It’s the D-word that’s much in vogue in Europe these days, with debt on the tongues of all the right eurocrats and banksters. Harnessing the debt monster is the play, rather than the simple and rational expedient of a jubilee. We’ve got pronouncements from the German and Dutch finance ministers, a harsh word from the man who broke the Bank of England, and a call for a financial autocrat.
Meanwhile, the Swiss military is training for a European collapse.
Major tax hikes and other austerian measures are about to inflict more misery on Portugal, prompting the inevitable protests and a regional election loss for the ruling party. The Spailout’s drawing nearer as austerity bites deeper, Spanish banks get another downgrade, the mass exodus continues, the secession struggle is heating up, and the national dropout rate is soaring — wwhile demand for welfare is rising as funding for programs is cut. And the Italians are saying the cost of a Spailout will drive them deeper into recession.
The British health service faces a corporate takeover, the country gets an IMF rebuke and an auditor’s seal of approval. Iirish unemployed face new bureaucratic obstacles, Cypriots vow an austerity fight, French corporateers declare war on the government, and European car sales continue to fall.
The Iron Chancellor’s kinder, gentler approach
Yep, Angela Merkel’s got a soft heart. [Either that or the threat of common currency exports is causing her some discomfort, given the potential impacts on German industry.]
The “new Merkel,” via euronews:
Schäuble again invokes the D-word
German money minister Wolfgang Schäuble has been resolutely flogging the debt issue, declaring that the only solution to the eurocrisis is the relentless sacrifice of lives and livelihoods to the debt beast.
Only through ruthless, remorseless payments to the private investment sector, he says, will ensure the S word, sustainable development, the perpetuation of an economic system in which finance and consumerism are exalted.
From Agence France-Presse:
Slashing government debt is the only way to put Europe back on a path of sustainable economic growth, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Monday.
“If we want to achieve sustainable growth, we have to reduce the sovereign debt in nearly all advanced economies,” Schaeuble said in a speech at the Thai central bank.
“There is no choice (but) to reduce in the medium term the over-indebtedness,” he added.
“The most important thing for growth is confidence — confidence by investors and confidence by consumers… Long term stability is the most efficient precondition for regaining confidence,” Schaeuble said.
Decades to debt cuts says Dutch central bankster
Here’s another of those “duh” stories.
It may be decades before debt levels in the euro zone drop below the EU limit of 60 percent of economic output, but states should still aim to beat that target, European Central Bank policymaker Klaas Knot said on Monday.
The currency bloc needed a strong authority to enforce a reduction of debt levels, Knot, who also heads the Dutch central bank, said.
His downbeat assessment of how long it might be before states again met the standards on debt they had to adhere to when they joined the single currency added to a growing debate about whether those at the sharp end of the debt crisis should be allowed to scale back their austerity programmes.
For the umpteenth time, it’s not debt that’s the problem, it’s a slavish devotion to its service that’s the real killer.
The transformation of citizens from autonomous political actors into passive servants of private finance is lethal, both to the democratic impulse and to the lives of every living thing on earth.
It’s corporate greed that spends billions to manipulate our minds, and not just on election days. It’s no coincidence that the same minds that shaped government propaganda efforts during World War I became pivotal players in advertising [Edward Bernays] and in molding public opinion [Walter Lippmann].
Some Teutonic Soros Tsuris
Yep, the billionaire who broke the Bank of England is coming down hard on Germany’s reluctance to cough up cash and take on it’s new role as “benevolent hegemon.”
Yes, he really said that.
The European Union could be destroyed by the “nightmare” euro crisis, and Germany needs to take the responsibility to save the common currency, billionaire fund manager George Soros said on Monday Soros, who made his mark as an investor on a big bet against the British pound in 1992, said the other alternative is for Germany — the euro zone’s biggest economy — to simply leave the 17-member currency bloc.
The crisis “is pushing the EU into a lasting depression, and it is entirely self-created,” said Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management. “There is a real danger of the euro destroying the European Union,” he said, according to Reuters.
“The way to escape it is for Germany to accept … greater commitment to helping not only its interests but the interests of the debtor countries, and playing the role of the benevolent hegemon.”
Nowhere, of course, does he suggest a debt jubilee or even a default, general or selective.
No, he wants his own class ensured of future profits.
