The U.S. economy is growing at a painfully slow pace. Greece still threatens the euro. Chinese stocks have just pulled out of a frightening free-fall. Big companies in the U.S. are struggling to boost profits.
You might think it’s been a rough year for investors, but it’s mostly been a smooth ride – and a profitable one.
Money is flowing into bonds issued by the riskiest of companies, home prices in some big U.S. cities are soaring, shares of technology companies are still near all-time highs – even after a drop this week – and auction houses are enjoying record sales of art. A Picasso painting sold at Christie’s for $179 million in May, the highest ever for an artwork at auction, prompting one dealer to exclaim, “I don’t really see an end to it.” Continue reading
Can you guess where all roads lead in Europe? If you said Berlin, who runs the Troika, you win. This is always why they have a say in the Troika’s dealings.
All mainstream news is painting the Greeks as the bad guys and the Troika as the savior of Europe. Quite frankly, it is really disgusting. Pictures of an elderly Greek pensioner have gone viral depicting what the Troika is deliberately doing to the Greek people trying to punish them for their own failed design of the Euro in a system that is just economically unsustainable.
The heartbreaking photographs of a 77-year-old retiree Giorgos Chatzifotiadis pensioner showing he has just collapsed on the ground openly in tears driven to despair outside a Greek bank with his savings book and identity card strewn next to him on the ground illustrates the horror the Troika is deliberately trying to inflict upon the Greek population. Continue reading
In the meantime, the turmoil offers an opportunity for Russia to advance its interests. Of course, the EU is an absolutely critical trading partner for Russia, so if the bloc starts to fray at the seams, that presents financial risks to an already struggling Russian economy. Russia’s central bank governor Elvira Nabiulllina warned in June of the brewing threat that a Greek default would have on Russia. “We do consider that scenario as one of possible risks which would increase turbulence in the financial markets in the European market, bearing in mind the fact the European Union is one of major trading partners, and we are definitely worried by it,” she said in an interview with CNBC.
With the economic fallout in mind, Russia does see strategic opportunities in growing discord within Europe. First, Russia is pushing its Turkish Stream Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline that it has proposed that would run from Russia through Turkey and link up in Greece. From there, Russian gas would travel on to the rest of Europe. Russia is vying against a separate pipeline project that would send natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Turkey and on to Europe. Continue reading
Fears of a Greek exit from the EU have grown after the head of the European Central Bank said the currency bloc has “buffers” in place to avoid a chain reaction meltdown were the country to be forced out.
The statements came from the ECB after a series of meetings with big players from the international financial community. Continue reading
Speaking to THE TIMES, Kammenos said:
“The gross meddling into [Greek] domestic affairs isn’t just unheard for European standards, it’s unethical and it’s dangerous. If Greece goes, then a lot more than financial stability and the euro is at stake.”
“If Greece is expelled or forced out of the eurozone, waves of immigrants without papers, including radical elements, will stream from Turkey and head towards the heart of the West,” Kammenos told The Times. Continue reading
Ireland is to hold a referendum on whether to accept the European fiscal treaty which tightens controls on member states’ budgetary decisions.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was confident the public will vote in favour of ratifying the contentious compact.
“I believe it is in Ireland’s national interest that this treaty be approved,” said Mr Kenny.
The Taoiseach, who announced plans for the referendum in the Dail, said that adopting the fiscal compact would be vital for Ireland’s economic recovery and job creation.
A decision to hold a referendum was taken on advice from Attorney General Maire Whelan.
The treaty, agreed by 25 of the 27 European Union states after Britain and the Czech Republic refused support, must be ratified by January 2013.
It is designed to prevent a repeat of the Greek debt crisis and protect against the potential collapse of the euro currency.
Full article: Ireland To Hold Referendum On EU Treaty (Yahoo!)
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has become the first member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to come out in favor of Greece leaving the eurozone and returning to its former currency, the drachma.
“Greece’s chances of regenerating itself and becoming competitive would certainly be better than if it stays in the eurozone,” the Spiegel Online news website quoted Friedrich as saying.
