It is time for the ECB to purchase EIB bonds: Bruegel’s Guntram Wolff sides with our proposal

recovery photoThe ECB’s recent dalliance with QE-light is macro-economically irrelevant. For a long while we have been arguing (see Policy 3 of the Modest Proposal) that it is high time that the ECB buys en masse EIB bonds, thus enabling the EIB to issue new bonds as part of a European Recovery Program; an investment drive that will mobilise the glut of idle savings, neither adding to public debt nor inflating financial assets (or, indeed, the fear of fiscal transfers from the core to the periphery). It is the optimal strategy for defeating deflation and whipping up growth without inflating asset prices. It was with pleasure that we recently read Guntram Wolff’s article which seems to endorse this proposal. Continue reading

Greece’s Finance Minister: The revolving doors’ syndrome on steroids

Hardouvelis phtotNow that the bubble of the Greek success story has, thankfully, burst, it is perhaps apt to take a good look at the track record of Greece’s finance minister: the talented Mr Gikas Hardouvelis. Readers that harboured hopes of a Greek turn-around (against this blog’s repeated warnings) ought to brace themselves – the finance minister’s story is not recommended reading for the faint hearted…

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Greek bonds and shares: What does their decline mean for Europe? – Interview with Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues for EXPRESSO

euro crisisThe spectre of Greek contagion seems to be returning to the Eurozone. At least this is the fear that I sense by talking to financial journalists across Europe. In this interview with Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues (for EXPRESSO) I argue that: “The Euro Crisis never went away. What happened was that Mr Draghi’s skillful interventions in the summer of 2012 suppressed the crisis in the bond markets but, at the same time, pushed it deeper into the foundations of the real economy. It was inevitable that, as the crisis was wrecking these foundations (with deflationary forces, desperately low levels of private and public investment and increasing debt to GDP ratios in the Periphery), it would resurface in the bond and equity markets. It does not matter whether the trigger was Greece, Portugal or Italy. What matters is its inevitability.”

You can read the interview as published in Portuguese here, or in its original (and longer) version below. Continue reading

Has the Greece Success Story bubble burst? Interview with Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten

SAMARAS MERKELIn this interview, with Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachtrichten  (German Business News), I address the question of what happened in recent days in the Greek bond markets, in view of the Greek government’s failed attempt to argue that Greece is about to exit its Bailout. Regular readers may notice that I am merely repeating what I was saying back in April. For the full interview (in German, as it appeared in DWN) click here. For the English version, read on… Continue reading

Can Greece stand on its own feet? Interview with ADN Kronos

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As elections begin to loom in Greece, an extraordinary propaganda drive has commenced. Its purpose? To impress upon the world (with a view to swaying Greek pubic opinion) that Greece is out of the woods; that Greek public debt is (miraculously) sustainable, that the banks are back on track, that investment is beginning to flow again, that unemployment is in the mend. OfScreen Shot 2014-10-10 at 12.50.34 PMcourse, none of this is true. Greece is being made over as a Potemkin village prior to the forthcoming General Election. In future posts I shall show that the reality on the ground continues to be one of a depressed economy, with an unsustainable public debt, a banking system that only functions courtesy of the ECB’s willingness to turn a blind eye, a private sector in which everyone owes to everyone and no one can pay and investment that is utterly non-existent. For the time being, here is a short interview with an Italian journal – click here. For the original English text read on… Continue reading

Egalitarianism’s Latest Foe: a critical review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

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The Real-World Economics Review commissioned a number of us to write critical reviews of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century.  They include, beside the over-signed, David Colander, Edward Fullbrook (who must be credited for the whole issue), James K. Galbraith, Michael Hudson, Richard Koo, Richard Parker, Ann Pettifor, and Robert Wade – see below for links to their papers.

