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Europe: is anger turning to fear?

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Robin Lustig | 09:11 UK time, Friday, 14 September 2012

Did you hear that huge sigh of relief, wafting across the Channel from Brussels yesterday?

Maybe not. Maybe you were still in paroxysms of post-Paralympic perfection, or mired in Murray-mania -- or perhaps, yesterday morning, you were simply numbed by the horror of the long-awaited Hillsborough report.

So let me draw your attention to matters European, because dull though they may seem, they are still likely to dominate much of the political debate between now and the end of the year.

First, on Wednesday morning, the German constitutional court said OK to the eurozone's financial bail-out plan, without which there was little hope of restoring even a smidgin of stability to EU economies. (True, the court imposed a few conditions, but as is the way with these things, no one worries about the conditions until later.)

Then, on Wednesday night, as results started trickling in from the Dutch general election, it became clear that voters had turned away from the parties at the extreme ends of the political spectrum and decided to stay where they seem to be most comfortable: in the pro-EU middle.

There seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging in European elections these days: first, the opinion polls suggest that voter support is growing rapidly for anti-EU parties on the fringes, but then, on election day, the actual result favours the more traditional parties of the centre.

In May, that's largely what happened in the French presidential election; then the following month in Greece, the anti-austerity Syriza bloc was narrowly beaten at the last minute by the right-of-centre New Democracy party -- and this week in the Netherlands, the two pro-EU centrist parties both did better than expected, with the anti-EU Freedom Party of Geert Wilders losing many of its seats.

You may be familiar with the old maxim about how financial markets work: driven either by greed, or by fear. When greed dominates, traders buy and markets rise; when it gives way to fear, they sell, and markets fall.

So here's the Lustig theory of European election patterns: instead of greed and fear, voters experience anger and fear. When anger dominates, they support anti-EU parties; but when anger gives way to fear, they tend to stick with what they know.

There's no shortage of anger in Europe at the moment: anger at high unemployment, at reckless banking practices, and at ineffectual governments who seem to have spent five long years failing to get to grips with the crisis that has swept across the continent.

But there's fear too: fear of being left out in the cold, if, say, Greece crashes out of the eurozone, or if the Netherlands turns its back on an institution it helped to establish 60 years ago, when it was one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community.

So, sighs of relief in Brussels. But not for long, I fear. Remember Spain?

It's only a week since the European Central Bank announced how it intends to use its muscle to shore up indebted eurozone countries by buying up their bonds if interest rates rise too high. (Not from the governments directly, however, which would be against ECB rules, but only on secondary markets.)

But here come those conditions again: the bank will start buying only if a government asks for help -- and that's something which until now, the Spanish government has insisted it won't do.

Mind you, according to a detailed analysis published by Reuters earlier this week, Spain may soon have little or no choice in the matter. It quoted one analyst as saying: "I think it is a done deal that Spain will seek assistance. They didn't raise nearly enough money in the markets in August and in fact I would argue that they are not even trying to avoid assistance at this point."

We'll probably know soon enough. Spain needs to refinance 27.5 billion euros worth of debt next month -- and the credit rating agencies seem to be just waiting for that formal request for assistance.

If it comes, and if the ECB rescue plan kicks in -- and works -- there'll be more sighs of relief in Brussels. If not, well, let's not go there.

Oh, did you ask about Greece? Good question ... but not this week.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I would sooner put the question: Is fear turning to anger?
    1. Court caved. The Financial Times said “German politicians declared the road clear for the creation of the eurozone’s (500 billion euro) rescue fund after the country’s constitutional court rejected a petition to block it.” Now 2 EZ rescue schemes exist. The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is running out of funds. Germany’s High Court approved the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
    Originally it was scheduled to take effect July 1. Germany’s parliament was still debating: Constitutional Court approval is required.
    If passage was linked to constitutional law, Germany’s first post-war national referendum would've been required. It stopped short, approved what seems to lack legitimacy...& in the end won’t work.

    With new scheme came conditions. The Financial Times said those imposed appear less onerous than feared. Hmmm...The Court ruled Germany’s maximum 190 billion euro liability can’t be increased without its ESM representative approving it. According to Court President Andreas Vosskuhle:
    “No provision of this treaty may be interpreted in a way that establishes higher payment obligations for the Federal Republic of Germany without the agreement of the German representative.”

    It also insures Bundestag involvement. Under German law accompanying ESM approval, the parliament must approve its representative’s positions. It’s unclear if full parliamentary or budget committee voting is required...and that's just it: Everything (to me) seems just so unclear, non-transparent...frightful...

  • Comment number 2.

