Ex-World Bank chief economist exposes “failure” of austerity, deregulation Nafeez Ahmed. Joseph Stiglitz, a senior OECD expert, slams OECD’s own policies to prevent global slowdown
In a little-known speech at the United Nations University, renowned Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz criticised Western approaches to addressing the global economic crisis for being obsessed with market solutions that cannot work.
Describing standard neoclassical and behavioural models of economics as “wrong” on the basis of new advances in economic research, Stiglitz blamed ongoing economic stagnation on the so-called “Washington Consensus”?—?a set of neoliberal policies advocated most strongly by the US and Britain.
The Washington Consensus (WC) consists of a string of interlinked policies requiring reductions in public spending; rampant deregulation to reduce restrictions on banks, corporations and other financial actors; extensive privatisation of social and public services; and liberalisation based on reducing taxes, tariffs and non-tarrif barriers to trade.
All this is believed to drive growth and enhance the distribution of wealth.
In reality, as Stiglitz told an audience at the UN University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research, it has done the opposite.
Study: Germany made €100bn profit on Greek crisis The estimated €100 billion Germany had saved since 2010 accounted for over three percent of its GDP, the report said.
“These savings exceed the costs of the crisis – even if Greece were to default on its entire debt,” the study said.
The bonds of countries such as the United States, France and the Netherlands had benefited “to a much smaller extent.”
Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who has always been against writing off the Greek debt pointed to his own government’s balanced budget.
The balanced budget, however, was possible mainly as a result of Germany’s interest savings through the Greek crisis, the study claimed.
Schauble has repeatedly said the Greek debt of €316 billion cannot be restructured within the eurozone. He claimed Grexit might be a solution for the country’s debt ‘haircut.’ (via RT.com)
"The United States spends over $87 billion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimates that for less than half that amount we could provide clean water, adequate diets, sanitations services and basic education to every person on the planet. And we wonder why terrorists attack us." - John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Europe’s Big Banks Are Fueling the Continent’s Far-Right Fascists Greece's left-wing government stood up to their creditors, only to be politically executed. Is the far right set to pick up the mantle?
Greece – And the Horror of Europe Hellas, Greece - According to UNHCR about 50 million refugees are on the move every day on our globe. This is most likely an understatement, as this figure doesn’t take into account what takes place in the almost hermetically closed-off Central Africa, Congo, Zaïre, where western corporations are exploiting for a pittance and with millions of slaves precious metals, uranium, hydrocarbons and rare earths – and where millions have died over the past ten years, by butcher regimes supported and armed by the west – and where millions are on the run.
And most, if not all of these tens of millions, are fleeing countries destroyed directly or by proxy by the US empire and its European vassals. They try to escape as their homes have been burned to the ground, their families in many cases decimated. They are under constant threat of being bombed, by the ISIS and sorts, all fully funded by Washington, the EU, Turkey, the Saudis, Qatar – and militarily supported and trained by the CIA, Pentagon and NATO. This is not new. It has been known for years. But known to whom? The truth does still not penetrate the brain of most people. – Why? – Because the west is totally brainwashed with lies and distortions by its own corporate presstitute media.
I fully subscribe to Andre Vltchek’s plea to the world – we must demand that at least public places like airports, railway stations, hotel lobbies switch channels from the bought rightwing, CNNs and BBCs of this world –to TeleSUR, CCTV, PressTV, RT and other emerging truth news channels. People must wake up. A growth swell of truth must engulf our western society – if we have any chance to be salvaged from ourselves.
When people are confused and ask in desperation – how to stop this flow of refugees? – The answer is simple:
stop the wars and conflicts, stop NATO; and for those who are NATO members like Greece and Turkey – quit NATO! – Stop the eternal war machine; stop the western business of killing – launch truth news against the propaganda lies, destroy them economically…
Yes you can! – boycott western economies. Join the peaceful eastern economies – the alliances of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), consisting of Russia, China and most of the Central Asian States, as well as the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union) with their new financial development institutions, the AIIB (the new Chinese-funded Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank), as well as the NDB (the BRICS’ New Development Bank).
