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Austerity And Resistance: The Politics Of Labour In The Eurozone Crisis


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Europe is haunted by austerity. Public sectors across the European Union (EU) have been cut back and working class gains from the post-war period seriously undermined. In this article, I will assess the causes of the crisis, its implications for workers and discuss the politics of labour in response to the Eurozone crisis.

The underlying dynamics of the Eurozone crisis

Current problems go right back to the global financial crisis starting in 2007 with the run on the Northern Rock bank in the United Kingdom (UK) and reaching a first high point with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Two major consequences of the crisis can be identified. First, states indebted themselves significantly as a result of bailing out failing banks and propping up the financial system. Second, against the background of high levels of uncertainty financial markets froze. Banks and financial institutions ceased lending to each other as well as industrial companies. Countries too found it increasingly difficult to re-finance their national debts. The Eurozone crisis, also known as the sovereign debt crisis, commenced.

Nevertheless, this analysis only scratches the surface of the causes of the crisis. The fundamental dynamics underlying the crisis have to be related to the uneven nature of the European political economy. On the one hand, Germany has experienced an export boom in recent years, with almost 60 per cent of its exports going to other European countries (Trading Economics, 10 May 2013). Germany’s trade surplus is even more heavily focused on Europe. 60 per cent are with other Euro countries and about 85 per cent are with all EU members together (de Nardis, 2 December 2010). However, such a growth strategy cannot be adopted by everybody. Some countries also have to absorb these exports, and this is what many of the peripheral countries which are now in trouble, such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, have done. They, in turn, cannot compete in the free trade Internal Market of the EU due to lower productivity rates. Germany’s export boom has resulted in super profits, which then require new opportunities for profitable investment. State bonds of peripheral countries as well as construction markets in Ireland and Spain seemed to provide safe investment opportunities. In turn, these investments led to yet more exports from Germany to these countries and yet further super profits in search of investment opportunities.

Who is being rescued?

It is often argued in the media that citizens of richer countries would now have to pay for citizens of indebted countries. Cultural arguments of apparently ‘lazy Greek’ workers as the cause of the crisis are put forward. Nevertheless, this is clearly not the case. Greek workers are amongst those who work the longest hours in Europe (BBC, 26 February 2012). In any case, it is not the Greek, Portuguese, Irish or Cypriot citizens and their health and education systems, which are being rescued. It is banks, who organised the lending of super profits to peripheral countries, which are exposed to private and national debt in these countries. For example, German and French banks are heavily exposed to Greek debt, British banks to Irish debt (The Guardian, 17 June 2011).

What is the purpose of the bailout programmes?

Is the purpose of the bailout programmes to ensure the maintenance of essential public services in Europe’s periphery? Clearly not. On the contrary, the Troika consisting of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands cuts in public finances precisely for services such as education and health care. Is the purpose to assist peripheral countries in re-gaining competitiveness? Again, this too is clearly not the objective. The bailout programmes do not include any industrial policy projects.

The true nature of the bailout programmes is visible in their conditionality, making support dependent on austerity policies including: (1) cuts in funding of essential public services; (2) cuts in public sector employment; (3) push towards privatisation of state assets; and (4) undermining of industrial relations and trade union rights through enforced cuts in minimum wages and a further liberalisation of labour markets. Hence, the real purpose of the bailout programmes is to restructure political economies and to open up the public sector as new investment opportunities for private finance. The balance of power is shifted further from labour to capital in this process. Employers, ultimately, use the crisis in order to strengthen their position vis-à-vis workers, facilitating exploitation.

Are German workers the winners due to the export boom?

In contrast to general assumptions, German workers have not benefitted from the current situation. German productivity increases have, to a significant extent, resulted from drastic downward pressure on wages and working related conditions.

“Germany has been unrelenting in squeezing its own workers throughout this period. During the last two decades, the most powerful economy of the eurozone has produced the lowest increases in nominal labour costs, while its workers have systematically lost share of output. EMU[2] has been an ordeal for German workers” (Lapavitsas et al, 2012: 4).

The Agenda 2010 and here especially the so-called Hartz IV reform, implemented in the early 2000s, constitutes the largest cut in, and restructuring of, the German welfare system since the end of World War II. In other words, Germany was more successful than other Eurozone countries in cutting back labour costs. “The euro is a ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ policy for Germany, on condition that it beggars its own workers first” (Lapavitsas et al, 2012: 30).

Hence, while the mainstream media regularly portray the crisis as a conflict between Germany and peripheral countries, the real conflict here is between capital and labour. And this conflict is taking place across the EU as the economic crisis is used across Europe to justify cuts. In the UK, although not in the position of countries such as Greece, Portugal or Ireland, people too are faced with constant further cuts and restructuring including privatisations in the health and education sectors as well as attacks on employment rights. In short, across the EU, employers abuse the crisis to cut back workers’ post-war gains. The crisis provides capital with the rationale to justify cuts, they would otherwise be unable to implement.

What possibilities for labour to resist restructuring?

Considering that austerity is a European-wide phenomenon, pushed by Brussels but equally individual national governments, it will remain important that trade unions combine resistance to neo-liberal restructuring at the European level with resistance at the national level. To declare solidarity with Greek workers is a good initiative by German and British unions, for example. Nevertheless, the more concrete support is resisting restructuring at home. Any defeat of austerity in one of the EU member states will assist similar struggles elsewhere.

When thinking about alternative responses to the crisis, short-term measures can be distinguished from medium- and long-term measures. Immediately, it will be important that German trade unions push for higher salary increases at home so that the German domestic market absorbs more goods, which are currently being exported. Along similar lines is the proposal by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) for an economic stimulus, investment and development programme for Europe. This new Marshall plan is designed as an investment and development programme over a 10-year period and consists of a mix of institutional measures, direct public sector investment, investment grants for companies and incentives for consumer spending (DGB 2013). Neo-Keynesian measures of this type will ease the immediate pressure on European economies. However, they will not question the power structures, underlying the European political economy.