    Further condition: mandates that Bundestag and upper chamber Bundesrat (representing federal states) are kept fully informed about bailout fund activities.
    Vosskuhle called the Court ruling provisional. Full proceedings will follow. A final decision is expected in (Forget October.) December. The Court plans a full review of ESM’s legality. At the same time, it said it won’t accept ESM interpretations to permit direct ECB borrowing. Checking ESM LEGALITY???
    Germany is the only ez country that hasn’t ratified the treaty establishing ESM. Doing so is required to make it operative. It’s likely rubber stamp. Again does it matter? Serious internal opposition exists. The group Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy) sued the High Court to halt ratification. It claims approval entails “unlimited and irreversible liability risks.” It wants a referendum held to let Germans decide how their money will be spent. Seems Democratic to me.
    Christian Social Union member Peter Gauweiler called accepting new liabilities irresponsible. Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are skeptical. Wolfgang Bosbach has mixed feelings. Oh my! Where is ESM headed?
    In June, Germany’s Bundestag approved ESM. President Joachim Gauck is free to sign it. His signature IS REQUIRED.
    ESM and EFSF will operate in parallel until mid-2013. At that time, ESM will be on its own. Germany must provide 27% of its funds. Critics warn amounts will end up much more than anticipated. Risky, frightful...and I'm getting angry!
    It appears what we have bought is time; all else is is unresolved.
    Current policies are pushing Europe into mired depression. Expect 5 to 10 tough years. China is a question-mark, and the Federal Reserve is apparently creating more debt, and then buying its own debt in bonds (If that sounds crazy, it is!).
    I fear most for Democracy. I get angry most about contiunuing to alleviate the toxic debt of bankstas.
    Much worse awaits...

  • Comment number 3.

    The German decision is far from clear --as yet-

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/triumph-in-defeat-ruling-on-esm-in-germany-not-as-simple-as-it-seems-a-855692.html

    Although yesterday when Bernanke promised to spend all that is needed to get the American economy going -- the Euro and gold took off like rockets -and still are continuing.

    Who is selling $ and buying Euros ? --Asians and/ or Americans ?

    It is too early to say what is happening -- but this knee jerk (?) --is suggesting that Merkel may be more trusted than Bernanke on financial matters.

    Many European govts are more incompetent than ineffectual --they always have been.

    Some may have entered the EEC and EU to plunder rather than contribute -- those days are coming to an end-- if Merkel gets her way.

  • Comment number 4.

    Anger/Fear?

    The real target for the people's rage should be the banks and the way that the governments of Europe have singularly failed to control them - in fact it is blindingly obvious (except to the Governor of the Bank of England as he live in a la-la land completely divorced from reality) that the banks are controlling the states.

    We have had the best part of five years for the regulators to get control of the banks and they have done absolutely nothing. They are well aware of the problem and talk endlessly about being to big to fail yet what have they done about it - nothing - in fact whenever there is a bank in trouble the regulators amalgamate it with another bank making the problem even worse.

    This is the real issue.

    Until it is resolved there is only one way that the UK, European, global economy can go - downwards with stagnation as the best outcome - but in reality an ever deepening depression.

    This does not have to be the case! We can escape the disaster of multi-generational unemployment of ever decreasing loss of production. The solution come from the realisation that the kicking the can down the road and ever lower interest rates is the problem - not the solution. The madmen in power simply do not understand money. It is not difficult to do so. The key is to understand that to regain economic efficiency money must always retain a positive price. Zero interest rates are the disaster.

    The government must put up interest rates and until they do we will all get poorer and poorer and less and less productive and efficient. This is the core of the economic problem, not the Euro or Dollar.

  • Comment number 5.

    Relative euphoria followed US announcements about printing 40 billion per quarter, etc.

    Only those who followed Bob Woodward's new book interviews seem aware that the US crisis has simply been postponed until after the November election. When this dawns on Europe, market chaos should follow.

  • Comment number 6.

    Banking/Zero Interest Rates/Destruction of Money are these the signposts of the real Ford Madox Ford like 'End of the Parade'?

    Who will write the definitive narrative of the end of capitalism that we live through? The economic generals are just as stupid, incompetent, vain and petty as any Great War General, only more so. Now the destruction is of the whole system that underlies all western market based economies - namely money itself. This cataclysm into which we are all falling day by day further away from the the end of economic stupidity is driving our whole society to a destructive transition to a much more economically brutal end. We have the dubious privileged to be living through the end of three thousand years of economics as we have known it - all because the idiots and dolts who we have chosen to run the system on our behalf are focussing on the wrong thing - preserving the bankrupt banks.

