Before we get to the headlines, another choice cartoon about the Greek crisis, this one featuring two of the key players, International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. From Kathimerini English:
Congress less popular than dog poop, more so than Miley Cyrus, twerking
Next, from Al Jazeera America:
World fears potentially catastrophic effects of US debt default
Economic leaders warn that failing to come to a debt-ceiling agreement could hurt dozens of economies globally
From north of the border, the GlobalPost weighs in:
The US is sneezing like crazy. Will the world catch a cold?
Analysis: Odd as it may seem, investors in Rio or Zurich or Hong Kong may have their financial decisions influenced by backwoods voters in Alabama or Texas, who, through the magic of redistricting, have been able to push an increasingly hard-line agenda on America and the world.
While the Buenos Aires Herald offers a dash of optimism:
Moody’s says US default extremely unlikely
Moody’s Investors Service sees very little chance of a US debt default later this month, the rating agency’s president and chief operating officer said today.
IMF Issues $2.3trn Warning Over QE’s End
The International Monetary Fund puts a number on the potential cost of a messy end to emergency central bank support worldwide.
Tea Party tells Santa “Bah, humbug,” via BuzzFeed:
U.S. Retail Industry Group Says Shutdown Threatening $600 Billion Holiday Season
The government shutdown is crushing consumer confidence and making it harder for retailers to plan their businesses. The National Retail Federation says more than 10% of Americans work in retail and related fields.
From BuzzFeed again, spare change?:
Furloughed Government Employees Are Selling Their Possessions On Craigslist For Cash
“I am only selling this guitar because my wife was affected with the government shutdown and I am trying to help with some bills,” wrote one user.
And Slashdot offers us real reassurance [snicker]:
90% of Nuclear Regulators Sent Home Due To Shutdown
from the homer-simpson-asked-to-come-in-for-overtime dept.
From Bloomberg, from those with the least to give, the most is asked:
States Eliminating Aid for Poor as U.S. Shutdown Forces Layoffs
Michigan is preparing to put as many 20,000 state workers on unpaid leave and eliminate cash and food aid to poor residents. North Carolina furloughed 366 employees and closed its nutrition aid program to tens of thousands of women and children. Illinois this week may furlough hundreds of federally-funded employees, including workplace safety inspectors.
And a reminder, via The Allegiant:
Over 26,000 Americans Died in 2010 from a Lack of Health Insurance
Should a Lack of Health Insurance Excuse 26,000 Deaths of Americans Who Need Care?
Baby Boom goes bust, via Bloomberg Businessweek:
U.S. Drops to No. 11 in Global Retirement Rankings
The 2013 edition of the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (PDF), a ranking of national retirement systems around the world, has the U.S. ranked 11th, down two slots from last year. The bottom line: Americans don’t save enough, our policies are inadequate to help poor and middle-income earners, there are too many loopholes that reduce savings further, and we’re unprepared for how long we’re going to live in retirement.
While CNBC takes a penthouse view:
In New York, the billionaires have all the fun
And Ars Technica offers the inevitable:
AT&T: The Internet is awesome, so let’s get rid of phone regulations
Astroturf group pushes AT&T agenda to deregulate telecom.
On to Europe, first with a regional story from Reuters:
EU must speed up banking union to gain trust, IMF says
The International Monetary Fund urged the European Union to quickly set up an agency that would close or salvage troubled banks across the continent as part of an effort to shed a mountain of bad debt impeding economic recovery.
But will trust be all that easy to earn, given that things in Brussels work much as they do in Washington? Spiegel illustrates:
Conflicts of Interest: Brussels’ Revolving Door for Top EU Officials
Senior European Commission officials have a penchant for changing sides when they join the private sector. They take up positions with Chinese companies, cigarette manufacturers or PR firms — and potential conflicts of interest are often ignored.
EUbusiness covers transcontinental trolling:
EU seeks China investment boost
Investment flows between the EU and China, major trade partners, are far below what they should be and must be improved, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Tuesday.
And the companion headline from EUbusiness:
MEPs urge tough conditions on China investment accord talks
European lawmakers insisted Wednesday they should have oversight of talks on an EU-China investment protection agreement and set conditions which could prove unwelcome in Beijing.
Meanwhile, as New Europe reports, he regulated seek to shed their regulators:
We need less regulation, not more, says ETNO
New telecoms plans will stifle investment says industry group
But there’s one place European governments want more regulation,. And that’s at the borders. From Spiegel:
Fortress Europe: How the EU Turns Its Back on Refugees
They come seeking refuge, but when asylum seekers cross into the European Union, they often find little compassion. In Greece, they are held in squalid detention camps, while in Italy they often end up on the street. Here is what they face at entry points across the EU.
