Monday, November 24, 2014

Euroscepticism is taking hold even in the country at the heart of the European project. And one of the continent's chief Eurosceptics, British politician Nigel Farage, has become an idol to some young Germans - to the consternation of many others.  For rebels, they appear extremely polite, are impeccably dressed and display a distinct lack of piercings or tattoos.  Germany's Junge Alternative (JA), or Young Alternative, may be dissidents - a Eurosceptic youth movement determined to overturn Germany's long-standing pro-European orthodoxy - but they are very conservative ones, advocating a crackdown on immigration and crime.   One of the main reasons for people joining the JA is that we try to speak and think without political correctness”   End Quote Sven Tritschler JA chairman, North Rhine-Westphalia  ,  In fact their stance has earned them a particularly bad rap from the national press. In the short year since the group's launch last June, the JA have repeatedly been accused of being "too far right", politically regressive and anti-feminist.  The organisation is linked to the country's first Eurosceptic party in decades, the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), or Alternative for Germany, which wants the euro broken up.  But it remains an independent movement and even the groundbreaking AfD regards it as something of an unruly offspring.  "The media sometimes portray the AfD as far-right and, because we are more direct and more right-leaning than the AfD, we're seen as extreme-right - but that's not the image I have of us," says Sven Tritschler, the JA chairman for North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.  The state's biggest city, Cologne, was the starting point for the AfD's European election campaign on 27 April. A fifth of all party members are based in surrounding North Rhine-Westphalia, and the AfD is hoping to further increase its support here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

According to many analysts, the future of the eurozone was secured after a now famous speech by ECB chief Mario Draghi, in July 2012, in which he promised to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro.  But according to leaked transcripts - obtained by the FT - of interviews for a book by former US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, the ECB chief’s comments were anything but planned.
According to Geithner, the remarks were “off-the-cuff” and “totally impromptu”. “I went to see Draghi and (...) at that point, he had no plan. He had made this sort of naked statement of this stuff. But they stumbled into it”, a leaked transcript of the interview says.  Improvisation as the origin to one of the most important comments on the eurozone fits with other descriptions of the ECB president.  Simeon Djankov, Bulgarian finance minister from 2009 to 2013, describes the different personalities of Draghi and his predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet.
In his book “Inside the Euro Crisis”, he writes about the different personalities of successive ECB presidents Jean-Claude Trichet and Draghi.  During meetings with the EU finance ministers, Trichet “would read prepared statements, and after that he would fade into the role of passive observer,” Djankov wrote in his book “Inside the euro crisis”.  Draghi, on the other hand, had a “more instinctive approach” and “scribbled his talking points on bits of paper a few minutes before the meeting began, tossed out comments throughout the discussions, and stayed until the end”...
Eurozone inflation rose to 0.4pc in the year to October, up from 0.3pc in the preceding month. At that level, price growth remained stuck well below the ECB's medium-term target of close to 2pc.
“It is essential to bring back inflation to target and without delay”, Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, said in a speech in Frankfurt on Friday.
The central bank official made reference to the quantitative easing schemes launched by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, noting that they had reduced the strength of the country's respective currencies.  Traders sold the euro on Mr Draghi's dovish comments, as the currency fell by more than three-quarters of a percentage point to less than 1.25 against the dollar. Mr Draghi stressed that while there had been improvements in the financial sphere, these had “not transferred fully into the economic sphere”, where the situation “remains difficult”.   The currency bloc has an eye-wateringly high unemployment rate of 11.5pc, while economic growth has ground to a near-halt .   The eurozone managed to dodge a third technical recession since the financial crisis, but it now appears that the euro area economy is unlikely to pick up speed by the end of the year.  The ECB has made a number of interest rate cuts across the year in an attempt to boost the economy, consequently bringing one of its three main rates - the deposit facility rate - into negative territory.   The rate is currently maintained at -0.2pc, meaning that banks that park their money with the ECB overnight have to pay the central bank for the privilege.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

