Archive for the ‘Greece’ Category

En español: “Libres como dioses: una reflexión libertaria sobre las comedias griegas”

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Conferencia de María Blanco, “Libres como dioses: una reflexión libertaria sobre las comedias griegas”

Nigel Farage goes to it

Friday, November 18th, 2011

While the Crisis Ensnares [the European] Central Bank in Desperate Bid to Save Euro, the man who said, “If the EU ever had any intention to democratize itself it would have done so in the Constitutional Treaty,” has his say in the European Parliament:

Arrivederci, democrazia.

Countdown to failure.

UPDATE
Daniel Hannan; You can have the euro or you can have democracy – you can’t have both

27962

Venezuela to withdraw from the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Chávez is intent on turning Venezuela into Zimbabwe: As $3.5 billion in direct foreign investment has left the country in 2009-2010,
Chávez Takes Steps to Exit Global Forum
Pullout From World Bank Unit Would Fit a Nationalistic Bent

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela has taken steps to pull out of the global forum most used to settle investor disputes, where Caracas faces more than $40 billion in claims for nationalized properties.

Documents show that Mr. Chávez, shown in August, is moving to avoid financial sanctions from abroad.

Venezuelan officials have drawn up plans, at Mr. Chávez’s order, to withdraw from the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, or ICSID, a unit of the World Bank in Washington, according to recent documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Venezuela’s withdrawal from the ICSID also would fit well the nationalistic bent that has led Mr. Chávez to expropriate 988 companies, 401 so far this year, according to Conindustria, a Venezuela industry chamber.

Here are the claims they’re talking about,

VENEZUELA

The WSJ quotes Dietmar W. Prager, a lawyer with the New York firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP who has represented investors with ICSID disputes with Venezuela, in what may be the understatement of the week,

A withdrawal would send an unfriendly signal about Venezuela’s policy towards foreign investment

You can say that again.

————————–

In other Latin American news, Mario Blejer, a former Bank of England adviser who took the reins of Argentina’s central bank after its 2001 default on $95 billion, is telling Greece to ‘Default Big’ to Address its Debt Crisis.

Well, at least he didn’t advise them to plunder private pensions.

27393

Bomb explodes at Greek Embassy in Argentina

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

As a larger bomb exploded in Athens, Greece,

Separately, a small bomb that exploded outside the Greek embassy in Buenos Aires caused minimal damage overnight and no one was at the embassy, Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told the AP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either bombing, but suspicion fell on militant anarchist groups, which have stepped up attacks in the past two years. A group of suspects is facing trial in Athens next month.

Authorities in Europe and elsewhere say violent anarchist groups are showing greater international coordination. A violent Italian anarchist group carried out a string of embassy bombings in the past week in solidarity with jailed Greek militants.

There were no injuries in the Argentinian explosion, which happened at 2AM local time today.

24528

A Greek tragedy of Dickensian proportions

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Roger Kimball writes on the Greek bailout:
Mr. Micawber travels to Greece

So now the Europeans are taking a page from the Obama playbook. Greece teeters on the abyss, the bond markets swoon, and it’s panic time all around.

Who are these people we’ve elected to “lead” us?

Keep that question in the back of your mind as you accompany Mr. Micawber on his trip to Greece. Like Mr. Micawber, Angela Merkel and Prime Minister George Papandreou are hoping that “something will turn up.”  Like him, they expect it hourly. But, unlike Mr. Micawber, they have thus far failed to take on board that central bit of economic wisdom he imparted to young David Copperfield:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the God of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

“For ever floored” — not a good thing. The Europeans scramble and put together $1 trillion dollars in loan guarantees (including $50 billion or so from Uncle Sam, i.e., from you, Dear Reader) and the markets gyrated wildly upward. For a day. Monday, Monday: can’t trust that day, as the Mamas and Papas observed. For Tuesday came and, guess what, $1 trillion wasn’t enough!

What would be enough?  As my friend Bill Voegeli puts it in his new book about America’s welfare state, the answer is nothing. The maw is always open. The appetite limitless. When it comes to government subsidy, the answer is Never Enough.

Go read the rest. Stranger than fiction and much more tragic than David Copperfield.

Speaking of which, irony not included in either one of these reports:
Argentina warns Greek bail-out will fail

The Greek rescue package will fail, according to Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president, whose country suffered the world’s biggest debt default in 2001.