    We have been fortunate to live through a successful system where we permitted ourselves to believe that there was a trusted and valuable means of exchange and store of value called money. Our trusted idiots have destroyed money itself. The decline happened from the late 1990s and accelerated during the noughties we have now reached the absolute end of money - the idiots King, Bernanke etc, like the Generals of the Great War, have entirely destroyed it.

    We must turn back and recreate a positive price for money as we are presently watching the end of our parade.

  • Comment number 7.

    Scratch most ´angers´and ´fears´ooze out --anger at the unemployed masses and its destructiveness, is really the fear of also being unemployed --or even much worse, landing on the streets homeless.

    Europe still has it ´relatively good´when compared with America --where sleeping in cars is illegal and enforced --- and where poverty means Poverty with a capital ´P´.

    Many (most) national governments have proven themselves to be not ´ineffectual´but incompetent---this is what voters must contend with, the dilemma is clear --new radical (anti-EU) parties that will inherit ´bankruptcy´-- or choose the same old clique --that will inherit Merkel and her ´piggy bank´--but not only.

    National govts. also have a problem --praise the EU and expose themselves to ridicule ?

    http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/pdf/the_eu_for_me_web.pdf

    --an EU guide especially for the Brits. (2008). A pity it has not been updated.

    Billions are being re-distributed both within the Eurozone and the EU, with assistance ´tailor´made. Without mentioning Greece --if it pays 5 % for projects --The EU will pay 95 % !.

    An anti-EU and anti-EU UK architect friend -- is now on his 2nd EU subsidized community project (in the middle of nowhere). The first subsidy was for 80,000 Pounds.

    It´s a pity that Merkel´s speech to the Bundestag after the Constitutional Court ruling was not translated and distributed --

    --Hers is the ´only game in town´ -- everyone should bring a bottle they honestly can afford -- but first the rules made clear to all --and they are up for discussion.

  • Comment number 8.

    Lest we forget--

    http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/hipc.htm

    "The Joint IMF-World Bank's comprehensive approach to debt reduction is designed to ensure that no poor country faces a debt burden it cannot manage. To date, debt reduction packages under the HIPC Initiative have been approved for 36 countries, 30 of them in Africa, providing US$76 billion in debt-service relief over time. Three additional countries are eligible for HIPC Initiative assistance."

    -- for comparison.

  • Comment number 9.

    The are many intimations that we are experiencing a "twilight of the gods" in our systems, our media and our values.

    Fascist-like dictatorships are the likely result.

    How are we to avoid this result? How can the media help? What political actions would avoid such a result?

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 madmax

    "Fascist-like dictatorships are the likely result."

    -- why did you ´pick-on´ Fascism ?

    --If you are considering only the idea of Racial (or National) superiority and the oppression used to further those aims -- that began way before Fascism --and still remains popular (over centuries) by societies attempting to justify their existence.

  • Comment number 11.

    madmax

    Re: #10

    (over centuries) was deliberately chosen --I didn´t wish to bring the Neanderthals into the discussion.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Fascism" has, for me, no racial overtones and only the ethnic connotations of nationalism. I think of the responses of the 1930s- of Dollfuss in Austria and of Mussolini in Italy, etc.

    Specifically, National Socialism in Germany was not "fascist".

  • Comment number 13.

    "(True, the court imposed a few conditions, but as is the way with these things, no one worries about the conditions until later.)"

    --Many a true word said in jest ?

    -- Now the `small print´ is becoming larger under the magnifying glass.

    " The court gave the green-light for the ESM-- but the conditions will stop the ECB from ´gambling´ with any German tax-payers money for the ESM or bank rescues -- ´on its own´and without ´Germany´s permission´

    -- as Angela said -- " It was a good day for Germany" (?)

  • Comment number 14.

    #12 madmax

    What would be your ´short definition´of Fascism ?

  • Comment number 15.

    Distinguish "fascism" from Stalinism and from National Socialism.

    There is dispair and disgust with the operation and results of the existing political process and with the increasing polarization of society. A leader is sought who will make the trains run on time and quickly bring the internal fighting to an end, providing a productive place for all.

    Dollfuss sought to implement Papal social encyclicals. Mussolini sought state regulation of both labor and business without disturbing the social structure.

    As Western society experiences its twilight of the gods, the "new order" will be either revolutionary in the sense of Stalinism or National Socialism or fascist in the sense of Dollfuss or Mussolini et al.

    In Western society, I think the latter more likely.

  • Comment number 16.

    madmax

    OK --#14 stupid question.

    "Mussolini said that Fascism is revolutionary against liberalism "since it wants to reduce the size of the State to its necessary functions."