New Europe reports on the latest moves from EU’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki
Commissioner says Lampedusa illustrates European problem
Damanaki urges for more sea surveillance funds
And from New Europe as well, concern from the European Commission’s Number Two, Viviane Reding, who singled out attempts to impose border controls to block the free movement of the Roma and Europe’s other wandering peoples:
Commission Vice-President says she’s ashamed of some MEPs’ comments
Reding: ‘no invasion expected after 2014′
Meanwhile, Northern Europe wants to kick the fallen. From Keep Talking Greece:
EU wants hikes in V.A.T & other taxes in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy…
We begin our country coverage with a London Telegraph head:
IMF: Britain’s deficit to shrink at fastest rate in developed world in 2013
Global fund performs second about-turn in as many days on the health of Britain’s economy
From the Telegraph again, more misery to accompany the sale of an iconic commons:
Royal Mail warns of job losses after privatisation
Royal Mail has warned MPs that job losses are likely after its historic privatisation as the industry continues to modernise.
And another falloff for another British icon, from New Europe:
Industrial production fell by the most in almost a year
Record fall for the British industrial output
At the very same time, those at the top get a handout, via the London Telegraph:
UK top rate tax cut was world’s largest in 2013
Britain’s top rate of tax has fallen from fifth to 11th highest in the EU – but it remains higher than in Greece or Italy.
The Telegraph again, reporting the failure to make a logical connection:
OBR: UK hurt more by lack of investment than austerity
Government’s official forecaster says private investment, particularly from business, has been “almost completely absent” over the past few years
On to Germany, and a sentiment that flourished in Germany 80 years ago rises anew, via EurActiv:
Germany refuses to take in more refugees
As the human tragedy near the Italian island of Lampedusa prompted calls to rethink the EU’s immigration policy, the German Interior Minister rejected any suggestion that his country should accept more refugees. EurActiv.de reports.
While EUbusiness covers the rise of similar sentiments in France:
French far-right in pole position for EU election
France’s far-right anti-immigration and anti-EU Front National party is tipped to get 24 percent of the domestic vote in next May’s election for the European Parliament, a survey said Wednesday.
On to the Alps, and a headline from MarketWatch:
Swiss to vote on plan to give everybody $34,000 a year: reports
Next up, Spain, with numbers epitomizing the growing class divides. From El País:
Stock market recovery helps boost number of millionaires in Spain by 13%
Spaniards with wealth measured in seven digits stands at over 400,000
Meanwhile, there are close to six million people in the country without a job
BBC News sounds an austerian warning:
Watchdog warns Spain of impact of cuts on children
The Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights watchdog, has warned Spain its austerity programme could have a devastating impact on children.
El País again, with more numbers:
IMF improves growth forecasts for Spain but raises its estimate for unemployment
Agency sees GDP contracting 1.3 percent this year, but predicts growth of only 0.2 percent in 2014, 0.5 points less than the government
More on the IMF’s latest pronouncement from thinkSpain:
FMI says 40% of Spain’s debt is ‘in the hands of businesses’ and warns lack of cashflow is stifling growth
THE International Monetary Fund (FMI) says the ‘huge’ level of debt sinking companies in Spain, Portugal and Italy and the ‘weak’ state of the three countries’ banks are the main obstacles to their economies ever recovering or credit flowing freely.
El País parses austerian semantics:
Finance Minister defies official figures and claims Spaniards’ wages aren’t falling
Montoro insists there has merely been moderation in pay increases
And Europe Online watches the ax fall:
Spain’s Catalunya Banc to sack one-third of its staff
Bailed-out Spanish lender Catalunya Banc plans to shed between 2,400 and 4,800 people from its workforce, the bank announced Wednesday.
The Portugal News takes us to the eastern side of the Iberian Peninsula, where certain immigrants are welcomed with open arms:
Golden Visas bringing in millions
Investment in excess of €150 million had been attracted to Portugal under its “gold” fast track visa system, Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas told the second Business Forum gala dinner taking place in Vilamoura, the Algarve.
From the Portugal News again, optimism:
Government betters its economic outlook
The Portuguese government took a slightly less pessimistic view on the macroeconomic conjuncture for this year and improved that for the next in documentation sent out to social partners.
Italy next, with an entry from ANSAmed:
Italian households’ spending power crumbles
Down 1.7% in first half of 2013
And that rare economic news item from the Vatican, via Spiegel:
Like an Offshore Paradise: Vatican Moves to Close Dirty Accounts
More than 1,000 customers who have no business holding accounts at the Vatican Bank have parked more than 300 million euros there, money the institution’s officials suspect is illicit. They are now calling for the funds to be removed.
After the jump, the latest criminal and austerian developments from Greece, Latin American news, more woes from India, neoliberalism from the People’s Republic, and the latest shocker in Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading