Sunday, 19 July 2015

An Avoidable Disaster

The unfortunate coincidence of the G20 Conference falling to London in 2008 during the even more unfortunate Brown premiership just as the world went to hell in a handcart (the last two being perhaps more than coincidence) continues to cascade down the years.  Germany and France, unable to stomach the style in which perfectly sensible policy choices were made (and claimed) held separate press conferences in which they asserted not just the rejection of the manner  of presentation  but its content.

Saving the world required very basic economic understanding; it was accompanied by policy rough edges and inadequacies equally well known, understood and correctable.  The prime-ministerial bombast displayed in the inevitable recovery of those economies practising keynesian responses became insufferable, driven by political need to hide responsibility for the disaster that had been wrought on the UK economy by  poor grasp of powerful economic understandings; thus more primitive economic policies from which flowed different political necessities were adopted and reinforced in Europe.

It is a banal observation that economic policies interact with political objectives in their implementation.  It is erroneous to associate economic policy schools of thought with particular political outcomes.  The use of keynesian growth/demand management policies should never have been associated with brownian political virtue or that of social democratic progressivism.  The use of Hayek-Friedman employment/wage-level policies should never have been associated with Merkozy commonsense centre-rightism.  Without  political exhibitionism growth and recovery could have been achieved by now.

When the President of the European Central Bank responded to questions about the German Finance Minister's aims during the latest round of the Greek crisis he remarked that his job was to secure the euro not to respond to politicians' current objectives.  Quite right.  The sooner politicians learn what is their area of expertise (we hope) and that they cannot allocate to themselves the achievements of distinguished academics and technicians the sooner inappropriate over-reactions to events might stop causing unnecessary havoc.       

Monday, 13 July 2015

Greek Free for All

Greece is now to be given 90 billion euros of which 16 billion will come from the IMF. (Tass at 8.15 this morning)  As Greece is defaulting on payments to the IMF in a matter of days - it's already 'in arrears' for billions - the 'how can this be?' sensation grows by the passing hour.  No country can be permitted to default on IMF repayments and gain access to further loans,  yet accepting IMF further involvement in the management of 'Greek' debt is now a major part of the undertakings to which Greece is required to submit in return for the release of its banks from being taken hostage.

Whatever reality these negotiations  are taking place in, it is not the reality of laws and practice, treaty and rule that we are led to believe govern our world.

The question put in the New York Times seems central now.

"Can Greece pull off a successful exit? Will Germany try to block a recovery?" 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

EU Collapsing Into Incoherence and Illegality

The Greece/Europe (Europe, that is, of various internal bodies, both eurozone and EU hierarchy) negotiations are almost unintelligible at this point.  Wildly undeliverable proposals - Greece to leave the Eurozone for 5 years,  Greece to accept administration from Brussels, Greece to alienate state property to a 50 billion eurotune called by some EU nation states, Greece to pass 'restructuring' laws dictated by some eurozone states within 72 hours before any talks can continue, Greece to receive 85 billion euro bailout........ 

There are national parliamentary consents to negotiate, laws and treaties to comply with for all and any of these.

The latest report appears in Tass at 20.45 today.

'BRUSSELS, July 12. /TASS/. The Eurogroup has recommended the EU summit to endorse the allocation of an aid programme to Greece worth from 82 to 86 billion euro or temporarily exclude it from the Eurozone, according to draft agreement between Greece and its creditors.
If efforts to reach an agreement with the Greeks fail, the Eurogroup says it would be expedient to exclude Greece from the Eurozone for a term of up to five years.
The third aid programme is to include up to 25 billion euro from the European Stability Mechanism and financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Eurogroup has ruled out possible writing off Greece’s debts.'

