Italy: A Brewing Storm Within the EU

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Over the last couple of years, the main challenge to EU cohesion has been Brexit, with the media sharply focused on the negotiations and all relevant developments. Since the release of the draft withdrawal agreement, largely perceived as a victory for the EU, those who support the European project and believe in a strong leadership from Brussels have projected confidence and optimism for the future. According to these voices, the divisions caused by the rise of nationalism and populism in the past years are healing, the relationship between member states is normalizing, while a future of stability and harmony awaits.

However, such a vision might prove naive, as it discounts a much greater risk to the EU than Brexit ever was: the political and economic powder keg that is Italy. Continue reading

The Eurozone Banks’ Trillion-Euro Timebomb

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(Source: Bloomberg, Bologna, Miglietta, Segura)

 

Eurozone banks have fallen dramatically in the stock market despite the results of the stress tests carried out by the ECB, and the EU Banks Index is down 25% on the year despite year-long bullish recommendations from almost every broker. This should not surprise anyone because we have seen in the past that these tests are only a theoretical exercise. Moreover, stress tests’ results are widely challenged, and rightly so, because the exercise starts with the most ridiculous premise in economics: Ceteris Paribus, or “all else remaining equal”, which never happens. Every asset manager knows that risk builds slowly and happens fast. Continue reading

Merkel calls for ‘real, true’ EU army

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Merkel received a standing ovation – but also boos from some MEPs (Photo: European Parliament)

 

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday backed the idea of creating a “real, true” army for the European Union as the geopolitical alliances are redrawn all over the world.

Merkel spoke to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (13 November) backing up France’s Emmanuel Macron’s call last week for a European army, and rebuking US president Donald Trump, who has tweeted that the idea was “insulting”.

The German chancellor, who has already announced this is her last term in office, also called for a European security council with a rotating presidency of each EU member state, “where decisions can be made more rapidly”.

“The time when we can rely on others have passed, we have to take our fate into our own hands if we want to defend our community,” Merkel told the European Parliament. Continue reading

European Central Bank In Panic Mode as Economy Stalls

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The eurozone could not borrow from the momentum of the U.S. economy in the third quarter as economic growth slumped to a tepid 0.2% , the slowest rate in more than four years. With the 19-nation currency bloc beginning to stagnate, and the heavyweights failing to post significant gains, Brussels is in panic mode, likely leaning on the European Central Bank (ECB) for further stimulus.

Economists originally anticipated growth of 0.4%. But global trade woes, tumbling business confidence, Italian distress, and the gradual dissipation of an accommodative monetary policy all contributed to the poor numbers in the July-September period. Continue reading

A Transmission Belt of German Supremacy

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ROME/BERLIN (Own report) – German politicians and media are intensifying pressure on Rome in anticipation of today’s EU Commission verdict on Italy’s national budget. Already last week, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger announced, in reference to the Italian deficit, that the Italian government must “correct” its draft budget. Media reports refer to a “black week” for Rome. Negative reporting – like rating agencies’ devaluation of Italy’s creditworthiness – can contribute to the destabilization of Italy’s financial and credit markets. The country’s current downward spiral threatens to re-escalate the banking crisis. Whereas Berlin insists that the EU take sharp measures against deficits, Germany’s Finance Minister at the time, Wolfgang Schäuble had prevented the EU Commission from taking measures against excessive surpluses, which the commission sees as potentially just as destabilizing. Germany has been achieving these surpluses year after year.

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Global CFOs: U.S. has world’s only improving economy

 

The United States is the only major economy in the world to get an “improving” score in the latest CNBC survey of corporate executives.

The latest quarterly score marks the fifth quarter in a row that the economy under President Donald Trump has been viewed as “improving” in the CNBC Global CFO Council survey. Continue reading

All Euros Gravitate To Germany

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The Euro has been around for almost 20 years. The Russian transfer ruble survived 25 years. As GEFIRA explains, the two currencies have something in common: they were and are not a success story…

The introduction of the transfer ruble was intended to enable free trade between the countries of the Eastern bloc. The creation of the common clearing system led to the exchange rates for the East German mark, zloty, forint, lev, and even the Mongolian tugrik being arbitrarily fixed by the Soviet Union, regardless of the purchasing power of the national currencies. In the 1960s, the Bulgarian lev was 20% undervalued and the Polish zloty about 45% overvalued. Since the transfer ruble was not yet convertible into Western currencies, it remained an illusion and a means by which the Soviet Union could enrich itself and save its budget at the expense of its satellite states: the Russians bought raw materials, goods, food for convertible currencies in the West and sold them to their “socialist friends” for transfer rubels. The international bank for economic cooperation, which sat in Moscow and handled all transactions in the transfer ruble, swept the real trade surpluses and deficits under the carpet. With the political change the common settlement currency came to to an end, and it turned out that the Soviet Union owed huge sums to its “brothers”. Continue reading

Greece’s Bailout May Be Over, but Not Its Economic Woes

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A ripped off Greek national flag flutters in central Athens on July 22, 2015. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Underlying obstacles to job creation and entrepreneurship remain

After eight years, Greece has finally exited bailout territory, and the European Union is making a strong case that the program was a success.

While Greece may have ended the bailout process, the underlying issues that wrecked its economy in the first place remain largely intact. Continue reading

Germany Has Made Over 3 Billion Profit From Greece’s Crisis Since 2010

Extorted, subjugated and conquered. Greece has been a German vassal state for years already.

