Category Archives: Politics

Benchmarking the Greece/Eurogroup Bailout Memo and Process

Greece and the Eurozone have entered into what amounts to a letter of intent in the form of a memo released yesterday. It’s important to understand, even as a basis for further negotiations, what this document is and is not. Because this is not a definitive agreement, as in it explicitly states that Greece’s detailed structural reform proposals must be reviewed and approved by “the institutions,” the new name for the Troika, as well as approval by the Eurogroup finance ministers before any funds are released, there is still uncertainty as to how its deliberate ambiguity will be resolved.

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Greece’s Fate in ECB’s Hands if Eurogroup Talks Fail

As most readers know well, Greece made concessions yesterday to the Eurogroup that, although contested as to how far they went, were seen as big enough concessions to win the support of Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Italy. But Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble almost immediately rejected them, setting the stage for a showdown today. As we’ve discussed from the outset, the biggest bone of contention continues to be “conditionality,” otherwise known as structural reforms. Greece wants to be able to revise some measures as long as it can still meet its primary surplus target. Germany insists a deal is a deal and Greece must reaffirm all the terms of its existing agreement.

The meeting is set to start in Brussels at 3 PM local time, so we’ll know soon enough how things turn out. The two sides are making friendlier noises as of this morning, but we’ve seen these public displays of collegiality before, only to be followed by negotiation ruptures.

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The Logic of Greece’s Request for a Loan Agreement Extension

Yves here. There’s been a heated debate among members of the commentariat as to whether the latest proposal by the Greek government to the Eurogroup ministers was a significant concession or a carefully worded formulation that did not give much ground. This interview with Dimitri Lascaris, a top securities lawyer in Canada, gives a nuanced discussion of that issue, including the politics on the Greek and German sides.

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Mathew D. Rose: Greece – It’s a Revolution, Stupid!

As Greece’s struggles to secure relief from impossible-to-pay-debt that served to prop up otherwise insolvent French and German banks, and to be permitted to implement measures to reduce distress and restore growth, more and more observers are recognizing that this is really a struggle over democratic self-control versus rule by an unaccountable technocracy with inflexible rules, using finance as their enforcement weapon. This speech in the European Parliament today by UKIP leader Neil Farage echoes some of the themes of Mathew Rose’s post. Rose also explains how the many Germans justify the counterproductive destruction of a society that they have turned into a vassal state.

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Where are the “Progressive” Democrats on Loretta Lynch’s HSBC Money Laundering Wrist Slap?

Some Republican Senators are having a field day, and rightly so, over the fact that Obama’s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, looks to have allowed bank giant HSBC, and more important, its executives and officers, off vastly too easy in a massive money-laundering and tax evasion scheme. And where are the inquisitive Democratic senators to be found?

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Tom Engelhardt: In Whose America? Machine Guns, MRAPs, Surveillance, Drones, Permanent War, and a Permanent Election Campaign

The occasion for such reflections: machine guns in my hometown. To be specific, several weeks ago, New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton announced the formation of a new 350-officer Special Response Group (SRG). Keep in mind that New York City already has a police force of more than 34,000 — bigger, that is, than the active militaries of Austria, Bulgaria, Chad, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kenya, Laos, Switzerland, or Zimbabwe — as well as its own “navy,” including six submersible drones.  Just another drop in an ocean of blue, the SRG will nonetheless be a squad for our times, trained in what Bratton referred to as “advanced disorder control and counterterror.”  It will also, he announced, be equipped with “extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns — unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.” And here’s where he created a little controversy in my hometown.  The squad would, Bratton added, be “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”

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Greece, Its International Creditors and the Euro

his is an excellent background piece on how Greece got where it is and how its various bailouts were structured. It also helps explain the past and current roles the various members of the Troika play and discusses the prospects for Greece achieving its aims.

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