Starting with a blast at so-called “free trade Agreements” from on high, to the ongoing collapse of Greece, the rise of neoliberalism in China, Japanese corruption worries, and on to the latest chapter of Fukushimapocalypse Now!
We begin with one issue where esnl and the Holy See are in firm agreement. From Techdirt:
Holy See (The Pope) Criticizes TPP And TAFTA/TTIP In WTO Speech
from the nobody-expects-the-Spanish-Inquisition-or-Holy-See dept
A quote from the speech:
While a minority is experiencing exponential growth in wealth, the gap is widening to separate the vast majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies that defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and of financial speculation. Consequently, there is an outright rejection of the right of States, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. An even worse development is that such policies are sometimes locked in through trade rules negotiated at the WTO or in bilateral or regional FTAs.
From MarketWatch, some aren’t happy with the Vatican:
Rush Limbaugh: The pope is giving President Obama an orgasm
“The pope is ripping America, the pope ripping capitalism, the pope ripping Ronaldus Magnus, the pope ripping trickle-down economics” Limbaugh said during his radio program. “And Obama’s having an orgasm.”
But Rush has good reason to be happy as L.A. loses its only progressive talk radio station, notes LA Observed:
Rush Limbaugh moves stations, ending progressive talk in LA
Clear Channel is moving Limbaugh from KFI to KTLK — which will drop ‘progressive talk’ and become The Patriot 1150, with Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck also on board.
From Bloomberg, another asusterian gift from the Tea Party:
Unemployment Benefit Lapse Will Cut Jobs, Report Says
The Obama administration, bolstering a sustained push by Democrats to extend emergency unemployment benefits, said today that a lapse may cost the U.S. as many as 240,000 jobs in 2014.
An estimated 1.3 million unemployed workers would immediately lose benefits if the emergency program — extended repeatedly since its inception in 2008 — is allowed to expire on Dec. 28, according to the report drafted by President Barack Obama’s Council on Economic Advisers and the Labor Department. During 2014, 3.6 million more would have their benefits cut off.
The Los Angeles Times covers a job action:
County social workers strike over pay, high caseloads
Los Angeles County social workers took to the picket lines on Thursday, the first county strike in more than a decade and a sharp escalation of a labor dispute between the county and its biggest employee union.
The New York Times covers another:
Fast-Food Workers Walk Off Jobs, Rally for Higher Minimum Wage
Fast-food workers in hundreds of cities across the United States kicked off a day of strikes and rallies on Thursday to demand a higher minimum wage. The largest job actions were expected in New York and Washington, organizers said.
Workers want the federal minimum wage raised to $15 from $7.25, saying the current rate is not enough to live on. Critics counter that doubling the minimum wage would cost jobs, forcing employers to cut back on the number of workers.
And CNBC sounds a very sour note:
McFail: McDonald’s out-of-touch tipping advice to employees
Fast-food giant McDonald’s has committed yet another employee advice blunder, listing pricey suggestions for tipping au pairs, personal fitness trainers and pool cleaners from etiquette maven Emily Post on its worker resource website.
This advice comes as fast-food workers from 100 cities across the nation push for $15-an-hour pay, a far cry from the wages most earn, in a mass strike on Thursday.
But the question is, just how long willl those jobs even exist. Consider this from Slate:
Look Out, Waiters: Applebee’s Is Putting a Tablet at Every Table
Score one for the machines. On Tuesday, Applebee’s announced plans to install a tablet at every table in its 1,860 restaurants across the United States. Customers will be able to use the devices to order food, pay the bill, and ignore their dining companions by playing video games.
Chili’s unveiled basically the same plan three months ago.
CNBC look at a key feature of the new workforce, the harsh realty behind those so-called improved jobs numbers:
How ‘on-call’ hours are hurting part-time workers
The Great Recession changed the American workplace. More and more jobs that used to be full time are now part time, with lower pay and limited or no benefits.
The number of “involuntary” part-time workers—people who want a full-time job but can’t find one or have had their hours cut back by their current employer—has nearly doubled since 2007. There were 8.1 million involuntary part-time workers in October, versus 4.3 million in October 2007, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
From the New York Times, boosted by necessity:
U.S. Growth Faster Than Estimated as Businesses Stock Up
The economy expanded much faster than first thought in the third quarter, as the government on Thursday revised its estimate of growth in the period to a 3.6 percent annual rate from 2.8 percent.
That was significantly better than the 3.1 percent pace economists had been expecting, and it marked the best quarter for growth since the first quarter of 2012, when output jumped by 3.7 percent. It also marked the first time since then that growth had exceeded 3 percent.
Much of the improvement came from additional stocking up on inventory by businesses as well as a slightly improved trade picture.
Bloomberg takes us to Europe and a bankster’s worries:
ECB Cuts Inflation Forecast as Draghi Pledges Low Rates
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi re-affirmed that interest rates will stay low for the foreseeable future, after officials cut their inflation forecast for next year.
