Tag: Greece

Greece Passes Raid On Public Assets

Today Greece passed the ‘Austerity’ measure forced on it by the EU – tax hikes, benefit reductions, layoffs, and a sell off of 72 Billion dollars worth of public assets.  

Before the vote, one protester said on Wednesday that Greeks’ lives “are going to change forever” if the measures were approved. “If you belong to the middle class, that doesn’t exist anymore. There’s only rich and poor.”

Another protester, Anastasia Arvanitiki, 57, a pharmacist, said, “What they’re voting on is exactly the opposite of what they were elected to do.”

“They’ll be the worst criminals in history” if the vote goes through, she said. “We want to see them hanged.”


Oh, those radical pharmacists. Rabble rousers, that lot.  

Outside Parliament, protesters had massed for a second day in Syntagma Square, shouting, “Traitors, traitors!” and the police repeatedly fired tear gas to maintain control after the vote. The demonstrators, the majority of whom were peaceful, came prepared with surgical masks to protect against the gas.


People have to wake up.  The corporations are coming for every damn thing you have.

California will close up to 70 of its 278 parks to help narrow its budget gap, officials said on Friday


But, back to Greece.

Greece funnels billions of euros (dollars) into its military, spending more of its gross domestic product – 2.8 percent in 2008 – on it than any other European Union country, and second only in NATO to the United States.


“For the past three months, there were several billions in arms contracts that we forced Greece to confirm: French frigates … helicopters, airplanes, German submarines. It’s hypocrisy,” Cohn-Bendit said at a news conference in Paris earlier this month.

“We want to make money … on the backs of the Greeks,” he said.


“I honestly feel national shame each time I am forced to buy weapons we do not need – based on an objective and correct estimate of the dangers the world as it is holds for Greece,” Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Pangalos said earlier this month…

From here: http://turkeymacedonia.wordpre…

Europe’s Black Swans

  The financial news from Europe is getting increasingly distressing.

A new EU report warns that economic conditions in Portugal and Spain could “result in a high ‘snowball’ effect on the government debt.”

  French financial group AXA says “there is a fatal flaw in the system and no clear way out.” They are predicting the Eurozone to break in half or completely disintegrate in the next 18 months.

  Over 13% of Europe’s investors are betting on a Black Monday-style collapse in stock prices (think 1987).

Greek contagion spreading to Spain

   Discussion of the economic crisis in Europe has been largely confined to Greece and how it effects the Euro. All that changed this week.

   It all started with the Spanish banks at the start of the week.

 CajaMurcia, Caja Granada, Sa Nostra, and Caixa are joining together in a SIP (System of Integrated Protection), which will combine bank reserves and result in a firm worth €100 billion, according to Cotizalia.

  This comes after yesterday’s announcement that four banks, Cajastur, Caja de Ahorros del Mediterráneo, Caja Extremadura, and Caja Cantabria were merging under a similar agreement.

  All of this started with the weekend’s €530 million bailout of CajaSur, and is sure to continue as Spain tries to sure up its banking sector under IMF pressure.

 Sudden mergers of major banks, following a major bank bailout, is very suspicious. The markets noticed, and two days later the Spain’s central bank was forced to act.

The peasants are getting restless

   Strikes and protests from Greece to Spain to Slovenia to Ireland to Romania have followed riots and bloodshed.

  The corporate media has reported this unrest with the following narrative:

 The Greek people are angry because their government pledged to make cuts in social spending…

 Fox News correctly observed that “Greece lived for years beyond its means, borrowing money and spilling red ink to finance excessive government spending, offer socialized health care and provide lavish wages for federal workers.”

 It’s a rather convenient spin: greedy, lazy, leftists workers that are getting their comeuppance. It’s the same narrative that the corporate media rolls out whenever social services are being cut anywhere in the world.

  It’s a convenient story because it is a complete story. Nothing more needs to be done. Good guys win. Bad guys lose. Roll the credits.

 Except that this isn’t the whole story by a long shot.

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – The Oily Axis of Evil

Crossposted at Daily Kos


This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

:: ::

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, Comics.com (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – The Perfect Oil Clean Up Crew

Crossposted at Daily Kos


This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

:: ::

Clean Up Crew by Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen, Buy this cartoon

The Ouzo Effect Redux – the cost of doing nothing

  When the stock market plunged 1,000 point in half of an hour on Thursday, the immediate rumors were of a “fat finger” trader who punched in $16 billion instead of $16 million. It’s a disturbing idea, that a single trader could cause such financial destruction, but its better than the alternative – that the stock market plunge happened while the markets were functioning the way they were supposed to.

 Since the original rumor, the facts have been revealed – there was no “fat finger”. The stock market crashed on Thursday because that is the way the system is set up to function. Thus was should expect this event to happen again in the not so distant future.

Beware of Greeks bearing debt

  The news started today with S&P downgrading Greek bonds to junk. It wasn’t just the sovereign debt that became junk, but also the debt of many of the major Greek banks as well.

  This dramatically increases the risk of default because junk rated bonds cannot be swapped for Euro-backed bonds, and this has markets very worried.

