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Accidental Deliberations: On value assessments

The Great Budget Debate at the Progress Summit of course reflected a thorough clash in values. But there was one note of obvious agreement which makes the conservative position untenable once its implications are drawn out.

All four speakers spent plenty of time talking about the fact that some investments are worthwhile, and acknowledging that the role of government includes assessing which ones justify the use of public money. But Monte Solberg in particular neatly demonstrated how anti-government bias undermines any attempt to carry out that task.

Solberg spent plenty of time on the Cons’ usual jurisdictional dodges, arguing at (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- David Vognar argues that we should push for a guaranteed annual income not only as a matter of social equity, but also as a means of building human capital.

- Mike Benusic, Chantel Lutchman, Najib Safieddine and Andrew Pinto make the case for stronger sick leave policies across Canadian workplaces: Canada’s current sick leave policies are not supporting the health of individuals and communities. First, employees are forced to choose between staying home when ill (losing income and potentially placing their job at risk) or to go to work (worsening their health (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON on: A tale of two economies? Making sense of recent US and Canadian labour market data

Louis-Philippe ROCHON

Associate Professor, Laurentian University

Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon

 

With data on the performance of Canada’s labour market released today, many economists and pundits on both sides of the 49th parallel are arguing that what seems to be emerging is two very clear and different paths for the US and Canadian economies. But that interpretation is not exactly correct.

Indeed, the US economy seems to be outperforming expectations, according to labour market data released last week, according to which the labour market is showing continued strong signs of life. In February (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Greece: Phase Two | Jacobin

Very interesting interview with Syriza MP and SOAS Professor of Political Economy Costas Lapavitsas.

Greece: Phase Two | Jacobin.

Much — too much — has been written in a journalistic, superficial vein about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and last month’s negotiations with the European Union. But now that the lines have hardened and are clearer for us all to see, a new situation has opened up.

 

The scenario of Greece leaving the eurozone (“Grexit”) is more frequently and explicitly posed as the only way that Syriza’s government can avoid backtracking on its campaign promises.

 

To discuss this question (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Deficit Déjà Voodoo again in New Brunswick

The Fredericton Daily Gleaner published an op-ed I wrote about how the province doesn’t have a structural deficit, despite the government claiming it does. The commentary piece is behind a pay wall so I’ve copied it below.

Last month, CUPE New Brunswick also published a paper I wrote on this issue, Deficit Déjà Voodoo: is New Brunswick really headed off the fiscal cliff? It and a presentation I gave, another blog post and other background material are also available through this post.

——————————————-

Want to know a secret? There is no structural deficit

By Toby Sanger

The New (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Following up on last week’s column, Frances Ryan laments the UK Conservatives’ choice to inflict needless suffering on anybody receiving public benefits: During seven weeks of undercover work at a universal credit contact centre in Bolton, Channel 4 journalists witnessed a farcical mess of centralised IT failure. But what really stood out were the underhand tactics DWP staff were found to use against claimants: from deliberately withholding hardship payments from people struggling after having their benefits sanctioned, to hiding the flexible fund put in place to pay for clothes or a (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Contesting Capitalism in the Eurozone

In light of the new Syriza government’s difficult struggle against the German dominated institutions of the Eurozone, I’ve revisited a little known book published ten years ago by political scientist Richard Dunphy called Contesting Capitalism? Left Parties and European Integration (Manchester University Press, 2004). In the book, Dunphy charts out the trajectory of the European Far Left’s relationship to European integration. While at the time the book seemed to fly under the radar (this was just before the French and French rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in 2005 and the rapid accession of a number of new member states in (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Deadlier Than Putin’s Missiles. The IMF Pays Ukraine a Visit.

The International Monetary Fund has worked its magic on Ukraine.  The carrot is about $17-billion in bailout funding.  The stick is the market price of natural gas. Soon the democracy-loving Ukrainians will see their gas bills soar nearly threefold.

While Kiev will have to help poorer families pay for pricier gas, the cost of that assistance pales in comparison with what artificially cheap local gas cost the government. The IMFestimated in 2012 that cheap gas cost Ukraine about 5 percent of its prewar GDP per year. Bringing gas tariffs back to something resembling market prices will also curb energy (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Syriza’s Only Choice: A Radical Step Forward | The Bullet No. 1089

Syriza’s Only Choice: A Radical Step Forward | The Bullet No. 1089.