Today TeleSUR reports that Javier Couso, a member of the European Parliament from the Spanish United Left, was threatened with death for admonishing the EU for slandering Venezuela, for defending the truth about Venezuela! – At the same time it is reported that Greece’s PM Tsipras, traitor not only of the Greek people, but of all of Europeans who strive to be free, is poised to sell the elite of the so-called ‘creditors’ (sic) – the troika – 1,200 of the Greek islands, as a fraction for paying off illegal debt! – Yes, totally illegal, as all contracts concluded under duress and corruption, as is the case with almost all of Greek’s debt – are void, null, illegal; and would be declared as such by any just international Court of Justice – if there is still something left like a just court of justice – that has not been corrupted by the west, or worse, whose judges are not yet coerced and threatened with their life if they deviate from the western norms and wants, irrespective of whether the law would stand behind them.
Friends – of this globe – there is something terribly wrong, if Greece, a member and brother of the very European Union, is forced to sell off its pristine islands to robbers, thieves, murderers, represented by entire governments and an assembly of governments called the EU! – Can you imagine! Selling your islands! – selling part of your country to settle illegal debt? – People, please wake up. Stop these crimes. NOW. – How? – By taking to the streets, by disobedience, by unlimited strikes, by staying home instead of going to work, by no more traveling, flying, no more consuming. Do whatever it takes to suffocate this killing system. – You are not lost. There is the East with another mindset, with peace and equality as an objective, with an alternative economic scheme, not based on destruction and dominance.
Greece: 'Venezuela is a Symbol of Resistance to Imperialism' A high ranking Greek government figure has praised President Nicolas Maduro's government for its support, Venezuelan state media reported Friday. “Venezuela is a symbol of resistance to imperialism,” said Giorgos Tsipras, the Greek foreign ministry's secretary general for international economic relations. Tsipras said the Greek people feel a close affinity to the peoples of Latin America, including Venezuela. “We have so many things in common,” he said, praising the region for its fight against imperialism. The comments were made during Tsipras' visit to Caracas to boost economic ties with Maduro's government.
Lessons for the Left from Greece
Well, Greek lesson 1: what has happened to Syriza and Tsipras shows, once again that that is not possible. The ruling class is the ruling class, and short of revolution, as Lenin so rightly noted, it will always rule, one way or another.
Greek lesson 2: The Greek ruling class seems to be coming out of the mess in very good shape. They managed to make sure that the worst of the “austerity” measures, imposed by their brethren in the European Union, were carried out under the nominal governmental control of a “leftist” government rather than its “center-right” predecessor. Of course it was the latter that was largely responsible for presiding over the making of the mess to begin with, e.g. (a VERY important article): “How Goldman Sachs Profited From the Greek Debt Crisis: The investment bank made millions by helping to hide the true extent of the debt, and in the process almost doubled it,” by Robert B. Reich (who, by the way, is no socialist).
Please note also, that the tax increases demanded by the European Union do not seem to be falling on the Greek ruling class (although I may have missed something there), nor do the demanded “reforms” (read further punishment for the Greek working class to pay for the ruling class’ mistakes/greed) seem to include forcing the Greek billionaires to pay the taxes that they have avoided for years by shipping their profits overseas.
Greek lesson 3: The international capitalist ruling class (of which the Greek ruling class is of course a part) is absolutely intent on showing the people of Italy and Spain what would await them if they were to elect a left-wing government that would attempt something along the lines of what Syriza originally intended to door seemed to, if we are to take their rhetoric as a true reflection of intent (at bottom, force a significant amount of loan forgiveness upon the most irresponsible of the original lenders). In my view, it is the teaching of this political lesson, even more rather than the “regardless of who was responsible for incurring them, good people pay off their debts, donchaknow” lesson, that Angela Merkel and the joint ruling classes of the EU nations, want to accomplish through the “negotiations.”
The 80 billion euros that Greece needs are in Switzerland… and are Greece’s Carlos Enrique Bayo, director of the Spanish daily, Publico, has written an article that is well worth reading, in which he denounces the flight of Greek capital to tax havens in recent years... Bayo writes about the Troika’s and the European Council’s cynicism on hiding this information that they knew perfectly well, while arguing that the responsibility for the debt is with the impoverished Greek people and that they are obliged to once more tighten their belts.
In the article, data is provided showing how – at least – 80 billion Euros needed by Greece right now, and which they will receive as part of the third “rescue” package, are to be found in Swiss bank accounts and belong to Greek Magnates.
This situation has been reached under the full connivance of all governments prior to Tsipras, those who refused to allow publication of the Falciani list implicating ministers and their families, the Papandreou family, etc. And when a magazine took the steps of publishing the list two years later, the Public Prosecutor gave the order to arrest its director.
Bayo ends his column with the question, “Does anyone still believe that public debt is legal, moral and legitimate?”