A victorious outcome in the struggle against austerity ultimately depends on a change in the balance of power in society. The establishment of welfare states and fairer societies were based on the capacity of labour to balance the class power of capital (Wahl 2011). Overcoming austerity will, therefore, require a strengthening of labour vis-à-vis capital. As Lapavitsas notes, “a radical left strategy should offer a resolution of the crisis that alters the balance of social forces in favour of labour and pushes Europe in a socialist direction” (Lapavitsas 2011: 294). Hence, in the medium-term, it will be essential to intervene more directly in the financial sector. As part of bailouts, many private banks have been nationalised, as for example the Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK. However, they have been allowed to continue operating as if they were private banks. Little state direction has been imposed. It will be important to move beyond nationalisation towards the socialisation of banks to ensure that banks actually operate according to the needs of society. Such a step would contribute directly to changing the balance of power in society in favour of labour.

In the long run, however, even the change in power balance between capital and labour will not be enough. Capitalist exploitation is rooted in the way the social relations of production are set up around wage labour and the private ownership of the means of production. Exploitation, therefore, can only be overcome if the manner in which production is organised is being changed itself.

[1] This article was first published in Norwegian on radikalportal.no

[2] European Monetary Union

via Austerity And Resistance: The Politics Of Labour In The Eurozone Crisis.

Germany Has Created An Accidental Empire


Are we now living in a German Europe? In an interview with EUROPP editors Stuart A Brown and Chris Gilson, Ulrich Beck discusses German dominance of the European Union, the divisive effects of austerity policies, and the relevance of his concept of the ‘risk society’ to the current problems being experienced in the Eurozone.

How has Germany come to dominate the European Union?

Well it happened somehow by accident. Germany has actually created an ‘accidental empire’. There is no master plan; no intention to occupy Europe. It doesn’t have a military basis, so all the talk about a ‘Fourth Reich’ is misplaced. Rather it has an economic basis – it’s about economic power – and it’s interesting to see how in the anticipation of a European catastrophe, with fears that the Eurozone and maybe even the European Union might break down, the landscape of power in Europe has changed fundamentally.

First of all there’s a split between the Eurozone countries and the non-Eurozone countries. Suddenly for example the UK, which is only a member of the EU and not a member of the Eurozone, is losing its veto power. It’s a tragic comedy how the British Prime Minister is trying to tell us that he is still the one who is in charge of changing the European situation. The second split is that among the Eurozone countries there is an important division of power between the lender countries and the debtor countries. As a result Germany, the strongest economic country, has become the most powerful EU state.

Are austerity policies dividing Europe?

Indeed they are, in many ways. First of all we have a new line of division between northern European and southern European countries. Of course this is very evident, but the background from a sociological point of view is that we are experiencing the redistribution of risk from the banks, through the states, to the poor, the unemployed and the elderly. This is an amazing new inequality, but we are still thinking in national terms and trying to locate this redistribution of risk in terms of national categories.

At the same time there are two leading ideologies in relation to austerity policies. The first is pretty much based on what I call the ‘Merkiavelli’ model – by this I mean a combination of Niccolò Machiavelli and Angela Merkel. On a personal level, Merkel takes a long time to make decisions: she’s always waiting until some kind of consensus appears. But this kind of waiting makes the countries depending on Germany’s decision realise that actually Germany holds the power. This deliberate hesitation is quite an interesting strategy in terms of the way that Germany has taken over economically.

The second element is that Germany’s austerity policies are not based simply on pragmatism, but also underlying values. The German objection to countries spending more money than they have is a moral issue which, from a sociological point of view, ties in with the ‘Protestant Ethic’. It’s a perspective which has Martin Luther and Max Weber in the background. But this is not seen as a moral issue in Germany, instead it’s viewed as economic rationality. They don’t see it as a German way of resolving the crisis; they see it as if they are the teachers instructing southern European countries on how to manage their economies.

This creates another ideological split because the strategy doesn’t seem to be working so far and we see many forms of protest, of which Cyprus is the latest example. But on the other hand there is still a very important and powerful neo-liberal faction in Europe which continues to believe that austerity policies are the answer to the crisis.

Is the Eurozone crisis proof that we live in a risk society?

Yes, this is the way I see it. My idea of the risk society could easily be misunderstood because the term ‘risk’ actually signifies that we are in a situation to cope with uncertainty, but to me the risk society is a situation in which we are not able to cope with the uncertainty and consequences that we produce in society.

I make a distinction between ‘first modernity’ and our current situation. First modernity, which lasted from around the 18th century until perhaps the 1960s or 1970s, was a period where there was a great deal of space for experimentation and we had a lot of answers for the uncertainties that we produced: probability models, insurance mechanisms, and so on. But then because of the success of modernity we are now producing consequences for which we don’t have any answers, such as climate change and the financial crisis. The financial crisis is an example of the victory of a specific interpretation of modernity: neo-liberal modernity after the breakdown of the Communist system, which dictates that the market is the solution and that the more we increase the role of the market, the better. But now we see that this model is failing and we don’t have any answers.

We have to make a distinction between a risk society and a catastrophe society. A catastrophe society would be one in which the motto is ‘too late’: where we give in to the panic of desperation. A risk society in contrast is about the anticipation of future catastrophes in order to prevent them from happening. But because these potential catastrophes are not supposed to happen – the financial system could collapse, or nuclear technology could be a threat to the whole world – we don’t have the basis for experimentation. The rationality of calculating risk doesn’t work anymore. We are trying to anticipate something that is not supposed to happen, which is an entirely new situation.

Take Germany as an example. If we look at Angela Merkel, a few years ago she didn’t believe that Greece posed a major problem, or that she needed to engage with it as an issue. Yet now we are in a completely different situation because she has learned that if you look into the eyes of a potential catastrophe, suddenly new things become possible. Suddenly you think about new institutions, or about the fiscal compact, or about a banking union, because you anticipate a catastrophe which is not supposed to happen. This is a huge mobilising force, but it’s highly ambivalent because it can be used in different ways. It could be used to develop a new vision for Europe, or it could be used to justify leaving the European Union.

How should Europe solve its problems?

I would say that the first thing we have to think about is what the purpose of the European Union actually is. Is there any purpose? Why Europe and not the whole world? Why not do it alone in Germany, or the UK, or France?

