Tag Archives: Silvio Berlusconi

Our Daily Warning

As the government of Romania falls as another victim of the economic crisis, the global political risk factor continue to rise and the odds of even more social unrest gains a few more percentage points. EconoTwist’s and many bloggers , analysts and researchers,  have been warning about this for years. But perhaps it’s time for another warning?

 “With people already questioning a model of society prone to generate inequalities, civil unrest in one country would rapidly spark political turmoil and social dissatisfaction across Europe. Foreign investors would fly away from Euro-denominated assets, scared by a spiral of riots, selective defaults, and low GDP that would eventually lead the Euro to collapse.”

Edoardo Campanella

Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc on Monday announced his resignation after three weeks of anti-government protests in the country, following in the footsteps of Giorgio Papandreou and Silvio Berlusconi.

He said he took this decision in order to calm “social tensions” and so the “economic stability of the country” is not affected.

Well, the resigning of the PM’s in Greece and Italy doesn’t seem to have helped much in that matter.

See: World Erupts in Anger: “You Can’t Eat Money!” (Photo Coverage)

It seems more like political leaders fleeing from their responsibility.

And if someone don’t claim that responsibility soon, and start doing something about it, we may very well find ourselves in a helluva lot more trouble than we’re already in.

ReadEurope: “Time to Get Angry”

In case there is still anyone who not quite grasp the depth of this crisis, here’s the adviser for the Italian senate, Edoardo Campanella, to explain:

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The Social Consequences of the Euro Crisis

About a year ago the Arab spring taught the world an important, predictable lesson. When young people cease to be the engine of the economy and are excluded from the decision-making process, long-run economic growth is endangered and political stability undermined.

This lesson holds true for dictatorial regimes as well as for long-established democracies.

In Europe, a deteriorating youth marginalization is creating the preconditions for a social earthquake capable of shaking the old continent and impairing the survival of the Euro.

Until now, safety nets and intra-family transfers have prevented peaceful Indignados-style protests from turning into violent Arab-ones.

However, the shortfall of resources due to a new imminent recession, along with fiscal austerity measures, will impair this channel, whereas frustration and social resentment will keep growing

The figures are already alarming.

According to a report recently released by the European Commission, one in five young people is at risk of falling into poverty or social exclusion, only one third of young people are employed, and one in three has been out of work for over one year.

Moreover, 40 per cent of the unemployed are under 30, to the amount of 9 million people. On the other extreme of the age scale, the trend is reversed.

The employment rate for people aged 60-64 increased from 23% in 2000 to 34% in 2010.

In peripheral countries the situation is extremely acute.

The Portuguese government urged its young unemployed to leave Europe for better opportunities elsewhere, in Italy almost 120.000 young talents left the country last year, and in Spain thousands of people are pouring into former colonies in South America.

Across Europe, and even in Germany or Sweden, young workers are experiencing in-work poverty due to what economists call labor market dualism.

Unlike their older colleagues, they just have access to temporary contracts, which pays on average 14%  less than permanent contracts and are more vulnerable to sudden layoffs.

The medium-term economic and social consequences of such youth marginalization are huge.

  • First, an economy that is not nourished by fresh ideas loses competitiveness, becomes vulnerable to interest groups, suffocates material as well as intellectual progress, and is fated to stagnation or even prolonged recessions.
  • Second, high income volatility and job insecurity discourage the creation of new family units that are essential to generate social cohesion as well as inter-generational solidarity.
  • Finally, economic uncertainty tends to lower fertility rates with negative spillovers on the size of tomorrow’s workforce, population ageing, and the sustainability of public finances. The political implications could even be more disastrous.

Therefore, what begs asking is whether these economic factors could contribute to the eruption of an Arab spring in Europe.

There are, of course, huge economic and political differences between North Africa and Europe. The latter, unlike the former, is graying, prosperous, and democratic. But, paradoxically, the combination of these diverging demographic trends and opposite institutional features, along with the same aspiration for a better future, could lead to an identical result.

