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ECONOMICS AND ESOTERICA FOR A NEW PARADIGM

Posts Tagged ‘Greek sovereign collapse

EU’s unraveling destroys the meme of Democracy

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from The Daily Bell
Posted November 07, 2011

Greeks await name of new coalition government PM … Greeks are keen to return to some stability after months of turmoil … Greek leaders are due to agree the name of a new prime minister to lead a unity government until fresh polls are held. The deal came after Prime Minister George Papandreou agreed to stand down. It followed days of upheaval caused by his decision – now revoked – to hold a referendum on the EU bailout plan to tackle Greece’s debt crisis. – BBC

Dominant Social Theme:
Greeks cannot wait for their new “unity” government.

Free-Market Analysis:
Parliamentary democracy is farce. That is one of many benefits provided to us by the unraveling of the EU. The Greeks – most Greeks, anyway – seem to want to leave the EU. They don’t want to be rescued. They want to be left alone.

The elites who have created the promotional elements of regulatory democracy and parliaments did so with the idea that that this meme would be an effective replacement for the Divinity of Kings meme. Both are equally inadequate in our view. God did not choose Kings – not any more than people nowadays choose their democratic leaders.

Nowhere is this more evident now than in the EU where countries regularly are denied the opportunity to vote on anything of consequence. Not that we think voting is such a big deal, but it seems to us better than the alternative, which is simply having a political ideology imposed upon you.

The Greeks therefore will know what they believe in, in aggregate. The Greeks, like the British, are to be denied the opportunity to vote on their “participation” in the EU. The Greeks are to have their democracy, but only as it affects unimportant matters.

The mask has slipped a little. We see the iron fist beneath the velvet glove. The entire mechanism of elite control is on display in Greece. We’ve watched it unfold, as you have, dear reader. The mechanism is NOT being driven by an ideology or vision of a unified Europe. It’s being driven by a merciless power elite that wants to keep Europe together as a region in order to use it and other regions to build world government.

Why do they need Europe to retain its unitary composition? Why not let it split back up? Because this would shatter the larger narrative of directed history. You see, for at least a century and perhaps a lot longer, the world has been in the grip of a PROMOTION.

In this promotion, almost every aspect of world history including wars, revolutions, technological advances and even money itself are manipulated to TELL A STORY. The story that is being told is one of the inevitability of world government.

This is why we emphasize that the elite uses dominant social themes, fear-based sub-promotions existing within the larger promotion to control the narrative leading to a one-world order. The elite cannot simply decree it. They need to work within the boundaries of what is justifiable.

This is important because the elites need to look toward the future. They cannot simply “make it up.” They need to work within rough guidelines. In the future the story will be told that forward-looking leaders created the European Union and then found it worked so well that they created a Union of the World.

For this reason, among others, they don’t want the Union to collapse. For this reason, among others, we have indicated that a collapse of the Union in our view will indicate the efficacy of the Internet Reformation which is now continually collapsing elite memes. It is a big problem. For them.

And so they muddle along. It is analogous to the Emperor With No Clothes. He, too, finally realized that he was naked for all the world to see. But he marched on, nonetheless. He kept up the pretense.

The elites, too, find it necessary to keep up the pretense for as long as possible. The promotional mechanism has been exposed. The buy-in that the elites desperately need has been shattered. And yet they continue. The rote rehearsal of an illegitimate program is more important than its credibility.

The intelligentsia has fallen away, and this too is a problem. Without an intelligentsia willingly proselytizing directed history, its imposition becomes more difficult to maintain and mold. This is one of the reasons the elites spent so much time and effort cultivating 20th century thought magazines like the Economist, the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

These were relatively tiny publications, but they reached the “thinking people” – the larger group that was ideologically fluent though uninvolved directly with the one-world conspiracy or its money mafia. It was this larger group of concept-adept people that the power elite especially wanted to manipulate.

And manipulate them they did, with savagery and savage joy. In the mid-20th century, it had to be seen to be believed. You likely couldn’t find a major American or European city that didn’t have its cadre of youthful intellectuals sitting around in cafes, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and debating the “isms” – communism, socialism and fascism.

If you had suggested to these youngsters that all of these concepts were merely the construct of a tiny band of impossibly wealthy families and their enablers and associates, you would have been shunned as a nutcase. The disconnect would have been impossibly vital! Mere words would not have sufficed. Such a conspiratorial concept could not have been entertained, even. And was not.