I think there are four answers in this respect. First, the European Union is about enemies becoming neighbours. In the context of European history this actually constitutes something of a miracle. The second purpose of the European Union is that it can prevent countries from being lost in world politics. A post-European Britain, or a post-European Germany, is a lost Britain, and a lost Germany. Europe is part of what makes these countries important from a global perspective.

The third point is that we should not only think about a new Europe, we also have to think about how the European nations have to change. They are part of the process and I would say that Europe is about redefining the national interest in a European way. Europe is not an obstacle to national sovereignty; it is the necessary means to improve national sovereignty. Nationalism is now the enemy of the nation because only through the European Union can these countries have genuine sovereignty.

The fourth point is that European modernity, which has been distributed all over the world, is a suicidal project. It’s producing all kinds of basic problems, such as climate change and the financial crisis. It’s a bit like if a car company created a car without any brakes and it started to cause accidents: the company would take these cars back to redesign them and that’s exactly what Europe should do with modernity. Reinventing modernity could be a specific purpose for Europe.

Taken together these four points form what you could say is a grand narrative of Europe, but one basic issue is missing in the whole design. So far we’ve thought about things like institutions, law, and economics, but we haven’t asked what the European Union means for individuals. What do individuals gain from the European project? First of all I would say that, particularly in terms of the younger generation, more Europe is producing more freedom. It’s not only about the free movement of people across Europe; it’s also about opening up your own perspective and living in a space which is essentially grounded on law.

Second, European workers, but also students as well, are now confronted with the kind of existential uncertainty which needs an answer. Half of the best educated generation in Spanish and Greek history lack any future prospects. So what we need is a vision for a social Europe in the sense that the individual can see that there is not necessarily social security, but that there is less uncertainty. Finally we need to redefine democracy from the bottom up. We need to ask how an individual can become engaged with the European project. In that respect I have made a manifesto, along with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, called “We Are Europe”, arguing that we need a free year for everyone to do a project in another country with other Europeans in order to start a European civil society.

A more detailed discussion of the topics covered in this article is available in Ulrich Beck’s latest book, German Europe (Polity 2013). This interview was first published on EUROPP@LSE

via Germany Has Created An Accidental Empire.

Do we Need the IRA to Fight the War Damage of Austerity?


We don’t have a leader to fight the war against austerity and given that we have no alternative should we ask the IRA to take up the cause on behalf of the citizens

I have no doubt that Kenny and Noonan have good intentions but can you see these men throwing down the gauntlet to force radical change to IMF/ECB policy… no these guys will not rock the boat for the are bonded to their masters

We are a country blitzed by the imposition of austerity…no credit, mounting household debt, high unemployment, plummeting standards right across the broad spectrum of education/social services  and finally the Government selling off the what remains of the family silver. Light at the end of the tunnel I don’t think so all I see is devastation and more ruin. Given the level of mounting Government debt at some stage we are going to reach the point of no return and what then. Do we have to wait until the bitter end to face face reality.

Public Sector

Cutting public sector jobs means higher unemployment and fewer people in work paying taxes

Freezing public sector pay and higher unemployment means less disposable income to be spent in the private sector, with a knock-on effect on private sector jobs
Cutting business taxes means less revenue to close the deficit and pay off our debt.

The government is presenting its plans as simply ‘dealing with the deficit’, but that is a smokescreen for another agenda. The government wants to cut and privatise public services because it believes in a market for even essential goods and services; that business should be free to extract profit from any public service, even schools, hospitals, welfare ETC.

The government’s policies are failing because the public sector is not the real problem.

Instead of solving the crisis, these policies are making it worse.

Austerity is not working
It’s not just in the Ireland that austerity isn’t t working. Just look at Greece,Italy, Portugal, UK and Spain

In Spain the unemployment rate is now 25%, while youth unemployment is over 50%.

Why inequality has to be addressed

We are the 99% – and as an end game harassing the 99%  cannot not work.

Wages have disportionately . Inflation has been higher than the annual increase in pay. This fall in real wages means we are able to buy less with our money than before, as we have less disposable income.
. . . .
Redistribution: to the 1%
Why is this happening and where is the money going? At the same time that wages and other income has been squeezed for the majority of people, a few people at the top are doing better than ever A few at the top are getting very rich by cutting pay and pensions for the rest.

Freedom of information

The very fundamentals of democracy are build on freedom of information and yet on a worldwide basis it appears to be politicians want to squeeze the information been fed to its citizens. Why will the Irish/EU not release the full details of the bailout agreement to its people.

Education

Cutbacks In in education will mean will mean we revert to being a nation of unskilled factory workers.

What next immigration to Bangladesh?

Education is one of the few remaining life lines open to the country

No sell off of public utilities

Everywhere this has happened it has been an unmitigated disaster

  
A banking system that works for people not profit

Some of the banks that were bailed out by the government are still using loopholes to advise their corporate and wealthy clients how to avoid paying tax.

They have also laid-off thousands of their own staff to maintain the greed at the top. It feels like we have nationalised the debts while the profits are privatised.

The banking collapse, which caused such economic damage , means the finance sector has lost the right to carry on as before. It must now act in the public interest; publicly owned and controlled.

The money, real money, that is held by the finance sector is ours anyway: our pension funds, our savings, and the cash in our current accounts. The rest of it is credit – electronic money (as over 90% now is) created out of thin air by the banks to lend. The banks are given the right to create credit by governments.

We therefore need the government to ensure that when banks create credit, or lend or invest with our savings or pension funds, they are doing so in our collective interest.

That means investing in infrastructure like new council housing  not lending recklessly and creating a housing bubble (and inevitable crash). It means investing to create new jobs in renewable energy rather than speculating on food prices to profit from starvation. And it means investing in new businesses and ideas, not getting windfall dividends and bonuses for merging existing businesses and laying-off staff.
Conclusion

Essential public services are being cut back and privatised, and people’s living standards have been falling , both for those in work and even more so for those unemployed.

There are social consequences too, which have clear financial costs.

Research from previous recessions shows that the increased financial pressures push more people into depression and substance abuse, means couples are more likely to separate, and suicide rates increase.

Politics is about choices – and there is always a choice and always an alternative. Because there always is an alternative but yet we are continually fed the mantra there is no alternative to austerity.

