The catastrophe continues cascading, compounded by criminality.
We’ve got warnings from the IMF and Latin America, a Wall Street bankster suspending some European operations, a Finnish threat to leave the eurozone, more financial woes and pay cuts ahead for Spain, German bonds falling below zero interest, bad news for Cyprus workers, bad numbers for Italy, Britain’s health service in trouble [Ireland's too], underfunded banks in The City, lots of Greek developments, Merkel’s soaring popularity, a senior center occupation in Berlin and, well, lots more.
Wall Street Journal: What, me worry?
We’ll begin with a look on the lighter [?] side in the form of a Wall Street Journal [soon be to renamed WSJ] videotorial featuring editorial board member Mary Kissel and assistant editorial page editor James Freeman, who seem to think it’s no big deal:
So bankers systematically lying for the sake of personal profit [those colossal bonuses] is a trivial matter?
Maybe to your boss, Rupert Murdoch, but not to the rest of us poor working [on looking for work] stiffs.
And some other folks do consider it a serious problem.
From the BBC:
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has confirmed that it has formally launched an investigation into the rigging of inter-bank lending rates.
The case could lead to criminal charges being brought against individuals.
Its involvement follows an investigation by US and UK regulators into the manipulation of Libor, which resulted in a record fine for Barclays.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said he was “delighted” by the decision.
“As a government, we will make sure the SFO has all the resources it needs to conduct this investigation in full,” he said.
“I want the SFO to follow the evidence wherever it goes, to bring prosecutions if they can.”
Now recall that Barclay’s settled with the U.S. Department, and the deal enabled the banksters to avoid criminal prosecution.
Why is it that banksters are able to avoid hefty fines, while federal prosecutors are filling prisons with poor people who can’t afford the white shoe lawyers so beloved of the Wall Street crowd.
What’re those words engraved in stone over the entrance to the Supreme Court?
IMF cuts global growth numbers
Gee, looks like Me. Bankster’s reading the papers.
From the Associated Press:
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday that the fund will cut its forecast for global economic growth in a quarterly assessment to be released later this month.
She did not say which nations or regions were contributing to the lowered assessment for 2012, characterizing it as “tilted to the downside” compared with the International Monetary Fund’s 3.5 percent global growth projection given three months ago.
“In the IMF’s updated assessment of the world economy, to be released 10 days from now, the global growth outlook will be somewhat less than we anticipated just three months ago. And even that lower projection will depend on the right policy actions being taken,” she said in a speech Friday.
She declined to give more details.
More from the BBC:
She warned that the IMF’s forecast for global economic growth, which is due out later this month, would be lowered.
“What I can tell you is that it will be tilted to the downside and certainly lower than the forecast that was published three months ago,” she said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda complained that Europe’s debt problems were hurting the Japanese economy because they were causing unjustified rises in the value of the yen.
“Market jitters on eurozone problems, especially one-sided yen rises that do not reflect Japan’s economic fundamentals, are inflicting severe damage on economic sentiment,” he said.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s also said on Friday that the short-term risks to the eurozone economy had reduced.
But it warned there would be a high cost to wealthier eurozone countries.
The London Telegraph has posted her full speech here.
Eurobank move prompts a Wall Street move
With interest on European Central Bank loans set to zero and the euro in near-freefall, one Wall Street giant is closing their European moment market funds to would-be speculators.
From Dawn Kopecki of Bloomberg:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank, closed five of its European money-market funds to new investments after the European Central Bank lowered deposit rates to zero.
JPMorgan notified clients yesterday that it won’t accept new investors or money in five euro-denominated money-market and liquidity funds because the rate cut might generate negative returns for investors, the New York-based company said in a notice to shareholders.
The ECB yesterday reduced its benchmark rate to a record low of 0.75 percent and took its deposit rate to zero, with President Mario Draghi saying the cuts may have only a “muted” economic impact.