 

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Germany has earned around 2.9 billion euros in profit from interest since the first bailout for Greece in 2010.

As KeepTalkingGreece reports, this is the official response of the Federal Government to a request submitted by the Green party in Berlin.

The profit was transmitted to the central Bundesbank and from there to the federal budget. Continue reading

Merkel Supports European Military Consolidation

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Infantry soldiers of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, take part in a reconassaince mission during Thunder Storm 2018 multinational NATO military exercises on June 7, 2018 near Pabrade, Lithuania. (Getty Images)

 

German chancellor voices approval for French president’s military integration proposal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared on Sunday, June 3, that she held a “positive view” of French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for further European military integration.

Macron outlined his plan for a reformed eurozone in a September 2017 speech. He called for a European Union military intervention force with a budget agreed upon by the year 2020. He has been pushing for Germany to come on board with such a plan for a European military unity, stating, “Our ambitions cannot be realized alone. I have said it already several times, they need to be accompanied by Germany’s ambitions.” Continue reading

Italy’s populist parties reach new deal to form a government

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Luigi Di Maio of the Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini of the Lega will both be ministers in the new government (Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)

 

Italy’s populist parties were finally given the green light to form a coalition government on Thursday evening, after they backed down over their initial selection of a deeply eurosceptic economy minister.

After days of intensive negotiations and pressure from the markets, the anti-immigrant, hard-Right League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement agreed to a compromise.

Both parties had come close to forming a government at the weekend, only for their efforts to be torpedoed by President Sergio Mattarella, who refused to approve their controversial choice of Paolo Savona as economy minister.

Paolo Savona, 81, has called Italy’s adoption of the euro a “historic error”, describing the single currency as “a German cage” and calling for a “plan B” that would allow the country to exit the eurozone. Continue reading

Eurocracy

All roads continue to lead to Berlin, the powerhouse that runs and dictates Europe’s future. In this case, Berlin is spearheading an effort to keep Italy subjugated before an economic crisis (it’s already capitalizing off of) gets politically out of hand as it did in Greece, which is now a German vassal state. It’s Germany’s goal to create a United States of Europe and economic levers are but one tactic in harmonizing Europe how it sees fit in achieving that end.

 

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ROME/BERLIN (Own report) – Following massive complaints from Germany, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella blocked a euroskeptic from becoming his country’s finance minister, appointing an IMF man – favored by Berlin – to be prime minister. The democratically elected 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right Lega Nord majority’s opportunity to form a government was thereby denied. Euroskeptic Paolo Savona, a renowned career economist, was rejected because he could not have insured the maintenance of the EU’s common currency. Under his administration, resistance to Berlin’s austerity dictate could have been expected, whereas the newly appointed Prime Minster Carlo Cottarelli passed the test a few years ago as the Rome government’s austerity commissioner (“Mr. Scissors”). Savona’s nomination is the result of Italy’s growing euroskepticism, which, in the meantime, is also shared by other economists. “Germany profits, Italy loses” through the introduction of the euro, concludes Savona’s alternative candidate to the post of finance minister.

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The EU’s Backdoor Path to a Unified Superstate

For years there has been a struggle in the Eurozone between those that want to transform it into a transfer union and those that who want a Europe of independent and cooperating countries. The latter including Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Germany want strict limits for deficits and debt brakes as envisioned in the Fiscal Stability Treaty. Some, such as the European Constitutional Group, even demand a mechanism for an orderly break-up of the Eurozone. The former including Mediterranean member states led by France, do not openly call their objective a fiscal union or the creation of a “European Super State” but prefer to talk about a “deepening of the European project.” The reason for this division is straightforward: The central and northern European countries would be the contributors to a transfer union while the club Med would be on the receiving side. Continue reading

Cologne Institute of German Business Warns of Deposit Protection May Not Survive in Europe

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The Cologne Institute of German Business sees in the planned European deposit insurance is simply incapable of proving protection against a bank crash in Europe. The EU deposit guarantee is simply not practical under any concept of austerity. The Eurozone still has inherent significant risks in the balance sheets of European financial institutions. This is primarily because where the USA took the bad loans from the banks and stuffed them into Freddie and Fanny, in Europe, the bad loans are still on the books of the banks. Systemically, this has been the leading problem why Europe has been unable to recover and Quantitative Easing merely robber savers of their income and it failed completely to stimulate the economy. Banks were still reluctant to lend and people would not borrow if they did not have confidence in the future. Continue reading

Export World Champion under Pressure

BERLIN (Own report) – With intense shuttle diplomacy, members of the German government are seeking to avert the impending US punitive tariffs on European goods and the loss of access to the important US market. Following Germany’s Finance Minster Olaf Scholz’s visit to the US capital yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in Washington on Friday. Already in the run up to these visits, Berlin seems ready to envisage a revival of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This strategic decision is accompanied by a clear frontline position against China, as was resolutely demanded by the Trump administration. In addition, German-Russian business relations are increasingly under attack in Washington. At the same time, EU criticism of Germany’s unilateral trade policies is growing. Germany’s export oriented economy is particularly vulnerable to the protectionism that is gaining strength on a global scale. Berlin’s Beggar-thy-Neighbor-Policy could prove a strategic disadvantage under these new global economic conditions. Continue reading