“We may experience a prolonged period of low inflation,” Draghi said at a news conference in Frankfurt today, echoing language he used last month after the ECB unexpectedly cut interest rates. Today, the ECB kept its main rates unchanged.
More from Deutsche Welle:
ECB keeps powder dry to battle weak growth and low inflation in 2014
The European Central Bank has left its key interest rate at a historic low, pausing to assess the impact of its recent rate cut on the eurozone economy. But more monetary action might be needed to spur growth in 2014.
Still more from Spiegel:
Weapons of Last Resort: ECB Considers Extreme Crisis Measures
The European Central Bank wants to spur lending by banks in Southern Europe, but conventional methods have shown little success so far. On Thursday, ECB officials will consider monetary weapons that were previously considered taboo.
And then there’s this delightfully meaningful headline from EUobserver:
Central bankers don’t want their names published
A promise by the European Central Bank to publish the minutes of its meetings has been delayed by the “complexity of the issue,” one stumbling bloc being whether to publish the names of the central bankers or not, ECB chief Mario Draghi said Thursday in a press conference.
And then there’s this from EUbusiness:
Schaeuble to discuss banking union with France, EU: source
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will meet his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici and Eurogroup finance chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem Friday for talks on a planned European banking union, a source close to the talks said.
The meeting in Berlin will also include EU Commissioner Michel Barnier, the source told AFP, confirming a report in Handelsblatt business daily which said ECB board member Joerg Asmussen would also attend.
East meets West in the London Telegraph:
Europe repeating all the errors of Japan as deflation draws closer
The whole eurozone must have a higher inflation rate to lift the South far enough above the deflation line to gain breathing room
Leading the list with DutchNews.nl:
Dutch, Czechs least at risk of poverty and exclusion in Europe
More people may be classed as poor in the Netherlands but in European terms, the Dutch have the lowest risk of living in poverty and social exclusion, figures from European statistics office Eurostat show.
The figures show almost one in four people in Europe were at risk of living in poverty and isolation last year, a marginal rise on 2011.
The highest risk was in Bulgaria (49%), Romania (42%) and Latvia (38%). The Netherlands and Czech Republic had the lowest risk at 15%, followed by Finland on 17%.
From Deutsche Welle, intolerant exceptionalism:
Germany, Britain press for inner-EU migratory curbs
Germany has told EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels that it continues to oppose any inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the passport-free Schengen area. Britain has called for EU limits on freedom of movement.
More from Europe Online:
Britain demands curbs on free EU movement at Brussels talks
British Home Secretary Theresa May on Thursday demanded limits on free movement within the European Union – widely considered one of the bloc’s greatest achievements – ahead of a meeting of interior ministers in Brussels.
“We need to change the way free movement operates within the EU,” May said ahead of the talks, which were also set to tackle the recent migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.
EurActiv has a response:
Romania tells EU: ‘We are ready for Schengen when you are’
Faced with stiff opposition from older EU members, Romania is no longer asking for an accession date to the Union’s borderless Schengen area. “We are ready for Schengen when you are”, Romanian Interior Minister Radu Stroe will tell his colleagues at a meeting in Brussels today (5 December).
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has asked Stroe to tell EU ministers that Romania remains ready for Schengen accession, but will not beg for a date, as it is sick and tired of being told “next time”, the Romanian press reports.
EurActiv sounds a warning:
EU threatened by ‘rampant right-wing populism’, warns German think tank
Right-wing populist parties have established themselves with solid electorates in almost all European countries, representing a growing threat for next year’s EU elections, according to a study by the German Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
Almost everywhere in Europe, right-wing populist parties have “established themselves as relevant political forces”, says a study released on Monday (2 December) by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a foundation associated with the conservative political party the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
And on another front, corporations consolidate power via New Europe:
Consultation on the modernization of EU copyright rules
The European Commission has today launched a public consultation with a view to gathering input on the modernization of EU copyright rules. Stakeholders are invited to provide their views on areas identified in the Communication on Content in the Digital Single Market, such as territoriality in the Single Market, harmonization, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age; fragmentation of the EU copyright market; and on how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of enforcement in the wider context of copyright reform.
On to Britain and a bankster with BBC News:
Bank of England holds UK interest rates at record low
The Bank of England has kept interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, despite signs that the UK economy is improving.
The decision was widely expected, given governor Mark Carney’s pronouncements that the Bank would not even consider raising rates until unemployment falls below 7%.
From BBC News, the government lays out its latest agenda:
Autumn Statement: Welfare spending cap to start in 2015
Housing benefit will be included in the spending cap
The precise limit will be set in the spring of 2014, and the cap will be imposed a year later.
BBC News again with more:
Autumn Statement: Wait longer for your state pension
A life of ease will move further away for millions of workers in their 40s
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that it would now go up to 68 sometime in the mid-2030s, rather than between 2044 and 2046 as originally planned.
That is about 10 years earlier than originally planned.