Illegal, Illegitimate, Odious and Unsustainable Debt Executive Summary of the report from the Truth Committee on Public Debt of the Greek Parliament.
In June 2015 Greece stands at a crossroad of choosing between furthering the failed macroeconomic adjustment programmes imposed by the creditors or making a real change to break the chains of debt. Five years since the economic adjustment programmes began, the country remains deeply cemented in an economic, social, democratic and ecological crisis. The black box of debt has remained closed, and until now no authority, Greek or international, has sought to bring to light the truth about how and why Greece was subjected to the Troika regime. The debt, in whose name nothing has been spared, remains the rule through which neoliberal adjustment is imposed, and the deepest and longest recession experienced in Europe during peacetime.
All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.
It has also come to the understanding of the Committee that the unsustainability of the Greek public debt was evident from the outset to the international creditors, the Greek authorities, and the corporate media. Yet, the Greek authorities, together with some other governments in the EU, conspired against the restructuring of public debt in 2010 in order to protect financial institutions. The corporate media hid the truth from the public by depicting a situation in which the bailout was argued to benefit Greece, whilst spinning a narrative intended to portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoings.
We need a Plan B: for another Europe, for all of Europe! After five months of negotiations conducted in an authoritarian and arrogant manner, 18 heads of state and government of the Euro-group under the leadership of Germany’s finance minister, have forced an agreement on Greece’s democratically elected government that contradicts SYRIZA’s electoral programme and negates the results of the July 5 referendum.
As European Left Cheers, Syriza Vows to Move Swiftly To End Greek 'Nightmare' Just hours after claiming victory in national elections, Alexis Tsipras, head of the leftist Syriza party and the new Prime Minister-elect of Greece, has agreed to form a coalition government and repeated his vows to push swiftly ahead with the promised economic reforms that fueled his party's historic win... Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman called the election results a "political earthquake" for Europe as he expressed hope it would help end the "nightmare" of austerity for the Greek people.
What Syriza’s Victory Means for Greece—and for Europe The election was a triumph for anti-austerity politics and a rejection of corruption. Now comes the hard part. one common theme emerged. The old corrupt practices—the godfather politics, the jobs for votes, the backroom union deals, the bribes under the table, the yards of red tape and, above all, the asphyxiating power of Greece’s oligarchs, who buy politicians by the dozen and feed the population a debilitating diet of pap on their private TV channels—all that has to go.
10 Things Europe Does Way Better Than America Europe is way ahead of the United States. From health care to civil liberties to sexual attitudes, one can make a strong case for “European exceptionalism.”
1. Lower Incarceration Rates--Benjamin Franklin famously said that those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.
2. Less Violent Crime Than the U.S.--in 2012, the U.S. had a homicide rate of 4.8 per 100,000 people compared to only 0.3 per 100,000 in Iceland, 0.7 per 100,000 in Sweden, 0.8 per 100,000 in Denmark and Spain, 0.9 per 100,000 in Italy, Austria and the Netherlands, 1.0 per 100,000 in France, and 1.2 per 100,000 in Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.
3. Better Sex Education Programs, Healthier Sexual Attitudes--European countries with comprehensive sex-ed programs and liberal sexual attitudes actually have lower rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.
4. Anti-GMO Movement Much More Widespread--in Europe, GMO restrictions are much more widespread. France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Greece are among the countries that have either total or partial bans on GMOs. And in Italy, 16 of the country’s 20 regions have declared themselves to be GMO-free when it comes to agriculture.
5. Saner Approaches to Abortion-- in many European countries, most politicians are smart enough to share Bill Clinton’s view that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” And the ironic thing is that European countries that tend to be sexually liberal also tend to have lower abortion rates.
6. More Vacation Time-- the U.S. has no federal law mandating any time off. And that’s quite a contrast to Europe: CEPR reported that government-mandated paid vacation time in Europe includes 35 days off in Austria, 31 days off in Italy and France, 34 days off in Germany and Spain, 30 days off in Belgium and 29 days off in the Republic of Ireland.
7. Universal Healthcare--every developed country in Western Europe has universal health care.
8. Greater Life Expectancy-- in McDowell County [Virginia], the average male dies 18 years younger than the average male in Switzerland.
9. Mass Transit Systems--Europe, however, has some of the best, most extensive public transportation systems in the world. And there are many advantages to that: less congestion, reduced air pollution, health benefits (walking is great exercise), a vibrant street scene/sidewalk culture and more productivity in the workplace, and reduces the no. of DUIs.