The deposit rate cut “will almost certainly move cash bids in short-dated instruments into negative territory, and so we have taken the step to restrict subscriptions and switches into the funds in order to protect existing shareholders from yield dilution,” the company said on its website.
Use our money for debtors states and we’re Finnished
Such was the warning from the eurozone’s northernmost state.
From the Agence France-Presse:
Finland would consider leaving the eurozone rather than paying the debts of other countries in the currency bloc, Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen has said.
“Finland is committed to being a member of the eurozone, and we think that the euro is useful for Finland,” Ms Urpilainen told financial daily Kauppalehti, adding though that “Finland will not hang itself to the euro at any cost and we are prepared for all scenarios”.
The finance minister stressed that Finland, one of only a few EU countries to still enjoy a triple-A credit rating, would not agree to an integration model in which countries were collectively responsible for member states’ debts and risks.
She also insisted that a proposed banking union would not work if it were based on joint liability.
“Collective responsibility for other countries’ debt, economics and risks; this is not what we should be prepared for,” Ms Urpilainen said.
Spain pain prolonged as bailout lags
While that eurozone summit promised to fund Spanish and Italian banks directly without sticking the governments for the bill, the money itself won’t show up for at least another six months, leaving Spain to suffer from prolonged agony as it struggles to keep a sagging economy alive.
From Agence France-Presse:
Struggling Spanish banks will not get much needed cash directly from Europe’s new bailout fund until next year, a senior European official said Friday.
A European Union summit last month agreed that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) would recapitalise banks directly, rather than give funds to the government concerned and so weigh down the state accounts with new debt.
Spain, under pressure on financial markets as its borrowing costs reach dangerously high levels, had held out for the move to help stabilise the banking system without making Madrid’s sovereign debt burden even worse.
The EMS aid is conditional, however, on setting up a European bank regulatory and resolution system — also agreed at the summit — which the official said would “not occur before the first half of 2013″.
The EMS, in place officially from July 1, is not yet operational but should be within the next few months, added the official, who asked not to be named.
In the meantime, aid for Spanish banks would have to take the form of a loan by the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to the Spanish public Fund For Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB).
But delayed cash doesn’t equal delayed austerity
And for Spain, that also means costs of borrowing are soaring, leaving the government no choice but to impose even harsher conditions of austerity.
The news wasn’t reassuring to the markets, which reacted with predictable alarm.
From Angela Monaghan and Louise Armitstead of the London Telegraph:
The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that he will take additional steps in the coming days to reduce the country’s debt mountain.
Speaking at a conference outside Madrid on Saturday, he said that Spain’s 17 autonomous regions must also accelerate their efforts to cut spending.
Mr Rajoy is expected to unveil additional budget measures to Spain’s parliament on Wednesday. They are likely to include a rise in VAT, as well as benefit cuts for public sector workers.
On Friday Spanish and Italian borrowing costs soared back into the danger zone as traders bet that the policy action by central banks was inadequate defence against the continued political and financial chaos in the eurozone.
The yield on Spain’s benchmark 10-year bond rose above the 7pc bail-out level amid fears that opposition in Germany and Finland could crush the rescue plans agreed in Brussels last week.
European stockmarkets fell sharply, the euro dropped to its lowest level for three and a half years against the pound, and the yield on Italian 10-year bonds rose to 6.25pc, despite the move by the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Bank of China to pump liquidity into their economies.
German bonds fall into negative interest
And people are still buying them like there’s no tomorrow, perhaps because they feel there’s really is no tomorrow.
From Lukanyo Mnyanda and Roxana Zega of Bloomberg:
German two-year note yields fell the most this year, pushing the rate below zero, after the European Central Bank cut interest rates and investors sought haven assets as the region’s financial woes deepened.
Germany’s two-year note yield fell 13 basis points this week to minus 0.01 percent at 4:26 p.m. London time yesterday, the biggest drop since the week through Dec. 2. It reached a record-low minus 0.018 percent yesterday. The zero percent securities due June 2014 gained 0.265, or 2.65 euros per 1,000- euro ($1,230) face amount, to 100.025.
Think about it. People are willing to stash their money in bonds that will actually lose money simply because they can’t think of anyplace safer.
Yeah, that’s real confidence.
Cyprus hamstrung by Greek austerity
Given the close economic and cultural ties between the two countries, he result is anything but surprising.
From Athens News:
Cyprus delivered a tough critique of the euro zone’s decision to restructure Greece’s private-sector debt on Friday, saying it had effectively thrown the Cypriot economy into turmoil and forced it into bailout of its own.
Euro zone leaders agreed in late 2011 to write down the value of private sector holdings of Greek government bonds to try to cut the country’s debt by around 100 billion euros – a process known as PSI, or private sector involvement.
It was a controversial decision and one that the former president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, had warned EU leaders could cause repercussions.
For Cyprus, the euro zone’s third smallest economy, with a GDP of just 17 billion euros and a large banking exposure to Greece, it meant that Cypriot banks had to write off around 80 percent of the value of their holdings of Greek bonds.
Court ruling leads to greater Portuguese austerity
And the real victims will be private sector workers, along with the civil servants already targeted for pay and pension cuts.
From the London Telegraph:
The Portuguese government might extend a pay cut for civil servants to others after a court blocked a key part of its deficit-cutting programme by saying it was unconstitutional.
Centre-right Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said: “The only solution to hold to the intention of adjusting the finances, essential if Portugal is to meet its commitments, is to extend the measure to others.”
Newspaper Diario de Noticias estimated that the ruling would cost the state €2bn in 2013.
The country’s Constitutional Court judges that since a plan to limit extra holiday and Christmas pay is targeted only at public sector workers, it infringes basic principles of equality.
In Portugal nearly all public and private sector employees receive an extra month’s salary in the summer and at Christmas.
The government wanted to abolish this in order to meet tough agreements following a eurozone bailout.
Italian retails sales nosedive
Voting with their wallets, Italians have given a firm thumbs down to all those post-summit claims that a new bailout round will save the national economy from further misery.
The summer sales season that opened in Italy on Saturday appeared scarcely attractive for consumers while the country is struggling amid tax hikes and spending cuts to tackle its debt crisis.
Studies by local associations and analysts showed the sentiment of Italian consumers has turned negative despite a number of shops offering extra 50 to 70 percent off sales from the first day of the discount season.
Only one family out of three was planning to do some shopping in the next weeks with an average spending of some 127 euros (156 U.S. dollars) each, according to consumer association Federconsumatori.
And now, onto the Britannia. . .
Quantitative easing savages pensioners
The British government just approved another hefty round of “quantitative easing,” that pernicious policy of trying to stimulate the economy by buying up investments rather than giving it to people, who would generate real economic activity by spending.
The real victims of the money game, however, are folks on pensions, as Joanna Robinson of the London Daily Mail reports:
The Bank of England’s quantitative easing policy has eroded pensioners’ incomes and left new retirees thousands of pounds worse off, experts warned today.
With the Bank’s policymakers voting for another £50billion of asset-purchases this week, Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown stockbrokers, warned that QE has sent the UK’s pension annuity rates into ‘meltdown’ for the past four years.
He said that a man with £100,000 in July 2008 would have been able to secure an income of £7,855 whereas his younger brother, who hits pension age today, would only be able to secure an income of £5,743 – a drop of 27 per cent.
Annuities, which provide pensioners with a fixed income for life, have dropped considerably since QE began, and Ros Altmann from Saga has said that falling payout rates ‘have permanently impoverished over a million pensioners.’
Brits consider lowering bank capital reserves
And what a wise thought that is [snicker], given that the austerians have typically demanded “restructured” nations boost capital reserves.
And that Britain’s even considering such a move is a clear signal that the crisis is striking even deeper at the heart of the nation whose banks have done so much to bring other European nations to ruin.
