Tag Archives: Europe

Eurozone inflation is high when it comes to the prices of daily purchases, by Daniel Lacalle

One way to keep inflation down is to take out the things that people actually buy out of the price indexes. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:

For more than ten years, ECB monetary policy has been ultra-expansionary, whether there was crisis, a recovery, economic growth or stabilization. The worst excuse of all that was used to justify endless quantitative easing has been the often-repeated mantra that “there is no inflation.”

Defenders of aggressive monetary policy have always used the same arguments really.

First, they say there is no inflation – as if an average 2% increase in prices during a crisis whereby many salaries fell up to 20% does not constitute “inflation”.

After, they say it is temporary, so to justify maintaining aggressive easing policies.

Next up, the “inflationistas”  seek to blame businesses or some kind of external enemy for the rise in prices, whereby they ask governments to impose price controls.

Important to understand here is that money creation is never neutral. It disproportionately benefits the first recipients of newly created money – governments -, and negatively affects real wages and savings of those that are not able to buy financial assets: the poorest.

There clearly is massive inflation when it comes to financial asset prices. Negative-yielding sovereign bonds of nations with weak solvency ratios amount to massive inflation. Continuous price increases of both quoted and private assets amount to high inflation, and all of this is caused by monetary policy.

Furthermore, anyone can understand that the official headline consumer price index (CPI) is masking the increase in the price of goods and services that we really purchase on a daily basis, relative to the ones we only purchase occasionally, or for leisure. Any European citizen understands that tourism and technology may become cheaper, as a result of competition and innovation, but that the things we purchase every day have increased more in price than reflected by the headline CPI.

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Germany’s Political Crisis And The Future Of Nord Stream 2, by J. Hawk

So far the Biden administration is neither winning friends nor influence people in Europe. Trying to diplomatically bludgeon Germany into abandoning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is generating fierce blowback. From J. Hawk at southfront.org:

Germany’s Political Crisis and the Future of Nord Stream 2

In a Blinken of an Eye

The Biden Administration entered the White House accompanied by hopes that it would return to some kind of normal in its relations with the European Union. While Biden, unlike Obama, would not score a Nobel Peace Prize solely for his existence, his victory was warmly welcomed in capitals around Europe as a sign that liberalism would vanquish populism ushering in a new era of “business as usual” in the form it was practiced during the Obama Administration.

Once in office, however, the Biden Administration has been working overtime in order to dispel any notion of a relationship of mutual respect between two more or less equal allies, US and EU. Instead, Biden officials have acted as if US and EU are a contemporary version of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, two countries with ostensibly separate political systems linked by a personal union in the form of the Emperor (Biden), held together by a common army (NATO) whose main task is preventing any separatism by “Hungary” (the EU) and whose foreign policy is made wholly in “Austria” (United States). Events like Brexit merely represent a part of the empire moving from “Hungary” to “Austria” for a variety of cultural and racial reasons. In practice it meant that, in addition to Biden replying affirmatively to a court journalist’s question whether Vladimir was a “killer” and Blinken provoking a major row with a Chinese delegation by informing them the US intended to deal with China from a “position of strength”, Blinken also issued a blunt warning to European companies working on Nord Stream 2 could be subject to US sanctions if they did not immediately withdraw from the project.

To make matters worse, at the EU summit Blinken pointed out that his threats aimed at Nord Stream 2 are a reflection of US Congress laws demanding any and all firms participating in its construction to be sanctioned, though omitting that the Executive Branch has considerable freedom of action in implementing legislation impinging on the presidential foreign policy prerogatives.

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After Two Months, President Joe Biden has Become Donald Trump Lite on Foreign Policy, by Doug Bandow

There’s little to like in Biden’s foreign policy. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Joe Biden has been president for two months. Only 46 months to go, unless he is reelected. In fact, he teased the media at his press conference, suggesting that he likely would run for reelection, though he insisted that prospect was too far in the future for him to consider today.

The biggest change from his predecessor is the calm which has descended upon Washington, D.C. Days go by without thinking about Biden. After four years of Donald Trump, the atmosphere seems so … normal.

However, U.S. foreign policy hasn’t changed much.

A fixture in the nation’s capital for almost a half century, Biden views himself as a foreign policy maven. And he certainly knows the players. As variously Senator, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, presidential candidate, and vice president, he was involved in many of the most of the important foreign policy decisions made since he arrived in Washington in January 1973.

The result has not been pretty. Of course, he isn’t responsible for all that has happened. But he has committed more than his share of whoppers. Indeed, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” That may be slightly exaggerated, but not much.