And Germany’s money minister calls for a financial Führer
Schäuble wants a single official empowered as the Lord High Chancellor of Money, with sweeping powers over the budgets of not-so-sovereign states.
Germany’s finance minister called on Tuesday for the creation of a ‘currency commissioner’ for the euro zone with wide-ranging powers over national budgets as part of an overhaul of the EU treaty to deepen integration and end the bloc’s debt crisis.
Wolfgang Schaeuble also backed reform of the European Parliament to ensure that only lawmakers from countries affected by a particular issue could vote on it, CNBC reported.
He said he had spoken with Chancellor Angela Merkel about the proposals, adding that she was “somewhat more cautious” about them.
Speaking to reporters on his way back from an Asian tour, Schaeuble said the European Union should start to discuss his proposals for treaty change at a summit in Brussels this week.
Swiss army trains for European collapse
While popular myth paints Switzerland as a pacifist country, it’s anything but.
In fact, until recently Switzerland may have been the most heavily armed nation in Europe, if you counted in the reserves.
The country is also ready for war, with fallout and blast shelters in place ready to house the entire population, though while all roads, bridges, and tunnels leading into the country were mined and fortified until late in the last century, those defenses have been downsized in recent years.
And now, with the continent in chaos, the Swiss military is preparing for the worst.
From Valentina Pop of EUobserver:
The Swiss army is preparing for possible internal civil unrest as well as waves of refugees from euro-countries as the economic crisis drags on.
Switzerland, a non-EU, non-euro country landlocked between eurozone states, last month launched a military exercise to test its preparedness to deal with refugees and civil unrest.
“It’s not excluded that the consequences of the financial crisis in Switzerland can lead to protests and violence,” a spokesperson of the Swiss defence ministry told CNBC on Monday. “The army must be ready when the police in such cases requests for subsidiary help.”
Some 2,000 officers took part in the “Stabilo Due” military exercise in eight towns around the country, based on a risk map detailing the threat of internal unrest between warring factions and the possibility of refugees from Greece, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, according to Swiss media reports.
And on to the Iberian Peninsula. . .
Portugal to enact sweeping tax hikes, more
The effects are truly draconian, effectively hitting the nation’s workforce by a full month’s work pay, and virtually ensuring still more civil disobedience and instability.
From the BBC:
The Portuguese government has revealed details of its draft budget for 2013, one of the harshest in the country’s recent history.
Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar confirmed the average income tax rise would increase from 9.8% in 2012 to 13.2% next year.
Opposition Socialist Party leader Antonio Jose Seguro described the draft budget as “a fiscal atomic bomb”.
Portugal’s main trade union, the CGTP, said it was “an attack on the dignity of the people” and daily newspaper Diario Economico declared it “an insult to the Portuguese people”.
The income tax rise in the budget amounts to a month’s wages for many workers.
The budget also reduces Portugal’s income tax brackets from eight to five, and there will be a one-off 4% surcharge tax on all workers’ earnings in 2013.
More from Raphael Minder of the New York Times:
Portugal’s finance minister, Vítor Gaspar, said Monday that the government would stick to the austerity program agreed with lenders, warning that any deviation would risk the “viability” of Portugal’s economy and hurt its credibility among investors.
“A responsible country should do everything possible to avoid such a scenario,” he said. “We don’t have any room for maneuver.”
The draft 2013 budget is designed to yield savings of €5.3 billion. About 80 percent of the adjustments come from tax increases. They include an additional income tax of 4 percent that will be applied to all salaries and raised by a further 2.5 percent for people earning more than €80,000 a year.
Portuguese citizens also face a rise in the annual tax for driving their cars, from 1.3 percent to 10 percent, while electricity tariffs will be raised on average 2.8 percent next year.
And consider this, from France 24:
The increases could worsen a recession in Portugal. Official data suggests that the economy could shrink by 3.0 percent this year with the unemployment rate being close to 16.0 percent.
It is “a fiscal atomic bomb”, said Socialist Party Leader Antonio Jose Seguro. For the Communist Party, it amounts to a “massacre.”
The main trade union CGTP said it was “an attack on the dignity of the people”.
The daily newspaper Diario Economico declared it to be “an insult to the Portuguese people.”
Portuguese react angrily to tax hikes
First, a video report from euronews:
And the story from Emilio Rappold and Sinikka Tarvainen of Deutsche Presse-Agentur:
Eleven people were injured when Portuguese protesters clashed with riot police overnight following the unveiling of a draconian austerity budget, police sources said Tuesday.