From Philip Aldrick of the London Telegraph:
Britain’s banks do not have enough capital to withstand an escalation in the eurozone crisis, the Bank of England has warned.
Members of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC), the Bank’s risk regulator, “judged that the overall capitalisation of the banking system was unlikely to be sufficient for stability to be assured” if there were “severe but plausible” developments in the sovereign debt crisis, according to minutes of last month’s meeting.
The committee was also sufficiently concerned about weak lending in the UK to consider suspending the rules governing how much banks must hold in cash and other liquid assets to get credit flowing again. The rules may have “pushed up the pricing of loans” and, by relaxing them, funds “supporting liquid assets could potentially be used instead to finance lending”, the minutes said.
National health Service strapped for cash
Another signal of Britain’s decline is the destruction of the nation’s health system, a goal enshrined in the heart of neoliberalsm — which mandates corporate control of all and everything.
The idea that the citizens of a nation would find, as a nation, the provision of that most vital of services was once a desideratum, the idea that securing the blessings of life to all.
But under the neoliberal regimes of Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, and Cameron, the public commons has been steadily eroded, and now they’re chipping away at the nation’s greatest legacy.
From Oliver Wright of The Independent:
The amount of money spent by the National Health Service fell for only the second time in more than two decades last year, sparking accusations that David Cameron has broken a key election pledge to increase NHS spending.
The Department of Health claimed over £1.5 billion had been saved on “bureaucracy and IT” while the amount of money going into “frontline” services had increased by £3.4 billion.
Overall it said the amount of money spent by the NHS had fallen by £1.6 billion which, ministers said, would be available to be spent next year.
But it later emerged that the Treasury is to claw back over £1 billion of the under spend – which will not be available as additional resources to the NHS next year.
Labour said this proved the Government had broken its promise not to cut NHS spending – leading to unnecessary cuts to staff and the rationing of treatment.
British elder care also threatened
The cause — for the moment — is the inability of politicians to improve the funding system and the unwillingness of the coalition government to provide the additional funds needed immediately.
From Laura Donnelly and Tim Ross of the London Telegraph:
A political row has broken out amid the collapse of cross party talks over the care of Britain’s elderly.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary said a Coalition commitment supporting the principle of funding reform was “meaningless” because no timetable had been drawn up to deliver it.
He made the comments after talks between the three major parties collapsed, with Labour blaming the Coalition for drawing up its own plans for social care without involving the opposition.
On Friday night the Government indicated support for proposals drawn up by Andrew Dilnot, an economist, to cap the amount any individual pays for long-term care.
However, a decision on whether or not to fund the plan has been deferred until the next Comprehensive Spending Review, which is due late next year or in 2014.
On Saturday, Mr Burnham said talks between the parties had collapsed because the Government had refused to work with Labour on its plans, and because it had decided to put reform on a slower timetable than the opposition wanted to see.
Irish health system in crisis, too
Once again, the problem is money.
From Martin Wall of the Irish Times:
The government has ordered a review of health service spending on foot of alarming new figures that show the financial situation in the Health Service Executive has worsened considerably over recent weeks.
Confidential financial figures given by management to the board of the HSE on Thursday state it had recorded a financial deficit of €280 million to the end of May.
Highly-placed sources said last night that the HSE financial figures would be assessed by the Department of Health before being authorised for publication. However, a review of expenditure across all headings is to take place.
And now to Greece. . .
Samaras continues to pledge allegiance
Despite his ornamental rhetorical flourishes, New Democracy Prime Minister Antonis Samaras remains firmly committed to the austerian memornadum. A pledge he renewed yesterday.
From the BBC:
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has promised to focus on reforms and measures to restore economic growth in Greece in his first major speech.
His coalition government faces a vote of confidence in parliament on Sunday.
Mr Samaras vowed to fast-track the sale of state assets such as the railways in order to raise much-needed money.
He acknowledged that Greece had missed its targets to reduce debt but said he would work to ensure that the country remained in the euro.
