Friday, 31 October 2008

Special USA : 31th October

On Rue89.com, a French based web newspaper, I found articles from a very good contributor based in Los Angeles : Armelle Vincent (California Dreaming Blog)

A Battle Mountain, Nevada, « on ne va pas voter pour un nègre ! ».

Bogs' News : 31th October

Friday's thought: The role of experts of international organisations. Julien Frisch, Watching Europe (en)

The MED will not escape the global economic Crisis. Eberhard Rhein, BlogActiv (en)
" ... This recession, which follows the global unleashing of the US banking disaster, will be not much different from any previous economic slowdowns, except its unprecedented global spread. No country, no economic sector, no household will be spared. Everybody will cut back on consumption and investment. Very few farsighted people will have the guts to look b beyond the current gloom and invest in long-term projects.MED countries will be hit in several ways ..."

It tells you something … Richard, The EUReferendum (en)
" ... The Armed Forces are having to spend a massive £700million on tougher armoured vehicles for troops in Afghanistan - while withdrawing an entire fleet of state-of-the art battlefield vehicles after barely two years of use ...
... But in a sign of the increasing ferocity of the fighting against the Taliban, the Viking's armour has proved unable to protect soldiers and Marines from roadside bombs and buried mines, and at least six drivers are understood to have been killed in explosions ..."

Who are the masters now? Richard, The EUReferendum (en)
" ... The regulation of financial services is an exclusive EU competence where the EU has adopted directives and regulations in the field and where there is general EU law that applies to financial firms, for example, the state aid rules. Member states can only legislate in the field covered by a directive (unless explicitly allowed to do so by the directive) in order to implement EU law, to provide further necessary detail or to ensure its proper enforcement, for example by adding sanctions for non-compliance ..."

Tory's finally spot the real economic crisis! Ironies Too (en)
" ... George Osborne, speaking at the LSE this morning, finally seems to have twigged the grave nature of the danger facing the country. Britain can borrow no more! ..."

What on earth. Open Europe Blog (en)
" ... Thanks to Bruno Waterfield's Telegraph blog we learn that “Brussels spin doctors are planning to put a ballot box into orbit” in an attempt to raise the profile of next June’s European elections.The stunt forms part of a £21million PR contract to come up with a "campaign concept and visual identity" for the European Parliament ..."

Whats up with Declan? RZ, Re:Europa (en)
" ... What would be needed is an alternative vision for the insitutional organization of the European Union. But Libertas has nothing to add, and seeks only to destroy ..."

Identity : 31th October 2008

The euro Seeking shelter . The Economist (en)
" ... Even solid ex-communist countries such as Poland want to speed up their preparations to meet the conditions for joining the common currency. And rich EU members that stayed out by choice, Sweden and Denmark, are thinking again. Joining the euro, at least in some eyes, means a loss of national identity ..."

Quote : 31th October Mc Cain endorsed by his Jailers

This one is quite ironically funny :

His Vietnam jailers for McCain
A bit of a double-edged sword, this one. McCain's bravery as a POW is one of his major selling points. But did he really want his former jailers to come out in support of him? Probably not. It didn't stop them though:
"If I had a vote in the U.S., I would choose McCain," beams retired Col. Tran Trong Duyet, the camp's former commander. "I want him in the White House."

From : They're behind you! Endorsements politicians really didn't want. Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (en)
Photo from The New York Times, 2008

Newspapers : 30th October

Winegrowers protest against law which 'could ban wine tasting'. Henry Samuel, The Telegraph (en)
" ... "How can one imagine that French wine, without even talking about its economic weight or its place in our heritage and our cultural identity, can have any real export growth opportunities when everything is done to censor it in our country?" asked Bordeaux mayor, Alain Juppé ..."

Spanish queen breaks silence - and upsets gay groups. Anita Brooks, The Independent (en)
" ... "I can understand, accept and respect that there are people of other sexual tendencies, but should they be proud to be gay? Should they ride on a parade float and come out in protests? If all of those of us who aren't gay came out to protest we would halt traffic," she said in the book, written by Spanish journalist Pilar Urbano ... "If those people want to live together, dress up like bride and groom and marry, they could have a right to do so, or not, depending on the law of their country, but they should not call this matrimony, because it isn't," she is quoted as saying. "There are many possible names: social contract, social union".

Iceland sees rift over EU membership. David Ibison, The FT (en)
" ... The first serious cracks in Iceland’s ruling Independence party on joining the European Union have appeared after its vice-chairman broke with party policy and said the crisis-hit nation should start thinking about membership now.
Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, minister of education, said an application for membership needed to be discussed “in weeks rather than months” ...
... A growing number of Icelanders believe the financial crisis could have been averted – or at least alleviated – if the tiny nation had pursued EU membership earlier and adopted the euro ...

Sarkozy leans on banks over lending. Scheherazade Daneshkhu and Ben Hall, The FT (en)
" ... The president summoned bank executives and Treasury officials to the Elysée palace to spell out in more detail their obligation to increase the amount of credit in the real economy by 3-4 per cent a year in return for €10.5bn ($13.5bn, £8.3bn) in subordinated loans from the government ...
... By putting pressure on the banks to perform, Mr Sarkozy has also deflected attention from the government and made it clear who people should blame if they cannot get credit ...
... The French Banking Federation said banks would pay on average 4 percentage points on top of the refinancing rate for their loans, which is neither punitive nor generous, analysts say.
But the state has adopted a hands-off approach – it has no power to dictate dividend policy, bankers’ pay or take a seat on the banks’ boards. Even the main condition – to maintain outstanding credit growth of 3-4 per cent – does not seem onerous in the context of last year’s 11 per cent rise ..."

EU okays French and Dutch bank schemes. Nikki Tait, The FT (en)
" ... Other schemes which have been given the green light came from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Portugal. The commission remains in ”close contact” with several other member state governments and more approvals are expected in the coming days.
Both the French and Dutch plans have been approved with conditions. These include requiring the countries to renotify the scheme for approval in 6-8 months time, and to report to the commission on its implementation. In addition, there are undertakings that the countries will not discriminate over which banks can access the schemes, and that they will be open to subsidiaries of foreign banks operating in the respective markets. Similar conditions have been imposed on all the approved schemes ..."

New Anxiety Grips Russia’s Economy. Andrew E Kramer, The NYT (en)
" ... At the start of the global financial crisis, Russian authorities insisted they had ample cash reserves to weather any storm. But as sorrow has succeeded sorrow — plummeting oil prices, a 70 percent descent in stock markets here, a global credit crisis and a slow-motion bank run on this country’s private banks — Russia has had to spend its reserves faster than anybody imagined ... This week’s fall — $31 billion — was the steepest so far .... the question is: How long can Moscow keep this up before its reserves grow thin? ...
... Because so few Russians own stocks, the decline of the markets has not affected most of them directly. Instead, business people who relied on Western bank credit are now in the red, and foreign investors have fled to safer havens ...
... She said friends had decided to buy furniture. “If you have a couch, at least you have a couch, even if you have no money.” ..."

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Cartoon 1 : 30th October Trader's Tools

Adam Zygliss, 2008

Cartoon 2 : 30th October

Cam, 2008, The Ottawa Citizen(Ottawa)

Blogs' News : 30th October

After Wearing The Hair Shirt For Over Two Years Hungary Is Now Helped Into The Straight Jacket. Edward Hugh, A Fistful of Euros
" ...Well we now have some of the details of the IMF package for Hungary, and interesting reading it makes. Hungary has in effect secured a 20 billion-euro ($25.5 billion) loan which is going to be sourced by three institutions: the IMF, the EU and the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund is going lend Hungary 12.5 billion euros, the European Union will provide another 6.5 billion euros, and the World Bank is chipping in with a symbolic 1 billion euros ..."

Poles apart. Certain Ideas of Europe (en)
"... The government, led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, adopted a plan on Tuesda, to move forward with entry into the European currency zone, which it committed to when it joined the European Union in 2004 ... the opposition wants a referendum on the matter. The Law and Justice party, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother, the President Lech Kaczynski, fear that adopting the euro could hurt Poland's growth and stability. Mr Tusk has conceded that if the opposition insists, he may agree to a referendum ..."

Told you so! Richard, EUReferendum (en)
" ... Forecasters, we are told, are blaming a change in wind direction for the wintry spell with Arctic gusts replacing the mild south-west Atlantic breezes enjoyed in recent weeks. I am truly amazed they haven't put it down to global warming ...."

Another fine mess. Richard, EUReferendum (en)
" ...In 2006, we were citing "analysts" who were saying that the United Nations, which had 17,500 peacekeepers in the country, "would have to act with unaccustomed resolution to prevent the run-off from spiralling out of control and returning the country to civil war." ..."

The Central European Realignment. Dodo, European Tribune (en)
" ... Gati also notes the disagreement with the Bush administration's prioritising of Iraq, and writes that lack of consultation before making the decision for war was interpreted as the US viewing CEE states as mere vassals (I presume he either means public opinion, or the inofficial view of diplomats, or both) ..."

"Uncomfortable implications" - Nationwide. Ironies Too (en)
" ... A 1.4 per cent drop in house prices in October takes the annual fall to 14.6 per cent for the year according to the Nationwide Building Society ..."

Mandelson and EU openness. Nosemonkey, EUtopia (en)
" ...In any case, this all follows rather neatly from recent responses from GrahnLaw, Julien Frisch and Re: Europa to a Statewatch paper suggesting methods to achieve “greater openness, transparency and democracy in the EU” (WARNING - PDF). Worth a look - because I doubt there’s an EU-watcher out there who wouldn’t wish for more of all three.
My plea to the European Union thoughout my five and a half years of trying to blog about it remains the same as it ever was: Please, please stop being so boring and incomprehensible. Pretty please? "

Newspapers : 30th October (en)

Economic medicine . The Telegraph (en)
" ...the Government continues to claim that Britain is "better placed" than other countries to ride out the recession. This relies on it falsely claiming that national debt is equivalent to 43.3 per cent of GDP, a figure that excludes most of its liabilities. Adding the private finance initiative, public sector pensions, Network Rail and its banking interventions to the balance sheet would bring that up to 161.1 per cent ..."

That so many hedge funds have met their nemesis in Germany, the country which has always been most suspicious of their activities, is one. That the car manufacturer, Porsche, the traditional choice of high-flying financiers, should have been the vehicle of their ruin, is another ...
... But now the hedge funds which have taken an almighty pasting are crying foul. They are complaining of a lack of transparency in German stock markets, arguing that they could not see what was coming because Porsche had built up its stake in VW through derivative contracts, rather than straightforward share purchases.
The hypocrisy of this is immense. No players in financial markets are less transparent than hedge funds, which never reveal their holdings and which lobby against greater regulatory oversight with an almost religious zeal. But more importantly, what Porsche did is not illegal ...
... The crucial point about hedge funds is that their way of doing business is incredibly risky. They make colossal bets on movements in markets, often with borrowed money. If the bets pay off, they reap a fat profit. But if they go wrong, as was the case with their short-selling of Volkswagen's stock, it can be disastrous. Normally, this would be a case of caveat emptor. But the risk of hedge fund bets going wrong and the consequent need of the funds to dump assets is borne not only by their clients but the rest of us too ..."

Moscow agrees oligarch bail-out. Catherine Belton, The FT (en)
" ... Russia’s state development bank on Wednesday approved $10bn (£6bn, €8bn) in refinancing for the country’s cash-strapped oligarchs. This came as the first step of a $50bn government bail-out that could redraw Russia’s business landscape ..."

Comment: Brussels must issue sovereign debt. Daniel Gros and Stefano Micossi
" ... The euro has been falling because investors, in their scramble for safety and liquidity, are flocking to US – and to an extent also Japanese – government paper, driving their yields close to zero. US and Japanese paper is considered safer than other government-backed assets – including public debt instruments issued by European governments. In other words, the separate markets for sovereign debt paper of unequal quality issued by European governments cannot compete with the US market for financial flows in search of a safe harbour; and they will not be able to compete in times of turbulence until the European Union develops a unified market for bonds denominated in euros ..."

" ... The Socialist he beat for the presidency, Ségolène Royal, said Tuesday that “with a new plan practically every two days,” Mr. Sarkozy had “a credibility problem.” At the very least, she said, “we must pay attention that each plan announced should start before announcing the next." ...
... But they are also going to look for results, said Katinka Barysch, an economist and the deputy director of the Center for European Reform in London. “For Sarkozy, it’s a tricky strategy,” she said. “In a situation where confidence is in such short supply, having a politician leave the impression he’s in charge and can do things can be good. But if like Sarkozy, you convene one summit after another and present one idea after another, you raise expectations you can’t fulfill.”...
... Mr. Sarkozy — and not him alone — wants the European Commission to relax the rules because of the recession, and that will produce “a debate in difficult circumstances” between France and Germany, which supports the limits and does not want to see European institutions undermined. Mr. Sarkozy has worked politically without any real ideology in this crisis, promising safety to the French, appealing to nationalist instincts and trying to play an important role in Europe, and he has helped himself in the polls, said Pierre Rousselin, the foreign editor of Le Figaro. “Sarkozy is a bit a magician without clothes, but the important thing is the perception, and he’s doing pretty well,” Mr. Rousselin said. “The time will come when people ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’ But I’m not sure we’ve reached that point yet. To energize Europe itself is a pretty good thing.” ..."

Picture : 30th October Who said that Short Sell is Good ???

" ... The root of the hedge funds' demise lies, appropriately perhaps, in the murky practice of short selling, in which traders seek to make huge sums by betting on the share price of a company falling.
Traders agree to sell shares in a company (in this case VW) to a third party at a fixed price and by a certain date, then wait for the price to fall before buying the shares and handing them on to the third party.
The difference between the agreed sale price and the price at which the trader buys the shares is profit. But if the share goes up, traders are exposed to potentially limitless losses ..."
Payback time for the hedgies? Gordon Rayner, The Telegraph (en)

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Identity : 29th October Island next EU Member ?

L'Islande, 28ème Etat membre? Jean Quatremer, Les Coulisses de Bruxelles (fr)
" ... Un sondage publié hier par le quotidien Frettabladid montre que 68,8 % des personnes interrogées souhaitent que leur pays présente sa candidature contre 55,1 % en février 2008 et 48,9 % en septembre 2007... Mieux: 72,5 % des sondés sont en faveur de l'abandon de leur couronne dévaluée pour l'euro. Un autre sondage publié la semaine dernière indique que 70 % des Islandais souhaitent un référendum sur l'adhésion de leur pays ...
... En tous les cas, ce sondage démontre que la pédagogie de la crise fonctionne parfaitement. Le problème est que, dans le cas de l'Islande, il est un peu trop tard... Et on se demande pourquoi il faut en arriver là pour que les peuples comprennent l'intérêt de constituer une puissance globale face aux menaces extérieures. Comme si un petit pays isolé -Malte, France ou Allemagne- pouvait résister à quoi que ce soit ..."

