International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  Lee Van Queef on Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:00 pm

eddie wrote:




These 'Fathers For Justice' chaps have certainly upped their game in the costume department.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:18 pm

RE: the "Technocrats" cartoon (above^).

There's a serious point here about Democracy. It wasn't the Greek or Italian people who deselected their Prime Ministers (OK, Silvio B is a clown, but the point still stands).

It was the misbred grey Euro-executives.

It's all very worrying.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:18 pm

Steve Bell on David Cameron's relationship with the City - cartoon

The PM has said he will not sign any revised Lisbon treaty that fails to provide safeguards for Britain's financial services


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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:31 pm

PM Heads To Brussels Ahead Of Crisis Summit
Sky News

David Cameron will arrive in Brussels later ahead of a major eurozone debt crisis summit at which France and Germany are expected to push for sweeping financial changes in Europe.

The Prime Minister is facing pressure from senior Conservatives to call a referendum over Europe if a treaty change is proposed at the summit.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "If Britain was asked to sign up to such a thing within the 27 (EU members), it would be right for us either to veto it... If we felt unable to veto it, then certainly it should be put to a referendum."

Cabinet member Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, also threw weight behind the call for a referendum saying it would be an "inevitable" result of proposals for closer fiscal union in the eurozone.

Mr Cameron had said he would veto plans for a new EU treaty unless European leaders agree to a list of British demands.

A heated Prime Minister's Questions session in Westminster was dominated by the crisis, with Labour leader Ed Miliband accusing Mr Cameron of going soft on Europe, saying one thing to placate his eurosceptic MPs and another to European leaders.

The Prime Minister insisted he wanted "more power and control" for the UK saying: "The more that countries in the eurozone ask for, the more we will ask for in return.

"But we will judge that on the basis of what matters most for Britain."

He said that if eurozone countries want to use the "institutions of Europe" to rescue the single currency, they will have to back a number of "British safeguards" in return.

"Now, the most important British interest right now is to sort out the problem in the eurozone that is having the chilling effect on our economy that I have spoken about," he said.

"That obviously means eurozone countries doing more together and if they choose to use the European Treaty to do that, then obviously there will be British safeguards and British interests that I will want to insist on.

"And I won't sign a treaty that doesn't have those safeguards in it, around things like, of course, the importance of the single market and financial services.

"Now, if they choose to go ahead with a separate treaty, then clearly that is not a treaty that Britain would be signing or would be amending but, of course, if they want to use the European institutions, then we will be insisting on the safeguards and the protections that Britain needs.

"Britain is a member of the European Union, we benefit from our membership of the European Union. Key to that is the single market.

"We want the single currency crisis solved but we will protect and defend British interests at the same time."

However, Europe may not need a brand new treaty to put tighter fiscal rules into action, according to the President of the European Council.

After considering suggestions made by the French and German leaders, Mr van Rompuy said in a report that the changes could be achieved through minor adjustments to the current EU treaty, making the process much quicker than producing a new agreement which would need to be ratified by parliaments in all 27 member states.

The main aim would be to reinforce rules for eurozone states to keep their deficit and debt below a set proportion of their gross domestic product (GDP) - 3% of output for the yearly deficit and 60% for overall debt.

The report is due to be discussed at the EU summit on December 8 and 9, which Mr van Rompuy will chair.

MEP and French socialist Pervenche Beres, speaking on Sky News' Euro Crisis debate, agreed: "You cannot solve this crisis with a treaty change," she said.

"What everybody needs is to say that the European Central Bank (ECB) will intervene."

And Louka Katselli, former Greek minister for labour added: "We need a Europe that is growing rather than falling into a deeper recession and we need the ECB to intervene."

Other politicians told Sky's political editor Adam Boulton that the crisis in the eurozone could leave a gap which extremists may fill.

Martin Callanan, MEP and head of the Conservative group, said: "We should finally give up trying and accept the euro should be a lot smaller than it is.