Here in the US, the unsustainable debt is absolutely no problem to Obama, who’s urging Spain to take “resolute action” to confront Europe’s debt crisis.

Related:
Beware of Greeks selling bonds.

A Greek tragedy of Dickensian proportions

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Roger Kimball writes on the Greek bailout:
Mr. Micawber travels to Greece

So now the Europeans are taking a page from the Obama playbook. Greece teeters on the abyss, the bond markets swoon, and it’s panic time all around.

Who are these people we’ve elected to “lead” us?

Keep that question in the back of your mind as you accompany Mr. Micawber on his trip to Greece. Like Mr. Micawber, Angela Merkel and Prime Minister George Papandreou are hoping that “something will turn up.”  Like him, they expect it hourly. But, unlike Mr. Micawber, they have thus far failed to take on board that central bit of economic wisdom he imparted to young David Copperfield:

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the God of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

“For ever floored” — not a good thing. The Europeans scramble and put together $1 trillion dollars in loan guarantees (including $50 billion or so from Uncle Sam, i.e., from you, Dear Reader) and the markets gyrated wildly upward. For a day. Monday, Monday: can’t trust that day, as the Mamas and Papas observed. For Tuesday came and, guess what, $1 trillion wasn’t enough!

What would be enough?  As my friend Bill Voegeli puts it in his new book about America’s welfare state, the answer is nothing. The maw is always open. The appetite limitless. When it comes to government subsidy, the answer is Never Enough.

Go read the rest. Stranger than fiction and much more tragic than David Copperfield.

Speaking of which, irony not included in either one of these reports:
Argentina warns Greek bail-out will fail

The Greek rescue package will fail, according to Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president, whose country suffered the world’s biggest debt default in 2001.

Here in the US, the unsustainable debt is absolutely no problem to Obama, who’s urging Spain to take “resolute action” to confront Europe’s debt crisis.

Related:
Beware of Greeks selling bonds.

20259

Beware of Greeks selling bonds

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Robert Samuelson enumerates what may possibly be the best thing about the Greek financial crisis:
The Welfare State’s Death Spiral

What we’re seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn’t Greece’s problem alone, and that’s why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven’t fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.
[snip]
The welfare state’s death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day — no one knows when — doubt governments’ ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

Greece illustrates the bind. To gain loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, it embraced budget austerity. Average pension benefits will be cut 11 percent; wages for government workers will be cut 14 percent; the basic rate for the value added tax will rise from 21 percent to 23 percent. These measures will plunge Greece into a deep recession. In 2009, unemployment was about 9 percent; some economists expect it to peak near 19 percent.

If only a few countries faced these problems, the solution would be easy. Unlucky countries would trim budgets and resume growth by exporting to healthier nations. But developed countries represent about half the world economy; most have overcommitted welfare states. They might defuse the dangers by gradually trimming future benefits in a way that reassured financial markets. In practice, they haven’t done that; indeed, President Obama’s health program expands benefits.

While Obama’s shoving government healthcare down our collective throats, the NYTimes is advising Greece to abandon socialized medicine:
The Bitter Pills in the Plan to Rescue Greece

Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.

Say what? You don’t hear the NYT give that advice to the US – even when the Obama administration is going down the Greek road:

Yes, a lot of “raise taxes” stuff in there too, but that’s because Greece has gotten so far down the road of guaranteeing a bunch of pricey while avoiding raising the tax rates, preferring to borrow and spend, so that the public is never alerted to the true costs of these programs until it’s too late, and the country must accept higher tax rates or go bankrupt.

Sound familiar? Seems to me there’s a very cool cat with nice pecs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who has a similar agenda. Hide the costs of your programs in order to get them passed, and then, when it’s politically impossible to restrain those costs, tell the country you are sadly forced to raise taxes due to circumstances beyond your control.

As Jeff Goldstein points out,

The selfish gamble implicit in the welfare state is that, though most people know on some level that spending in excess of revenue isn’t a very fiscally responsible long-term plan on which to build a stable society, many are willing to bet that resources won’t run out in the short term — which means these types of voters believe they will still get theirs so long as they continue to “vote in their own economic interests.”

Future generations? Not their problem.

In the meantime, don’t buy Greek bonds. Or California‘s.