One protester was taken to hospital, while 10 police officers were slightly injured by rocks and other objects hurled by demonstrators.
More than 1,000 people protested against the budget in Lisbon on Monday, urging the government to resign and trying to surround the parliament building.
Dozens of them remained in the area until late at night, clashing with police.
Portuguese Social Democrats suffer a setback
Once again, it’s a nominally leftist party [social democrats] that’s wielding the austerian whip hand, inflicting those drastic tax hikes and misery, so it’s not surprising that they lost out in a regional election to a party that claims to be genuinely socialist.
But the losses afflicting the prime minister’s party having deterred him from his harsh austerian line.
From El País:
After the ruling Social Democrats (PSD) suffered a heavy loss in a regional election over the weekend and with protests set to take place around the parliament building as the government unveils “enormous” tax hikes later Monday, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho pledged to stick to his austerity drive despite the impact on his party’s political fortunes.
The Socialists won 49 percent of the votes and 31 out of 57 seats in the regional assembly of the Azores in Sunday’s ballot. Passos Coelho’s PSD garnered 33 percent of the votes and 20 seats.
“Despite the bad times that party is suffering on a national level, regional elections in no way will undermine the national strategy,” Passos Coelho said ahead of the budget announcement.
Finance Minister Vítor Gaspar is due to unveil the draft state budget for next year in parliament starting from 6pm local time (7pm CET). He has already flagged some of the government’s spending and revenue plans, which will contain massive tax hikes to meet the country’s deficit-reduction commitments assumed as part of its 78-billion-euro bailout from the IMF and the European Union. The government aims to rein the shortfall to 4.5 percent of GDP this year.
And on to Spain. . .
Spain ready for the Spailout?
Sources say, and the money would come with a memorandum that merely formalizes austerity measures already taken by the government, according to the usual anonymous sources cited in several European papers.
From Deutsche Sinikka Tarvainen of Presse-Agentur:
Pressure has been piling up on Spain to seek help from the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to trigger bond-buying by the European Central Bank.
With Spain’s borrowing costs now relatively stable, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has hesitated to make the move.
The government is now considering applying for a credit line that would be made available only if the money was needed, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Spanish economic daily Expansion, which quoted a senior Economy Ministry official.
The move would allow the ECB to start buying Spanish bonds, reducing Spain’s borrowing costs so low that it would not need a disbursement of the ESM credit, according to the reports.
Austerity hits harder at Spanish workers
The combination of inflation and higher taxes has led to the biggest decline in their financial well-being in three decades.
From El País:
Figures released Monday by the Labor Ministry revealed that salary increases as part of collective agreements in the year up to September were 1.3 percent, compared with an inflation rate of 3.4 percent. That, combined with higher personal income taxes under the government’s austerity drive, means that the spending power of workers has suffered its biggest fall in 27 years, helping drive the economy into recession once more.
Given that it heralded historically low interest rates, no one dared criticize Spain’s entry into the single-currency bloc. But, deprived of its own monetary policy and with fiscal policy hostage to the imperative of reducing the budget deficit, the only way Spain’s economy can recover competitiveness is by containing salaries and prices. But high inflation has scuppered that approach.
Spanish banks hit with another downgrade
This time it’s nearly a dozen dropped to near-junk, adding still more pressure on the Rajoy regime to head hat in hand to the eurobanksters.
The ratings agency Standard and Poor’s on Tuesday cut its rating of all 11 Spanish banks that had a qualification above BBB-.
This new rating follows the agency’s decision to lower its rating of Spain’s sovereign debt to BBB-, just above junk status, last Wednesday.
Among the 11 Spanish banks are the two largest ones in the country: BBVA and Santander.
Caixabank, Banesto, BFA-Bankia, Banco Popular, Bankinter, Banco Sabadell, Ibercaja Banco and merged saving banks in the Basque Country are also affected by this new rating to which S&P has added a negative perspective for the future.
Mass exodus from Spain continues
Hardly surprising, given the steady downward spiral that continues unabated.
Since January 1 2011, almost one million Spaniards have left their country in search of better lives elsewhere, according to data released on Monday by Spain’s national statistical institute INE.
More than 420,000 people emigrated from Spain in the first nine months of 2012, or 21.58% more than in the same period the previous year. Of these, 52,912 were Spaniards and 365,238 were foreign, according to INE.