MOSCOW, November 11 (Sputnik) – Military veterans and about 80 families of US soldiers killed in Iraq are suing five European banks, accusing them of transferring money to Iran that was later used to finance attacks against American troops, the Guardian reports.
The lawsuit is based on the allegation that "Iran funded, trained and armed a number of 'special groups' among the Shia militia that perpetrated attacks on US forces [in Iraq]," Gary Osen, the New Jersey-based lawyer for the plaintiffs said Monday, as quoted by the Guardian.
Osen told the Guardian that the lawsuit, lodged with the US district court in Brooklyn, New York, on Monday, was designed to tell a "largely untold story" of Iran's involvement through proxies in Iraq "to kill large numbers of coalition forces".  The five defendant banks are Barclays plc, Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings plc, Standard Chartered and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc. According to Osen, the banks were earlier subject to US Department of Justice investigation after they were alleged to have bypassed sanctions rules by siphoning money to Iran, as well as Cuba and Libya.  None of the banks have yet commented on Monday's lawsuit, according to the Guardian.
The five defendant banks are Barclays plc, Credit Suisse Group AG, HSBC Holdings plc, Standard Chartered and Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Jean-Claude Juncker served for 19 years as prime minister of Luxembourg, and his country's tax system was very much one of those "national interests" that he so often complained about. Still, his reputation as "Mr. Euro" did not suffer as a result. The revelations, to be sure, are nothing new. Indeed, as a German minister said on the sidelines of one of last week's many events scheduled to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall: "Everybody knew about it." The minister added that the Luxembourgian tax schemes were consistent with the legal framework, even if they managed to "artistically expand" that framework. "What is the big news?" That, though, is perhaps the wrong question. The correct one is: Should a politician representing his country's national interests be held to different standards than the European Commission president charged with upholding EU treaties? The answer is clearly "yes". And therein lies the political problem that is currently facing Jean-Claude Juncker. As the head of his country's government, Juncker -- who concurrently served as finance minister for several years -- helped develop Luxembourg into a tax paradise and blocked outside attempts to investigate its tax system. In 2004, after the Social Democrats joined Juncker as a coalition partner, the government agreed to establish a working group to compare the Luxembourgian tax code with international standards. But the working group never actually came to fruition. Even back in 1997, Juncker displayed certain alacrity when it came to defending his country's tax laws. At the time, he held the rotating presidency of the European Council as Luxembourg's prime minister. Under his stewardship, the EU passed a Code of Conduct for business taxation rules aimed at "tackling harmful tax competition in the European Union." The code, though, is not legally binding -- a fact for which Juncker is also largely responsible. The European Commission may only penalize country's tax system if the savings it offers to companies are determined to be forbidden state subsidies and thus contrary to EU free trade rules.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The corruption of the world’s biggest currency dealers was laid bare on Wednesday when regulators imposed £2.6bn of fines on six major banks for rigging the £3.5tn-a-day foreign exchange markets....A second US regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, also imposed separate fines on JP Morgan, Citi and Bank of America taking the day’s tally to £2.6bn. Andrea Leadsom, a Treasury minister, said people who have done wrong “will not be back in a dealing room on a big salary” and “everything that can be done to punish this type of behaviour” will be done.  She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s completely disgusting. I think taxpayers will be horrified ... I don’t know if corruption is a strong enough word for it.”  Leadsom said it was particularly bad that this was going on at a time when taxpayers were bailing out the banks.  Announcing the first ever co-ordinated regulatory action, the FCA’s Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime, said: “Firms could have been in no doubt, especially after Libor, that failing to take steps to tackle the consequences of a free for all culture on their trading floors was unacceptable.”  The settlement was co-ordinated with the US regulator, the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission, which published transcripts of traders discussing foreign exchange rates on private chatrooms. In one, a trader writes “dont want other numpty’s in mkt to know”. The traders make remarks such as “nice job mate” and “yeah baby” as they discuss the rates.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Another year down the road and globally the figures (no matter how they are manipulated) show no sign of any sustained "recovery" from the banking led and politically sustained economic catastrophe.  These figures for the EU will of course be shown in the UK as sign of the failure of the Euro and the Euro Zone, when in fact they are a sign that the establishment are continuing with their policy of bailing out and giving money to the bankers and waiting.  After six years of us paying for the private bankers criminality the establishment see no reason to change. The amount of time spent by them in trying to show that the system still has life is proof that they are profiting massively and we are paying with increasing austerity.  The EU and its bastard child the euro are a failure. Eurosceptics always said it would be a failure and have been proven correct. Mainstream parties both here and on the continent are crumbling because there is no way they can get a democratic mandate for fiscal and political union. That is the only way to solve the economic problems Europe has and keep the project intact. Simply not doable, unless you want the return of dictatorships back in Europe.   John Major and others think we are sleepwalking into a EU exit. Err no rather trying to rip the bars off the doors to get out of the burning building which is the EU. Miliband and Clegg refuse the electorate a referendum and wish to chain the UK to the sinking ship. Cameron isn't much better and wishes to do the same when his lies have been stripped out. The only sanity comes from UKIP who see the EU for the failure it is and want the British to get out, they also want for the good of all Europeans for the EU to fail completely so something better can be built.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, Americans must sometimes feel like Goldilocks in the three bears’ house. The porridge that was President George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda”—promising democracy for everyone from Karachi to Casablanca—was too hot. The mush that has been President Barack Obama ’s foreign policy—heavy on rhetoric about resets, pivots and engagement but weak in execution and deeply ambivalent about the uses of U.S. power—is too cold.
What we need instead, as the fairy tale has it, is a foreign policy that is just right—neither too ambitious nor too quiescent, forceful when necessary but mindful that we must not exhaust ourselves in utopian quests to heal crippled societies.  The U.S. finds itself today in a post-Cold War global order under immense strain, even in partial collapse. Four Arab states have unraveled since 2011. The European Union stumbles from recession to recession, with each downturn calling into question the future of the common currency and even the union itself. In Asia, China has proved to be, by turns, assertive, reckless and insecure. Russia seeks to dominate its neighbors through local proxies, dirty tricks and even outright conquest. North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and Iran’s effort to develop one tempt their neighbors to start nuclear programs of their own. And even as the core of al Qaeda fades in importance, its jihadist offshoots, including Islamic State, are metastasizing elsewhere.
As for the U.S., the sour experience of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has generated a deep—and bipartisan—reluctance to interfere in foreign conflicts, on the view that our interventions will exact a high price in blood and treasure for uncertain strategic gains. One result is that aggressive regimes seem to think that they can pursue their territorial or strategic ambitions without much fear of a decisive U.S. response. Another is that many of our traditional allies, from Israel to Saudi Arabia to Japan, are quietly beginning to explore other options as the old guarantees of the postwar Pax Americana no longer seem as secure as they once were.  How should an American president navigate through this world of ambitious rogues and nervous freelancers? How can the U.S. enforce some basic global norms, deter enemies and reassure friends without losing sight of our global priorities and national interests? How do we conduct a foreign policy that keeps our nightmares at bay, even if we can’t always make our dreams come true?  When it comes to restoring order in places widely assumed to be beyond the reach of redemption, there is a proven model for us to consult. But it has nothing to do with foreign policy; it has to do with policing our toughest inner cities. And it has brought spectacular—and almost wholly unexpected—results.