    "Roderick Stackleberg places fascism — including Nazism, which he says is "a radical variant of fascism" — on the right, explaining that "the more a person deems absolute equality among all people to be a desirable condition, the further left he or she will be on the ideological spectrum. The more a person considers inequality to be unavoidable or even desirable, the further to the right he or she will be."

    Source -

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

  • Comment number 17.

    madmax

    -- which countries (societies) do you feel are more advanced --on the path to Fascism ?

  • Comment number 18.

    madmaxtheprof9, quietoaktree

    Isn't the key factor for those that see the risk to always speak out against all and every whiff of protectionist and exclusive nationalism.

    I hoped that my 'End of the Parade' piece above(#6) was a warning as much as it was an observation.

    People of sense and perception need to advocate Internationalism above Nationalism particular in this pre-war situation. All race hated and race superiority or exclusivity must be vociferously resisted for the siren voices of the easy solution of blaming the foreigner too easily turn to irrational hatred and war.

    But to prevent, what historically seems almost inevitable, it is vital that every effort is made to reinforce internationalism. The World cannot afford a new collapse into internecine rivalries.

    We must actually tackle the fault-lines in capitalism - kicking them down the road will not do. We must not fall into the trap of appeasing the bankers. The UK must also join in with the EU properly and not remain semi-detached dreamers for some mythical 19 century arcadian nirvana. We must irrevocably declare that we will use the same currency as the rest of Europe and agree to a shared banking regulation. We cannot remain as a haven for robber barons.

  • Comment number 19.

    For a unique source about how these isms arise and their implementations, see: "Faith, Genes and History: Eastern and Western Views" (Amazon, Ingram, etc.)

  • Comment number 20.

    #18 Yes, I think that boosting internationalism (and a reorganization of the UN) is definitely a thing to do.

    About pounding banksters- this is already underway, but I think it leads to more polarization and radical solutions.

  • Comment number 21.

    Are some avoiding my question(s) ?

  • Comment number 22.

    #20. madmaxtheprof9 wrote: "pounding banksters- this is already underway, but I think it leads to more polarization and radical solutions"

    The banksters are continuing the destruction of capitalism and the furthering of their own from of extremism. We must decisively reduce the power of these robber barons or their drive to ever increasing inequality as the rob more and more of the peoples wealth will without doubt create the exact conditions required in the past to create racist fascism. (See the objectification of evil in the form of the Jewish bankers by the Nazi regime.)

    The people must reform the bankers before they destroy the entire liberal capitalist system and create the conditions precedent for war. (See the demonstrations in Spain and Portugal today.)

  • Comment number 23.

    #17 Don't know. Fascism can come overnight, for example, with Orders in Council. Spain, Portugal and perhaps France seem ready for strong solutions. The USA could arrive there without knowing it.

  • Comment number 24.

    #23 madmax

    "The USA could arrive there without knowing it." ?

    -- Am I correct then that you would not put ´Ayn Rand-ism´(objectivism) and ´Tea Party-ism´-- close to (if not) Fascism ?

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 madmax

    -- why did you omit Greece --by error ?

  • Comment number 26.

    #24 Yes. I see fascism arising from these feelings:

    "There is dispair and disgust with the operation and results of the existing political process and with the increasing polarization of society. A leader is sought who will make the trains run on time and quickly bring the internal fighting to an end, providing a productive place for all"

    Rather than from a specific ideology, as the Tea Party negatively seeks.

    As a political editor, Mussolini spouted many phrases, but they did not correspond to the reality of what the people sought.

  • Comment number 27.

    #25 I don't know enough about Greece to comment. They have had government by military junta in the past, but appear to be individualists to me. Thus, I would ignorantly speculate that they would opt for anarchism rather than fascism today.

  • Comment number 28.

    madmax

    -somehow I can´t make the logical leap to Fascism--probably because ´-isms´ must have some things in common if a society is expected to function.

    I suppose a disintegrating society and a ´free for all´may be construed as ´individualism´-- but not if there are common aims within it --and the aims include denial and rejection of personal or societal responsibility.

  • Comment number 29.

    #22 J_f_H

    "create the conditions precedent for war. (See the demonstrations in Spain and Portugal today.)"

    --Against whom ?

    or

    --civil war ?

  • Comment number 30.

    #29. quietoaktree wrote: "precedent for war."?

    When we saw the end of the cold war and the reunification of Germany the situation in Europe transitioned to a state similar to that it was pre-war (that is pre The Great War). All that prevents the historic rivalries from re-emerging is the EU and the UK seems determined to destroy that one last remaining bulwark.

