Posted: December 3, 2016 Filed under: Art & Culture, Economics, Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Americans, Capitalism, Francis Ford Coppola, Frank Capra, Free market, Gordon Gekko, Oliver Stone, President of the United States, Raymond J. Keating, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, United States, Wall Street
The free enterprise system is not inherently corrupt.
Oliver Stone’s Wall Street leads the movie-goer to believe that the securities industry is a rigged game, and that capitalism is inherently corrupt. Hard work as a means to success in the financial community is debunked, only to be supplanted by corruption and law breaking, as securities trading is seen as a game with little or no productive value. Stone presents a harsh judgment on an economic system he fundamentally misunderstands.
Wall Street has come to be the historical revisionists’ cinematic representation of the 1980s—the so-called “decade of greed.” It, unfortunately, offers a view prevailing not only in the film industry, but in academia and the media as well. In many ways, Wall Street perpetuates a class warfare myth, with contrasts being drawn between so-called haves and have nots, or the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
The movie’s antagonist is Gordon Gekko, a corporate raider. Gekko’s speech at the stockholders meeting of Telder Paper, his takeover target, is meant by Stone to reflect the corrupt nature of capitalism. In fact, Stone managed—knowingly or not—to provide a glimpse of why corporate raiders provide a positive service in a free market economy. Gekko states:
Telder Paper has 33 different vice presidents, each making over $200,000 a year . . . . Our paper company lost $110,000,000 last year, and I’ll bet half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. . . . I am not a destroyer of companies; I am a liberator of them. The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed for a lack of a better word—is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed—you mark my words—will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the United States of America.
Greed or Self-Interest?
The word “greed” in such a speech is Stone’s carrier of corruption. It is his word of choice designed to elicit a specific response from the movie-going audience. After all, how could one view greed favorably? In fact, “self-interest” would have been a more apt term, which was understood over two centuries ago by Adam Smith, the father of capitalism. Smith wrote in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” Self-interest removes the judgmental nature of Stone’s presentation, while encompassing not only greed, but also industry, charity, self-improvement, and altruism, i.e., any human motivation.
[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]
Gekko’s later statements lend greater clarity to Stone’s view of the world. In reference to a Gekko plan to liquidate the holdings of an airline company, Budd Fox (the movie’s symbol of redemption as he in the end rejects the greed Gekko represents) asks, “Why do you need to wreck this company?” Gekko’s answer: “Because it’s wreckable!” Stone views the breakup of a firm as pure destruction. He is unable to understand what Joseph Schumpeter termed “creative destruction.” That is the notion that resources might be more efficiently used if freed from less profitable ventures and reinvested elsewhere. This is the dynamic aspect of capitalism that allows for renewal and growth.
But the essence of Stone’s limited vision is captured in Gekko’s definition of capitalism: “It’s a zero sum game. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred from one person to another—like magic. This painting here, I bought it ten years ago for $60,000. I could sell it today for $600,000. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperate they want it. Capitalism at its finest . . . . I create nothing. I own . . . . You’re not naive enough to think that we live in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market.” Stone does not understand that wealth can be created, not merely shifted around, and that the free market provides the incentives for individuals to create, innovate, and take risks. He sees a rise in the price of a painting as the pinnacle of capitalism. In fact, it is in those nations that have rejected free enterprise where the only source of value is to be found in a painting, for little else is created.
Wall Street presents a view of capitalism as being controlled by the few at the expense of the many—democracy versus the free market in Gekko’s words. Stone does not understand the nature of an exchange economy, missing a fundamental point that in a free enterprise system, one must first supply a service or good in order to demand; i.e., even the most greedy individuals must supply something that fulfills the needs or wants of another individual in order to participate in an exchange economy. Individuals vote with their dollars, if you will. The phrase “democratic capitalism” seems quite natural, for example, while “democratic socialism” seems oxymoronic. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 15, 2016 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Administrative leave, Alexis Tsipras, Apple Inc, Barack Obama, Canada, CNN, Donald Trump, Facebook, Hillary Clinton, Josh Earnest, Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Republican Party (United States), White House
Trump-Hating Cuckoo Bananas Matt Harrigan of PacketSled Loses His Mind, Makes Public Death Threats, Declares on Facebook, ‘Bring it, Secret Service’
Sean Gallagher reports: Matt Harrigan, the CEO of San Diego-based network security startup PacketSled, resigned yesterday after a flurry of comments he made on Facebook went viral over the weekend, prompting the company to place him on administrative leave and to report his comments to the Secret Service. Harrigan’s comments weren’t the usual sort of executive meltdown—they amounted to a declaration that Harrigan was going to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump.