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Maybe Washington Should Let Nord Stream 2 Go, by Daniel R. DePetris

The US can threaten all the sanctions it wants, but the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is 95 percent complete and there’s no chance the Europeans will abandon it. From Daniel R. DePetris at realclearworld.com:

Nord Stream 2, the undersea Russian pipeline designed to transport more natural gas to Germany, is the energy project nearly everyone in Washington, D.C. loves to hate. Some lawmakers are going to great lengths to drill home their point. Sen. Ted Cruz, a co-author of mandatory sanctions legislation targeting the pipeline, blocked a vote on President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the CIA, William Burns, over the issue. That hold that was lifted about two weeks later after Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated all entities associated with the project were at risk of U.S. sanctions. Blinken reiterated this position during his latest meeting with NATO foreign ministers.

The $11 billion pipeline could theoretically double the amount of Russian gas that flows to Europe, boosting Moscow’s bottom line and providing Russian President Vladimir Putin with a potent geopolitical weapon to wield against the West. The question, however, is whether the benefits to the United States of destroying Nord Stream 2 are worth the costs, which have not been properly considered.

As frustrated as some lawmakers are with the pace of sanctions by the Biden administration, there are legitimate reasons to think twice before plunging into a full-scale economic assault against the project.

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Terminate NATO, by Jacob G. Hornberger

Ronald Reagan said nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. Perhaps he should have changed that to a temporary military alliance. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

The Washington Post has published a long piece calling for NATO to take on a new official enemy — China. The piece is written by Sara Bjerg Moller, an assistant professor in the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. She argues that after 30 years since losing the Soviet Union as its official enemy and struggling to find a replacement to justify its continued existence, a perfect replacement would be China.

I’ve got a better idea. Let’s just put NATO out of its misery and terminate it.

After all, let’s not forget NATO’s original mission: to defend Europe from the possibility of an invasion by the Soviet Union, which had been America’s and Britain’s World War II partner and ally but which had been converted to their official enemy at the end of the war.

But the likelihood of a Soviet invasion of Europe was always nil. The Soviet Union had been decimated by World War II, especially as a result of the German invasion of the country. Even though the invasion was ultimately repelled and Germany was defeated, the Soviet Union’s industrial capacity had been destroyed, not to mention the millions of Russian citizens who had been killed. The last thing the Soviet Union wanted was another war, especially given that the United States possessed nuclear weapons and had shown a willingness to employ them against large cities.

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Nord Stream 2 Behind Biden’s Gratuitous Slander of Putin, by the Strategic Culture Editorial Board

Calling Vladimir Putin a “killer” won’t stop the new pipeline between Russia and Europe. From the Strategic Culture Editorial Board at strategic-culture.org:

Russia would do well to stay calm and let the Americans make fools of themselves.

Relations between the United States and Russia have reached a dangerous watershed following an unprecedented personal insult by American President Joe Biden to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

But note the sequence here. Biden’s insults were then followed by U.S. threats of draconian sanctions to kill the Nord Stream 2 gas project between Russia and Europe. Just who is the killer here?

The world may be thankful that Russia is being so magnanimous in its response to Biden’s puerile and slanderous sniping. The crisis in bilateral relations provoked by the U.S. president has the potential to escalate, but it is only down to Moscow’s restraint that further deterioration in relations is being checked – for now.

In an interview with ABC News, aired on Wednesday, Biden was asked if he agreed that Russia’s leader was a “killer”. To which the American president replied in the affirmative, “I do.” He also warned that Russia “would pay a price” over allegations of interfering in the U.S. elections and other supposed malpractices.

One can safely assume that the Biden administration is hellbent on making relations with Russia even worse as its intelligence agencies “review” over the next few weeks already-made presumptions about Russia’s purported culpability.

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EU’s Own Goal by Playing Politics With Russian Vaccine, by Finian Cunningham

In soccer, or football as it’s known in Europe, an own goal is when a player kicks the ball into his or her own goal instead of that of the other team. It’s another way of saying shoot yourself in the foot, which is what Europe is doing with the Russian vaccine, and with Russia in general. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

The European public can see more clearly than ever that their unelected highly paid bureaucrats are risking pandemic recovery by playing politics with Russia’s vaccine.

Italy is to be the first European Union state to produce the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for immunization against the new coronavirus. It was confirmed this week by the Russian-Italian Chamber of Commerce.

The Russian developer of the vaccine says there are other deals underway with Spain, France and Germany to manufacture the Sputnik V shot locally. This follows several EU and non-EU members already approving use of the Russian vaccine, including Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, as well as Serbia, Moldova and Montenegro.

Polls are showing the majority of European public want a bigger uptake of Sputnik V in addition to other approved vaccines. This reflects widespread frustration with the slow rollout of immunization by the EU authorities due to supply problems with Western manufactured jabs.

It is becoming more apparent that the EU’s tardy vaccination problem is being exacerbated by certain politicians and authorities playing politics with the Russian vaccine. That is an inexcusable diversion which will come back to haunt the EU in the form of public anger and discontent.

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NATO’s expanding role hides the reality of a US empire in decline, by Scott Ritter

Trump was criticized for making an issue of the other members of NATO paying more. However, the truth is the US government is broke, and the Biden administration is looking for fellow members of NATO to “share” more of the burden. From Scott Ritter at ronpaulinstitute.org:

 
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NATO’s willingness to underwrite US military deployment in Europe and expand its reach to include the Pacific demonstrates that its current purpose is more about propping up America than securing peace.

The recently concluded virtual meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) defense ministers has been billed as President Joe Biden’s first opportunity to act on his promise of repairing the damage done to the military alliance by the contentious policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. 

While a great deal of attention has been paid to the optics of unifying NATO under new, more inclusive American leadership, the harsh realities of the policy priorities pushed by Lloyd Austin, Biden’s secretary of defense, and their underlying economics, point to a weakened US looking to further exploit a European military alliance for the purposes of propping up an America in decline.

Financial concerns remained one of the central issues confronting the alliance, as Austin continued the Trump-era pressure on member nations to meet the two percent GDP threshold for defense spending established in 2014 (currently only nine of NATO’s 28 members have met this requirement). 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg furthered Austin’s call for increased investment in what he termed NATO’s “core deterrence and defense activities,” proposing that the alliance begin jointly funding the various battalion-sized battlegroups member nations have deployed to Poland and the Baltic States, ostensibly as a deterrence against Russian military aggression.

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Is a Revolutionary Movement Developing in Europe? by Paul Craig Roberts

The coronavirus response in Europe has sparked a revolutionary movement that is not just rebelling against that response, but against the US’s domination of Europe. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

US media provides little news of Europe.  What is provided is strictly “narrated.”  Consequently, Americans are unaware of what seems to be a spontaneous, leaderless, popular uprising against mandated lockdowns and masks. There are large demonstrations in Germany, and they have spread to Vienna and to Copenhagen.  The people have more sense than the public authorities and reject the Covid mandates.

In The Netherlands, the Hague Court has ruled that the Covid curfew has no legal basis and “is a far-reaching violation of the right to freedom of movement and privacy and limits, among other things, the right to freedom of assembly and demonstration.”  https://www.rt.com/news/515699-hague-court-dutch-covid-curfew/

Klaus Madersbacher, proprietor of the antikrieg.com website, thinks that Germans are associating the fear-based campaign that is asserting new government controls over people’s lives and activities with an American hegemonic agenda. He believes that it is a revolutionary mass movement that should now become organized under leadership in order to achieve the independence of countries and their peoples.

One wonders if insouciant Americans are capable of a revolutionary temperament or whether the only protests Americans will witness are the Establishment-funded Antifa and BLM riots that loot and burn private businesses.

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European Union ‘Over a Borrell’. Who Is Humiliating Who? by Finian Cunningham

The money sentence: “European puppet politicians make a song and dance over the Western stooge Navalny and his regime-change mission while their silence is deafening in the case of Julian Assange who is being tortured in a British dungeon without him even being convicted of anything.” From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

Borrell’s arrogance in presuming to come to Moscow to lecture on human rights is the real offense. Sergei Lavrov was eminently correct to give this attempt at humiliation short shrift.

As the old saying goes, a week is a long time in politics. Meaning a lot can change in a short span. Last week, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was in Moscow on what seemed to be a cordial and business-like meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

A week later there are howls in the European Parliament for Borrell to resign and threats of more economic sanctions against Russia. For its part, Moscow is warning that it may break off ties with the European Union if the bloc goes ahead with threats to put the Russian economy at risk.

So what the hell happened? The Kremlin maintains that the meeting between Lavrov and Borrell in Moscow went well; not over-friendly, but nonetheless a useful, frank exchange of views on a range of subjects. From what the cameras showed at a joint press conference, that seemed to be the case.

Yes, at one point Lavrov said in the presser that the EU was acting like an “unreliable partner” which often behaved as if it were the United States in conducting its relations towards Russia instead of being a putative independent bloc. And yes, while Borrell was in Moscow, it was announced by the Kremlin that three diplomats from Germany, Sweden and Poland were being expelled on the grounds that these officials had attended unauthorized protests in support of jailed embezzler Alexei Navalny. That is Russia’s prerogative.

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