There is an economic crisis – one of rising unemployment, inequality and economic stagnation. Austerity isn’t working, and is not producing the economic growth that the government promised it would. But it is not just growth that matters. If we value people’s lives as more important than simply making more transactions, then the relevant tests for judging an economic recovery are:

Is unemployment falling?

Are people’s living standards rising

Is inequality reducing

Is the tax gap closing?

These are the tests against which we should measure the government’s economic strategy and proposals.

Also the government we have appear to be incapable of showing any leadership whatsoever. They sheep like continue to follow the dictate of their masters…Ollie Rehn.  “the eurozone has shown a degree of resilience and problem-solving capacity that many observers and policymakers would not have predicted even a year ago”…Commission chief Jose Barroso  insisted that the policy(austerity) is “fundamentally right” and working in Ireland, a risible statement if ever.

We need a leadership that knows how to play rough and this was familiar territory for the IRA. The lesson learnt was once the financial heart of London was bombed peace was in the making.

If the politicians do not heed the wishes of the electorate what then, protest marches …if they still do not listen…civil disobedience… if they still remain deaf well the options narrow. Revolution,guns , violence bombes I hope not.

May common sense prevail

 

The Ten Commandments of Eurozone Membership (for small states) | Brian M. Lucey


The quite wonderful Gavin Kostick of Fishamble Theatre has a comment on Irish Economy which is too good to linger there… It’s super.

images (1)

And Draghi came down from the mountain with two tablets of stone.

(1) Thou shall love the god of the market. Thou shall have no other god before it.

(2) Thou shall have no other engraved image except the Euro. There shall be no other image on thy coin, for I run a jealous central bank

(3) Thou shall not take the name of the Euro in vain or speak slightingly thereof, for those who seek to destroy confidence will not be held guiltless.

(4) Thou shall work all of the days, excepting none, for this is the will of the free market. And you shall remember that you are a debt slave as you once were in Egypt.

(5) Honour Germany and France and the contract they made in their betrothal at the altar of the European Coal and Steel Community: for these are your mother and father to whom you must be obedient.

(6) Thou shalt not kill the bondholders.

(7) Thou shalt not commit adultery with other nations, neither the Russians nor the Chinese, nor any other nation against which we set our face.

(8) Thou shalt not steal deposits with high interest, low tax or any other wiles against which we set our face.

(9) Thou shalt not falsely accuse the ECB of running a tyranny, or threatening to implode your banks, being subservient to German interest, nor any other false witness against them.

(10) Thou shalt not covet a living possessed by your neighbours, but rejoice in the purification of your impoverishment.

via The Ten Commandments of Eurozone Membership (for small states) | Brian M. Lucey.

via The Ten Commandments of Eurozone Membership (for small states) | Brian M. Lucey.

It’s Time to Collapse the System


First they came for the communists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

— Martin Niemöller, Nazi camp prisoner   

‘I’m furious with myself,’ he said. ‘I had so many opportunities to move my money abroad but was taken in by all the promises that any attempt to raid my savings was a red line not to be crossed. Experts said it was against the law. Now, I’ve lost several thousand euros. As someone who is retired, the money in my account is all I have to live on for the rest of my life.

 

 ‘What’s really upset people is that they’ve been lied to. They were told that their money was safe and that they shouldn’t move it and then they announce this. Everyone’s accounts are frozen and the ATMs have no money. Some people are struggling to get enough cash together to buy food and water…[people] just feel that they’ve been robbed by the Government.’

 

–Chris Drake (Former BBC Middle East correspondent, retired to Cyprus) via dailymail.co.uk

So what are you going to do? Are you going to place your faith in the “authorities” like Mr. Drake did? Will you wait for them to rape and pillage you? Or are you going to take matters into your own hands. It’s time to take responsibility for yourself and your loved ones. The Government and the Banksters ain’t gonna save you. And if you think what happened in Cyprus this weekend is a “one-off” and it can’t happen to you – even if you’re outside the Eurozone – think again. The fact of the matter is that this was THEFT of private property – pure and simple. And just because it was performed by mafia dressed up in Government regalia and bearing authoritative three letter acronyms (ECB, IMF et. al. – all banker fronts) doesn’t mean it wasn’t one. This shows us that the Government and the bankster mafia who control them are willing to go to any length to have the public reimburse their “losses” and transfer public wealth into their own pockets. And they just declared outright war against the public.

Anybody in Spain or Italy who’s watching what’s happening in Cyprus and doesn’t withdraw their money RIGHT THIS MOMENT from their banks deserves what’s coming their way. This is as loud and clear as it gets folks. And it’s not just Spain or Italy or Greece or even the entire Soviet European Union – it’s the whole world. You won’t get a personal warning letter from your feudal overlords government. And you can’t say you weren’t warned.

But it’s not just enough to withdraw your money from the banks. That’s just the first step. A global financial tsunami has been brewing and the waters have been receding for a while. It is upto you to pay attention to the signs and get as far away from the coast as possible which means you need to withdraw completely from the system to safeguard your hard earned wealth. The global monetary system today is nothing more than a giant global pyramid scheme which is now collapsing (hence all the “crises”). Just as in a Ponzi scheme, those who get out first will suffer the least amount of losses. But before I explain how to get out of the system, we need to understand what “the system” is. Also remember, this system is same in all countries today.

      Will you be one of these people?

Crisis Created by the Banksters

So what is this “crisis” in Europe that we all keep hearing about? That every one of the citizens must sacrifice an arm and a leg if we are to avert Armageddon? What would happen if we don’t bail out the banks and let them collapse? Would it really be so bad? The “authorities” in our academia and government would have us believe that “the crisis” is born of “natural” causes i.e. it is simply a fact/force of nature. It’s nobody’s fault! Greed is simply human nature and these things happen. It’s the damned “business cycle”. Now we must all come together like the obedient little slaves that we are and engage in shared sacrifice to “solve it” and save everyone, especially the banks.

One word: BULLSHIT.

Well, the cause of “the crisis” goes to the very heart of how our monetary/currency system operates today.