    The British people's politicians are singularly inept and walk into wars - if not create the conditions that inevitably and predictably lead to war. (I'll not elaborate on this statement as it requires analysis of the daft positions adopted prior to the First War and then those between the wars.)

    "Against whom?" - almost anybody stupid enough - that rules out nobody! I am not going to be drawn into writing a Erskine Childers's like Riddle of the Sands for the modern age as it would be an unwise hostage to fortune!

    "Civil war?" - possibly if the burden of austerity is inflicted only on the poor and the bankers continue to be let off scot free. There is so much hatred being fostered by the press.

    Even the BBC is paying its part with its move to twitteresque comments (the 400 character limit). Brevity leads to extreme positions and glib easy answers these in turn lead to the fostering of distrust and hatred. I recall predicting that the Croat media were doing exactly the same prior to the recent Balkan Wars in an email discussion with the BBC Today programme at the time. News media are very dangerous in a time of mistrust as the fomenting of conflict makes for good easy news (which is of course bad news!).

    Hope

    Apart from a very firm commitment to the EU and the UK in the EU the other step that is vital to reduce the risk of conflict is to actually ensure the progressive reduction of inequality within the UK.

    However I would assess the risk of conflict now to be higher than it has been since the Cuban Missile Crisis and rising every day. All caused directly by the collapse of capitalism because of the incompetent regulation of the banks resulting in the destruction of money. The blundering idiots created not just a Weimar Republic, but a entire Weimar Western World!

  • Comment number 31.

    #30 J_f_H

    -- Can follow your argumentation -- need some time to think.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why the characteristics of Britt's "proto-fascism" were censored is unknown to me. Perhaps the role of the then Pope in fostering fascism is unknown to our young censors.

    Fascism offered to organize and discipline the masses, to secure for them a fairer share of society’s wealth, and to make them behave. (In essence, this was a reprise of the Bonapartism that succeeded the French Revolution).

    During his years of training in Italy, Peron developed an appreciation of Mussolini’s system. As did the Church, he sought a third way between “Yankee imperialism” and international socialism. As did the Church, he fought to wipe out the spirit of individualism.

    “Proto-Fascism” was illustrated by post-War regimes in Portugal, Greece, Chile and Indonesia. Lawrence W. Britt compared the following regimes: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia. He did not review Austria under Dollfuss, which was closest to the Fascism advocated by the Vatican.

    These are facts, not opinion, and well known to scholars. Britt's perception of "fascism" differs from mine in that I see it as a dictatorship regulating the relations of labor and business and do not agree that F. D. Roosevelt's government in the USA was fascist.

    If our young censors want to supress this, then let us take the matter before presumably more mature supervisors.

  • Comment number 34.

    #30 J_f_H

    To concentrate on your 1st paragraph -- I generally agree, perhaps our interpretations differ. This link is particularly interesting as you yourself also consider (and accept) some societal continuum.

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

    What was at stake (and in question) was the ´Infallibility of Kings´--all over Europe. The 2nd World War ended blatant European Feudal oppression and the acceptance by some of the UK elite of Fascism, as a possible answer to Communism, which would have removed their privileges (and social standing).

    The returning British troops received their de-mobilization suit, a pair of shoes, an NHS and nationalizations of War and essential industries. There is little remaining, except Feudal celebrations, orgies, breasts and military deployment.

    The EU idea of wealth and Rights distribution is a danger -- not by a firing squad -- but ever increasing political insignificance-- being defended by even more wishes of EU opt-outs.

    " and the UK seems determined to destroy that one last remaining bulwark."

    -- Cont..

  • Comment number 35.

    #34 Cont..

    2nd Paragraph--

    "The British people's politicians are singularly inept and walk into wars - if not create the conditions that inevitably and predictably lead to war. "

    --Are you not ´passing the buck´ with that statement ?

    The Warlord tradition is firmly anchored and demonstrated at every opportunity --whether ´free thinking´politicians agree or not --the ´system´has it as its base and pinnacle.

    As comparison Germany (and Germans) --are dragged ´screaming´into conflicts they cannot avoid. It is rather hypocritical to have ´Maggies´troops still stationed there -- to prevent German ´militarism´ -- and yell at them for not going ´willingly´ into every ´Tom Dick and Harry´s battles.´--(which not only Britain is guilty of)

    Cont...

  • Comment number 36.

    34. quietoaktree wrote: "Infallibility of Kings"

    Hmm. These Kings (and capitalist barons of industry) were, and indeed are, captives of the market.

    Our present problem is that we have fundamentally collapsed the market by destroying money in a way that has never ever been done in the last 3000 odd years.

    There is no market because the lubricant of the market, money, has a zero price. The idiots of Threadneedle Street and the Fed (and indeed the Japanese monetary management institutions) are all to blame. They simply did and still do not understand haw necessary it is that money has a positive price for capitalism to function in the manner describes ever since Adam Smith.

    What must be done is to restructure banking, decisively remoulding the too-big-to-fail excuse for inaction and re-establish the proper prudential price of money.

    No 'ism' can function without prudentially priced money!

  • Comment number 37.

    35. quietoaktree wrote: war...

    On War (as a continuation of politics by other means) Clausewitz!

    No, I don't think I am passing the buck. Politicians are almost always a combination of arrogant, ignorant and wrong - history has shown that. They also are almost always completely devoid of the 'vision thing', being unable to logically and rationally asses the consequences of their stupidities. (Or if you take the opposite view you must believe in the existence of evil.)

    There is a huge body of evidence that the absurd reparations forced on Germany after the Great War contributed to the rise of National Socialism with all that entailed. Just like the USA allowing the production of a video abhorrent to 1.4bn Muslims this week. These men are either daft or evil - take you pick.

    I cannot believe in the existence of evil on earth so they must therefore be daft!

  • Comment number 38.

    #34 J_f_H

    -- We probably both agree that the EU has (up till now) done a pretty good job of ´wealth distribution´for countries and regions. The un-realistic demands for ´instant wealth´by some countries has presently sunk (postponed?) EU aims. The ´Paymaster General´ Germany has been especially hard hit. First came re-unification, then the famous banking crisis´s and now this massive debt crises. German austerity began at re-unification, and since then has never stopped. I won´t go into details of the ´austerity´--just to say, the recent pension level scare after 40 years working and at 67 years -- was the final straw for the majority.

    A similar situation as in the UK is developing -- with your pension application --comes your ´social´application.

    The EU has done all it can for the ´ideal´ --its now up to governments and citizens --they can ´pick up the Gauntlet´ OR --the pieces -- the choice is theirs.

    I like your ´Weimar´comparison, however feel small ´Civil Wars´ more likely in the future than anything big.

    Without mentioning Greece --it is possible they will be satisfied with ´a bowl of rice or millet´-- as many in the past and present, on other continents -- still are.

    End of monolog !

    (anything missed ?)

  • Comment number 39.

    J_f_H

    --we are coming at the problems from two different angles.

    Two friends walk down a beautiful country road with nature at its best.
    At the end of the road one says to the other "now I can really appreciate God´.
    The other replies ´God ?´

    "Yes" says the first "don´t you feel and see all the goodness around us ?"

    The second replies with surprise " I see nothing good about being eaten alive !"

    --I believe in evil´s existence -- or should I say the ´absence of Good´?

  • Comment number 40.

    The "absence of Good" is a valid perception. The individual gene (each of some 20,000) seeks to preserve its own existence and this is the mechanistic meaning of life.

    Enter then the prefrontal cortex and the arcuate fasciculus, facilitating ideology. Verbal systems are constructed in the hope of bettering the existence of the human organism. Since it is only symbols that are being manipulated, there is no limit to the systems that can be so constructed.

  • Comment number 41.

    #40 madmax

    --"The individual gene (each of some 20,000) seeks to preserve its own existence and this is the mechanistic meaning of life."

    --Genes are ´faeces scared´-- one false step and everything dies. They are continually making compromises -- the state of the extra-cellular matrix must control them -- diffuse central govt. -- with accepted dictatorship and no freedom of choice.

    -- however do not accept your original statement -- there is no room for ´individualism´.

    --such is life.

  • Comment number 42.

    Europe: is anger turning to fear?

    --It could be much worse --fear and anger ?

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser

  • Comment number 43.

    Now the UK wanting to ´give up´ ´Sovereignty´ to the EU and ECB ?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19621205

  • Comment number 44.

    As fear increases, so does the desire for a strong leader and the willingness to sacrifice liberal niceities. Thus, fascism looms.

  • Comment number 45.

    #44

    --Ayn Rand and the Tea Party ?

    --fit your description.

  • Comment number 46.

    '42. At 07:08 18th Sep 2012, quietoaktree

    --It could be much worse --fear and anger ?


    Ah well, in driving the latter at least, and most certainly in the cause of 'two wrongs' let's see what this can add if only showing all are as bad as each other when opening mouths. At least we can be pretty sure than anything said in public is unlikely to stay 'secret' for too long.

