Strauss-Kahn and the European Left
Posted: 05/15/11 09:44 PM ET
Robert KuttnerCo-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect
Paris -- The apparent self-destruction of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a New York hotel is emblematic of a European left that has ceased to be much of a progressive alternative, either in terms of lifestyle or policy alternatives. Strauss-Kahn, who until yesterdayheaded the International Monetary Fund, was the Socialist front-runner to challenge French President Nicolas Sarkozy next year. Polls showed that Strauss-Kahn well ahead of both Sarkozy and far right populist Marine Le Pen.
But even before this latest scandal broke, Strauss-Kahn didn't seem like much of a socialist. Last week, the press caught DSK, as the local press calls him, and his wife tooling around in a borrowed $150,000 Porsche, which reinforced his image as wealthy playboy. In 2008, Strauss-Kahn barely survived a widely publicized affair with one of his IMF employees, and in the wake of the New York incident, another woman has stepped forward claiming a rape in 2002.
Cynics here have argued that the wily Sarkozy promoted his likely rival for the IMF post to increase the chances that the imperious Strauss-Kahn would commit some highly visible and politically fatal act. For demolishing the Socialists' claim to speak for the common Frenchman and woman, it's hard to beat an accusation of the entitled Socialist standard bearer orally raping a chambermaid in a $3,000 luxury hotel room and then trying to skip town. moreOf course, Strauss-Kahn doing a "perp walk" is not going to slow the business of the IMF. No sireee!
Europe braced for fresh plea from Greece amid pressure to stabilise euro
Finance ministers agree €78bn for Portugal at meeting overshadowed by absence of IMF head Strauss-Kahn
guardian.co.uk, Monday 16 May 2011 18.26 BST
European governments are wrestling with the prospect of a fresh bailout for Greece a year after they committed €110bn (£125bn) to Athens, under pressure from Washington and Beijing to calm the markets and stabilise the euro.
The meeting of the 17 finance ministers of the eurozone was overshadowed by the absence of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and French presidential hopeful, who is facing sexual assault charges in New York. Strauss-Kahn has been a key player in the Greek drama and had been due to attend the first-night dinner in Brussels.
The ministers – along with the 10 EU finance ministers from outside the single currency, including chancellor George Osborne – agreed on a €78bn bailout for Portugal, the third rescue of a eurozone country in a year. They also signed off on the permanent eurozone bailout fund, the European stability mechanism, which is to shore up the currency from 2013. They were expected to agree that Mario Draghi of Italy be appointed the next head of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.
With governments reeling from French socialist Strauss-Kahn's arrest on charges of attempted rape, the meeting in Brussels was also the first chance for ministers to discuss who would be the next head of the IMF in Washington; the post is traditionally held by a European. moreIt doesn't really matter much what the big banksters decide because they are being swamped by the reality of debt based on geometric assumptions. Anyone who stayed awake in junior high math knows their efforts are doomed. Debts than cannot be paid will not be paid.
Greece Reality Check
Euro Crisis Worsens as EU Leaders Play for Time
By SPIEGEL Staff 05/16/2011
Europe's leaders are still opposing a Greek debt restructuring, and they are exacerbating the euro crisis as a result. The Greek economy is at risk of collapse and resistance to further loans for the troubled nation is mounting. The continent urgently needs a new bailout plan.
The formal act was quickly settled, but German Finance Minister had no time to celebrate. The members of the budget committee in the German parliament, the Bundestag, had hardly given their blessing to billions in new aid for ailing Portugal last Wednesday before parliamentarians were drilling the finance minister with questions about the next troublespot -- Greece.
The lawmakers wanted to know more about the secret meeting held the previous Friday, which had been reported by SPIEGEL ONLINE and which top European politicians were still denying as their limousines were pulling up to the Château de Senningen in Luxembourg. Was it true that Greece needs billions more in financial assistance?
More importantly, the parliamentarians wanted Schäuble to elaborate on reports that Greece is insolvent and that the government in Athens has already considered withdrawing from the monetary union.
In his lengthy response to their questions, the minister denied the reports, explained the turf battles during the negotiations in Brussels and asked the parliamentarians to remain patient until an international panel of experts had thoroughly assessed the situation in the country. "For now, we're going to wait until the results of the report are out in July. Then we'll see what happens next."
As they play down the issue, try to appease critics and play for time, Germany's finance minister and his European counterparts are determined to keep on denying reality in the struggle to rescue the common currency.
More than a year ago, they created a €110 billion ($157 billion) bailout fund for Greece. Since then, however, the likelihood of a government bankruptcy has only increased. The country's mountain of debts is growing, the economy is at risk of collapsing and the promised austerity programs are not progressing as planned. moreNot every country in Europe is being destroyed by the banksters. Russia managed to escape their clutches and is now merely an interested spectator.
