December 10, 2015

Why the European establishment is cannibalising the European establishment

Posted in Irish Independent · 90 comments ·
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In Europe over the past few days, two seismic events have happened which are related but at first glance appear not to be. First, Mario Draghi, the Italian man who, as president of the ECB, controls your money, said that he would keep printing cash for as long at it takes to get prices in Europe to rise. In Europe, prices have been falling or rising very modestly. This is because the economy is weak, unemployment is high and debts are steep.

 

The second event was the huge success of Marine Le Pen’s Front National (FN) in the French regional elections. It won 28pc of the national vote, its best performance yet. Strikingly, Madame Le Pen gained 40pc of the vote in Nord-Pas de Calais. (Hopefully, Ireland will be based in this region for Euro 2016, as it is the region closest to us and the easiest to reach.)

What might French – and by extension European – politics look like by the time the hoards of us arrive with our inflatable leprechauns, sun-burned faces and stretched overdrafts?

If Madame Le Pen manages to maintain this surge in popularity, she will be a major threat to the French establishment in the presidential election in 2017. Quite apart from the issue of immigration and Islam, she appeals to the Frenchman who feels left out, who feels he is going backward, who wants more protection from the state and who feels the rich are getting richer and, as a result, that his stake in the society is under severe threat.

One of the factors driving this insecurity is the fact that the gap between the rich and the poor in France has been rising rapidly since the financial crisis. The top 10pc of real incomes in France increased by 2pc per year during the crisis (compared to an average annual drop of 1pc throughout the OECD), while the incomes of the bottom 10pc decreased by 1pc each year (compared to an average annual decrease of 2pc).

In addition, asset prices in France, such as the stock market and Paris property, have been going through the roof, and guess who owns stocks/property in France? Rich people own assets so they have been getting richer, both in terms of income and wealth.

And this is where the ECB and Mr Draghi come in: the European establishment is undermining the French establishment, to the benefit of Madame Le Pen and the anti-establishment Right.

The ECB has reacted to the crisis by printing money and reducing interest rates to zero. At first this was called Zirp, the zero interest rate policy, then it was called LTRO, then there was the explicit promise to do “whatever it takes to save the euro” and now, it is called quantitative easing. All these are fancy ways of saying they are printing money.

What happens when a central bank prints money? Interest rates fall to zero and this pushes up the value of all companies. The excess liquidity sloshing around the economy looks for a new home because deposit rates are so low that investors don’t want to keep money in the bank. This too creates a demand for other assets, pushing up their prices.

So we get the strange situation where stock prices are rising even though the underlying economy in France is faltering. Over time, all this money printing pushes a wedge between the market value of companies and the actual value of those companies. This can go on as long as the money is being printed.

However, what this does is enrich the people who hold assets such as stocks. But what do you need to buy these assets in the first place? You need wealth. As a result, the already wealthy see the value of what they own go up. In truth, the vale of the most risky asset goes up when interest rates are zero. And who holds risky assets? The rich guy does!

In the meantime, what is happening to the nest egg of the average person?

Normally, the average person tries to put a bit aside every month and usually puts this on deposit in the bank. Because they don’t normally know too much about stocks or bonds and the like, they keep their money there. So they are being penalised for being prudent, while the risk taker is being rewarded for taking a risk.

All this means that both the income and the wealth of the richer person is going up as a direct consequence of the financial engineering orchestrated by the ECB.

What the ECB is hoping for is that the rich guys will feel wealthier, they will spend and some of that spending with “trickle-down” to the average guy. But this, even if it does happen, takes ages and in the meantime all the average guy sees is that the rich guy is getting richer. This makes him feel excluded.

Once people feel excluded, they can become disillusioned with the mainstream and they look for other political solutions. In time, some fall into the arms of Madame Le Pen.

So it is not difficult to see how the policies deployed by the establishment in Frankfurt are undermining the establishment in Paris, as we saw in France’s election on Sunday. The ironic part of all this is that Madame Le Pen sees the ECB as a problem and has vowed that if she wins the presidential election,she will take France out of the euro and return it to the old French franc.

If this were to happen, in the same year that Britain votes on Brexit, the EU is in for a massive crisis and it would have no one to blame but its own institutions. When you follow the money, you can see what is driving the growth wealth and income gaps in France and these are feeding into general discontent.

At the moment, a Le Pen presidential victory is still a long-shot, but you can’t rule it out and 30pc of the electorate is a lot of French people who want change – wherever that change may take them.


  1. Bamboo

    Thanks for the ariticle.
    What happened to the other article David? “Get ready for an avalanche of election giveaways that will put santa to shame” That was also very interesting. Hope you post it again as that promises as lot of feedback.

