Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
* TNI REPORT: USING THE CRISIS TO ENTRENCH NEOLIBERALISM
By ROAR Collective, roarmag
Rather than solving Europe’s crisis, EU institutions are allowing corporate elites to further enrich themselves through a fire sale of state assets.
The text and infographics below are excerpted from a new working paper, Privatising Europe: Using the Crisis to Entrench Neoliberalism, which was just released by the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam:
The European Union is currently undergoing the biggest economic crisis since its foundation 20 years ago. Economic growth is collapsing: the eurozone economy contracted by 0.6% in the fourth quarter last year and this slump is set to continue. The euro crisis was incorrectly blamed on government spending, and the subsequent imposition of cuts and increased borrowing has resulted in growing national debts and rising unemployment. Government debts in crisis countries have predictably soared: the highest ratios of debt to GDP in the third quarter of 2012 were recorded in Greece (153%), Italy (127%), Portugal (120%) and Ireland (117%).
Europe’s member states have responded by implementing severe austerity programmes, making harsh cuts to crucial public services and welfare benefits. The measures mirror the controversial structural adjustment policies forced onto developing countries during the 1980s and 1990s, which discredited the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The results, like their antecedents in the South, have punished the poorest the hardest, while the richest Europeans – including the banking elite that caused the financial crisis – have emerged unscathed or even richer than before.
Behind the immoral and adverse effects of unnecessary cuts though lies a much more systematic attempt by the European Commission and Central Bank (backed by the IMF) to deepen deregulation of Europe’s economy and privatise public assets. The dark irony is that an economic crisis that many proclaimed as the ‘death of neoliberalism’ has instead been used to entrench neoliberalism. This has been particularly evident in the EU’s crisis countries such as Greece and Portugal, but is true of all EU countries and is even embedded in the latest measures adopted by the European Commission and European Central Bank.
This working paper gives a broad and still incomplete overview of what can best be described as a great ‘fire sale’ of public services and national assets across Europe. Coupled with deregulation and austerity measures, it is proving a disaster for citizens. Nevertheless, there have been clear winners from these policies. Private companies have been able to scoop up public assets in a crisis at low prices and banks involved in reckless lending have been paid back at citizens’ expense.
Encouragingly though, there have been victories in the battle to protect and improve Europe’s public services which serve as beacons of hope. There is even a counter-trend of remunicipalisation taking place in Europe as people have become aware of the cost and downsides of privatising public services, particularly water. As public awareness grows that the European Commission far from solving the crisis is using it to entrench the same failed neoliberal policies, these counter-movements and growing popular resistance can work together to halt the corporate takeover of Europe. […]
Read the full report here.
READ / INFOGRAPHICS @ http://roarmag.org/2013/03/tni-infographics-european-fire-sale/
* THE BANKER’S GUIDE TO OWNING IT ALL …
By austbe, AwakenLongford
“If all the Nations of the World are in Debt! Where did all the Money go? Educating Irish Citizens in their Rights!
3. Loosen lending standards until the assets you seek to capture are attached.
(this makes the economy debt dependent)
4. Once debts are significant for the bulk of the population, sharply tighten lending standards. <– Economic shock – Onset of deflation
5. Backstop losses with public guarantees if possible. This is gravy if one can get it.
(Fannie and Freddie guarantees, for example)
6. Permit default ‘without risk’ on the assets you wish to seize to maximize wealth transfer.
(Stall foreclosure, stay repossession orders etc.)
7. Stall the economy to maximize default positions and deplete private liquidity. <– We are here
8. Successively ratchet the economy downhill, while bettering secured positions.
9. In a series of large actions, seize all security for default. Target the assets of greatest interest first.
(This deals a heavy economic blow and can help cause the ratcheting required for step 8.)
10. Transfer asset ownership, but retain prior owners as renters where possible.
(This reduces public lashback and helps maintain the asset for resale)
11. Once the bulk of assets of transferred, write them down to leverage the public financial backstop.
12. Buy up as many remaining assets on the cheap as possible. Hide this action.
14. Stabilize the currency or devise a new one, resume lending at a reasonable pace. Sell the assets back, secured of course, at your chosen price in new currency.