 

1. Introduction

The transitional “bridge Agreement” of the 20th of February is a truce intended by the Greek government and welcomed by the other side (the European “institutions”). Within the truce period (the next four months), the conditions for negotiating the next agreement will be shaped. This could mean that everything is still open. However, that is not true for two reasons. First, the very transitional agreement changes the balance of power. Second, the “hostilities” will continue in the course of the next four months (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: THE EURO, THE DRACHMA AND GREECE: limited options in an impossible situation

Jean-Francois Ponsot

Associate Professor of Economics, Université de Grenoble (France)

and

Louis-Philippe Rochon

Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University (Canada)

Co-Editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

___________________

The final agreement between Greece and the Eurogroup is a disappointment for anyone who held high hopes that Greece would have taken away more than a mere extension to the existing deal.

In the end, Greece gained very little and the continued austerity will do very little to close the growth gap. It is difficult to see anything short of a total capitulation. Perhaps the view Greece could walk out with a victory was (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The rise of Europe’s new Left

The rise of Europe’s new Left.

By Bryan Evans

Filed under: Europe, Socialism Tagged: Austerity, Europe, Eurozone Crisis, Greece, Podemos, Spain, Syriza

The Disaffected Lib: They’ll Nip This in the Bud

It’s enough to give an oligarch chest pain.  Barely a month in power, popular support for the left-wing, anti-austerity government in Greece is soaring.  Syrzia won the January polls with 36% of the votes.  A few weeks later and there’s no sign of buyers’ remorse.  Instead the party’s support has climbed to almost 48%. Not bad for a movement that came out of nowhere just three years ago.

It’s not so much the Greek government digging in its heels on debt repayment and austerity demands that will be infuriating the Euro bankers.  It’s the attitude of the Greek people that (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: European Banks vs. Greek Labour

Filed under: Austerity Tagged: Austerity, Eurozone Crisis, Greece, neoliberalism

Parchment in the Fire: Germany’s sickly economy | Europe’s World

Germany’s sickly economy | Europe’s World.

Filed under: Austerity, Eurozone crisis Tagged: Eurozone Crisis, German Economy, Germany

Political Eh-conomy: Syriza buys four months of breathing room

Belatedly, here is an article I wrote on Greece’s agreement with the Eurozone for Ricochet. It focuses on the next four months with their opportunities and pitfalls. Given that the list of reforms authored by Yanis Varoufakis looks to get the approval of the Eurogroup member states, the article remains relevant, the breathing room actually in place.

Assuming its plan of reforms is accepted by the Eurogroup on Monday, Greece’s Syriza government has gained four months of breathing room — albeit in the same stuffy space, already full of the nauseating fumes of austerity, the window barely cracked.

No one was humiliated in (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Varoufakis Keeps Greece in the Eurozone, by its Fingernails  » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Varoufakis Keeps Greece in the Eurozone, by its Fingernails » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

Mike Whitney

It’s not easy to negotiate with a gun to your head. Nevertheless, that’s the situation Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis found himself in on Friday preceding a crucial meeting with the Eurogroup. According to one report, the objective of the last-ditch confab “was to prepare a consensus text that would be the basis for the discussion” with the EU’s finance ministers. That might sound innocent enough, but it doesn’t come close to explaining the real purpose of the meeting which was far more sinister. Check out this blurb from Costas (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Reading The Greek Deal Correctly

Reading The Greek Deal Correctly. James K. Galbraith

On Friday as news of the Brussels deal came through, Germany claimed victory and it is no surprise that most of the working press bought the claim. They have high authorities to quote and to rely on. Thus from London The Independent reported:

several analysts agreed that the results of the talks amounted to a humiliating defeat for Greece.

No details followed, the analysts were unnamed, and their affiliations went unstated – although further down two were quoted and both work for banks. Many similar examples could be given, from both sides (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: How Greece Got Outmaneuvered – The New Yorker

How Greece Got Outmaneuvered – The New Yorker.

By John Cassidy

To the surprise of nobody except a few alarmists, the finance ministers of the European Union reached a deal with Greece on Friday, extending the country’s existing bailout until the early summer. Greece’s new left-wing Syriza government had been telling everyone for weeks that it wouldn’t agree to extend the bailout, and that it wanted a new loan agreement that freed its hands, which marks the deal as a capitulation by Syriza and a victory for Germany and the rest of the E.U. establishment.