10. Europeans More Likely to Speak Foreign Languages--[Americans are provincial, narrow minded, and stupid.]
And, that is not including free higher education.
Someone Crunched the Numbers on What the Bankers Did to the Greeks, and the Results Will Blow You Away They show that the poor and the public servants were hurt the worst, while rich tax evaders were mostly spared... The country has been subject to strict austerity programs imposed on it by the rest of Europe, at the behest of finance kingpins who caused the financial crisis in the first place.
Scourge of the Greeks: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble
Washington says Greek meltdown would be geopolitical mistake The Obama administration warned Europe on Wednesday that allowing a financial and economic meltdown in Greece would be a geopolitical mistake. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said
Will Europe’s Leaders Come to their Senses About Greece? byKatrina vanden Heuvel. The Greeks have made their choice. Faced with two painful alternatives, they chose to stand with their elected leaders and to reject overwhelmingly the harsh, unending austerity that their creditors demanded. Now Europe’s leaders must make their choice. Will they come to their senses and open new negotiations with the Syriza government? Or will they remain unbending, force Greece into official bankruptcy and inexorably out of the euro?
?Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel ?Five leading economists warn the German chancellor, “History will remember you for your actions this week.”
The never-ending austerity that Europe is force-feeding the Greek people is simply not working. Now Greece has loudly said no more.
?As most of the world knew it would, the financial demands made by Europe have crushed the Greek economy, led to mass unemployment, a collapse of the banking system, made the external debt crisis far worse, with the debt problem escalating to an unpayable 175 percent of GDP. The economy now lies broken with tax receipts nose-diving, output and employment depressed, and businesses starved of capital.
...in recent years the series of so-called adjustment programs inflicted on the likes of Greece has served only to make a Great Depression the likes of which have been unseen in Europe since 1929-1933.
Together we urge Chancellor Merkel and the Troika to consider a course correction, to avoid further disaster and enable Greece to remain in the eurozone. Right now, the Greek government is being asked to put a gun to its head and pull the trigger. Sadly, the bullet will not only kill off Greece’s future in Europe. The collateral damage will kill the Eurozone as a beacon of hope, democracy and prosperity, and could lead to far-reaching economic consequences across the world.
Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments, from the CIA
Country Background Notes U.S. State Department
Country Data Profiles World Bank
Country, Economy, and Regional Information Australian Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Country Studies/Area Handbooks Library of Congress
EASTERN EUROPEAN/SLAVIC STUDIES
European Luxury Vacation Guide
European Royal Residences requires flash
European Union Politics "Polis"
Fact Sheets on the EU
FRANCE, see FRENCH
GERMANIC LANGUAGES page of links
Grand European Tours
GREECE, ANCIENT page of links
GREECE, MODERN page of links
GREEK LANGUAGE page of links
Historical Text Archive: Europe articles, links
Independent States in the World U.S. State Department; includes dependencies, spellings, and country background notes
Inside Europe - Your Guide to Life Inside the European Union articles about all aspects of the EU
International Research Institutes Factbook basic data by nation and area
IRELAND, see UNITED KINGDOM
ITALIAN STUDIES page of links
Library of Iberian Resources photos and full text scholarship on medieval Spain and the Iberian Peninsula
Norway, Statistical Abstract of
PARLINE Database country and region parliaments
Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe "Depicting with accuracy the states of this continent every first day of each centennial year from AD 1 to AD 2000
PORTUGUESE page of links
Rail Europe European rail experts
SCOTLAND, see UNITED KINGDOM
SPANISH page of links
Switzerland: A Brief Guide
Switzerland at a Glance
UNITED KINGDOM page of links
WALES, see UNITED KINGDOM
"... in the capital of the European Union [Brussels], an unprecedented challenge to longstanding practices of American industry is unfolding...|
"..."old Europe" is now wielding new world power.
"Just this year, US manufacturers of such goods as chemicals, cars and cosmetics have been confronted with EU regulations that force a choice: Either conform to the EU's standards of pre-emptive screening for toxicity--far tougher than US standards--or risk sacrificing the European market, which, with 450 million people, is now larger than that of the United States. In the process, the European Union is challenging US presumptions of unilateral decision-making...
""Americans are in for a rude shock," says Clyde Prestowitz... "Other players are establishing their own standards, and they have the muscle to make them stick. We are headed into a new era"...
"...REACH--Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals... threatens a revolution in chemical regulation--upending decades-long practices that were pioneered in the United States...