"It will not be long before extremist parties in these countries start to say there is an alternative to this.

"It is unsustainable from a democratic point of view."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage added his support to that view, and said many governments had been replaced by "unelected" leaders and cabinets.

"Nobody in these countries is having the courage to stand up for democracy...and I think we are going to see some very radical political changes over the coming decades."

Meanwhile, in a joint letter to Mr van Rompuy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel set out details of their plans for tighter fiscal discipline in the eurozone.

This would include automatic sanctions for countries which allow their deficit to rise beyond 3% of GDP and a set of increasingly strict punishments for governments which flout spending rules.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  Andy on Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:58 pm

This crisis is hyper volatile and has little patience.
Adopting a new treaty will ask for months and is even likely to cause some gouverments to fall.

And 60% over all debt by what year? Even "AAA"-countries such as Germany (+/- 83%) & France (+/- 82%) - the defining axis in Europe - have a debt-ratio that's well beyond that figure. France plans to have a budget in equilibrium only by 2015 or 2016, I believe and so it's extremely unlikely they'd manage to bring back their sovereign debt-ratio to less than 60% before, say, 2020. And even that seems rather unlikely.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:02 pm


Steve Bell on Cameron and Merkel in Brussels.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:02 am

David Cameron blocks EU treaty with veto, casting Britain adrift in Europe

EU leaders poised to line up 26-1 in support of Franco-German blueprint, but PM had apparent blessing of Nick Clegg

Ian Traynor, Nicholas Watt, David Gow in Brussels and Patrick Wintour

guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 December 2011 20.34 GMT


David Cameron at the EU summit in Brussels where he used his veto to block the revised Lisbon treaty. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters.

David Cameron plunged Britain's position in Europe into the greatest uncertainty in a generation as he used his veto to block a new EU-wide treaty and left at least 23 other countries to forge a pact to salvage the single currency.

With the apparent blessing of the pro-European deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg – and the subsequent delight of Tory backbenchers – Cameron deployed the ultimate weapon in European summitry at about 2.30am yesterday.

EU leaders promptly agreed to bypass Britain and establish a new accord on the euro among themselves by March. The EU appeared poised to line up 26-1 against Cameron in support of the Franco-German blueprint, leaving Britain utterly isolated.

Cameron's bombshell came at what was billed as the most important EU summit in years, with the fate of the single currency hanging in the balance. The veto was unexpected and was being seen as a watershed in Britain's fractious relationship with the rest of Europe. Cameron insisted on securing concessions on, and exemptions from, EU financial markets regulation as the price of his assent to the German-led euro salvation blueprint.

The others balked, France most vocally, accusing Cameron of putting Britain's perceived interests ahead of resolving the EU's worst crisis.

While Cameron has failed to secure the concessions for Britain's strong financial services sector, Britain has also forfeited its place at the table where Europe's future and the new euro regime will be determined. For the first time since Britain joined the European Community in 1973, a treaty that goes to the heart of how the EU works will be struck without a British signature.

"I said that if I couldn't get adequate safeguards for Britain in a new European treaty then I wouldn't agree to it. What is on offer isn't in Britain's interests so I didn't agree to it," Cameron said. He could not allow a "treaty within a treaty" that would undermine the UK's position in Europe's single market.

Last night the prime minister went further, suggesting that Britain's membership of the EU was no longer a given. "Membership is in our interests. I've always said, if that's the case, I'll support our membership," he said, appearing to query whether being in the EU would remain in Britain's interests.

Cameron appeared initially to have lukewarm backing from Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary. But by all three had signalled they would take the Franco-German proposals for a new "fiscal compact" to their parliaments.

With at least 23 countries signing up for a deal conferring intrusive rights on European institutions to enforce budgetary policy in countries breaking the euro's debt and deficit rules, as well as quasi-automatic penalties for delinquents, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the central driver of the new regime, appeared sanguine and unbothered by the British veto.

