece edges close to default. Greece’s creditors demand reform. Greece agrees to reforms at last minute. Greece gets bailout. Greece fails to implement reforms.

    Rinse. Repeat.

    Portugal Decides EU Mandates Trump Democracy

    Monday, October 26th, 2015

    Portugal has decided that EU economic mandates trump that pesky Democracy:

    Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal’s constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika.

    He deemed it too risky to let the Left Bloc or the Communists come close to power, insisting that conservatives should soldier on as a minority in order to satisfy Brussels and appease foreign financial markets.

    I’m not entirely unsympathetic to Silva’s plight. As in Greece, the anti-austerity movement is an economically illiterate coalition of looters who insist that the welfare state gravy train can never come to an end, ever, even when the country is dead broke. (Though note that author Ambrose Evans-Pritchard never once mentions “welfare state” in his piece.) Remember that Portugal has never practiced real austerity (cutting budget outlays to match receipts), never once having balanced its budget in the last decade. And if the commies (who are, thankfully, only a minority coalition partner) had actually promised to set up a dictatorship of the proletariat, I’d be cheering Silva’s intransigence.

    But Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. If Portugal thinks they can take cues from Greece’s anti-austerity tantrum and somehow not get slapped down just as hard, let them try. And in fact the leftwing’s coalition’s promises “to abrogate the Lisbon Treaty, the Fiscal Compact, the Growth and Stability Pact, as well as to dismantle monetary union and take Portugal out of the euro” are entirely rational and in Portugal’s self-interest.

    The EU has always been an explicitly antidemocratic union, one designed to prevent mere voters from overruling their bureaucratic betters. The fact that this time they’re opposed by idiots who think they can keep voting themselves goodies from other people’s wallets doesn’t change the problem of the EU’s deficit of democracy.

    Two of modern Europe’s central foundations (a monetary union and a cradle-to-grave welfare state) are not only unsustainable, they are incompatible with each other, and corrosive to both stability and democracy. And the EU leaders have no idea what to do about it.

    Greece: Dispatches from the Boned

    Thursday, August 13th, 2015

    So I haven’t done a Greek update in a while, since after Greece caved into the inevitable (Newsflash: broke people generally do not have leverage over those lending them money), it was all over but the shouting. Now that Greece and its creditors supposedly have a third bailout deal inked, and Greece settles into its clearly defined misery, let’s take a look at exceptionally bankrupt Greece these days, shall we?

  • Via Zero Hedge comes former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ detailed review of the bailout agreement. It’s a mixture of self-serving lies (trying to distance his own Syriza party from the horrific economic mess they made acutely worse) and brutal truths (about just how screwed Greece is by the agreement).
  • Speaking of Varoufakis, it looks like he’s going to be up on hacking charges…for preparing emergency plans to float the drachma.
  • Oh: He also says the latest bailout deal won’t work. He’s not wrong…
  • Greece’s economy miraculously grew in the second quarter. But that was before the full effects of the crisis were reflected…
  • Greece’s tax revenues have collapsed.
  • Greece’s manufacturing sector fell off a cliff in July. Funny how that happens when your banks are closed and you can’t pay for goods.
  • Greece faces two years of recession. That part’s probably true. But that primary budget surplus? Yeah, not so much.
  • “Greece’s banks just made the mistake of being banks in Greece.”
  • After all that? Greece still isn’t fixed.
  • To add a cherry on top, Greece’s refugee crisis continues to grow. Because it’s still safer to live in bankrupt Greece than the Middle East…
  • Greece and the EU Compromise to…Kick The Can Further Down the Road

    Friday, July 10th, 2015

    It looks like we have an actual, honest-to-God compromise, in that Greece, in exchange for not having their economy collapse and descend into anarchy and cannibalism, will pretend to implement real reforms, while the Troika, in exchange for those promises, and not being blamed for the impending global recession, will give Greece still more loans, write down some previous loans, and pretend this actually fixes the problem.

    So expect to see another round of this dance in six months to a year.

    Germany caved on debt relief. Greece?

    A cursory look at the “new” Greek proposal to creditors suggests PM Alexis Tsipras may have sold out the referendum “no” vote in a final, desperate attempt to avert an economic catastrophe and the collapse of the country’s banks which will be cut off from ELA as of Monday morning in the event Brussels and Athens do not come to terms over the weekend.

    And indeed, the austerity outlined in the latest proposal is more severe than the version voters rejected last Sunday. Among the proposals evidently agreed to: No retirement until age 67 or 40 years of paying into the system. Caveat: Pension reforms don’t actually kick in until October, so they’re still kicking the can down the road on that as well.

