As most readers may know, Greece and the Eurogroup ministers agreed to a memorandum last week that would replace the bailout that expires on February 28 with a four-month deal that the memo stresses is in the same framework.
But as much as the memo language was agreed by the ministers, it is not yet a done deal. And it is already looking like we might have a wild ride among the negotiators today.
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.
his post focuses on how the procedures in the H1-B visa process that are meant to protect workers from unfair competition from foreign workers and contractors are a joke. And this is one of the reasons that the calls by disconnected Beltway pundits and technocrats for American students to get more technically oriented education, most of all in STEM fields, is hopelessly misguided. Companies are more and more refusing to supply much if anything in the way of entry-level jobs, sending yeoman’s work in former white collar professions, including accounting and the law, to outsources in India. And the fix of having more specialized training is just as unrealistic. The more specialized the training, the more at risk you are that those skills will prove to be useless. That is why so many mid-career professionals fall far when they lose their perch, since if they can’t use the narrow expertise that they’ve accumulated, they have to fall back on their generalist skills, which means low-level jobs like call center work, retail, or if they are lucky, a position like an office manager in a small business.
Even by the standards of bank thuggishness, the move by the ECB against Greece last night was a stunner. Americans have become used to banks taking houses under dubious pretexts when both the investors and borrowers would do better with a writedown. But to see the ECB try take a country is another matter entirely. As one seasoned pro said, “If anyone had tried something like this against a country with a decent sized military, the tanks would be rolling.”