"The breakthrough to a stability union, a fiscal union has been achieved," she said. "Only one country, Great Britain, distanced itself." She added: "I really don't believe David Cameron was ever with us at the table. We're very pleased with the result. [The deal] was no weak compromise for the euro."

But Cameron was scornful of what the summit accomplished. "I don't actually think the world is waiting with bated breath about what was the exact nature of the institutional relationship. I don't believe they're sitting in the trading rooms wondering whether there's going to be a new reverse QMV [qualified majority voting] article on integrated budget setting of blah, blah, blah."

Boris Johnson, the London mayor, said Cameron had "played a blinder", a mood shared by the rest of the Tory right.

Downing Street said Cameron had contacted Clegg . "This was a coalition position. This was an agreed position," Cameron emphasised.

Clegg fell into line, describing Britain's demands as "modest and reasonable". But later, after talks with his party, Clegg said "any Eurosceptics who might be rubbing their hands in glee about the outcome of the summit should be careful what they wish for because clearly there's potentially an increased risk of a two-speed Europe in which Britain's position becomes more marginalised and, in the long run, that would be bad for growth and jobs in this country."

Lord Ashdown, an ally of Clegg, told the Guardian: "The deep and sustained anti-European prejudice of some in the Tory party backed by anti-European papers has now created anti-British prejudice in Europe, especially in Paris.

"There will be a huge price to pay and, as a consequence, the foreign policy priorities of this country for the past 40 years has gone down the plughole in a single night. That foreign policy has now been hijacked by the Eurosceptics in the Conservative party aided by a prime minister who was not prepared to stand up for the national interest. As a consequence we have lost control of the European agenda and the prime minister has lost control of the demands for a referendum.

"This has been Gallic payback time for the way in which Cameron went around Europe lecturing Sarkozy on what to do."

Figures such as Ashdown believe Clegg managed to reduce Cameron's negotiating demands by the end, but the French were no longer willing to listen.

But Sharon Bowles, the Lib Dem MEP who chairs the European parliament's influential monetary affairs committee, accused Cameron of betraying British interests to curry favour with Tory Eurosceptics.

"The way in which the UK is isolated now is very damaging. We played, we lost, and now we are worse off," she told the BBC. "The point of the summit in Brussels was to fix the eurozone. However, under pressure from Eurosceptics in his party, Cameron has decided effectively to relegate the UK to the sidelines of Europe … Without a place at the negotiating table, we may not get to influence those very policies that will impact on the City and our financial sector as a whole."

Arguing he had to protect the City of London, Cameron demanded that any transfer of power from national regulators to an EU regulator on financial services be subject to a veto; the UK be free to place higher capital requirements on banks; that the European Banking Authority remain in London; and the European Central Bank be rebuffed in its attempts to rule that euro-denominated transactions take place within the eurozone.He also argued that non-EU institutions operating in the City but not in the eurozone, such as American banks, should be exempt from EU regulation.

Market reaction was muted, ahead of ratings agency Standard & Poor's decision, which could be made next week, on whether to downgrade its credit rating for 15 eurozone countries.

Despite German failure to get all 27 to reopen the Lisbon treaty, the Cameron veto may even accelerate the creation of the new pact since it will be struck between participating governments, probably avoid delaying tactics in the European parliament, and may require less comprehensive ratification procedures.

The leaders also agreed that central banks in the eurozone as well as others would provide an extra €200bn in bilateral loans to the International Monetary Fund to boost the firepower of the bailout funds in the effort to contain sovereign debt contagion.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Sun Dec 11, 2011 5:09 am

Martin Rowson on Cameron's veto of the EU treaty - cartoon

The prime minister has placed the interests of the City of London before European priorities, leaving Britain isolated

guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 December 2011 23.35 GMT








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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  Lee Van Queef on Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:38 am

eddie wrote:

Clegg fell into line, describing Britain's demands as "modest and reasonable". But later, after talks with his party, Clegg said "any Eurosceptics who might be rubbing their hands in glee about the outcome of the summit should be careful what they wish for because clearly there's potentially an increased risk of a two-speed Europe in which Britain's position becomes more marginalised and, in the long run, that would be bad for growth and jobs in this country."