Europe’s debt woes roll on as Russia players look on
Published: 17 May, 2011, 14:14
With Europe mulling over whether to revise their Greek bailout package, or come up with a new one, just days after they approved on for Portugal, more commentators are wondering what the ultimate game plan is.
The overt problem children of the Eurozone are Greece, Ireland and now Portugal. The response every time has been a bailout – 110 billion euro for Greece in May 2010, 85 billion euro for Ireland in November 201, and now a further 78 billion euro for Portugal. Every time the bailout has been deemed a better alternative than restructuring. They may have averted restructuring but they have done little to generate any likelihood of growth in those nations, or attendant capacity to repay the loans involved in bailing them out, and have come at considerable social cost.
But the problem with them is that they may not actually bring the nations receiving them into a position where they could manage their debts, according to BCS analyst, Valery Dmitriev.
“Ireland could probably square away its debt burden troubles. But that is not the case with Greece assuming that further agreed financial injection will lead to record high debt to GDP levels. Athens could not be compared to Washington DC in this case, where social sector remains secured in terms of robust government regulations. We have already seen emerge of unrest and numerous local strikes opposing government regulations in Euro zone.“
InvestCafe analyst Anna Bodrova says the Greek bailout is likely to see further funding needed, warning of the remaining potential for contagion, with Spain, despite having made further progress in reducing its government debt, and being a much larger economy than Portugal, not out of danger with its very depressed housing market meaning that many of its financial institutions could still pose a significant national risk.
“Portugal will hardly be the last country for Europe to save – at the present moment Spain also experiences difficulties and one cannot exclude that Greece will need extra money. Currently it is doubtful that Greece will be able to service its debt – so there is high possibility that it will need a bit more than 110 billion Euro. Greek debt problems are a heavy load to bear for the European economy and in case of the most pessimistic scenario – a potential default – European banks will meet losses for more than 35 billion euro. Current situation in Europe is still neutral for Russia in spite of the solid share of Euro currency in international reserves.” moreWatching the banksters trying to save their moric system would be damn fine sport except for one thing--their victims are suffering badly. I am certain there is often talk of revolutions.
In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent
By Anthony Faiola, Published: May 13
Athens — Already struggling to avoid a debt default that could seal Greece’s fate as a financial pariah, this Mediterranean nation is also scrambling to contain another threat — a breakdown in the rule of law.
Thousands have joined an “I Won’t Pay” movement, refusing to cover highway tolls, bus fares, even fees at public hospitals. To block a landfill project, an entire town south of Athens has risen up against the government, burning earth-moving equipment and destroying part of a main access road.
The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.
Perhaps most alarming, analysts here say, has been the resurgence of an anarchist movement, one with a long history in Europe. While militants have been disrupting life in Greece for years, authorities say that anger against the government has now given rise to dozens of new “amateur anarchist” groups, whose tactics include planting of gas canisters in mailboxes and destroying bank ATMs.
Some attacks have gone further, heightening concerns about a return to the kind of left-wing violence that plagued parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. After urban guerrillas mailed explosive parcels to European leaders and detonated a powerful bomb last year in front of an Athens courthouse, authorities here have staged a series of raids, arresting dozens and yielding caches of machine guns, grenades and bomb-making materials.
The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde. Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks.
“Many of these are just a few frustrated high school students with a Web site,” said Mary Bossi, one of Greece’s leading terrorism experts. “But as we continue to see, others have the potential to be dangerous.”
Not ready for austerity
The rolling back of social safety nets in Europe began more than a year ago, as countries from Britain to France to Greece moved to cut social benefits and slash public payrolls, to address mounting public debt. At least in the short term, the cuts have held back economic growth and job creation, exacerbating the social pain.
And Greece is not the only place in which segments of society are pushing back.
Though unions and political movements have always used tough tactics in Europe, observers are particularly noting a surge in lower-grade militancy among a “lost generation” of young Europeans who have come of age in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. For most — like the Italian students who draped the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Rome’s Coliseum in anti-austerity slogans last November — protests have become a cathartic outlet to express genuine discontent. For others, they have become an invitation for more radical acts.
In Britain, for instance, 10 activists formed the UK Uncut group in a North London pub late last year, spawning a national wave of civil disobedience against spending cuts, bankers’ bonuses and tax evasion by the rich. During a March protest, they used Twitter and text messages to organize a “flash mob” that saw hundreds occupy and vandalize London’s famous Fortnum & Mason’s food store. In recent months, other actions have forced at least 100 bank branches across Britain to temporarily close.
Last week, officials in the western city of Bristol said they uncovered a plot by violent demonstrators to throw Molotov cocktails at a supermarket and arrested 30 protesters after a pitched battle with riot police.
“There is a sense of general injustice, that the government bailed out capitalism and the citizens are footing the bill while the capitalist system is running like nothing ever happened,” said Bart Cammaerts, an expert in anarchist movements at the London School of Economics. “And yet, things have happened. There are more taxes, less services, and anger is emerging from that tension.” more