Measures intended to reduce government debt, such as selling off state-run companies and reducing the minimum wage, risk raising the number of jobless and lowering household incomes, further damaging Greek economic growth .
The government fears that the country is increasingly trapped in a vicious cycle of internationally enforced austerity followed by shrinking wealth or recession.
“With this uncontrolled recession, the programme’s funding needs are rising. We want this to stop and to start getting out of this dead end,” Mr Samaras said.
“This is the subject of our ‘renegotiation’.”
More from Athens News:
Concerning the government’s immediate goals, Samaras said that it aimed to contain and reverse the recession as soon as possible, with fast-track privatisation efforts representing a major part in this effort.
The privatisation targets would be the operational branch of Hellenic Rail (OSE), the freeing up of the energy market, parts of the productive segment of the Public Power Corporation (DEH), the Athens and Thessaloniki water companies (with the state’s regulatory role being kept in place), as well as regional ports and airports.
“We see privatisation as a growth tool. Whoever takes control of state assets, must make investments,” Samaras said.
He also made extensive references to the government’s determination to exploit state-owned real estate, announcing the creation of an investment body to pursue that aim and also pointing out that all relevant changes in planning regulations and the construction code will be pushed forward to allow for these efforts to go through.
“We can’t cut wages and pensions while public real estate lies dormant”, he stressed.
Another key challenge Samaras referred to was the effort to lure investment. “We must become investment friendly”, he stressed because “if we bring in investments, we will have won half the battle”.
And then there’s this from Deutsche Welle:
Speaking to MPs, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras admitted to shortcomings in implementing reforms, but he urged international partners to stop undermining reform efforts by discussing a Greek exit from the euro.
Outlining his measures to combat Greece’s recession, Samaras said it was difficult to press ahead with reforms when international partners openly discussed a possible Greek exit from the eurozone.
“While we’re fighting here, no one should talk about Greece going back to the drachma. It’s got to stop,” he told Greek MPs, saying that debating such a scenario “undermined” Greek reform efforts.
Syriza promises a vigorous challenge
The leftist party that rose from the margins in last two parliamentary elections vows to continue challenging the surrender of his country to the interests of banksters and eurocrats.
From Athens News:
Tsipras is due to address the Parliament during the debate on the policy statement on Saturday evening and on Sunday night, while the party will name a total of 30 MPs to speak during the debate.
The same sources said that Syriza’s entire Parliamentary group will walk out when Parliament is addressed by the leader of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party.
Meanwhile, the Independent Greeks also lashed out at the coalition government ahead of the presentation of its policy statement.
Party spokesman Christos Zois stated that “the only thing of interest in the presentation will be whether Mr. Samaras will dare to utter the word ‘negotiation’ which he used to steal away the people’s vote.”
The party’s secretary on labour issues Yiannis Manolis underlined that the “haircut” imposed on the social insurance funds, the deep recession the economy is in, ‘explosive’ rates of unemployment and the hundreds of thousands of private businesses that are being shut down lead the country’s social insurance system to suffocation and to cessation of payments, despite the 50 pct cut in pensions.
Samaras makes another plea for time
There’s little doubt that Samaras will follow orders, but he’s still a Greek, and aware that adherence to the letter of the memorandum amounts to national suicide.
So, as he’s wont to do, his vows of fealty were accompanied by a plea for time.
From Agence France-Presse:
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Friday asked EU-IMF creditors for more time for a tough bailout programme, to ease the pain on an economy struggling in its fifth year of recession.
“We ask for the adjustment to be reached not in two years but later,” he told parliament as he presented targets for the next four years, promising to push through a privatisation drive and keep Greece in the eurozone.
In exchange for extending a 2014 deadline to meet strict deficit benchmarks, Samaras promised that his newly elected government would meet all other commitments which lenders have demanded.
“Our problem is not adopting reforms, which we will do without question. It is not reaching an objective, which we will meet. But it is finding an end to the recession,” he said.
