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Parchment in the Fire: Unions incensed after ‘surreal’ meeting – English – ANSA.it

Unions incensed after ‘surreal’ meeting – English – ANSA.it.

(ANSA) – Rome, October 27 – The leaders of Italy’s four main labor union federations were incensed Monday after a meeting with government ministers, ostensibly to discuss the government’s proposed 2015 budget, turned out to be what they said was a one-sided exercise. The government sent its labor, economy, and civil service ministers to the table without a mandate to negotiate, respond, or even schedule further meetings, the union leaders said. “They had no mandate to debate anything with us,” said CGIL chief Susanna Camusso. “This government does not intend (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Will The Juncker Commission Continue To Entrench Neoliberal Policies?

Will The Juncker Commission Continue To Entrench Neoliberal Policies?.

A few days ago, the designated European Commission finally showed its true colours: It wants to make sure that its economic policy recommendations become enforceable. Deregulation of rent setting systems, adjusting the retirement age to account for life expectancy and increased flexibility in wage-setting mechanisms were mere recommendations in 2014. That is supposed to change now. Its instruments are the competitiveness pacts 2.0 and a separate budget for the Euro area, even though there is no legal basis for such a measure. A decision is going to be made at (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: John Weeks: The EU Recovery That Never Was

John Weeks: The EU Recovery That Never Was.

Economic recovery in the Eurozone is not delayed. It is non-existent. The Financial Times for the first day of October carried several articles assessing the European economies, written as if a prize would go to the most pessimistic — stagnation and decline of EU manufacturing, the European Central Bank initiates asset purchases to prevent deflation from sweeping the continent, France and Italy sure to miss their fiscal targets, and the head of the IMF warns of global economic “mediocrity”. And, as the comics say, that’s the good news.

The (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Renzi budget has business ‘dreaming’ and unions worried – English – ANSA.it

Renzi budget has business ‘dreaming’ and unions worried – English – ANSA.it.

CGIL and FIOM metalworkers rally for jobs Redazione ANSA Rome

14 October 2014

(ANSA) – Rome, October 14 – Italy’s employers on Tuesday hailed Premier Matteo Renzi’s forthcoming 2015 budget bill as a dream come true while Italy’s largest CGIL labor federation slammed it as a recessive move that does not do enough for workers. The 30-billion-euro budget featuring 18 billion euros in tax cuts aims to kick-start the Italian economy, which is now its third recession in six years. It goes to the cabinet for ratification (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Germany needs ‘small miracle’ to avoid recession after exports fall by 5.8% | Business | The Guardian

Germany needs ‘small miracle’ to avoid recession after exports fall by 5.8% | Business | The Guardian.

 

The fall in exports comes as sanctions between Russia and Europe and a flagging economy in the wider eurozone take their toll on Germany. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

German exports suffered the biggest monthly fall in more than five and a half years in August, leaving Europe’s largest economy in need of “a small miracle” to avoid recession in the third quarter.

Exports fell by 5.8% compared with July to €92.6bn (£72.8bn). The decrease is the latest sign of (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Five charts that show Germany is heading into recession | Business | theguardian.com

Five charts that show Germany is heading into recession | Business | theguardian.com.

 

Germany is on brink of recession Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Germany is on the brink of recession. Recovery in Europe’s powerhouse went into reverse in the second quarter when the economy shrank by 0.2%.

All the evidence suggests the weakness persisted in the third quarter amid tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine and a flagging recovery in the eurozone economy.

Here are five charts underpinning expectations of a fresh German recession.

Germany’s trade position is deteriorating

German exports fell by 5. (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Austerity has been an utter disaster for the eurozone | Business | The Guardian

Austerity has been an utter disaster for the eurozone | Business | The Guardian.

 

Austerity has been an utter and unmitigated disaster, which has become increasingly apparent as European Union economies once again face stagnation, if not a triple-dip recession. Photograph: Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

“If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the theory,” goes the old adage. But too often it is easier to keep the theory and change the facts – or so German chancellor Angela Merkel and other pro-austerity European leaders appear to believe. Though facts keep staring them in the face, they continue to deny (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear | World news | The Guardian

Spain prepares for an autumn of discontent by buying €1bn of riot gear | World news | The Guardian.

The Spanish government is readying itself for an autumn of discontent, spending nearly €1bn on riot gear for police units as disparate protest groups prepare a string of demonstrations.

Since June, the interior ministry has tendered four contracts to purchase riot equipment ranging from shields to stab vests. The ministry also finalised its purchase of a new truck-mounted water cannon, an anti-riot measure used during Spain‘s dictatorship and the transition to democracy but little seen in recent years. Despite attempts (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Eurozone fears of stagnation grow as France and Italy suffer | World news | The Observer

Eurozone fears of stagnation grow as France and Italy suffer | World news | The Observer.