In North Africa young people represented the demographic majority of a despotic regimes, in Europe the political minority of a democratic system.

The former fought for an economic progress they just started to savor but that was hampered by the elite in power. The latter would fight for a material wellbeing that is only benefiting their older fellow citizens at their expenses.

Either way, young people can improve their situation and gain power only through violent rather than legal channels.

What event, if any, will inflame the upheaval in Europe, which country will be the epicenter of this social earthquake, and what impact it could have on the institutional, democratic order remain uncertain.

However, it is still possible to predict part of the effects.

With people already questioning a model of society prone to generate inequalities, civil unrest in one country would rapidly spark political turmoil and social dissatisfaction across Europe. Foreign investors would fly away from Euro-denominated assets, scared by a spiral of riots, selective defaults, and low GDP that would eventually lead the Euro to collapse.

Edoardo Campanella

To avoid this catastrophe, European governments should start promoting the role of the youth in their societies through family friendly policies, career paths related to productivity rather than to seniority, cross-country mobility, and the eradication of dual labor markets.

Spring is approaching. European leaders should act soon.

Edoardo Campanella is economic adviser to the Italian Senate.

This article is syndicated by www.eurointelligence.com.

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From Greece With Anger

Greek police says all international air mail and parcel services to end from the country will be suspended for two days after at least 11 other letter bombs were detected in Athens, Tuesday. One was addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, two others to the Greek parliament and eight to the embassies of Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Chile, the Netherlands and Belgium. In addition were one bombs destined for the Europol office in the Netherlands, and one for the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

“Both packages contained explosive devices.”

Greek Police Officials


In Berlin, the German chancellery was on high alert after police destroyed a bomb addressed to Angela Merkel. The parcel was sent from Greece by air mail and UPS delivery and was similar to the Athens letter bombs, according to the German interior ministry. The package, with the Greek ministry of economy listed as the sender, contained explosives hidden in the covers of a book.

It was detonated by security forces in a building adjacent to the chancellor’s office. Ms Merkel herself was not in Berlin at the time, Reuters reports.

Also Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had explosives sent to his address.

A suspicious parcel was detected at the Bologna airport in northern Italy and caught fire when it was searched, AFP reports. Nobody was hurt, but the airport was temporarily closed down and several flights got re-routed to other Italian airports.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou condemned the bombing attempts, which are attributed by the police to anarchists. The perpetrators were trying to “disturb the social peace in the country through criminal acts,” he says.

A parcel bomb exploded at the Swiss embassy in Athens after an explosive device was thrown into the courtyard of the building. However,  there has been no reports of injuries or deaths.

It happened in spite of  heightened security in the Greek capital, after a mail bomb exploded at a delivery company on Monday. A suspicious package was also found at the Bulgarian and Chilean embassies.

Russia Today reports:

Two Men Arrested

Two men, aged 25 and 22, has been arrested in connection with the plot.

One of them is a chemistry student who was seized wearing a wig and a bulletproof vest, the Irish Times reports.

He is believed to be linked to the radical group “Conspiracy of Cells of Fire,” which has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Greek government buildings and banks.

The group is believed to be linked to the urban guerrillas who have killed police officers, a prominent journalist, and now vows to turn Greece into a “war zone.”

The anarchist movements are fuelled by popular anger over harsh austerity measures passed by the Papandreou government in return for an EU-IMF bailout earlier this year.

A government spokesman called the bombing campaign a deliberate attempt to “terrorise” public opinion ahead of Sunday local elections, according to the EUobserver.com.

Powerful Explosives

The air mail bombs come only a few days after two powerful explosive devices hidden in ink cartridges were detected on-board passenger planes in packages shipped from Yemen to the US.

One bomb travelled on two passenger planes before being seized in Dubai, while the other passed through Germany and almost slipped through Britain before being discovered on a plane at East Midlands Airport.