Blogs' News : 29th October

The Bank Bailouts Are Very Well Intended, But Where Is All The Money Going To Come From? Edward Hugh, A Fistful of Euros (en)
" ... So the big question now is, do these various institutions have the resources to back up their guarantees, should the need arise? ...
... According to the FT article the difficulties Austria, which has a triple A credit rating, is facing only serves to highlights the extent of the deterioration in the sovereign bond market, where benchmark indicators of credit risk such as the iTraxx index hit fresh record spreads yesterday ...
... Spain, which alos currently has a triple A rating, and Belgium have both cancelled bond offerings in the past month because of the market turbulence, with investors again demanding much higher interest rates than debt managers had bargained for ...
... Also, another story in Bloomberg gives us a further glimpse of how the EU governments are planning to do all that financing. The German government, it seems, is going to print IOUs (sorry, bonds) and give them directly to the banks. That is, they are not going to auction bonds and give the proceeds, they are simply giving the paper, and presumeably paying a coupon (or interest) ..."

As One CEE Country After Another Visits The IMF Sick Room, Will Poland Be Next? Edward Hugh, A Fistful of Euros (en)
" ... Central European stocks declined for a fourth consecutive day on Monday, with indexes in Vienna and Budapest heading for record monthly drops, as concern mounts that the global financial crisis is going to have a severe impact on economic growth across the entire region ..."

Romania In “Close Dialogue” With IMF, Bulgaria To “Seek Advice”. Edward Hugh, A Fistful of Euros (en)
" ... Romania is in “close dialogue” with the International Monetary Fund, though it is not asking for a loan from the lender that has offered support for Ukraine and Hungary ... This news today is not entirely unexpected, since only yesterday S&P’s downgraded Romanian foreign currency debt to what is effectively “junk bond” status ..."

News That Scares Me. Edward Hugh, A Fistful of Euros (en)
First off, we have Iceland, where the central bank has just raised interest rates by a whopping six percentage points ... Now, I know they have to do something like this, but just think about it for a moment. Eighteen precent is a very attractive rate for you if you put your money there (and assume that the banks don’t default) - but how the hell are the Icelanders themselves going to pay all the interest that people will be clocking up? ....

If We Survive The Credit Crunch And Global Recession (Or Depression), Then What? financialguy, BlogActiv (en)

L'euro, objet de désir à l'Est et au Nord de l'Europe. Jean Quatremer, Les Coulisses de Bruxelles (fr)
" ... Jusqu'il y a peu, les autres monnaies européennes ont bénéficié du bouclier de la monnaie unique. C’est terminé : en dehors de la couronne slovaque, qui va intégrer la zone euro en janvier prochain, toutes les monnaies de l'Union sont attaquées. Les couronnes suédoise et danoise, le forint hongrois, les monnaies baltes (couronne estonienne, lat lettone et litas lituanienne), le lev bulgare, le leu roumain, le zloty polonais et la couronne tchèque perdent du terrain face à l'euro et au dollar ...

Serves them right. Richard, EUReferendum (en)
" ... Based on the assumption that this German company would share the fate of the rest of the automotive industry, speculative "short sellers" have been holding short positions in anticipation of the share price plummeting as the demand for vehicles drops in the recession.Instead, as news came though that Porsche - which has been attempting to take over the VW for some years – had secured a larger stake in the company than anyone had thought, shares rocketed, prompting "a huge scramble to cover short positions in Volkswagen, which had been the most shorted stock in Germany's benchmark DAX index." ...
... One hedge fund said: "There have been some dark moments over the past few months but none blacker than this. We couldn't have dreamt a worse scenario." ...
... We do not claim any great prescience – but then we are not highly-paid analysts who do this sort of thing for a living. But anyone with at least moderately-tuned political antennae would have cautioned that you treat VW issues with the very greatest of care, tainted as they were by a complex political overlay. The "normal" assumptions simply do not apply ..."

French Protectionism for Europe? Dodo, European Tribune (en)
" ... You may also remember that rejection from other EU members came swiftly, and with particular harshness from Germany, where Sarko's protectionist push is seen as yet another attempt by France to force its model on the EU after previous failed attempts.
However, a new poll for German magazine Stern shows that the political elite is totally out of tune with public sentiment: the overwhelming majority of the population would support Sarko's plan ...
... The Franco-German difference over the state's role in the economy goes back to well before the emergence of (modern) neoliberalism -- for the German side, in fact it has its ideological roots in what was back then also called Neoliberalismus, West German social liberalism. In the Rhenan model of capitalism, for the state to be an arbiter between employers and employees, it shouldn't be the former itself. Consequently, German politicians fought statist-dirigist proposals at the EU level for 50 years ...

Hungary facing default. Ironies Too (en)
" ...The IMF had two reasonable conditions. One: plan a budget in which even in the most pessimistic case, you plan spending which you have funds for. Two: in a situation like this, don't commit to reducing revenue ...
... The IMF conditions will be of interest for the UK ... At present Brown is expecting the independent Bank of England to reduce UK interest rates while the government itself plans huge new borrowings which could only be achieved with massively raised interest rates to compensate for the daily more severe sterling currency devaluation risks.In the absence of any real political opposition party it is now increasingly difficult to see any way for the UK to escape from the equivalent of an economic Armageddon ... "

Thatcher, Bruges and future Tory EU policy. Nosemonkey, EUtopia (en)
" ... the Tories under David Cameron still have no EU policy. I’ve been hunting for one for a while now ... and they still seem no closer to working out what they even think of the thing ... The thing is, Thatcher’s near-infamous Bruges speech remains a great starting point for the Tories to set out their position on Britain’s involvement with the rest of Europe ...
... The speech is well worth reading in full ... it actually contains much that is positive towards a European Union, and fully supports continued British engagement at the heart of the process. It’s just that it doesn’t support the direction the current EU has been heading for the last 30-odd years towards greater centralisation and uniformity. Pretty much all of Thatcher’s suggestions back then are still being made to this day - and not just by eurosceptics ..."

A constructive Vision for Eurosceptics. RZ, Re:Europa (en)
" ... Exactly! It would be a really positive devolpment if Europhobes would present a vision how they think the EU should be structured in the future along the lines of this article. This would finally enable us to have constructive debate about the EU ..."

Debunking the case against NATO enlargement: a reply to the WPR op-ed. Vitaliy, The 8th Circle (en)
" ...Balance of power theory tells us that if Russia grows more threatening, the European Union — now richer than the U.S. — will respond by investing more on defense than its current average of 2 percent of GDP, and by further integrating its military capacity ..."

Newspapers : 29th October

" ... The Peak Oil group warned in a report that the country could begin feeling the effects of a severe lack of oil within five years, as oil-producing countries will be forced to wind down production due to diminished reserves ...
... Mr Leggett, whose book Half Empty expands upon his vision of a looming international catastrophe due to an emptying of global oil reserves, said he was pessimistic that innovations in oil exploration, including the tapping of tar sands, could prevent disaster.
"When they fail to meet demand, many countries will experience this as an energy crisis. Some will experience it as an energy famine, as producers start to withhold exports," he said. ..."