Why? Because of the efficacy of DIRECTED HISTORY. It was that good. It was that persuasive – and pervasive. And that is the system that the elite continues to employ today – even though people see through it and it’s lost a good deal of its credibility with the ‘Net intelligentsia, which is the only intelligentsia, these days, worth considering.

The article excerpt above from a BBC report states that the Greeks are eager to “return to stability.” What a lie this is. Greeks are eager to return to a life, from what we can see, where they will not be hounded by the EU and its domestic, parliamentary harriers. Greeks, from what we understand, don’t want EU bailouts. They want to leave the EU.

The possibility of Greece leaving the euro has been raised by EU leaders, the article tells us. We highly doubt that these “leaders” want that to occur. They’ve got their claws into Greece. Grecian sovereignty is already basically abrogated. Greece as a nation does not really exist anymore, though Greece as a culture shall perpetuate itself.

Greece and Greek culture has given so much to the world. The greatest gift may be the spectacle once again of elite manipulation and the evident and obvious ruse that is parliamentary democracy. Once the elites get through with Greece it will likely be impossible to maintain that this sort of system has any legitimacy.

Conclusion:
No doubt the power elite is fomenting another meme to take its place. We’ve described it, in fact. But in this era of the Internet Reformation it is unlikely to be nearly as efficacious as the last one.

EU leaders throw Europe a plutonium life preserver

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by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds
Posted October 27, 2011

The euro system was doomed from inception for fundamental reasons; trying to conjure up “something for nothing” solutions will fail catastrophically, and soon.

As Europe flails helplessly in the waves of insolvency, its leadership has tossed it a life preserver. Too bad it’s plutonium, and will take Europe straight to the bottom. Plutonium is of course one of the most toxic materials on the planet, and the “rescue” cooked up by the EU leadership is the financial equivalent of plutonium.

Stripped of propaganda and disinformation, the “rescue” boils down to this: something for nothing. Sound familiar? Isn’t “something for nothing” what inflated the bubbles which have popped so violently? The EU “rescue” conjures something for nothing in two ways:

1. The financial alchemist’s favorite magic: leverage. Take a couple hundred billion euros in cash, leverage it up with various magic (unlimited power is now at your fingertips!) and voila, you can suddenly backstop 1 trillion euros of banking-sector losses, all with illusory money. Something for nothing.

2. “Guarantees” to cover the first 20% of loan losses. This is being presented as the equivalent of 100% guarantees, because it is inconceivable that losses could exceed 20%. In other words, the credulous buyer of at-risk Euroland bonds is supposed to be reassured enough to load the wagon because 20% of the bond is backstopped.

This is something for nothing because the EU leadership is explicitly claiming the at-risk portion–80% of every bond–is somehow “safer” because the first 20% will be paid by EU taxpayers.

In essence, the EU is claiming that its illusory “something for nothing” magic will turn lead into gold. Abracadabra….oh well, close; it’s heavy, it’s metallic – oops, it’s plutonium.

The leadership is resorting to Cargo Cult incantations and legerdemain because the alternative is to raise the 1 trillion euros in cold hard cash needed to bail out the first wave of failed banks and underwater bondholders by raising taxes and cutting budgets, i.e. austerity. (Recall that the total bill will be at least 3 trillion euros, so 1 trillion is just a down payment.)

Raising cash the hard way is politically unacceptable in both France and Germany, not to mention every other nation in the EU, so the political lackeys of the banking sector and bondholders are cravenly substituting a “something for nothing” magic show which they hope will fool the global bond market.

Note to EU lackeys: there is no free lunch. Leverage is plutonium, not gold, and guaranteeing the first 20% of bonds that are doomed to lose 40%-75% is not terribly appealing to anyone not influenced by the ECB’s mind tricks. (“These are not the euros you’re looking for; move along.”)

No wonder France was so anxious for the ECB to crank up the euro printing press: they wanted– just like everyone else involved–something for nothing.

The best way to understand the EU’s current situation is to imagine an astoundingly dysfunctional family of deep-in-denial-addicts, screaming co-dependent parents, and grown-up grifters acting like spoiled brats, all trapped in a rat-infested, flooded flat that’s had the gas turned off for lack of payment – and there’s a plutonium life preserver glowing in the knee-high water. Admittedly, this analogy is imperfect, but it does capture the essential psychology of the end-game being played out.