In a Facebook thread about last week’s presidential election, Matt Harrigan wrote, “I’m going to kill the President Elect.”
“Bring it secret service,” he wrote.
While those may have been rage posts stemming from the election last week, Harrigan went on to describe how he was going to buy a sniper rifle and hunt down Trump when he moved into the White House. “Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts,” he wrote in one of a series of comments on a thread about the election. “Find a bedroom in the whitehouse [sic] that suits you motherfucker. I’ll find you.”
[Read the full story here, at Ars Technica]
The comments went viral in screenshots, being posted first on Reddit’s The_Donald subreddit. On Sunday, Harrigan apologized on his company’s blog for the comments, saying that his rant “was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 16, 2015 Filed under: France, Terrorism, War Room | Tags: Aegean Islands, Alexis Tsipras, Athens, Balkans, Coalition of the Radical Left, Croatia, Czech Republic, EUROPE, European Union, Greece, Hungary, Lesbos, Member state of the European Union, Middle East, Refugees of the Syrian civil war, Serbia, Syria, Turkey
Greece’s migration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, during a news conference in Athens on Sunday. Greek authorities say the man posing as Ahmad AlMohammad took a ferry to the port of Piraeus, arriving on Oct. 8, before traveling north through the Balkans. Photo: angelos tzortzinis/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
ATHENS — Marcus Walker
and Noemie Bisserbe
report: Mystery deepened over a Paris attacker who traveled to Europe via Greece and the Balkans, after French officials said Monday that the Syrian passport he had used was indeed a fake.
“Greek authorities on islands such as Leros, Lesbos and Chios have confronted thousands of arrivals every day in recent months as refugees and other migrants make the short sea crossing from Turkey in inflatable boats.”
Authorities in France and Greece have said that fingerprints taken from the remains of a suicide bomber outside France’s national sports stadium, the Stade de France, match the prints of a man who entered Europe via the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3.
“Short of staff and equipment, Greek police carry out only a simple procedure that involves taking people’s data and fingerprints, and sometimes asking them a few questions, before giving them permission to travel onward, deeper into Europe.”
Police on Leros registered the man under the identity in the passport he showed them: Ahmad AlMohammad, 25, from Syria. The same passport was found near the man’s body outside the stadium on Friday night.
[Read the full story here, at the WSJ]
Whoever the man was, he posed as one of the many refugees fleeing Syria’s war—including the violence of Islamic State—to enter Europe through its lightly controlled frontier in the Aegean Sea. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 20, 2015 Filed under: Politics, Think Tank, War Room, White House | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, American Politics, Barack Obama, Cuba, Democratic Party (United States), DOJ, Domestic Terrorism Counsel, Eco-radicalism, Extremism, FBI, Hate crime, Joint session of the United States Congress, New America Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Cente, SPLC, Terrorism, United States, Violent Extremism
Going into Battle Facing the Wrong Way
Nick Short reports: Delivering remarks on domestic terrorism at an event co-sponsored by the George Washington University’s program on extremism and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin announced on Wednesday the creation of a new position within the Department of Justice (DOJ) aimed at investigating violent extremism.
“Nowhere to be found on the foundation’s list is the Chattanooga shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who killed five U.S. servicemen. Also absent on the list is John Muhammad, the Washington, D.C., sniper who killed at least 10 people in 2002 with his young accomplice, Lee Malvo…The reason for this is because the New America Foundation, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, defines threats not by reality but by a false narrative that selectively targets conservative groups.“
“We are here to talk about combating domestic terrorism, which the FBI has explained as ‘Americans attacking Americans based on U.S.-based extremist ideologies.’ The threat ranges from individuals motivated by anti-government animus, to eco-radicalism and racism,” stated Carlin. He continued: “Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate. Anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs. When it comes to hate and intolerance, no single ideology governs.” Carlin then went on to mention the following: “as our SPLC colleagues can attest, racial hatred motivates many of the violent extremist attacks. The Attorney General noted this summer that these kinds of hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism. Among domestic extremist movements active in the United States, white supremacists are the most violent.”