Classic Guardian at it's best. When it says "but later", it acually means: "in the same interview". Although I share concerns that Clegg has slightly changeds his tune over the space of a day. Which is why I base my opinion that the LibDems have been kept in the dark over Cameron's final decision.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:12 pm

The adventures of Tit Tit

Steve Bell

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 11 December 2011 22.00 GMT








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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:17 pm


Gary Barker. The Guardian.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:06 am

eddie wrote:The adventures of Tit Tit

Steve Bell

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 11 December 2011 22.00 GMT



Andy, don't you just love Steve Bell's ingenious adaptation of Herge's Adventures of TinTin (The Boy Detective) here?

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  Lee Van Queef on Tue Dec 13, 2011 3:20 am

You have posted (spammed?) about 40 Steve Bell images on this forum without a single response and still you ask for further approval. Come on now, be honest, you're Steve Bell aren't you? Laughing

Onto more serious matters, Clegg has no showed at the House of Commons today while Cameron makes his statement to the House.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:24 am

Lee Van Queef wrote:Come on now, be honest, you're Steve Bell aren't you? Laughing

There is only one Steve Bell:



...or possibly two:



The man's a genius, a Gilray de nos jours.(There's a thread on the history of British cartoon art in the Paintings & Photography section.)


Last edited by eddie on Sun Dec 25, 2011 9:30 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:30 am

Lee Van Queef wrote:Onto more serious matters, Clegg has no showed at the House of Commons today while Cameron makes his statement to the House.

Isn't this absence rather extraordinary? Did he have a dental appointment?

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:42 am

^

Ah.
*************************************************************************************************************
Clegg Stays Away As PM Defends EU Decision
Sky News


Clegg Stays Away As PM Defends EU Decision

David Cameron has defended his decision to veto a new European Union treaty but his Liberal Democrat deputy Nick Clegg, who said the move was "bad for Britain", was notably absent from the Commons.

In a Commons statement the Prime Minister said "satisfactory safeguards were not forthcoming on the EU treaty".

Mr Cameron said he had had to make a choice between a treaty without the proper safeguards for the City of London or no treaty at all.

He told MPs he wished other European leaders had agreed with him about the need for safeguards.

The PM denied his veto amounted to being soft on banking regulation and suggested it was because he wanted to be able to go further.

"It was not the easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do," he said.

Mr Cameron said he remained committed to Britain's membership of the EU.

"Britain remains a full member of the European Union and the events of last week do nothing to change that," he said.

"Our membership of the EU is vital to our national interest."

He said there will be a "period of great change in Europe" and "no one knows how the Eurozone will develop".

Mr Cameron reiterated that he had informed the Government of his intentions regarding the treaty prior to his visit to Brussels last week.

The other 26 members are now set to go ahead with a new set of fiscal rules for the eurozone through an international agreement, which Britain will not be a party to.

Following the statement, Labour leader Ed Miliband highlighted the fact that Mr Clegg was not present to hear it.

Mr Clegg said he had stayed away from the Commons because he did not want his presence to be a distraction.

In an interview later he said he did not think people "cared that much who sits where in the House of Commons".

"The Prime Minister and I clearly do not agree on the outcome of the summit last week."

He insisted the coalition was "here to stay" until 2015.

Earlier Mr Cameron told MPs: "I'm not responsible for his whereabouts."

Mr Miliband said the PM had "come back with a bad deal" for Britain and that no extra protection had been guaranteed as a result of his decision.

He said Britain had been "left without a voice" in Europe and that it was a "diplomatic disaster".