“I’m not talking about kicking Greece out, but instead about creating incentives for it to leave, that it couldn’t refuse,” Friedrich added. The interior minister is a member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
Full article: German minister says Greece should leave the eurozone (Deutsche Welle)
According to the fine print of a treaty signed on February 21, the European Union now has the power to seize Greece’s gold reserves. The modifications the EU is forcing into the Greek constitution vest Greece’s creditors, mainly European banks and the European Central Bank, with the authority to take gold from the Bank of Greece.
“This is the first time ever that a European and probably an O.E.C.D. state abdicates its rights of immunity over all its assets to its lenders,” said Greek Member of Parliament Louka Katseli, who drew attention to the potential gold seizure.
Full article: Europe to Seize Greece’s Gold (The Trumpet)
Hungary — quite possibly the next target of the German-dominated EU.
Hungary appears to be turning into the next Greece. The country has failed to reduce its deficit, and today the European Commission reacted. The executive arm of the European Union has announced a proposal to withhold from Hungary $655 million in EU development funds.
“The commission took a decision today to propose to partially suspend commitments of the EU Cohesion Fund for Hungary from January next year onwards because of non-compliance with the latest council recommendation in January to correct its excessive deficit,” said Olli Rehn, EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs.
This is the first time the European Commission has taken such an action against one of its members as punishment for an excessive deficit.
Though EU officials portray today’s action as an encouragement rather than a punishment, the greater truth is that the European Union is now wielding tremendous power over nations that were formerly sovereign—especially those that are poorer. Expect Hungary’s sovereignty to fade away just as Greece’s has, and for EU authority to continue to strengthen.
Full article: EU Plans to Withhold Funds From Hungary (The Trumpet)
A great pair of videos worth your time to watch that help understand what is really happening to Greece:
It is one thing for creditors to interfere in the management of a recipient country’s policies. It is another to tell them to suspend elections or to put in policies that insulate the government from the outcome of democratic processes.
These demands fail Immanuel Kant’s “categorical imperative” – Germany does not will them to be universally adopted. Nor could they be adopted in Germany – they would be unconstitutional. Only recently the German constitutional court ruled that parliament’s sovereignty was absolute, that parliament must not permanently transfer sovereignty to outside institutions and that one parliament must never constrain the freedoms of its successor. The proposals violate the principles of Germany’s own constitution. In short, they are unethical.
A senior German official has told me that his preference is to force Greece into an immediate default. I can therefore only make sense of Mr Schäuble’s proposal to postpone elections as a targeted provocation intended to illicit an extreme reaction from Athens. If that was the goal, it seems to be working. Karolos Papoulias, the Greek president, fired back at Mr Schäuble’s “insults”. Evangelos Venizelos, finance minister, said certain elements wanted to push Greece out of the eurozone. Conspiracy theories abound. Hardly a day passes by without a cartoon in the Greek press of Angela Merkel and Mr Schäuble in Nazi uniforms. German MPs expressed outrage at the Greek outrage. Bild, the German mass-market daily, is calling for Greece to be “kicked out” of the eurozone. I shudder at the thought of an act of violence committed against Germans in Greece or Greeks in Germany. This is the kind of conflict that could easily escalate.
Full article: Greece must default if it wants democracy (Financial Times)
Germany has decided to make an example of the Greeks. The German public largely has bought into Berlin’s narrative of Greek duplicity and German innocence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has needed to frame the discussion this way, and she has succeeded. The degree to which the German public is aware of the complexities or the consequences of a generalized austerity for Germany is less clear. Merkel must now satisfy a German public that questions bailouts and sees Greece as simply irresponsible. Capitulation from Greece is necessary for her as a matter of domestic politics.
The German move into questions of sovereignty has raised the stakes in the debt crisis dramatically. Even if the Germans simply back off this demand, the Greek public has been reminded that Greek democracy is effectively at stake. While Greece may have borrowed irresponsibly, if the price of that behavior is yielding sovereignty to an unelected commissioner, that price not only would challenge Greek principles, it would bring Europe to a new crisis.
Continue reading article: Germany’s Role in Europe and the European Debt Crisis (Stratfor)