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Yanis Varoufakis: Europe Needs a Hegemonic Germany

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By Yanis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens. Cross posted from his blog

For six decades Germany was being pampered by a hegemonic America that oversaw the write-off of its wartime debts, the reversal of Allied designs to de-industrialise it and, above all else, the constant generation of the global demand which allowed German manufacturers to concentrate on efficiently producing quality, desirable wares.

Having taken all this for granted for too long, Germany’s elites are now finding it conceptually difficult to come to terms with the new ‘normal’:

• A world in which sufficient aggregate demand is no longer maintainable by the United States, or any other single bloc, and in which Germany can no longer take for granted the demand for its goods.

* A world in which there is no room for a Eurozone that operates like an augmented Germany.

Germany’s disciplinarian imposition of the greatest austerity upon the weakest of Europeans, lacking any plan for countering the resulting asymmetrical recession, is a sorry and dangerous leftover of a long-gone world order built by America. It is the result of a mental atrophy caused by a United States acting for too long as the over-protective parent. It will backfire with mathematical precision, causing higher debt-to-income ratios and lower economic dynamism throughout Europe. The time is, therefore, ripe for a Gestalt Shift from an authoritarian to a hegemonic Germany. Europe needs a Germany ready and willing to make this shift and, indeed, so does Germany.

But what would a hegemonic Germany do? It will be worried about something beyond fiscal rectitude and market reforms. It will know that a supply of high quality products does not automatically create its own demand. It will enthusiastically strive to engineer, as America did in the 1950s, a Pan-European Recovery Program that restores demand for the goods that Europe needs.

Should Germany then try to emulate America? Germany does not have the capacity to do what the United States accomplished from 1980 to 2008; that is, to operate as a gigantic vacuum cleaner sucking into its territory other nations’ net exports, at the cost of ever expanding deficits. Nor should German taxpayers be expected to reflate the bubbles that burst in 2008 (in their own banks, in and around the Greek state, in Irish and Spanish real estate markets etc.). Burst bubbles should be allowed to remain… burst. But meanwhile a hegemonic Germany would find ways to channel the huge pools of stagnant savings into productive investments in the Periphery where they shall produce the incomes that must pay down debts and maintain the level of intra-European demand German companies need to remain competitive both within and without Europe.

In a sense, a hegemonic Germany will be playing the role that Washington did in the 1950s, adopting an activist policy to re-balance Europe’s economy through efficient surplus recycling. But how can this be achieved, when Germany cannot afford to unleash a Marshall Plan? What institutions will this recycling require?

Two things are clear: Germany should not rely on the failed nexus between national governments and Brussels, which has been responsible for inefficient and corrupt uses of the EU’s structural funds. Also, it is futile to attempt moving in a federal direction, a move that Europe’s peoples are not ready for and whose glacial pace is certain to be outpaced by the galloping crisis. Is there a third way? Yes, there is.

Germany should take another leaf out of the New Dealers who put it on the road to recovery all those years ago: Europe needs its own New Deal, funded by a new class of public finance instruments. Germany can realise such a Recovery Program centred around the European Investment Bank. The EIB already has a proven track record of creating a liquid market for debt instruments that fund successful projects. In collaboration with, and supported by, the European Central Bank, an EIB-ECB partnership has the capacity to energise mountains of hitherto idle savings on pure banking principles, with minimal involvement of member-states and no need for Treaty changes.

All it will take is a German resolve to shift from panicky authoritarianism to a hegemonic, to an enlightened self-interestedness.

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81 comments

  1. They didn't leave me a choice

    Yanis has truly gone off the rails now. Hegemonic Germany. What next, irreversible political union and dissolution of nation states? This guy is sick in the head, what we need is less europe, not more. What he is proposing i sthat we should all kowtow to the center and allow them to make all decisions. No. That will not be allowed. Stop with this centralisation madness already, Gigantism will only lead to ruination of us all.

    Yanis, get out of that little hole of fear you’ve dug yourself into and realise that the euro MUST be dismantled and Greece MUST go back into the drachma. The longer people like you delay this, the worse it will get.

    1. Mark P.

      ‘This guy is sick in the head’

      Unfair, I think. Yanis nicely analyzes the problems.

      His proposed solution, I agree, is unrealistic, wishful thinking.

    2. Alan

      He is not sick to the head. You have a reading comprehension problem:

      “Also, it is futile to attempt moving in a federal direction, a move that Europe’s peoples are not ready for and whose glacial pace is certain to be outpaced by the galloping crisis. Is there a third way? Yes, there is.”

      1. from Mexico

        The main thing, though, is that as US world hygemony wanes, Germany will begin looking around for options.

        Floating beneath the US’s collosal military failures in Iraq and Afghanistan is the fact the US has lost the war to control the flow of oil and natural gas into Europe.

        I have a friend here in Mexico who is a tour guide. He’s German and takes small groups of German’s, who typically hail from the country’s upper governing class, on tours of the prehispainc ruins in Mexico and Guatemala. He says that more than one has mentioned the fact that Germany may ditch the US and go with Russia, who now pretty much completely controls the flow of oil and natural gas into Europe. Russia, also, is not perceived to be as much of an exestential threat as the US, which has devolved into a rogue state.

        There’s the question of Greece, though. He says Greece is of utmost geopolical importance because of its location. I don’t understand why that is so, so need to question him more so as to get some clarification.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          Paris/Berlin/Moscow: Coast to Coast Eurasian Continental Polity. So far, only the USA has ever accomplished that feat.

          That would leave Washington/Tokyo/Beijing. Of course, London is still hoping for a Washington/London/Berlin free trade zone, in order to head off the Pacific Pivot. I know, you thought we were pivoting ONLY our guns to the East, our guns come with the rest of us, and not everyone agrees which way to turn. Pivoting is not pointing, as in targeting our weapons, but placing them in the service of the area of our most vital(profitable) national interests. As long a we turn a profit, no one will complain that seriously. And as the hegemon, it is in that role that we play the provider of security, yes, even to China, our current ally in our permanent interests.

          1. different clue

            What permanent interests do we share with our Chinese “ally”? Turning America into a corn/soy/coal Banana Republic for China . . . a sort of “overseas Tibet” . . may be in our Rulers’ interest as long as they get paid for it. But in the rest of our interest?

            Does “providing security” mean eventually becoming a source of Hessians for China? Did we fight in Afghanistan to protect China’s investment in copper mines? Is that what it comes to?
            http://www.afghan-web.com/economy/china_copper.html

        2. Susan the other

          I’d like to hear V’s explanation of Greece’s significance in geopolitics too. If Greece is critical, so is Italy, so is Spain, and so is southern France. Unless it’s about Greece’s natural gas fields…

          1. from Mexico

            I just got off the phone to my friend, and he said that’s it, it’s about keeping the Mediteranean open to oil tankers as most of Germany’s oil is shipped from ports in northern Africa to ports along the northern Mediteranean and then by pipeline to Germany.

            I found this map that helps illustrate:

            http://mappery.com/map-of/Proposed-European-Crude-Oil-Pipelines-Map

            It looks like there are new pipelines connecting Europe to Russia, however, so the situation is in flux.

        3. p78

          “He says Greece is of utmost geopolical importance because of its location.”

          I can confirm that this is the most frequently played card by the South-Eastern European countries’ diplomacy and your map above of the “oil corridors” explains clearly why.

        4. Tangerine

          Germany has already bent over and spread its cheeks for Putin ages ago (Gerhard Scroeder). More recently they’ve spread their cheeks for Chinese end markets although that will bite them in the backside sooner or later.

  2. salvo

    Yanis, sorry, I deeply respect your economic position but I totally disagree with your political vision: The European people don’t need any kind of hegemony, be it german or whatever. The notion of a benign hegemon is a dangerous idealistic illusion. The greater the structures of power the less democratically controllable and accountable they get. There is no real system of power projection in a real world which might actually be located on the ‘good’ side.

  3. Clive

    I liked the piece just fine, right up ’til the point where it concluded that the solution to a debt problem is — wait for it — more debt.

    Why would the EIB be able to make better credit decisioning than any other of the failed EU institutions which preceded it ? How would t be capitalised given that all Eurozone countries are running deficits ? Would it not simply be recycling sovereign debt into ABCP ? Why not simply use sovereign defect spending directly, if you genuinely believe that state spending really is the answer — cutting out this dubious sounding attempt at “arms length” firewalling between governments and the private sector.

    Sorry mate, I’d have loved it if I could (as any new paradigm is better than the current bound-to-fail status quo) but it had all the hallmarks of today’s solution just waiting to become tomorrow’s problem …

    1. Clive

      Of course, “defect spending” above should read “deficit spending”. But actually, in this context, I may well have been right the first time.

  4. JLCampos

    History is a vector and economists and a numerous public tends to think of it as a ring.
    In Spain a something new is happening. They are finding out that their organizational political national model is in tatters.
    The austerity is having a marvelous effect of prompting analysis and reflection.
    The Spanish or more specifically the Castilian character has for centuries believed that wealth is a substance that can be mined,as in Bolivian Potosi, and that belief creates enormous corruption. The Spanish are learning that wealth is the result of labor. All transitions, like births, are painful. Spain is there. It actually may break up.

    1. Mark P.

      Yes. Interesting times.

      On the one hand, we’re seeing the collapse of belief in the nation-state in many places — rightly, since its replacement, the market state, is anyway a far less trustworthy entity as far as the average citizen is concerned and easily turned into the predator state by the plutocracy.

      On the other hand, we’re witnessing the birth of alternatives to the state. For instance, the interesting possibilities presented by the stack –

      http://www.bratton.info/projects/talks/on-the-nomos-of-the-cloud-the-stack-deep-address-integral-geography/

      http://www.bratton.info/projects/talks/interview-in-the-guardian-uk/

      http://www.bratton.info/projects/texts/interview-by-metahaven/

  5. tom

    Wow. What BS. Sorry the expression but I can´t think of anything else. First about Germany not having paid for the war. She has and how she has. Germany lost a quarter of her territory and everything in it. Millions more ehtnic Germans were driven out from Eastern Europe. They had nothing left and arrived traumatised. My mother is one of them who arrived with absolutely nothing. Not even family pictures. She is now 83 and I have to hear it everyday. Rapes, wanton killings, all Germans being forced to wear an armband wih N (nemetz = German) on it, being completely without rights and at the mercy of any killer or rapist. No doubt Germans had done the same before. But that doesn´t make it any better.
    The good professor makes it sound as if the German trade surplus is some sort of conspiracy between Germany and the US. I.e. Germany being pampered by the US into the economic power house it is today. He evidently never looked at the figures for the Marshall plan. Here please:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan
    Germany got much less per capita than Greece! Germany got 1,448 Billion Dollars total and Greece 376 Million. But West Germany´s population was 52 Million in 1949 and Greece´s 7,5 Million.
    Now to the German trade surplus. West-Germany has run a trade surplus with everybody since the fifties. Her European neighbours reacted by periodically devaluing. The result was the emergence of the Dm as reserve currency. That made West-Germany the strongest country in the EU even before unification. The fear was that Germany would be even stronger when united. That is how the Euro was born. Germany had to give up her currency in exchange for unification. That is the situation today.
    Now to the trade surplus. It is rooted in the nineteenth or even the eighteenth century. It came about indirecty as a function of Germany not having had a captive market i.e. colonies. Germany was forced from the start into a competetive international environemt. There was no India or Vietnam were she could dump her industrial production. With the exception of the backward former parts of the Ottoman or Russian empires all European countries which have at least balanced trade have had no colonies. (Italy is a special case. The country as a whole has balanced trade but Northern Italy is as much or even more competitive than Germany whereas the South is basically not industrialised at all)
    The label that indicates where something is made (Made in…) was invented by the British in the nineteenth century to inform patriotic citizens what not to buy (Made in Germany was the first country label). To no avail.
    Not too much has changed since then.
    Although indeed the second world war has made a major contribution to German competitiveness. But not in the sense that Professor Varoufakis imagines. What losing the war meant was that Germany suddenly got flooded with desperate destitute refugees which shook up societal structures. Germany became by far the most egalitarian of major Europen countries. And she still is today. On the production level it means a unique culture of collaboration between engineers and shop floor, between managers and workers. It is also the only country of my knowledge who mandates powerful worker councils. In fact Geman workers have many more rights than their British or US counterparts. They work less hours and get better pay. Which is a source of constant amazement for American engineers coming over to German affiliates of major US corporations. They just can´t understand it at first.
    As to Germany becoming some sort of Hegemon. It would never work. What needs to stop though is the moralising. In Germany people need to be told that it is a historical coincidence that they are better off and certainly not due to harder work. Furthermore people there need to understand that every penny going to Greece saves Germany as well.
    In Greece conspiracy theories like the one above need to stop. They are wrong and not helpful at all. It is not because of some special American help that Germany became such a powerful economy. Nor is it because Germans work more hours (quite the opposite)
    Is there any solution? I am pessimistic. For that to happen capitalistic logic would need to be overcome. For instnace it is well past time that the size of fish trawlers be severely restricted, bottom nets forbidden etc. etc. It would curb overfishing and give lot´s of people work. Same in agriculture which is not sustainable the way it is run.
    Same for the car centered distribution systems we have developed. As long as the logic is more “efficiency” and more return on capital nothing will change. And the Euro eventually break up.

    1. salvo

      while I agree that any kiand of idealization of Germany in whatever direchtion is not helpful, your generalization of the temporary Germany society as relatively more egalitarian and of the contemporary working conditions as relatively better are at least no more true. I live and work in Germany, I am half German myself, and I can assure you that the German society may be even les egalitarian as other European societies. It has one of the most unegalitarian education systems in Europe, a fact which has been a main target for progressive critics even in Germany for a long time. As for the allegedely better working conditions: this may be true nowadays for the some sectors, mainly the export sector, but not all for some other, specifically the service sector, at the latest with the introduction of the so called Hartz reforms and the agenda 2010 which created a vast Niedriglohnsektor (low income sector). As soon as you get out of a regular working condition you fall under the authoritarian regime of the Hartz IV system

      1. tom

        Sure the German education sytem is not egalitarian. But it works!!! And at least it gives kids who are not academically strong a vocational training that is vastly superior than anything offerend in other countries. Sorry, but the BS that every kid has to go to college is just that: BS. If you want to reform the German system to be more “egalitarian” along the lines of “everybody getting the same” I say thanks a lot. Id prefer the German system any time to the American or British ones where 5% get a superb and very costly eduaction and the rest an “egalitarian”, but worthless one. As to unemployment benefit you can only dream of that in other European countries. In Italy and Spain you get nothing at all after one or two years of unemployment and in Britain one gets a pittance. Ok, people are forced to take any job if they are on offer. But my sympathy is frankly limited. Especially as there are lots of ways to wriggle out.