The new position at the Justice Department, dubbed the “Domestic Terrorism Counsel,” will serve as the main point of contact for U.S. attorney offices nationwide and will identify “trends across cases, help shape strategy and analyze legal gaps that need to be closed,” stated Carlin. Yet, as Leo Hohmann of World Net Daily writes, “while the FBI has confirmed it has active ISIS investigations in all 50 states and Islamic-inspired attacks have occurred in recent years in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Garland, Texas, and Fort Hood, the Justice Department sees Islamic jihadists as no more dangerous than mentally ill actors such as Dylann Roof, the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooter who killed nine black Christians.” In fact, Hohmann notes, “Justice officials have indicated that home-grown ‘right wingers’ are possibly more numerous and dangerous than the jihadists. In announcing the new position Wednesday, Carlin referred to a study by the New America Foundation that found nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by ‘right-wing’ extremists since Sept. 11 than by Islamic terrorists.”
The New America Foundation lists the Charleston church shooting among 19 right-wing terrorist attacks, while the study only lists seven jihadist attacks that killed 26 people since Sept. 11. “Nowhere to be found on the foundation’s list is the Chattanooga shooter, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who killed five U.S. servicemen. Also absent on the list is John Muhammad, the Washington, D.C., sniper who killed at least 10 people in 2002 with his young accomplice, Lee Malvo,” points out Hohmann. The reason for this is because the New America Foundation, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, defines threats not by reality but by a false narrative that selectively targets conservative groups.
The threats are defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which is working in conjunction with the Department of Justice to target those they label a part of the “radical right.” The SPLC labels organizations with conservative views as hate groups and has enjoyed premier access to our DOJ. The government watchdog agency Judicial Watch first exposed this in 2013 as they obtained emails from the Obama DOJ that revealed SPLC co-founder Morris Dees had conducted a “diversity training event” for the agency back in 2012. Furthermore, the Family Research Council, along with a coalition of conservative groups, exposed the wide-ranging influence of the SPLC as they have also provided the U.S. military with training supplies and briefings as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In fact, the FBI actually endorsed the SPLC as a source and listed it as a resource on its “hate crime web page.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 2, 2015 Filed under: Diplomacy, Mediasphere, Russia, Think Tank, War Room, White House | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, American Politics, Anne C. Richard, Barack Obama, Cuba, Democratic Party (United States), Middle East, Refugee, Refugees of the Syrian civil war, Syrian civil war, United States, United States Department of State
Lee Smith writes: The United States, President Obama said at the U.N. General Assembly last week, “worked with many nations in this assembly to prevent a third world war—by forging alliances with old adversaries.” Presumably, the president was not referring to his deeply flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the recent agreement that the White House has marketed as the only alternative to war with a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.
“Once you seize a position by force, as the Russians have. you are in the diplomatic driver’s seat. Putin is schooling the U.S. foreign policy establishment in foreign affairs. He has put his armed forces not at the service of Bashar al-Assad, but at the service of Russian interests.”
— Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University
Rather, it seems he was referring to the post-World War II period, when the United States created and presided over an international order that prevented an even larger, potentially nuclear, conflict with the Soviet Union. Now, that Pax Americana may be ending.
Not with a bang, but with Obama
Indeed, Russia’s airstrikes against CIA-vetted Syrian rebels last week looked like a punctuation mark. When the secretary of state holds a joint press conference with Moscow’s foreign minister after Russia has decimated American proxies bearing American arms, we are not witnessing anything like a return to the Cold War. Rather, we’re witnessing a new order being born. It is an order that is being designed by others, without any concern for American interests.
Syrian refugees wait to cross into Turkey at the border on Monday near the town of Suruc, Turkey, which has been overwhelmed as thousands flee to escape a militant advance.G Getty Images
“At what point does the Syrian conflict create political instability in places like Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing states in the Persian Gulf? As long as nothing is happening to block the oil flow, it’s the refugee flow that makes Syria an international issue.”
— Walter Russell Mead, professor of foreign policy and humanities at Bard College
Its cradle is not the conference rooms of the U.N., but the killing fields of Syria. After four and a half years, the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis it has spawned threaten to disrupt two zones of American vital interest, the Persian Gulf and Europe.
[Read the full text here, at The Weekly Standard]
America’s Cold War prosperity depended on our ability to trade with the rest of the world across both oceans. The United States built a powerful blue-water navy and far-flung bases as tokens of our willingness to protect our allies and stand up to their, and our, adversaries. What facilitates both trade and the movement of a military as large as America’s is access to affordable sources of energy, which is why the security of the Persian Gulf has been a vital American interest for 70 years.
