Lee Buchheit, fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress
Lee Buchheit, a lawyer at US firm Cleary Gottlieb, has been present at all the major debt crises of the past three decades. His reputation among investors is as a fearsome and aggressive litigator, but finance ministers in distress see him as something of a fairy godmother.[more inside]
Be it the United States or the European Union, most Western countries are so highly indebted today that the markets have a greater say in their policies than the people. Why are democratic countries so pathetic when it comes to managing their money sustainably? This clear, well-written essay in Der Speigel lays out the current debt crisis - along with current, proposed solutions - in an understandable manner. Not included among the so-far-proposed solutions is one other that has opened up a veritable financial market and debt Pandora's Box - i.e. a central bank debt jubilee.
The Absurd Quest for Euro Crisis Images: The Greeks aren't the only ones sick of the euro crisis. Photographers are reaching the end of their tether too, struggling to shoot images of euro coins in various states of distress to illustrate the story. Though some of the photos are absurd, they still get published -- because news outlets are equally desperate. Gallery. [via]
Today was, according to Angela Merkel, "a good day for Europe" - but it might also be the start of something much bigger. [more inside]
"So when she studies the Greek balance sheet and demands measures she knows may mean women won't have access to a midwife when they give birth, and patients won't get life-saving drugs, and the elderly will die alone for lack of care – does she block all of that out and just look at the sums?" [more inside]
If Britain were Greece... (audio slideshow)
Greece gains another €130bn in bailout funds. It's a nice headline, but the reports suggest it still isn't enough and Newsnight paint a picture of a fracturing Greek society.
Dance With Leroy (SLYT)
A presentation by Dr. Heiner Flassbeck, a former deputy secretary in the German Ministry of Finance and currently chief economist the UN agency for World Trade and Development in Geneva. He talks about EMU and interest rates, and then links it all to class war and America.
The European Union said Friday that 26 of its 27 member countries are open to joining a new treaty tying their finances together to solve the euro crisis. Only Britain remains opposed, creating a deep rift in the union. In all, just 23 of the 27 EU countries signed on outright to draft a new treaty binding them to a uniform regime of deficit controls and budget regulation. Only one country said no: Britain. Three more say they are open to the idea. [more inside]
"It is this failure of political will both in the EU and US which is starting to make the contemporary economic scene resemble that of the 1930s. " The Eurozone and the US are heading into a bad economic decade, argues John Lanchester (wiki). [more inside]
Yields of 2-year Greek government bonds have been skyrocketing today, and are currently at 76%. Credit default swaps show Greece with a 98% chance of default. Confidence in the Eurozone as a whole has been tanking recently after a series of setbacks that leave a political solution looking increasingly unlikely. There was a timely, gloomy discussion on RT yesterday on European and worldwide political/economic prospects
Starting last month, the French daily Le Monde has been publishing an economic thriller in series, called Terminus pour L' Euro (in French) (The End of the Line for the Euro). The series is behind a subscription wall, but Presseurope has started republishing the series in ten languages, including English... The story narrates the events of summer 2012, as Germany decides to leave the Euro and what follows. It has caused a stir in France, as rumors about the true identity of the author (who signs the series as Philae, after an island in Egypt apparently) continue to circulate, and some think he is the French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire. Some say that the rumors that led to the precipitous fall in French banks' stock a few days ago, were due to misunderstanding the fictional character of the story... Real rumors that Germany threatened to leave the Euro last year, were dismissed by its Chancellor, yet as the eurozone crisis develops, no one is certain any more that the series is simply fiction and not a possible, real scenario, advocated by many...
"For the Germans the euro isn’t just a currency. It’s a device for flushing the past—another Holocaust Memorial. " Vanity Fair's Michael Lewis checks in with Europe's savior.
In Europe, bail-out and immigration fears have led to the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, a crisis that now threatens the EU itself. Right-wing euroskeptic parties and politicians have gained in power, such as the True Finns, they can roughly be seen as "Europe's Tea Parties". Greece is talking about dropping the Euro currency (due to Finnish demands), other PIGS could be next. Denmark has introduced custom checks at its borders again, seeking to stop the flow of intra euro traffic, while France and Italy have raised the possibility of reintroducing their own border controls.
A Euro Scam That Unfolded at a Snail's Pace “It wasn’t so unusual to get coins from China,” said Susanne Kreutzer, a Bundesbank spokesman. “That is a business model for some people.”