        1. salvo

          ok, that’s your opinion, and that’s ok as opinion, but is absolutely incorrect to call Germany a more egalitarian society than others. It’s simply not, in my eyes, and I live in Germany, it is in some ways less egalitarian than elsewhere. You may call it, for whatever reason, a ‘better’ unegalitarian system – possibly because critics of internal conditions tend to positively idealize external conditions – but it doesn’t change that the German society is highly unegalitarian.

          As for the so labor conditions in Germany, I suggest speaking with those in germany being actually subject to the Hartz IV rules.

          1. tom

            I worked in Britain, Ireland, France, the States and in Canada. Ok, as an engineer. Concerning work flow, attitudes towards employees Germany, inner company relations and shared goals Germany is by far on top.
            The US is faux egalitarian. By that I mean that on first appearance there´s equality in the way people greet each other. But the attitude is totally top down. The people at the very top are products of elite schools with very little shared experience with the people at the bottom. In fact they believe they know everything but all they know are the spread sheets. It is all numbers, numbers, numbers. But without understanding. We have had a factory located to Marocco. No use telling American management that the temperatures are a major problem when storing formed PE plastic. All they thought about was the location (near to Europe) and the labour cost (5% of American). They got huge quality problems but the company got bought out before they surfaced.Tales like this are galore. Talk to any German engineer, accountant or sales rep who has worked in the States. Or talk to a BMW guy about the Savannah plant in Georgia. They in fact made a point not to hire anybody from an Ivy League college. It is easy not to screw on a bolt properly. That is what will happen if you treat people as a number.

            England is worse as there is not even the appearance of equality. Just talk to any older British engineer, who remembers the days when things were actually still made there. They killed manufacturing for good by not having been able to move to constructive labor relations. Now they have abolished the old class system but replaced it with something even more insidious. Crony capitalism without the saving grace of American entrepeneurship.

            Ireland is the exception. Excellent education and good inner communications.

            France is a mix. The top management is almost as removed as the American but they come from excellent schools in which you can´t buy your way in. French education is for free and entirely based on merit. The main problem is centralisation of desicion making.

            Canada is also superior to the US.

            By saying egalitarian in regard to Germany I should be more exact. Maybe it is not the most egalitarian country in terms of income and it certainly isn´t the social paradise anymore that it was. By egalitarian I mean that the people who rise to the top and the people who are on top are more there because of their abilities than in any of the other countries. And definately Germany is the most egalitarian country concerning decision making with in companies. But that is also a function of Germanys excellent vocational training system. A German shop floor manager has usually risen through the ranks. He has no higher education but certainly is very well paid. And there is nobody who can force decisions on him that he considers non sensical. Not even top management. Everything has to be argued through.
            Sounds horrible for any French or American. Completely impossible. But it works and that is what I mean by egalitarian. In Germany you can´t rule a company without consulting the employees. The whole thing is based on people taking pride in their work. A pride which can´t develop in most other countries. At least not to that extent.

          2. peace

            Thanks Tom for pointing out that democratic decision making may underlie Germany’s success. Shared goals and task conflict (not relationship conflict) improves decision making and this may be a feature of German culture today. This may be due to institutional or cultural factors that accentuate and acknowledge the legitimacy of bottom-up voice, knowledge sharing and input into the implementation of final decisions (e.g., institutionalized and mandatory union representation in board meetings). I wonder if Japanese respect for similar elements of decision making impact their success in manufacturing and process engineering generally (e.g., Deming’s democratic worker-management shared goals and open communication).

            Anyway, hegemony is authoritarian and socially regressive; I see it as detrimental to economic progress as well.

    2. from Mexico

      Wow! What an unbelievably blinkered view of the world!

      Ever heard of geopolitics? Of the US-Nato alliance?

      And I wonder what you’ve got to say about this?

      Real Wages in Germany: Numerous Years of Decline

      Net real wages in Germany have hardly risen since the beginning of the 1990s. Between 2004 and 2008 they even declined. This is a unique development in Germany-never before has a period of rather strong economic growth been accompanied by a decline in net real wages over a period of several years. The key reason for this decline is not higher taxes and social-insurance contributions, as many would hold, but rather extremely slow wage growth, both in absolute terms and from an international perspective. This finding is all the more striking in light of the fact that average employee education levels have risen, which would on its face lead one to expect higher wage levels. In contrast to the prevailing wage trend, income from self-employment and investment assets has risen sharply in recent years, such that compensation of employees makes up an ever shrinking percentage of national income. Inflation-adjusted compensation of employees as a share of national income reached a historic low of 61% in 2007 and 2008.

      http://ideas.repec.org/a/diw/diwwrp/wr5-28.html

      1. tom

        Sorry, I don´t get the point about the US and Nato. As to German real wages declining that seems to be the case all over the world. The US and Britain have seen even worse declines and that hasn´t helped their trade balance at all. There are other factors at play here.

        1. from Mexico

          Yes, but they are falling in Germany much faster.

          In 1997, Germany ranked second in hourly wages, trailing Switzerland by only a few cents (Germany = $29.16, Switzerland = $30.42.)

          In 2011, Germany came in a distant 6th (Germany = $47.38, Switzerland = $60.40)

          In 1997, a German worker made 96% of what a Swiss worker made. By 2011, a German worker made only 78% of what a Swiss worker made.

          http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ichcc.t01.htm

          1. tom

            Sorry, but Germany and Switzerland just aren´t comparable. All this hourly wage differential is just due to exchange rate fluctuation. The Swiss franc has become vastly overvalued since 2007. Anyhow even so Swiss manufacturing has held up remarkably well. Just as German manufacturing did when time and again her trading partners devalued. Right now Germany is about the only country with an even trade balance with China. And that is althouth the Yuan is pegged to the Dollar and the Euro has risen enormously. And we are not even taling about the US. I remember a time when there were 4 Marks to the Dollar. There are two Marks to the Euro and the Euro was up at 1,2 not so long ago. Do the math.Another case in point is the Plaza accord of the eighties. The US pressured Germany and Japan to appreciate their currency. It didnßt helpt the trade balance ot the US whatsoever. If you don´t invest in products and production you will be left behind in no time.
            No matter. You can devalue as much as you like and you lower wages as much as you like as well. If what you produce isn´t what people want then it doesn´t matter.
            That is not to say that the German way is the way forward. If the world was as productive as Germany we would need another few planets for raw materials. Capitalism isn´t the way forward. But not understanding industrial production doesn´t help.

          2. from Mexico

            @ tom

            You don’t like Switzerland because it’s not in the Eurozone. Well then how about Belgium? In 1997, German workers made 101% of what Belgian workers did. In 2011 they made 87% of what Belgian workers do.

            You go to great lengths to deny that Germany hasn’t gone down the neoliberal pathway, and that as a result German workers have gotten screwed. Germany hasn’t of course gone down this pathway quite as far as the US or the UK, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t gone down it.

        2. from Mexico

          tom says:

          The US and Britain have seen even worse declines

          But as the data I cited points out, only very slightly so.

          And since when are the US and the UK — neoliberal central you might say — legitimate bases for comparison?

          Since when do the sins of the US and the UK justify Germany’s sins?