“There already is a third world war underway. It’s the war between Sunnis and Shiites. It’s a world war because it engages people all around the world who happen to be Muslims.”
— Angelo Codevilla
The nuclear agreement with Iran signals that Obama doesn’t see things this way. From his perspective, no core American interest would be threatened by either the domination of the Gulf by revolutionary Iran or the likelihood that other regional powers will go nuclear. The JCPOA told American partners in the Middle East that the old alliance system was finished. Israel and Saudi Arabia would get stiff-armed, and Iran would get to call plays in the huddle. What Obama sought, as he said in a New Yorker interview, was a “new geopolitical equilibrium.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 22, 2015 Filed under: Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Democratic Party (Romania), Ed Miliband, Hull City A.F.C., Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Leader, Labour Party (UK), Liberal Democrats, List of Labour Party (UK) MPs, Tony Blair
Democrats’ Jeremy Corbyn Syndrome.
Noah Rothman writes: Call it “Jeremy Corbyn syndrome.” This distressing malady has manifested most acutely in British liberals, but it is an epidemic spreading throughout the transatlantic left. It is a disorder characterized by a pathological refusal to acknowledge or accept the admonition of the public and a petulant, uncompromising response to rebuke. The symptoms of this self-destructive condition are beginning to be observed in a new host: American Democrats.
“The symptoms of an American version of this ailment are most easily observed in the rise of the self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to presidential contender status.”
The scale of its losses in the quinquennial U.K. general elections earlier this year shocked Labour. The voters soundly rejected a modest center-left agenda promoted by former Labour leader Ed Miliband. Instead, the British delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron the first outright Tory majority government since 1992. Miliband resigned in disgrace and sent his party scrambling to redefine itself. And redefine itself it did, as a far-left institution unreflective of the British liberal minority. Labour’s defeat sent a cantankerous and previously marginalized subgroup of liberals into a fit of pique that yielded the ascension of the irresponsible parlor-socialist Jeremy Corbyn to leadership. He has set about trying to rehabilitate some of Britain’s most irresponsible figures and ideas.
[Read the full text here, at commentary]
Corbyn’s unabashed embrace of radical points of view palatable only to the minority of the minority is telling. A juvenile peevishness has overtaken the influential British left, and they are determined not to sway with the will of the electorate but to stand athwart it – even if that means many more years in the wilderness.
“But that is only the most outwardly evident sign of contagion. There are more subtle indications that this plague has taken root in an even broader population of susceptible Democratic victims.”
The symptoms of an American version of this ailment are most easily observed in the rise of the self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to presidential contender status. But that is only the most outwardly evident sign of contagion. There are more subtle indications that this plague has taken root in an even broader population of susceptible Democratic victims. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 25, 2015 Filed under: Guns and Gadgets, Think Tank, War Room | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Berlin, Chancellor of Germany, Edward Snowden, Espionage, Germany, Global Panic, Greece, Greek government-debt crisis, National Security Agency, Student financial aid in the United States, United States, WikiLeaks
Richard Whittle writes: Sweat the small stuff.
A nuclear power station in France. In October and November, French security officials were investigation a wave of drones that illegally flew over more than a dozen nuclear plants across France.Photo: Reuters
That’s the unofficial motto for this year’s edition of the military exercise Black Dart, a two-week test of tactics and technologies to combat hostile drones that begins Monday on the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County in California.
The military categorizes Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by size and capability, from Group 5 drones that weigh more than 1,320 pounds and can fly above 18,000 feet like the Reaper, down to Group 1, mini- and micro-drones less than 20 pounds that fly lower than 1,200 feet. Previous Black Darts have covered threats to troops overseas and targets at home posed by drones of all sizes.
Order Richard Whittle’s book “Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution” from Amazon.com
But small drones are this year’s focus, said the director of this 14th edition of Black Dart, Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, because of worrisome incidents since the last exercise.
Gregg cited the quadcopter that a drunk crashed onto the White House lawn in the wee hours of Jan. 26 and sightings of unidentified small drones flying over nuclear reactors in France. In the wake of those events, he said, “Even though we’ve been looking at [the small drone threat], it’s taken on a new sense of urgency.”
Gregg also could have mentioned how, to protest government surveillance, the Pirate Party of Germany flew a small drone right up to the podium as Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in Dresden two years ago. Or how in Japan last April, a nuclear-energy foe landed a drone carrying radioactive sand on the roof of the prime minister’s residence. And there was a report last week that British officials are worried ISIS may try to bomb festival crowds using small drones.
The drones that Black Dart participants will attempt to shoot down.Photo: Post Illustration
The United States enjoyed a near-monopoly on armed drones for much of the past 15 years, but with more than 80 countries now buying or building drones of their own, and with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS known to have used unarmed drones in the Middle East, that advantage has evaporated.
[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]
Few countries and no terrorist groups are likely to emulate the complex and costly US system of undersea fiber-optic cables and satellite earth terminals in Europe that allows crews in the United States to fly drones carrying missiles and bombs over Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
The 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System was successful at Black Dart 2011.Photo: U.S. Navy
But anyone can buy a Group 1 drone for a couple of hundred dollars and put it to nefarious use. Arm it with plastic explosives, radioactive material, biological or chemical agents, and it can be crashed, kamikaze-style, into a target.
“I’d say for the Department of Homeland Security, it’s one of the biggest concerns,” Gregg said.
The threat isn’t imaginary. Former Northeastern University student Rezwan Ferdaus is now serving 17 years in prison for plotting to pack C-4 plastic explosives into 1/10 scale radio controlled models of F-4 and F-86 fighter jets and fly them into the Capitol and Pentagon. Ferdaus also supplied cellphone detonators for IEDs to people he thought were agents of al Qaeda but turned out to be working for the FBI….(read more)
Innovations that have previously found success at Black Dart.Photo: Post Illustration
This year the surrogate threats will include three Group 1 drones — a Hawkeye 400 hexacopter, a Flanker and a Scout II — and one Twin Hawk drone from the Group 2 category (21 to 55 lbs., slower than 250 knots, lower than 3,500 feet). Six Group 3 drones, all of them 13.5-foot wingspan Outlaw G2s made by Griffon Aerospace, also will be targets. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 17, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Angela Merkel, Athens, AUSTERITY, Christine Lagarde, Coalition of the Radical Left, EUROPE, Greece, Greek, Greek Prime Minister, International Monetary Fund, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Michelle Martin, Peter Altmaier, Prime Minister of Greece, States-General of the Netherlands, Wolfgang Schäuble, Yanis Varoufakis
We Apologize for the inconvenience.
Posted: July 17, 2015 Filed under: Global, Humor, Politics, The Butcher's Notebook | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Angela Merkel, Athens, AUSTERITY, Christine Lagarde, Coalition of the Radical Left, EUROPE, Greece, International Monetary Fund, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Michelle Martin, Peter Altmaier, Prime Minister of Greece, States-General of the Netherlands, Wolfgang Schäuble, Yanis Varoufakis
Meanwhile in Germany, Merkel pushes through support for unloved bailout despite repeated suggestions by her finance minister that Greece should quit the Eurozone.
Geoffrey Smith writes: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sacked some prominent left-wing rebels from his government Friday in a cabinet reshuffle following a party revolt against a tough new bailout deal adopted this week.
The 40 year-old prime minister dismissed Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and two deputy ministers after 39 Syriza hardline lawmakers refused to back the government over the measures, which were demanded by Eurozone partners as a pre-condition for beginning talks over a new bailout.
The main economic ministries remain unchanged, with Euclid Tsakalotos remaining in place at the finance ministry and George Stathakis staying at the economy ministry.
But Labor Minister Panos Skourletis, one of Tsipras’ closest allies, will replace Lafazanis in the key energy portfolio, where he will be responsible for sensitive privatization dossiers. Administrative Reforms Minister George Katrougalos will take over at the labor ministry.
The reshuffle had been expected ever since the party rebellion left Tsipras dependent on the votes of pro-European opposition parties to pass the bailout deal but it is not likely to change the uncertain overall outlook for the government.
Former Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, another bailout opponent who resigned earlier this week before the vote, was replaced by Tryfon Alexiadis, a leading member of Greece’s tax experts’ union.
The new ministers are expected to be sworn in on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 15, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Global | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Athens, AUSTERITY, Brussels, Coalition of the Radical Left, EUROPE, Greece, Greeks, Left-wing politics, Prime Minister of Greece, Reuters
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 anti-reality protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one car on fire
(ATHENS, Greece) — Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos report: Rioters hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas as an anti-austerity demonstration outside parliament turned violent Wednesday, while Greek lawmakers began debating contentious measures needed to start negotiations on a new bailout and avoid financial collapse.