An estimated 203 people emigrate from Spain every day, with most of them leaving from Andalusia, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Madrid. In October, Spain’s population numbered 46,116,000, against 46,196,000 in January 2012, the INE data showed.
Catalonian secession push heats up
The drive to sever the nation’s industrial core from Madrid is an issue that just won’t die, and now comes the threat of a turn to Brussels if the national government rejects a popular vote.
From Miquel Noguer of El País:
The spiraling furor over Catalonia’s aspirations to greater autonomy continued unabated on Monday as defiant regional premier Artur Mas threatened to take the demand for a referendum on the issue to Europe if Madrid insists in rejecting it.
“If they won’t let us consult the people, what we will have to do is explain this to Brussels; we will have to internationalize the conflict,” Mas said in an interview with the TV-3 television channel.
In comments during a talk show on television channel laSexta, Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón reiterated the government’s stance that a referendum would be breach of the Spanish Constitution.
Gallardón rejected the idea of an agreement along the lines of Great Britain where the British parliament is expected to authorize a referendum on independence for Scotland. “Spain doesn’t make sense without Catalonia,” the minister said. “We Spaniards need to get involved in this debate.”
Mas said he wants to see a referendum on independence for Catalonia within the next four years, and would not do so with the idea of “losing” the vote. However, he acknowledged that there are legal obstacles against holding such a vote because of the government’s opposition to it.
Spanish dropout rate accelerates
It’s a double whammy for the nation’s young, who enter a job market where youth unemployment is one in two.
Young people in Spain are more likely to leave school early and have difficulty entering the job market, according to a Unesco report published today. ‘Education for All 2012, finds that one in three Spaniards between 15 and 24 years of age abandoned their studies before finishing secondary school. The European average is one in five.
In a country hard hit by the crisis, authors of the report have described the trend as “worrying”. In March youth unemployment in Spain exceeded 50%.
The report checks the progress of the 2015 Millennium educational goals set in Dakkar.
According to the report young Europeans are lacking in professional skills. “They are not able to fulfill their potential. They lose work opportunities which as a result inhibits their country from become prosperous again”.
Between 2007 and 2009 unemployment rates of early European school leavers ‘increased significantly’. The study found Germany to be the only exception. Spain was undoubtedly the worst hit. In Spain the phenomenon of ‘ni-ni’ – young people who neither study nor look for work, is becoming more common. “At least a quarter of young Spaniards who left their studies at the end of the first cycle of secondary education, and a fifth of those who abandoned their studies after secondary school aren’t even looking for a job,” the report finds.
Demands for welfare soar as funds are cut
At the very moment that massive cuts to government assistance programs are taking hold, the demand for services is reaching a new peak.
From Carmen Morán of El País:
Spain’s welfare services are working overtime to help growing numbers of people hit by the ongoing economic crisis. Health Ministry figures from 2010, to which this newspaper has had access, show that over eight million people turned to welfare centers for help to cover basic needs like buying food or paying the water bill, a 19.5-percent increase from the previous year.
Although more recent figures are not available, at this rate of growth and in the opinion of several welfare workers the number of people who sought help this year is likely to be higher.
“In my 25 years as a welfare worker I had never seen anything like it,” said María José Arredondas, who works in a rural area in Lugo. “This year is noticeably worse than last. Public social services were never as overflowing as they are now, and with the cuts, there are no resources. This item should not be cut; on the contrary, it should be increased.”
But far from doing so, the latest government budget slashes basic welfare services by 40 percent. Taking the two last budgets into account, the fall has been 65.4 percent: where there were once 86 million euros, there are now only around 30 million allocated.
The average users of welfare services are seniors (one out of every three), people with disabilities (10 percent) and families with children (26 percent), but there are also drug addicts, single parents, ex-convicts and ethnic minorities. In recent times, people who lived on modest means have also had to turn to their local welfare center.
Italians complain the Spailout would hurt the Boot
The claim: The costs of bailouts to Portugal, Greece, and Ireland have already upped the Italian debt load, and a Spailout would make matters still worse.
Italy claims that a 100 billion euro aid request from Spain would shave 1.5 per cent off Italy’s economic output, according to Rome’s finance ministry.
Spain which has already obtained cash to prop up its banking sector, could seek a sovereign bailout next month, claim eurozone officials.