      2. Tangerine

        Voluntary internal devaluation with the acquiescence of the unions. Saved a lot of Germans’ jobs and helped screw the Southern Europeans. Well played so far…

  6. AllanW

    I think the earliest comments miss important points in the article and suffer as a result. Varoufakis is not proposing greater political centralisation or the abolition of nation-state.

    And Clive is right as well; not that stimulus spending that increases national debts is bad (he’s wrong with the doom-merchanting when we consider the EEC as a whole) but that the specific mechanism Varoufakis suggests would inevitably be more convoluted, inefficient and risky at making resource decisions than other methods.

    Our friend in Spain makes the most pertinent point; plotting a way through the current fog is not just a question of economics, we are living in one of those times of periodic upheaval that human societies go through when the complex mix of social pressures (economic, political and cultural) operating in the sub-soil reach such a level that they begin to deform the landscape.

    Concentrating upon the vector of economics and more particularly the question of ‘what should we try to do with positive imbalances such as savings or German surpluses to create more stability in the integrated economic system?’ while interesting completely misses the vectors of political dysfunction, climate change realities and multicultural mixing (to name but a few) that not only exist but, most importantly, change individual perceptions of the decisions Varoufakis wants people to take. It’s too isolating and ‘model-making’ an approach rather than holistic for my liking, I’m sorry to say because I’ve really appreciated much of what he has contributed to the debate over the last year or so.

    Until the professor can convincingly show that his proposed behemoth collaboration between the EIB and ECB would indeed be an attractive channel through which current levels of savings and surpluses could be reinvested into projects that the people who control those funds would be prepared to divert these flows into then I’m afraid his idea will remain only a plaintive call for ‘this misery to end’.

    1. Clive

      Hi Allan

      It’s not that I think government stimulus isn’t an appropriate solution in some circumstances; more that in this case, debt forgiveness may be a more effective response. At least, it should be given a try first not least because I’m not convinced that we’re not suffering from over or malinvestment so I’m therefore not sure on what, exactly, additional Keynsean counter cyclical splurges should focus on in the countries concerned. But I know that haircuts on outstanding debts would solve a lot of the problems.

  7. Claudius

    Good grief Yanis. Believe me I’m a sympathetic admirer of your view point and comments. You have a knack of translating swami-academic-economics into the common man’s vernacular (and, hallelujah for that).

    However, this idea of a hegemonic Germany bringing a kind of Marshal plans to the rest of Europe? Hmm, okay, but a German Marshall Plan would have to work as a ‘structural adjustment programme’, in much the same way as its famous predecessor, namely by achieving reforms through strong conditionality in return for serious money? To be credible the funds would have to be committed, but only released when reforms had been implemented satisfactorily – similar to the deal that worked in the context of EU enlargement in 2004 -, to promote supply-side reforms that raise productivity growth (but given that Germany is the European exporter…..) .

    So, let’s put aside the structural reforms – piffle, that’s all just financing and politics. What about the popular perception? Already, Europe in general and the south in particular has a very jaundiced view of what is, rightly, seen as Germany inflicting austerity measures on them in order to bring restitution to those German banks that made some very, very bad loan decision. 1945-6 the USA had just saved Europe (and Asia) from a further decade of war, brought a peace plan, a new world order and, later, pop culture (the USA’s real export success story). Germany has (calculatedly) exported to the rest of Europe a negative trade balance and consequently precipitated a ruinous deficit in almost other country. Germany’s hegemony is already perceived as such; let’s not see it transmogrify into perceived conditional authoritarianism – the perception is not good. I’m all for a Marshal Plan, but Von Marshall, really?

  8. Chris Engel

    The underlying problems here are two-fold:

    1) The irrational German fear of any inflation above the ridiculously low levels the ECB has set as standard (“around 2%).

    2) The historical spat between Germany and its neighbors — economic conquest isn’t appreciated or desired by any parties in that case.

    Germany also helped fuel all the problems in the EU-periphery by extending credit to all their neighbors to buy German wares and make up for the slump in American demand post-.com.

    But now that has run out, German growth is suffering even if they aren’t engaging in the austerity that its friends are.

    And while Germans are probably the most healthy among all states in the region (labor-market wise, debt market wise, etc.) that won’t last long.

    The media is ignoring the situation in Greece, Spain, and Italy, and clowns like Meghan Greene at Bloomberg are expressing worry in the press over populists who may seek to shaft bondholders and reform the economy the right way, not the perpetual-bailout-and-internal-devaluation IMF-stamp-of-approval way.

    But the way I see it, this story is bound to erupt big time, within a matter of months. The youth in Greece, Italy, and Spain won’t sit by much longer, and the big movement will come in Italy, with elections around the corner and their size and influence big enough to make major waves.

    It’s only a matter of time before this gets back on the radar. Greece may be viewed as a tolerable speed bump, and Spain/Portugal as manageable situations, but when Berlusconi (who is getting older and even less inhibited than usual) shakes things up, it’s all over.

  9. jsmith

    I’ve lately only had time for drive-by posts but this article literally made stop what I was doing.

    What a f*cking idiot!!

    Hey, here’s a great article from yesterday’s WSWS speaking to similar ideas except that they rightly call it German “imperialism”.

    Un-f*cking-believable.

    From the link:

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/21/pers-f21.html

    Germany is making intensive preparations to conduct new wars to secure resources. This was the unmistakable message of a lead article in Germany’s business newspaper Handelsblatt, “Expedition Resources: Germany’s new course.”

    The article shows the real face of the German bourgeoisie. As in the first half of the twentieth century, when it twice played a central role in plunging humanity into world war, it is again moving to enforce its imperialist interests through war. “The previous political measures to secure raw materials are reaching their limits,” the Handelsblatt states. Dependence on raw materials is the German economy’s Achilles heel, the paper writes: “Industry is plagued by the fear that the high-tech sector in Germany could be cut off from essential supplies.”

    The very same business circles that financed Hitler are again banging the war drums. The article cites an interview with Dierk Paskert, the manager of the Resource Alliance founded in 2011. Members of the alliance include Volkswagen, ThyssenKrupp, Bayer and BASF—firms that either directly supported Nazi war plans, or whose predecessors did. Now they work closely with the German government to plan how Berlin will secure access to critical raw materials across the globe, by force if necessary.”

    snip

    Paskert makes clear that the German bourgeoisie is willing to use military force to secure such resources against its rivals. Asked by Handelsblatt whether there will once again be resource wars, he explains: “History shows that many conflicts are rooted in the fight for resources. Up to now it was mostly about oil or gas, but also increasingly minerals. The supply of raw materials is the basis for the value and wealth of a country and therefore has geopolitical significance. The presence of the US military in the Persian Gulf or the massive expansion of Chinese naval forces is also aimed at protecting such interests.” Handelsblatt assures its readers that this view finds support in political circles, and that for the federal government, “the control of raw materials” is a “strategic issue for foreign policy”. It is preparing for a situation where “the existing resource partnerships” are insufficient and “additional security and military instruments are required.”

    Under these conditions the German bourgeoisie is re-arming. The Handelsblatt bluntly states that the German army will be rebuilt “in order to be used all over the world.”

    “The vast majority of the German population is vehemently opposed to militarism. The fact that the Handelsblatt can so publicly formulate the goals of the German bourgeoisie is above all a devastating indictment of the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Left Party. They have repeatedly justified German foreign policy and military operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, falsely claiming these wars were based on democratic and humanitarian considerations.

    In the past 15 years, such forces have moved sharply to the right, aligning themselves increasingly openly on the interests of German big business and German militarism. Their silence on the Handelsblatt article speaks volumes. They agree with the war preparations.”