 

Francois Hollande and Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, at a ceremony on 25 August marking the 70th anniversary of liberation. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

François Hollande removed his government’s leading anti-German, anti-austerity leftwinger last week. By the following day the French president had already co-opted part of the message of the departed disloyal firebrand, Arnaud Montebourg.

As France’s ambassadors from around the world converged on Paris for their annual presidential pep talk, Hollande launched a fresh broadside against Berlin and Brussels. He called for (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Why Italy’s stagnation could be the future for the entire eurozone | Riccardo Bellofiore | Comment is free | theguardian.com

Why Italy’s stagnation could be the future for the entire eurozone | Riccardo Bellofiore | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

This summer Italy fell into a triple-dip recession. After the 2008/09 collapse, the economy stagnated, heading back into recession during 2011 and never really recovering. The philosophy of Giulio Tremonti, who was the economic minister at the time, was to wait and see, until speculation killed Berlusconi’s government. Prime ministers Mario Monti and Enrico Letta followed Brussels’ self-defeating diktat for fiscal rigour, but even with moderate deficits the public debt/GDP ratio soared.

The situation remained under control only (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: An austerity revolt has broken the French government. Will the EU follow? | John Palmer | Comment is free | theguardian.com

An austerity revolt has broken the French government. Will the EU follow? | John Palmer | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

If there were any lingering doubts about the seriousness of the crisis hanging over the future of the euro – and potentially of the European Union itself – the shock announcement of the dissolution of the French government should remove them.

The tensions within the French socialist government have been building up for months as the economy has threatened to “double dip”. But it has been public criticism by the French economy minister, Arnaud Montebourg, of Paris’s compliance (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Merkel seeks Spanish support for unpopular austerity measures | In English | EL PAÍS

Merkel seeks Spanish support for unpopular austerity measures | In English | EL PAÍS.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Spain on Sunday for a two-day trip aimed at securing Spanish support for her austerity policies, now under fire in the European Union.

In return, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is seeking Merkel’s help to place two of his officials in top European positions. Specifically, Rajoy wants former agriculture minister Miguel Arias Cañete to receive a relevant economic portfolio, and current economy minister Luis de Guindos to head the Eurogroup, or gathering of European finance chiefs.

Merkel is currently under (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: EU Advisors Advocate use of Military Against Strikes and Protests | Global Research

EU Advisors Advocate use of Military Against Strikes and Protests | Global Research.

 

Experts at a European Union (EU) think-tank are demanding that the EU prepare to put down strikes and protests with military force. Due to the deepening social inequality in a globalised economy and growing military conflicts within the EU’s borders, such outbursts will inevitably increase.

In the study by the European Union Institute for Security Studies, the authors bluntly state that in the face of these developments, the army will have to be used increasingly for policing duties to protect the rich from the anger of (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Upstart party Podemos emerging as third political power, says new poll | In English | EL PAÍS

Upstart party Podemos emerging as third political power, says new poll | In English | EL PAÍS.

New party Podemos has taken a further step toward becoming the third power on the Spanish political scene, according to the latest opinion poll from the Center for Sociological Research (CIS). The group – which was the surprise success of the recent European elections, winning five seats thanks to 1.2 million votes – received support from 15.3% of those polled. That’s compared to 30% of voter support for the governing Popular Party, and 21.2% for the main opposition Socialist Party (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Youth unemployment reaches record high – English – ANSA.it

Youth unemployment reaches record high – English – ANSA.it.

(ANSA) – Rome, July 31 – Unemployment among young Italians climbed last month to 43.7%, a level not seen in 37 years, according to statistics Thursday that presented further evidence of the continuing weakness in the country’s lackluster economy.

The jobless rate among Italians aged 15 to 24 rose from a revised 43.1% in May, said national statistical agency Istat, adding that June’s level of 43.7% was the highest since it began keeping quarterly jobs statistics in 1977.

“The economic situation is less than favourable,” said Economy (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Social movements in Spain – 15M

Social movements in Spain – 15M.

From Revolution News

Many things have changed and we need to know how to read reality and celebrate our triumphs. The emergence of the 15M movement did not result in an organisation which currently has a significant number of members. The 15M movement is a social movement. This means, it has served as a catalyst for “moving” social collectives, associations, non-mobilized people, initiatives… and in this sense it still exists today, as another step in the spiral of social reactivation. It radically changed the country’s political climate. The most visible consequences have been the (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Beyond the European elections, another left-wing force is growing in Europe | Red Pepper

Beyond the European elections, another left-wing force is growing in Europe | Red Pepper.

Pascoe Sabido

However you interpret them, the European elections have challenged the mainstream’s business-as-usual way of doing politics in Brussels. But while many commentators ignore progress on the left, focusing exclusively on the rise of the far right, another left-wing force was making its voice heard the week before people cast their votes. Not through the ballot box, but on the streets, in protest against the neoliberal austerity policies being forced on Europe’s population from above. In Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Athens and elsewhere, including here (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: It’s Time To Stand Up To Troika Austerity Part II

It’s Time To Stand Up To Troika Austerity Part II.

