The future of the euro

I have a piece on the subject in the most recent issue of Finance and Development, available here.

Production lags being what they are, I wrote the article in mid-December. Since then, Wolfgang Münchau has declared the Eurozone policy debate over (and not in a  good way); the German Constitutional Court has issued a ruling on OMT that is potentially much less benign than is commonly assumed; and Italy has installed its third non-elected Prime Minister in a row, with a notorious multiplier denier as Finance Minister thrown in for good measure. None of this has cheered me up.

Comments

comments

119 thoughts on “The future of the euro”

  1. Ex-OECD Chief Economist Padoan, despite what Krugman may say, was not an austerity hawk. The consistent OECD line since 2008 – although the Organisation itself faced pushback from influential member states – has been that the euro crisis could not be solved by fiscal adjustments. They argued that some fiscal adjustment was unavoidable, but more important were structural reforms (including labour activation policies) and tackling internal eurozone imbalances. While they may not have been able to say it as publicly as they would have liked, the OECD also favoured early re-structuring of Greek debt, and some form of QE by the ECB.

  2. @Ninap

    They (the OECD) argued that some fiscal adjustment was unavoidable, but more important were structural reforms (including labour activation policies) and tackling internal eurozone imbalances.

    “Structural reform” is an incantation meant to calm the angry confidence Gods and not a pan..

    For the what I think is the fifth time I recommend Aidan Regan’s The Fairytale of Europe’s Magic Improving Dust Formula as the best overview of why structural reform is politically palatable without being a useful idea or basis for policy making. It is another policy where the goal is to implement the policy.

    No plausible mechanism has been provided for how structural reforms are going to help the crisis in demand (they are probably deflationary) and the emphasis on labour activation policies (which are more often the stick than the carrot) when the supply of jobs is so low is simply laughable.

  3. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/aec80aa8-6662-11e3-aa10-00144feabdc0.html

    “The only other sure way to ward off secular stagnation is a sustained (but not indefinite) fiscal stimulus funded through base money issuance – helicopter money. The Bank of Japan is playing its part, as is the Fed, albeit at a diminishing rate now that tapering has started. The Bank of England will have to do this again when further fiscal tightening becomes unavoidable.
    The ECB, however, appears to believe that the right policy in the face of below-potential growth, below-target inflation and likely further disinflation is to shrink the balance sheet of the eurosystem – by 26 per cent since mid-2012.
    After setting the deposit rate below zero, aggressive monetised balance sheet expansion through outright purchases of private and sovereign debt and through long-term fixed-rate repos at rates very close to zero, are required if the euro area is to avoid secular stagnation. ”

  4. @ Shay B
    Regan presents a caricature of structural reforms:

    “The only actor who has a clear idea of what structural reforms are is the German Federal government. They make no apology for arguing that holding down wages, cutting pensions, liberalising employment protection, creating non-paid jobs and reducing government administration will solve the Eurozone crisis.”

    Are you really suggesting that the medical and legal professions in Ireland doesn’t require reform, that pharmacies don’t need more competition, that education (at all levels) is perfectly organised? What about labour activation (which you deride)? Should we have stuck with FAS and indefinite dole payments with no requirement to look for work?
    I’m all in favour of good wages and proper welfare, but these are a function of a competitive economy, not something you pre-ordain.

  5. @Ninap

    Are you really suggesting that the medical and legal professions in Ireland doesn’t require reform, that pharmacies don’t need more competition, that education (at all levels) is perfectly organised?

    It would be a foolish person who suggested that any human endeavor was perfectly organized, but then no one here has said it.

    What we need to get away from here (and what I think Aidan Regan was talking about) is the kind of magical thinking where you imagine that “more market, less state” is going to fix the most serious problems we have.

    You have to present a plausible explanation of how increased competition and falling prices (and necessarily wages) are going to lead to increased demand and therefore reduced unemployment. Surely no one is seriously hocking Say’s law in the twenty first century?

    On your particular points (which I said nothing about).

    The costs of medicine in Ireland are absurdly high but increased competition at the retail level may not help that at all, let alone bring costs down to average EU levels. Neither the drug companies or the large pharmacy chains have any incentive to reduce prices and smaller pharmacies have no effect on it. Walking down streets in Ireland I think a rare complaint would be “There are too few pharmacies.”

    In the case of both pharmaceutical prices and medical care in general what Ireland needs instead is a national health service where negotiation on medicine prices and organization of care is done at a national level and hence health provider bargaining power is increased. More regulation and not less. I do not imagine that was the kind of structural reform the OECD has in mind. At any rate there is a German initiative on publishing drug prices which might help here.

    The legal profession obviously needs reform but the most significant ones has to be at the top and in how legal services are procured and not in liberalizing the legal services market. After all young solicitors or barristers live of more or less indentured servitude while they hope to make it up the greasy pole. I say this while having no love at all for the legal professions who play a role in Irish public life totally our of proportion to their usefulness.

    On education we could do with more money invested into the state sector and reducing the subsidization of the private sector but again I suspect that this is not the kind of reform you had in mind.

    So my answer is, more or less, I think people claiming that structural reforms are going to be a significant factor in recovering from the European component of the global financial crisis do not know what they are talking about and also do not care.

  6. This Alphaville post may be of interest (especially the blog comments).

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/02/27/1784662/sticking-a-finger-into-the-ecbs-air/

    It seems fairly clear that the behaviour of the real EA economy in the coming months will be the decisive factor, this, in turn, being greatly influenced by the structural reform measures now under way or contemplated in France and Italy.

    There exists, unfortunately, no control panel with buttons that can be pushed as dictated by one economic viewpoint or another.

    The Voxeu comment by Katharina Pistor is undoubtedly correct in terms of its legal and political implications but it still manages to miss the essential point i.e. no final shoot-out between the German constitutional court and the elected representatives rightly mandated to decide on issues of how German sovereignty is to be exercised can take place until the ECJ delivers its judgement. The world may well be a different place by the time it does.

    The judgement just announced of the German court in the matter of the German electoral law to apply to elections to the European Parliament -striking down any minimal percentage vote – has not enhanced its already waning reputation. The judgement is, however, in line with its judgement on Germany’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty which effectively denied the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament because it did not abide by the rule of one man one vote. This idiosyncratic conclusion ignored not only the bi-cameral arrangements in many federal states but in Germany itself where the rule does not apply to elections to the Bundesrat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundesrat_of_Germany

  7. The future of the euro depends on how the losses are distributed.
    I think it was Buiter who said that time is not the problem. Many of those banks are banjaxed.

    A lot of them are sitting on dubious sovs. The brand new world of bank regulation is untested. We will have to wait until a bank fails to see if it works. Lots of pork barrel stuff in the mix too. And a change of stagnation.

  8. Eight post in and nothing on the collapse of employment in Ireland. Or more correctly, the opposite of collapse. Ah well.

  9. “There exists, unfortunately, no control panel with buttons that can be pushed as dictated by one economic viewpoint or another.”

    Fiscal policy, DOCM

    http://www.ffs.ch/home.html

    Mody said last July that Ireland should have been given 3 years without cuts cos austerity doesn’t work.
    And it didn’t work in France either.

  10. At some point the people who say that the effects of structural reforms can not be evaluated yet need to answer the question about how long the comparatively poor performance of the Eurozone versus other economic areas that have not implemented “structural reforms” might have to continue before they admit being wrong.

    I mean isn’t five years of failure enough? Is the plan to wait until external factors stop the economic contraction and then claim victory?