Who would have thought it? The UK has withdrawn the 500 Euro note after an investigation by SOCA discovered that 90% of the notes in circulation were linked to crime. Nicknames the ‘Bin Laden’ (you know its out there somewhere) the purple note worth $630 is a favourite of the criminally minded due to its ultra-portability and acceptance throughout mainland Europe. Drug investigations in Latin America time and time again turn up large amounts of currency in this form. According to Columbian financial regulators 234K Euros was legally imported and declared into the country but trails of 600M Euros being exported were discovered. Whilst money laundering and fraud relating to the Euro is nothing new the decision to put into circulation such a high note must now be being questioned at the highest levels.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. In a few hours, I will destroy the Greek economy. Unless, that is, you give me the sum of...one trillion dollars! (SLNYT, but with this much money I can afford to look frumpy)
V, Double dip (W) or L recession? Things look bad for the EURO is the skyscraper index is right. We have heard recently about problems in the Eurozone. Is the worst over or is the worst still to come? The skyscraper index indicates: Trouble ahead. [more inside]
Is Jay-Z signaling a recession? There is something quite alarming on the recently released “Blue Magic” music video ... it wasn’t sex, drugs, violence or explicit language that shocked my conscience. It was the Euros. The Jay-Z video flashed large stacks of $500 Euros. When I start seeing rap stars flashing euros instead of U.S. dollars, I know our economy is in trouble.
On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by 0.5%. Wall Street aggressively demanded the cut to stop the sub-prime mortgage contagion from triggering a credit crisis among large US and foreign investment banks and the collapse of their over-leveraged hedge funds, which ultimately threatened to drag the US economy into recession. The market rallied this week in response to the Fed's move. But there is no free lunch. [more inside]
Euro's rise raises 'catastrophic' fears The euro rose on Thursday, topping $1.35 for the first time ever, amid speculation that the United States would not act to counter the dollar's decline. . "If we remain in a situation without any coordination, we can imagine a catastrophic situation" for the global economy, Finance Minister Hérve Gaymard of France told manufacturers during a factory visit Thursday in Strasbourg
Sex for Money, Money having Sex? Ban on Russian ads depicting euro having sex with dollar. Immoral or are they just dancing?
What if oil was traded in euros? "Even more alarming, and completely unreported in the U.S. media, are significant monetary shifts in the reserve funds of foreign governments away from the dollar with movements towards the euro. It appears that the world community ... seems poised to respond with economic retribution if the U.S. government is regarded as an uncontrollable and dangerous superpower." An analysis of the previous link. Apologies to those I
It started in November of 2000, with Iraq wanting to switch to the Euro for oil payments. Following recent events, Muslims at large are thinking about dropping US currency for the Euro. With a large US presence now in the Middle East, this event may never occur.
Is the currency that oil is denominated in the real reason for the Iraq War? "The Federal Reserve's greatest nightmare is that OPEC will switch its international transactions from a dollar standard to a euro standard. Iraq actually made this switch in Nov. 2000 (when the euro was worth around 80 cents), and has actually made off like a bandit considering the dollar's steady depreciation against the euro. (Note: the dollar declined 17% against the euro in 2002.)"
Euro diffusion: "On January 2002 twelve European countries [plus San Marino, the Vatican and Monaco] have welcomed the euro as their new coin. The euro coins have a national side, which is different for every country... So there are fifteen different euro coins that can be used in every one of those 15 countries. Therefore, unlike in the past, the coins will not be collected and brought back to their home country. The coins will slowly but surely be spreaded over the 15 countries. This is the diffusion of the euro, the euro diffusion[.pdf file]." A statistician's playground, this unique historical opportunity, is leading to interesting collaborative internet projects
Have the anti-Euro lobby shot themselves in the foot? A video promoting opposition to the UK joing the Euro has been critisized for including a spoof of Hitler praising the currency. It's attracted publicity for the campaign, all right, but has it unmasked the "No" campaign as anti-Europe "little Englanders"? (Guardian link)
George F. Will complains about the Euro. Interesting, many of the arguments Will uses against the adoption of common European currency (loss of sovereignty, loss of cultural coherence) are the same ones used by critics against the WTO and corporate globalization.
Euro the new European currency is now official in 12 European countries. In Crete the ancient home of Europa who was a Kings daughter abducted by Zeus, Europa gave Zeus 3 sons and he in turn promised to name a continent after her. Now Europa has a currency as well. In Italy it may not mean love but it does mean cheaper sex. Tonight the ATMs are restocked and even Monopoly money is reprinted.
The Euro. I have a question for all of the Euro-zone mefi members. Do regular folks in Europe think the varied governments will come together for the economic benefit of the whole or will regional differences doom the new currency?