Thomas Fazi

In the first part of this article I looked at the mounting evidence against austerity by organisations as varied as Caritas, the ILO, the Council of Europe and the IMF. So why is the European establishment pushing for more of the same?

Social and economic misery and despair, growing inequality, dwindling public services, loss of hope and ballooning debts: this is austerity’s scorched-earth legacy. And yet, in a telling demonstration of the extent of their dangerous ideological fanaticism, Europe’s austerity zealots insist that Europe needs ‘more austerity’.

Take (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Thomas Fazi: It’s Time To Stand Up To Troika Austerity Part I

Thomas Fazi: It’s Time To Stand Up To Troika Austerity Part I.

In my book, The Battle for Europe: How an Elite Hijacked a Continent – and How We Can Take It Back, published some months ago by Pluto Press, I argued that the austerity policies imposed on European member states (especially those of the periphery) by the Berlin-Brussels-Frankfurt ‘axis of rigour’ and by the troika were not only proving to be a colossal failure even by mainstream economic standards, but would also lead to – and in some cases were already leading to – nothing less than a (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Leader in Austerity Push Appointed Head of Greek Central Bank – NYTimes.com

Leader in Austerity Push Appointed Head of Greek Central Bank – NYTimes.com.

By NIKI KITSANTONISJUNE 11, 2014

The announcement on Wednesday, by the General Council of the Bank of Greece, followed a sweeping cabinet shuffle on Monday that installed Gikas Hardouvelis, another economist and former government adviser, as Greece’s new finance minister. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras overhauled his government to give it new momentum after a weak showing in European Parliament elections last month.

Although Mr. Stournaras, 57, was widely credited with guiding Greece’s return to international bond markets in April and paving the way for crucial debt (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Greece Wars With Courts Over Ways to Slash Budget – NYTimes.com

Greece Wars With Courts Over Ways to Slash Budget – NYTimes.com.

ATHENS — The Greek government has made a range of painful cuts to salaries, pensions and jobs for public workers over the last four years, saying they were needed to satisfy the demands of the international creditors that bailed the country out. But the Greeks hurt by those steps, and the nation’s courts, have a different idea.

Steadily, citizens groups — including police officers, university professors, cleaning workers and judges themselves — have challenged the cuts as illegal or unconstitutional. And in case after case, Greek courts have (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Capital, Labour, and the Eurozone Crisis

Most of the coverage regarding the Eurozone crisis has understandably focused on the politics of austerity. Less attention, however, has been paid to the longer term trends in the industrial relations of those countries hardest hit by the crisis: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain; the so-called PIIGS countries.

Recent data from the European Industrial Relations Observatory reveals some interesting trends in the relationship between capital and labour in the context of the Eurozone crisis. More specifically, it reveals a trend towards declining labour costs and rising labour productivity, meaning that the so-called ‘recovery’ is being constructed by squeezing workers, (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: Portugal indebted to Angola after economic reversal of fortune | World news | Guardian Weekly

Portugal indebted to Angola after economic reversal of fortune | World news | Guardian Weekly.

There was no doubt about the firm handshake, but the smile looked a bit forced. The date was 17 November 2011, the place Luanda. Pedro Passos Coelho, the Portuguese premier, had just completed talks with the president of Angola, José Eduardo dos Santos, sealing an agreement that was both a boon for Portugal and deeply humiliating.

 

Six months earlier, Portugal, verging on bankruptcy, received a €78bn ($100bn) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange Lisbon agreed (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: After The Elections The Real Battle For Europe Begins

After The Elections The Real Battle For Europe Begins.

by Thomas Fazi

Taking stock of the results of the recent European elections is not an easy task. Many commentators have described the outcome as an ‘earthquake’, citing the surge in ‘anti-establishment’ parties, with voters supposedly lured by two ‘extremes’: the ultra-right and the extreme left. But this is a gross simplification of reality. As the Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis put to me in a recent interview, ‘Europeans were not lured by the two extremes. They drifted to one extreme: that of the misanthropic, racist, xenophobic, anti-European right’.

In total, (Read more…)

Parchment in the Fire: The Next Portuguese Revolution | Jacobin

The Next Portuguese Revolution | Jacobin.

By Mark Bergfeld

The poster for this year’s official celebrations of the Portuguese Revolution features a large question mark against a red background. It’s a fitting symbol for an event open to many interpretations. Does Portugal again stand at a crossroads? Or has the revolutionary legacy been co-opted once and for all? Does the poster highlight the revolution’s unfinished business, or put into question the wider gains it made?

The Portuguese Revolution of 1974-5, also known as the Carnation Revolution, was the hottest topic of the post-1968 left. At the time, thousands of international (Read more…)