A slightly more formal model for understanding the increasingly unstable dynamics of the EU is the post-colonial “plantation” model I’ve described before. The key characteristics of the Colonial Model of Capitalism are:

1. Low cost labor and low-value materials flow from the periphery (colonies) to the Empire (center), which then ships high-value, high-profit finished goods back to the colonies.

2. The colonies must buy the high-value finished goods on credit that is issued and controlled by the Imperial center.

Hmm – doesn’t this sound like the relationship of Germany to the European periphery? The euro cemented this co-dependency: Germany had the most efficient production, and once the euro raised the cost of production in the periphery nations, then of course nobody could beat Germany’s cost advantages. The euro actually lowered Germany’s cost of production in terms of foreign exchange rates while raising the costs in periphery nations that were previously able to lower their cost of production via currency devaluations.

Having surrendered that mechanism to access the deep credit markets of the center, then they had no choice but to buy the high-margin finished goods from Germany, as nobody else could make the same goods for the low German price.

These booming high-profit German exports of finished goods to the European periphery generated vast surpluses of capital that were then loaned to the periphery to enable their further purchases of German goods. Why risk the heavy investment costs of production in the periphery when Germany had the lowest costs of production and was willing to loan the buyers the cash needed to keep buying?

It’s the classic mercantilist-consumer co-dependency on a gigantic scale, with low-cost credit fueling both increased consumption and production. As long as the credit flowed in vast torrents of low-cost, easy to borrow money, the co-dependency looked like a “virtuous cycle.” Debt junkies eventually have to start servicing their debts, of course, and that’s when the ugly realities of colonial dominance become visible.

Germany casts itself in this melodrama as the wronged party, the industrious craftsfolk churning out high-quality goods who have somehow been lured into pouring hard-earned cash down various ratholes to save nefarious EU banks – including their own.

But setting aside the melodrama for a moment, let’s ask: how many German goods would have been imported by the EU periphery if those nations had been forced to pay cash for everything from the start? Precious little is the answer; the cash – in the form of actual surpluses available to spend on imports – would have run out immediately after the euro was launched.

In other words, the debt orgy enabled not just carefree consumption, it also enabled vast German exports to the Eurozone. Now we start seeing how the once-mutually beneficial co-dependency has become toxic: now that the periphery’s debtors have become debt-serfs, German exports to the periphery are contracting.

This helps explain why even the supposedly prudent Germans are seeking something for nothing as the painless answer to an intrinsically unstable and self-destructive system. When it all implodes, German exports to the periphery will be a shadow of their past glory, and the surpluses which enabled the leveraged orgy of credit will dwindle. (Germany’s other big export markets, China and the U.S., are also contracting.)

Sovereign currencies are the only mechanism for discounting differences in credit worthiness and production costs. The euro was established as the currency equivalent of gold, holding the same value in every member country. But the mercantilist/quasi-colonial model requires credit to flow from the center to the periphery, and that is precisely what has happened in the EU.

In the colonial model, the colonists are indebted and poor. The net value of their labor flows to the Imperial center as interest payments, and the banks at the center set the cost of money and the terms – naturally.

This co-dependency based on credit flowing from the mercantilist center to the periphery is both exploitative and systemically unstable. Now that the ontological instability of the euro is being revealed, the dysfunctional family members are blaming each other and desperately trying to conjure up something for nothing to bail themselves out of a system which was doomed to implode from its very inception.

All the complexity and confusion distills down to this: the EU leadership needs something for nothing to save the EU, but there is no free lunch. There is only one solution to the exploitation, the illusory leverage, the crushing debts: massive write-offs of all the bad debt everywhere in the EU. And since debt is someone else’s asset, then that means writing down the assets, too. The only way to clear the insolvency is to write off 3 trillion euros of debt-based assets and re-enable sovereign currencies. Anything else is simply more tiresome melodrama.

It’s Over.

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by Karl Denninger
Posted September 12th, 2011
Market-Ticker.org

SERIOUSLY.

THERE IS PERSISTENT CHATTER ABOUT A GREEK DEFAULT over the weekend, which Greece denied, but the denier refused to be named. If it’s not true, then put your damned name on the statement or be considered what you are – liars. Greece failed to place their short-term bill rollover. That’s a declaration by the market that even for short-term paper the market has utterly lost confidence in Greece and the Euro.