Strictly speaking, though, the (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Greek Bailout Extension Deal Represents a “Significant Retreat” by the European Authorities, CEPR Co-Director Says | Press Releases

Greek Bailout Extension Deal Represents a “Significant Retreat” by the European Authorities, CEPR Co-Director Says | Press Releases.

Washington, D.C.- A deal reached between the Greek government and European authorities represents a “significant retreat” by the so-called troika and “shows that their austerity program, which has failed miserably, is no longer politically enforceable,” Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today.

Greek government officials reached a deal with European authorities earlier today to allow bailout funds to be extended to Greece for another four months. As The Guardian and other outlets have reported, the (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Greece deal is first step on the road back to austerity | Business | The Guardian

Philip Inman – The Guardian

The rightwing orthodoxy that dominates thinking in Brussels has asserted itself over the hapless Greeks. A deal that allows the eurozone policymakers, the International Monetary Fund and the government of Athens to keep talking next week is the first stage in a clampdown on anti-austerity sentiment.

Eurozone chiefs strike deal to extend Greek bailout for four months

Read more

That much was clear from the statements coming out of Brussels, not least those from Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s veteran finance minister, who indulged himself with some patronising comments to show where the power lies. “Being in (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Is Syriza Retreating? | Jacobin

Is Syriza Retreating? | Jacobin.

Stathis Kouvelakis

To use a worn-out cliché, “the times are critical.” In fact, they are more than just that: we are at the edge of a crucial temporal sequence. The whole endeavor of a Syriza government will be judged by its reaction to the unprecedented blackmail and ultimatums it is receiving from its tragically misnamed European “partners.”

And the news from the frontline is not pleasant. To be sure, it is very difficult to have a clear view of the current status of the negotiations — “negotiations” being a oxymoron given the (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Podcast: Leo Panitch on Syriza and Greece

https://politicalehconomy.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/podcast150220-leo-panitch.mp3

 

This week I’ve devoted the entire show to discussing the most recent developments in Greece. While there is a great deal of day-to-day drama at the level of the ongoing negotiations between Greece and European institutions, I wanted to take a broader strategic and political look at what the election of Syriza both for Greece and more broadly for the left around the world, including in Canada. To that end, I’m happy to present an extended conversation with Leo Panitch. Leo is professor of political science at York University, author most recently of (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Syriza Holds Its Ground | Jacobin

Syriza Holds Its Ground | Jacobin.

As the media and the Athens stock market (down 4 percent yesterday) had widely expected, yesterday’s finance ministers’ meeting ended in failure, perhaps even a momentous one.

The tone of the Greek government’s official communiqué, which the whole media were quick to pick up on, was very tough indeed: “‘Certain circles’ insistence that the new Greek government implement the Memorandum is absurd and unreasonable. The implementation of the Memorandum program was not on the table at the summit, and those who try to put it back there are wasting their time.”

(Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The pro-worker, pro-growth experiment in Greece is under threat | Senator Bernie Sanders | Comment is free | The Guardian

The pro-worker, pro-growth experiment in Greece is under threat | Senator Bernie Sanders | Comment is free | The Guardian.

While the wealthiest 85 individuals on the planet own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – and when the top 1% will soon own more wealth than the bottom 99% – the people of Greece and the anti-austerity party, Syriza, they elected to lead them are struggling to rebuild their economy so that ordinary people there can live with a shred of dignity and security.

But powerful international interests are putting the pro-growth, pro-worker experiment (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: ROCHON On Greece once More

LOUIS-PHILIPPE ROCHON

Associate Professor, Laurentian University

Co-editor, Review of Keynesian Economics

Follow him on Twitter @Lprochon

________________________

As I have said before (see here) and will say again: any solution to Greek’s tragedy, which involves keeping the Euro as a currency is a second-best solution, unless the appropriate institutional changes are adopted. Anything short of this will simply maintain the Euro straightjacket and perpetuate the policies of deflation. Austerity has proven a disastrous and unsustainable policy that has revealed the weaknesses of the Euro. Indeed, without political union, the Euro remains an incomplete (and illegitimate) currency, and the sooner it (Read more…)