Protesters gather in Athens yesterday(Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty)
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life.”
Groups of youths among the more than 12,000 protesters smashed storefronts and set at least one vehicle alight. The clashes were the first significant protest violence since the left-wing Syriza government came to power in January promising to repeal bailout austerity. Police said at least 50 people were detained.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is.”
— Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos
The protest was timed to coincide with the start of debate on the bill, which includes consumer tax increases and pension reforms that will condemn Greeks to years of more economic hardship.
[Also see – Protestors gathered to remember an unarmed teenager killed by police, before demonstration erupted into violence]
The bill has fueled anger among the governing left-wing Syriza party and led to a revolt by many party members against Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who has insisted the deal forged early Monday after a marathon weekend eurozone summit was the best he could do to prevent Greece from crashing out of Europe’s joint currency.
“I must tell you, that Monday morning at 9:30, it was the most difficult day of my life. It was a decision that will weigh on me for the rest of my life,” said Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
“I don’t know if we did the right thing. But I know we did something with the sense that we had no choice. Nothing was certain and nothing is,” he said as the debate kicked off.
Civil servants protested with a 24-hour strike that disrupted public transport and shut down state-run services across the country. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 9, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Global, Mediasphere, The Butcher's Notebook | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Athens, Automated teller machine, Baked Goods, Baklava, börek, EUROPE, European Central Bank, Filo, Greece, Greek Desserts, International Monetary Fund, media, Newspapers, pastry, phyllo, Ta Nea
ATHENS (Reuters) – Lefteris Karagiannopoulos reports: With banks shut and the economy seizing up, some Greek newspapers like the Empros daily on the island of Lesvos are running out of paper and could be forced to stop sales altogether until the banks open again.
“There is a definite problem with paper supply. Our supplier can’t provide us with it, as it is stuck in customs. He can’t pay the foreign suppliers, as bank transfers are blocked and there’s very little cash to continue operations”.
— Empros chief executive Manolis Manolas
The island’s biggest selling newssheet, Empros has already reduced the number of pages to 16 from 20 and its chief executive Manolis Manolas hopes he won’t have to make further cuts as the country’s cash crunch worsens. Greek banks have been shut for almost two weeks after capital controls were imposed.
“There is a definite problem with paper supply,” Manolas told Reuters by phone. “Our supplier can’t provide us with it, as it is stuck in customs. He can’t pay the foreign suppliers, as bank transfers are blocked and there’s very little cash to continue operations”.
“The newspaper you hold in your hands numbers only 32 pages because the stock of printing paper will last for just a few days and it will not be possible to get a fresh supply through customs because of the bank holiday.”
Curbs on money withdrawals and transfers have made life miserable for millions of Greeks, whose government was scrambling on Thursday to devise a new set of proposals for a bailout with its creditors to stave off imminent bankruptcy.
Filo (or phyllo) (Greek: φύλλο ‘leaf’) is a kind of very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries such as baklava and börek in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Filo-based pastries are made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with melted butter; the pastry is then baked.
As well as reporting on the capital controls introduced at the end of June – queues outside banks and cash machines are now a daily sight in Greece – the media also became a victim of them. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 8, 2015 Filed under: Asia, Economics, Global | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Apple Inc, Beijing, Bilateral investment treaty, Brokerage firm, China, Greece, Jack Lew, Mutual fund, Reuters, Shanghai, South China Sea, SSE Composite Index, Stockmarkets, The Wall Street Journal, U.S.–China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Xi Jinping
The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be ‘treated seriously’
and Lingling Wei
report: Since the last week of June, the Chinese government has intervened in the country’s stock markets nearly every day to stop their steep slide. But the harder
Chinese authorities try, the more it looks like they are losing control.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 5.9% on Wednesday and is down nearly one-third from its peak on June 12. Since then, $3.5 trillion in value has been erased from companies in the benchmark index—or nearly five times the size of Apple Inc.
China’s bond market and currency also began to get hit Wednesday as worries deepened that a contagion from stock-market losses could further trammel the country’s slowing economy. It felt even more ominous because Chinese officials had rushed out another raft of emergency measures earlier Wednesday to reassure the market.
An investor at a brokerage firm in the Chinese city of Heifi on Wednesday. Individual investors who began selling in mid-June helped unleash a downward spiral of more selling. Photo: Reuters
The moves only heightened what is turning into an epidemic of anxiety among Chinese investors and a crisis of confidence in their leaders. Stocks were volatile early Thursday.
“The more the government intervenes, the more scared I am,” said Li Jun, who runs a fishing and restaurant business in the eastern city of Nanjing. He has spent about 3 million yuan, roughly $500,000, on stocks, using borrowed money for about one-third of the total.
Mr. Li has sold some of his investments every time the market “popped up a little” following a rescue announcement by the Chinese government. “I have no faith” in its ability to halt the losses, he says. Wednesday’s drop left the Shanghai index down 32% from its peak and at its lowest level since March.
The latest drastic step by Beijing is a six-month ban on stock sales by controlling shareholders and executives who own more than 5% of a company’s shares. Any violation of the rule, announced Wednesday night, would be “treated seriously,” China’s securities regulator said.
Early Thursday, China’s central bank said it has provided “ample liquidity” to a company owned by the country’s top securities regulator. The company is lending the funds to securities firms, which then will use the money to buy stocks.
The Chinese government has been praised for driving decades of economic growth and keeping the economy strong during the global financial crisis. In recent years, Chinese authorities have struggled with rising debt levels and the need to reform the economy away from government-driven infrastructure programs and toward consumer spending.
As it fought slower growth and a weakening real-estate market, the government turned its attention to the country’s languishing stock markets.
But Beijing’s inability to stop the recent decline has rattled investors who have long been used to seeing the government use its power to control markets.
“Beijing’s latest bid to calm the market has had the opposite effect,” said Bernard Aw, market analyst at IG Group. “The panic is spreading, and authorities appear to be grasping at straws to hold back the tide.”
[Read the full text here, at WSJ]
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew played down the possible world-wide impact of China’s stock-market mess, though he expressed worry that it could restrain the country’s longer-term growth if Beijing slows its promised economic overhauls. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 6, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Economics, Global, Politics | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Antonis Samaras, Athens, AUSTERITY, Brussels, Coalition of the Radical Left, Country Financial, Economy of Greece, Greece, Greek language, International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister of Greece
After ‘No’ Vote Against Bailout, Yanis Varoufakis Steps Down
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned from his post Monday after Greek citizens voted to reject further austerity measures the day prior, the Associated Press reported.
“I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”
— Yanis Varoufaki
Varoufakis said he was told shortly after the voters rejected Sunday’s referendum regarding demands by international creditors to impose further austerity measures in exchange for a bailout package for its bankrupt economy, that the other eurozone finance ministers and Greece’s other creditors would prefer he not attend the ministers’ meetings.
Varoufakis issued an announcement saying Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had judged that Varoufakis’ resignation “might help achieve a deal” and that he was leaving the finance ministry for this reason Monday.
Varoufakis is known for his brash style and fondness for frequent media appearances at the start of his tenure when the new government was formed in January. He had visibly annoyed many of the eurozone’s finance ministers during Greece’s debt negotiations.
“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants… for my ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the prime minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today,” Varoufakis wrote in a blog post, according to The Guardian.
“Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached,” the post read, according to the Athenian newspaper Kathmerini.
“It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms,” Varoufakis wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 3, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Economics, Global | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Athens, Brussels, Christine Lagarde, Euro Group, EUROPE, European Central Bank, European Commission, European Union, Global Panic, Greece, Greek language, International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister of Greece
ATHENS – Kerin Hope reports: IGreek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors amid fears the country is heading for financial collapse, bankers and businesspeople with knowledge of the measures said on Friday.
The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.
A Greek bail-in could resemble the rescue plan agreed by Cyprus in 2013, when customers’ funds were seized to shore up the banks, with a haircut imposed on uninsured deposits over €100,000.
It would be implemented as part of a recapitalisation of Greek banks that would be agreed with the country’s creditors — the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.
“It [the haircut] would take place in the context of an overall restructuring of the bank sector once Greece is back in a bailout programme,” said one person following the issue. “This is not something that is going to happen immediately.”
Eurozone officials said no decision had been taken to wind up any Greek banks or initiate a bail-in of depositors, a process that would be started by the ECB declaring the banks insolvent or pulling emergency loans.
Greece’s banks have been closed since Monday, when capital controls were imposed to prevent a bank run following the leftwing Syriza-led government’s call for a referendum on a bailout plan it had earlier rejected. Greece’s highest court rejected an appeal by two citizens on Friday who had asked for the referendum to be declared unconstitutional.
Depositors can withdraw only €60 a day from bank ATM cash machines, while requests to transfer funds abroad have to be approved by a special finance ministry committee in co-operation with the Greek central bank. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 29, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Economics, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Athens, EUROPE, Greece, LeBron James, Newspaper of record, Paul Krugman, Stockmarkets, The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal
This NYT take on Greece’s financial trouble is jaw-dropping
Posted: June 29, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Global | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Athens, Berlin, François Hollande, Goldman Sachs, Greece, Greeks, International Monetary Fund, Investment banking, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Prime Minister of Greece, Private equity, Reuters, Wall Street
Matt Purple writes: The stock market is getting walloped today and the reason is grave: Greece, dogged by enormous debt and an anemic economy, may be about to walk away
from its German creditors.
“Thanks to Greece’s socialist policies, its economy has long been creaking under the weight of crushing debt. It only endured in the debt-averse European Union because, with the help of Wall Street honchos like Goldman Sachs, it cunningly concealed its red ink for over a decade.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum over the latest concessions demanded by Germany and the European Commission. Votes will be cast on Sunday and Tspiras is actively campaigning against Greek cooperation. Four days earlier comes Tuesday, which is the deadline for Greece forking over an additional 1.6 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. It’s now unknown whether Tspiras intends to default.
What is known is that the uncertainty is causing Greeks to party like it’s 1930. NBC News reports:
Greece imposed restrictions on money withdrawals and banking transactions to keep its financial system from collapsing due to a run on the banks.
Anxious Greeks rushed to ATMs to withdraw cash after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called late Friday for a referendum on the creditors’ reform proposals. …
Meanwhile, retirees lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would be able to receive their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday. The finance ministry said the manner in which pensions would be disbursed would be announced later in the afternoon.
The president of the European Commission has declared that Greece’s departure from the euro is not an option, but even the most impenetrable of Eurocrats must comprehend that their little science project is falling apart.
[Read the full text here, at Rare]
This weekend’s referendum isn’t just about the current bailout package; a “no” vote will effectively jettison Greece from the euro and resurrect their old drachma currency. A “Grexit,” the prospect of which has long triggered dramatic sting music in the minds of European financial ministers, is looming over the Continent.
“That debt is often attributed to the fact that ‘Greeks don’t pay their taxes,’ which has now reached near-aphorism status among economic writers. But rarely does anyone explore the reasons for all this tax dodging.”
And why not? The referendum is likely a leverage tactic by Tspiras—who’s resorted to such risibly desperate measures in the past as calling on Germany to pay Greece Nazi war reparations—but it intersects with one of the seminal themes of his election campaign last year: giving the Greek people a choice. Why should Athens, fuzzily remembered as the “birthplace of democracy,” have its finances determined in the back room of a foreign accounting office? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 27, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Economics, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Associated Press, Athens, Bailout, Central bank, Creditor, Euro Group, EUROPE, Global Panic, Greece, Hellenic Parliament
“…Bank runs are expected on Monday, and a friend in Athens reports almost all the ATM machines have already run out of cash. Obviously, even those who work at the Greek parliament don’t have confidence in the system…”
via John Fund
Photo via , Twitter
National Review Online
Posted: June 26, 2015 Filed under: Diplomacy, Economics, Global | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Athens, AUSTERITY, Bailout, Bank of Greece, Belize, EUROPE, European Union, Greece, International Monetary Fund
Happening in Greece right now-almost 3am-people withdrawing as much cash as they can.
via Andrew Bayer,Twitter
Posted: March 28, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Mediasphere | Tags: Alexis Tsipras, Alzheimer's disease, Appellate court, Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow, Judiciary of England and Wales, London, Northern Ireland, Royal Courts of Justice, Terry Pratchett
Cory Doctorow writes: Neil Moore was locked up in England’s notorious Wandsworth Prison when he used a smuggled cellphone to send an email to the prison that appeared to come from a court clerk who was ordering his release on parole.
“A lot of criminal ingenuity harbours in the mind of Mr Moore. The case is one of extraordinary criminal inventiveness, deviousness and creativity, all apparently the developed expertise of this defendant.”
The prison figured out what had happened three days later when his lawyer showed up to interview him and he was gone. He turned himself in to the police three days after that. Moore is a convicted fraudster who stole £1.8M with social engineering techniques, including a gift for voice impersonation.
Southwark Crown Court heard he had set up a fake web domain which closely resembled that of the court service’s official address.
He then emailed the prison’s custody inbox with instructions for his release. Read the rest of this entry »