Germany’s DAX market relative to the United States just hit a five year low today. To add to the “liar liar pants on fire” calls Germany is now reported to be working a plan to recapitalize their banks if Greece defaults.

This in turn means three things:

 

 

• A Greek default is considered credible by Germany and they are taking official actions related to that possibility. So much for the denials.

• German banks (and presumably French banks and all the other big banks too) are insolvent as they are carrying these bonds at well above their actual value in the marketplace. If the bonds were carried at the claimed “loss” values, which is quoted as 50%, then there would be no need to recapitalize them would there? This is an official statement of proof that the banks are lying about asset values and are in fact insolvent.

• Remember that we were just told days ago that these banks were fine and needed no capital and in fact calls for more capital by the IMF were officially refused. The same claim has been made about our banks. You were just told officially by Germany that their claim of adequate capital just days ago was a lie as they are now planning to recapitalize the banks. Do you believe our banks are not similarly exposed and also insolvent? YOU’RE BETTING YOUR FUTURE ON THE BELIEF THAT THEY ARE, SO THIS QUESTION IS QUITE GERMANE AND TIMELY: ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT BEING LIED TO EXACTLY AS WE WERE ABOUT GERMAN BANKS?

Coincident with this hitting the wires there was a massive flow of money into the Japanese Yen – and out of the Euro. A monstrous safety trade – people fleeing the European common currency for what they perceive as a “safe haven.” At the same time our markets are down 300 DOW points, the S&P is down 2.5% on the day and more than forty points off the early-morning top — and there’s no sign that things are stabilizing at all.

I said the Euro was going to par, and that might be too conservative. With that our stock market will get cut in half — or more — from here and once again the banks, insurance companies and everyone else will start crying poor mouth.

The problem is that this time there’s no money to bail them out with in the US and as a result if this outcome manifests they will fail. The embedded losses in those institutions on mortgages alone total trillions, which is several times the available debt ceiling and so far beyond the FDIC’s reserves that there is no way to cover you, the average person.

Nobody – and I do mean nobody – in our political establishment from either party gives a damn about the lies and outright fraud in our financial system. Neither political party, including some very specific representatives that have railed about various problems in capital markets, the IMF and similar over the last couple of years will even open their damn mouths, say much less demand structural changes and an end to the frauds. I have been making attempts to break through that “glass ceiling” now for four years with several representative and senatorial offices. How many speeches have you seen on this topic, or even questions directed at like people such as Bernanke under oath?

I’ll answer that for you: ZERO.

The opportunity to fix these problems has been there since 2007 and I have steadfastly put forward plans that will work to resolve these issues, albeit at the cost of there being no more leverage-driven asset-stripping games. I’ve written over four thousand Tickers [Market-Ticker.org] since 2007 and a couple of White Papers and distributed them to Congressional offices by postal mail and fax. In addition there are literal hundreds of staffers that access The Ticker on a regular basis along with every three-letter government agency, including the law-enforcement ones.

There can be no claim that “nobody saw this coming” because I assure you that not only did plenty of people see it coming I have repeatedly warned of the “end game” and consequences – loudly.

Nobody from either party will address this or even discuss this and the reason should be obvious – the banks own the politicians. That’s fine – they can both hang on the rope of their own construction through their willful and intentional acts of malfeasance and fraud. Absolutely none of this was a mistake.

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Germany and Greece flirt with mutual assured destruction

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by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph
Posted 11 September 2011

BILD ZETUNG POPULISM HAS PREVAILED. Germany is pushing Greece towards a hard default, risking the uncontrollable chain reaction so long feared by markets. Greece can, if provoked, pull the pin on the European banking system and inflict huge damage on Germany itself. Photo: AP

First we learn from planted leaks that Germany is activating “Plan B”, telling banks and insurance companies to prepare for 50pc haircuts on Greek debt; then that Germany is “studying” options that include Greece’s return to the drachma. German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has chosen to do this at a moment when the global economy is already flirting with double-dip recession, bank shares are crashing, and global credit strains are testing Lehman levels. The recklessness is breath-taking.

If it is a pressure tactic to force Greece to submit to EU-IMF demands of yet further austerity, it may instead bring mutual assured destruction.

“Whoever thinks that Greece is an easy scapegoat, will find that this eventually turns against them, against the hard core of the eurozone,” said Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos. Greece can, if provoked, pull the pin on the European banking system and inflict huge damage on Germany itself, and Greece has certainly been provoked.

