Tag Archives: Europe

Varoufakis: The Book, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

A birdseye, and not at all flattering look, at Europe’s financial and political elite, particularly the Germans who run the show. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

About a month ago, I finished reading former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ book “Adults in the Room”, subtitled “My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment”, and published by The Bodley Head. I started writing about it right away, but noticed I was writing more about my personal ideas and experiences related to Greece than about the book. So I let it rest a bit.

I read the book in, of all places, Athens, sitting outside various old-style cafés. That got me a lot of reactions from Greeks seeing the cover of the book, most of them negative, somewhat to my surprise. Many Greeks apparently do not like Varoufakis. Of course I asked all the time why that is. “He’s arrogant” was/is a frequent one.

That’s not very helpful, I find, since first of all, it’s a purely subjective judgment, and second, I’m convinced their views come to a large extent from Greek media coverage, not only during Yanis’ term as finance minister from January to July 2015, but also in the years leading up to it. And Greek media are all controlled by ‘oligarchs’ et al, who certainly do not like either Yanis or the Syriza party he represented as minister.

The irony is that Varoufakis received more -individual- votes in the January 2015 election that brought Syriza to power than any other party member. And in the July 5 referendum 61.3% of Greeks voted against -yet- another bailout, very much in line with what Varoufakis had proposed. So there was a time when he was popular.

One guy said: ”he should be in jail”. When I asked why, the response was something like “they should all be in jail”, meaning politicians. Which is a bit curious, because whatever Varoufakis may be, a politician he is not. And the Greeks know that. They are very disappointed, and often depressed, by what has happened to them, of course they are. But why they would think Yanis is responsible for that is much less clear. Other then: “they’re all responsible”.

To continue reading: Varoufakis: The Book

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How The Elites Are Divorcing From Reality: The Economist’s “What If”, by Gefira

Europe is beyond saving. Give it a year and nobody will show French President Emmanuel Macron walking on water. From gefira.org:

The Western globalist elites have not digested Trump’s victory or Brexit yet. They are having a hard time dealing with their ideological failures, and when the reality dares not to comply with their day dreaming, they go online and create a parallel world, where their “expert” predictions always turn right and their failures cannot be questioned. The Economist‘s portal named “what if”, a neo-liberal, wishful thinking echo chamber, is the point in case.

Its latest piece1)attributes magical powers to the new hero of the elites, Emmanuel Macron, who soundly defeated “evil” Marine Le Pen in May. For The Economist, Macron is nothing short of Jesus as he was correspondingly depicted on the monthly’s cover walking on water:

The hypothetical scenario of Macron’s success is based on magical reforms that will somehow create enormous numbers of jobs after an initial friction and fix the out-of-control state budget. The text provides no answer how exactly all this is going to be done. The happy predictions do not stop there. Macron’s miracle, would turn France into another Silicon Valley, a paradise for start-ups. Does it not make us think back to the internet bubble of the 90s? After “making France great again” and defeating Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, Marine’s niece (who for the record has already retired from politics, but don’t tell The Economist, it’d break their narrative, they need an evil antagonist), Macron’s magic would next make Europe great again. Academic papers on the “French Renaissance” are beginning to appear, says the article’s author, an intellectual liberal himself and Macron’s flunky. He speaks of “EU-funded military operations in the Sahel”, because clearly that’s what Europe needs most. Why, destabilizing surrounding countries has worked very well so far, hasn’t it? Islamic terrorism isn’t even touched in the article, so we gather it will magically disappear as will the problems of the banlieu which do not deserve much mention either. Here, too, no solution is offered, just pure magic.

To continue reading: How The Elites Are Divorcing From Reality: The Economist’s “What If”

Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia’s Role As A Global Game-Changer, by Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave

This is an excellent survey of the world’s geopolitical landscape SLL has seen; long but worth the read. From Charles and Louis-Vincent Gave at Gavekal via zerohedge.com:

Carthago Est Delenda

Carthage must be destroyed”. Cato the elder would conclude his speeches in the Roman Senate with the admonition that salt should be spread on the ruins of Rome’s rival. Listening to the US media over these summer holidays from Grand Lake, Oklahoma, it is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the American media, and US congress, feels the same way about Russia. Which is odd given that the Cold War supposedly ended almost 30 years ago.

But then again, a quick study of history shows that clashes between land and sea-based empires have been a fairly steady constant of Western civilization. Think of Athens versus Sparta, Greece versus Persia, Rome versus Carthage, England versus Napoleon, and more recently the US versus Germany and Japan (when World War II saw the US transform itself from a land-based empire to a sea-based empire in order to defeat Germany and Japan), and of course the more recent contest between the US and the Soviet Union.

The maritime advantage

Such fights have been staples of history books, from Plutarch to Toynbee. Victory has mostly belonged to the maritime empires as they tend to depend more on trade and typically promote more de-centralized structures; land-based empires by contrast usually repress individual freedoms and centralize power. Of course the maritime power does not always win; Cato the elder did after all get his wish posthumously.

With this in mind, consider a mental map of the productive land masses in the world today. Very roughly put, the world currently has three important zones of production, with each accounting for about a third of world GDP.

  1. North and South America: This is a sort of island and is not reachable by land from the rest of the world. It constitutes the heart of what could be called the current “maritime” empire.
  2. Europe ex-Russia: This is an economic and technological power as large as the US but a military minnow. Its last two wars have been fought between the then dominant maritime power (the US), first against Germany, then the Soviet Union to gain the control of the so called “old continent”.
  3. A resurgent Asia: Here China is playing the role of the “land-based challenger” to the “maritime hegemon.”

To continue reading: Gavekal On The Coming Clash Of Empires: Russia’s Role As A Global Game-Changer

Muslims Tell Europe: “One Day All This Will Be Ours”, by Giulio Meotti

If you look at Europe’s indigenous non-Muslim birthrates versus Muslim birthrates in both Europe and the Middle East, the headline prediction looks inevitable. From Giulio Meotti at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • The Archbishop of Strasbourg Luc Ravel, nominated by Pope Francis in February, just declared that “Muslim believers know very well that their fertility is such today, that they call it… the Great Replacement. They tell you in a very calm, very positive way: One day all this, all this will be ours…”.
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán just warned against a “Muslimized Europe”. According to him, “the question of the upcoming decades is whether Europe will continue to belong to Europeans”.
  • “In the coming 30 years, the number of Africans will grow by more than one billion people. That is twice the population of the entire European Union… The demographic pressure will be enormous. Last year, more than 180,000 people crossed in shabby boats from Libya. And this is just the beginning. According to EU Commissioner Avramopoulos, at this very moment, 3 million migrants are waiting to enter Europe”. — Geert Wilders, MP, The Netherlands, and leader of the Party for Freedom and Democracy (PVV).

This week, yet another Islamic terrorist attack targeted the Spanish city of Barcelona. As it was for many years under Muslim rule, it is, therefore, like Israel, land which many Islamists believe they are entitled to repossess.

At the same time, far from Spain, elementary schools have been closing, shuttered by the state after the number of children dropped to less than 10% of the population. The government is converting these structures into hospices, providing care for the elderly in a country where 40% of the people are 65 or older. That is not a science-fiction novel. That is Japan, the world’s oldest and most sterile nation, where there is a popular expression: “ghost civilization“.

According to Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, by 2040 most of the country’s smaller cities will see a dramatic drop of one-third to one-half of their population. Due to a dramatic demographic decrease, many Japanese councils can no longer operate and have been closed. Restaurants have decreased from 850,000 in 1990 to 350,000 today, pointing to a “drying up of vitality”. Predictions also suggest that in 15 years, Japan will have 20 million empty houses. Is that also the future of Europe?

To continue reading: Muslims Tell Europe: “One Day All This Will Be Ours”

Russiatosis, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler can’t find even a tiny thing to like about the Russian sanctions law, and all sorts of big things to hate. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Russia hysteria has become a full-blown national psychosis at a moment in history when a separate array of troubles poses the real threat to America’s well-being. Most of these have to do with the country’s swan dive into bankruptcy, but meeting them honestly would force uncomfortable choices on the grifters and caitiffs in congress. Meanwhile, the Treasury Dept is burning through its dwindling cash reserves, and all government activities will face a shutdown at the end of the summer unless congress votes to raise the debt ceiling — which may be way harder than passing the stupid Russia sanctions bill.

That bill, vaingloriously called The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act will only blow up in America’s face. This country’s actual trade with Russia is negligible, but the bill aims to interrupt and punish Europe’s trade, centering on oil and natural gas, which they need desperately. Mainly, the US bill seeks to interrupt a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would bypass several of the Baltic Nations currently being used by America — under the NATO banner — as staging areas for unnecessary and provocative war games on Russia’s borders.

Germany is certain to not stand for it, and like it or not, they are the straw that stirs the European drink. The sanctions pretend to seek to isolate Russia, but the effect will only be to isolate the United States. Europe will laugh at the measure as impinging on their sovereign prerogatives to trade as they please. And Russia can turn around and sell all the natural gas it wants to customers in Asia. Left undiscussed in the moronic American media is the American gas industry’s hidden role in pushing the sanctions so it can sell liquefied gas overseas — which would only end up raising the price for American gas customers to heat their homes.

To continue reading: Russiatosis

 

Leaked: EU Plans to Freeze Deposits to Prevent Bank Runs, by Don Quijones

What could go wrong? From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.

Following a spate of drastic banking interventions in Spain and Italy earlier this summer, the European Commission is preparing new legislation to prevent bank runs from completely wiping out Europe’s hordes of zombified lenders. According to an Estonian document seen by Reuters, that legislation would include measures allowing EU governments to temporarily stop people withdrawing money from their accounts, including by electronic fund transfers.

The proposal, which has been in the works since the beginning of this year, comes less than two months after a run on deposits pushed Banco Popular over the brink in Spain. In its final days, Popular was bleeding deposits at a rate of €2 billion a day on average. Much of the money was being withdrawn by institutional clients, including mega-fund BlackRock, Spain’s Social Security fund, Spanish government agencies, and city and regional councils.

The European Commission, with the support of a number of national governments, is determined that what happened to Popular does not happen to other banks. “The desire is to prevent a bank run, so that when a bank is in a critical situation it is not pushed over the edge,” a source close to the German government said.

Not everyone supports the new regulatory push. Some national governments and lenders fear the legislation will have the opposite of the desired effect, hastening frantic withdrawals at the slightest rumor of a bank being in trouble. “We strongly believe that this would incentivize depositors to run from a bank at an early stage,” said Charlie Bannister of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME).

Until now legislative proposals by the European Commission aimed at strengthening supervisors’ powers to suspend withdrawals had excluded from the moratorium insured depositors (those below €100,000 euros). If the new proposal is passed, pay-outs to insured depositors could be suspended for five working days. The freeze could even be extended to a maximum of 20 days in “exceptional circumstances.”

To continue reading: Leaked: EU Plans to Freeze Deposits to Prevent Bank Runs

The U.S. Empire Continues to Stumble Towards Ruin, by Michael Krieger

One reason empires crumble is that they arrogantly piss of both their friends and enemies, and everyone in between. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation.

Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author,—its promulgator,—its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. For his crime he must endure the severest penalties hereafter, even if he avoid the usual misfortunes of the present life.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

There’s been a lot going on this week, so it’s unsurprising that an extremely important vote in Congress failed to get the attention it deserves. What I’m referring to is the recent Russia/Iran/North Korea sanctions bill passed by the House of Representatives in a frighteningly lopsided 419-3 vote.

Let’s turn to Bloomberg for a quick analysis on the Russian reaction:

Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.

The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and “don’t leave room for the normalization of relations” in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.

Hope “is dying” for improved relations because the scale of “the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time,” Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that’s “painful for the Americans,” he said.

To continue reading: The U.S. Empire Continues to Stumble Towards Ruin