    Also: “Greece will succeed in transferring bonds currently held by the ECB to the European Stability Mechanism.” If the ESM is truly the euro’s firewall, then they’re about to get an infusion of crappy Communist-era Soviet concrete…

    Other Greek crisis tidbits:

  • Earlier Greece had floated their totally serious compromise proposal that didn’t cut any pensions.
  • Faced with impending national bankruptcy, Greece’s ruing left-wing Syriza Party concentrates on the essentials: investigating reporters who opposed them. (Hat tip: National Review.)
  • People in Latvia and Lithuania sneer at spendthrift Greece.
  • Greece demonstrates 150 years of socialist failure.
  • Greek event timelines.
  • Greece probably wouldn’t do as well after a Grexit as Argentina did after their default.
  • The sneaky return of Drachmas? Of course this was before the latest agreement. But wouldn’t it be hilarious if Greece got one final big bailout, then turned around and pulled off a Grexit anyway?
  • UKIP head Nigel Farge had some advice earlier in the week:

    Not in 100% agreement, but there’s a lot of bracing truth in there. But the problem, of course, is that Tsipras, as all Socialists do, does indeed want to have his cake and eat it too…

  • Greece Starts Reaping the Fruits of Its Choices

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

    The problem with holding a gun to your own head is, sooner or later, someone is going to call your bluff.

    EU leaders have given Greece until Sunday to “Reach a new bailout agreement with its creditors” or “face bankruptcy and expulsion from the euro currency system.”

    The European Central Bank also hiked Greek ELA Haircuts. Translation: Hope you enjoy the scent of burning bridges, Greece, because now your banking system is even more screwed than before the referendum. (Note: Zero Hedge is down as of this posting. Maybe China got tired of him exposing their financial house of cards…)

    And Greece’s leftist PM Alexis Tsipras is still playing his old tricks. “Screw all of you! You suck! Oh, and here’s a new proposal for a bailout that doesn’t meet any of your conditions! Please give us money! Pretty please! Screw all of you!”

    “The Greek people spent part of the weekend in the streets celebrating their status as international deadbeat. They spent the rest of the weekend hoarding food, fuel, and medicine in preparation for the manmade disaster they have inflicted upon themselves.”

    Also: “The Greeks may have burned their bridge to Europe, but the Germans are roasting marshmallows over the flames.”

    Further:

    The presence of Greece in the Eurozone is the result of a lie: The Greeks pretended to get their deficits and debt under control, and the Europeans pretended to believe them. That was the first act. In the second act, after the advent of the current crisis, the Greeks pretended to enact fiscal reforms, and the Europeans pretended to believe them. Political logic is, not coincidentally, lawyer logic — which is to say, it substitutes consensus for reality. If enough people (jurors, voters) are convinced that your position is the correct one, then you “win.” Maybe the election turns out your way, as with Tsipras and the referendum. Maybe political consensus prevents your opponents from enacting their favored policies, just as conservatives have for decades been frustrated in their efforts to enact entitlement reform by cheap and dishonest images of grandmothers being pushed over cliffs. Maybe O. J. Simpson walks.

    Mark Steyn reiterates the fundamental problem:

    Since Obama took office, it’s been fashionable to quote Mrs. Thatcher’s great line: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” But we’re way beyond that. That’s a droll quip when you’re on mid-20th-century European fertility rates, but we’ve advanced to the next stage: We’ve run out of other people, period. Hyper-rationalist technocrats introduced at remarkable speed a range of transformative innovations — welfare, feminism, mass college education, abortion — whose cumulative effect a few decades on is that the developed world has developed to breaking point: Not enough people do not enough work for not enough of their lives. In the course of so doing, they have fewer children later. And the few they do have leave childhood ever later — Obamacare’s much heralded “right” for a 26-year old to remain on his parents’ health insurance being merely a belated attempt to catch up with the Europeans, and one sure to be bid up further.

    A society of 25-year-old “children” whiling away the years till early middle age in desultory pseudo-education has no desire to fund its prolonged adolescence by any kind of physical labor, so huge numbers of unskilled Third World immigrants from the swollen favelas of Latin America or (in Europe) the shanty megalopolises of the Muslim world are imported to cook, clean, wash, build, do. On the Continent, the shifting rationale for mass immigration may not illuminate much about the immigrants but it certainly tells you something about the natives: Originally, European leaders said, we needed immigrants to work in the mills and factories. But the mills and factories closed. So the new rationale was that we needed young immigrants to keep the welfare state solvent. But in Germany the Turks retire even younger than the Krauts do, and in France 65 percent of imams are on the dole. So the surviving rationale is that a dependence on mass immigration is not a structural flaw but a sign of moral virtue. The evolving justification for post-war immigration policy — from manufacturing to welfare to moral narcissism — is itself a perfect shorthand for Western decay.