 Investors in Greek bonds may get back between 30 percent and 50 percent of the value of their holdings should the government default or restructure its debt, S&P said.

An Appeal To The Sloths: Wanna End Up Like Greece?

(Cross-posted from The Free Speech Zone)

The apathy is astonishing.  

Americans would rather “sit back and wait” than “stand-up and fight”. It’s hard, I know, you need to take off a day from work or something to demonstrate your point in the streets and even then you leave the protest with nothing changing and nothing happening.

But…what if?

What if instead of an orderly demonstration, a pro-democracy movement were to form that demanded the Capitol back from the corrupted representatives that inhabited it and refused to leave until they were given entrance?

It could happen, if you wanted it to.

A Trojan Horse in Berlin

PIIGS is an unfortunate acronym for the relatively poor countries in the EU (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain), but the real pigs in Europe are now and forever the Germans.

The top German pigs have been imposing a reasonable facsimile of the neo-con agenda on their unwary population for about a decade of stagnant wages and increasing job-insecurity…

Especially over the past decade, German manufacturers — already juggernauts of industry — became some of the most globally competitive companies. Just as American firms did, they turned to outsourcing and overseas production hubs. They kept salaries down at home, with average wages stagnating in Germany for a decade. Germany still has no uniform minimum wage, and aggressive cost-cutting has resulted in more and more Germans laboring in temporary or contract jobs with lower pay and less job security.

German consumers responded by saving their pfennigs, and German domestic consumption crashed while exports ballooned to a trade surplus of $184.9 billion, second only to Saudi Arabia.

So the benefits of neo-Reaganism in Germany accrued almost entirely to bankers and other billionaires, while the rank-and-file repaired their old cars and appliances, and patched up their pitiful overcoats.


Even in prosperous countries, almost everybody gets screwed!

Meanwhile the PIIGS used their brand new credit in the Eurozone to borrow piles of money, expand government services, and increase public-sector salaries.

But according to the dogma of globalization, neo-Reaganism’s Democratic twin, all that debt would eventually be repaid by the rising tide of global prosperity, which lifts all boats, turns slumdogs into millionaires, and…


It never happened! Globalization was bullshit and top-down predation, and while Germany exported BMW’s, Greece exported olives, and went broke.

Now Greek government bonds are about to turn into junk-bonds, and that would set off a godawful chain-reaction, because the forward-thinking Eurozone is about to disallow junk-bonds (rated less than A2) as loan collateral, and German banks are holding a heck of a lot of Greek sovereign debt.

That’s the Trojan Horse in Berlin.

If the Greeks default (and junk-bond status for their bonds would push interest rates so high that default would be more or less inevitable), then German banks (and others) are faced with ugly write-downs, and aren’t you glad to know that this alarming possibility has produced a booming market in credit default swaps!

Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin, Nelson D. Schwartz and Eric Dash report in The New York Times.

Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American International Group, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers.

These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a default by a company or, in the case of Greece, an entire country. If Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit.

“It’s like buying fire insurance on your neighbor’s house — you create an incentive to burn down the house,” said Philip Gisdakis, head of credit strategy at UniCredit in Munich.

Now the Germans want the Greeks (and the rest of the PIIGS) to slash public salaries and services, raise taxes, and turn themselves into globally respectable poverty-zones, and Ireland’s neo-con government has already complied.

“I can’t even keep up with my own debts, never mind the nation’s,” Cullen said, shopping for cut-rate sausage at a discount supermarket he disdained to visit in better times. “I’ve got to spend 30 hours a week taxiing just to break even. Something else has got to give. I can’t give any more.”

Despite the pain its cutbacks are imposing on ordinary people, the conservative Irish government of Prime Minister Brian Cowen has won praise from the European Union and the bond markets for its efforts to cut debt, prices and salaries.

But Greece is resisting, mainly on the basis of a (slightly veiled) threat to default on all those bonds German banks have already swallowed, and it would probably be a very good thing for all of us if all the PIIGS refused to implement the draconian austerity program which the Germans (and their tools at the ECB) want to impose, and a very bad thing if Europe stymies its feeble recovery with a lethal combination of higher taxes and diminished spending.

Tax and don’t spend! What’s not to like? It worked for Hoover!

“This premature fiscal tightening is the route to the Second Great Depression” – or at the very least, a long period of economic stagnation, warned Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Behold, what courtly statecraft!


Greece: “Oh, yeah?  What happened to our WWII reparations, Nazi gold thieves?”

Germany: “Fuck you, Greek deceivers, swindlers, beguilers, double-dealers, fraudsters, scammers, dupers, impostors, peculators, embezzlers, cheats.”

Thus, by first gently and graciously grooming one another’s perceived character flaws, without excessively slavish preening, the negotiations can grind directly into the brass tacks.

It’s called finesse.

Two million Greek workers strike against austerity measures

Original article via World Socialist Web Site:

Some two million Greek workers participated in a general strike on Wednesday. The mass one-day action was called in response to austerity measures being imposed by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government of Prime Minister George Papandreou.

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