The sordid relationship between the owners of the Bank of Pireus and MIG (a holding company that used to own one of the two failed Cypriot banks, as well as a swathe of Greek companies) is well documented. Recently we witnessed a new chapter in this saga, one that went almost unnoticed and which was quietly condoned (like all recent scandals) by the Athens government and the troika. Klaus Kastner blogged on this deal in a highly informative recent post, entitled MIG: A great place to invest €250 million?, and also sent me an email with the following question/point: “It baffles my mind how a bank like Piraeus where the state has part-ownership would buy €250 million convertibles of the holding company of a group which is as shaky as the MIG Group (unless, of course, the 250 MEUR were used to repay loans to Piraeus). MIG may have operating companies of operational worth and market prominence but the whole group is built on hot air and, at least for the time being, the operating companies are incurring horrendous losses.” My answer to Klaus follows… Continue reading
Tom Bowker, of the Central Banking Journal and centralbanking.com, has written about my proposal that the ECB’s Quantitative Easing program should be aimed at purchasing bonds issued by the European Investment Bank/Fund as part of an Investment-led Recovery Program for the Eurozone as a whole. Continue reading
The ECB has no alternative to enacting some form of Quantitative Easing (QE) in order to prevent deflationary expectations from setting in fully. Core inflation has already reached a level that, even according to Mr Draghi’s own pronouncements on 24th April, should have already triggered off QE. (See also Wolfgang Munchau’s well argued case here.) However, the ECB’s governing board is finding it hard to agree on what assets the ECB ought to buy. In this post I suggest a simple answer to this debilitating question.
On 15th May, the Bellwether Economist Conference (see program) posed the broader question “Who will fill the funding gap?” and the narrower but crucial question “Is Europe Reforming?” In this post the reader can find/hear my contribution in lieu of an answer to the second question, as well as to questions on how the ECB should practise quantitative easing, how the Greek debt crisis ought to have been handled etc. Continue reading
In conversation with Andrew Brady of USiLive regarding the state of Europe now.
In 2013 Greek taxpayers borrowed from the rest of Europe’s taxpayers €41 billion to pump into the Greek banks. This is well known. What is not known is that, also in 2013/4, the Greek banks received an additional, well hidden, €41 billion bailout loan from Greek and European citizens. This bailout was never authorised by any Parliament or even discussed in public anywhere in Europe.
Some weeks ago I heard Arianna Huffington deliver a talk, in Austin, on sleep deprivation and the terrible decisions that it leads to. This made me recall that all the awful decisions of our European leaders (and there were so many of them) were reached at around 4.00am. I mentioned that to Arianna and she invited me to write a post for Huffington Post. Here it is… Click here for the Huffington Post site or… Continue reading
While the international press continues to celebrate Greece’s recovery, the reality on the ground becomes bleaker, less sustainable, and nastier than ever. In this post I shall be conveying the grim news from two fronts: the labour market and the government’s finances.
Europe is in the clasps of the deflationary forces that resulted directly from its inane handling of the Eurozone crisis. In this interview, I discuss deflation and low-flation and suggest a particular form of quantitative easing that, unlike the Fed’s or the Bank of England’s QE, will not reinflate the bubbles of the financial sector but, instead, will help recycle idle savings into productive investments in Europe’s real economy. Continue reading
Eurobank is an apt example of Greek ingenuity. Its name is a coup in itself. Beyond semantics, however, and coming to recent developments, Eurobank is a wonderful example of the Greek establishment’s ingenious efforts to defraud Greek and European taxpayers, and then to proclaim a glorious Greek Success Story, weeks before the European Parliament elections. (You have already seen, here, the other plank of this campaign, also known as the Greek primary ‘surplus’…) Continue reading
Over the past year I have argued that Europe needs a jolt. Continue reading
A group of noted international economists (including Joseph Stiglitz, Peter Bofinger and Stefanie Griffith-Jones), known as the European Progressive Policy Initiative (EPPI), has issued a policy paper that endorses the main planks of our Modest Proposal for Resolving the Euro Crisis 4.0.
EPPI was assembled in 2013 by Europe’s social democratic alliance in the European Parliament. This is significant, given the social democrats acquiescence to the Merkel-led toxic policies, which are causing Europe to fragment. Coming, as it does, a few weeks before the European Parliament Election, this policy document flags the potential for breaking the stranglehold over European politics of the indefensible ‘official EU position’, i.e. the toxic trio of claims that: Europe is on the mend – Austerity is working – Europe has taken important steps in shoring up the Eurozone’s institutions).
ELSTAT, the official Greek statistical service, has put out a document in response to my post unveiling, what I call, their New Greek Statistics over the calculation of the Greek government’s primary budget outcome for 2013. In addition, Eurostat gave an informal response to various journalists who took the matter to them. Full marks for defending the indefensible. Continue reading
It is official! The Greek government now confirms that the much lauded Greek government primary surplus for 2013 was a mirage created by the return of Greek Statistics (see this recent post). And also that the statistical trickery involved had the full approval of Eurostat, of the troika, of Berlin etc. The ‘confession’ has come in the form of the deafening silence in response to the revelation that approximately €5 .4 billion was taken off government expenditure through the discovery of a non-existent ‘white hole’ in the government’s revenues. Yesterday, a tweet from a spoof account in the name of a Finance Ministry official reminded me that the New Greek Statistics are highly reminiscent of the Old Greek Statistics… Continue reading
See also James Galbraith’s splendid review of T. Piketty’s ‘Capital’ here.