Category Archives: Europe

The Forgotten Financial Panic of 1914, and the Eternal Recurrence of Short-Term Thinking

This week marks the 100th anniversary of a nearly forgotten yet critical moment in global finance. As the looming outbreak of World War I appeared more and more imminent when Austria made an ultimatum to Serbia in the last week of July 1914, the resulting fear in global markets set off a massive financial panic. Investors, fearing unpaid debts, pulled out of stocks and bonds in a scramble for cash, which at this point in history meant gold. The London Stock Exchange reacted by closing on July 31 and staying closed for five straight months. The U.S. stock exchange, which witnessed a mass dumping of securities by European investors in exchange for gold to finance the war, would also close on the same day, for about four months. Britain declared war while on a bank holiday. Over 50 countries experienced some form of asset depletion or bank run. Here’s an incredible statistic: “For six weeks during August and early September every stock exchange in the world was closed, with the exception of New Zealand, Tokyo and the Denver Colorado Mining Exchange.”

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More Signs of Doubt in Europe About the Costs of Siding With Ukraine

This week, the US hopes to get the EU to agree to impose so-called tier three sanctions on Russia to punish them for their alleged role in the downing of MH17 and for supporting the rebels in Ukraine. That would include prohibiting investment in Russian equity and debt of Russian banks more than 90 days maturity by European citizens as well as barring EU banks from sourcing funding for them on a regulated market.

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Ukraine Open Thread (and Links)

In theory, I should post about Ukraine, but in practice, the news is thick on speculation and thin on evidence. And the rush to assign blame before all the facts are in*, particularly now that the black boxes from the downed Malaysian Airlines are in the hands of the Malaysian government, is particularly troubling. It’s well documented in research on cognitive biases that once most people have formed a point of view about something, they remain committed to it even in the face of new information. This is why people who recall all too well the full-bore propagandizing before the war in Iraq are so suspicious of the aggressive effort by US officials to pin the destruction of the passenger jet on Putin. This episode feels way too familiar, in a very bad way.

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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Review of Economic Blogs

Yves here. This post from VoxEU gives a partial answer to a question many US readers have been asking: what are the prospects for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? As we’ve written, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s evil twin, the TransPacific Partnership, looks to be in trouble. Both the Senate and the House are opposed, and Obama wants them to give him “fast track” approval to facilitate completing the accord. Our resident Japan commentator Clive says the Japanese press is treating the deal as dead, absent major changes in US posture that no one expects to happen. The Wikileaks publication of two draft chapters showed that all of the proposed parties to the agreement have significant objections to many of the provisions.

But much less is known about the state of play of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

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Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

We’ve inveighed against the dangers of two Orwellianlly-branded “trade” deals, the TransPacific Partnership and its ugly twin, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Both negotiations have been shrouded in a deeply troubling level of secrecy, with their draft terms being given classified status and Congressmen kept largely in the dark as to their content (summaries provided by the US Trade Representative aren’t remotely adequate, since as in all contracts, much hinges on exact language).

The business press in the US has tended to amplify Administration messaging, that both deals are moving forward. In fact, as we’ve covered in some detail, the TransPacific Partnership is in quite a lot of trouble, and as we’ll discuss below, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also going pear shaped.

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Don Quijones: Why Are TBTF Banks So Happy With The European Banking Union?

On Tuesday, November 4th of this year, supervision of the Eurozone’s 130 biggest banks, representing 80% of total financial assets, will be passed from national authorities into the welcoming hands of the ECB. From that day on, European banking union will be a reality.

The banks love the idea, as do apparently most Eurocrats, Members of the European Parliament, and national leaders. As for the rest of the inhabitants of the Eurozone – all of whom will be impacted in one way or another – most are blissfully unaware that it is even happening.

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Bill Black: Merkel’s Pyrrhic Victory over Cameron

The old line that one should be very careful about what one wishes for – for you may receive it applies to Germany’s installation of Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the EU Commission. Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel has just crushed her UK counterpart (David Cameron) by orchestrating a nearly unanimous vote among EU nations to appoint (not, really, “elect”) Juncker as head of the EU Commission (not, really, “Parliament”).

But Merkel has two self-created strategic problems with regard to the EU that threaten the EU and Germany’s dominance over the EU.

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France Has Hissy Fit Over BNP Paribas Fine and Dollar Dominance

France appears to have taken its public relations strategy for dealing with $8.9 billion fine against BNP Paribas from an old saying among lawyers: “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.” Here’s the guts of the French compliant, which is that the US is abusing the power of dollar dominance:

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Will the Eurozone Be Able to Align National Interests?

Yves here. We ran an earlier post by Ashoda Mody, he argued that Eurozone was failing in resolving its recurring crises successfully. That is a coded way of saying that the odds of breakup are rising. Needless to say, that view elicited a lot of commentary from his readers. Mody addresses their reactions and objection below.

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Michael Hudson: EU Association Agreement with Ukraine Is a Gift to Kleptocrats

This video is a great, accessible discussion by Michael Hudson on the Real News Network about how the widely-touted EU deal with the Ukraine is actually an exercise in looting by kleptocrats. Hudson explains that unlike earlier pacts, the EU is making no investment in Ukraine, nor is it allowing Ukraine, which has an agricultural producing region, to have the benefits of the CAP that French farmers enjoy. Hudson point out that the supposed benefit of Ukraine having access to the EU for exports is a smokescreen, since Ukraine is going to lose its main export market, Russia, and the Europeans don’t want to buy Ukraine’s products. Hudson contends that this deal is a de facto takeover, with kleptocrats to be installed in key governmental positions. He anticipates that the result will be mass unemployment and unrest.

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Don Quijones: Mini Tax Havens – How Europe’s 1% Gets to Pay Only 1%

If you thought tax havens were limited to tax haven destinations like Switzerland and the Caymans and the Isle of Man, think again. European governments happily accommodate tax schemes that allow the wealthy to shift funds into super low tax vehicles. Yet at the very same time, ordinary citizens are being broken on the rack of austerity.

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Bill Black: The EU Center-Right and Ultra-Right’s Continuing War on the People of the EU

The New York Times has provided us with an invaluable column about the interactions of the EU’s rightist and ultra-rightest parties. It is invaluable because it is (unintentionally) so revealing about the EU’s right and ultra-right parties and the NYT’s inability to understand either the EU economic or political crises. The NYT article illustrates its points by presenting a tale entitled “A German Voice, Hans-Olaf Henkel, Calls for Euro’s Abolition.” It treats Henkel, an open racist and austerian, as a reputable figure, apparently because he is wealthy.

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