    EMU and austerity, the doctrine that failed to completely destroy the economies of the EU and kept the establishment happy.

    Well done lads.

  11. @Shay B

    Structural reforms may mean different things to different people. But in most cases it means breaking up cartels which operate to protect their members against the public interest. I mentioned education (and various others, off the top of my head). The teaching unions all call for ‘more resources’ (ie, more pay), but do nothing to tackle underperformance in their ranks (in fact, they actively frustrate any meaningful action against bad teachers). Countries like Finland have excellent education systems not, in the main, thanks to high teaching salaries (something I don’t object to if the teachers perform well), but due to very close monitoring of performance. Pouring resources into something like Health (as we did from 1997 – 2007) doesn’t produce a corresponding return unless the way the money is being spent is optimised. Like it or not, this is usually due to the operation, at some level, of market mechanisms.

  12. PS – your solution to Ireland’s (and Europe’s) travails seems to be to spend lots more public money on everything, and set up quangos to regulate such spending.

  13. @seafóid on the non-existence of other policy options other than ones that do not work.

    Fiscal policy

    Appeals to reason, historical experience and widely accepted economic theory seem to have had little effect on the Eurozone’s neoliberal chorus.

    Their answer always is, “Why not keep doing what we are doing and see what happens?” as if the past never was.

    Many suggest, bizarrely, that their policies have failed because they were not implemented with sufficient vigour (France and Italy, those laggards), as if there was a mountain of increasing economic failure to be climbed before we can enter a magical promised land of free markets and prosperity. If we stop now we’ll never get there! Have faith!

    Right wing economic romanticism.

  14. A Regan’s article is pretty interesting, thanks to SB for the link.
    I think you’re being slightly pedantic Ninap – the point seems obvious (1) you cant ‘structural reform’ your way to growth (particularly when your idea of reform is solicitors and doctors) (2) politics always gets in the way and the reform usually doesnt take place, in any meaningful way. Im assuming Regan also has a broader perspective where structural reform doesnt just mean ‘breaking up the law society’ or whatever, but attacking the welfare state in general. Which aint good.
    KOR’s article is also very interesting, but has there been any contingency plan laid out for leaving the euro? This is something that *keeps* getting pushed (or hinted at) in various guises, so what does an Irish exit from the euro look like, does anyone know.

  15. BTW, this part :

    “He outlines a trilemma for the Eurozone: we cannot have the welfare state in a fixed monetary union that requires reducing fiscal deficits to 3 per cent of GDP. This is true. In order to keep the welfare state he proposes a consistent policy ‘trinity’: banking union, symmetric adjustment (i.e. inflation in the core) and deep structural reforms. These, we are told, will generate the conditions for economic growth. In turn, with full employment, the welfare state is secure. ”

    Is this actually the case ? What are the alternatives here ?

  16. More power to your elbow Kevin.

    Small, vulnerable countries have had a painful lesson in European realpolitik that they will not soon forget’

    ‘Europe is now defined by the constraints it imposes on governments, not by the possibilities it affords them to improve the lives of their people. This is politically unsustainable.’

    The modalities and ideology of power change over the centuries. What doesn’t change is the ‘granite block of power’, as the late columnist John Healy use to say. It is not easy to see how the present finance-dominated global order can be challenged, but every order produces its own antithesis. That’s life 🙂

    @ ninap

    ‘I’m all in favour of good wages and proper welfare, but these are a function of a competitive economy, not something you pre-ordain’

    I’m all in favour of competition, but individuals, families, communities, and nations don’t start from the same place. The social order is in large part a product of violent confrontation and suppression. History is written by the winners.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/jun/16/history.homer

  17. @ninap

    Like it or not, this is usually due to the operation, at some level, of market mechanisms.

    I seem to remember a time quite recently when market mechanisms developed not necessarily to Ireland’s advantage.

    Anyway, if you think that Ireland’s (and the Eurozone’s) problems in the last five years stem significantly from the operation of cartels, public service inefficiency and insufficient market discipline I think I might leave the conversation here having said as much as I can usefully can above.

  18. @ninap

    It is false that Finland engages in a lot (or any) “monitoring” of teacher performance. Even a cursory knowledge of the system you’re touting would’ve revealed this to you.

    But that’s exactly how ideology works: Finland has a great educational system, therefore it must have been the result of the sorts of (euphemistic) “reforms” that you advocate. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

  19. @kevin O’Rourke

    “Divergent paths

    Europe is now defined by the constraints it imposes on governments, not by the possibilities it affords them to improve the lives of their people. This is politically unsustainable. There are two solutions: jump forward to a federal political Europe, on whose stage left and right can compete on equal terms, or return to a European Union without a single currency and let individual countries decide for themselves.”

    Not to mention the terror of the ‘eternally recurring’ incompetent muddling through before we ever reach ‘politically unsustainable’ – when it may be too late.

  20. @Kevin O’Rourke

    Great article Mr O’Rourke[1], welcome to deepest Euroscepistan.

    If you are even slightly informed and do not despise EMU and the ECB by now you are some of mad, bad or a German speaker. You are also right that the moral dimension has not been emphasized enough, the accepted Eurozone economic consensus is killing people and spreading disease for the sake of ideological purity and a strong Euro (A reserve currency no less! How proud the unemployed masses of the young must be.).

    The next question is how the local political elites in the peripheral countries can be persuaded that the Eurozone ultimatum is not “march or die” but “march and die”. It is not an easy problem, you can see from the lack of fight in the peripherals so far that the urge to be in the Eurozone political tent is so strong[2] that it has prevented anyone from even publicly questioning a failed policy set, never mind challenging it. The political class need to be more afraid of their voters than Angela Merkel and the ECB.

    @Ernie Ball

    It is false that Finland engages in a lot (or any) “monitoring” of teacher performance. Even a cursory knowledge of the system you’re touting would’ve revealed this to you.

    Thanks, I had thought that teacher monitoring and punishment sounded unlike the Finns but just for a second I dropped my guard and believed something on the Internet without checking. Serves me right.


    [1] Should we say “Prof O’Rourke”?
    [2] It is more liberal affect that class interests I think, countries ruined by the urge to fit in at dinner parties in Brussels.

  21. Mainland Europe has had a growth/unemployment problem that predates the launch of the euro and while a project such as the banking union is important, growth depends mainly on what happens in individual countries, in particular in the big member countries of the EMU.

    Areas like development of the internal market can have a long-term impact but there are no magic formulas for sustainable growth.

    In the 1990s a productivity gap that developed between the US and Europe has been explained by higher investments in and better utilisation of IT systems.

    The EU is China’s biggest export market and in the 1990s, it had a big impact on traditional manufacturing in Southern Europe as did competition from the former communist states.

    Unemployment began to fall as the credit boom accelerated but that drug isn’t available now.

    Eurostat says that at the beginning of 2000, about 20m persons were unemployed in the EU27, corresponding to 9% of the total labour force. At the end of 2004 the number of jobseekers available for work reached 21.3m, while the unemployment rate was at 9.2 %. EU-27 unemployment hit a low of 16m persons (equivalent to a rate of 6.8 %) in Q1 2008. In December 2013 there were 26m unemployed in the EU28 at a rate of 10.9%.

    In the Euro Area (EA17) the jobless rate was 10.8% in 1997 and 12.1% in 2013. It was 9.3% in 2004 and at 7.6% in 2007 and 2008. 