"The REACH directive represents an upheaval in the basic philosophy of chemical regulation, flipping the American presumption of "innocent until proven guilty" on its head by placing the burden of proof on manufacturers to prove chemicals are safe--what is known as the "precautionary principle." REACH adds extra bite with a requirement that toxicity data be posted publicly on the new agency'w website. Thus, test results that were once tightly held by chemical companies will suddenly be available to citizens and regulators across the globe. That prospect foreshadows trouble for ES chemical producers...
"Never before has an EU proposal drawn fire from such heavy guns. The US chemical industry, like other American industries, has been discovering that a presence in Brussels is now a must--and has had to learn new ways to exert influence in a governing institution with three chambers, twenty-five countries and twenty national languages, and in which the usual cocktail of campaign contributions, arm-twisting and seduction are neither warmly received nor, in the case of campaign contributions, legal...
"The [US] lobbying campaign has largely backfired...
"Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor any other government agency regulates ingredients used in the preparation of cosmetics. The Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1938 established extraordinarily lax standards for the regulation of cosmetic ingredients...
"The improvisational nature of the cosmetics industry is about to change. EU member states submitted plans to the European Commission to institute new guidelines established by what's known as the "Cosmetic Directive," which takes effect this coming February. The directive calls for the removal of ingredients suspected of causing "harm to human health" from cosmetics and personal care products in Europe. The effects of that directive are being felt around the world...
"EVery year aging cars left to decay in scrapyards or fields or suburban driveways, create more than 15 million tons of waste across the United States and Europe. Many components in those autos contain toxic ingredients, including metals... Cars and their component parts are left to despoil the landscape, leach into the soil and poison groundwater. There is nothing to stop them.
"Across the Atlantic, the EU has implemented a program with the oddly philosophical title "End of Life Vehicles Directive." Starting in 2006, all cars produced or sold in the EU must be built with at least 85 percent recyclable components; by 2015 that figure rises to 95 percent. The directive also bans toxic heavy metals like cadmium and requires that manufacturers take responsibility for disposing of their cars...
"For US car manufacturers, the directive presents a historic challenge. American car companies export virtually no cars to Europe; thus US manufacturers are under little direct pressure to adapt to European standards. But each of the US Big Three has substantial ties to the Euripean market: Ford has its own Ford Europe production facilities and owns the Jaguar line in Britain...
"The concept of being responsible for the ultimate disposal of those cars has been received in this country like a message from another planet...
"...today's European Union. For the first time in history, a superpower has emerged that is not based on nationalistic ambitions or military power but upon a voluntary sumission of national aspirations to a transnational authority...
"On foreign affairs, Europeans continue to have trouble speaking with one voice... But on domestic matters, the EU speaks for Europe...
"Indeed, a broad spectrum of American industry has already felt the potency that comes from an integrated market and differing standards of environmental and consumer protection. Microsoft, for example, was fined $497 million earlier this year by the EU for its "anti-competitive practices," and General Electric's long-planned takeover of Honeywell was skewered in 2002 by the EU's Competition Commission, which has now emerged as a critical first stop by corporations en route to a merger...
"...as Europe becomes a more assertive political force, the question will become..."Why shouldn't Americans enjoy the same standards as Europeans?"
"Such a basic question used to run in the other direction, when the United States set the gold standard for the world's environmental health. And the answer strikes at the core of the Bush Administration's most savored narratives--that we, alone, are masters of our nation's fate" (Mark Schapiro. "New Power For 'Old Europe'." The Nation, Dec. 27, 2004: 11-16).
"...the European Union. Originally intended to defend Western Europe's autonomy against the two superpowers, the EU has been altered immensely by the opening and incorporation of Central and Eastern Europe. The original six members have been expanded to twenty-five, and the union is about to begin negotiations with Turkey. The Europeans are unable to agree on what the expanded EU should become--a federal state, a larger economic union, an alliance to defend culture and territory, an engaged force in the world or a defensive moat against it. They have written a new constitution, in which major decisions will be taken by vote of separate national governments, leaving the directly elected European Parliament where it is now, exceedingly vocal but relatively powerless...
"...the European social model. That model insists there are public goods--culture, education, environment, health--that cannot be measured by criteria of profitability... the introduction of the euro was part of a bargain in which EU nations renounced making full employment a top priority...
"... belief in the necessity and morality of public control of the market a central theme of European politics. Society prospered, culturally and materially. Now, a newly combative European capitalism has counterattacked" (Norman Birnbaum. "Europe by, and for, Itself." The Nation, March 7, 2005: 18-24).