And a dash of Germany for sobriety.
Greek ‘bailout’ on the way
With the Cradle of Democracy rendered supine, the money’s ready to do the old in-and-out: Into Greek hands only long enough to flow out again to banksters.
From Deutsche Welle:
Athens is officially out of the financial woods – at least for the time being. The head of the Eurogroup has announced that Greece’s second bailout has cleared all parliamentary hurdles.
The eurozone has formally approved the release of the first installment of the second bailout for Greece.
“Euro area member states have. . .formally approved the second adjustment program for Greece,” the head of the Eurogroup, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement.
The first installment of 39.4 billion euros ($51.5 billion) is to be paid out in a series of tranches. Athens was expected to use the bulk of the funds to recapitalize its banks and to plug its budgetary deficit.
And a key doer quits to capture the crown
The finance minister, having played a key role in engineering the takeover of government by the Troika, is stepping down so he can try to take over the ruins of the “socialist” party, an outfit now polling numbers so low they make Amyris stock look good.
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Wednesday said he would resign from his post once he is formally elected leader of his socialist PASOK party.
Venizelos is expected to take over at the helm of PASOK on Sunday, when he runs unopposed for the party leadership.
“Once I take over at the helm of the biggest party in parliament, I will have to devote myself to these new duties,” he told the Alpha television channel in comments to be aired later on Wednesday.
Ex-Pasok leaders join in new party
While Venizelos makes his move to take over the ruins of the thoroughly discredited Pasok, some former party members who got the boot because they refused to sign off on the deal Venizelos helped engineer are starting a new party.
From Athens News:
Independent MPs and former Pasok ministers Louka Katseli and Haris Kastanidis on Wednesday announced the creation of a new political party, Social Contract (Koinoniki Symfonia), during an event at the Aigli conference centre at the Zappeio.
Among those attending the event were several Independent MPs who, like Katseli, were expelled from Pasok after they defied the party whip and voted against the second bailout memorandum agreement.
The new party’s website is http://www.koinonikisymfonia.gr.
In a video uploaded to YouTube, the party gives in indication of its target voters. The clip includes short comments by students, pensioners and migrants, touching on topics such as economic hardship, crime, unemployment and the brain drain.
Fitch raises its rating on Greece
The deal done, Fitch has decided to lift its bonds out of default category into the just-above-junk B- level.
Fitch lifted Greece’s credit rating out of default territory on Tuesday, becoming the first major rating agency to take the widely expected move after Athens completed a debt swap that cut its debt by about 100 billion euros.
This is the first time Greece’s rating has been upgraded since the debt crisis exploded at the end of 2009 and the first Fitch upgrade since 2003.
The three major rating firms have repeatedly slashed Greece’s rating throughout the debt crisis, cutting it to default over the debt deal in which private bondholders lost most of their investments in Greek government bonds.
So maybe the tourists will come back?
For a country heavily dependent on tourist dollars, the Greek crisis and accompanying unrest haven’t been doing wonders for the trade.
Greek travel agencies and similar enterprises suffered a 35.3% decline in turnover last year, compared with 2010, according to a survey by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) reported by Athens News Agency.
This followed a drop in 2010 that had amounted to 24.5% year-on-year and another in 2009 that had come to 9.9%, after growth in the 2006-08 period. With the ELSTAT index for the industry taking 2005 as the base year, at 100 points, it came to 61.9 points last year after climbing to 140.5 in 2008. As the recession is bites ever deeper, the industry saw its turnover shrink by 41.3% in the last quarter of 2011 on an annual basis, after declines of 30.3% and 33.4% in the second and third quarters of the year respectively. The transport sector posted a much smaller decrease, with land transport losing 1.7%, maritime transport shedding 2.7% and air transport flying 0.9% lower.
British banksters cut their payrolls
Gotta love those British banksters, Even when they’re owned in significant part by the citizens through their government, they’re firing Brits and outsourcing the jobs to Asia.
From Alan Jones of The Independent:
Two taxpayer-supported banks were today attacked for making “brutal” cuts of over 1,700 jobs and transferring 300 posts to India.
Lloyds Banking Group is cutting 1,300 jobs, while Royal Bank of Scotland is axing 464 posts, unions were told.
Unite and Accord said it was another “black day” for the finance industry and questioned why the Government was not intervening.
David Fleming, Unite national officer, said: “The announcement of 1,764 job cuts in these taxpayer-supported institutions today is truly brutal. How can there be any justification for the Government not intervening as these much needed jobs are lost from our struggling economy? To learn that 300 jobsare being transferred to a low wage economy adds insult to injury.