    I mean, really?!!

    Really?!!!

    1. from Mexico

      Well that certainly is a superior piece of analysis than that of Varoufakis. It penetrates through the Big Lie perpetrated by classical and neoclassical economists — liberal internationalists — and their sleight-of-hand that somehow economics and finance exist in their own little universe, separate from the world of power politics.

      However, painting Germany as “The Evil One” seems farfetched. In fact, it is just downright stupid and disengenuous.

      England was the world hegemon up until 1914. In the period from 1914 to 1945, the baton got passed to the United States, who has carried it since. Now the US finds itself in a weakened state. Much of the southern hemisphere, from Buenos Aires to Kabul, is in full rebellion. The US has reacted by greatly escalating the violence, but to no avail. The insurection continues. The increased violence seems to only added fuel to the fire.

      So just because Germany is reevaluating its options given the new reality, does that make it evil?

      Is any country that tries to wiggle out from under US hegemony evil?

      1. jsmith

        Hey, glad we’re speaking!

        Wanted to say that our dust-up over Arendt/Niebuhr/Marx isn’t meant to be mean-spirited.

        Due to time constraints and the fact that I wear my heart on my fingers my post-tone is often overly combative when it need not be. Hopefully, will talk more in the future.

        As concerns the question of hegemony US and otherwise it’s looking like the US is trying to dump off hegemonic duties on the its minions but – as you state – how long before it turns into a free for all.

        For example:

        Today Obama told us that we have troops on the ground in Niger to “help” the French.

        Nice, huh?

        https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/02/22-1

        Meanwhile Germany on Tuesday agreed to a long term deployment of troops in Mali.

        http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/22/mali-f22.html

        Sure, it looks like US minions doing their master’s bidding but could it be that it’s the US playing catch-up?

        Are the children preparing for a time when Daddy’s not around?

        Things getting out of control?

        Too many European troops and not enough American ones?

        Neoliberalism’s a nasty thing to export and I think the Americans might have created a few more monsters than they thought.

        Really can’t post anymore today but will read later.

        Cheers.

        1. from Mexico

          I asked my German friend about the article you linked, how someone could come to such a nonsensical conclusion after doing such thorough research. He says the author of the article, Johannes Stern, is a notorious Zionist, and there’s a long-running battle of moral one-upmanship going on between these two forms of out-of-control nationalism — Zionism and Nazisim. So in the eyes of a fanatical Zionist like Stern, Germany is always the favorite villiain.

          Opposed to Stern are a number of prominent Jewish thinkers, beside Arendt, who are persona non grata for the nationalist Israelis. These include John J. Mearsheimer, Noam Chomsky, and Immanuel Wallerstein.

        2. jsmith

          More on German militarization from earlier this month:

          http://wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/12/mali-f12.html

          The Bundeswehr, reorganised and rearmed 10 years ago by the previous Social Democratic (SPD)-Green Party government into an effective fighting force for international operations, was in a crisis. The then-defence minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (Christian Social Union, CSU), had made more of a name for himself through high-profile media appearances than for actually reforming the structure of the Bundeswehr.

          Guttenberg was finally forced to resign following a plagiarism scandal, and was replaced by Thomas de Maizière (CDU) in March 2011, just two weeks before the bombing of Libya by the US, Britain and France.

          De Maizière is considered a quiet but effective organiser. He was also familiar with the Bundeswehr since childhood. His father, Ulrich de Maizière, a staff officer in Hitler’s army, had built up the modern Bundeswehr in the 1950s and 1960s as the army inspector and general inspector.

          Thomas de Maizière drove forward the “reorientation of the Bundeswehr” with professional efficiency. This was implemented during 2012 at the level of the ministry and the supreme military command. In January of this year, work began on the third, operational level, in a variety of so-called command capabilities.

          For example, on January 15, in time for the first mission in Mali, the new, high-tech Bundeswehr Central Logistics Command opened in Erfurt. Under its command, 15,000 Bundeswehr personnel organise the logistics of all worldwide operations—i.e., supplying military task forces, weapons, transportation, clothing and food.

          Thus, two years after the war in Libya, Germany is from the start an “equal partner” with the other great powers in the colonial war in Mali.

          In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, at the opening of the Munich Security Conference, de Maizière stressed the importance of this change. With more than 6,000 soldiers deployed abroad, Germany was making a significant contribution by European standards, he said. France has only 2,700 soldiers, and Britain 11,000, participating in multilateral missions, he said. “Our involvement began in 1992 with medical missions in Cambodia, but now it is clear that the Bundeswehr can fight too.”

          In the same interview, de Maizière made clear that the Bundeswehr is not thinking of withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014, and will stay there at least another 10 to 15 years. The mission will only be completed in its current form at the end of 2014. “We will then be present in a different way in Afghanistan”, he said, “so that the previous efforts were not in vain. That is, if they want sustainability.”

          When asked whether such a policy can be implemented with domestic political support, he replied: “Yes, of course. But we will have to change the justification…. International missions must be…explained realistically and the reasons should not be too pathetic.”

          In plain language, where the German government had argued in the 1990s and at the beginning of the Afghanistan mission that they were concerned with the “defence of human rights” and the “construction of wells, schools and hospitals”, in future, wars would have to be justified with reference to German interests and by openly declaring that they required great sacrifice and costs.

        3. from Mexico

          I certainly agree that Germany’s deployment of 330 troops to minerals-rich Mali is imperialist aggression. But Germany, after all, is part of the US/NATO alliance. And it’s the US that provides the umbrella under which Germany operates.

          Tom Dispatch did a pretty good overview of what that umbrella looks like:

          Under President Obama, in fact, operations in Africa have accelerated far beyond the more limited interventions of the Bush years: last year’s war in Libya; a regional drone campaign with missions run out of airports and bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Seychelles; a flotilla of 30 ships in that ocean supporting regional operations; a multi-pronged military and CIA campaign against militants in Somalia, including intelligence operations, training for Somali agents, a secret prison, helicopter attacks, and U.S. commando raids; a massive influx of cash for counterterrorism operations across East Africa; a possible old-fashioned air war, carried out on the sly in the region using manned aircraft; tens of millions of dollars in arms for allied mercenaries and African troops; and a special ops expeditionary force (bolstered by State Department experts) dispatched to help capture or kill Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and his senior commanders. And this only begins to scratch the surface of Washington’s fast-expanding plans and activities in the region.

