Quote of the day

United Nations

Robert Wade recently pointed to the unwillingness of the United Nations to take on the leader’s role in the formulation of a global response to the Great Recession of 2008. Wade stated that:

Among those who care about the fate of the United Nations it is widely assumed — and regretted — that the UN stood on the sidelines at the start of the global financial crisis, and let the G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank take the lead in an international response. Jean-Pierre Bugada, chief of communication for France and Monaco at the UN Regional Information Centre, said the UN had “missed the boat” (1). The accusation is only partly true. More accurately, western states, with the UK and US in the lead, tried hard to ensure that the UN did not become a forum for discussion on the crisis, and the UN Secretary-General supported them.

Briefly put, the states and institutions which generated the crisis took the lead in producing the global response to the crisis, doing while UN leaders supported this effort.

Dominique Straus Kahn can’t keep it in his pants

Having escaped from New York with his person intact, although a civil trial remains a real possibility, our hero returned to France only to soon find himself implicated in and briefly imprisoned because of the Carlton Affair:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer said it was wrong for his client to be prosecuted for “simple libertine activity” after he was charged with helping to run a prostitution ring last night.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund – who quit his post last year over charges, later dropped, alleging he sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York – denies a charge of “aggravated procurement in an organised gang”.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was released on a €100,000 (£83,000) bail last night. He is understood to have admitted that he attended orgies in what has been dubbed the “Carlton Affair”, named after the hotel in which the sex parties took place. But Mr Strauss-Kahn maintains that he was unaware prostitutes were involved.

The case also revolves around suspicions that some of his business associates were among those running the ring and were misusing corporate funds while doing so.

A (fictional) Sex Slave

A Euro-protest of the troika’s Euro-austerity regime

Neoliberalism is an ideology and a compulsion

The symbol of the Euro in front of the Europea...

Mike Whitney and Dean Baker argue that those leading the European Central Bank, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund (The Troika) find it difficult to experience the world but through the lens of their idiotic economic theory. Baker had the recent opportunity to observe the Troika in action. He drew this conclusion:

There is no economic reasoning behind the troika’s positions. For practical purposes, Greece and the other debt-burdened countries are dealing with crazy people. The pain being imposed is not a route to economic health; rather it is a gruesome bleeding process that will only leave the patient worse off. The economic doctors at the troika are clueless when it comes to understanding a modern economy.

Mike Whitney’s analysis affirms Baker’s assessment. Whitney notes that, “If Greece’s €130 billion loan was going to be used for fiscal stimulus, then it might be worth the commitment. Because that kind of money could put a lot people back to work and kick-start the economy fast.” Yet…he continues by observing:

But the loan isn’t going to be used for stimulus. It’s going to be used to recapitalize the banks and pay off creditors, neither of which will do anything to boost activity or create jobs. So, why bother? Why dig an even deeper hole if it achieves nothing? If that’s the case, then Greece should just default now and start rebuilding the economy ASAP. There’s no point in putting it off any longer.

Indeed, why would Greece accept the bitter medicine dispensed by the European Union?

The troika (the European Central Bank, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund) is demanding another €3 billion in spending cuts even though unemployment is tipping 20 percent and the economy shrank 7 percent in the last quarter. What sense does that make? You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that Greece won’t reach its budget targets if tax revenues continue to fall because everyone’s either been laid off or taking a pay-cut. It will just make a bad situation even worse. But the troika doesn’t worry about these type of things. They don’t care that their lamebrain economic theories have failed miserably so far, or that their austerity measures have been a complete flop. They just keep plugging along making the same mistakes over and over again, impervious to the criticism of reputable economists, oblivious to the abysmal results, they remain steadfast in their commitment to belt tightening, sure that a strict diet of breadcrumbs and water is the best way to nurse an ailing economy back to health. It doesn’t bother them that the facts prove otherwise.

An austerity politics entails personal suffering for many people. It immiserates them by design. This effect is considered a feature of an austerity regime. And the Greeks have already suffered, as we know. But an austerity politics also makes little sense during a recession. It is a policy regime a crazy person recommends.

The upshot: The government of Greece, if it were rational, would take the Argentinean path to recovery. Country debt and risk are not perpetual prison sentences. If Greece were to take this path, it would default on its obligations and exit the European Union (advocated here). It ought to do so because its current predicament and the proposed — or imposed — ‘remedy’ for it will only serve to transfer wealth to the financial institutions holding Greece’s debt and, of course, to plunder the country of those assets worth owning (discussed by Michael Hudson here). Greek “have-nots” have and continue to protest this imperial imposition on their country. It is rational for them to do this just as it is rational for the Greek government default on its financial obligations and jettison the Euro.

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Quote of the day

Serge Halami of Le Monde Diplomatique appropriately compared the recent European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (“the troika”) intervention in Greece’s affairs to the Soviet Union’s termination of the Prague Spring:

For people in countries suffering under austerity measures, the history of Europe provides some outstanding examples. In some ways, recent events in Athens recall Czechoslovakia in 1968: the crushing of the Prague Spring and the removal of the Communist leader Alexander Dubcek. The troika has played the same part in reducing Greece to a protectorate as the Warsaw Pact did in Czechoslovakia, with Papandreou in the role of Dubcek, but a Dubcek who would never have dared to resist. The doctrine of limited sovereignty has been applied, though admittedly it is preferable and less immediately lethal to have its parameters set by rating agencies rather than by Russian tanks rolling over the borders.

Having crushed Greece and Italy, the EU and the IMF have now set their sights on Hungary and Spain.

Both interventions were intended to undermine democratic accountability in a peripheral state. Both, by the way, were successful.

Quote of the day

Writing for In These Times, Michelle Chen reports:

Everyone knew it was a losing battle, but everyone showed up anyway. In an uprising virtually unprecedented in its size, scope and diversity, malcontents united across Greece to push back against the government’s assault on working people.

This week’s 48-hour strike drew workers from both public and private sectors, students, the unemployed — just about everyone about to get smacked with the austerity measures that the Parliament has approved under pressure from IMF and Eurozone officials. With tens of thousands of civil service jobs to be downsized, pensions and wages to be gutted, and labor and civil rights under siege, the people’s upheaval has proven as severe and persistent as the fiscal butchery that politicians keep ramming down their throats.

People took to the streets because they had nothing to lose. As one protester, civil engineer Vagelis Filezis, told CNN, “We have no hope. The only hope we have is the strength of the people.”

Greeks defend their society against the EU

Shit will hit the fan very soon

Quote Of the day

Mark Weisbrot, a co-Director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, recently took to task the United States and the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The United States is the key member of the IMF and is thus responsible for its actions. Weisbrot criticized them because “They were trying to force the Greek parliament to adopt measures that would further shrink the Greek economy and therefore make both their economic situation and their debt problem worse, while inflicting more pain on the Greek electorate.” But it is not just the Greek economy which is in crisis. “The threat from the Troika,” Weisbrot argued, “was putting the whole European financial system at risk, since it raised the prospect of a chaotic, unilateral Greek default.”

What we are seeing here, then, is a triumph of ideology and interest over reason and solidarity.

Weisbrot drew an obvious conclusion from his analysis:

The “European debt crisis” is misnamed; it is not so much a debt crisis as a crisis of policy failure. There are always alternatives to a decade without growth, trillions of dollars of lost output, and millions of unemployed that the European authorities are offering to the people of Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and now Italy. All that is lacking is the political will and competence to change course.

Quote of the day

Pam Marten’s has this to say about one insolent Frenchman:

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and aspirant to the Élysée Palace, has left a trail of DNA from Davos to Paris to Gotham (and that’s just what he’s acknowledged). But that’s

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director, Int...

DSK

not the only mess he’s left others to clean up.

Putting aside the criminal charges and allegation of attempted rape on two continents for a moment, Strauss-Kahn, or DSK as his compatriots like to call him, has singlehandedly humiliated the International Monetary Fund, the luxury Sofitel Hotel, his current wife (Anne Sinclair), his daughter (Camille), his second wife (Brigitte Guillemette), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (where he is alleged to have had sex between the file cabinets), the luxury Porsche auto brand (prior to his arrest in New York, the French Socialist Party member was tooling around Paris in a Porsche Panamera which is priced in the range of $150,000 and whose ownership was tied to a French media/armaments conglomerate, Lagardère), his fellow Caviar Socialists, the lovable entertainer Zippy the Chimp (accuser Tristane Banon called DSK a “rutting chimpanzee”). He’s accomplished for the image of powerful French politicians what Guantanamo accomplished for the image of U.S. justice: a law free zone.

Given this trail of smoldering ash, one might expect a little humility from DSK and his take-no-prisoners lawyers and advance men. But no. The whole pack is suing left and right — that’s literally the political left and the political right.

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