Hyperinflation is only a risk to the wealthy if the population has the assets.
Make note of that statement. It is key to timing the shift from deflation to hyperinflation. […]
* NO AUSTERITY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD HAS RESTORED A NATIONAL ECONOMY
By Gaius Publius, AmericaBlog
Paul Krugman’s recent column looks at the romance between the “austerians” — the promoters of austerity for economically troubled nations — and the need to inflict pain to get economic gain. His bottom line — no country that has tried austerity has seen a major economic benefit.
My bottom line — add “to its people” to the end of Krugman’s bottom line and you’ve got it exactly. There is an obvious economic benefit, but only for a few.
Let’s start with Krugman. He begins (my emphasis):
Looking for Mister Goodpain
Three years ago, a terrible thing happened to economic policy, both here and in Europe. Although the worst of the financial crisis was over, economies on both sides of the Atlantic remained deeply depressed, with very high unemployment. Yet the Western world’s policy elite somehow decided en masse that unemployment was no longer a crucial concern, and that reducing budget deficits should be the overriding priority.
That’s a familiar story, one we’ve detailed before. The answer to economic crisis is always budget cuts and austerity. Then he pivots to austerian attempts to find an example:
In recent columns, I’ve argued that worries about the deficit are, in fact, greatly exaggerated — and have documented the increasingly desperate efforts of the deficit scolds to keep fear alive. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a different but related kind of desperation: the frantic effort to find some example, somewhere, of austerity policies that succeeded. For the advocates of fiscal austerity — the austerians — made promises as well as threats: austerity, they claimed, would both avert crisis and lead to prosperity. […]
* ACROSS EUROPE, POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE LOST THE TRUST OF THEIR PEOPLE
By Will Hutton, Guardian
There was a time when to live a life virtuously was well understood. It embraced personal integrity, commitment to a purpose that was higher than personal gain, a degree of selflessness and even modesty. Those at the top may have got there through ruthlessness and ambition, but they understood that to lead was to set an example and that involved demonstrating better qualities than simply looking after yourself.
No more. Perhaps the greatest calamity of the conservative counter-revolution has been the energy it invested in arguing that virtue, whatever its private importance, has no public value. The paradox, the new conservatives claim, is only through the pursuit of self-interest can the economy and society work best. Responsibilities to the commonweal are to be avoided.
The retreat of virtue has become the plague of our times. Greed is legitimate; to have riches however obtained, including outrageous bonuses or avoiding tax, is the only game in town. But across the west the consequences are becoming more obvious. Politics, business and finance have become blighted to the point that they are dysfunctional, with a now huge gap in trust between the elite and the people. […]
* GREEK NEWSPAPERS: HOW SAFE ARE GREEK DEPOSITS?
When five Sunday newspapers speak about the safety of savers’ deposits in their front pages, I think, it’s time we should start make thoughts about “how secured are deposits in Greece?” The Cyprus example might be “a template”, after all, as eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem recently said. Deposits in Greek banks may be at risk after all despite the assurances of finance minister Yiannis Stournaras that “deposits are shielded”.
TYPOS TIS KYRIAKIS: Survival guide for deposits – which ones are secured
TO VIMA: How secured are deposits?
PROTO THEMA: Deposits guaranteed only if banks collapse
KYRIAKATIKI DIMOKRATIA: (30%) haircut in debts and deposits
REAL NEWS: The whole truth about deposits – 61% of Greeks fear deposits will undergo haircut
front pages via Zougla.gr
What is clear is that EU regulations guaranteeing deposits up to 100,000 euro refer to cases when banks are collapsed. The esteem ladies and gentlemen of the European Union, the eurozone and so on, do not -and cannot – guarantee deposits over or below 100,000 euro form ‘haircut’. […]
* THINK YOUR BANK DEPOSITS WILL ALWAYS BE 100 PERCENT GUARANTEED BY THE FDIC? THINK AGAIN.