The Money

If we are to understand the crisis, first we must understand money – a topic which the masses have deliberately been kept ignorant about. A complex economy such as ours consists of a multitude of goods and services which can be in varying demands at various points of time. Hence a medium of exchange is required that acts as a proxy for all the goods and services in the market (so as to enable complex exchanges) and in the process provides information about their relative demand and supply in the market via price signals (even interest rates are nothing but price signals – the price of money and since money is a proxy for all the resources in an economy – the price at which excess capital in the economy is available for utilization). Producers and consumers then use this information to decide on the allocation of resources – what to produce, how much to produce, etc. For this allocation process to be efficient (i.e. satisfy the wants and needs of everyone with the least amount of wastage) it must be essentially decentralized, since a single entity CANNOT know what everyone wants. This is why the Soviet Union collapsed.

Money, then, is an information mechanism which lets the producers and consumers perform calculations as to the most efficient allocation of resources at any given point of time (a software, if you will, controlling the hardware of the economy). It must be some good that is universally acceptable – that the market has “elected”. And just as you need a standard scale of unvarying length to perform measurements of distance, you need a substance whose supply remains fairly constant over long periods of time to perform calculations of economy. Fortunately, the market discovered such a substance fairly long ago – Gold (as evidence that it is the substance, I present Gold’s highest stocks to flow ratio of any “commodity” and the only one whose demand does not vary with supply). Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, it all went horribly wrong.

How It All Went Wrong

Now imagine someone wanting to control the economy for their benefit; wanting to have something for nothing i.e. somebody who wants to STEAL from those who are productive. Enter the mafia banksters. All they would need to do is control the medium of exchange or money and voila! But there’s only so much Gold to go around. What if you want to appropriate unlimited resources from the economy for your benefit? You need something you can create at will. Enter paper money. So gradually, over period of time, operating behind the curtains, banksters in cahoots with the politicians replaced paper receipts for Gold (just take a look at the higher denomination US dollars circa late 1920’s) with paper tickets backed by NOTHING. An IOU for Gold became an I-O-U-Nothing. Knowing their worthless paper money wouldn’t be a voluntary choice, they enlisted the Government as their enforcer and accomplice using bribes and threats (hence the legal tender laws, and for those of you who don’t know or remember, I present the Executive Order 6102). Hurrah! Now they could print and spend as much as they wanted! But alas, there is a fly in the ointment – if they directly used this paper money, the currency would quickly dilute and the scam would fall apart. What to do? Yup, “lend” the money. Thus began the creation of the biggest Empire of Debt backed by the most powerful mafia the world has ever seen.

A Global Ponzi Scheme

So this is how the scam works. Realize that the bankers need to do two things:

Keep creating new money supply

Keep extracting the already created money

Make no mistake, the second is as essential as the first otherwise the money supply would increase too fast in relation to the goods and services produced, the currency would decline in purchasing power too quickly and the scam would fall apart. They first need to ensure that you do the work and create production for them to appropriate via the extracted money (and maybe some freshly printed money on the side – who’s watching anyway?).

They achieve the first by loaning new money out of thin air (mostly via entries in a computer today). The Banks1 “lend” “money” to both the Government (government bonds) and the citizens (credit card, home loans, etc.). Lending to the government is an important part of the scheme as they have to bribe the enforcer of their scheme. The politicians don’t give a shit, its free money so far as they are concerned – it is the citizens who will pay it back. Plus who doesn’t love unlimited free money? The Government can issue as many bonds as it desires knowing the Central Bank2 stands ready to buy all of them with freshly printed money, if other morons don’t. The banksters also ensure that there will always be a demand for loans as lending means they demand paying back of the principal as well as the interest. But realize this: they NEVER created money for the interest, only the principal. So how will someone – whether government or citizens – ever pay back the interest? They can’t. They’ll have go bowl on hand to – you guessed it – the banksters. This is why debt in all the nations (both government and private) always increases. Increasing debt is a feature of the system, not a bug. The system is operating exactly as was designed –  to trap the people in perpetual debt slavery. And contrary to what you may hear from “experts” and the MSM, the amount of debt in the society will never go down and will never be repaid but – as I will explain below – only end with the collapse of the currency system.

Now this demand for repayment also ties in to the second part of their scheme – extraction. This is how they do it:

A huge portion of the Government taxes you pay go towards paying the interest on the government bonds which the bankers own i.e. indirectly your taxes are being paid to the bankers. No wonder the IRS and the Federal Reserve came into being together.

A huge section of the society is always in debt. This is not hard to fathom – a huge portion of your income is extracted via taxes and loan payments on your personal debt. Now, personal debt is not a choice under such a system as availability of unlimited money (credit) for goods in the economy creates price inflation making them out of reach for most people unless they take on debt. Just ask around – how many of your colleagues, friends, relative are in debt? Yup.

Do you see the sheer evil genius of it? Basically the banksters have created a system where they give money from one hand, take it back from the other – all the while making you run on the treadmill of jobs (slavery) – THEIR slavery. They are free to spend the extracted money-out-of-thin-air as they want but you have to do productive work for it. Make no mistake – this is modern day slavery – earlier they used chains and whips, now they use debt.

But What Does All This Have To Do With “The Crisis”?

Everything. Because there remains yet another fly in the ointment, which even the bankers don’t have a solution for as its genesis lies in the very system they have created – central control of money. This central control of money causes huge misallocations in the economy. What is a misallocation?  There is a lot to this which I can’t cover in this article such as manipulation of interest rates, so I recommend you do a bit of your own research (especially refer to the work of Austrian economists such as Mises), but briefly: Since the money is now centrally controlled for the benefit of the few (government and the banksters), all the price signals go haywire. Money is handed out to connected but incompetent people who produce NOTHING, people who produce are taxed to death and money is transferred to insiders in the money system, investments are made where none are required (e.g. real estate) which results in things being produced which have no demand whereas things that have demand (e.g. food) are not produced. The inefficiencies in the system become huge and vast productive resources are wasted. There is a whole bunch of consumers and spenders (including the banksters) but not a lot of producers. All of which means that over time two things happen in such a system:

Overall money supply increases but the extractions start to decline. This is because loans are being made but not as many of them get paid back.

The amount of goods and services (which people want anyways) available in the economy also start to decline.

An increasing money supply and declining production results in the decimation of the currency’s purchasing power as evidenced in the charts below. These charts are for the USD, but hold true for every currency in the world today:

Unlimited Money…

… Leads to Unlimited Debt

And the corresponding chart for price of Gold:

Gold price since 1973 (before this it was “fixed” at $35 an ounce after the 1933 robbery). Just to be clear, it is not the gold that is rising, but the USD that is declining.

The Dollar’s Purchasing Power Since the Creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913

If you take the limit case for the last chart, you get hyperinflation – the currency becomes worthless (which correspondingly means Gold becomes literally priceless – remember, it is the real money) and the game is over – and as you can see, we are VERY close to it. No more looting. This is what the banksters are so afraid of and this is “the crisis” – their desire to continue pillaging the people. They NEED the extractions to continue, not only because it is their “income” and to prevent “losses” (both these terms mean nothing to someone who owns the money supply as they can always create more) but because otherwise the money supply would increase exponentially (the bad loans already made). This would kill their franchise – the currency. This is also why they can’t just print up and use any amount of currency they need.

But eventually the misallocations become so huge that there is nothing left to extract. The productive citizens have already been bled dry. This need for extractions is what is behind all the demands for “austerity”, the reason for directly robbing the bank accounts of the people. But no matter how much they extract, it doesn’t make a difference because the misallocations will always keep on increasing. The currency is doomed. They might be able to slow the process but hyperinflation is guaranteed in a fiat money system. Eventually, it only matters who gets out first before the currency collapses. So the only question is:

Will you get out in time?

What happened in Cyprus is simply an overt manifestation of what they’ve been doing all along. It’s just that up until now there were enough productive resources in the economy for them to extract. But as the malinvestments increase and the productive base of the economy keeps on shrinking, as it must for reasons outlined above, they will directly try to appropriate private assets to “cover their losses” (keep the franchise alive). Which means they will need to employ ever more forceful tactics to subdue the populace. Cyprus is just a test run by the global banking oligarchs. Once they are aware of and have prepared for the fallout, they WILL implement this in every nation on earth. How long before you think they will come for you? It’s only a matter of time.

So What to Do?

By now it must be clear that if this looting scheme has to ever end, this fake money system has to end. And whether you like it or not, end it will because as outlined above, the system contains in itself the very seeds of its destruction. Think of it as virus – a parasite – that has infected an otherwise healthy global economy which must be rid of. A forest fire, if you will, that must clear the dead plants (malinvestments) to make way for the new. It is the law of nature. But if the host – YOU – doesn’t fight back, the parasite of global banksters will kill the host alongwith itself. If you don’t collapse the system, the system will collapse you. Do you wish to sink with the collapsing system or be one of the survivors to begin a new one?

There are two interdependent objectives at play here. If you choose to take steps for one, the other automatically follows:

Healing the economy: The system must be collapsed for the much needed capital reallocations to productive hands to begin. Sure, collapse is a guaranteed outcome, but the sooner it happens, the lesser the damage to the economy and faster the recovery.

Preservation of wealth: By this I don’t mean preservation of the fiat digits in your account. Wealth is not currency notes but the real resources and people of this world. When the reallocations start you need to be ready either by already owning productive assets (whatever is left of them) such as farmland etc. or claims to them that will be universally honored (Gold).

Yes, the global bankster oligarchy is powerful. It’s David vs. Goliath, I know. But as powerful as the Goliath is, he has a weak spot you can hit:

The Currency

Think of this as guerrilla war. There is no sense in outright confronting a huge and powerful enemy because you will be decimated. But there are peaceful and strategic yet powerful steps you can take, namely: Vote with your feet. Reject the currency. The system cannot survive if you don’t participate. I know you can’t do it overnight but you can start to minimize your participation. And know this: If a majority of you does even one of the below, the system will collapse overnight without so much as a shot fired. Here is what you need to do:

1. Leave as little cash as practically possible inside the banking system. As a rough guide, keep only that much which you are willing to lose (as in 100% loss). Yes the banks will collapse, but that is the desired outcome. Contrary to what the authorities want you to believe, we will survive just fine without the banks. Sure, there will be some short-term hardships involved but think of it as an alcoholic recovering. Longer term it will be healthier. Don’t fear “the contagion”

“Clearly this is a negative development for European assets but in the terms of contagion we think it is quite limited,”

–Guillermo Felices, Head Euro Asset Allocation, Barclays

What this guy means is that he thinks people aren’t clever enough to realize that the banksters are going to loot everyone. He expects people to bend over and take it. Prove him wrong. Let the damn contagion begin!

2. DO NOT be invested in any paper securities inside the system such as bonds, stocks, derivatives of ANY kind, even though they may be “guaranteed” by the mafia government and/or may carry “AAA” ratings. If you still trust “sovereign guarantees” or rating agencies after all that has happened, I’m sorry but you deserve to lose your money. Dump ALL paper assets. Now.

3. Convert the maximum possible amount of your fiat money into Gold and Silver, but remember to pay cash only and hide them in a secure location which you can access anytime (and as of the great Cypriot robbery, no bank lockers are safe anymore). If you need to understand why it is important to buy Gold and why this will preserve your wealth – especially during a currency collapse – please read this and this. If the country you reside in is making hard for you to buy PM’s  – MOVE, for this is an indication of depredations to come. If they are requiring identification/ tracking if you buy over an X amount, just keep buying a little below it as many times as required (guerrilla warfare). But keep it discreet. And, yes, I know the government can confiscate PM’s but nothing’s stopping them from confiscating your fiat digits either. There are no guarantees in life. At least this way you still have a chance.

4. Although precious metals in your own possession is the safest place to park your hard earned savings, if you wish or need to diversify beyond the precious metals, invest only in real assets in safe jurisdictions. By safe I mean which are furthest from the control of feudal lords of western “civilization”, although I’m not sure there are many these days. The best real asset I can think of aside from PM’s is cultivable farming land, but I’m sure there are many others.

5. Where practically and legally feasible for you, stop paying back bankster debt. Starve them of the interest payments. If its cheaper to fight them in court than paying back, do it. Use their system against them. If you want to double the impact, use the fake debt-money you just appropriated from them to buy Gold and Silver3.

6. Minimize usage of bankster money in daily transactions by using alternative currencies (such as Bitcoin) which they cannot track and tax. Disclaimer: I haven’t done much research on Bitcoin or other such p2p currencies, so do your due diligence. The only guarantees I can make are for Gold. If your circumstances permit, try to start making a living outside the bankster controlled wage-slave economy. The lesser number of slaves there are to exploit, the faster the system will collapse.

7. Wake up as many people as you can. Let’s make this shit viral.

So, unless you want a bankster at your doorstep with a gun to your head – like it happened in Cyprus – it’s time to take the fight to them. Rip them banksters a new one! Let this not happen to you:

1The Banks refer to both the Central Banks and ordinary commercial banks such as Citibank, JP Morgan etc. The latter are simply fronts for the Central Bank.

2 The Central Bank is nothing but just a façade for creating money out of thin air and a front for the global banking aristocracy.

3 I forgot to include this point earlier. If you can think of any more ideas, feel free to email me at the email address provided on my blog or post them in the comments section below (or on my blog) and I will include them in a subsequent post.

Average:

via It’s Time to Collapse the System | Zero Hedge.

via It’s Time to Collapse the System | Zero Hedge.

IMF: Eurozone Banks Are In Trouble, Trample Taxpayers and Democracy To Bail Them Out!


Eurozone nations have to fundamentally reorganize themselves and shift sovereignty away from national parliaments to new layers of centralized, transnational, beyond-control bureaucracies that can decide at will when to extract untold wealth from taxpayers. That’s what the Eurozone has to do, according to the “first ever European Union-wide assessment of the soundness and stability of the financial sector,” released Friday by the institution that the world couldn’t do without, the IMF.

“Financial stability has not been assured,” the report stated flatly about the fiasco in the Eurozone, despite ceaseless hope-mongering by Eurocrats and politicians, and banks remain “vulnerable to shocks.” The report, which never mentioned banks or countries by name, discussed a number of “risks” that could topple these banks, with some of these “risks” already having transitioned to reality:

“Declining growth.” Banks with “excessive leverage, risky business models, and an adverse feedback loop with sovereigns and the real economy” are particularly vulnerable. Hence, most banks. A number of European countries have been in a deep recession, some of them for years. So “declining growth” is a reality, and these “shocks” are happening now, said the IMF in its more or less subtle ways.

“Further drop in asset prices.” Real estate prices are now dropping in some countries that didn’t see a collapse during the first wave, including France and the Netherlands—where it already took down SNS Reaal, the country’s fourth largest bank [A Taxpayer Revolt Against Bank Bailouts In the Eurozone]. So hurry up and do something, the IMF said.

The report points at other risks for banks. Pressures in wholesale funding markets could dry up liquidity and tighten refinancing conditions. And the market could lose confidence in the sovereign debt that banks hold. For example, an Italian bank, loaded with Italian government debt, would topple if that debt lost value—but of course, the report refuses to name names.

And in “several countries,” the heavy concentration of megabanks “creates too-big-to-fail problems that could amplify the country’s vulnerability.” So Germany, France, and the UK. Alas, in Europe too-big-to-fail doesn’t necessarily mean big. In tiny Cyprus, fifth country to get a bailout, the banks, though minuscule by megabank standards, are getting bailed out anyway. It’s psychological. A fear. If even a small bank were allowed to go bankrupt, the confidence in all banks across the Eurozone would collapse. That’s how fragile Eurocrats and politicians fear their banks have become—despite their reassurances to the contrary.

And so “policymakers and banks need to intensify their efforts across a wide range of areas” to save these banks, the IMF exhorts these Eurocrats and politicians.

Big priorities: “bank balance sheet repair”; banks should build larger capital buffers to be able to absorb shocks. And “credibility” repair of these balance sheets. In an admission that bank balance sheets still aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, the IMF calls for stiffening the disclosure requirements, “especially of impaired assets” that are decomposing in hidden-from view basements.

The new Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), the EU-wide banking regulator under the ECB, to be operational by early 2014, would have to have real teeth, along with expertise, the IMF pointed out. It should regulate all banks in the Eurozone “to sustain the currency union” and in the entire EU to sustain “the single market for financial services.” In other words, without the SSM, the currency union won’t make it.

But the IMF’s killer app is the Banking Union, a “single framework for crisis management, deposit insurance, supervision, and resolution, with a common backstop for the banking system.” Under this system, taxpayers in all Eurozone countries would automatically be responsible for bailing out banks, their investors, bondholders, counterparties, and account holders in any Eurozone country.

For the most hopeless cases, the Single Resolution Mechanism would step in to dissolve banks “without disrupting financial stability”—hence bail out investors, disrupting financial stability being a term that’s commonly used to justify anything. The medium would be the transnational taxpayer-funded ESM bailout fund; it would bail out banks directly, rather than bail out countries after they bail out their own banks—which is the rule today.

In the process, countries would surrender much of their authority over banks—and how or even whether to bail them out—to this new instrument. Decision makers would be Eurocrats, far removed from any popular vote. Victims would be the people who’d end up paying for it. Investors and speculators would profit. Other beneficiaries would be politicians who’d no longer have to bamboozle voters into bailing out banks because it would be done by a distant power.

The dictum that there is never an alternative to bailouts would be cemented into the system. Democracy, which always gets trampled during bailouts, would be essentially abolished when it comes to transferring money from citizens to bank investors. And that’s of course the ultimate goal of the banking industry.

The stark reality facing millions of Spaniards, Italians, Greeks, and Portuguese is hidden—buried deep under a mountain of economic data, massaged to suit the purposes of the central planners-in-chief.

via IMF: Eurozone Banks Are In Trouble, Trample Taxpayers and Democracy To Bail Them Out! | Zero Hedge.

via IMF: Eurozone Banks Are In Trouble, Trample Taxpayers and Democracy To Bail Them Out! | Zero Hedge.

Record Unemployment Figures Spell Doom For Europe – All News Is Global |


PARIS – On Friday, the European statistics agency Eurostat, released new European Union and euro zone unemployment figures from January, showing record highs.