On Monday Germany introduced a ban on all passenger and cargo flights from Yemen. The move has been criticised by the Yemeni government as unfairly hitting tourists, business people and anti-terrorism fighters in the country.

In what now seems as a prediction of these events last month, the US government issued a blanket travel alert for its citizens visiting Europe, urging them to be cautious when in tourist hotspots, as fresh terrorist attacks may be under way.

The governments of EU responded differently to the alert. Germany notably being the most sanguine, without raising its threat level or issuing travel alerts to its own citizens.

Anyway – the social unrest in Europe have reached a new and higher level.

Related by The Swapper:

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Mysteriet i Chiasso

Mysteriet i Chiasso

Det sies at sannheten er det første offeret i en krig. Vi vet ennå ikke sannheten om de to asiatene som ble tatt med 134 milliarder dollar i kofferten på grensen til Sveits forrige fredag. Kanskje får aldri vite den. Det som er sikkert, er at finanskrisen ikke er over.

To personer av asiatisk opprinnelse ble arrestert i byen Chiasso på den italiensk-sveitsiske grensen 3. juni etter at tollerne fant amerikanske statsobligasjoner til en verdi av 134 milliarder dollar gjemt i en koffert.

134 milliarder dollar er ufattelig mye penger. For å få et bilde, kan du forestille deg følgende:

• Med 134 milliarder dollar ville du vært USAs fjerde største kreditor, etter Kina, Japan og England.

• Hadde nasjoner vært til salgs, kunne du kjøpt Slovakia og Kroatia – og dessuten ha nok igjen til å kjøpe Moldova og Kambodsja.

• Du kunne arrangert tre olympiader.

• Du kunne dekket alle utgiftene til den norske stat i et år.

Ingen private personer eller institusjoner kan håndtere et så stort beløp som dette – kun nasjoner.
Og det er bare to, tre nasjoner i verden, foruten USA, som kan bla opp amerikanske statsobligasjoner for 134 milliarder dollar.

Forutsatt at papirene er ekte.

Dumper dollar?

Det er gitt svært lite opplysninger i saken. Det er ikke fastslått hvor at de to smuglerne hører hjemme, bare at de er i 50-årene og var utstyrt med japanske pass.

Et avgjørende spørsmål er om de amerikanske gjeldspapirene er ekte eller falske.

Spørreundersøkelser på nettet viser at fleste tror statsobligasjonene er forfalskninger. (Om lag 60/40). Men oberst Rodolfo Mecarelli i det italienske finanspolitiet mener. ifølge tyske medier, at de er ekte.

Obligasjonene blir nå undersøkt av italiensk politi og USAs Secret Service. Dersom det er ekte vare, betyr det at en regjering mest sannsynlig står bak det mystiske smuglingsforsøket.

Både Kina, Japan og Russland har gitt signaler om at de ønsker å redusere sin beholdning av amerikanske gjeldspapirer på grunn av den fallende dollarkursen.

Men statslederne vet godt at hvis de dumper milliarder av dollar åpenlyst i markedet, vil det utløse full panikk. Å selge dem i mindre porsjoner via en anonym konto i Sveits, er en måte å kvitte seg med dollarpapirene uten å skape for store bølger.

Om obligasjonene er ekte, vil det være katastrofalt for det amerikanske finansdepartementet. Det vil bety at USA har mistet oversikten over sine utstedte statsobligasjoner, og at pengepolitikken i verdens største økonomi er ute av kontroll.

Hvordan vil det globale finansmarkedet reagere på det, mon tro?

Forfalskninger i omløp?

Det gjør ikke saken bedre om obligasjonene er falske.

Kinesiske myndigheter har satt spørsmålstegn ved sikkerheten til amerikansk gjeld; om USA noen gang blir i stand til å betale tilbake pengene, og om dollarkursen vil holde seg såpass stabil de kommende årene at de ikke endre opp med tap på sine investeringer.

Dersom det er forfalskninger, er ikke Kinas statsminister Wen Jiabao den eneste som vil sette brillene på nesen og ta en ny grundig kikk på obligasjonene sine.