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2012/06/01/Obama-apologizes-to-Poland/UPI-55251338577137/

    http://spectator.org/blog/2012/07/04/obama-admin-apologizes-to-paki
    (rather unfortunate URL there)

    ...and, closer to home..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4RQmBlQvEQ

    'President Barack Obama said he could have "calibrated" his comments differently and expressed hope that the matter can become a "teachable moment."

    Can't have enough re-calibrated teachable moments, really.

    I wonder how some media covers one set from one candidate vs. those of the other?

  • Comment number 47.

    #46 JunkkMale

    -Examples are minor compared with this ´foot in the puddle´-- up to his neck.

    --Do Mormons get Crucified ?

    -- He just blew it.

    (tax avoidance, humane, solidarity etc.etc.)

  • Comment number 48.

    '47. At 15:44 18th Sep 2012, quietoaktree wrote:

    -Examples are minor compared with this ´foot in the puddle´


    If you, and the media who decide such things, say so. I can see that trading selected URLs is best left to those who just know they are right.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19637631

    'Mitt Romney's unguarded and undiplomatic remarks may reinforce the perception that he is an ingenue in the art of foreign affairs'

    As opposed to apologising left, right and centre from the awesome statesperson favoured by all whose 'art of FA' seems on par if the rose-tints ever got lifted.

    I think Romney's a berk. As was McCain last time. But then I look at what is being foisted by vested interests as the alternative.

    A bit like over here.

    And the law of unintended consequences can be a capricious minx.

  • Comment number 49.

    #48 JunkkMale

    "If you, and the media who decide such things, say so."

    The Mormon Church is noticed by its absence in the campaign -- with right.

    They are now faced with the dilemma whether to inform America that Romney´s statements are true to Mormonism --or not. I can imagine they are far from pleased at being held responsible for any misrepresentation of their religion by any ´son´.

    Then there is the ´Christian Right´ do their views go as far as defending Ayn Rand ? -- Many of them or their relatives are also on food stamps etc.

    Then the pensioners etc. etc?

    -- Thank goodness we are not restricted to 400 chrs. --there is probably a book to fill.

    -- but you are correct --maybe I´m wrong.

  • Comment number 50.

    After #43--
    The call for an EU wide bank deposit insurance scheme is becoming louder --from one of the usual culprits.

    Cyprus bought massive amounts of Greek bonds -- and also was forced to take a ´haircut´ they were furious.

    "Cypriot banks that owned Greek sovereign bonds lost about 80 or 81 percent of their total investment, which in actual terms amounts to 4.2 billion euros,» he said, underlining that that amount to 24 percent of economic output.

    "The real problem stems from that particular investment. If you ask me whether this was a fair way to deal with it, I would say no, this was not a fair way of dealing with it."

    Instead the minister argued that 100-billion-euro writedown of Greece's government debt - a process that has still not restored the country to debt-sustainability - should have been portioned out the basis of the size of euro zone economies.

    That would have meant Germany paying the most - around 27 percent of the total - and Cyprus just 0.2 percent.

    "What we should have done is share that loss fairly, on a level playing field, as the Europeans do, in a manner of solidarity,» the finance minister said.

    "If our share had been fairly evaluated ... our total loss might have been in the order of 200 million euros - one would say petty cash these days. But as I've said, our write off was 4.2 billion.""


    "Demetriades, central bank governor of Cyprus, which has sought financial assistance after its largest banks reported huge losses from Greek sovereign debt writedowns, said a deposit insurance would foster financial integration.

    "Demetriades suggested setting up a euro area wide deposit protection agency"

    Still Enosis -- and still at others expense --with typical logic.


    -- How can Europe EVER function with such mentalities ?

  • Comment number 51.

    #50 Cont.

    " The amounts involved are substantial. Total bank deposits in the eurozone total around euro 7.6 trillion, including euro 5.9 trillion from households. The euro zone’s peripheral countries, which are most susceptible to capital flight, have euro 1.8 trillion in household deposits. In the first 3 months of 2012, euro 97 billion of deposits were withdrawn from Spanish banks. A credible deposit insurance scheme would have to cover household deposits (say up to euro 100,000), which is around 72% of all deposits, in the peripheral countries. This would entail an insurance scheme for around euro 1.3 trillion of deposits."

    " Germany’s current exposures are not recoverable. If the present arrangements continue or there is greater integration, the increase in commitments or debt levels will absorb German savings, crippling the economy. If Germany wants to leave the euro reverting to the Deutschmark, it would suffer losses equivalent to its existing exposure as other European countries are unlikely to be able to settle their liabilities.

    http://www.prudentbear.com/index.php/featuredcommentaryview?art_id=10679

    --Interesting overview of the mess --with some debatable points.