Audacious Porsche in $20bn 'sting'. Mathieu Robbins, The Independent (en)
" ... The hedge fund industry has seen huge growth over the past few years, with many ambitious young entrepreneurs, including Nathan Rothschild, opting to enter the sector. It also poached many senior investment bankers and private equity executives, attracted by the high returns and pay, and relative freedom of working for what are normally small firms.
Hedge funds thought they could outperform traditional investors by using increasingly exotic ways of investing their money. They also presented themselves as slight rebels, different from the staid financial establishment, often opting to set themselves up in Mayfair, west London, rather than the City or Canary Wharf. There will be those in Germany who will relish the discomfort of the hedge funds. In 2004, a German politician, Franz Muenterfering, described private equity firms and hedge funds as "locusts".

Sarkozy, the natural leader of Europe. Charles Bremner, The Times (en)
" ...The financial mess of the past month has opened a boulevard for the French president to do what he believes he does best: rushing into the breach to take charge ...
... It has been a good autumn for Super Sarko. Before the banking drama, he had already ridden to the rescue to halt the Russian advance on Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, last August ...
... Sarko has in effect reverted to old French custom of strong intervention by the state. Its rulers, from King Louis XIV through to the post-war Republic of Charles de Gaulle, practised the tradition that l'état knows best. Some of the time, they have been right ...
... The Germans are amused by the presumption of the "Napoleon of Neuilly", as some of their commentators call Sarko, referring to his base in the posh western suburb ...
... In reality the crisis has exposed some of the weakness of the Union rather than its ability to pull together in crisis. The rescue has been run by national governments, not by the Union's supranational institutions -- the executive Commission, the court and parliament ...
... The United States has been forced to recognize that Europe's mix of state and market is not so out-of-date as it thought. Keynes is back and American leadership of the world is more in doubt than it has been at any time since the 1940s. Sarkozy believes that with les Anglo-Saxons discredited, it's time for the old continent to seize the moment and he wants to be the one in front. The next year will be interesting. "

Public Life is Public. The Times (en)
" ... The bureaucrats who recorded these items may actually have a sense of humour. Commissioners are powerful and necessarily well connected. It is well known that they are frequent guests on the yachts and jets of the very wealthy. Yet their rules for declaring interests are structured so that any meaningful act of hospitality goes undeclared.
Under the commissioners’ code of conduct, the public cannot know who entertains them or whether they mix business and pleasure in what they choose to call their private time, unless the commissioners themselves choose to say so. Usually, and unsurprisingly, they do not ...
... The code of conduct was drafted in haste by Neil Kinnock in 1999 after the resignation of Jacques Santer’s entire Cabinet, which had been condemned as shot through with fraud, corruption and bad management ... "

Warsaw to speed euro adoption. Jan Cienski, The FT (en)
" ... Poland’s government on Tuesday spelled out the country’s path to adopting the euro by 2012, part of a series of moves designed to help calm spooked investors who have been retreating from the Polish zloty as emerging market currencies are buffeted by the global financial crisis.
The plan calls for the government to begin talks on amending the constitution by early next year – the current document allows only Poland’s central bank to set monetary policy. Later in 2009, Poland would enter the ERM-2 European exchange rate mechanism, and the final exchange rate between the euro and the zloty would be set in the summer of 2011. Poland would be admitted to the common currency by January 1 2012 ... "

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Identity in Time of Crisis : 28th October National Legacies

Hardships Past Haunt Europe’s Search for Financial Safety. Katrin Bennhold, The NYT (en)
" ... In America, wealth and retirement savings are much more tied up in the stock market, with a majority of people owning at least a modest stake. By contrast, only 13 percent of German households and 24 percent of French ones own shares, according to 2006 figures compiled by the European Savings Institute ...
... history teaches Europeans that situations can go from bad to perilous in no time, and there is a long tradition of burying the family’s treasures in troubled times ... History matters. In times of crisis you really get to know a country and its people,” said Toni Pierenkemper, a professor of economic history at the University of Cologne. “Traumatic events are seared into the collective consciousness and often survive into the next generations.” ...
... In France, gold sales have also increased, but people are more trusting of the government.The entire French banking system was state-owned as recently as 1987, and the state has played a prominent role in the economy since the days of Louis XIV. In contrast to the unease and suspicion among most Americans about the government’s taking stakes in distressed financial institutions, many people in France feel comforted — even vindicated — in their belief that the state has a responsibility to look after the economy ...
... “We nationalize, we denationalize and we re-nationalize. That’s the way it goes in France,” quipped Bernard Candiard, director-general of Crédit Municipal de Paris, a 231-year-old pawnshop that is doing brisk business these days and is a state monopoly ... "

Carton : 28th Oct Seven Deadly Sins of the Meltdown

Steve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune, 18th October 2008
Cartoon Found via The Big Picture Blog.

Blogs' News : 28th October

Academy of Lagado. Richard, EUReferendum (en)
Lord Tebbit on the future of the EU. Ironies Too (en)
20 years since Bruges. Ironies Too (en)
The Great Juncker: Back to the nation state. Julien Frisch, Watching Europe (en
EU as a democratizing force: Croatia. Vitaliy, The 8th Circle (en)
European Central Bank: Procurement rules. Grahnlaw (en)

Bruges, Twenty Years On. EURSOC Two, EurSoc (en)
" ... It is twenty years since Margaret Thatcher's heroic Bruges Speech ... Her most pertinent criticism, however, is of the drive towards a superstate. We may be closer than we think to such a phenomenon today ...
... Valéry Giscard d'Estaing on Britain's European future: "If countries such as Britain do not want to move to the next stage, we should be prepared to agree with them a special status that would preserve close ties but avoid them acting as a brake on the progress of others." ...
... Tebbit, Thatcher and Giscard are of a previous generation, though the fact that the former French President led the committee which drew up the failed European Constitutional Treaty suggests that their views and political clout still count for something. If Sarkozy, the Germans, Tebbit and Giscard agree on an issue, there's sure to be something up ..."

With a heavy heart …. Richard, EUReferendum (en)
" ... the European defence ambitions have nothing to do with mounting a credible defence. The European defence forces are a hollow joke, inadequate, disorganised, demoralised and useless.What this is all about is keeping up the appearance of military might, while actually spending less on defence ...
... the European defence ambitions have nothing to do with mounting a credible defence. The European defence forces are a hollow joke, inadequate, disorganised, demoralised and useless.What this is all about is keeping up the appearance of military might, while actually spending less on defence ..."

Ukraine and Hungary To Receive IMF Loans, While Belarus Joins the Line. Edward Hugh, A Fistful od Euros (en)
" ... Hungary announced the loan at more or less the same time as Ukraine received a USD16.5bn loan from the IMF. Under normal circumstances both these moves would be good news for Central and East European equity markets assets. This was not the case on this occassion, however, and Hungary’s stock markets fell more than 10% on opening yesterday, suggesting that either investors are not convinced the packages will be sufficient, or that they fear there is more to come ..."

Tongue twisters. Certain Ideas of Europe (en)
" ... Linguists have counted 239 known languages in Europe, which is about 3.5% of the world's total. The big ones--English, French, Spanish, German--are well-known. Some regional languages that were dying, Catalan and Welsh for instance, have bounced back ..."

Be tiny, live longer?. Certain Ideas of Europe (en)
" ... THE World Health Organisation recently reported that Andorra, that little pocket tucked in the Pyranees, has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world. One can speculate on the many reasons why this would be so: in addition to the mountain air and lifestyle, being well-situated to pick and choose from the best of French and Spanish culinary influences (all in moderation, of course) can't hurt ..."

Lean Time for Green? Afew, European Tribune (en , fr)
" ... Et, souligne Jérôme Pouyet, professeur à l'Ecole d'économie de Paris,"si le gouvernement commence à injecter des milliards d'euros dans le système financier, il faudra les trouver quelque part, et on peut peut penser à la suspension de projets d'infrastructure", comme les LGV ..."

Boring: The European Ombudsman and his 2007 report. Julien Frisch, Watching Europe (en)
" ... The European Ombudsman receives complaints from European citizens and European organisations about EU institutions (the main addressee in 2007 was the Commission and the main issue was intransparency) and is supposed to support the solving of the underlying problems.So in fact, his work should be interesting for all citizens.But neither the 2007 report nor the Executive Summary are interesting to read. The summary really should be more concise, more directed towards the public, much more visual, much more obvious, not the kind of largely bureaucratic language that we encounter in the main report ..."

Are bond traders pricing in an EMU break-up? Open Europe Blog (en)
" ... Tony Barber on the FT's Brussels blog urges readers to "watch the yield spread" when it comes to the debt of eurozone governments.This is an issue Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph has been writing about for a while, and is certainly an interesting proxy for the market's faith in European monetary union. Barber singles out the spread between German and Italian 10-year government bonds: 25.8 basis points one year ago, 69.6 one month ago, 72.3 one week ago and 95.6 today ..."

IMF loans to Hungary and Ukraine: potential consequences. Vitaliy, The 8th Circle (en)
" ... Countries that sign IMF agreements, ceteris paribus, attract 25% less FDI inflows than countries not under IMF agreements. Of course, this result should be taken with a grain of salt until closer inspection by the reader, but it is a concrete empirical finding we have published in a peer-reviewed journal. Then the natural question is why do politicians in countries like Hungary and Ukraine sign IMF loans? Jensen offers some answers: "The IMF may provide immediate capital for countries in crisis and some ability for the government to deflect criticism for austerity measures to the IMF, but it is at the expense of long-term economic performance" ..."

Qu'est-ce qu'un paradis fiscal ? Gus, Publius (fr)
" ... Il y a une manière fort simple de répondre à cette question, qui a le grand mérite de ne pas exiger de décision européenne unanime ou même majoritaire : il suffit de demander aux spécialistes en défiscalisation, plus souvent nommés spécialistes en structuration de patrimoine, c'est à dire ceux qui font profession d'aider leurs clients à faire échapper leurs revenus à l'impôt ..."

Don't Count Out the Petrostates. Robert Amsterdam (en)
" ...However, announcing the "fall" of Russia, Iran and Venezuela as a result of the about-turn in oil prices would be naive. A state's power in world politics is not absolute, but relative to the power of other states. If petro-states are on the back foot on account of the plunging value of their chief export, then the oil-importing nations of the West are stuck in an even deeper hole. The relative political power of the US and other Western states has taken a massive dip as a result of unregulated financial fiction, and petro-states cannot fall when their rivals are getting battered ..."

Newspapers : 28th October

Iceland lifts rates to 18% from 12%. The FT (en)

We can never be part of a federal Europe. Norman Tebbit, The Telegraph (en)
" ...In 1988, Mrs Thatcher's "guiding principles for the future" of Europe were simple.
First, that "willing and active co-operation between independent sovereign states is the best way to a successful community". Secondly, that "community policies must tackle present problems in a practical way". Thirdly, she saw a place for "policies that encourage enterprise" and, lastly, that the "most fundamental issue" was the European countries' role in defence.
Those principles still hold good. What has changed is the recognition by Giscard that total union of all member states is unattainable, and that the New Europe must accommodate both the United European States of those willing to unite and the sovereign national states wishing to remain independent ..."

Financial trouble grows for oligarch with friends in high places. Mathieu Robbins and Vesna Peric Zimonjic, The Independent (en)
" ... Oleg Deripaska, the cash-strapped Russian industrial tycoon, is facing problems with his investments in the Balkan republic of Montenegro and is suing the government of the country for €300m (£240m). Mr Deripaska, who owns the country's biggest aluminium plant, has become embroiled in a dispute with the newly independent state where investors including Nathaniel Rothschild are also investing in real estate and developing exclusive tourist spots ...
... Mr Deripaska, who is already relying on the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to bail him out in refinancing about $2.5bn (£1.6bn) in loans due to be repaid this week. The sum is part of a $4.5bn loan Mr Deripaska took out for the acquisition of a 25 per cent stake in the Russian metal producer Norilsk Nickel, a situation that sees him opposed to a rival billionaire, Vladimir Potanin, in a fight to control the company ... "

At this rate, it won't be long before we're joining the euro. Steve Richards, The Independent (en)
" ... The long list of those keeping their fingers crossed here that the Bank of England will deliver a headline-grabbing reduction next week includes home-owners with big mortgages, small businesses, big businesses, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister ...
... Their subservience is the consequence of the government's supposedly one unequivocally successful policy. The Bank of England's independence is seen widely as Mr Brown's great historic move, the one that brought about economic stability for a decade ...
... Until quite recently the government was following one economic policy and the Bank of England another ..."

Mandelson should release diary, says EU . David Charter, Francis Elliott and Kevin O’Flynn, The Times (en)
" ... Lord Mandelson’s erstwhile colleagues in Brussels are increasingly concerned that the reputation of the European Commission's trade department is being dragged through the mire by continued allegations over his relationship with the oligarch ...

VW vies for title of world’s biggest company. Richard Milne, The FT (en)
" ... Volkswagen was on Tuesday vying for the title of the world’s largest company by market capitalisation, growing by another €130bn on the back of panic-buying by hedge funds desperate to cover their losses. Shares in Europe’s largest carmaker soared as high as €1,005, having closed at about €210 on Friday.

EU approves German bailout scheme. Nikki Tait, The FT (en)
"... The European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, made clear that the package included a ”comprehensive set of commitments” designed to ensure that it would be not abused and create undue distortions in competition ...
... The package has three elements: a recapitalisation scheme that will make new capital available to banks and insurers in exchange for shares; a guarantee scheme covering new issues of short and medium-term debt; and a temporary acquisition of assets, provided these assets are bought back after no more than three years without the government making a loss ...

Editorial comment: Borrow and spend. The FT (en)
" ...Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister, has conceded that his long love affair with Prudence is over ...
... But, in the short term, the case for fiscal stimulus looks stronger by the day, not only in the UK, where the economy shrank alarmingly in the third quarter, but also in the US and the eurozone. The non-financial sector is struggling badly ...
... Strange as it sounds, if recession deepens, writing cheques to citizens looks like the prudent response. Under the circumstances, such handouts are likely to relieve credit constraints and allow fresh consumer spending. And if they are able to cushion a hard landing, they will prove to be value for money. Most developed countries – in particular the UK – have room to take on more public debt; they cannot really afford not to.

Job fears hit French consumer confidence. The FT (en)
" ... Companies are expecting an intensification in job cuts, which is something that’s also being felt by consumers so you’ve got two reflections of the worsening state of the labour market,” she said. Interest in France will focus on unemployment figures which are to be published on Thursday. The economy is widely believed to be in recession now after contracting by 0.3 percent in the second quarter and probably shrinking again in the third ..."