I USA er administrasjonen er i gang med et historisk gigantsalg av obligasjoner for å finansiere underskuddet på statsbudsjett som øker med om lag 200 milliarder dollar i måneden.

Bare mistanken om at det kanskje finnes forfalskede statsobligasjoner i omløp, kan føre til massivt salg av dollarpapirer, sende rentene i USA til himmels og dollaren i rett graven.

Krigføring?

Uansett – bare en regjering (eller diktator) med tilgang til en sentralbanks kunnskap og teknologi kan lage troverdige forfalskninger av verdipapirer som dette.

“Operasjon Bernhard” var navnet på en hemmelig tysk plan under andre verdenskrig som gikk ut på å destabilisere den britiske økonomien ved å overflømme landet med falske sedler.

Tyskerne produserte til sammen falske penger for 134 millioner pund.

I 1989 ble det oppdaget en falsk amerikansk pengeseddel av så høy kvalitet at det praktisk talt er umulig å avsløre. I dag antas det at det er en falsk seddel for hver 10 000 dollarseddel.

Det er fremdeles et mysterium hvem som har produsert den såkalte “superdollaren” . USA har beskyldt Nord-Korea for å stå bak falskmyntneriet for å sabotere amerikansk økonomi, men også Iran, Syria, Kina og kriminelle bander i Russland har vært mistenkt.

I januar 2007 hevdet den tyske avisen Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung at “superdollaren” er produsert av den amerikanske etterretningstjenesten CIA for å finansiere hemmelige operasjoner uten å be Kongressen om penger.

Januar 2008 ble denne teorien forsterket i en rapport fra McClatchy Washington Bureau.

Sannheten?

Det har vært påfallende lite omtale av saken i mediene.

Mangelen på informasjon gjør også at konspirasjonsteoriene florerer.

Det er likevel et besynderlig sammentreff at det i mars ble opplyst at det var akkurat 134 milliarder dollar igjen av USAs krisepakke (TARP) på 700 milliarder som ble vedtatt i fjor høst.

Det er neppe Japan som prøver å bølle med USA. Kina sitter på amerikanske obligasjoner for hundrevis av milliarder dollar. Det er ingen logikk i at landet skulle finne på noe som kan rasere sine egne valutareserver. Det samme gjelder for Russland.

Det er ikke utenkelig at Nord-Korea kan stå bak forfalskninger, men selv ikke Kim Il-Sung er så dum at han sender to “bananer i pyjamas” til Sveits -av alle steder – med en koffert proppfull av falske obligasjoner. Er det noe de kan i Sveits, så er det penger.

Er papirene ekte, er det Italia som får jackpot. Silvio Berlusconi kan innkassere 40 prosent av beløpet som straffegebyr i henhold til landets lover. Det er nok til å dekke Italias forsvarsbudsjett i halvannet år. Men Berlusconi er neppe i stand til å skaffe amerikanske statsobligasjoner for 134 milliarder dollar, verken ekte eller falske.

Da gjenstår det bare ett land – USA selv. Eventuelt i samarbeid med Kina eller Japan.

Kanskje tilhører pengene Kina, og at man har prøvd å få dem til Europa for å opprette en investeringsenhet som skulle kjøpe varer fra Kina for å styrke eksporten og landets handelsbalanse.

Kanskje har USA har solgt statsobligasjoner i hemmelighet til for eksempel Japan i flere år for å dekke over at underskuddet på statsbudsjettet er større enn opplyst, fabulerer de mest konspiratoriske.

Når nasjoner tar i bruk metoder som ikke tåler offentlighetens lys, er det som regel i de alvorligste krisetider.

“I krigstid, når sannheten er så verdifull, må den beskyttes av med bodyguard av løgner.” sa Winston Churchill en gang.

Det eneste som er sikkert, er at finanskrisen ikke er over.

Den kan også være i ferd med å forverres.

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