    The US end year rates were 4.7%, 3.9%, 5.4%, 5.0% and 6.7% in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2013.

    It was a delusion that the euro would guarantee income convergence.

    There are non-natural resource countries that experience miracle growth until they achieve middle income but it’s very hard to get to the high level and stay there – China will make it and according to the late Angus Maddison, China was the world’s largest economy in 1820, accounting for an estimated 32.9% of global GDP.

    Structural reforms and good governance, accountability etc have a long-term payback but depend on culture etc.

    Developing new export markets is also a long slog and this is why ready-made FDI jobs are attractive.

    High private debt will hobble growth but is exiting the euro a panacea?

    Over a decade after defaulting, McDonald’s in Argentina, which sources most of its materials locally, ran out of Chilean supplied tomato ketchup this month – apparently, every import permit is reviewed and approved manually, one by one.

  22. Angus Maddison (1926-2010) wrote in the early 1980s:

    “Economic performance is often portrayed as an autonomous process, but in fact it is influenced by institutions and policy to a much greater degree than Marx and Schumpeter ever admitted. Marx obviously felt that some institutional changes in property relations were necessary to launch the capitalist process, but that thereafter government policy played no directly sustaining economic role in his schema. Schumpeter expected capitalism to collapse in part because of perverse policy (e.g. anti-trust action), but generally considered government policy to be impotent.”

  23. Martin Luther King once said:

    “Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

    By his wonderfully succinct analysis of a very complex situation and by facing up to the logical (if unappetising) conclusions of that analysis, Kevin demonstrates that he is one of the rare exceptions to MLK’s comment.

    Sadly, public debate and analysis remains dominated by the “almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions”.

  24. @ MH: “… but there are no magic formulas for sustainable growth.”

    But, but, I thought there was this Magic Fairy Dust ….

    ‘Sustainable growth’ is an oxymoron Michael (from both the math and science perspective). But then our so-called leading* economists seem to be quite challenged about the economic consequences of real exponential growth, in a physical system (subject to some very nasty immutable laws of nature), by consuming finite resources. Cormac Lucey’s succinct commentary above (MLK quote) captures the essence of this inability of economists to grapple with reality.

    * Leading us forward into a physical future using virtual reality models of that future. The Efficient Market Hypothesis is a complete crock of intellectual snake-oil. But it sure sold well. Should we congratulate those artful sales folk?

  25. @SB

    I’m glad you think the public sector is excused any blame for Ireland’s problems of the last five years. So, the Dept of Finance, the Financial Regulator, the HSE, FAS and many more all did stellar work from 2000-2008 and don’t need any reform at all? Grand so.

  26. @ Brian Woods Snr

    Sustainable growth?

    Apart from two home made economic disasters in a space of a generation, led by the benefits of globalisation life hasn’t been bad generally since TK Whitaker wrote of a crumbling facade.

    Et tu Brute?

    Eaten bread is soon forgotten 😥

  27. @ MH: Yep! We even had real Kerrygold! 🙂

    But – just now and again: a little ‘plug’ for the Permagrowth economic paradigm. 😉

    “The rate of debt increase is proportional to the debt itself. It is not a fixed dollar amount, such as $100 billion a year. It is instead a percent of total debt. Mathematics has a term for this type of growth: an exponential function. Exponential growth is not sustainable, according to credible scientists. Mainstream economists ignore this fact in the hope that that somehow growth can outpace debt, one year a time.”

    [Dr. Keith Weiner] http://www.acting-man.com/?p=28910#more-28910

  28. @Ninap

    The extent to which the entities you mentioned did not do “stellar work” is, not coincidentally, the extent to which they became beholden to neoliberal ideology. So, for example, the very people who are now screaming for “structural reform” are in most cases the very same ones who were insisting that “light touch” regulation was the only way to unleash the vital forces of capitalism. Similarly, the HSE is little more than an attempt to impose an inappropriate form of private-sector management on a public-sector agency. The HSE is precisely what happens when those braying for “structural reform” get their way.

  29. The issue I have with the good professor’s analysis is that the two outcomes do not have equal benefits. Would we be any better if we jumped to a United States of Europe if that was on offer or jumped back to the status quo ante.

    If the outcome was a United States of Europe with democratic and legal institutions and a balance between state and federal, we would probably be ok. If the unity turned out to be a EUSSR with the centre dominating, like the current situation, we would be worse off.
    On the other side, there is no break up outcome that is good. There will be no agreed divorce with agreements on re-denomination and a buffer for the losers. It will be chaos of the type seen in 1914-18 & 39-45, hopefully without the genocide. There will be no European project and there would be no European Social MArket economy. There might even be no Champions League or even Eurovision.

  30. Ernie / SB

    I have no wish to dump on the public sector. In fact, I belong to it, and know many people doing fine work. However, the reality is that there is precious little accountability in large swathes of the PS. Those who do little work are left unchallenged, while those who make big mistakes are not penalised. Many European countries, including the UK, are much further down the road of public service reform. It doesn’t just mean lowering wages or hiving off things to the private sector (although sometimes this makes sense). Ultimately, it means making people accountable, and requiring them to work better.

    Yes, there are lots of badly run private companies, and lots of their mistakes were paid for by the taxpayer. But that doesn’t absolve the public sector of responsibility to get its own house in order.

  31. @Michael Hennigan

    Mainland Europe has had a growth/unemployment problem that predates the launch of the euro and while a project such as the banking union is important, growth depends mainly on what happens in individual countries, in particular in the big member countries of the EMU.

    Areas like development of the internal market can have a long-term impact but there are no magic formulas for sustainable growth.

    Firstly no one has mentioned convergence or magic formulas, you can not win an argument against a non existent opponent.

    Secondly this is not about the comparative strength of national economies in the Eurozone but the poor (or nonexistent) recoveries in most of the Eurozone countries.

    As far as I understand it your position is this:

    The collective failure of economies to recover in the Eurozone since the global financial crisis is in fact a set of simultaneous failures in individual countries. Monetary and fiscal policy is as good as it can realistically be but most of the countries in the Eurozone are incapable of working within its bounds. Most of them.

    Other economic blocks with more accommodative fiscal and monetary policy are doing better than the Eurozone but there is always some better explanation than policy.

    This is searching for excuses to support your opponents opponent.

  32. @ Michael

    “In recent months the US labour rate has fallen to about 63% – a 35 year low”
    The Irish mortgage issuance rate is back to 1970s levels too

    2 bad signs of the Zeitgeist
    Too much capital with too much power over labour and not enough interest in investment

    That US labour market % isn’t getting enough attention.
    Another mostly ignored point IMO is the number of zombie companies kept alive by near zero interest rates

  33. ” In fact, I belong to it”

    Sheesh, the new contracts are stingent ; ) you see, thats what you need unions for

  34. @ Shay Begorrah

    The future of the euro depends on the economic performance of 4 countries: Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which account for about 75% of EA GDP.

    You say: “Other economic blocks with more accommodative fiscal and monetary policy are doing better..”

    Like…??

    The US is a federal union rather than a “block” and in the monetary area its union took sometime to evolve.

    Between 1841 and 1913 it didn’t have a central bank or a private proxy of one.

    When it comes to specifics, I didn’t say that the ECB has exhausted opportunities in monetary policy.

    Credit availability is important but business success involves many other factors.

    A few months ago in response to your criticism on austerity, when I asked you for specifics on what value of funds Germany should transfer to other states to make a difference, you went AWOL.