My own contribution is entitled Egalitarianism’s Latest Foe: a critical review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. (A Spanish translation is also available here.) Read on for the links to all 16 articles…

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Centralisation-Without-Representation: A reply to Frances Coppola, Simon Wren-Lewis and Niall Ferguson

euro crisis[This post was later published by Open Democracy]

Behind the European Union’s official ‘line’ that the worst of the Euro Crisis is behind us, a flurry of proposals for institutional changes reveal a deep-seated anxiety about the Eurozone. Indeed, in recent weeks, even the German finance minister, Mr Wolfgang Schäuble, went public with an op-ed in the Financial Times (1st September 2014, co-authored with Karl Lamers), presenting a proposal for a Eurozone Parliamentary chamber that would legitimise, and stand behind, a new office of Euro ‘Czar’ with the capacity to veto member-states’ budgets.[1]Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 4.57.39 AM

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Frances Coppola and Simon Wren-Lewis on the ‘Modest Proposal vs Austerian Federalists’

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 4.02.33 PMIn Whither Europe? The Modest Camp vs the Federalist Austerians James Galbraith and I attempted to chart the evolution of various plans to save the Eurozone. In that survey, we juxtaposed a Modest Camp (that includes our own Modest Proposal), whose philosophy is to promote a minimalist agenda for stabilising the Eurozone and ending its socio-economic crisis before Europe’s future can be discussed cooly and properly, against federalist plans (like those of the Piketty and Glienecker Groups) for political union. Our argument (also augmented here) was that the prescribed federalist moves are, by definition, austerian in logic and, thus, ultimately detrimental to Europe’s integrity and even its… soul.  Most recently, Frances Coppola and Simon Wren-Lewis, at the behest of Open Democracy (who published our original paper), responded to our musings. Here are their responses:

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Mr Juncker should look to an EIB-ECB alliance, not to the ESM

JunckerJean Claude Juncker had a good idea but looked in the wrong place for funding it. His good idea was to promote a sizeable investment program (€300 billion) that would help Europe end years of crisis, stem deflation and return the continent to growth. Unfortunately, Mr Juncker thought it a good idea to tap the European Stability Mechanism’s unused borrowing capacity in order to fund his investment program. Soon after putting forward this idea, Germany smacked it down. Why was Mr Juncker badly mistaken to suggest the ESM as a funding source? And what should Mr Juncker have proposed instead? Read on…
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Revisiting the Modest Proposal: Q&A with a sceptic – Fall 2014 version (*)

MP4.0 in FrenchAs Europe seems resigned to the perpetuation of the Euro Crisis, with its authorities in a state of permanent paralysis (with only the ECB trying, and failing, to stem the debt-deflationary vortex), it seems more pertinent than ever to keep the debate on the Modest Proposal going. If only as a reminder to the powers-that-be that there are immediately implementable policies whose implementation would stem the crisis without breaking any of the existing rules, without having the core countries pay one euro for the debts and losses of the periphery, and without any further diminution of national sovereignty. Can all this be possible? Is the Modest Proposal genuinely capable of delivering such much-needed relief at no cost and without bypassing any of the existing rules? We, the authors of the Modest Proposal, think so. Of course, sceptics have every right to pose questions and challenge our hypotheses. In this post, one such sceptic asks pertinent, probing questions about each of the Modest Proposal’s four policies. Which we do our best to answer. [(*)For earlier Q&As on the Modest Proposal, raising many of the same issues, click here and  here.) Read on… Continue reading

The Global and European Crisis revisited: An audio from the launch of the Global Minotaur in Finland

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.03.50 PMOn 25th August, I had the honour of presenting the Finnish edition of The Global Minotaur to a splendid, and welcoming, audience at the University of Tampere. In this post you can listen to an interesting exchange on the state of the global and European economy, why Finns (along with citizens of other European ‘surplus’ member-states – but even more so than most others) ought to be very, very angry with their politicians (over the bailouts and overall handling of the Euro Crisis), on China’s future role etc.  Continue reading

Is Mr Draghi’s ‘turn’ significant? Is Germany ‘turning’? Can Europe escape its ‘iron cage’? Plus, on the Scottish currency plans – on Boom-Bust RT-tv

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[Jump to 3'20''] Erin Ade, RT’s Boom-Bust presenter, interviewed me yesterday on the state of Europe. We talked about the significance of Mr Draghi’s recent ‘intervention’, on whether Germany is about to change course, touched upon my article “Can Europe be saved without turning into an iron cage?” and briefly delved into Scotland’s proposal for a currency union with England if the Scots opt for independence on 18th September.