And a voice of dissent on the right
Not the Golden Dawn extreme right, but the more “moderate” Independent Greeks [rather like the difference between the John Birch Society to the American Nazi Party].
The leader of the rightwing anti-bailout party Independent Greeks, Panos Kammenos, told Skai on Friday that representatives of Greece’s international credtiors – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, or the troika – are acting like «conquerers» in Greece and that their presence is “not desirable.”
Kammenos added that he believed the country would be obliged to proceed to a new restructuring of debt held by private creditors, following a write-down in March known as private sector involvement (PSI).
He also predicted that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras would perform a “large somersault” on Friday evening and honor everything that he has pledged in writing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Another alarm sounds, loans in peril
Another “no surprise” story: As the crisis deepens, more Greeks aren’t able to make the payments on their loans.
Greek banks are particularly worried about the rise in nonperforming loans (NPLs) that the continuing recession in the first half of the year has generated, as daily Kathimerini reports today. The rate has now come to 18% of all loans, according to bank officials. In the last three-and-a-half years the number of bad loans has quadrupled and their total currently stands at an estimated 46 billion euros, an all-time high for the local banking system.
What is even more disquieting, say bank sources, is the rate of growth of NPLs, as they appear to have risen by a percentage point per month in May and in June, thereby rising from 16 to 18%, owing to the political uncertainty, the widespread worry about the outcome of the crisis and a possible Greek exit from the eurozone. The same sources note that economic activity has shrunk by 14% in the last four years, while for this year alone the contraction is estimated at 6%, wiping out about a decade of growth in the process. Greece’s gross domestic product has declined by 6.5% year-on-year so far in 2012.
Self-defeating cuts cost money
One of the complaints of the Powerful People Up North has been that Greeks don’t pay their taxes, or at least Greek still with money.
But the austerity agreement has hacked at the civil service, leaving the tax collectors short-handed, resulting in billion in unpaid taxes.
From Andrew Trotman of Dublin’s Independent:
THE Greek government has been unable to collect €12.6bn in court-ordered tax fines because it has cut too many staff.
The figure amounts to 6.2pc of the debt-stricken country’s GDP, Ekathimerini reported, citing data posted on the website of the Finance Ministry’s General Secretariat of Information Systems.
The report comes as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras today presents his economic plans for a country mired in a fifth year of recession despite two international bailouts and a raft of reforms.
As Greece struggles with an unemployment rate of 22.6pc, the country’s tax collection mechanism has only managed to take in €630m – 4.77pc of the total €13.2bn fines – due to being understaffed and the absence of electronic applications.
The court orders came about after some taxpayers disputed the fines imposed by the mechanism.
There are currently more than 180,000 outstanding tax cases in the Greek courts. But while Athens had intended to have 50pc of the pending cases heard by last month and 80pc by the end of December, ministry data indicate that only 2.1pc cases made it to court in the first half of the year, Ekathimerini claimed.
But the austerians love that downsizing
What more to say?
From Athens News:
The troika representatives expressed on Friday their satisfaction with the progress in the labour ministry’s implementation of the bailout commitments.
Following a meeting with Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund welcomed the ministry’s determination to reach targets set by the latest Memorandum.
The ministry officials briefed the troika that the unit cost of labour has already been reduced by 8 per cent, when the programme target is 15 per cent by 2013.
The lenders showed understanding for the delays pinpointed, which they attributed to an extended pre-elections period.
The troika was briefed about the course of labour market reforms and the on-going efforts to tackle tax evasion. Between February and May a total of 400 new corporate job contracts entailed salary cuts of 23 per cent and, in some cases, 30 per cent.
What happens to those rendered jobless by austerity?
Well, since the memorandum gutted social programs, that leaves jobless Greeks with nor recourse except their extended families, and for those who lack them, the unpredictable whims of charity.
From Kitty Logan of Deutsche Welle:
With jobs lost and wages cut, many Greeks are having to rely on the good-will of others just to survive.