By Gaius Publius, Truthout
I think this is a huge story, and it takes very little to tell it. These are the basics on deposit confiscation and how we got there:
■ You know that the EU-forced solution to the failure of banks in Cyprus is to require the Cypriot government to confiscate (“tax”) deposits. That news is everywhere you look; it’s not in dispute or doubt. The latest has depositor losses at 60% due to the bailout-related “one-time” tax.
■ “Confiscating deposits” is exactly the opposite of “insuring deposits,” which is what is required in the EU, and also offered by the FDIC (as the ads say, “your deposits are insured up to $250,000″).
■ The next monster taxpayer-financed bank bailout could spark a revolution. Find me anyone who isn’t a friend of Big Money who doesn’t hate the Bush-Obama bailout. Dem, Republican, Libertarian, frog-on-a-rock — no one liked the bailout.
■ This takes a taxpayer-financed bailout off the table as the next way to make bankers whole when they stumble.
■ But bankers are going to stumble soon, and big. The derivatives market is huge, and they’re aggressively reversing the tepid Dodd-Frank derivatives regulations as we speak. Of course, friends-of-big-banks in Congress are helping (that’s you, Ann Kuster).
■ So the next big bailout (which is coming) will have to come from somewhere else.
Guess where that “somewhere else” is? Deposits.
Nations have already started to institute rules that enable deposit confiscation
There’s an international move by national governments to write regulations that permit deposit confiscation in the case of bank failure. This is exactly the Cyprus model, and if the news stories are correct, confiscating deposits was being considered or enabled prior to Cyprus bank-failures. […]
* LITTLE LAND – TRAILER
A land rediscovering its own powers in order to survive the crisis. A story about how to live better with less and why this is important for us today…
Since the start of the crisis in Greece, a growing number of young unemployed Athenians are moving to the countryside, hoping to change their lives for the better.
The film follows 35-year-old Thodoris, as he settles on the remote island of Ikaria. There, he discovers a society with a unique culture of autonomy and cooperation, and a people who live not only better, but longer than everyone else, making the island one of the world’s few ‘blue zones’ where inhabitants enjoy extraordinary longevity.
Director Nikos Dayandas goes in search of the Ikarian secret, discovering how the islanders’ radically different lives are increasingly relevant to us in times of economic and social upheaval.
New York Times, “The Island where People Forgot to Die”
“We often hear about viability and sustainable development; Little Land is a film exactly about how to live in harmony with nature, with our fellow human beings, and about how we can rationally use the resources of this planet.” Ηead of Energy Policy for WWF Greece
Writer / Director: Nikos Dayandas
Cinematography: Stelios Apostolopoulos
Research: Nikos Dayandas & Dimitra Kouzi
Editing: Nikos Vavouris
Music: Panos Ghikas & Johannes von Weizsäcker
Producers: Rea Apostolides & Yuri Averof. Produced in association with ARTE and ERT. With the support of MEDIA.
World distribution: Anemon Productions
* THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN IN SPAIN
By Inés Benítez, IPS
MÁLAGA, Spain, Apr 8 2013 (IPS) – Wholemeal rye bread, lettuce and chard are some of the products on offer from the El Caminito urban vegetable garden at the small organic produce market in this southern Spanish city, with prices set in “comunes”, one of more than 30 social currencies circulating in the country.
“The aim is to find an alternative to the curse of unbridled capitalism and to sow the foundations of a more just and compassionate society,” activist David Chapman of the Málaga Común platform, the network responsible for the market, told IPS.
In the network, more than 700 registered users exchange goods and services using “comunes” as currency and recording transactions on the internet.
In Spain, over 30 local currencies coexist with the euro, and they are “tools empowering communities by means of the exchange of products and services and the creation of parallel markets,” economist and writer Julio Gisbert told IPS.
The común, the lazo and the coín in Málaga, the puma in Seville, the zoquito in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz), the pita in Almería and the justa in Granada – all in the south of Spain – are some of the social currencies created with the shared mission of dynamising local economies and moving toward a more sustainable economic and production model all over the country. […]