    So welfare entitlement states create a sense of entitlement. Who knew?

    “The European Union is dying before our eyes.” So there is an upside to the Greek crisis…

    Greece to Receive It’s Final Final Final Final Final Final Final Offer

    Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

    Looks like all of Greece’s creditors have finally decided it’s put up or shut up time for reform. “Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to face demands for tough reforms of Greece’s pension system, labor laws and other areas, as well as creditors’ insistence on painful budget measures to ensure that Greece runs a fiscal surplus before interest.”

    At this point Greece seems completely and utterly broke, unless there’s more upfront money in that still unsigned Russian pipeline deal than reports indicate (doubtful, given Russia’s own financial straits), or Tsipras finds yet another hidden money reserve to tap (“We can can pay pensions from the children’s bone marrow fund!”). So despite Tsipras’ insistence that they be allowed to keep spending other people’s money on their bankrupt welfare state, this time the jig may finally, finally, really, we mean it this time, for sure, be up.

    Here’s a piece that explains in terms of game theory why Tsipras overplayed his weak hand:

    Now, as long as the EU keeps Greece in the Eurozone then the Tsipras administration will find itself forced to either exit the Eurozone or apply the austerity it promised to end. Not only would such an outcome send a clear signal to other Eurozone nations that exiting was foolhardy, it would also indicate that radical, nationalist, anti-establishment and anti-austerity parties cannot deliver on their promises.

    The EU won’t force Greece to exit the Eurozone but it won’t offer anything to keep Syriza in power, either. The EU simply needs to keep negotiating without offering anything but strict compliance with what was already agreed upon, which is continued austerity in return for loans. In effect, to use a sports analogy, the EU just needs to “run out the clock.” In the end, it appears that Tsipras will either be forced out of office or forced to break up his coalition and form a new government with the mainstream parties, the outcome that EU and Germany have been angling for all along.

    (Though make no mistake: that “primary surplus” was always illusory.)

    A few more Greek debt crisis links:

  • Now Greece is threatening not to pay this week’s debt payment to the IMF unless a deal is agreed on. Once again, Tsipras is playing chicken with a Yugo, while his opponents are driving a Tiger tank…
  • Tsipras needs to stop making empty promises and get a clue. “He cannot expect Germans to volunteer the money Greece needs, so he can spend it on the kind of leftist economic fantasy that was discredited all over Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Just ask Argentina where default followed by populist economics leads.”
  • Germany has good reason to stop subsidizing Greece, namely their own crashing demographics: “Germany’s birth rate has collapsed to the lowest level in the world and its workforce will start plunging at a faster rate than Japan’s by the early 2020s, seriously threatening the long-term viability of Europe’s leading economy.” (Hat tip: Powerline.)
  • “A Greek exit is already priced into the euro.”
  • Greece Shuffles Deck Chairs

    Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

    Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has been demoted, evidently because the EuroCrats he was negotiating with hated his guts (a significant drawback when you’re trying to convince creditors to pour more money down the rathole that is the Greek economy).

    Will it make any difference to debt negotiations? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on which of two reasons he was fired for:

    Option 1.) Varoufakis was the designated Bad Cop in negotiations, and now he’s the symbolic sacrifice. “Golly, that Varoufakis guy was sure a jerk when he asked you to give us more loans without getting any reform in return! Now that I’m here as Mr. Good Cop instead, I’m sure you’ll give us give us more loans without getting any reform in return because we’re asking really, really nicely.”

    Option 2.) A lightbulb (or at least a dim, flickering candle) has finally gone off above the heads of the ruling far-left Syrizia Party that they will, in fact, actually have to implement real reforms if they want to shake more dough out of Mean Aunt Angela, and that implementing reform will only mean they’re really boned, while defaulting and leaving the Euro would mean they would be completely and utterly boned.

    Arguing for Option 2 is Reality and Logic, which have had very little to do with Syriza policy heretofore. Arguing against it is every single action of the Greek ruling class over the last five years. Best case, probably-too-optimistic scenario is that they’re going to try the God Cop Con first, then, when it fails (and it will), they may actually be dragged kicking and screaming to Option 2. Or at least appear to do so as part of the extend and pretend strategy that has characterized the entire Greek debt crisis since the beginning.

    None of it changes the underlying problem: The Greek welfare state is unsustainable, they’ve run out of other people’s money to pay for it, and they refuse to reform it, even at the point of impending national bankruptcy.