Mr Miliband said the PM should have stayed at the summit and argued Britain's case. He said the deal is "bad for business, bad for jobs, and bad for Britain".

Following Mr Miliband's questions, Mr Cameron challenged the politician to say whether he would have signed up to the new treaty or not.

Other MPs echoed the PM's calls.

The measures agreed at last week's summit seem to have had little effect on the markets which have had a bad day.

London's FTSE 100 fell 101 points, to close at 5427, a drop of over 1.8%.

Germany's DAX fell more than 3.3%, France's CAC 40 was down 2.6%, the MIB in Italy shed almost 3.8% and Spain's IBEX closed 3.1% lower.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said earlier on Monday Mr Cameron stuck to "an agreed negotiating position" in Brussels and his demands were "entirely reasonable".

But Mr Clegg has revealed he was "bitterly disappointed" with Mr Cameron's use of the veto last week and warned it will leave Britain a "pygmy" in the eyes of the world.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has dismissed reports he is set to resign over the Prime Minister's decision to distance the UK from the rest of the EU.

He told reporters on his doorstep: "No, no, I'm just getting on with my job as I always do."

But he did call for "complete reassurance" for the public and the business community that Britain remains fully committed to the European Union.

The Lib Dem minister would not be drawn on the scale of the row between the parties in Government, adding only: "Millions of jobs are involved, that's the really important thing."

At the weekend the Deputy Prime Minister said the UK now faces "being isolated and marginalised within the European Union" and considered irrelevant by the US.

Mr Clegg told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I don't think that's good for jobs, in the City or elsewhere, I don't think it's good for growth or for families up and down the country."

Rubbishing claims the Prime Minister showed "bulldog spirit", Mr Clegg added: "There's nothing bulldog about Britain hovering somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, not standing tall in Europe, not being taken seriously in Washington."


Asked what he had told the Prime Minister in a 4am telephone call on Friday morning, the Lib Dem leader said: "I said this was bad for Britain.

"I made it clear that it was untenable for me to welcome it."

Europe was always likely to be a pressure point within the coalition as Lib Dems tend to favour more engagement in constrast to more eurosceptic Conservatives.

And Shadow foreign minister Douglas Alexander told Sky News he believes Labour would have secured a better deal for Britain by "building bridges" with potential allies in advance, rather than burning them.

Europe minister David Lidington told Sky News this represented a "quite drastic loss of national sovereignty" and suggested it may not work out for those countries in practice.


Despite growing calls for even greater distance from the EU from some on the Tory benches, Mr Clegg has made clear he will not allow the UK to leave the union.

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown said the situation was "catastrophically bad" and Lib Dem peer Baroness Tonge suggested on Sunday night that members of her party were reaching the end of their patience with the coalition.

Deputy party leader Simon Hughes told the Boulton and Co programme the coalition agreement commits the Government to being "positive" players in Europe.

"I just say to them [the Conservatives] gently... understand you're dealing with colleagues who are very supportive of the EU," he said.

Trying to build some bridges, Lib Dem MP David Laws emphasised both coalition leaders had the same "strategic objectives" before the summit.

"Does it damage the trust between David Cameron and Nick Clegg? No," he said, before confirming it remains a "serious disgreement".

He also implied more groundwork should have been done to bring allies on side in advance and warned the outcome might it easier for France to "stitch up" Britain in future.

The Lib Dems received some support from Conservatives with pro-European Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke agreeing the outcome of the summit was "disappointing".

But Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted Britain was not on the outside and suggested Mr Clegg signed up to the Government's bargaining position in advance of the summit.

"We are not marginalised, I can assure you of that," he told Sky News.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  Andy on Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:07 am

While I absolutely understand different parties can have differing opinions about how far a unionship should go and might hold fierce debates about the matter, I must say I fnd Cameron's all too explicit 'we only care for the EU when we can benefit from it and none of it if no profits follow'-speech very hard to sympathsize with.