  • Comment number 52.

    The idiots are digging the hole deeper.

    Japan has increased its asset purchase scheme.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19645349

    This is exactly the wrong thing to do, if it is done without reforming the banks. The global long depression is getting deeper and deeper. Until these idiotic and economically ignorant kicking of cans down the road stop thing will only get worse.

    The banks are crushing the recovery. Keeping them alive is a monstrous crime against the people of the World.

  • Comment number 53.

    J_f_H

    Debt is going from the left to the right pockets --and both have holes.

    "Under the asset purchasing programme the central bank buys bonds in order to keep the long-term cost of borrowing down." --Japan.

    "To cover this month's cash squeeze and to pay a 3.2 billion euro government bond that matures later in August, Greece plans to issue additional treasury bills, enabling it to access up to an extra 4 billion euros of funds."

    -- and bought by Greek banks at 4% interest paid !

  • Comment number 54.

    #53

    The point is that the continued amplification of the debt is making matters worse. It is further delaying the recovery.

  • Comment number 55.

    "For he´s a jolly good fellow --and so all say all of us !"

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/9553059/World-Service-presenter-Robin-Lustig-leaving-BBC.html

    --Please explain !

    --will you still ´be around´ blogging ?

  • Comment number 56.

    ""This has been an immensely difficult decision, but I think now is a good time for me to bow out and see if I'm still capable of doing anything else."

    --Wine, women and song -- can you sing ?

  • Comment number 57.

    J_f_H

    Hard Talk -- Hans-Werner Sinn

    Not a good interview -- but maybe of interest to you.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xzbqg

  • Comment number 58.

    '49.
    At 20:52 18th Sep 2012, quietoaktree
    -- but you are correct --maybe I´m wrong.


    Being correct, or wrong, is a luxury few can seldom enjoy, which may be why there are now only grades of opinion.

    Which is why I feel so strongly about the opinion of the public being pre-shaped by the opinion of those who are supposed to present facts, preferably well-researched, substantiated, with fair context and unenhanced (especially in omission) in the edit suite.

    Hence, on this matter, I am now interested in the 'secret' footage apparently being run through a filter before being run so excitedly by those it was provided to, and there being a curious lack of interest in the source.

    Finding out more is proving tricky, as more traditional 'news' resources are proving either suddenly more dedicated to watertight oversight before rushing to share, or cannot be trusted to get too interested in what doesn't serve their tribal agendas.

  • Comment number 59.

    #58 JunkkMale

    "Which is why I feel so strongly about the opinion of the public being pre-shaped by the opinion of those who are supposed to present facts,...."

    Apart from journalists try to feed their families, there is also national govt. propaganda and interest groups all struggling to justify themselves --to God and their congregations.

    If personal responsibility is taken for acceptance (or rejection) of media reporting --that appears to be the best anyone can do. Failure to take this responsibility can end with one being dragged into war (required to kill) --or ending as ´cannon fodder´.

    "Being correct, or wrong, is a luxury few can seldom enjoy,..."

    There I can agree with you, but anyone who has had the luxury of travel --and used it wisely, is at a distinct advantage --especially in this internet age. But even not having that luxury, starting points at questioning ´media reports´ are always given.

    Perhaps my first realization of societal problems existing was Little Rock, but the the denial of Sputnik ll was the most devastating for me as teenager in puberty. Getting up at 5 AM -- to see it going from one horizon to the other and still hearing for months it never existed ! -- and no internet to at least use as a confirmation source -- Radio Moscow was trusted by few.

    Returning to the topic -- ´Anger Turning to Fear´ and "grades of opinion".

    Remaking on the link given in #57 (Hard Talk) I was particularly astonished at the pointless aggressiveness shown by the interviewer. Her credentials are impeccable --but something was amiss. Wikipedia gave her birth as 1975-- she was 14 when the Berlin Wall fell.

    While the author of this article also has a soup to stir-

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/world/europe/german-reunification-pains-inform-stance-on-greece.html?pagewanted=all

    -- it appears the then 14 year olds all over Europe and America have the same problem --they are now ONLY 37 year olds -- no memory of the ´Cold War´--and its after affects --even in the old East Germany and East Berlin -- for them it is also still a ´West German´problem.

  • Comment number 60.

    That was quick !

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/esm-agreement-euro-zone-states-seek-to-assuage-german-court-a-857027.html

    `Spiegel´ bloggers are not amused.


    ´Spiegel German´

    500 page report on ´Living standard in Germany´ to be published -- more dissatisfaction with the ´bail-outs´ can be expected.

 

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