Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Today's links

1--Greece's slow-mo coup, Weisbrot

The strategy of Greece’s European partners is pretty clear: It’s all about regime change. One senior Greek official involved in the negotiations referred to it as a “slow-motion coup d’état.” And those who were paying attention could see this from the beginning. Just 10 days after Syriza was elected, as I noted previously, the European Central Bank cut off its main line of credit to Greece and then capped the amount that Greek banks could lend to the government. All the hype and brinkmanship destabilize the economy, and some of this is an intentional effect of European authorities’ statements and threats. But the direct sabotage of the Greek economy is most important, and it is remarkable that it has gotten so little attention....

Besides raising the retirement age by five years (from 60 to 65), The Financial Times reports, “main pensions have been slashed 44 to 48 percent since 2010, reducing the average pension to 700 euros a month … About 45 percent of Greek pensioners receive less than 665 euros monthly — below the official poverty threshold.”
European officials are making more demands for labor law reform, on the dubious theory that further weakening labor’s bargaining power and driving down wages (as if 26.6 percent unemployment doesn’t do that enough) will increase competitiveness enough to spur an export-led recovery.

2---Pope Francis warns of destruction of Earth's ecosystem in leaked encyclical

3--Guy Who Manages $112 Billion Sees No Bond Buyers

With the benefit of hindsight, I decided a while ago that the starting gun for the credit crunch was fired on Aug. 9, 2007. That day, BNP Paribas told investors it was freezing redemptions from three of its investment funds because it had decided there was no reliable way to determine the value of the assets in the funds, which in turn would make it impossible to sell things to repay investors. In other words, to echo Aberdeen's Gilbert, there was no market.

4--Foreign investors pose threat to residential real estate

5--Rolling in dough;  5,000 U.S. Households Worth More Than $100 Million, Report Says
6--Greece accuses Europe of plotting regime change as creditors draw up ultimatum
The European Commission braces for a “state of emergency” in Greece, fearing social unrest and a break-down of basic supplies

7--Why can’t Greece just declare bankruptcy? stiglitz

8--EU implements market Stalinism in Greece, Galbraith

Modern Europe's version of market Stalinism, so far as it affects Greece, has three main prongs. The first concerns pensions, the second labor markets, and the third privatizations. Then there is an overarching question of taxes, austerity and debt sustainability, to which we can come back later....

The specific demand would cut about 120 euros from pensions at the level of 350 euros or less per month. The government replies that while the pension system requires reform—the present early retirement age is unsustainable—that reform can only be done gradually and alongside the introduction of an effective unemployment insurance scheme.
On labor markets, the creditors have already imposed the near-complete elimination of collective bargaining and reduction of minimum wages...

As for privatization, the creditors have demanded the sale of airports, seaports, and electric utilities, among other assets, and that all this be done quickly. Here the Greek objection is not to private or foreign management of certain assets but rather against letting them go for cheap, or without conditions, or without retaining an equity stake. ...

The plain object of the creditors' program is therefore not reform. It is the doubling-down on debt collection in the face of disaster. Pension cuts, wage cuts, tax increases and fire sales are offered up on the magical thought that the economy will recover despite the burden of higher taxes, lower purchasing power, and external repatriation of profits from privatization

9--Starvation Is The Price Greeks Will Pay For Remaining In The EU
Paul Craig Roberts
Syriza, the new Greek government that intended to rescue Greece from austerity, has come a cropper. The government relied on the good will of its EU “partners,” only to find that its “partners” had no good will. The Greek government did not understand that the only concern was the bottom line, or profits, of those who held the Greek debt.

10--Varoufakis rules out 'Grexit', deal possible if Merkel takes part
11--Just 16 percent of Sandy funds given out by 2014
12--Syriza Left demands 'Icelandic' default as Greek defiance stiffens
13--Endgame looms for Greek crisis as both sides take debt negotiations to the brink
14--Advance of the Islamic State (ISIS) into the Heartland of Central Asia. “The US Plan is to Set Central Asia Ablaze in the Fire of Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism
15--China's new hypersonic weaponry may have the potential to neutralize US strategic missile defenses due to its unparalleled capability of maneuvering to avoid tracking by radars and interceptors, military expert Franz-Stefan Gady emphasized

16--China Paves Way to Global Dominance Resting on US Marshall Plan

17---The key to TTIP is the so-called Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism that essentially gives corporations free reign to sue governments using a “failure to implement” provision, if state policies or legislation interfere with profits. But is this all about trade?
There was a direct, crucial "secret" agenda linking the G7 meeting in Germany and the Bilderberg meeting in Austria last week; the advancement of the virtually secret negotiations towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the massive free trade agreement between the US and the EU.
Even though the corporate powers behind TTIP are itching for a deal to be reached before the end of 2015, serious (negotiation) trouble remains....

Thus no wonder high-quality agricultural producers in the Club Med countries  are terrified that TTIP will mean a de facto barbarian invasion. Italians are terrified about the onset of a monster, false made in Italy market, with US corporations calling any mongrel GMO concoction a "Parma" ham or a "gorgonzola" cheese.
A good test is to hit your average US supermarket. Talk about a horror show; at least 70 per cent of all processed foods are GMO-infested. The EU allows virtually no GM foods. Not to mention the toxic front; in the EU a company must prove a substance is safe before it's commercialized. In the US, anything goes.

Under TTIP, public health, education and water services in the EU will be devastated, and taken over by US corporations. Food safety laws, key legislation over the environment, and banking regulations will be turned upside down.
The spin from TTIP peddlers is that Globalization 2.0 will lead to a "surge" of 0.5% of the EU's collective GDP. That's not exactly a Chinese rate. But when you're austerity-ravaged, you drink any Kool aid you can get. And eat it with plastic Parma ham

18--According To Bank of America, This Is "The Biggest Risk To Global Equities"

19--Here Is What’s Fraying Nerves Among the Financial Stability Folks at Treasury


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