Greece under the yoke

English: Various Euro bills.

Reuters reported that:

Greece must surrender control of its budget policy to outside institutions if it cannot implement reforms attached to euro zone rescue measures, the German economy minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The fact that the German Economic Minister made this already credible statement indicates that Greece lacks control over its budget. The issue at hand is whether the European Union would exercise direct or indirect control over the Greek budget, not whether Greece would control its own budget.

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.

A sensible question to ask

ThinkProgress tweets:

Why didn’t the GOP even hold a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment when they controlled the WH, House and Senate under Bush?

One feasible answer: The GOP needed a willing Democratic president to gut the many social programs on which Americans now or will need.

Barack Obama — the man who liberated the GOP!

Quote of the day

Paul Krugman writes:

These are interesting times — and I mean that in the worst way. Right now we’re looking at not one but two looming crises, either of which could produce a global disaster. In the United States, right-wing fanatics in Congress may block a necessary rise in the debt ceiling, potentially wreaking havoc in world financial markets. Meanwhile, if the plan just agreed to by European heads of state fails to calm markets, we could see falling dominoes all across southern Europe — which would also wreak havoc in world financial markets.

We can only hope that the politicians huddled in Washington and Brussels succeed in averting these threats. But here’s the thing: Even if we manage to avoid immediate catastrophe, the deals being struck on both sides of the Atlantic are almost guaranteed to make the broader economic slump worse.

In fact, policy makers seem determined to perpetuate what I’ve taken to calling the Lesser Depression, the prolonged era of high unemployment that began with the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and continues to this day, more than two years after the recession supposedly ended.

That’s a pretty nice country ya got there…

I wouldn’t want anything bad ta happen to it, something like:

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that it affirmed its ‘AAA’ long-term and ‘A-1+’ short-term sovereign credit ratings on the U.S. Standard & Poor’s also said that it revised its outlook on the long-term rating of the U.S. sovereign to negative from stable.

What does this mean? Well:

The surprise move [by standard and Poor’s] sent US and European shares lower. The S&P 500 fell the most in a month, and the US dollar dropped against the euro and Swiss franc. Oil was also sharply lower.

In Europe, the main UK, German and French indexes all fell by at least 2%.

Also:

The reaction to S&P’s warning of a debt downgrade has been as predictable as it was swift. Paul Ryan responded that the debt “threatens not only the livelihoods of future generations, but also the economic security of American families today.” Eric Cantor described the S&P action as “a wake-up call.” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, another “Young Gun,” said pretty much the same thing.

But:

At least one economist burst out laughing on hearing about the S&P announcement. “They did what?” exclaimed James Galbraith, a professor of economics at the University of Texas in Austin, who formerly served as executive director of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. “This is remarkable! It certainly will confirm the suspicions of those who have questioned S&P’s competence after its performance on the mortgage debacle.”

Lindorff continues by asking:

So what’s going on here?

There would seem to be only two possibilities:

Either S&P has been pressured by powerful Republicans and/or Wall Street Bankers to issue this warning, in order to add to national hysteria about the national debt and win more drastic cuts in social programs, or S&P is simply blowing it again.

I disagree with Lindorff in one respect and would say instead that there are at least three possibilities at work here. One, Standard and Poor’s is a viciously corrupt organization. Two, Standard and Poor’s is a massively incompetent organization. Or, three, Standard and Poor’s is both viciously corrupt and massively incompetent. Door Number Three seems to me to be the best option of the three! If, then, Wall Street wants to use extortion to attack the remnants of the New Deal, if it wants to add a bit of gravitas to America’s deficit hysteria, it would be served much better if it used the right tool for the job. S&P lacks the credibility needed to make this threat work.