Denmark Is Rethinking Its Spurning of the Euro. Carter Dougherty, The NYT (en)
" ... The Danish experience has underscored what American and European governments achieved with monumental bailout packages for banks — and what they did not ...
... Denmark, a sometimes skeptical member of the European Union that has so far refused to abandon its krone for the euro, is also finding out how difficult it can be to go it alone. On Monday, the National Bank of Denmark and the European Central Bank cemented the latest in a string of global currency swap agreements, emergency measures aimed at replacing a currency market that has seized up. The European Central Bank in Frankfurt will provide Denmark 12 billion euros “as long as needed,” the two central banks said in a statement ... "

Monday, 27 October 2008

More Newspaper : 27th October

Jörg Haider und die Männer. Robert Misik, Die Tageszeitung (de)
L'Asie entre en scène. Sylvie Kauffmann, Le Monde (fr)
" ... Peu importe qui, au bout du compte, aura amené la Chine à Washington. Ce qui est stupéfiant, c'est qu'il ait fallu plaider pour qu'elle y soit. Et que les dirigeants occidentaux, plongés jusqu'au cou dans "la plus grave crise financière depuis 1929", n'aient pas jugé indispensable que des moteurs de croissance comme la Chine et l'Inde soient associés d'office à la recherche d'une solution durable ...
... Ces Asiatiques ont jusqu'ici eu le bon goût de ne pas accabler les responsables de la crise actuelle, du moins pas trop haut. "Critiquer le capitalisme ? Mais nous, on veut continuer à nous en servir !", réplique un Chinois, en marge de la réunion de l'ASEM à Pékin. "Critiquer les Occidentaux ? A quoi bon, ils représentent toujours près de 70 % de l'économie mondiale !", commente un Indien. "Pallier l'absence de leadership américain ? Mais il est essentiel que les Etats-Unis continuent d'assurer notre sécurité !", s'affole un Japonais ...

Blogs News : 27th October

Interrupting our usual glacial wonkishness. Alex Harrowell, A Fistful of Euros (en)
So nice to know he cares. Richard, EURefrendum (en)
Confusion reigns. Richard, EURefrendum (en)
Britain's treasury minister, Darling, exposed as knowing Icelandic dangers! Ironies Too (en)
Will Mandelson cause the curtains to finally fall on the corrupt EU? Ironies Too (en)
And I’m back…sort of. Vitaliy, 8th Circle (en)

Another confession. Richard, EURefrendum (en)
" ... Economists from the World Economic Forum have blamed "out of control" chief executives for treating its annual Davos summits like a luxury party rather than a serious conference.Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the WEF, said he regretted not forcing Wall Street and City executives to listen to the worries of leading economists about the credit bubble over the last five years ...
... The funny thing is that the WEF meetings have acquired much the same reputation as the Bilderburger meetings – rich and famous men meeting "behind closed doors to set an agenda for the global economy".The sad truth though is that they were little more than high-class piss-ups for a bunch of over-paid inadequates ..."

We’re only making plans for Nigel. Alex Harrowell, A Fistful of Euros (en)
" ... In France it’s hardly unprecedented for major capital spending to be directed by the state, whether under the Commissariat au Plan, through state-controlled or -influenced enterprises, or directly by the Ministry of Finance. Sarkozy always danced nimbly between the neoliberal and state-capitalist camps. If the last two decades were the neoliberal decades, the coming two are likely to consecrate the hegemony of state capitalism. Sarkozy has been quicker than most to draw that conclusion and try to get ahead of the tsunami ..."

Keynesian Sarko. Alex Harrowell, A Fistful of Euros (en)
" ... A lot of people have greeted the news of the fund with a certain degree of nonsurprise. Since when hasn’t the French government taken stakes (and influence) in “strategic” industries? The new fund will be managed by the CDC, the state-owned bank which exists to, well, invest in strategic industries. It’s no great surprise that the Germans, and specifically the CDU, are suspicious to critical at what they probably think is an invitation to put their money into the French military-industrial complex ...
... You could often get the impression that if the conversion of Europe into a single state occurred tomorrow, there are quite a lot of important people in France who would welcome it as a chance to call a Eurogroup summit meeting, such is the obsession. And there is no reason why they shouldn’t have it; after all, as the usual suspects point out, all it amounts to is a “point of contact”. However, one thing the crisis has shown up is that there isn’t a sensible economic distinction between the EU and the Eurozone; problems blow up in one and pass straight into the other, as do solutions ..."

Sarkozy the summiteer . Stanley Crossick, Blogactiv (en)
" ... A dozen summits in six short months (August and December being vacation months) makes no sense for a part-time president who also has a country to run. But the hyperactive President of France takes it all in his stride, and adds numerous bilateral meetings and telephone discussions ...
... His performance in Strasburg on Tuesday 22 October before the European Parliament was brilliant. Speaking for 40 minutes without notes, clear, decisive, forceful, witty. In short, a charasmatic leader, but one sadly with a tendency to upset his peers and a failure to exercise the diplomatic niceties. He makes it more difficult for himself by failing to consult or even inform. ..."

How a new Irish government might save Lisbon. Hugo Brady
" ...The financial crisis is challenging many of our assumptions about the course of politics and world affairs. Gordon Brown – only weeks ago portrayed as nearing the end of his time as UK prime minister – has been elevated to European, even global leadership status. After years of pan-European financial integration, the EU is heading back to national banking systems, with heavy state involvement. And the French desire for a different kind of globalisation – considered either hopelessly vague or a form of Gallic envy a short time ago – might well be realised in the coming months. Cliché or not, these are interesting times indeed ..."

FMI : DSK à l’épreuve. Jean Quatremer, Les Coulisses de Bruxelles (fr)
" ... Car, si on lit le code de conduite du FMI, DSK a eu au minimum une « conduite inappropriée » à l’égard d’une employée sur laquelle il exerce une autorité directe, conduite qui a abouti à un « conflit d’intérêts ». C’est ainsi qu’il faut lire les « regrets » du conseil d’administration concernant son comportement. On peut se demander ce qui se serait passé si le monde ne traversait pas une telle crise bancaire et boursière, le FMI n’ayant aucun intérêt à perdre son directeur en ce moment.

The Rt Hon George Osborne, BOAP, MP. Richard, EURefrendum (en)
" ... According "a source close to the Tory leader": "George has been a bit of a prat" (BOAP). This is retailed to us by The Daily Telegraph - on the front page in the print edition. Mr Heffer is even less kind ..."

EU member states fool European Court of Justice. Julien Frisch, Watching Europe (en)
" ... In fact, the European Court of Justice had issued a verdict saying that the Iranian opposition group mentioned in the previous article - the People's Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) - should no longer be listed on the European Union's terror list.However, EUobserver reports that member states are fooling around with the Court's verdict by constantly taking "new" positions on that issue, saying that "new information" make it "impossible" to remove the PMOI from the list ..."

Newspapers : 27th October

Berlin believes danger persists. The FT (en)
Asia and Europe vow firm crisis response. The FT (en)
Talk of a Euro-army is political posturing. The Telegraph (en)

European Commission 'broke its own rules' over Mandelson. Bruno Waterfield in Brussels and Patrick Sawer, The Telegraph (en)
" ... The row over Lord Mandelson's relationship has also illustrated shortcomings in the Commissioner's Code of Conduct, a document drawn up by Neil Kinnock in 1999, while he was Commission Vice-President, to tackle conflicts of interest after a corruption scandal led to the collapse of the Commission led by Jacques Santer.
The Code states: "The general interest requires that in their official and private lives Commissioners should behave in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity of their office. Ruling out all risks of a conflict of interests helps to guarantee their independence".
The rules make it clear that all "gifts" to Commissioners with a value of over £120 must be included in a declaration of interests.
But, unlike MEPs, Commissioners are not bound to declare free holidays or hospitality they receive – such as a night's accommodation on a yacht – as this is apparently not counted as a gift ..."