Due to the continuous euro-crisis I have read German opinion makers voice their desire to see Germany step out of the euro instead of working out (any of) the PIIGS-countries. But I can't quite remember reading a single article that sounded so blatantly blunt - let alone hear it from any seriously influentian politician. And honour where honour's due: Germany has provided the lion's share of all financial contributions to the crisis, so they have a very direct concern in this matter. To be entirely complete: their status has also led to their obligations getting sold almost for free, so they actually do have a return on investement, but that shouldn't stop if they stepped out of the euro.

Meanwile I learn there is a silent bankrun going on in several of the PIIGS-countries, suggesting more and more actors are considering the end of the euro to be realistic. Maybe the eurozone should consider a type of statebund like Belgium issued a few weeks back. Thanks to an interesting interest-rate and some promo work from our former caretake PM Yves Leterme it reported nearly 6 billion euro. The issue came shortly after the S&P downgrade and is seen as a strong signal to institutional investors with regard to the credit worthiness of our nation: if necessary the population can be counted on to provide the national funding.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:23 pm

Steve Bell on the uptake of ECB loans

Eurozone banks have borrowed €489bn from the European Central Bank via three-year loans

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 December 2011 20.39 GMT




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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  Andy on Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:40 pm

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this.
On the one hand, I suppose it's a positive signal or at least seen as such by a lot of professional investors and that was more than about due.
But on the other hand: knowing that institutional investors take in billions of ECB-euro's almost for free and than (can) use it to buy up national debt obligations for relatively to very high percentages ... I'm not sure I think that's most fair scheme to work from.The tax payer enables the existence of the ECB in the first place, but than also has to take into consideration the high costs that come with high interest-percentages.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:14 pm


G8 madness 27 May: French president Nicolas Sarkozy hosts the heads of the world’s wealthiest ­nations in Deauville, France, for the G8 summit. Photograph: Copyright Steve Bell 2011.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:12 am

^

I love the detail of the last of the "Nutty Boys", Silvio Berlosconi, with his trizers down and apparently taking German Chancellor Merkel from behind.

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:44 am

Swiss central banker denies insider dealing claims

National Bank chief alleged to have traded dollars for a profit before imposing cap on the Swiss franc

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 January 2012 20.47 GMT


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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:08 pm

Here's Roy Harper's take on late Capitalism: stuck in the red in the bank of the dead:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHH1H5MKQsM&feature=related
Bank of the Dead- Roy Harper (Lifemask album).

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Re: International bankers, the IMF, the Eurozone and other horrors

Post  eddie on Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:59 pm

Looks like the Eurozone is fucked:
****************************************************************************************************************
Eurozone in new crisis as ratings agency downgrades nine countries

Standard & Poor's strips France of its AAA credit rating, rekindling fears in the markets over future of single currency

Larry Elliott and Phillip Inman

The Guardian, Saturday 14 January 2012


France’s loss of its top-rated status leaves Germany as the only other major economy inside the eurozone with a AAA credit rating. Photograph: Scott E Barbour/Getty Images

Europe has been plunged into a fresh crisis after France was stripped of its coveted AAA credit rating in a mass downgrade of nine eurozone countries by the ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

S&P said austerity was driving Europe even deeper into financial crisis as it also cut Austria's triple-A rating, and relegated Portugal and Cyprus to junk status.

The humiliating loss of France's top-rated status leaves Germany as the only other major economy inside the eurozone with a AAA rating, and rekindled financial market anxiety about a possible break-up of the single currency.

S&P brought an abrupt end to the uneasy calm that has existed in the eurozone since the turn of the year by downgrading the ratings of Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain by two notches. Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia were all cut by one notch.

The agency said that its actions on eurozone ratings were "primarily driven by insufficient policy measures by EU leaders to fully address systemic stresses". It added that fiscal austerity alone "risks becoming self-defeating".