Discussing Scottish Independence and the demerits of a Sterling Union on KPFA Radio (Berkeley, CA)

ScotlandHere is a 25 minute radio interview on KPFA Radio (Berkeley CA) on the Scottish Independence question that will be decided by  Scottish voters on 18th September. (Click here and jump to 32’50” for the interview). The points raised are further supported by two previous posts: (a) Scotland Must Be Braver! and (b) If Scotland, why not Greece?

CAN EUROPE ESCAPE ITS CRISIS WITHOUT TURNING INTO AN IRON CAGE?

ON THE MODEST PROPOSAL’S POLITICAL, CONSTITUTIONAL AND ETHICAL DIMENSIONS

Rembrandt Europa[Image: Rembrandt's 'The Abduction of Europa']

This article is a sequel to an earlier piece entitled ‘Why is Europe not coming together in response to the Euro Crisis?’ and is best read in conjunction with this article (co-authored with James K. Galbraith) that compares our Modest Proposal for Resolving the Euro Crisis with alternative proposals for defeating the Euro Crisis. In what follows below , I argue that, as things stand, ‘political union’, ‘more Europe’, calls for a ‘Eurozone economic government’, or for a ‘Euro Chamber’ within the European Parliament, are not preludes to a democratic federal Europe. Instead, they are steps towards a postmodern European feudalism that is, in fact, the very antithesis of a democratic federation. The article concludes with an analysis of why our Modest Proposal offers Europe a rare chance to prevent the creation of a European iron cage in which what is left of our democracies must suffocate. Unlike all moves that are currently heralded as ‘baby-steps’ towards federalism, the Modest Proposal’s emphasis on ‘Europeanised Decentralisation’ is perhaps Europe’s best shot at a future consistent with the basic principles of a constitutional democracy.

 

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Chosen Cells – WdW Review

Chosen Cells  is a sequel to Solitary Subversives and our seventh article for Witte de With Review (an initiative of Rotterdam-based Witte de With Center for Contemporary Artof which we, vitalspace.org and I, are their…  ‘Athens Desk’). Click here for the  Witte de With Review site which contains several photos missing here. Or read on… Cells; Installation view of Maria Papanikolaou, Prison, 2008. The performance and video installation depicts a living prisoner-performer and a (video) projected inmate. During the performance, the two assist each other to escape. Image courtesy of Maria Papanikolaou and vitalspace.org

 

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WHY IS EUROPE NOT ‘COMING TOGETHER’ IN RESPONSE TO THE EURO CRISIS?

EU disunityIn this article I ask a question on everyone’s lips: Almost everyone agrees that the Eurozone was a one-legged giant; a monetary union lacking a political ‘leg’ to stabilise it. If so, why has the Euro Crisis (which surely strengthened that view on the back of its ferocity and durability) not strengthen the hand of the federalists? Of those who were, supposedly, waiting to pounce upon any opportunity to create a United States of Europe? (This article was compiled from extracts of a keynote speech I have on 25th August 2014 at the University of Tampere, Finland, in the context of a conference entitled Power, Knowledge and Society.)   Continue reading

Discussing Austerity with Phillip Adams, on Late Night Live, ABC Radio National

In this podcast you can hear my discussion with Phillip Adams, on ABC Radio National Late Night Live, on fiscal austerity and its discontents. The backdrop for this interview was, naturally, the Australian Federal Government’s attempts to ‘sell’ its latest Austerity Budget to the Australian people. (Click also here for my OpEd on ‘Austerity comes to Australia’, that appeared on the ABC’s White Paper e’magazine.)