          To support these mushrooming missions, near-constant training operations, and alliance-building joint exercises, outposts of all sorts are sprouting continent-wide, connected by a sprawling shadow logistics network. Most American bases in Africa are still small and austere, but growing ever larger and more permanent in appearance…

          The U.S. is now involved, directly and by proxy, in military and surveillance operations against an expanding list of regional enemies. They include al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa; the Islamist movement Boko Haram in Nigeria; possible al-Qaeda-linked militants in post-Qaddafi Libya; Joseph Kony’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Central African Republic, Congo, and South Sudan; Mali’s Islamist Rebels of the Ansar Dine, al-Shabaab in Somalia; and guerrillas from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula across the Gulf of Aden in Yemen…

          With the Obama administration clearly engaged in a twenty-first century scramble for Africa, the possibility of successive waves of overlapping blowback grows exponentially. Mali may only be the beginning and there’s no telling how any of it will end. In the meantime, keep your eye on Africa. The U.S. military is going to make news there for years to come.

          http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175567/tomgram%3A_nick_turse,_america's_shadow_wars_in_africa_

          1. tom

            Sorry, but I believe you don´t understand world realities. Germany doesn´t have to acquire any raw materials by force. It will always be able to buy them as lons as she produces things people want to buy. Things are very different for the US. Right now the US can still print the money with which to buy anything. But that ability has very much to do with the US being the greatest military power.Should it boil down to being forced to buy US goods with the Dollars you get it will be bye, bye.
            China has quietly but very effectively proven that you don´t need any force to get what you want. You just need to produce the right things.
            What could happen though is to be thrown out of markets by force. The last World War has proven that Germany can´t mustle her way in. There will not be any more attempts. Just aqiesance and thankfulness that the US keeps shipping lanes open. And the token soldier here and there for yet another US military adventure. It is laughable to propose that Germany has any plans along the lines of the neocolonial adventures a desperate US and Britain are getting into.
            As to the US forcing China out of Africa and Asia. For that it is to late. Thankfully that form of colonialism is dead.

          2. from Mexico

            So here stand tom and jsmith ready with tar-brush and gold leaf, jsmith wanting to tar Germany all black and tom wanting to gold plate it. In reaction to the manufacture of one myth comes its opposite myth, and in place of one set of wicked sterotypes we have a whole new outfit of equally misleading ones.

          3. Synopticist

            There’s no strategic importance to Mali at all. It’s a big desert. There may well be some valueable stuff under all that sand, but no-ones found it yet, and the infrastructure to get it out doesn’t exist.
            Theres a gold field, but it’s in the extreme south-west of the country, miles from where the fighting is taking place.

            Mali is one of the least strategically important places on earth.

    2. Susan the other

      Well that’s sobering jsmith. I personally don’t want to believe what you just said, but it is still sobering. The new term for countries that want to protect their own natural resources is ‘resource nationalist”. Resource Nazis. Brave new world.

  10. carol

    “productive investments in the Periphery”

    What happened to all the many billions of ‘structural funds’?

    Isn’t there too much corruption, clientelism, tax evasion, etc. for there to be truely productive investments on a sufficiently large enough scale ?

    “maintain the level of intra-European demand German companies need to remain competitive both within and without Europe.”

    No, they do not need. As a percentage of German export, the export to eurozone countries has decreased (!) substantially. Germany is exporting more and more (both absolutely and relatively) to Asia, South-America, and — as the owner of a heavy industries’ company explained his record sales — even to Africa.

  11. Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

    Hegemon?!

    Mongo provides Hegemon services!

    Your Emperor recently is in the market for some of your “dog” creatures. My trade people tell me Germany makes dogs and also the country of Dober has them, but they have not yet been able to find any Dobermen to negotiate with.

    But I see a potential relationship with your Euro zone where Mongo provides Hegemony services and the Euro zone breeds dogs for Mongo. As part of the Hegemony service, the Euro zone will be fully integrated into the Mongopoly Inc. Online Catalog, so you may have other product potential as well. Don’t worry that your money is no good. Your Emperor has a solution for that.

    I wish to extend an invitation to Dr. Yanis to visit me at my Royal Palace to discuss this further. Just head towards Galactic Center and exit left at the third space fold. Proceed about 2 light days and keep an eye out for the Intergalactic Quicky-Mart sign. Mongo is another 4 light minutes on the right. Ask for directions to the Royal Palace.

    I look forward to our meeting.

    Sincerely,
    Sun Emperor Wang of Market Mongo

    P.S. Are there any desert regions in the Euro zone? Or any somewhat dry area will do.

  12. JohnB

    The solution Yanis proposes would indeed be the best of all worlds, and I’ve read his Modest Proposal and referenced it a lot in discussions, and I wholly support it and hope it comes about, but…I don’t see Germany and the EU agreeing to such a plan anytime soon?

    By the time such reform comes about (as I think it doubtless would, as it is necessary for the EU’s survival in the next crisis), Europe may be in a significantly worse condition, which may (in comparison) make a reintroduction of local currencies and redenomination/default of debt, done now, look preferable in comparison to 5-7 more years of this limbo.

    However though, I’m far from an expert on this topic and totally do not keep detailed track of it or goings on within Europe, but still, it does mostly seem to all come back down to Germany and the ability (or inability) to persuade leaders there, into supporting proper reform policies like advocated in this article; hopefully my pessimism is misplaced, but I find it hard to be optimistic about that.

    I’m still open to the idea that this may happen though, but it needs an explanation of how the attitude in politics and specifically in Germany is going to change; how would that happen, and what would cause it to happen?

  13. Susan the other

    I got the feeling all along that Varoufakis didn’t want to put all his cards on the table until he could justify his position. Now I see why. Still I like what he says and will listen to him. If it is a trade off between writing off debt or investing money hoarded on the sidelines, he takes investing the hoarded money. He wants the system to continue to function. If the debt is written off nobody who gets burned will invest again. Maybe… Just thinking about the state of Western finance. The GDP to debt problem. If everybody fessed up it would be 1000%. And we’re all angry because we’ve been defrauded by derivatives scams put together by the big banks. What a mess. So Varoufakis’ solution is for more demand. My question is, What kind of demand? His proposal comes just as the EU, UK and US are forming another trade treaty. This could work out if somebody would please address our real bankruptcy. It is a bankruptcy of ideas. Ideas to fix the mess we have made of the world. That’s still worth investing in.

  14. Paul Tioxon

    I am not sure if hegemon is precisely the term needed, but unilateral leadership in terms of a German Marshall Plan is not the same as being a global superpower. America is not getting tossed out of Ramstein Air Base. Yanis seems quite clear to me, and Yanis being an economist and economic policy advisers seems to be crafting a solution NOT dependent on the power of the German State to impose its will by military might or political statesmanship, but by power of capital. He talks about investing Germany’s savings, not rolling its armored divisions. In other words, creating a stable Eurozone, without going through the slow, political deliberations of treaty rewrites, the much quicker transnational flows of German capital could do a financial end run around the political stalemate.

    Typically, hegemony is economic and military dominance and influence, but not a dictatorship. You can’t keep putting a bullet in the head of every nation you don’t like in order to get them to give you a cheaper laptop or barrel of oil. The threat of a planet killing military machine showing up on your borders is more than enough to keep even irrational leaders in line. And persuading others that their best interests coincide with your best interests, and making sure that mutual interests do in fact exist. Maybe this article from Germany will clear up the KIND of solution Yanis is pointing to, if not the exact solution he bringing up.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/a-nato-for-the-world-economy-an-argument-for-a-trans-atlantic-free-trade-zone-a-443306.html

    This last link is from 2006.

    Here is a report from this month, in 2013.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/us-european-trade-free/1606962.html

  15. Christer Kamb

    Yes Yanis is certainly on the right path. But China could do more. They could be the next Marshall-helpers.
    By the way. Germany´s debts from before the war where not written off. Germany got new loans from the US but they had to repay them. No Marshall-help there.

    But I still think the priority is reconstructing the banks incl downwriting of loans incl debt/equity. This is not only a moral obligé but an insurance for the future. We cannot have banks leveraged up to 40-60. It´s insane that they can hide losses just because of FASB 157. Pensionsfunds will be the ultimate part-owners of the banks.

    1. Iceman

      Wrong.