And more to come, with the London Telegraph:
State pension age: The logic that suggests it will rise to 84
The Autumn Statement outlined faster rises in the state pension age. Experts have been suggesting how high the age could eventually rise
The Irish Times takes us to Dublin and a debt demand:
Central Bank sets new, tougher mortgage resolution targets
Lenders have until next June to find solutions for 75% of customers more than 90 days in arrears
There are just under 100,000 Irish mortgage accounts more than 90 days behind in their repayments.
Germany next and another bankster story, this one from Europe Online:
Credit Suisse divests German private banking business
Credit Suisse is set to shed its German private banking branch amid efforts to divest operations with low growth potential and to focus on ultra-wealthy clients, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank said Thursday.
France next, with ominous numbers for an increasingly troubled presidency from France 24:
French unemployment hits 16-year high in third quarter
France’s unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to a 16-year high of 10.9 percent in the three months through September, the INSEE national statistics agency said Thursday.
Span next, with more banksters from El País:
IMF highlights solvency of Spanish banks after restructuring
The IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, on Thursday had some reassuring words to say about the solvency of the Spanish banking system after restructuring. But IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission officials, in Madrid to check on Spain’s compliance with the bailout program for the sector, fretted about lenders’ weak profitability.
thinkSPAIN foresees a long, cold winter:
Spain is a nation of happy homeowners, but heating can be a problem, says INE
HOME is where the heart is in Spain, but not necessarily where the hearth is – 88.1 per cent of property owners are happy with their pad, but 18 per cent cannot heat it enough in winter, according to recent figures released by the National Statistics Institute (INE).
Much of the problem concerning heating is financial, with 25.8 per cent of households where the total income was less than 15,000 euros a year after tax being unable to get warm enough in winter, falling to 10.8 per cent among those homes with a total income of 28,800 euros a year.
El País covers the fall of another neoliberal:
Former Popular Party minister found guilty of influence peddling
A jury on Thursday found the former Popular Party (PP) premier of the Balearic Islands, Jaume Matas, guilty of abusing his position to coerce a company into paying his wife 42,000 euros for a job she never carried out.
Portugal next with an infusion update from Xinhua:
Portugal under review for next tranche of bailout fund
International lenders arrived here Wednesday for a new review of Portugal’s progress in implementing the bailout program agreed two years ago.
During their stay in Lisbon, the representatives of the troika — comprising of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — are to meet with Portugal’s leading political party leaders, lawmakers and trade union leaders on measures and plans for the implementation of the 78 billion euro (105 billion U.S. dollars) bailout program.
Ongoing privatization news from Bloomberg:
Portugal’s Postal Service Rises as Five-Year IPO Dearth Ends
Portugal’s mail service, CTT-Correios de Portugal SA, rose on the first day of trading after the 493-year-old company held the country’s first initial public offering in five years.
The stock climbed 0.4 percent from the IPO price of 5.52 euros to close at 5.54 euros in Lisbon, giving the company a market value of 831 million euros ($1.14 billion). Earlier in the day, the shares jumped as much as 7.8 percent.
Action averted from the Portugal News:
Train strikes shelved
Portuguese train operator, CP, has revaled it has signed agreements with a raft of unions so strikes that had been announced for December and early January were now off the table.
The train operator said that the agreements covered “about 80% of the company’s work force” and ensured normal train operations.
Italy next and an upbraiding from ANSAmed:
EC berates Italy on debt again after Letta clash
Rehn’s office says supplementary budget adjustment needed
The office of European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said Thursday that Italy must do more to reduce its massive public debt, returning to an issue that has caused considerable tension between the European Commission and Rome in recent weeks.
Xinhua covers another eurocratic conversation:
Italian PM meets Van Rompuy, pledges a confidence vote on reforms
Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta met with the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday and pledged to step up reforms in the recession-hit country.
“I will ask a confidence vote next week to design a new majority in Parliament and bind it on a 2014 based on reforms, in order to make Italy more competitive,” Letta said in a press conference after the talks with Van Rompuy.
And TheLocal.it looks to the future:
‘Tourism is our industrial future’: Italian tycoon
Italian tycoon Diego Della Valle on Wednesday called for a vast plan to restore monuments and support tourism to boost the economy, as he announced the long-delayed start of an overhaul of the Colosseum.
The billionaire, who has built a luxury goods empire around his shoe company Tod’s, is funding the repairs on the iconic and dilapidated 2,000-year-old amphitheatre with €25 million.
“We don’t have the steel, chemical and car industries that we had 30 years ago. All that has flown away. Now we have tourism as our industrial future,” he said at a press conference with Culture Minister Massimo Bray.
Europe Online looks to the increasingly cloudy political future:
Italy’s Democratic Party set for weekend vote to elect new leader
Italy’s biggest political force, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), is set to elect a new leader on Sunday, in a process that could destabilize the grand coalition government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta.
The frontrunner is Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, 38, a media-savvy modernizer, who is popular in the country at large but viewed with suspicion by hardline PD voters on the grounds that he is not left-wing enough.
After the jump, Greek strikes, misery and a surrender, Black Friday comes to Russia, India’s fight for food sovereignty, Thai truce, smog and neoliberalism in China, and Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading