Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Austerity

Greeks Shout “NO!”

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 6, 2015:  

Greek citizens shouted “No!” to further austerity measures for the hapless country in exchange for more of what got it into trouble in the first place: other people’s money. The lopsided 60-40 vote astonished telephone pollsters, who predicted a much narrower victory for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of the far-left Syriza party. Although the issues were far more complicated than the referendum made it appear, the 68-word ballot question made it easy: do you want more increases in taxes, more cuts in pension benefits, another increase in the VAT … or not?  Translated into English, the ballot read:

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Greece to the EU: NO!

This article was published online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 6, 2015:  

In an astonishing blow to the European Union’s credibility, Greek voters, fed up with five years of austerity, continuing recession, 25-percent unemployment, and severe cuts in pension payouts, strongly said “No!” at the ballot box Sunday. The 68-word ballot question, rejected by 61 percent of the voters, reads (translated into English):

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Will Sunday’s Greek vote Signal the end of Monnet’s Dream?

This article was published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 3, 2015:  

Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that Sunday’s vote is only about accepting or rejecting the troika’s terms to restart the flow of bailout funds that has been keeping the Greek economy from tanking. He said that a “no” vote “does not mean rupture with Europe but a return to Europe with values.”

Most assuredly Sunday’s vote is likely to, in hindsight, turn out to be much more than that. Historians might write that Sunday, July 5, 2015, ended Monnet’s dream.

Monnet was the architect, the primary driving force, behind the failing experiment in Europe called the European Union. He was head of the first genuine European executive body,

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Greece: Capital Controls Threat Increases as Deadline Approaches

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 22, 2015:

The announcement last week by Greece’s central bank that it may be forced to start implementing capital controls — eliminating the ability of Greeks who still have any money in the bank to withdraw it or send it to another country for safekeeping — may just be a ploy to bring more pressure on the Troika (European Central Bank, IMF, and eurozone countries) to release the last batch of funds from Bailout Number Three.

Withdrawals by nervous Greeks began last fall as Bailouts Number One, Two, and Three were only pushing the country further into recession. Withdrawal from the eurozone itself became increasingly likely, with the result that the euro would be replaced in Greece with a new currency with much less purchasing power.

Ever since Greece joined the European Community, later to be called the European Union, it has enjoyed far better credit ratings than it deserved. Assured that default was now no longer an option, central banks and other international financial institutions were more than willing to

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U.S. Government’s Interest Costs to Quadruple in 10 Years

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 5, 2015: 

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the federal government will be paying $800 billion annually just to service the interest on its massive debt by 2025, up from just over $200 billion currently. By 2021, those interest costs will equal what the government is projected to be spending on national defense, and on non-defense (so-called “discretionary” items), and will greatly exceed those two budget items just by 2025. The Journal also noted that “non-discretionary” items (so-called “mandatory” expenditures) will continue their inexorable march upward, from $2 trillion currently to more than $4 trillion by 2025.

Surprisingly, few eyebrows were raised over the announcement,

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Wisconsin Governor Walker to Substantially Reduce University Spending

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, February 4, 2015: 

On Tuesday, as part of his continuing quest to bring Wisconsin’s government spending under control, Governor Scott Walker announced a 13-percent cut to the University of Wisconsin’s $2.3 billion annual budget. In addition, his plan includes a two-year tuition freeze and the severance of state control over the university, passing it over to an autonomous authority. It also includes drug testing for people applying for public assistance, the merging of several state agencies, and the elimination of 400 state jobs. Walker explained: “Our plan will use common-sense reforms to create a government that is limited in scope and ultimately more effective, more efficient and more accountable.”

He also made clear in a radio interview that professors are going to have to ante up as well: 

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Controversial Harvard Professors predict high inflation and defaults for the US

The two Harvard professors who made themselves famous, and then infamous, are at it again, now predicting that America will soon be forced to

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“Saudi Texas” is changing the world’s economic and political landscape

The virtual explosion in Texas’ production of natural gas and oil, thanks to fracking, caught even Citigroup off-guard. In February it apologized for so widely missing the mark in its report the previous year entitled “Energy 2020: Independence Day”:

Momentum toward North American energy independence accelerated last year [2012] well beyond the wildest dreams of any analyst and

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The Implosion of the Social Security Disability Ponzi Scheme Accelerates

Fresh data just released by the trustees of the Social Security Administration show that the number of people receiving benefits from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund has exploded over the last five years, reducing the surplus in that fund from $216 billion in 2008 to just over $100 billion in 2013. There were 7.4 million recipients in January 2009, but as of October 2013, there are nearly 9 million beneficiaries, not including

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Staff Report from the IMF Blames the European Union for Mishandling the Greek Crisis

The report from the International Monetary Fund is remarkable in its candor: efforts to bail out Greece were fumbled as the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank all tried to promote their own agendas with little regard for the lowly Greek citizen.

Happily the disclaimer appeared on the front page:

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Austerity is impending the economy, say the Keynesians

Two writers at The New York Times have embraced the fallacy that cutting government spending is keeping the economy from growing. It is Keynesian claptrap.

Let’s let them rant a little before responding:

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Flight Delays Increasing as FAA Announces Sequester Furloughs

Last Sunday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it was being forced to furlough its traffic controllers because of cuts to its budget forced by the “sequestration” that began last month. Delays at major airports of 90 minutes and longer were being reported late Sunday night and were spreading into Monday

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Moody’s Downgrades Britain’s Credit, Expects Little Improvement for Years

Last Friday Moody’s Investors Service announced its downgrade of the United Kingdom’s government bond ratings by one notch, from AAA to Aa1, a move that was anticipated a year ago when the credit rating agency moved its rating on UK bonds from

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Calvin Coolidge: the Man Nobody Knows

Thanks to a remarkable essay by a remarkable historian, the story of Calvin Coolidge is just now getting some attention and appreciation. Known as Silent Cal , historians have largely ignored him because he wasn’t a

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What the US can learn from Latvia. Latvia?

What makes this report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) so remarkable is its source. According to the IMF’s own website,

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 188 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

The reality is vastly different. The IMF is the agent, along with the World Bank, that drives impoverishment in those 188 countries. Here’s what Anthony Wile says about this tag-team:

The World Bank and the IMF work hand in hand. The World Bank loans money to corrupt governments that loot or squander the funds and then the IMF comes in and insists on an “austerity program” of higher taxes and lower government spending to ensure the loans are paid back.

When a country like Latvia successfully resists the temptation of easy money offered by the IMF and decides instead to the do right, proper and prudent thing, the IMF would be the last place one would find an article praising such a decision, and the natural flow of prosperity that results. Here’s the opening paragraph from the IMF:

Latvia’s economy continues to recover strongly. Following real GDP growth of 5.5 percent in 2011, growth is expected to exceed 5 percent again this year despite recession in the euro area. Labor market conditions are improving. The unemployment rate fell from 16.3 percent at the beginning of the year to 13.5 percent at the end of the third quarter, despite an increase in participation rates. Real wage growth remains restrained. Consumer price inflation has declined sharply, easing to 1.6 percent at end-October after peaking at 4¾ percent in mid-2011. Robust export growth is expected to keep the current account deficit at about 2 percent despite recovering import demand.

Reading between the lines, the IMF is saying that Latvia would be much worse off if they had followed the IMF’s lead in “solving” their financial problems. This is how Anders Aslund, writing for the Peterson Institute for International Economics, put it:

Remember that in 2008–09, Latvia lost 24 percent of its GDP. It was heading toward a budget deficit of 19 percent of GDP in 2009 without a program of radical austerity. But the Latvian government did undertake austerity, and the last two years’ success shows the merits of that policy…

The going does not get much better than this. Latvia will have the highest growth rate and one of the smallest budget deficits in Europe this year, probably 5.3 percent, along with low inflation and wonderful export expansion. The only shortcoming is the still high unemployment rate, but unemployment is a lagging indicator and it is falling sharply.

Here’s how they did it:

The government told people how bad the situation was, and the various social partners responded by signing up to a truly radical austerity program. One-third of the civil servants were laid off; half the state agencies were closed, which prompted deregulation; the average public wage was cut by 26 percent in one year…

Top officials were hit … with 35 percent in wage cuts … [and] public servants were no longer allowed to sit on state corporate boards and earn more than from their salaries, a malpractice that is still common in many European countries. The government exposed high-level corruption.

Is there a lesson here for us?

Tax Hikes Austerity vs. Spending Cuts Austerity

Europe Simulator

Europe Simulator (Photo credit: wigu)

Dan Mitchell of Cato nails it: if austerity measures are applied to the private sector, the economy goes into the dumper. If austerity is applied to government spending, the economy revives. He is getting support for his thesis not only from simply looking at the slowdown in Europe (with some notable exceptions), but from Matthew Melchiorre from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who said:

The looming fiscal cliff, with four times more tax increases than spending cuts, would reduce growth, not debt. Tax-heavy European austerity plans have failed. We must cut public spending to prosper.

The folly of “austerity” composed mainly of tax hikes with less in the way of spending reductions has driven the economies of the Old World into the ground. We’re next…

He looks at the European countries that are implementing austerity through tax increases rather than

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Spain’s Catalonia Region Demands Independence

Draft of New Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia...

Draft of New Statute of Autonomy for Catalonia of 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every September 11 the people of Catalonia, an independent region in northeast Spain, celebrate their “national day” — Diada — by taking the day off and parading through the streets of Barcelona. In past years the celebration was a festival used by some citizens as an excuse to get some fresh air, make some noise, and have some fun. This year, nearly one-quarter of the region’s seven million citizens used the celebration as an excuse to swarm into Barcelona to protest Spain’s austerity measures, which have raised unemployment in Catalonia — referred to locally as Catalan — to nearly 25 percent.

The immensity of the crowd far exceeded expectations so that parade routes had to be adjusted and parking places found for the more than 1,000 buses chartered to bring Catalans into the city. Most revelers were waving flags that said, “Catalonia: a new European state.” Said Alfred Bosch, a member of the Catalonian government:

All the flags I can see are the pro-independence flags of Catalonia with the lonely star right in the middle of the triangle.

And everybody is wearing these flags. I have never seen so many pro-independence flags in my all life.

Catalonia is a largely autonomous region of Spain with about 15 percent of the country’s population; it generates about 20 percent of Spain’s gross domestic product. It also pays more in taxes to Madrid than it receives in benefits. The fact that Spain levies taxes on Catalans and then sends only some of the money back to the region is galling, especially to those who

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Bailout of Spain Just a “Credit Line,” Says New Prime Minister

Mariano Rajoy

Following another last-minute late-weekend meeting of European Finance Ministers, Spain’s new Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy happily announced that not only was his country going to get more bailout funds than it needs, it’s coming without any strings attached. This is because, according to Rajoy, the new measures instituted since the victory of his People’s Party last November have been so effective in bringing common sense and prudent behavior back to the country’s financial markets. Those “radical” fiscal, labor-market, and financial-sector reforms that were instituted were the key, he said, adding,

If we hadn’t done this in these past five months, what was put forward [on Sunday] would have been a bailout of the Kingdom of Spain. Because we had been doing our homework for five months, what did happen…what was agreed, was the opening of a line of credit for our financial system.

There is no conditionality of any kind.

According to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Spain needed at least $50 billion to rescue and recapitalize its banks. But the Finance Ministers decided to up the ante significantly, to $125 billion, just to be safe. Said Olli Rehn, the European Union’s top economist, “This is a very clear signal to the markets, to the public, that the Eurozone is ready to take determined action.” He added, “We deliberately wanted to ensure there is some additional safety margin…. This is preemptive action.”

What Rajoy failed to mention is that there are most certainly strings attached, and when

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Eurozone Teetering on the Edge of Recession

The economic growth of Portugal, Italy, Irelan...

With economists predicting the start of an official recession in Europe, the latest numbers from the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, show that the recession hasn’t been confirmed, at least not yet.

Without Germany’s slightly better economic performance in the first quarter, however, the recession would be official. Two quarters of “negative growth”—or rather shrinkage—is the usual definition of a recession, and it appears that the official declaration will have to wait until July. Germany was expected to grow at a paltry annualized rate of 0.1%—barely perceptible—but instead grew by a modest 0.5% in the first quarter, which followed a 0.3% contraction in the last quarter of last year. Some economists had the audacity to call this a “strong economic performance” by Europe’s powerhouse, but a closer look at the real numbers reveals how close a call it was and that it’s just a matter of time before the economists finally recognize the reality that

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French Elections: Austerity, No! More Spending, Yes!

François Hollande à Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire

By a three-point margin, French citizens replaced President Nicolas Sarkozy with the Socialist and Radical Left Party candidate, Francois Hollande. Hollande, a former mayor of Tulle (pop. 15,000) and then president of Correze (pop. 242,000), beat Sarkozy 51.9% to 48.1%, resulting in the first Socialist president of France since Francois Mitterand left that office in 1995. With Socialist Party majorities in the upper house of parliament and two-thirds of all French towns, a win by the party in the upcoming June elections in the lower house would give the Socialist Party “more levers of power than ever in its 43-year modern history,” according to NewsMax.com.

With such control, Hollande knows exactly what he is going to do: apply what France is already suffering from, only more so. He wants to spend more money even in the face of the agreement recently signed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to cut spending in order to save the banks and the euro. His campaign slogan, “Austerity is not inevitable,” Hollande is persuaded that he can do the impossible: spend more and balance the budget at the same time. He plans to:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.