Beware of Greeks selling bonds

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Robert Samuelson enumerates what may possibly be the best thing about the Greek financial crisis:
The Welfare State’s Death Spiral

What we’re seeing in Greece is the death spiral of the welfare state. This isn’t Greece’s problem alone, and that’s why its crisis has rattled global stock markets and threatens economic recovery. Virtually every advanced nation, including the United States, faces the same prospect. Aging populations have been promised huge health and retirement benefits, which countries haven’t fully covered with taxes. The reckoning has arrived in Greece, but it awaits most wealthy societies.
[snip]
The welfare state’s death spiral is this: Almost anything governments might do with their budgets threatens to make matters worse by slowing the economy or triggering a recession. By allowing deficits to balloon, they risk a financial crisis as investors one day — no one knows when — doubt governments’ ability to service their debts and, as with Greece, refuse to lend except at exorbitant rates. Cutting welfare benefits or raising taxes all would, at least temporarily, weaken the economy. Perversely, that would make paying the remaining benefits harder.

Greece illustrates the bind. To gain loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, it embraced budget austerity. Average pension benefits will be cut 11 percent; wages for government workers will be cut 14 percent; the basic rate for the value added tax will rise from 21 percent to 23 percent. These measures will plunge Greece into a deep recession. In 2009, unemployment was about 9 percent; some economists expect it to peak near 19 percent.

If only a few countries faced these problems, the solution would be easy. Unlucky countries would trim budgets and resume growth by exporting to healthier nations. But developed countries represent about half the world economy; most have overcommitted welfare states. They might defuse the dangers by gradually trimming future benefits in a way that reassured financial markets. In practice, they haven’t done that; indeed, President Obama’s health program expands benefits.

While Obama’s shoving government healthcare down our collective throats, the NYTimes is advising Greece to abandon socialized medicine:
The Bitter Pills in the Plan to Rescue Greece

Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.

Say what? You don’t hear the NYT give that advice to the US – even when the Obama administration is going down the Greek road:

Yes, a lot of “raise taxes” stuff in there too, but that’s because Greece has gotten so far down the road of guaranteeing a bunch of pricey while avoiding raising the tax rates, preferring to borrow and spend, so that the public is never alerted to the true costs of these programs until it’s too late, and the country must accept higher tax rates or go bankrupt.

Sound familiar? Seems to me there’s a very cool cat with nice pecs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who has a similar agenda. Hide the costs of your programs in order to get them passed, and then, when it’s politically impossible to restrain those costs, tell the country you are sadly forced to raise taxes due to circumstances beyond your control.

As Jeff Goldstein points out,

The selfish gamble implicit in the welfare state is that, though most people know on some level that spending in excess of revenue isn’t a very fiscally responsible long-term plan on which to build a stable society, many are willing to bet that resources won’t run out in the short term — which means these types of voters believe they will still get theirs so long as they continue to “vote in their own economic interests.”

Future generations? Not their problem.

In the meantime, don’t buy Greek bonds. Or California’s.

20232

Mark Steyn on responsibility

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Mark Steyn on When Responsibility Doesn’t Pay

Think of Greece as California: Every year an irresponsible and corrupt bureaucracy awards itself higher pay and better benefits paid for by an ever-shrinking wealth-generating class. And think of Germany as one of the less profligate, still-just-about-functioning corners of America such as my own state of New Hampshire: Responsibility doesn’t pay. You’ll wind up bailing out anyway. The problem is there are never enough of “the rich” to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. In Greece, they’ve run out Greeks, so they’ll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick their defense tab to the Americans. And in America, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?

Grecian formula

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

How do you walk the road to ruin?
The Greek Tragedy That Changed Europe
Greece’s dysfunctional economy is now at the heart of a rescue effort that could be disastrous for the entire continent—and the rest of the world.

But the Europeans have not been careful so far. The issues for troubled euro zone countries are straightforward: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (known to the financial markets, and not in a polite way, as the PIIGS) had varying degrees of foreign- and bank credit-financed rapid expansions over the past decade. In fall 2008, these bubbles collapsed.

Neptunos Lex (via Gerard) has Greek Lessons

Financial markets are telling us the euro zone is under threat, but the real message is much broader: Unsustainable debt dynamics can undermine us all.

“Everything on the table” means both higher and broader taxation, to be sure – but it also means touching previously untouchable mandatory spending accounts on popular middle class entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We are simply past the point, pace Paul Krugman, where we can just throw another trillion at it.

Unfortunately, we will throw another trillion, and then another.

AJ Strata ponders The Pending Implosion Of Liberal Socialism. He is a great deal more optimistic than I.