The European financial crisis is being felt especially hard in Greece, with many people having to depend on charity to survive.
People from all backgrounds are paying the price for the economic turmoil in their country, with one-in-four people in Greece having lost their jobs.
With Greece in extreme financial difficulty and its government tied to the EU bailout terms, there is no state support for people who have lost their livelihoods.
Many simply rely on family members. In some cases, one person may be supporting several generations, but for [many], whose family relations have broken down, charities are all they have.
And so to Germany. . .
Angela Merkel, soaring in popularity
Germans love the Iron Chancellor these days, mainly because she doesn’t want to part with the country’s cash to help out those Countries Down South.
From The Independent’s Tony Paterson:
Despite angry domestic criticism of her efforts to resolve the euro crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s popularity among German voters has reached its highest point since 2009, according to the results of an opinion poll broadcast yesterday by the ARD television channel.
According to the poll, 66 per cent of the electorate were satisfied with the performance of their country’s first woman leader, and some 58 per cent said they agreed with the view that Ms Merkel had acted “properly and decisively over the euro crisis”.
The poll results showed a significant 8 per cent increase in the Chancellor’s popularity over the space of a month, suggesting that her handling of the eurozone crisis played a key role in influencing the electorate’s verdict. At the same time, however, voters’ fears that the crisis would escalate had never been so great, the poll found.
Berlin’s latest activists: Occupy Senior Center
All we can say is “Right on!” to the elders who’ve occupied [“squatted in Spiegel-speak] one of the city’s senior centers.
From Spiegel’s Hendrik Ternieden:
[T]he city has definitely never seen squatters like the ones currently occupying a villa in the northeastern district of Pankow. A group of senior citizens has taken over a community center to stop the local municipality from closing it down — and they’re determined to stay until they get what they want.
The squatters, who are all in their 70s or 80s, have been sleeping in the building — called “Stille Strasse” after the street on which it is located — since last Friday. They take turns sleeping there on air mattresses and cots, with six or seven people staying there every night to stop local authorities from barring its entrance. Posters and banners reading “We are all staying” are on display outside.
The local authority decided to close down the community center — where senior citizens have met to play chess and canasta, to exercise and to take art classes — despite months of protests. According to the municipality, the building costs €60,000 ($74,000) a year to run and needs over €2 million in renovations, which the authority claims it cannot afford. Over 300 people between the ages of 65 and 96 currently use the facility.
The municipality clearly didn’t expect such a spirited reaction. “Senior citizens squatting a building is a first for us,” Jens-Holger Kirchner, the local deputy mayor and a member of the environmentalist Green Party, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Eurocrisis fallout threatens Latin America
As we’ve written again, there never was a recovery following the initial Wall Street crash, and that’s because the crisis is global, reverberating across the world like the waves that arise from tossing a boulder in a pond.
This crisis also differs from previous post-World War II crises because the rules of the game have changed with the unleashing and outright criminalization of the banking industry.
And it won’t stop without profound changes in the way the world’s run.
The latest impacts are focused on Asia and Latin America, and MercoPress reports on the latest developments in the latter zone:
The Euro crisis is the “greatest external economic risk” for Latinamerica warned the Inter American Development Bank Luis Alberto Moreno who nevertheless said he was convinced the world with end acknowledging the efforts from the European Union and Spain.
“We consider Spain has done what it should have done as a new government with six months in office. We trust in its actions and we recognize its efforts, we have full confidence that Spain will overcome the crisis with success”, said Moreno next to the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy during the opening of the IDB office for Europe in Madrid.
The Latinamerican continent is poised to grow above the global average in the coming years, but Moreno recalled that some papers and analysts from the IDB estimate the region could lose up to 40% of the potential growth index “if the European economies don’t react adequately”.
Despite these risks Moreno said the Europeans chose the right path. “I trust the world will end acknowledging the efforst from the EU and particularly Spain. I’m certain we’ll overcome this crisis with more Europe and not with less Europe”.