Italy’s Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli said Italy’s public debt had gone up four per cent as a result of EU aid to Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
And on to Old Blighty. . .
British health service head warns of disaster
The demand to transform a public service into a private profit center is memorably portrayed as carpet-bombing.
From Daniel Boffey of The Guardian:
The head of the NHS has laid bare his fears that the government’s controversial reforms of the health service could end in “misery and failure”.
Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, said high-profile, politically driven changes almost always end in disaster. He warned against “carpet bombing” the NHS with competition but said that competition was best used like a “rifle shot” to fix problems.
The outspoken comments, made to GPs at a conference held by the Royal College of General Practitioners, puts Nicholson on a collision course with the new health secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Last week Hunt told the Conservative party conference that the NHS reforms devised by Andrew Lansley to open up the NHS to private providers and give extra powers to GPs were “brave and right”. But Nicholson, who has until now kept his concerns private, revealed tensions between the government and the highest echelons of the NHS at the meeting held just over a week ago.
Nicholson added that he believed the reforms were an opportunity to keep the politicians out of the NHS. He added: “I’m an optimist by nature, I have been a health service manager for the last 35 years.” But in regard to the reform programme, he added: “What it does do is change the nature of the relationship between government and the NHS in a really profound way. We can conspire to stop it if we want to. We now have an NHS commissioning board, clinical commissioning groups, whose responsibilities are in law, statutory bodies with a legal framework. No longer is the NHS what the secretary of state said it would be. It creates much more difficulty for politicians to arbitrarily get involved in the day-to-day operations of the NHS.”
IMF slams British austerity regime
It’s too much, too soon, says the International Monetary Funds second in command.
From Philip Aldrick of the London Telegraph:
David Lipton, the International Monetary Fund’s deputy managing director, has urged George Osborne to slow the pace of austerity to rescue Britain’s flagging recovery.
His comments raise the prospect of the Chancellor inflicting another year of pain on the country, by extending planned tax rises and spending cuts into 2018 rather than finding more savings within the current timeframe.
Speaking to The Telegraph on the fringes of the IMF’s annual meetings in Tokyo, Mr Lipton said the UK faces a “growth challenge” that Mr Osborne must address – potentially at his Autumn Statement in December.
He also suggested that the Bank of England be more inventive with quantitative easing (QE) by using it to buy assets other than gilts.
More from Heather Stewart of The Guardian:
George Osborne’s drastic deficit-cutting programme will have sucked £76bn more out of the economy than he expected by 2015, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund of the price of austerity.
Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, last week caused consternation among governments that have embarked on controversial spending cuts by arguing that the impact on economic growth may be greater than previously thought.
The independent Office for Budget Responsibility implicitly used a “fiscal multiplier” of 0.5 to estimate the impact of the coalition’s tax rises and spending cuts on the economy. That meant each pound of cuts was expected to reduce economic output by 50p. However, after examining the records of many countries that have embraced austerity since the financial crisis, the IMF reckons the true multiplier is 0.9-1.7.
Calculations made for the Observer by the TUC reveal that if the real multiplier is 1.3 – the middle of the IMF’s range – the OBR has underestimated the impact of the cuts by a cumulative £76bn, more than 8% of GDP, over five years. Instead of shaving less than 1% off economic growth during this financial year, austerity has depressed it by more than 2%, helping to explain why the economy has plunged into a double-dip recession.
Auditors say British recovery on track
But it’s a qualified endorsement.
Britain’s economy is expected to return to growth in the second half of this year despite a expected GDP fall of 0.2 percent for the full year, according to a quarterly forecast report issued by Ernst and Young Item Club on Monday.
The report, however, forecast that Britain’s national economic output will turn to a growth of 1.2 percent in 2013 and 2.4 percent in 2014 and 2015.
“Trade performance in the first half of the year has been deeply disappointing, offsetting the positive effect of falling inflation and rising employment on consumption,” read the report.
The country’s export is expected to grow 0.6 percent this year and then to jump by 6.3 percent, 6.9 percent and 6.8 percent in next three years respectively.
Fixed asset investment, meanwhile, would increase 1.4 percent this year, and 2.0 percent in 2013, the report said.
Irish jobless must sign a new contract
Oddly enough, it’s a program certain to create more jobs — positions for bureaucrats who’ll have to carry it out.
