Monday, May 21, 2012

Are the winds changing?

I have never been inside a meeting such as the G8 Summit but I am pretty sure that they are NOT gatherings of the world's wisest elected leaders who come together to shape policy.  Rather, they are meetings that have been carefully planned and scripted so at the end, everyone walks out of the room on the same page.  So I think it is pretty safe to assume that whoever cooked up the austerity-for-everyone ideas that have played out in the various parliaments and the House of Representatives over the past two years have decided to throw in the towel and try something else.  Call it a well-thought-out policy update or merely bowing to the reality that austerity measures are FAR more troublesome than anything that might gained from their implementation, but it doesn't take a lot of perception to see a big shift.

We all can hope so.  We will know things have changed in USA when official opinion starts beating up on Congressman Ryan for his budget proposals.

G8 Summit 2012: Obama Emphasizes Growth Over Austerity To Tackle World Economic Woes


CAMP DAVID, Md. -- Confronting an economic crisis that threatens them all, President Barack Obama and leaders of other world powers on Saturday declared that their governments must both spark growth and cut the debt that has crippled the European continent and put investors worldwide on edge.

"There's now an emerging consensus that more must be done to promote growth and job creation right now," Obama proclaimed after hosting unprecedented economic talks at Camp David, his secluded and highly secure mountaintop retreat. Seeking a second term amid hard economic times, Obama hailed a debate heading in the direction he likes, with nations now talking of ways to spark their economies instead of just slashing spending.

Yet there were no bold prescriptions at hand. Instead, leaders seemed intent on trying to inspire confidence by agreeing on a broad strategy no matter their differences. With all of them facing their own difficult political realities, they built some sovereign wiggle room into their pledge to take all necessary steps, saying "the right measures are not the same for each of us."

Obama played international host as Europe's debt crisis threatens to drag down the U.S. recovery and his own political future, underscoring the stakes for him in getting allies abroad to rally around some answers.

Much of the new emphasis on government-led growth seemed aimed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who came to the summit as the European leader who had demanded austerity as the most important step toward easing the eurozone's debt crisis. But the election of Socialist Francois Hollande as president of France, and Greek elections that created political chaos in the country were clear rejections of the belt-tightening Merkel represented.

Hollande, a new voice at the table in just his first week on the job, offered Obama a reminder of his own responsibilities to work to expand the economy, "even if he's in an electoral period and who has a Congress that's not necessarily easy to deal with."

Coping with shaky oil markets, the leaders set the stage for a united release of world oil reserves to balance any disruption in world markets when tough new sanctions are imposed on Iran's exports because of its disputed nuclear program. The leaders said they were ready to take "appropriate action" to meet any shortages.

The mere preparation to release oil reserves could help calm markets and ensure that oil prices, which have been dropping, don't climb again and anger consumers as U.S. elections approach. more
Of course, the austerians are backing down for a good reason.  They must fear the rise of pre-revolutionary political parties.  This possibility is showing up in Ireland where Sinn Fein, a party once associated with "terrorist" bombings, stands ready to gain significant political power through the ballot box by campaigning against the various bankster bailouts.

Is middle Ireland ready for Sinn Féin?

By Michael Clifford
Saturday, May 19, 2012

With a team of effective young TDs and disillusionment with the main parties growing, Sinn Féin has risen in the polls. But to have a chance of winning power it needs the support of middle Ireland. Michael Clifford wonders if voters will take a chance on them at the next election

MARY LOU MCDONALD was at it again, hitting the Government where it hurt, dancing like a butterfly, stinging like a bee.

It was leader’s questions in the Dáil. Her chosen subject was politicians’ pay. How, she asked Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, could he justify "runaway, extravagant" levels of pay at a time when the Government was imposing increasing hardship on the public?

She pointed out that Gilmore’s pay had doubled in the last year when he moved from opposition to Government. The swelled ranks of the unemployed "see their politicians, the political classes enjoying lavish salaries and perks of office".

Gilmore earns more than six times the average industrial wage, and two of his special advisers pull in €168,000 and €155,000.

The Tánaiste attempted to bat away the criticism, but McDonald knew she had landed another blow. She knew the vast majority of those reading reports of the exchange would nod in agreement. Despite self-imposed cuts, senior ministers are still raking it in, and the laughable cap that was imposed on advisers’ pay has been broken at will by at least nine of the 15 cabinet members.

Sinn Féin, by contrast, imposes a different kind of cap on its parliamentary members. Each takes home the average industrial wage, with the remainder being surrendered, albeit to the party, rather than the State.

The Dáil exchange was the latest example of how a young coterie of Sinn Féin deputies is leading the opposition. Fianna Fáil has the largest share of seats on the opposition benches, 19 to the Shinners’ 14. But the Soldiers of Destiny are largely neutered. more
Of course, the winds of change may be way too little and way too late.  The big moneychangers have baked some serious problems into the near future.  If Obama and friends hold it together until election day, it will be a damn miracle.

The Non-US Members Of The G8 Should Be Terrified Right Now

Bruce Krasting, My Take On Financial Events | May 20, 2012

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at the G8 summit at Camp David this weekend. The final communiqué from the global big shots talks about keeping Greece in the Euro and a shift away from austerity and a move towards growth oriented policies. Forget the Happy Talk, I want to know what they were really saying.

Obama must be praying for a miracle with the other members of the G8. If we get a “Grexit”, there will be months of turmoil in the global capital markets before the dust settles. The last thing the Big O wants to have is a recession in Europe that infects the USA with lower growth and higher unemployment when Americans are going to the polls in six months. For the same reason, Obama needs Japan to keep QEing and spending money it does not have.

Obama may be a slave to what happens outside of our borders during the period prior to the election, but those same foreign leaders are completely at the mercy of the USA and the next President after the election. It won’t matter what the UK, Germany, France or Japan does with stimulus in their countries; what’s on the table in the USA will overwhelm any of those efforts.

The USA is months (220 days) away from initiating fiscal policies that will trigger a recession in the US that will be at least as severe as that experienced in 2008. With the rest of the world already teetering on recession, America is set to push the global economy right into the tank. The non-US members of the G8 are well aware of these facts. They must be crapping in their pants at the prospects.  more

1 comment:

  1. I also worry about things like this:

    "If President Obama is president again, those problems are still there and we have to solve them. He knows that. We’ve had conversations where he’s told me he’ll go much further than anyone believes he’ll go to solve the entitlement problem if he can get the compromise. And I believe him. I believe he would." --Sen. Tom Coburn.

    It's a second-hand account and not a guarantee of what Obama is planning to do, but its entirely in line with what he tried previously. Basically, Obama wants to gut the social safety net. And "solve the entitlement problem" is conceived only as cuts here--click through to read the full quote. Remember when Obama advocated for even larger cuts than what Congress ended up putting in place? He may prevent the automatic budget cuts baked into the system, but he's aiming for much bigger, lasting cuts to social services. America's not going to get growth under this scenario.

    And all my progressive Facebook friends will be cheering him toward re-election. Amazing.