Germany’s EU commissioner Günther Oettinger said Europe should send blue helmets to take control of Greek tax collection and liquidate state assets. They had better be well armed. The headlines in the Greek press have been “Unconditional Capitulation”, and “Terrorization of Greeks”, and even “Fourth Reich”.

Mr Schauble said there would be no more money for Athens under the EU-IMF rescue package until the Greeks “do what they agreed to do” and comply with every demand of ‘Troika’ inspectors.

Yet to push Greece over the edge risks instant contagion to Portugal, which has higher levels of total debt, and an equally bad current account deficit near 9pc of GDP, and is just as unable to comply with Germany’s austerity dictates in the long run. From there the chain-reaction into EMU’s soft-core would be fast and furious.

Let us be clear, the chief reason why Greece cannot meet its deficit targets is because the EU has imposed the most violent fiscal deflation ever inflicted on a modern developed economy – 16pc of GDP of net tightening in three years – without offsetting monetary stimulus, debt relief, or devaluation.

This has sent the economy into a self-feeding downward spiral, crushing tax revenues. The policy is obscurantist, a replay of the Gold Standard in 1931. It has self-evidently failed. As the Greek parliament said, the debt dynamic is “out of control”. We all know that Greece behaved badly for a decade. The time for tough love was long ago, when the mistakes were made and all sides were seduced by the allure of EMU.

Even if the Papandreou government met every Troika demand at this point, it would not make any material difference. Greek citizens already understand this, and they understand that EU loan packages are merely being recycled to northern banks. Instead of recognizing the collective EU failure at every stage of this debacle, the creditor powers are taking out their fury on what is now a victim.

We have never been so close to EMU rupture. Friday’s resignation of Jurgen Stark at the European Central Bank is literally a kataklysmos, a German vote of no confidence in EMU management. Dr Stark is not just an ECB board member. He is the keeper of the Bundesbank’s monetary flame.

The vehemence of his protest against ECB bond purchases confirm what markets suspect: that the ECB cannot shore up Italian and Spanish debt markets for long without losing Germany. “I look at what is happening in EMU and the words that spring to mind are total and utter disaster”, said Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS. He thinks German Bund yields could break below 1pc in the flight to safety.

Citigroup and UBS both issued reports last week on the mechanics of EMU break-up, both concluding with touching faith that EU leaders cannot and will not allow it to happen.

“The euro should not exist,” said Stephane Deo from UBS. It creates more costs than benefits for the weak. Its “dysfunctional nature” was disguised by a credit bubble. The error is now “painfully obvious”. Yet Mr Deo warns that EMU exit would not be as painless as departing the ERM in 1992. Monetary unions do not break up lightly. The denouement usually entails civil disorder, even war.

If a debtor such as Greece left, the new drachma would crash by 60pc. Its banks would collapse. Switching sovereign debt into drachma would be a default, shutting the country out of capital markets. Exit would cost 50pc of GDP in the first year. If creditors such as Germany left, the new mark would jump 40pc to 50pc against the rump euro. Banks would face big haircuts on euro debt, and would need recapitalization. Trade would shrink by a fifth. Exit would cost 20pc to 25pc of GDP. UBS concludes that the only course is a “fiscal confederation”, a la Suisse.

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“The Euro is finished”

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from Mike Krieger of KAM LP
Posted September 8, 2011

There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation.  One is by the sword. The other is by debt. 
– John Adams

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

TO REGULAR READERS OF MY PIECES OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS this may not seem like a particularly poignant statement.  After all, I have referred to the Euro and the U.S. dollar both as worthless political toilet paper for years.  The reason I bring it up right now is not to state the obvious long-term macro conclusion that the Euro is a foolish, unnatural creation that only political types twiddling their thumbs in a room could come up with.  No, rather the reason I say it now is because I believe the Sword of Damocles is now hovering right over it.

The only question in my mind at the moment regards the specifics of how it will end.  I would say that the majority of those that think there is a strong likelihood that the euro falls apart envision the PIIGS countries leaving or being thrown out. While I certainly think this is a possibility, especially if Greece just calls it quits and then successfully transitions to its own highly devalued currency since this would for sure start the ball rolling and before long many of the other financially weak nations would also bail.

