German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that euro zone members must be prepared to cede control over certain policy domains to European institutions if the bloc is truly to overcome its debt crisis and win back foreign investors.
Speaking at an event hosted by Deutsche Bank in Berlin alongside Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Merkel also defended her approach to the crisis against critics who argue she has put too much emphasis on austerity, saying Europe must find a way to deliver both growth and solid finances.
The comments came two months before European leaders are due to gather in Brussels to discuss moving towards a so-called “fiscal union”.
In a wide-ranging look at the history and present of the barbarous relic, CBC’s Ann-Marie MacDonald has gathered many perspectives (pro and con) on gold. The following documentary moves from historical shipwrecks to Nazi ‘death gold’ and England’s war chest to recent years where widespread economic uncertainty has given the yellow metal a “new lustre in the world of high finance.” Valued for its permanence, beauty and scarcity, people will lie, cheat, steal and kill in the name of gold; and the clip provides color on many of the market manipulations of the last few years. As MacDonald says, whether it’s a few gold coins or gold bars stored in one of the many vaults around the world, many investors are taking a shine to gold. But there’s not a lot of it. It is said that, even melted down, there would not be enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool. Some claim that much of the gold held by the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and Fort Knox is gone – that for every 100 ounces of gold traded, there exists only one ounce of real, physical gold. So, where is the gold – and who really owns it?
As we have vociferously warned since September 2011, and most recently as the Cyprus debacle exploded explained why it is just beginning, Germany’s Council of Economic Experts (or so-called ‘Five Wise Men’) just confirmed a wealth tax is coming. As the Telegraph reports, confirming our expectations, Germany warns that states in trouble must pay more for their own salvation, arguing that there is enough wealth in homes and private assets across the Mediterranean to cover bail-out costs. They further added that targeting deposit-holders is also a mistake, since the “resourceful rich just move their money to banks in northern Europe and avoid paying,” preferring instead taxes on property or other less-mobile assets, “for example, over the next 10 years, the rich should give up a portion of their assets.” As we noted here and here, the differences between mean and median wealth in the peripheral nations suggest that people in the bailed-out countries are often better-off than those in Germany – - “this shows that Germany has been right to take a tough line of euro rescue loans.” However, the implications of a wealth tax – implicitly impacting the pro-euro Southern European uber-rich – raises the specter of EU breakup once again.
Any serious move to a wealth tax could the erode the pro-euro ardour of South Europe’s uber-rich. The ECB bond buying policy has largely rescued the wealthiest strata while the full brunt of EMU austerity has fallen on ordinary people and the unemployed. Continue reading »
In fact – as we’ve noted for 4 years (and here and here) – the banking system is entirely insolvent. And so are most countries. The whole notion of one country bailing out another country is a farce at this point. The whole system is insolvent.
The people of Cyprus first learned about this from a Reuters leak of the working documents for the Eurogroup meeting on Friday.
It is tucked away in clause 29. “Sale of excess gold reserves: The Cypriot authorities have committed to sell the excess amount of gold reserves owned by the Republic. This is estimated to generate one-off revenues to the state of €400m via an extraordinary payout of central bank profits.”
This seemed to catch the central bank by surprise. Officials said they knew nothing about it. So who in fact made this decision?
In an interview conducted for a journalist’s PhD thesis, Germany’s longest-serving postwar chancellor said that he would have lost any popular vote on the euro by an overwhelming majority.
“I knew that I could never win a referendum in Germany,” he said. “We would have lost a referendum on the introduction of the euro. That’s quite clear. I would have lost and by seven to three.”
The interview was conducted by Jens Peter Paul, a German journalist in 2002, the year when the Deutsche Mark was replaced by euro notes and coins, but has only been published now.
In it, Mr Kohl describes adopting the euro as an emblem of the European project, which he said had prevented war on the continent. Born in 1930, Mr Kohl’s politics were shaped by his country’s history in the 1930s and 1940s; his final years in power were focused on promoting European unity.
In the interview, he said: “If a Chancellor is trying to push something through, he must be a man of power. And if he’s smart, he knows when the time is ripe. In one case – the euro – I was like a dictator … The euro is a synonym for Europe. Europe, for the first time, has no more war.”
Mr Kohl justified overcoming the German public’s reluctance to relinquish the Deutsche Mark by saying that democratic politics had to be based on convictions rather than the ebb and flow of elections.
Cyprus didn’t prick the Eurozone bailout bubble, the notion that bank investors who took enormous risks to gain financial rewards would always be made whole by taxpayers. That bubble had been pricked in February. But it was the first time that the international bailout cabal, the Troika, stuck its needle into it—while Germany quietly bailed out all investors in one of its own rotten banks.
The bailout deal was pretty slick; it dodged the Cypriot parliament which had demolished the prior package. Well-honed Eurozone tactics: don’t allow voting to mess up the plans. Uninsured depositors would eat €4.2 billion—much of it Russian money. Junior and senior bondholders would kiss their €1.7 billion goodbye. That even senior debt, albeit only €200 million, was destroyed was a first in Eurozone history. Eurozone taxpayers would pick up the remaining €10 billion—still a lot for such a tiny country, but at least it wouldn’t be pocketed by some hedge funds, or worse apparently, Russian depositors.
What does it take for the Spanish “first amendment” journalistic override to kick in? Apparently, in the case of local media leader El Pais, putting up the following in print: “Merkel, como Hitler, ha declarado la guerra al resto del continente, ahora para garantizarse su espacio vital económico.” For the Spanish-challeneged this translates as follows: “Merkel, like Hitler, has declared war on the rest of the continent now to secure their economic living space.” Ah yes, the touchy verboten topic of German “Lebensraum” – its invocation, and ostensibly the unflattering Merkel comparison (seen so often in Greece) were enough to get the article by Juan Torres López in the Andalusia version of El Pais titled simply enough “Alemania contra Europa” taken down.Is it perhaps because unlike in Greece, where articles like that are a daily occurrence, Spaniards still have something to lose should they also lose the good graces of the German chancellor? Something that is more than one Spiderman towel per depositor in the nation’s just as insolvent banking system, where apparently unlike in Cyprus, the ESM actually does work to preserve liquidity and stability?…
Deposits above 100,000 euros, which under EU law are not guaranteed, will be frozen and used to resolve debts, and Laiki will effectively be shuttered, with thousands of job losses.
The revised bailout plan may not require further parliamentary approval since the idea of a levy was dropped.
The tottering banks hold 68 billion euros in deposits, including 38 billion in accounts of more than 100,000 euros – enormous sums for an island of 1.1 million people which could never sustain such a big financial system on its own.
* Deal to shut Laiki bank, transfer insured deposits
* Clinched hours before Monday deadline to seal EU bailout
* Without deal banks faced collapse, possible euro zone exit
BRUSSELS, March 25 (Reuters) – Cyprus clinched a last-ditch deal with international lenders on Monday for a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout that will shut down its second largest bank and inflict heavy losses on uninsured depositors, including wealthy Russians.
The agreement emerged after fraught negotiations between President Nicos Anastasiades and heads of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – hours before a deadline to avert a collapse of the banking system.