Bird’s Eye: We start with a closeup on Greece and Spain, then try to look at the overall problem and the proposed solution. (Personal prediction: it won’t work.Countries will pull out of the EU rather than surrender sovereignty.) But Western leaders have less and less power… and that’s when right wing demagogues with simple scapegoating solutions traditionally arise.
Why is unemployment in Spain so unbelievably high? Three reasons. Europe is an utter disaster zone. It’s a banking crisis wrapped in a sovereign debt crisis wrapped in a mystery: How the heck do we unwind all of this?
…. While Germany chugs along with 5.5% joblessness, Spain and Greece are battling unemployment around 20%. This year along, those countries’ jobless rates have put on an additional 2% and 3.5%, respectively. Put another way, Greece already suffers from twice the U.S. unemployment rate and most economic observers think the worst is yet to come.
November 2011 will be remembered as the month when Italy nearly went under as the bond markets targeted its sovereign debt, when the Greek government came perilously close to exiting the euro altogether, and when France, for five decades in the vanguard of European integration, saw its own economic credibility questioned.
The counter-offensive is to be a risky route march to a form of economic and political union; it is likely to be deep, far-reaching and for many, whether on the political left or right, deeply problematic. Brussels officials will exercise unprecedented powers of intervention over national budgets, tax policies, labour markets. The scrutiny may extend even to a country’s schools, universities and courts. Dissent, whether expressed through referendums, elections or the debating chambers of national parliaments, will have only a limited impact. The direction of travel is non-negotiable. For “Europe” – the idea rather than the geographical entity – it is now or never.
* The Only Power World Leaders Have Is To Frustrate Each Other Andrew Rawnsley The Observer
Forbes magazine has just published its annual list of the “World’s Most Powerful People”. At the top of the supposed premier league is Barack Obama, a man so powerful that he can get almost nothing past an obstructive Congress which will not work with him to address America’s huge problems, never mind those of the rest of world. At number two, Forbes places Vladimir Putin, which strikes me as plain wrong…. Russia has long since surrendered to China its status as America’s principal global rival and its economic strength, such as it is, depends riskily on the price of commodities. At number three is Hu Jintao, the president of China. That sounds more like it, because just about everyone buys into the Rise of the East thesis… Only one Brit makes the Forbes list – David Cameron just scrapes into the top 10. This is not the most patriotic observation I have ever made, but 10th most powerful person in the world is probably over-generous to the prime minister of the United Kingdom.
For some onlookers, the G20 was a snapshot which captured the shift in global economic clout from a declining west to an ascendant east and south…. A symbolic visual image was supplied: the French president waiting on his red carpet for a late-running Dr Hu to turn up. Who then brushed off the plea for help. To look like a supplicant is unfortunate; to be a spurned one is humiliating. China does indeed have a bulging wallet thanks to its enormous reserves of foreign exchange…You can see why the Chinese (average income about $5,000 a year) are reluctant to write a cheque to save the Greeks ($28,000 a year) when the Germans ($40,000) don’t want to pony up any more.
* Far Right On Rise In EuropeThe Guardian
The far right is on the rise across Europe as a new generation of young, web-based supporters embrace hardline nationalist and anti-immigrant groups, a study has revealed ahead of a meeting of politicians and academics in Brussels to examine the phenomenon. Research by the British thinktank Demos for the first time examines attitudes among supporters of the far right online. The study reveals a continent-wide spread of hardline nationalist sentiment among the young, mainly men. Deeply cynical about their own governments and the EU, their generalised fear about the future is focused on cultural identity, with immigration – particularly a perceived spread of Islamic influence – a concern.
The report highlights the prevalence of anti-immigrant feeling, especially suspicion of Muslims. “As antisemitism was a unifying factor for far-right parties in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, Islamophobia has become the unifying factor in the early decades of the 21st century,” said Thomas Klau from the European Council on Foreign Relations, who will speak at Monday’s conference.