    People of course avoid specifics but unless the dynamics of growth of the 4 countries referenced above are given attention, what reality can blanket aspirations have?

    Simply put if these economies can grow, there is a lot more flexibility to help smaller countries.

    The French Treasury is more honest on the challenges than could be expected in Ireland.

    170,000 French firms (in 2007) export, representing 6% of French firms while there is a far greater propensity in Germany to export than in France, with nearly 350,000 exporting firms, or 11% of all German firms.

    Some 30% of French exporters fail to hold onto their market for more than a year – this is a very useful metric but would Irish policy makers want an Irish equivalent?

    @ Brian Woods Snr

    Brian,

    On sustainable jobs, Spain apparently has the highest rate of temporary employment in Europe.

    Have you ever worked in a job where there was a direct or implicit state guarantee of work lifetime employment?

  35. @Michael Hennigan

    A few months ago in response to your criticism on austerity, when I asked you for specifics on what value of funds Germany should transfer to other states to make a difference, you went AWOL.

    AWOL? I occasionally get tired of arguing with a brick wall of diversions and willful ignorance or plowing through the many discharges of the Hennigan fact blunderbuss. Most of us do I imagine.

    At any rate I do not recall suggesting Germany should transfer funds to anyone (though perhaps you could dig up a few occasions where I did?). For a long time I have expected nothing from Germany other than trouble.

    Anyone with any credibility left thinks that the two best options to end this depression are debt write offs coupled with monetary and fiscal loosening or the breakup of EMU.

  36. @Michael Hennigan

    One other thing Michael. I noticed that though we got yet another history lesson on the federal reserve you did not have time to answer the original question.

    Do you not agree that the current economic policy in the Eurozone has been the major reason for the economic troubles of the Eurozone relative to the non Eurozone countries since the GFC?

  37. @Ninap

    You wrote: “However, the reality is that there is precious little accountability in large swathes of the PS. Those who do little work are left unchallenged, while those who make big mistakes are not penalised.”

    Precisely the (private sector) logic that brought us the HSE. The idea was that it wasn’t enough to have people delivering healthcare. Why, left to their own devices, whose to say what nurses might do? We need them to be accountable. And, in order to make them accountable, we need someone–nay, a whole bureaucracy–for them to be accountable to. Enfin le HSE vint. And it brought with it inefficiencies of a sort that could only be imagined in the previous, “unaccountable,” system. In the name of making the health service more “efficient,” an entire army of measurers and their attendants were put in place.I trust the irony here is not lost on you.

    Those bureaucrats, by the way, are accountable to no one. But I can imagine your answer to this: “we must make those bureaucrats accountable! We need another layer of bureaucrats to measure the efficiency (or lack thereof) of the first layer whose job it is to measure the efficiency of those who actually do the work. Otherwise, somebody might be skiving off!”

    Much the same thing has happened in our universities where, in many, 60% of the staff are non-academic.

  38. @ Shay Begorrah

    Your solution has the virtue of being simple and surly economic growth would follow; have a big debt write off and cut in the fund assets of private sector workers, coupled with European ‘Abenomics.’

    However, the challenge for Shinzo Abe is his “third arrow” as money printing can only go so far.

    Adam Posen, who cannot be dismissed as a neo-liberal, who is a former Bank of England policy board member and now heads the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said this week in Tokyo that the government is being “insufficiently ambitious” in its reform drive

  39. @shay …”Anyone with any credibility left thinks that the two best options to end this depression are debt write offs coupled with monetary and fiscal loosening or the breakup of EMU.’

    who “they” be say like eh the voters poor dears haven’t a clue huh if only ya could reeducate them stop them getting bombarded with capitalist and neoliberal dogma via the captured media ,everyone is ‘in’ on this huh…ah the markets too!
    the window has closed yields are too low to even seriously suggest/discuss a break up get on with your life try to enjoy it more,the music is playing get up and dance.

    @seafoid wrong on the US again.

  40. @ Shay Begorrah

    On economic policy, Italy had an average growth of 0.3% in the decade before the crisis. It kept it household debt under control but given the rise in its public debt, it had no capacity to respond to the crisis.

    France although in a better position: a budget deficit every year since 1975 and a trade deficit every year since 2002, was also hobbled despite years of a credit boom.

    Spain only cut unemployment from 21% in 1997 with the aid of a property bubble.

    The UK slightly cut its public spending and managed to recover well from the downturn in the financial sector.

    Christian Noyer, Banque de France governor, said last year that German GDP “contracted almost twice as much as in France in 2009.” But Germany’s greater labour-market flexibility allowed for a much faster rebound. France lost 500,000 jobs in that period, while German unemployment “remained stable,” in part because businesses could cut working hours when growth slowed.

    Germany also was selling to ex-EU27 countries.

    As for the smaller countries, absent a tooth fairy, but still with external assistance, they had to cut bubble level spending.

    The biggest change has been the collapse in cross-border capital flows.

    McKinsey has said that cross-border capital flows have collapsed, falling from $11.8 trillion in 2007 to an estimated $4.6 trillion in 2012. Western Europe accounts for some 70% of this drop, as the continent’s financial integration has gone into reverse. Eurozone banks have reduced cross-border lending and other claims by $3.7 trillion since 2007, and central banks now account for more than 50% of capital flows within the region.

    Some of these flows were bad as they fuelled property speculation, but some also boosted productive activity.

  41. @ JG

    Take it up with Jan.

    BTW I see Seanie D is acting as “consultant” to his fragrant wife (who “gave him love and babies”) and son who are developing something in Manhattan with money he squirreled away in 2005 well away from the grubby hands of the taxpayer.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/dunne-family-plans-22m-new-york-project-1.1707574

    I love that Gainsboroughesque photo.

    And remember customers – Dunne stores money, for better value

  42. @seafoid the hack is getting a bit carried away his feet are still wet,what is it 4 little flats and a shop on the edge Chinatown,not that exiting…
    But congrats to Gail welcome to NY.

  43. @ MH: Yes! Twice.

    Do you know the ‘one’ about the troop of baboons perched on the branches of a tree. The ‘Boss’ – perched on the topmost branch, looking down, saw lots of smiling faces. Those of us on the lowest branches, gazing up, only saw a bunch of a**holes!

  44. @seafoid it’s your type of attitude that convinced me to emigrate and leave that banana republic.
    He’s in BK chased hounded out his country not before the courts on any matters relating to his private estate planning,nor will he ever be.
    Creating jobs paying taxes and doing his job,which he would I’m sure be delighted to have continued doing at home.Eh Guinness made some beer today,the Knicks lost and a Irish developer announced plans to build a few flats and a shop,oh a Russian warship is docked in Havanah.
    This was all fully revealed ages aeons ago in his BK deposition,what’s it go to do with the begrudging chip on their shoulder small minded paddies ?
    Get a life.

  45. “it’s your type of attitude that convinced me to emigrate and leave that banana republic.”

    Sorry, John. Ta bron orm. Come back and we’ll sort you out with a farm and a few hoggets.

    The banks are not lending in Ireland. Being EXTREMELY generous to Mr Dunne, why would he stay? Why would RVP stay at Man Utd? The Glazers run Utd and similar people run Ireland.

    “Creating jobs paying taxes and doing his job,which he would I’m sure be delighted to have continued doing at home”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAlTOfl9F2w

    Why doesn’t he just pay NAMA what he owes them? Never mind the jobs. It’s ok.

    “what’s it go to do with the begrudging chip on their shoulder small minded paddies”

    Secular stagnation
    I didn’t ask him to buy that site in D4.