      “The total under negotiation was 16 billion marks of debts from the 1920s which had defaulted in the 1930s, but which Germany decided to repay to restore its reputation. This money was owed to government and private banks in the U.S., France and Britain. Another 16 billion marks represented postwar loans by the U.S. Under the London Debts Agreement of 1953, the repayable amount was reduced by 50% to about 15 billion marks and stretched out over 30 years, and compared to the fast-growing German economy were of minor impact.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreement_on_German_External_Debts

      1. Christer Kamb

        Well Iceman, thank You for the info but Wiki is not always on spot. But maybe this time! I was only refering to facts- knowledge from the economists! Dartmouth College and NBER!
        I have to check again

    1. Christer Kamb

      Sorry You can of course not know how I think. Reconstruction of banks and their debtors should be handled through a reconstructions meaning there will be big haircuts for all.
      The EU-folks refuse to walk this road…but kicking the can they do.

      Second solution is about how to finance the ESFS-fund. The German´s are not really interested but after the elections we will know. They are really stupids……the politicians. Election´s are prohibiting the firebrigade to put out the fire so we can rebuild the house.

      Third solution is the austerity-road which we are walking for the moment. It will not work and I am sure some countries are destined to fail. If they leave EMU they will need a lot of help. Probably a lot of financing…because of devaluations and defaults etc.

      More debts for the debtors? No way, only stupids do these kind of things!

    2. Christer Kamb

      Iceman; Eurobonds was the escape route a few years ago but Germans dont´t want to pay for their exportparty!
      I guess if the German´s ..and the other north´s payes up then we have a solution that will helt the people of Greece and Spain/Portugal…and Ireland…and YOU can start printing.

      1. Iceman

        Its not so much about not wanting to help as it is that we dont want federation. Eurobonds have been on do-list, since begin of the EU, so its not any couple years old thing. That just shows how illiterate you are.

        This kind thing, where you blame other countries is really retard. Please read something, before you start to throw these trolls. Its good to start from this: Europe Inc. Belen Balanya, Ann Doherty, Olivier Hoedeman

  16. Veri

    Hint: Social Warfare, not your Hollywood type of Social Warfare nor Financial Warfare that includes German industrial concerns setting up subsidiaries.

    How about actually recruiting Germans to set up their own businesses in Italy and other countries? Exporting zee German business know-how, work ethic, etc… Aren’t the Europeans always talking about how Italians are lazy and corrupt?

    Why, zee newly enlisted German business-culture warriors would not necessarily have to buy Italian goods at first. Merely import the raw materials from elsewhere and produce the goods for sale on the local markets at first.

    Rightly so, those German businesses in Italy would be competing against German imports to Italy. Unless, they focused on producing goods that did not directly compete with immediate German imports in Italy.

    Instead of replacing the social values of a society’s with your their own, zee Germans – by Blitzkrieg! – would be replacing the business values of zee Italians with their own.

    Social Warfare! Blitzkrieg!

  17. Hugh

    Hegemonic is inherently anti-democratic. This seems a common thread to elite “solutions” for Europe’s problems. Varoufakis as usual ignores the crucially important kleptocratic dimension of all this. “Germany” like any other such usage (Greece, Spain, etc.) can mean different things at different times. Sometimes it refers to the government, sometimes the people, unfortunately not that often to the ones with the money and the power (the kleptocratic class and their servant elites). Here Varoufakis is talking about this last group putting up big bucks to balance capital flows in a supposedly benign and constructive way, which is completely antithetical to how they accumulated that capital.

    It is another violation of my Common Sense Paradox. The whole premise is wrong: if the monied classes in Germany were enlightened and not crooks and looters, they could do X. Well, they are crooks and looters, and they will never do X. In fact, if they weren’t crooks and looters, X wouldn’t even be needed because said crooks and looters would have had the common sense to avoid the situation for which X is the proposed solution.

  18. Pelham

    I’m sure there are ways out of this eurozone crisis, and it must be perfectly apparent to the austerians now that their strategy isn’t doing the periphery any favors. So what might truly be motivating them to continue along the current path?

    I would posit this: Crisis Maintenance. They — and certainly not just Germany but the entire leadership across the region — want to keep the crisis going. This is because maintaining a rough trade balance with the rest of the world is vitally important to sustaining the eurozone. And to do that, it is necessary to maintain the euro, which has the effect of lowering the cost of, principally, German exports, just as it did before the crisis.

    This is supported by Draghi’s recent statements expressing more concern about possible overvaluation of the euro than for the immense suffering in the periphery. I’m sure there is some measure of regret among the European leadership that such hardship has come about. But the alternatives would all have the effect of raising the price of German exports, thus threatening the region’s trade balance, which would be far more consequential for Europe than the perpetual trade deficit that the U.S. can afford to run due to its hegemonic status, its global currency and the fact that China is willing to actually pay the U.S. (by continually buying Treasury bonds with yields below the rate of inflation) to sustain the U.S. budget and China’s own exports.

    Thus, in Europe, the best of all possible worlds for the trans-EU leadership class — not just the Germans — can be achieved only by a policy of preserving the euro regardless of the human cost.

    1. AllanW

      That’s a very insightful point. The ability to place such little weight on actual human suffering in the service of far more abstract notions is normally only achieved through a great deal of ‘distancing’ work. The measures of this ‘social distance’ being various metrics of inequality.

      Starting from the old saw that if men were the members of society who became pregnant the state of medical science and practice would look very different, I’ve occasionly toyed with the idea of trying to devise social mechanisms that tied the self interest of the very wealthiest members of our society to the outcomes experienced by the most deprived.

      I’m still searching for something that holds out the prospect of success but would invite those of you of a creative bent to suggest whatever may work.

    2. MRW

      the fact that China is willing to actually pay the U.S. (by continually buying Treasury bonds with yields below the rate of inflation) to sustain the U.S. budget and China’s own exports.

      Actually, isn’t it that American consumers (Walmart, Best Buy, Kmart) are still willing to import Chinese goods which they pay for in US dollars wired to China’s checking account at the Fed? China shifts those dollars to its savings account at the Fed, called a securities account, so it can get interest. China just has buys what you and I call CDs at our local banks: T-bills.

      China’s option is to go on the open market, as you and I would have to, and buy Yuan to ship it home.

      We don’t have to sell China T-bills for its export payments, and pay interest. We could cut that off tomorrow with no skin off our teeth.

      1. different clue

        How much choice do American “kunsoomurz” have? How much choice were we ever given or even allowed?

        To pick a tiny little example, who here remembers Etch-A-Sketch? I had an Etch A Sketch when I was a kid. Didn’t everyone? They were made somewhere in Ohio by a company called Ohio Arts. Well . . . a few years ago some buyout group bought the Etch A Sketch company and closed the American factory and opened a factory in China and all Etch A Sketches are made in China now. Look at the back. They still say Ohio Arts. But they also say Made In China.
        This massive dimantling of American production facilities from America and their removal to China was hyperspeed greenlighted by the MFA for China law brought to us by Bill Clinton. Whole American industries were removed to China the same way that many factories in eastern German were removed to Russia by our victorious Russian Ally right after World War Two (if the history I read is correct).
        Here’s just another little example. I read that the making of Stanley Thermos bottles was going to be transferred from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to China. So I bought a bunch of legacy Murfreesboro Stanley thermoses because I knew what “made in China” would do for the quality
        of Stanley Thermoses. Ohh . . . they still say “Stanley” on them, but just compare a China Stanley thermos to a Real Stanley thermos and you will see the difference.