From Michael Brennan of the Irish Independent:
Unemployed people will have to sign a “contract” before they can get their dole payments in a radical shake-up of the social welfare system.
It is the first time that people seeking jobseekers payments will have to undergo such a process.
Previously it was a matter of supplying basic personal details such as name, age and PPS number to get a payment.
Under the “social contract”, they will have to co-operate with social welfare staff to develop a “Personal Progression Plan” to help them secure training or employment.
They will also have to attend all scheduled meetings and provide all the requested information about their job history and education level.
A Cypriot rebellion against austerity
Though the country has gone to the usual suspects for a bailout, the country’s president has vowed to reject any memorandum demanding cuts in pay.
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias promised to defy a demand from international lenders to rein in wages as he prepared to push political leaders to rally behind him before he starts a new round of bailout talks, according to Bloomberg.
Christofias, a communist, said last weekend that he’ll defend wage indexation and the so-called 13th salary, which the so-called troika that oversees euro-area bailouts has said must be scrapped. “I’m certainly ready to take to the streets with the workers,” he said.
The president, who won’t run in a February election, meets today with political party chiefs for the second time in 10 days to discuss his government’s counter-proposal to the troika, which consists of officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Christofias needs opposition support to push any budgetary measures through parliament.
Cyprus in late June became the fifth euro-area nation to request a financial rescue since a 2010 bailout of Greece. The government is in talks with the troika to fix the size of the bailout, which will encompass banks weakened by their exposure to the Greek economy as well as the public sector.
More from ANSAmed:
Cyprus’ government and political parties yesterday appeared to be united in their disagreement with proposals submitted by the island’s international lenders regarding Cyprus’ banking sector although differences still persist on fiscal and structural matters.
Parties met in the morning with President Demetris Christofias in a bid to iron out the island’s response to proposals tabled by the troika on July 25. Discussions later moved to the finance ministry where after four hours it was decided to break and continue today, as Cyprus Mail reports. Parties and the government seem to have formed a united front against the troika proposals on banks. They also disagree with scrapping the 13th salary and COLA, the six-monthly, automatic wage indexation.
French corporateers declare war on Hollande
Break labor power or reap the whirlwind, they declare.
From Clare Byrne of Deutsche Presse-Agentur:
The president of the French employers’ federation Medef appealed to the government Monday to urgently introduce labour market reforms, warning: “We’ve gone from a storm warning to a hurricane alert.”
In an interview with Le Figaro newspaper Laurence Parisot said France was on its way to becoming the “sickman of Europe” – a situation she blamed on high wage taxes, inflexible labour laws and contempt for entrepreneurs.
“When it comes to choosing among several countries where to invest, big foreign investors now automatically exclude France,” Parisot said.
“Our country is, alas, becoming less attractive each month, while our neighbours are trying to become more so,” she analysed.
More from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph:
The fear is that a fiscal shock in 2013 will tip the economy into a sharp downward slide. “France needs more fiscal austerity right now like a hole in the head,” said sovereign debt strategist Nicholas Spiro.
“They don’t have any chance of meeting their growth target of 0.8pc next year, but that does not in itself put French debt at risk.
“The real danger is contagion if things turn ugly in Spain.”
Finance minister Pierre Moscovici has hinted at a shift in policy, saying there may have to be a “reorientation” of the eurozone’s fiscal strategy. “The people are not going to like Europe if it can’t offer growth,” he said.
Mr Hollande has promised reforms to the labour market next year but MEDEF remains sceptical.
The demand for endless growth, defined as the expansion of the corporate and financial sectors, simply cannot last, given the planet’s diminishing ability to provide the raw materials needed to fuel it.
European car sales continued downward spiral
No surprise, but the numbers of notable.
From Deutsche Presse-Agentur:
New car sales in Europe plunged in September as the region’s debt crisis hit the auto market, data released Tuesday showed.
Car sales in the European Union shrunk by 10.8 per cent in September compared with the same month last year, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said. Total new car registrations stood at 1.02 million last month.
Of the major markets, only Britain posted a gain with Germany and France recording hefty falls of 10.9 per cent and 17.9 per cent respectively. The British market expanded by 8.2 per cent.
Leading the falls across Europe were the car markets in nations at the centre of the long-running debt crisis with cash-strapped Greece posting a hefty 48.5-per-cent slump in September compared with the same month last year.