At least when Russia announces direct energy supplies to Greece that is at least deliverable and is within Russia's remit.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Not Enough Information

Naming the nation-state of any EU person quoted in the news would be enormously helpful.  Then it's easier to understand where they're coming from.  At the moment readers are having to guess, from the name, or be bothered to google the speaker, to find out who they are.  If the national press can give the age, and house-value of everyone mentioned in the news so that we're all oriented, failing to provide the nationality of an EU speaker seems part of an orchestrated 'approach' to presenting the official, EU progressive stance.

Identifying the Greeks is relatively easy, with their extraordinarily beautiful names, but Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese (to name the larger nation-states with those kinds of surnames) are difficult, and the Baltics, the Balkans, eastern European nations, the Irish and Scottish names all  present irritating  effort to work out who these people are.  It isn't helpful to be told that Merkel is  German - we know that - and at a pinch we can probably manage Holland not being Dutch; but the unspeakable (unspellable?) real Dutchman who sounds like a German, the bastard from the Baltic who keeps creeping to powerful northern European countries' leaders and condemning Greece's 'attitude',  most of the Austro-Hungarians who can sound anything from Venetian to Russian?

Readers need name, gender (given or adopted), age, nationality and (where appropriate) where you were  and what were you doing before 1989, or 1956, or 1945.  The value and whereabouts of main (or highest value) residence would be interesting too.

Thank you.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Beware Europeans Bearing Gifts

Almost exactly two years ago this letter was printed in Le Monde.

'Dear Nicolas, very briefly and respectfully,
1) I am by your side to serve you and serve your plans for France.
2) I tried my best and might have failed occasionally. I implore your forgiveness.
3) I have no personal political ambitions and I have no desire to become a servile status seeker, like many of the people around you whose loyalty is recent and short-lived.
4) Use me for as long as it suits you and suits your plans and casting call.
5) If you decide to use me, I need you as a guide and a supporter: without a guide, I may be ineffective and without your support I may lack credibility.
With my great admiration, Christine L.' *

This, by the woman who called Tsipris and Varoufakis children and demanded that decisions on Greece be taken by grown-ups?  Further: the repeated recognition by the IMF (the latest published a couple of days ago) that Greek debt is unsustainable and that entirely incorrect policies have been pursued by the IMF (as well as the ECB and the EU); the loading of 32 billion euros of debt onto Greece by Dominique Strauss-Kahn (when he was head of the IMF); the billions and billions of Greek bonds bought by Jean-Claude Trichet when  President of the ECB - and all this passed via the Greek banks (with various skimmings en route) to pay off the exposure of French and German banks.  The socialisation of debt onto the Greek people. How much more of 'Greek' debt has less well-known sources and uses, none of which are to do with the Greek economy, or with any improper consumption by Greeks of an 'unearned' welfare state.

At the time of his 32 billion euro payment  Strauss-Kahn had the presidency of France to gain; how much of a driver behind the actions of an IMF head is once again the seeking of office? At least he didn't call others children and consider writing cringe-worthy begging letters to be grown up.  Others' insistences  on forcing cuts to public expenditures rather than cutting the deficit by raising and collecting taxes are motivated by political forces within Greek society and by a general ideological desire to enforce a particularly hyper-liberal economic view emanating from their backers within the EU. 

The barely-legal, if that, show-of-force and thus self-revelation displayed in the treatment of Greece by the EU is notable.  To some extent it is happening by default [sorry, ed.]  insofar as  Greek elites and hyper-liberal EU ideologists have been needled into exposing their self interest by the democratic weight and the democratic consistency of support for the current Greek government.  Evaluations of the various means of,  and prospects for  regime change must be taking place.  The standard, antidemocratic usages of swamping electoral choice and its representatives with laws, regulation and procedures governed by courts and treaties rather than by parliaments and elected governments, are failing. And the spectacle, as they are repeatedly and fruitlessly applied to Greek debt negotiation, is undermining the EU as currently constituted.  The EU is extraordinarily old-fashioned, steeped in 20th century power relations and their expression,  in a repellent social-democratic, progressive Shirley Williamsy dress.