    Eddie Keher would call that sort of moaning unmanly.

    I know Dunne is from Carlow but in Kilkenny next door fellas take their belts and get up and hurl on. According to Eddie.

    http://www.rte.ie/sport/gaa/hurling/2012/0914/337583-keher-disappointment-at-cannings-comments/

    “Fellas from Kilkenny get belted and just get up, get on with the game and that’s the kind of manly behaviour I like to see in hurling. Don’t be lying down looking for the free or for fellas to be carded.:

    Or looking for debts to be written off

  46. @seafoid confine your comments to topics you have even a little bit of surface knowledge bout,oh don’t believe everything you read in the irish rags.
    He didn’t use any irish banks on “that” D4 site,stiffed a Brit one,fair play to him.
    Link away time for some music is it,ya haven’t a clue.

  47. @DOD ah David is in not bout time for a link to an oul Luke Kelly song,or a tall tale about the travelers,how the shiners doing these days.When will your beloved Sinn Fein get it that southerners simply find the Nordy accent grating reminds them off the eh “troubles” too much,ya know when the Provos where killing innocent civilians.
    Can we have a link to that morgue “left ireland” no comments over there again but please copy and paste away haven’t had my daily dose off nonsense yet.
    If you actually have a comment or some input do share….

  48. @seafoid most of the “old” money stole there’s behind every great fortune is a crime.
    Sean is a proud Irishman who created many jobs paid lots taxes and his once self built empire is being picked over by yank or offshore carpetbaggers, who will extract their profit flip the deals and exit.Its your loss yes he’s bombastic and a bit loud not my cup of tea but a visionary come on Ballsbrige is a dump crap buildings imagine dare to dream Knightsbridge in Dublin.
    Feck ulster bank they were late to the party added more liquor to the punch bowl,lashing loans out,got what they deserved.

  49. @ JG

    Knightsbridge in Dublin would require a stable economy that could hang on to people. Maybe next time.
    Emigration kills a lot of these dreams.

    I think it was Grumpy who pointed out that people hanging onto terms and benefits were often the parents of those emigrating. Very few see the big picture.

    If you read Understanding Contemporary Ireland ed Bartley and Kitchin you get a feel for the Tiger era. P 1 “Ireland is no longer a poor nation on the periphery of Europe characterized by a weak economy and high emigration.
    Negative features such as a stagnant economy, a relatively moribund social order..have been tackled and transformed into virtuous trends in ways that were beyond comprehension in the 1980s. ”
    It did seem like all that was being left behind. But it wasn’t to be.

    Busts are all about how losses are distributed. It’s messy.

  50. @DOD ah David your a poser I’ve more street cred that you will ever have.As I’ve said before you would not make it too the tea break on a building site.As a young fella i collected sold lead for the oul fella,bet I spent a lot more time at on halting sites and dirty building sites i Dub that you ever have.
    Guarantee you I’ve been to more funerals in Glasnevin with the volley off shots that you can imagine,skin up if you can.I actually knew and met Luke Kelly and his American girlfriend many many times,one his pals owns a bar Cyril Fitzsimons in Montauk down the road from my summer gaff,your simply full off it.
    Your a champagne socialist every working class dub i know aspires to make money and lead a good life,they have no interest none in your loony left academic ideals…show me the money!

  51. The Maastricht Treaty was announced as a “great leap FORWARD”. Since then, only “FORWARD moves” have been allowed in the Maastricht-born “European Union” – mainly the creation of the “single currency” and the birth of a Eurozone with more and more states involved, according to their will and their capability of meeting the doubtful set of “Maastricht criteria” when joining the “single” currency area. Any move which may be seen as a “backward move” has been strictly forbidden, even if nobody can take for granted that this disunited “European Union” is moving forward to something that looks like the promised land. In fact, it is increasingly clear that this road is a “road to nowhere”, besides being increasingly painful for more and more member states to go ahead, under the approach which has been adopted to “keep the markets calm” and “save the Euro” – while avoiding the appropriate fiscal transfers and resorting to lending under AUSTERITY constraints. In these days, the European Union has been repeatedly following the recommendation: “Keep moving FORWARD, either slowly or rapidly, either jointly or at several speeds!”.

    Yes, as Paul Krugman recently said, “The Euro is a shaky construction”. Besides ignoring the macroeconomic imbalances within the EU, in the “Maastricht criteria” for Eurozone membership as well as in the subsequent “stability” pacts, the Euro has been designed and confirmed – by Delors et al and followers – as a “single currency” instead of a (much more realistic) “common currency”. Now, it is very clear that this was an IRRATIONAL choice, namely because other components of Delors’s dream are missing – such as a European budget amounting, at least, to some “3% [!] of the European GDP”.

    Two decades after the Maastricht Treaty, a COMPLETELY NOVEL EU TREATY is mandatory – not a mere set of “positive” , incremental amendments -, so as to avoid a sad situation, in the near future, where the foreseen “European common home” becomes replaced by a true “European house of correction”, not compatible with essential democratic principles. We need to build a true, democratic European Union through a cooperative European disunion, where the Euro survives as a “common”, parallel currency – INCLUDING FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM and the other “non-Euro states” – but no longer as the “single currency” for a fraction of the EU (currently 17 out of 27 member states)

    [ http://building-a-true-european-union.blogspot.com ]:

    ” – The Euro should be a COMMON currency within the future EU – including the EU27 members outside the current ‘Euro Area’ – but not necessarily the SINGLE currency.
    – In this context, the coexistence of TWO parallel currencies should be allowed in each EU member state (under certain conditions, established in a novel European Treaty), within the framework of an appropriate “Cooperative European Disunion” .
    – Besides the “Common Euro”, the complementary currency in each member state could be either a “national currency” (…) or a completely new currency, shared by that member state and some other “compatible” EU member states, taking into account both the relevant macroeconomic issues and appropriate geographic, historic and cultural issues.”

    We believe that this concise proposal can be a good basis for the required, flexible and realistic, “Plan B” – jointly saving the Euro and the European people.

  52. @ JG

    It’s Saturday morning now and it looks like you must have been tired and emotional.

    It’s not coherent to say well Ulster Bank deserved to lose the money but Sean had a vision for D4 and he was tricked out of it by people not fit to wipe the dirt off his shoes.

    Something I read in the FT a while ago : “In years to come historians are either going to say “Wow, what steel nerves he had” or they will say “He was incapable of learning”.

    Or the Austrian view- we need a good bust to work off the excess capacity created during the boom. There is an analysis for every angle.

    Ireland is never going to be NY. The regional NY is London.
    Ireland could potentially be a well managed feeder region. It has never really reached this exalted height, at least not in the last 400 years. But it’s not going to be London. Brittas Bay is never going to emulate the Hamptons either.

    I think Sean lost the run of himself. Once the banks lost control of the narrative it was down to the comfort of strangers.

    And here we are.
    Have a nice weekend.

  53. A.C.,

    and what would be the benefit of this multi currency potpourri?

    I screened it twice, I do not see you bringing one single reason, that this would be beneficial in any way.