Will Boris's airport sink or swim? Michael Savage, The Independent (en)
" ... To some it is the perfect antidote to the frustration experienced by millions of Heathrow passengers each year and the misery of those who endure the drone of jet engines passing over their homes. A new airport built at sea that is easy to reach, passenger-friendly and doesn't keep anyone awake at night ...
... Heathrow. Throughout its 62-year life, London's main airport has been derided as a monument to Britain's make-do-and-mend approach to planning. Its origin was inauspicious – it opened in 1946 from an army surplus tent and had to wait until 1955 for its first permanent building. The site was only chosen as an airfield in 1943 because it was a good spot from which to scramble fighter planes to protect the capital during the war. Since then, it has grown piecemeal while the capital has sprawled around it. The east-west runways ensure that the largest built-up area possible is affected by noise pollution ...

Make-under for glitzy TV news anchor . Adam Sage, The Times (en)
" ... Laurence Ferrari was hailed as the most glamorous presenter when she took over as anchor on the main French evening news this summer — an observation that has proved to be her undoing. Her blonde hair, glossy lipstick and youthful smile were blamed for driving away viewers, particularly the over-60s, forcing the TF1 channel to order an overhaul of her look in an attempt to halt a drop in ratings ...
... Moreau added: “She needs time. France is a very conservative country and you don't replace someone who has read the news for twenty years in just three months ..."

The new Monte Carlo: a honeypot for the rich. John Follain, The Times (en)
" ...Unlike the French Riviera, the coast of Montenegro is virgin territory. Limestone mountains plunge into crystal waters on a coast studded with bays of sandy beaches and with fortress towns, a landscape that Lord Byron described as “the most beautiful meeting of land and sea” ...
... Turning its back on decades of Soviet-led rule, the country has launched a massive privatisation offensive which has drawn to it the likes of Oleg Deripaska, the Rothschilds and the French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault. Deripaska’s presence, reportedly encouraged by Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, is so significant that many now call Montenegro a Russian colony.

Grim threat of years of misery. Gary Duncan, The Times (en)
" ... After both the Prime Minister and Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, admitted for the first time this week that the economy was probably entering a recession, every part of the economy except the farming, fishing and forestry industries and the public sector was contracting ..."

Sarkozy’s attempted EU coup fails – for now. Wolfgang Münchau, The FT (en)
" ...President of what? It would be too easy to dismiss this as yet another example of Mr Sarkozy’s hyperactive grandstanding – and, believe me, I am sorely tempted. But we should not dismiss it as a mere stunt because events are moving in his favour. Germany was never keen on what the French call gouvernement économique , which is what this is all about. But I am no longer so sure whether the immovable obstacle of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, will be able to withstand the irresistible force of Mr Sarkozy for much longer. I can think of six reasons why Mr Sarkozy might prevail in the end ...
... First, last week’s stock market rout may serve as a reminder, if any was needed, that the financial crisis is not yet over, and that the transatlantic economy is in the middle of a long and painful recession ...
... Second, the failure to provide money market insurance as part of the recent rescue packages will need to be fixed ...
...Third, I would expect the existing bank recapitalisation schemes to be in need of revision and a eurozone-level agreement might well be necessary to do that. In Germany, for example, the only banks that have so far applied are publicly-owned banks ...
... The fourth reason is the failure of the eurogroup to provide leadership during this crisis. The eurogroup is an informal group of the eurozone’s finance ministers in which governments discuss issues of mutual concern. But it has been largely absent during this crisis ...
... Reason number five is that Germany is fast losing allies in its fundamentalist opposition to economic governance beyond the stability and growth pact ...
... The sixth reason is continued uncertainty over the Lisbon treaty. The treaty would establish a permanent presidency of the European Council, which could deal with crises beyond a six-month horizon ..."

EU split on how to restore Moscow ties. Tony Barber, The FT (en)
" ...A vigorous debate is taking place among European Union governments about how far, and how quickly, to restore the EU’s relations with Moscow to normal after Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August, according to an internal EU policy document ...
... the document strikes a positive note in assessing Russian compliance with the EU-brokered agreements to end the fighting in Georgia. It also talks of the “great potential for productive co-operation” in calming other so-called “frozen conflicts” in the former Soviet Union ...
... Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, told the European parliament last Tuesday that he did not view Russia as a rival to the EU. European policymakers should try to bring Moscow closer to “European values” by laying the basis of a “common economic space between Russia and the EU”, he said ..."

Credit Crisis Slows Economy in Once-Hot Poland. Nicholas Kulish, The NYT (en)
" ... Poles were jolted last week by the sudden discovery that they were not immune to the financial crisis contagion rippling across the globe. The plunging stock market here and the drastic weakening of the Polish currency proved, as in so many corners of the fast-growing developing world, how wrong they were ...
... Experts say there was a consensus locally that Poland would not be affected by the crisis, and that membership in the European Union would buffer it from the worst of the shocks. That consensus has begun to break down ..."

Friday, 24 October 2008

Treaty of Lisbon : 24th Ocotober

La Suède va ratifier le traité de Lisbonne le 20 novembre. Jean Quatremer, Les Coulisses de Bruxelles (en)
" ... Le gouvernement suédois est confiant : le jeudi 20 novembre, le Riksdag, le Parlement monocaméral de la monarchie nordique (photo), devrait voter sans problème la loi de ratification du traité de Lisbonne à la majorité requise des trois quart des votants (nécessaire pour éviter une dissolution de la chambre qui s’impose pour un texte qui modifie la Constitution suédoise) ..."
And So It Ends - Hungary’s Government Announces Foreign Currency Loan Wind-up Package. Edward Hugh, A Fistful of Euros (en)
" ... So here, right now, and on 23 October 2008 in Budapest ends, in my opinion, a fashion for taking out non-local currency denominated loans, which lasted the best part of a decade and sewpt across half a continent, and especially in Central and Eastern Europe . Basically government after government in one CEE country after another will now find themselves with little alternative but to follow Hungary’s lead, as the parent banks turn off the tap on the one hand and the citizens themselves grow more and more nervous on the other ..."

The Sarkozy factor. Stanley Crossick, Bogactiv.eu (en)
" ... We all knew that when trying to second guess the French President, we would be dealing with a “known unknown”. Which Sarkozy would we meet on any issue: the dynamic, highly intelligent and focused one or the egotistical, overbearing impetuous one?
So far, so very good. His leadership on the financial meltdown has been excellent; inevitably bruising some egos. His recent statements suggest that there will be some stormy times ahead, but real debate on real issues is what the EU needs. Some Sarkozy developments ..."

A smell of decadence. Richard, EUReferendum (en)
" ... But the crises are far from over. In anything, we are about to enter a new and more dangerous phase, with not banks at risk of collapse, but whole countries, their currencies and economies.The danger is graphically illustrated today by Anatole Kaletsky, in a story headed, "A new set of financial skittles is ready to fall", as he charts what he calls "a series of powerful aftershocks." This, he writes, "has been shaking Hungary, Ukraine, Russia, Argentina and many other countries on the periphery of the global financial system, threatening not only their economies, but even their systems of government ...
...But, whatever happens, the "Weimar culture" of today's society will glide on serenely unaware of events, locked in its own tiny, obsessive, self-referential world, until the whole edifice crumbles around it. If it is then shocked at the outcome we, at least, will have some idea of the sort of thing that will come next ...

This is not a game. Richard, EUReferendum (en)
" ... Two days in a row, we find ourselves in almost total agreement with a Daily Telegraph columnist. Yesterday, it was Heffer and today it is Iain Martin.The target of our approval today muses on the state into which the Conservative Party has descended, observing thus:
"The metropolitan elite into which the Conservatives are being sucked is not actually particularly interested in ideas, or reform, and, unfortunately, senior Tories have too often given the impression - crucially, not Cameron himself - that they have become so pragmatic that they long ago forgot what they hope to achieve by winning office" ..."

Inquiry into Britain's Finances. Ironies Too (en)
" ... What with the Bank of England forecasting a prolonged downturn, Mr Brown at last acknowledging recession, the imposition of a three-day week at Nissan’s factory in Sunderland and the pound suffering its sharpest fall since the aftermath of Black Wednesday in 1992, it takes a special kind fool to oust Mr Brown’s shortcomings from the headlines ..."

Newspapers : 24th October

What the Poles have done for us. Harry de Quetteville, The Telegraph (en)
" ... Increased prosperity in Poland and the prospect of a severe recession in Britain mean that the economic gap between the two countries is closing fast ...
... The pound has slumped against the Polish zloty. Where Polish labourers working here could once depend on an exchange rate of seven zlotys to the pound, they now get about 4.7. Earlier this year, it hovered around just four. Coupled with average wages nearly doubling back in Poland, the incentive to remain has disappeared ...
... "Culture is a thing that always stays behind," says Joerg Tittel from the Polish Cultural Institute. "Polish culture means hard work. Also, family and personal relationships are very important. It's a far less cynical society than here. We [Poles] are importing old-school notions that history has proven work rather well." ...

Libya looks for bargains in plunging European markets. Rowena Mason, The Telegraph (en)
" ... Farhat Bin Guidara, who sits on the board of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), said Europe was the fund's top investment priority, followed by the US, because there are bargains among plummeting equities ...
... "We are going more towards sectors such as pharmaceuticals, telecoms, utilities and food manufacture," Mr Bin Guidara said at a conference in Cairo. "We are targeting companies less affected by the recession. Some banks are good opportunities for investment, even with the current crisis." ...
... Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said last week that certain oil-rich nations may be buying stocks "massively" in Europe, forcing Italy's financial regulator to ask European Union countries if it was possible to stop them ..."

Sarkozy makes new Europe power bid. The Independent (en)
" ... Fears – or hopes – that President Sarkozy wants to use the crisis to impose a more “dirigiste” and less free-market approach on European economy will be heightened by another proposal that he tabled today. France is to create a €175bn “sovereign fund” to invest in “strategic” companies threatened by foreign take-over during the crisis. M. Sarkozy wants all EU countries to create similar state investment funds and to use them jointly to protect European companies if necessary ...
... In his speech at Argonay, near Annecy, in the French Alps today, he said: “The technocratic Europe, the apolitical Europe, the debate-free Europe, the Europe which could not take decisions, which could not act is about to give way to a political Europe which can decide, act and think.” ...
... Successive French governments have campaigned for more political control of the Euro and the “Euroland” economy. Successive German governments have rejected the idea, preferring to leave the management of the Euro to the European Central Bank.
German officials fear that Paris sees European economic government through interventionist eyes which will create, in the long run, more problems than they solve. President Sarkozy’s proposal for European “sovereign” funds to protect strategic industries has already set alarm bells jangling in Berlin ..."

Merkel sees red at Sarkozy's plans . Adam Sage, The Times (en)
" ... We cannot leave business at the mercy of predators,” Mr Sarkozy said. “What oil producers do, what China does, what Russia does, there's no reason that France should not do.”
However, critics said that, with budget debt of €1,200 billion, Paris did not have any wealth to spare. In practice, Mr Sarkozy appears intent on merging a variety of existing state investment tools into a fund under the control of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, the institution managing state savings accounts and pensions. The French Government said that the fund would be worth about €100 billion ..."

The dark secret in the far Right's closet. Hugo Rifkind , The Times (en)
" ... Seems so. Jörg Haider, wherever you are, you're a big disappointment. For a while, I really thought you were the one we were waiting for. You liked the Nazis, you really weren't fond of Jews. You were an anti-immigrant populist, and finally, you seemed destined for real power. You could have inspired thousands. Oh yes. We really could have hated you.
But no. Because you had to be secretly gay, didn't you? You can still be an evil tyrant and be gay, of course. Just ask the Emperor Hadrian, but the secrecy of it, the wife and kids, well, that sadly points towards a degree of inner conflict. It makes you sound like a victim, Jörg. Not a bully. It's bloody annoying ...
... Perhaps the problem is that we don't hear enough from the far Right. Nobody wants to share a platform with them, and nobody wants to invite them on telly. Scrutiny doesn't happen. There is quite a gulf between the guy whom 30,000 people felt they were mourning at his funeral, and the guy who went to bed with his spokesman in the spare room while his wife slept alone ..."

Transcript challenges UK position on Iceland.
"... transcript of a conversation between the UK chancellor, Alistair Darling, and his Icelandic counterpart appears to question the British government’s claim that Iceland had refused to compensate UK savers.
The transcript, obtained by the Financial Times, is of a telephone conversation at the height of the crisis on October 7 between Mr Darling and Árni Mathiesen, Icelandic finance minister ..."

Sarkozy plans new French wealth fund. Ben Hall, The FT (en)
" ... The new fund will focus on shoring up smaller French companies judged strategically important because of their technology or sector. It could take short-term equity stakes or provide reimbursable loans. However, Mr Sarkozy did not say how large the fund will be. It will be financed from the CDC’s own resources, but could receive additional public resources if necessary, he said. CDC’s long-term equity investments were valued at €43bn at the end of 2007 ..."

Thursday, 23 October 2008

23rd October : German reaction to Sarkozy's Bomb Speech

After Sarkozy speech in the European Parliament, I found an article from the Spiegel summarazing the German reactions via :
Nein, Danke from Open Europe Blog (en)
" ...Sarko has been busy cooking up a new plan to keep himself in the EU hotseat past December ... According to Le Monde (here on European Avenue) he neglected to consult Angela Merkel about the idea before announcing it in the European Parliament ... "

" ... On the morning after, however, as the first reviews come in, it's clear that the response to Sarkozy's attention-grabbing performance has not exactly been what he'd hoped for.
Nowhere more so than in Germany, where politicians, experts, and editorial boards have joined to issue a blistering critique of not only the French president's proposals, but also of his motives and theatrics. ...
... (From the Süddeutsche Zeitung ) "What Sarkozy is now proposing for Europe is the same thing he did a couple years ago to the French company Alstom when he was still Interior Minister. He saved the firm and Siemens from bankruptcy through a partial nationalization. Today Alstom is a model enterprise -- thanks to Sarkozy. This, at any rate, is the way that the president relentlessly presents it ... With the Alstom episode, Sarkozy already demonstrated an important characteristic: he is a crisis politician.... Europeans will have to endure this until the end of December. After that, the EU president emeritus will fall into a terrible funk if he doesn't manage to find another playground." ....