“Once more these banks are attacking some of their lowest paid staff to achieve cost savings. Today is yet another devastating day for bank workers as they witness these institutions pressing ahead with massive job cuts, without any consideration as to the consequences for these individuals, their families and the economy as a whole.”
Danes reap billions in growing arms trade
Yep. Seems like that small nation with a Viking past is emerging as a major player in the international arms trade.
From PolitikenDK in Copenhagen:
Danish weapons producers are experiencing major growth at the moment with both the industry and the defence minister seeing major prospects for increased employment in the sector.
“There is great potential,” says Defence Minister Nick Hækkerup (SocDem) who has prepared a new ‘Open for Business’ strategy under which defence attachés are to be used to open doors for Danish weapons producers.
From 2000 to 2010, the value of weapons export licences increased from DKK231m to DKK2.8bn with actual export figures rising from DKK931m in 2006 to DKK1.7bn in 2010, according to the sector organisation.
According to Politiken’s information, the sector is eager to be part of the growth. Terma in Aarhus, which is Denmark’s biggest weapons producer, has already targeted, among others, India.
“For several years Terma has worked to create the right conditions to establish itself in India,” the company writes to the Danish embassy in New Delhi in a communication Politiken has obtained.
“We see India and the Southeast Asian countries such as South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore as exciting markets,” confirms Terma International Director Jørn Henrik Levy Rasmussen, adding that the Middle East is also an interesting region.
“Exciting markets”? Must be that Viking thing.
Sarko would strip tax exiles of citizenship
The French president, facing a tough re-election campaign isn’t just playing the race card. Now he’s threatening expats with loss of citizenship unless they cough up more taxes.
From Radio France Internationale:
If re elected in May, French president Nicolas Sarkozy will introduce a new rule under which French citizens who move abroad to pay less tax than they would in France must pay the difference in tax to the French state or lose their French nationality.
Sarkozy told viewers on French television channel TF1 last night, that it was “profoundly shocking” that some French people could have “all the advantages [of French nationality] without any inconvenience”.
The United States already has a similar tax rule, he said, while emphasising that there would be no change in the rules for French citizens who work abroad as expats.
Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland are traditionally favourite destinations for French citizens who hope to avoid large tax bills.
Sarko calls off his German attack dog
We have to admit wew were shocked when we heard that Sarko L’Americain was calling in German Chancellor Angela Merkel to campaign for him, what with history and all.
Well, now it seems that he’s thought better of the notion.
From Radio France Internationale:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would not take a direct role in France’s election campaign. He said she would, however, visit France to “talk about Europe” with him. Merkel had previously offered to join Sarkozy on the campaign trail, in his bid for re-election.
During an interview on Europe 1 radio, Sarkozy said Merkel would not attend any campaign events, stating that “an election campaign is the French people’s business.”
He said Merkel would visit his country, where they would talk about the state of Europe, adding that it was not an unusual occurrence for the two of them to speak together.
And Germany has a money problem of its own
Yep, the Iron Chancellor can’t even do a thorough job at administering austerity inside her own country’s borders.
Spiegel reports that
the German government didn’t reach even half of its planned savings in the federal budget. Only 42 percent of the spending cuts named by Merkel’s coalition government, comprised of the conservative Christian Democrats and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, were actually implemented.
Calculations made by the influential Cologne Institute for Economic Research indicate that only €4.7 billion ($6.16 billion) of the €11.2 billion in austerity measures stipulated by the savings package actually took shape in 2011.
The government is also falling behind on its targets for this year. Of the originally planned €19.1 billion in savings, less than half has been implemented. For the coming year, the concrete measures that have been agreed on so far cover just one-third of the announced amount of savings. Merkel’s cabinet is hoping to agree to the basic foundations of the 2013 federal budget in March.
This lapse is particularly embarrassing for the German government because the news comes just after 25 European Union member states agreed in early March to an international fiscal pact obliging them to adhere to greater fiscal discipline. The pact also calls for the creation of balanced budget initiatives modelled on Germany’s debt brake legislation that would be enforced by the EU’s court, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Cyprus gets a downgrade
While Greece is up, the island’s down.
From Athens News:
Cyprus’ sovereign debt has been slashed to junk status by the ratings agency Moody’s, due to heavy bank exposure to the Greece’s struggling economy.
Moody’s cut the island-state one notch to Ba1 from Baa3. The outlook was negative, it said.
The one-notch downgrade to Ba1 for the tiny eurozone member follows a similar move in January by the agency Standard & Poor’s.
The island nation has already lost access to international debt markets, and is being kept afloat this year thanks to a €2.5 billion bilateral loan from Russia.
It is the second ratings agency to cut Cyprus to junk, after Standard and Poor’s, which has Cyprus at BB+. Fitch rates Cyprus BBB-, one notch above junk.