In such an event, I suppose what is left of the euro could be comprised of stronger Northern European nations and in that case what is left of the common currency could in fact strengthen materially versus other fiat currencies for which no such “restructuring” has occurred. However, I am not convinced this is what happens. The reason I am not convinced is because I don’t believe that the desired austerity measures will ever really go into effect in these nations and even if they did it would merely collapse those economies and the problem would not be solved.

As many have stated over and over (including myself) there is no conventional solution to this crisis. There is far too much debt and there is no way real GDP growth can grow fast enough to counter this. The debt will be defaulted on via restructuring/default or a dramatic destruction of the purchasing power of fiat currencies. Nevertheless, the bureaucrats in Europe have such a deep love affair with their preposterous experiment they will turn a blind eye to all the transgressions of the PIIGS and continue to just pretend they have solved something with every new bailout scheme.

So that brings us to the other, and I think increasingly likely, outcome. That is namely that the ECB continues to transfer wealth from the prudent and fiscally more sound nations (mainly Germany) to the periphery until the populace of Germany snaps.  I think that moment is very, very close at hand.  Once that tipping point is reached there will be no turning back. The popular anger at the ECB and Euro will be so profound and so long festering that it will overwhelm all attempts to keep things together. Germany could leave the Euro. Or it could make it so difficult for the PIIGS that they are forced to leave. Either way, Germany is EVERYTHING.

Nothing else in Europe matters right now besides the sentiment on the German street and it has become pretty clear lately which way that is going. I am 100% convinced that Germany will play nice until that crucial moment is reached where it really is put up or shut up (we are close). At that point, I have no doubt that Germany will do what is best for Germany. In the event that Germany was to leave, the Euro would be gone forever. It would become pure confetti overnight. This is not my base case but it could happen. Anything can happen right now.

The Fourth Turning is Global

All of this discussion about the euro brings me to a broader point. While for obvious reasons I focus my attention on the United States because this is where I live and what I know best it is imperative for me to clarify my view that this Fourth Turning we are in is global in nature. Remember, what really characterizes these shifts is the fact that the trends, institutions, political structures and parties, social mores, money systems, etc. all die and are reborn during such episodes.

The last to get this of course are the elites and the political class who are always in bed together and seemingly at the height of their collective corruption once the Fourth Turning hits. We see this everywhere at the moment, from the U.S. to the Eurozone to China. What makes me laugh more than anything else are all these political hacks and financial “analysts” who keep saying that the answer to the crisis in Europe is a fiscal union in Europe.

That somehow this crisis will lead to the necessary resolve to form a fiscal United States of Europe, or some idiocy like that, sorry folks, it’s not going to happen. This whole “problem, reaction, solution” playbook worked for the elite in the prior era but it will no longer work. The playbook is out there. It has been read and studied. We know the playbook. It’s not going to work this time.

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Bailout rebellion in Germany

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by Wolf Richter – www.testosteronepit.com
Posted September 7th, 2011

“WE’RE ON THE WAY TO A WORLDWIDE FINANCIAL DICTATORSHIP governed by bankers,” said Peter Gauweiler, German Bundestags Representative (CSU), in an interview published Monday in the Welt Online. “We don’t support Greece,” he said. “We support 25 or 30 worldwide investment banks and their insane activities.”

Successful lawyer, he fought back in the German Supreme Court, claiming that the money-printing and bailout operations by the European Central Bank (ECB), and Germany’s role in them, violate the constitution. The court’s decision is expected on Wednesday. The foundation of the euro was the Stability Pact, he said—a contract that now has been broken. And he wonders if “the euro can still function as a value-retaining currency.”

This, just as Wolfgang Schäuble, Finance Minister, has been dealt a defeat of sorts by his own governing coalition during the trial vote for the expansion of the current European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) whose purpose it is to bail out an ever lager circle of debt-sinner countries. 25 members of his coalition voted against it or abstained. The actual vote is scheduled for September 29.

And the numbers are ugly. 89% of the population oppose the expansion of the EFSF and doubt that ever larger amounts will solve the debt crisis, according to a recent poll. 80% demand that parliament must agree each time before Germany can take on additional burdens and risks. And 85% demand that financial institutions, rather than taxpayer, take the first losses when a country defaults. What galls them is that they have to shoulder these risks and burdens so that debt-sinner countries can borrow even more at lower interest rates.

“The ECB’s bond buying program was a mistake,” laments Hans-Werner Sinn, President of Ifo Institute for Economic Research. Opening the money spigot removed the incentives for the affected countries to undergo needed budgetary and structural reforms. He holds up as proof Italy’s currents effort to weasel out of budget cuts and tax increases and Greece’s resistance to reform.

“It would be a lot cheaper for German taxpayers” if Greece exited the eurozone, said Hermann Otto Solms, financial expert of the FDP, the government’s coalition partner, in an interview in the Südwest Presse. Greece has violated repeatedly the condition for the aid package, and “in the long run, that cannot be permitted.” Otherwise, the system of mutual support will lose credibility, and other countries will be tempted to manage their own budgets at the expense of stronger countries. Of course, Greece’s debt would have to be restructured, and banks may have to be bailed out again, just like after Lehman, but it would cost less than endless support. Greece would also be better off. It would get rid of much of its debt. And drastic devaluation of its new currency would make it competitive in a globalized economy.

Meanwhile, Italy is backpedaling on its “blood-and-tears plan” to raise taxes and cut its budget by €45 billion. In Spain and Italy, people are demonstrating in the streets, and strikers are paralyzing Italian air traffic. Austerity plans aren’t popular. It’s easier to borrow and print than to get your financial house in order.

This is exactly what Jens Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank, warns about in an interview published in the Börsen-Zeitung. Euro-Bonds would undermine the incentives for heavily indebted countries to build solid budget policies, he said. “The jump into common liability without limits on national sovereignty could unravel the institutional framework of the Monetary Union.”

Already in August, the Bundesbank had lashed out fiercely at its omnipotent sister, the ECB, for its decision to print money and buy sovereign bonds of debt-sinner countries. These attacks put the Bundesbank on collision course with export-oriented industrialists and financial institutions that have been the primary beneficiaries of its neighbors’ borrowing binge, something Germans tend to forget in the heat of the battle. But it’s not just Germans.

“Let the euro die its natural death,” said Marine Le Pen (article in English) in her populist manner. The media-savvy and vocal president of the Front National of France is one of the top contenders in the 2012 presidential election. Populists in other European countries are gaining ground as well. People have always perceived the euro as an invention by the elite for the elite, and many of the current problems in Europe are blamed on it. So whether or not the eurozone will survive in its current form and with its current members is at least partially a question of its ability to run counter the will of its people, and get away with it.

German endgame for EMU draws ever nearer

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by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Telegraph International Business Editor
Posted September 4, 2011

For fifty years Germany has invariably stumped up the money required to keep Europe’s Project on track, responding to unreasonable demands with grace and generosity. We will find out to what extent Germany’s constitutional court (pictured) shares these views when it rules this Wednesday on the legality of the EU rescue machinery. Photo: AP


It bankrolled French farmers through the Common Agricultural Policy, that disguised tithe for war reparations. It then bankrolled Spanish farmers as well. It funded each new wave of EU expansion, though reeling itself from the €60bn annual cost of its own reunification. It gave up the cherished D-Mark, the anchor of German economic stability.

We are so used to German self-abnegation for the sake of Europe that we can hardly imagine any other state of affairs. But the escalating protest against EMU bail-outs by Germany’s key insistutions go beyond the banalities of money. The fight is over German democracy itself.

Those who talk of a Fourth Reich or believe that EMU is a “German racket to take over the whole of Europe” – as Nicholas Ridley famously put it – have the matter backwards.

Germans allowed their country to be tied down with “silken cords”. They are the most reliable defenders of freedom and parliamentary prerogative in Europe, precisely because they know their history. Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble could hardly have chosen a more toxic term than “Bevollmächtigung” or general enabling power when he requested blanket authority from the Bundestag for EU rescues, as if Weimar were so soon forgotten. He was roundly rebuffed.

You can feel the storm brewing in Germany. Within days of each other, President Christian Wulff accused the European Central Bank of going “far beyond” its mandate and subverting Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty by shoring up insolvent states, and Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said bail-out policies had “completely gutted” the EU law.

Both believe the EU Project has taken a dangerous turn. Fiscal powers are slipping away to a supra-national body beyond sovereign control. “This strikes at the very core of our democracies. Decisions have to be made in parliament in a liberal democracy. That is where legitimacy lies,” said Mr Wulff.

Otmar Issing, the ECB’s founding guru, fears that the current course must ultimately provoke the “resistance of the people”. Instead of evolving into an authentic union with a “European government controlled by a European Parliament” on democratic principles, it has become deformed halfway house.

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