267751eurostatunemploymentbargraph

 

Here is a breakdown of the alarming numbers:

– More than 26 million people unemployed in the 27-member European Union.

– Almost 19 million unemployed in the 17-country euro zone.

– Euro zone average: 11.9% unemployment

– European Union average: 10.8% unemployment

– Highest rates:

Greece: 27%

Spain 26.2%

Portugal: 17.6%

– Lowest rates:

Austria: 4.9%

Germany and Luxemburg: 5.3%

173154eurostatunemploymentgraph

In comparison:

– The U.S.: 7.9% unemployment in Jan. 2013.

– Australia: 5.4%

– Japan:  4.2%

Not surprisingly, youth unemployment was also up:

– Euro zone youth unemployment: 24.2%, up from 21.9 in Jan. 2012.

– European Union under-25 unemployment: 23.6%, up from 22.4% in Jan. 2012.

The worst European countries for youths:

– Greece: 59.4% youth unemployment rate.

– Spain: 55.5% youth unemployment rate.

via Record Unemployment Figures Spell Doom For Europe – All News Is Global |.

via Record Unemployment Figures Spell Doom For Europe – All News Is Global |.

EU Working to Eventually Introduce Democracy  


BRUSSELS – Belgium – The EU Commission is working to eventually introduce democracy in the Eurozone in about 200 years time if all goes well, unelected technocrats revealed yesterday.

“We thought we might dip our toes into trying some small elements of democracy and we might give the people some say in how they should be governed,” Jose Bubbarosso, the senior EU Commissioner for EU Dictatorial policy said at a recent conference.

Democracy is something that is completely alien to the EU but they say they are at least trying to implement it in a few hundred years time.

“We may consider giving the masses some say in the EU but there is still not much chance of that ever happening in our super soviet state because that could be very dangerous to our system of total control,” another unelected bureaucrat said.

via EU Working to Eventually Introduce Democracy �.

via EU Working to Eventually Introduce Democracy  .

Picture of the Day- IMF/EU


Sums up the in Ireland  with a special thank you to the EU and the IMF

IMF Zombie Robbery… ‘The 1% have the Wealth – We have to take the Power’


The IMF at Work

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions have called a national demonstration on 27th November in Dublin which will see tens of thousands take to the streets

The 1% network is organising for the day around the slogan ‘The 1% have the Wealth – We have to take the Power’

Marching for jobs, and against austerity


24 november march

The anti-austerity march on Saturday will give people the chance to tell the Government that it’s time to change economic direction. By Michael O’Reilly.

Austerity is costing jobs.

When the Government published their Medium Term Fiscal Statement last week, they all but admitted that their employment policy will fail. When they took office the unemployment rate was 14.2%. Now they accept that the unemployment rate by 2015 will be 13%. In other words, the Government admits that the unemployment rate will hardly change while they are in office. This is a devastating admission.

Since the crisis began, Ireland has suffered one of the worst collapses in employment of any EU-15 country. We are up there with Spain and Greece. While the numbers at work in Ireland have fallen by over 15%, the Eurozone average is less than 2%.

Much of this job loss is due to the collapse in the property market. From the peak, the numbers at work have fallen by 350,000 – the construction sector has made up 45% of this job loss. However, in the last year, 80% of job losses have come from non-construction sectors. What was initially a crisis in the construction sector has now spread throughout the economy.

Austerity measures are continuing to drive down employment. When the Government cuts investment, it cuts the number of people at work on capital projects; when it cuts spending on public services, it cuts the number of people employed directly by the public sector and people in the private sector who got work through procurement contracts; when the Government cuts social protection, it cuts demand in the economy, putting further pressure on domestic businesses and their employees.

In short, when the Government cuts spending (or increases taxation on low-average income groups), it drives down economic activity. Why should anyone be surprised that the numbers at work are continuing to fall?

The Government‘s jobs policy ignores what’s happening in the labour market. There are about 30 unemployed people for every job vacancy. Increasing the skills of our workforce (both employers and employees), retraining people, getting young people back into education – all these are necessary to increase our capacity to grow. But these will come to nothing as long as there is no demand for labour – as long as 300,000 people are competing with each other for a relative handful of jobs.

According to the Government, the prognosis is not good. They expect there will still be fewer people at work in 2014 than when they took office. How can we begin to turn this around?

First, we can begin to drive investment. Investment not only has the capacity to put people back to work in the short-term, it increases the capacity of the economy to grow in the future. This will continue to increase employment in the medium-term. Investment in next generation broadband, a modern water and waste system and energy-efficient buildings (we have one million buildings in need of retro-fitting) could directly employ tens of thousands of people, with more jobs created downstream. Most important is investment in education – from early childhood all the way through to life-long learning; this is the single most important long-term investment.

Second, we can stop digging ourselves into a bigger hole. While we have to repair our public finances (and investment will help by driving up tax revenue and reducing unemployment costs), we should ensure that budgetary measures are ‘growth-friendly’.  This means taxation measures on high-income groups and their unproductive capital and property.  This will have less impact on domestic demand than cutting spending on public services and social protection, or hitting low-average income earners through taxation.

Third, we must start driving up wages – in particular, those of the low-paid. Corporate profitability has returned over the last two years. Many businesses are struggling – not because wages or taxes are too high but because not enough people are employed and have too little money in their pockets to spend. Increasing wages in enterprises that can afford it will increase tax revenue for the Government and increase spending in the economy.

This is not the complete solution to unemployment. But it is a start. It is the programme that the Dublin Council of Trade Unions is calling for.  And it is one of the reasons that we are asking people to come out on Saturday, 24 November.

We can defeat austerity. We have a programme that will grow jobs and living standards. And if we have the people, the Government will have to listen to us.

Michael O’Reilly is president of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions.

The anti-austerity march organised by DCTU begins at 1pm tomorrow, 24 November, at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin.

via Irish Politics, Current Affairs and Magazine Archive – Politico.ie | Marching for jobs, and against austerity.

via Irish Politics, Current Affairs and Magazine Archive – Politico.ie | Marching for jobs, and against austerity.

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