  54. @seafoid like The Donald I don’t drink,the only thing I’m tired and emotional about is the Irish media and some commentators!
    Here is a quick example and in no way am I singling out Blackstone,most major RE players had one or two if not more of these I certainly have…

    Stuy Town was considered one “worst” RE deals done in many many years,it was also rather unpleasant in that middle class tenants were involved in the “plan” to jack the rents up.There was significant reputation damage done on this deal and Blackstone got a bloody nose and a black eye not to mention significant loses.
    The reason I mention it is that not long afterwards they were heralded by the Irish media as the second coming hired to stress test Irish bank which blew up over wait for no really you can’t make this up bad RE deals….
    The hedge or vulture funds picking and scratching over Sean’s self made brick by brick life’s work have all been involved in one dodgy deal or another.
    It was not covered by the Irish media but illustrators that s**t happens in fact many many successful US business people have gone bankrupt and built second or third fortunes.But that’s just not allowed in backwards catholic Ireland because anyone who loses or owes too much money is “guilty” and needs to be publicly humiliated and punished,the level of financial immaturity is staggering.
    http://nymag.com/realestate/features/53797/

    Ok back to Dunner who did a runner with a stunner,he’s a businessman who often needs sells apartments promote his deals,raise capital so he garners press via an outsized persona and good for him.This appears to irk or annoy the “Irish” and who wallow cherish rejoice in his downfall.He’s got a young family some skills quite a few actually,wants go to work to provide for them and live a nice life,so what.The Irish media have been hounding him non stop with garbage idiotic story after story today’s is eh he bought a fu**ing house back in the day!
    Like so what who cares he also lost an awful lot of his own money on that deal,the chap who writes this crap must be compensating for some shortcomings off his own.
    He appears very excitable breathless Bernstein and Woodward style prose…hold the front page we have our US reporter live from NY with breaking news…I prefer my business reporting long on facts short on hyperbole.
    His pieces are ridiculous ludicrous full off cliches and undercut with an agenda to “expose” Sean it’s gotya journalism at its worst,amateur hour stuff.

    Yesterday,NAMA took out an ad desperately seeking JV or joint venture partners have a fecking look around at your own clients would ya…they are enchanted by the sharply dressed smooth talking yank carpetbaggers gaga over them.Maybe the senior staff have posters off Henry Kravis,John Paulsson on their bedroom walls it’s all rather unbecoming the ass kissing of yank vulture funds yet Irish developers are hounded and persecuted by the Irish media who’s bread they once buttered,for what losing a few bob big deal.

    Yesterday’s non story about a rather small uninteresting NY deal was fully revealed and reported on back in December I know the site well,was at brunch at The Mondrain across the street when someone mentioned it,we walked over had a look that was last year.It was “revealed” yesterday prior to a mundane not very interesting bankruptcy hearing off Sean’s by that hysterical hack as some smoking gun,as if he received a tip off in dome smoky back room by a deep throat.Its a matter of public record.

  55. @JG

    Interesting context on the deal and timing but as Musasashi said timing is everything. Also note Hef on this

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1342643/Hugh-Hefners-Playboy-mansion-like-squalid-prison-say-Playmates.html

    “At around midnight, according to St James, Hef would take his V##gra. ‘After that, he would constantly check his watch to make sure we left at the right time because if we didn’t, or the timing got messed up, he wouldn’t be able to perform later.”

    And the catholic Ireland stuff- power works differently in NY, does it? What was Clinton trying to do politically when the Monica news came out ? And who wanted to bring Spitzer down ?

    Re second chances- Larry Goodman got one. Denis O’Brien got one. Madoff didn’t. He was American. Neither did that guy who was head of the IMF. He wanted to run for president of France.

    They all look after their own. But if you cross them they’ll disown you. Why was Dunne the outsider ? Maybe he should have bought the Indo in 2005.

  56. @ Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke , Chichele Professor of Economic History

    go get a majority for your phantasies with the Irish electorate

    “capital controls, default in several countries, measures to deal with the ensuing financial crisis, and agreement about how to deal with legacy debt and legacy contracts.”

    while YOU sit high and dry on your tenure at All Souls College, Oxford

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2014/03/orourke.htm

  57. @Prudent Hans

    Envy will get you no-where.

    Spose you want another ‘Fig Leaf’ as well?

    Jacinta Heisenberg from Ballybrack [PhD, Cambridge] says “Hi” and “Bye”.

  58. @Ernie
    “And it [the HSE] brought with it inefficiencies of a sort that could only be imagined in the previous, “unaccountable,” system. In the name of making the health service more “efficient,” an entire army of measurers and their attendants were put in place.I trust the irony here is not lost on you.”

    So I take it you have no difficulty with compulsory redundancies in the HSE?

  59. Deflation may very well be the end of the euro. Those bond sustainability analyses will look very poor if prices start falling.

  60. Seafoid,

    please, your FT article is titled with

    “Greece property: land of the gods going for a song”

    and starts with

    “A 650 sq metre seafront villa on Mykonos, with an infinity pool and views of three nearby islands, is priced at €6.2m”

    10k€ / sq m inb a 3rd tier location is called “a song”

    and where are those “profitable family businesses” & “bright young graduates” ?

    Tell me just one of those great family businesses.

    The PISA scores of Greece are sooooooooooo baaaaaaaaad, that the government of Greece refused to have them incorporated in the regular report, repeatedly.

    The whole thing is still overpriced by a factor of 2, at least.

  61. I agree that “Europe is now defined by the constraints it imposes on governments, not by the possibilities it affords them to improve the lives of their people. This is politically unsustainable”.

    Prof. O´Rourke presents two solutions: “jump forward to a federal political Europe [where the single currency survives], on whose stage left and right can compete on equal terms” or “return to a European Union without a single currency and let individual countries decide for themselves.” In my opinion, a “third way”, as concisely explained in

    http://building-a-true-european-union.blogspot.com

    regarding the currency issue, is the best way to deal with the current deep crisis and avoid similar deep crises in the future . In this solution – which can be a flexible basis for a future EMU-LTE (Economic and Monetary Union – Long Term Evolution ), with several stages , the euro survives just as a “common currency”, but no longer as the “single currency”. In an advanced stage of the EMU-LTE, the euro could be – at last! – the single currency in a fiscally and politically unified EU.

    Of course, I agree that this “third way” – similarly to the latter option of Prof. O’ Rourke -, “will require capital controls, default in several countries, measures to deal with the ensuing financial crisis, and agreement about how to deal with legacy debt and legacy contracts”. And,
    certainly, the austerity constraints and penalties which are inherent to the “Fiscal Treaty” should be immediately suspended.

  62. D O D

    just for completeness.

    That I should envy a little tenure at a 3rd rate “ivy” college, made me smile for about 2 seconds.

  63. @Brian Woods Snr,Cyril has a spot in Anguilla,time I was there didn’t get chance stop by,more snow headed NY.He winters there,it never ceases to amaze me that often the very people harping going on on about default,burn the bond holders,at the merest suggestion,like the odd 100 million,someone was actually astute enough to plan for a very rainy day they want them to be very aggressively,pursued in event off default on non recoverable debts.

  64. @rf: Dork update. Found him here some weeks ago.

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog An Aussi econ professor (William Mitchell) wittering on about Money.

    @jg: Thanks for that update. Know the elder bro well. NYC weather forecast seems to parallel the economic data emanating from US. Coincidence or happenstance?

    Ones ‘planning’ for ones future is always viewed as a retrospective. However some folk, no names mind, have been a tad naughty. Not “breaking any law” – just amoral stuff, at best!

    Take a while to study up on a geezer called Thomas McFeeley. Esp a recent BBC Spotlight doco. Mindboggling stuff.

  65. rf,

    I was just trying to imagine how Kevin will organize the revolutionary masses in Oxford.