    3. Iceman

      Private equity business loves open Europe. Much bigger playing field for their little games.

      I really dont understand, why everybody loves to blame Germany and is always looking in that direction. Its only few Germans, who are really benefiting from this arrangement.

  19. wat

    aw geez time for some rainbow colored naivete here. just fascinating entries here by those much bitter (sic!) iternationally informed than i, but when can we just play nice? is it so hard to realize that if you want capitalism ad world markets, you have to give people > $ subsistence + edu + medi etc. + spending $, then form sustainable non-militant resource sharing agmts, then u can play reified pretending-we’re-not-pretending profit games as long as we want? geez

  20. Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

    In Peace Prize News:

    Western Europe has now finally overcome the comical stage of its collapse, and, as of today, it has officially reached the farcical level:

    “French President gets UNESCO peace prize”:
    http://rt.com/op-edge/hollande-unesco-peace-prize-267/

    I realize that last year the European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize. But I say it’s about time that each and every dead or living individual Western European mass murderer is honored with his or her own custom-tailored peace prize. Next in line: Hitler.

    Personally, I would like to express my gratitude to the entire Western “developed” world for providing such high quality comic relief material during otherwise such dire times. Thank you, Europe. Thank you, America. You’re the best! Keep up the good work!

    Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Please see reference to beginning of UNESCO in last paragraph quoted below:

      //The drive for social control and eugenics was largely responsible for the emergence and growth of the scientific study of molecular biology. This came about when large foundations, primarily the Rockefeller enterprises, set out in the United States in the early 20th Century to engage in a massive research campaign to discover the inner workings of man and in turn devise methods of social-biological control. Thus the United States became the 20th Century progenitor of eugenics./

      /The belief that mankind’s rational and scientific control of nature will lead to a kind of Biocratic Utopia is found throughout the writings of H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and others. These works themselves (which have become often cited examples of the Biocratic Utopian’s ideal world) are based on what where present day trends in science, along with the stated goals of the world’s elite. The “scientific dictatorship” that Aldous Huxley spoke of is the natural modern extension to the age old practice of tyranny./

      /H. G. Wells brushed shoulders with and had intimate relationships with some of the most prominent people of his day, including outspoken eugenicist Margaret Sanger, Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw, and the Huxley family. Thomas Henry Huxley, often referred to as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his strong promotion of Darwinian ideals, tutored H.G. Wells and taught him biology. Aldous Huxley and Julian Huxley were T.H. Huxley’s grandsons./

      /As the first director general of UNESCO, Aldous’ brother Julian Huxley wrote in the organization’s 1947 mission statement, “…it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable.”//
      MORE at;
      http://www.oldthinkernews.com/2010/12/a-window-into-the-mind-of-a-scientific-dictator/

      1. peace

        Thank you for the oldthinkernews link that references Lobaczewski’s Political Ponerology. There is an increasing interest in research examining organizational evil and psychopaths as CEOs. Thank you for informing me of similar research in political science.

    2. Ms G

      Rufus, you have the best handle.* Thank you for this superb little intervention. Please return soon!

      *Though I am partial to fireflies

      1. Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

        Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) was the leader of the small, bankrupt country of Freedonia. This was all documented in the classic film Duck Soup. I am his son, of course.

        Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

  21. MRW

    In other words, Yanis: a titanic shift because Germany has hit der iceberg. That’s a lotta lettuce. ;-)

  22. Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

    Leonova,

    Yes, definitely these guys and gals are eugenicists. But I say enough killin’ all them Ay-rabs and Negros. It’s time we bring some of those “peace innitiatives” home. I mean, it’s time we get this population under control, damn it! And I mean here, in Western Europe.

    Look, we’ve already demonstrated that Britons love to eat horse and donkey meat. So I say it’s about time we put them on a more nutritious source of protein. I thus propose we immediately ship 200 trains of plump French men and women to abattoirs all over Eastern Europe so we can make more of that “Beef Lasagna” that Britons love so much. I say we go full Soylent Green here. And I say we serve Kate Middleton a double portion of it.

    Once we get this EU-sponsored program of cannibalism into high gear, it is my sincerest hope not to ever hear anybody say that in England “the food is terrible and the portions are small” (there’s another Woody Allen quote for ya!).

    Rufus T. Firefly, Jr.

  23. Lafayette

    INDIGNATION

    Germany’s elites are now finding it conceptually difficult to come to terms with the new ‘normal’:
    • A world in which sufficient aggregate demand is no longer maintainable by the United States, or any other single bloc, and in which Germany can no longer take for granted the demand for its goods.

    The above is piffle-prediction. Such is the present case, but what makes Varoufakis think that the present augurs the future?

    Nonsense. The EU and the US constitute modern, developed democracies and between them a highly significant share of World Net Disposable Income. Does he expect Chinese billionaire plutocrats to supplant that Aggregate Demand?

    Yeah, right … when pigs sprout wings!

    * A world in which there is no room for a Eurozone that operates like an augmented Germany

    Still, he has got something there – but perhaps he’s talking from a Greek Perspective? Greece should never have been brought into the EuroZone under the economic circumstances that existed at the time. And still exists today.

    Greece does not belong in the EuroZone, but since it is in it should stay. But the Greek people are in for a terrible reformation of economic expectations.

    Germany’s disciplinarian imposition of the greatest austerity upon the weakest of Europeans, lacking any plan for countering the resulting asymmetrical recession, is a sorry and dangerous leftover of a long-gone world order built by America.

    More Leftist nonsense, this time with a Greek accent.

    Greece has a two-sectoral economy dependent upon, first, Tourism and, secondly, Maritime Services. Tourism can come back to Greece, but not before the EU heals generally. Maritime Services should be doing well because world shipping rates are on the upside (for the moment) and their refurbishing ports are sitting right next to the Suez Canal.

    Still, either or both are unable to perform the sort of job-creation that Greece needs. So, Greeks, as they have for hundreds of years, will continue to immigrate. At least, with the EU, they have somewhere to go find a job.

    And, finally, about Germany. No, we do not need a Germany that fixates upon its history of hyperinflation that occurred more than 80 years ago. Anyone who lived through that time is probably well underground. But, it does still bother the German psyche that the EU should have tolerated the profligate spending whilst it kept its house in order. The Germans have a right to be indignant.
    But indignation has its limits and the EU is fast approaching those boundaries.

    MY POINT?

    The problem with the EU is not, really, debt maintenance. It will get beyond that challenge. It is its political class that thinks, as it has since the postwar reconstruction years when it sucked investment dollars from the teat of the Marshall Plan, that such should go on forever.

    Meaning, the scoundrels do not know how to live within the means of the nations they represent. Besides, they have become fat-cats with far too comfortable high- and non-taxed salaries at the Brussels Commission. One could not think of a worse combination.

    But Angela is doing her best to teach the scoundrels a lesson or two about financial rigor. Let’s hope there are couple of Greek politicians in the classroom – because they really ‘n truly need the lessons.

    I don’t like austerity. You don’t like austerity. Nobody likes austerity! But after the self-indulging in outsized spending going on in Europe for the past two decades, it was almost inescapable that – come the first economic recession – the fit-would-hit-the-shan.

  24. genauer

    yanis varoufakis is pretty well known for his notorious anti-German conspiracy rants, and that he has never made any economic proposals beyond just getting more money handed over from the EU and Germany.

    The german economic blog kantooseconomics was just completely destroyed, when the owner tried to accomodate the rants, last July 2012.

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