Monday, February 23, 2015

Today's links

1--Existing Home Sales Plunge, zero hedge

2--Greece: A debt colony with a bit of ‘home rule’, Paul Mason

On Friday night the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, averted total surrender to a German led demand for Greece to implement the total austerity programme of its former conservative government. He did so by signing up immediately to a compromise that, in his mind, retained about 20 per cent of the programme Syriza was elected on. -

3--Existing Home Sales in January: 4.82 million SAAR, Inventory down slightly Year-over-year calculated

4--Throw Your Grandma Under The Bus, automatic Earth

Merkel and Schäuble decided to save Wall Street mogul and derivatives behemoth Deutsche Bank at the cost of the Greek people. Not for economic reasons, but because Deutsche has much more political power inside the European Union than the entire Greek nation. Now you know what’s so inherently wrong in that union. Same story for France, where BNP, SocGen and Crédit Agricole had humongous amounts of debt outstanding in Athens. Where’s all that debt now, where’s it gone? Well, check your wallet.

When the decision came to throw either their own biggest banks, or the grandmas of a co-member nation of the currency union under the bus, I don’t think they even hesitated; they probably only went looking for the most efficient way to do it. And they have control over the perfect vehicle for such tasks: the ECB. A allegedly neutral institution that in reality peddles political influence in a way that guarantees the poorer countries will always wind up footing the bill.

5--Why Germany Might Not Be Bluffing in Greece, Bloomberg

When the European debt crisis first flared up in 2010, Germany's finances were closely linked to those of the euro area's more economically fragile members. Its banks' claims on Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain -- including money lent to governments and companies -- amounted to more than 350 billion euros ($400 billion), about  equal to all the capital in the German banking system. If the periphery countries had forced losses on private creditors, which they arguably should have done, Germany would have had to recapitalize its banks or face an immediate meltdown.

The picture is very different now. The European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other taxpayer-backed creditors have pumped hundreds of billions of euros of loans into the periphery countries, making it possible for German banks to extract themselves with minimal damage. Thanks in part to this back-door rescue, the banks have also been able to raise some capital. As a result, they are in much better shape to withstand a Greek disaster. As of September 2014, their claims on Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain had declined to about 216 billion euros, or 46 percent of capital.
The upshot: Greece is left with more debt than it can pay, and Germany -- with its banks effectively bailed out -- has one less pressing reason to give Greece a break. Hardly the right incentives for a happy ending.

6---Is Oil Returning to $100 Or Dropping To $10?, oil price

7---The capitulation of Syriza and the lessons for the working class, International Committee of the Fourth International

It has taken less than one month for the Syriza government in Greece, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, to repudiate its anti-austerity election program and betray, totally and utterly, the impoverished working people whose votes placed it in power.

Even in the entire squalid history of “left” petty-bourgeois politics, it is difficult to find an example of deceit, cynicism and truly disgusting cowardice that quite matches that of Prime Minister Tsipras. Certainly, from the standpoint of the time that elapsed between election and betrayal, the Syriza government has probably set a new world record....

From the standpoint of the interests of the working class, the agreement signed by the Syriza government is a criminal betrayal. But from the standpoint of the real social and economic interests represented by the Syriza regime—sections of the Greek ruling elite and the affluent upper middle class—the deal is no more than a disappointment. Notwithstanding Tsipras’ demagogy—intended mainly to deceive and disorient the working people of Greece—the negotiating strategy of Syriza was determined entirely by its subordination to capitalist interests.
The Greek ruling class and the upper middle class may have hoped to achieve an easing of conditions that inhibited the access of Greek-owned businesses to financial credits. But they had no desire for a confrontation with EU bankers and were utterly opposed to any measures that might destabilize European capitalism, let alone threaten their own corporate and financial interests in Greece.

The events of the past month constitute a major political experience for the working class in Greece, Europe and internationally. The role played by Syriza is a devastating exposure of the essentially reactionary character of a form of “left” middle class politics that developed amidst the ruins of the radical student politics of the 1960s and 1970s. While the working class was led to defeat after defeat by the old Stalinist, social democratic and reformist labor organizations, sections of the middle class benefited, directly and indirectly, from the explosive rise in global stock exchanges following the accession of Thatcher and Reagan to power and the international ascendancy—especially after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism in China—of neo-liberal policies....

The World Socialist Web Site’s characterization of these parties as pseudo-left is not a rhetorical exercise but a precise political definition. They are bourgeois parties representing elite sections of the middle class that are bitterly hostile to the workers. They are not allies but relentless enemies. Working people must break with them, and seek to destroy any political influence they have over the working class.

8--European Union leaders hail Syriza austerity agreement, wsws

The Economist bluntly summed up the harsh terms to which Syriza is now committed as follows:
Syriza “was elected on a pledge to tear up Greece’s bail-outs and leave austerity behind… It is difficult to square these promises with last night’s agreement. Greece has secured no change to the terms of its epic debt, which stands at over 175% of GDP. Its behaviour will continue to be supervised by the institutions formerly known as the troika. It is obliged to refrain from passing any measures that could undermine its fiscal targets; that appears to torpedo vast swathes of its election manifesto, which included all manner of spending pledges.”...

The most ludicrous statement was issued by the Communist Tendency, which is part of Syriza’s Left Platform and a section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT).
Describing the “request to the Troika for a six-month extension of the loan agreement” as a “grave political mistake,” the statement called for, “No more retreats! The government must formulate an alternative collision plan with the blackmailers and their local lackeys, a plan that favours the working masses!”
In the most obsequious terms possible they declare, “We call upon our comrade, the Prime Minister, and the leftist ministers, to formulate an alternative plan to finance and implement the Thessaloniki programme [Syriza’s election manifesto] without relying on the loans of the extortionist ‘partners’.”

9--Obama administration forces five-year agreement on West Coast dockworkers, wsws

10--1 in 3 Americans on verge of financial ruin, marketwatch

11--Why Greece will never repay its debt, cnbc

12---OC new home sales fall a frightening 41%  oc housing

13-Southern California home sale volume for January slowest since 2008: The stalemate accelerates with Orange County seeing a monthly median price drop of $28,500., Dr housing Bubble-


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