But French finance minister François Baroin downplayed the move, saying it was "not a catastrophe".

European finance ministers tried to control the crisis by pledging to agree a new treaty to tighten fiscal rules at a summit at the end of this month.

However, the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, said that what Europe needed was more concerted action by all 27 EU member states rather than "more treaties". "Just dealing with the fiscal side of things which of course is absolutely essential – it is one side of the equation – must be accompanied by a more concerted effort, which I believe is best done with all 27 countries involved, to raise our productivity."

Speaking on a visit to Dublin, Clegg said: "We don't need to reach for new treaties or agreements or policies. We know what we need to do. We need to complete the single market and create a dynamic and greater growth in the EU to help us out of these problems."

Britain was not at risk of a downgrade from S&P, but Berlin sought to soften the blow to French pride when a German politician close to Angela Merkel said the UK should have been first in line for a cut in its AAA status on the grounds that its collective private and public sector debts are the largest in Europe.

Michael Fuchs, deputy leader of the Christian Democrats, said: "This step is out of order. Standard and Poor's must stop playing politics. Why doesn't it act on the highly indebted United States or highly indebted Britain?"

He added: "If the agency downgrades France, it should also downgrade Britain in order to be consistent."

City analysts predicted that some European banks will be downgraded in the coming week, reflecting the fact that their national governments are now seen as riskier. The French and Austrian downgrades will also reduce the firepower of the region's main bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility.

Mohamed El-Erian, head of the bond trading giant Pimco, predicted serious long-term consequences. He told Newsnight that the move "places a wedge in the centre of the eurozone, making a solution much more difficult".

Rumours of S&P's move had earlier sent shares falling, pushed the euro down to a 16-month low against the dollar, and forced the European Central Bank to step in to buy Italian bonds again.

The FTSE 100 dropped 100 points before recovering late in the day to finish down 26 points at 5636, while the Dow Jones in New York fell 120 points to 12350 by afternoon trading before recovering some ground by the close.

Investors piled into safe haven assets such as the dollar, while the UK was rewarded with even lower borrowing costs as 10-year bonds slipped below 2%.

The new technocratic government in Athens added to the gloom after talks over a second major bailout to rescue Greece's finances broke up without an agreement. Officials from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the ECB arrive in Athens on Tuesday for talks on a new €130bn bailout package, which will be impossible unless Greece first strikes a deal with the banks, insurance companies and hedge funds that have lent it money.

The Greek government said talks with its creditors would resume on Wednesday, but analysts voiced concerns that hedge funds were blocking a deal that involves them writing off 50% of their loans.

Germany considers Greece to be the main faultline in the euro crisis and is urgently seeking a resolution to talks over a deal, but has insisted Brussels holds out for a private sector deal. Officials hinted on Friday night that Greece could default on 100% of its loans if the private sector refuses to come back to the negotiating table and accept a voluntary agreement.

A spokesman for the troika said: "We very much hope, however, that Greece, with the support of the euro area, will be in a position to re-engage constructively with the private sector with a view to finalising a mutually acceptable agreement on a voluntary debt exchange consistent with the October 26/27 agreement, in the best interest of both Greece and the euro area."

Unprecedented action by the European Central Bank in recent weeks had reassured many investors that policymakers were getting on top of the crisis. The ECB has lent more than €400bn to eurozone banks to bolster their reserves and prevent a repeat of the 2008 credit crunch.

But the S&P downgrades are likely to undermine these efforts and make foreign banks wary of lending to their counterparts in Europe.

Graham Neilson, chief investment strategist at Cairn Capital, warned: "This is just the start. There will be more to come, and not just in Europe – there is simply still too much debt and not enough growth in developed economies."

France has already shown its anger at the prospect of a downgrade. Central Bank chief Christian Noyer raised eyebrows in London before Christmas when he said Britain "has more deficits, as much debt, more inflation, less growth than us".

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