As Greece considers its (surprisingly many and bright) options in the face of intransigence from past time, much of  what held true even at the beginning of this crisis no longer holds. There are new and re-emerging geopolitical areas of pressure and common interest.  There are the SCO, the BRICS bank, China, Orthodoxy.  The biblical scale of   Balkan and Mediterranean migration from Asia and Africa is altering demands from the European receiving countries on the EU and its currency zone, and its moulding by the 'Institutions'.

Greek 'debt' and EU membership status-change is no longer the greatest threat to Greece and its economy and people (indeed to the Balkans in general): once an economy freezes - when normal economic activity ceases - to start it up again takes, bluntly, central planning, particularly where there is under-development (whatever the cause).  Greece will be, perhaps already is, in a sort of transition economy condition.  Think Poland in the 1990s.  And the low level  economic and fiscal bullying of the Balkan states (post outright war-making under Blair and progressive Labour) of both Balkan EU members and Balkan applicants  is part of the creation of an arc of unnecessary underdevelopment in Europe.

Transition central economic planning is, of its very appropriateness and modern recently-developed competence and technical skills, an extremely attractive option for poor Europe, with its fairly standard problems and requirements.  Objections about the role of the state, authoritarianism, the abandonment of the benefits of (hyper-liberal) capitalism are answered by the EU display of authoritarianism and ideological rigidity resulting in economic underachievement, collapse, and social failure.  A serious case can be made for the use of central planning and delivery to produce economic growth and acceptable social consumption levels in such countries.  With its behaviour towards Greece and the Balkans the EU and the IMF is making it powerfully.

"1) Je suis à tes côtés pour te servir et servir tes projets pour la France.
2) J'ai fait de mon mieux et j'ai pu échouer périodiquement. Je t'en demande pardon.
3) Je n'ai pas d'ambitions politiques personnelles et je n'ai pas le désir de devenir une ambitieuse servile comme nombre de ceux qui t'entourent dont la loyauté est parfois récente et parfois peu durable.
4) Utilise-moi pendant le temps qui te convient et convient à ton action et à ton casting.
5) Si tu m'utilises, j'ai besoin de toi comme guide et comme soutien : sans guide, je risque d'être inefficace, sans soutien je risque d'être peu crédible. Avec mon immense admiration. Christine L. "

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

There is Nothing for Greece and its People in the Ostensible Objectives of the European Union

Socialism failed.  It failed in every variety of realised socialism  enacted.  It failed in the central, rugged, soviet format; it failed in worker-controlled (various forms) of Balkan socialism;  it failed after the arrival of the market-mimicking wonders of computer modelling so beloved of the Poles.  It failed even as it improved and began to deliver goods and growth to consumers.

It failed because capitalism, quite simply, delivered  better.   Market socialism could never respond fast enough, just plain smartly enough, to human desires.  It is first rate in providing food, shelter, education and amelioration of health collapses, at a basic, everyone-in, level.  Once that threshold has been passed it becomes irrelevant.  Someone somewhere is suffering from the lack of this basic provision?  Then they'd better get their skates on and start insisting to their rulers that this lack is the result of non-socialist, 'capitalist' selfishness.   Which may be true but is more an argument for economic migrants to stand up for themselves rather than run away to greener pastures. 

Most of us have reached the point that we want what we want when we want it.  Not the point that we'll be 'disadvantaged'.  Necessarily this requires that providers are amazingly fast at providing; which only comes from their profit in doing so.  Not some kind of moral satisfaction (though moral claims may well be satisfied by the provision) but by a satisfactory exchange.  You want this?  Pay that, we accept you are a satisfactory exchange partner (or we wouldn't be dealing with you at all) and there may even be an excess generated by these transactions to cope with failed transactions and their victims.

We cannot go on with  the nonsense propaganda that it is co-operation that provides for humanity.  Exchange, and forcibly asserting its relevant (to the moment)  ownership, moves the world.