    10 grey professors, 5 with rollator, picketing the local Lidl store at Watlington Rd, and reading a strongly worded ultimatum to the local store operator, or ….. ?

    The local Oxford UKIP chapter claims to have collected 11 000 signatures.
    I am sure they would love to tell Kevin their view on more federalism : – )

    Kevin’s:
    “Where Democrats allowed themselves to be constrained by golden fetters and an ideology of austerity, as in Germany, voters eventually abandoned them.”

    Agenda 2010 Schröder lost to the more conservative Merkel, to put this into perspective.

    When we had here the

    “Class divides and European integration, yet again” I stayed nice and silent. Because it is clear, that there is absolutely no majority for more federalism, but the opposite, punishment of Brussels and reduction of its powers is what the majority wants. Even the workers in France see Brussels as the problem, and not Frankfurt.

  66. @BWSnr,the IT did a nice profile on Cyril his health hasn’t been great recently.Its linked here this is his spot.
    http://hamptons.curbed.com/archives/2012/06/29/the_irish_times_profiles_cyril_fitzsimons_strikes_gold.php

    Over here the future is so bright you to have wear sunglasses.Maybe I’m just blessed with a sunny disposition but life is good in the states,still the land of opportunity just ask Sean,sorry I meant Gail:)
    http://www.dallasnews.com/business/headlines/20140228-hopes-up-for-sunnier-u.s.-economy-once-winter-ends.ece

    The failure off the banks to secure or in fact waive liens over personal assets rendering personal guarantees moot is really the critical fact.They can’t close the stable door now.Most Irish developers unfortunately were not from a capital markets background,failed to plan or organize their financial affairs commensurate with their net worth at that time.I like most people have placed many many assets into bankruptcy remote vehicles,trusts as an example,rarely sign recourse loans.Its pretty basis and accepted over here to take something off the table in case the weather changes!

    Regarding Tom,not overly familiar with his story perhaps it’s the Provo thing,haven’t the will nor interest to read/watch much about him.Is the adaptation of the Quirke books by John Bannville/Benjamin Black any good,I also understand there is an excellent show on Irish aviators available.Tony Ryan’s story is fascinating and inspiring quite the stable off talent at GPA back in the day.

  67. @Ninap

    As my primary concern as a public servant is how well the public is served, I’d have no problem with compulsory redundancies in the HSE (or in University administration), provided that the money is used to hire more frontline personnel in the services concerned and not, say, given away in the form of reckless tax cuts in order to buy Fine Gael the next election.

  68. @ jg: You’re a ball of laughs John. Explosives? I have a very vague recollection that it may also have been a very large, loaded colt 45 – (did he serve a few tours “in country”? – he’s the right age group.)

    Sunglasses are good! Rosy-tint eyepieces recommended! What would one recommend as ear-cover? Do they sell Guantanamo surplus on e-Bay?

    Tommy would make Jamie and the ladz look positively saintly!

    Cheers!

  69. @jg

    So those cov lites and REITS are rock solid ? Any idea Why labour participation rate is so low ? US does look better than EZ sclerosis but it is all relative. Any sign downtown of exit velocity?

  70. @BWSnr,I hope it was pretty useless unloaded,he’s prone to tall tales after a few so i tune out.One my favorite surf breaks Ditch Plains is out his way,i stop in occasionally on my way back to East Hamoton for a coffee and a chat.

    Blinkers are best keeps you staring staring ahead,not distracted by the past.

    @seafoid jeez it’s been falling since 2002 hardly breaking news,simple ageing population,don’t take my word for here’s Plosser from the Fed.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/plosser-labor-participation-rate-down-since-2002-8aMnjsLoS8KunB9Pa_O6Tw.html

    If investing in REIT’s look at the max leverage ratio allowed,it’s a bet on RE but also management,the “Green” chaps are good the other Irish one I’d avoid like the plague,inexperienced management team.Nothing in life except your higher power is rock solid,since when did NAMA get appointed sheriff it’s supposed to be a commercial enterprise not a morality play,seeking justice and retribution give it a rest,just try minimize the losses for the state,face value is over 70Billion lunacy hearing garbage about “profits”.

    @francis any skinny or intel on this book looking forward to reading it.
    http://euobserver.com/political/123288

  71. @ john, grumpy

    apparently now they do the antics and leak secret protocols in Europe too.

    President Harry Truman once said, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

    Grumpy, do you think a cat would make me feel less grumpy?

    Well, the descriptions of the EU meetings sound pretty realistic. England always trying to have a say about other people’s money, the southerners, like Barros, trying to slip in some innocent wordings, which could then be converted into gigantic spending commitments from hapless northerners. The usual game, basically testing, whether the other side has already fallen asleep at 2 am in the morning, and you could get them to sign an unconditional surrender.

    The 4 am “banking union” thing is a typical example. Some folks thought they have found their path to stealing via mutualisation, and what they actually got is federal supervision.

    Between friends : – )

  72. @ JG

    NAMA is prolly banjaxed but is the US headed for exit velocity ?
    I think it’s still underwhelming.
    No sign of the great rotation, really, unless you can see something from where you are.
    Equities are going to trade within the same range for a while yet I bet.

  73. @ seafoid

    You seem to refer to the new Sarrazin book “Der neue Tugendterror”. I have not read it, so far, soooo ……

    What I see in general in Germany, is

    a) that more people are getting aware of the public media endlessly trying to spin on events in pretty rough ways (For those able to read German, go for the comments at tagesschau.de, the former holy grail of official opinion, it is often interesting, how contributors expose the spin)

    b) the “silent majority” folks were watching for a long time the left-green do-gooders vilifying the others, including character assassination, small minorities blocking infrastructure decisions, etc.

    And what I now see, is that the “old conservative”, “docile peasants” are taking a page from that book too, and go ballistic about actually small decisions. “Wutbürger”, fighting power lines along the Autobahn, Jesus, etc. People with physics PhD unwilling to write down 2 lines with equations, which would show, that their argument is quantitatively false.

    And I look at all this with bewilderment. Seemingly normal, intelligent people not giving a damn about constitution, laws, majority votes anymore.

    Looking also at the Ukraine, Time to read Carl Schmitt “Legalität und Legitimität” again

  74. @Prudent Hans (aka francis)

    So – you read Carl Schmitt!!! Have the second Fig Leaf. Methinks we have you well sussed.

    Carl Schmitt (1888–1985) was a conservative German legal, constitutional, and political theorist. Schmitt is often considered to be one of the most important critics of liberalism, parliamentary democracy, and liberal cosmopolitanism. But the value and significance of Schmitt’s work is subject to controversy, mainly due to his intellectual support for and active involvement with National Socialism.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/schmitt/

    I side with Karl-Otto Apel and Jurgen Habermas here; both consider Schmitt a highly dangerous right wing ideologue.

  75. @all anti-fascists might find this interesting

    The German sociologist Ulrich Beck and several other European intellectuals have published a joint statement on the coming elections for the European Parliament in May:

    “Wählt Europa”

    “Vote for Europe”

    The statement is signed by Ulrich Beck, Jürgen Habermas, Jacques Delors, Bruno Latour, Zygmunt Bauman, Anthony Giddens, Harold James, Robert Menasse, Agnes Heller, Alain Touraine, and many others;

    Link: http://www.habermasforum.dk/index.php?type=onlinetexts&text_id=575

  76. Flashback:

    Merkel’s European Failure: Germany Dozes on a Volcano
    By Jürgen Habermas

    Angela Merkel’s government is forcing Southern Europe to undertake profound reforms while at the same time denying its own responsibility for the consequences of its crisis policies. Germany is risking a historic failure with its shortsighted wrangling.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/juergen-habermas-merkel-needs-to-confront-real-european-reform-a-915244.html

  77. D O D

    You have to widen your horizont a little bit.

    Habermas is another catheder socialist, who couldn’t organize a revolutionary cell in his own household.

    I have read a lot of books in my life.

    Pat Buchanan “A republic, not an empire”

    Noam Chomsky “Manufacturing consent”

    Antonio Negri (the guy serving a life sentence for being a member of the red brigades) “Empire”

    Mao & Guevara on Guerilla Warfare

    Johannes Most “revolutionary War Science” is a useful DIY for brewing Nitro in the cooking jars of your Grandma : – )

  78. “Vote for Europe”, eh? Nein, danke. I think we’ve seen enough of what “Europe” is really all about: German hegemony by other means.

    So, despite my respect for some (but by no means all) of the signatories, I will be voting against every new European treaty, against any further integration and in favour of leaving the euro (if any opportunity to do so presents itself),

    Of course it won’t matter, since “no” votes are always mere trial runs while “yes” votes are definitive. If there is any clearer indication of what “Europe” means for the idea of popular sovereignty I can’t imagine what it is. “You will continue to vote until you vote the way Germany wants you to.”

  79. This is from last July. The elephant in the room is still EZ leadership and ideology. And now stagnation is on the menu

    http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/we-can-stop-austerity-if-europe-stops-it-first-29453779.html

    “Alan Ahearne, who advised Lenihan on three of our austerity budgets, was responding to the calls made by Ashoka Mody, a former IMF mission chief to Ireland, for the Irish Government to row back on austerity.

    Last weekend, Mody said there has been little growth in the Irish economy over the last year-and-a-half, and that it was hard to believe that austerity was not part of the problem. Mody suggested that for the Irish economy to grow, there should be no more austerity for the next three years.

    “Mody is an impressive economist and we should take his comments seriously,” said Ahearne. “What he is suggesting is very radical.””

    That was 8 months ago

    “nothing’s changed, but the surrounding bullshit that has grown”

  80. the money shot

    Angesichts der ungelösten Probleme bewertet Vittori die Überlebenschancen des Euro auf unter 50%. Im Grunde sei nichts geregelt, die Euro-Zone bleibe gefangen im Teufelskreis zu hoher Schulden und zu geringen Wachstums.

    Because of the unresolved problems Vittori rates the survival chances of the euro at less than 50%. If they don’t address the issues the EZ will remain in the vicious circle of excessively high debt and insufficient growth .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcWpbWHEpvk

    Yeah, you’ve f##ed up for the last time
    You think you got macro figured out
    We’re living in a glass house
    ‘Cause everything’s shattering all around
    Now tell me what you’re knowledgeable about?
    I’m tired of all of the nonsense

  81. @seafoid im not a equity strategist but id avoid too much exposure to Ukraine!
    ah look who just gave back their irish winnings sweet,some dishes are best served cold,twas the ruskies that kicked off a large blow out in yields tanking the CMBS market a while back,led to the demise of that academic shop long term capital management or LTCM,appeared that the profs and nerds were taking over the world with little black boxes,that passed quickly phew.
    “Secondly, most allocations are small, except for Templeton, which on December 31, 2013 held over $6 billion worth of Ukraine sovereign dollar debt, a third of outstanding volumes.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/24/us-ukraine-bond-idUSBREA1N1LE20140224
    great little slide show on the end off the euro crisis,number 1 reason for it..
    “Member States did not fully accept the political constraints of being in EMU”
    http://www.esm.europa.eu/pdf/20140303%20KR%20Riga.pdf

  82. @ Ernie

    Would you vote “yes” on a treaty change which would reduce EU integration, the powers of Brussels?

    Most people in Germany are also fed up with the constant demands, that we should do this and that, pay for this new thing, and then being accused of hegemony.

    It is folks like Kevin and David who constantly want more federalism, not us.

    On the Euro, the folks from Poland seem to have the opposite opinion
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ukraine-crisis-prompts-poland-to-think-again-about-euro-2014-03-03?siteid=YAHOOB

    @ seafoid

    Sarrazin is by now clearly capitalizing on his potential to polarize. There are plenty of people who are just fed up with the left-green political correctness crowd.

    On the Apres Euro, I actually doubt, whether Kevin wants to put in one line with the Crazy Yanis

  83. “There are plenty of people who are just fed up with the left-green political correctness crowd.”

    Do you mean to tell me there are fascists in Germany? Well, colour me shocked, shocked!

    The are not simply “accused” of hegemony; they are guilty of it as anyone in any country not bordering Germany recognises.

    But I hope you people get your way and Germany pulls out of the euro and even the EU. That’s the best solution to all of this. Then you become what you always were before the European project gave you cover.

  84. Ernie,

    you are a perfect example of this < 10% minority, who try to terrorize the rest with name calling like “fascist” for everybody, who doesnt subscribe to their extremist world view.

    Germany has no problem with the EU and the Euro as it is, and ZERO intention to leave either.

    We just think, that some (minor) changes would make it somewhat better.

    But neither the english trade zone only nor the french federalist extremist ideas

  85. I’ve no doubt that most Germans love the EU and the euro. Why wouldn’t they?

    It’s never those wearing the jackboot who find it uncomfortable, just those squirming under it. Doesn’t stop the booted ones from complaining about how their gait is being impeded….

  86. @ Francis

    “The essence of dramatic tragedy is not unhappiness. It resides in the solemnity of the remorseless working of things.” Alfred North Whitehead

    If Germans want to keep the Euro they’ll have to fight for it.

    “Our” Cheryl Cole, advisor to George Osborne, put it well in a treasury paper last year

  87. @ Ernie & Seafoid

    We do not “love” the EU and Euro, certainly not after all what happened in the last few years, all the hate mongering and attempts to steal from us.

    But we can live with the status quo, and do not have to fight for it.

    If you want to propose changes, develop a plan, get a majority in Ireland, and then start convincing the rest of Europe.

  88. Apparently this news didn’t make it to Germany: We had majorities that voted against both the Nice and Lisbon treaties. We were told to vote again until we voted the way our German masters wanted us to vote. By the time of the Fiscal Compact (a daft and antidemocratic piece of legislation, instigated at–surprise!–Germany’s behest and that that enshrined ordoliberal ideology as the law of the land), we didn’t have to ask twice to find out how we were supposed to vote.

    Then, Germans have always had such interesting notions of what democracy is, it’s always nice to be getting lessons on the subject from them.

  89. @Ernie Bell

    Then, Germans have always had such interesting notions of what democracy is, it’s always nice to be getting lessons on the subject from them.

    It is all very Hobbes, even things you are bullied into doing you do freely because you freely select between the choices of punishment and surrender.

    The German/Commission position is much like that. Not surprising since they are essentially reactionaries. As Kevin O’Rourke mentioned Italy is on its third unelected prime minister, Ireland had to vote until we got it right, the new Eurozone is post popular democratic and what passes for political and technocratic elites are absolutely comfortable with it.

    After all how can you get things done if the hoi polloi keep getting in the way?

  90. A propos of nothing: is there some sort of omertà here regarding Thomas Piketty’s book, recently published in English translation?

  91. It hasnt been released over here yet so cant expect reviews yet but theres been a lot of talk about it afaics

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