      • SMOKEY

        Here it is in its entirety,
        Get ready for an avalanche of election giveaways that will put Santa to shame
        Start my course here

        To put it bluntly, the nation is in peril. It’s no exaggeration to conclude that the ground under election platforms appears shakier with each passing week. Our economic history is punctuated by binges of electioneering, plunging the country into a subsequent decade of debt and recession.

        The stream of leaks and titbits of manifestos merely confirm that political leaders are reverting to type. They’re convinced votes are bought on the strength of populist tax cuts and extra spending.
        But they seemed to have lost the plot with the Nanny State so called Public Health Alcohol Bill. Not only will they lose votes over this, but the government has failed once again to read the punters sentiment on all issues concerning health.
        The pint of plain has long been a source of revenue to fill the coffers of the exchequer with outlandish and frankly unnacceptable levels of excise lining the pockets of the corrupt Dail Bar occupants.
        The minimum pricing there wont matter much as most of it is subsidised and they dont pay their bloody tabs anyway, cute hoors says I.
        But Enda does have a plan for the Syrian vote. House them in a little known Hotel called the Clonea Strand in Dungarvan county Waterford. Bums are defacating on the streets of Dublin and Cork, familys sleeping in the backs of their cars because they cant afford accomodation, but this govt kisses the ass of the politically correct EU and says ” We refuse to take care of our own, but we will take in a few thousand iPhone 6 toting refugees” so that they can stay in a Hotel with good wifi coverage near a Gaeltacht.
        You cant make it up. Vote Trump.

        • michaelcoughlan

          Different type of narrative than what McWilliams produces.

          • Weird, either someone hacked David or the missus left the Christmas sherry cabinet unlocked when she went out to do some festive shopping.

            Even the main article is a bit off, he repeats the same points over and over.

            Ah well, even David isn’t perfect. Funny though!

          • Mike Lucey

            True nevertheless except for the ‘bums’. It’s mostly unfortunates with mental problems.

            Any politicos that call to me will be signing there manifesto with a resignation clause on non-delivery. Fat chance of getting signees.

          • SMOKEY

            Ha, well it was a bit of craic anyway. I wish this had spellcheck. It was however a spirit from a sherry cask, does that count Adam?
            As for mental misfortunates, they seem to be the ones in charge by my estimation.

        • Deco

          Enda is obeying the wealthiest element in Western society.

          He is NOT “our” Taoiseach.

          He is a fake who pretends to serve us, whilst serving others (to our detriment).

          We are not a free sovereign society.

          In fact in the Western world, currently there are no sovereign free societies.

      • Cannibalized.

        It was the first time I was the first commentator. Can’t have that now, can we!! :)

  2. Bamboo

    The title is the same but with different content now. Anyway, another interesting article from David.

  3. michaelcoughlan

    “In Europe, prices have been falling or rising very modestly. This is because the economy is weak, unemployment is high and debts are steep.”

    In Europe, prices have been falling or rising very modestly. This is because debts are unsustainable and as a result the economy is weak and getting weaker due to the cannibalisation of the wealth of every single citizen who has no access to zero cost money for gambling in the stock market or on property resulting in higher and higher unemployment.

    “One of the factors driving this insecurity is the fact that the gap between the rich and the poor in France has been rising rapidly since the financial crisis……………………..In addition, asset prices in France, such as the stock market and Paris property, have been going through the roof……………………………So we get the strange situation where stock prices are rising even though the underlying economy in France is faltering”

    This is called biflation.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biflation

    “All these are fancy ways of saying they are printing money”

    Dragging his hole Draghi suffers from the type of madness identified by Einstein defined as; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

    You make no mention David of the extra challenges faced by the ordinary French Citizen who unlike us here in Ireland has not just to contend with all the woefully exploited dirt cheap eastern European Labour but millions of desperate north African immigrants and countless thousands of even more desperate Syrian refugees.

    Suds must be on one year long party at the thought of how all of this human catastrophe will allow him to destroy labour even more comprehensively than every before to help him prevent his derivatives bubble from wreaking the havoc where it should wreak it and that is on the very establishment itself.

    The derivatives bubble snake is eating its own tail and it just reached its colon.

    Michael.

    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      Michael, while I agree with you in general on the “unlike us here in Ireland has not just to contend with all the woefully exploited dirt cheap eastern European Labour”, I am just a bit worried that like in Mr. Trump’s case, focusing on that aspect might deflect our attention from the underlying problems of the Irish economy and Irish Clientelism built into the political system, which is largely responsible for the structure of Irish the economy (this Clientelism is much worse in Poland, but that is due to ignominious deals done with the Commis at the Round Table; deals which resulted with closing the job market for the unconnected young Poles and pushing them abroad).

      What do I mean by that?

      Well, take one thing as a example – Germany and other countries have similar or bigger percentage of immigrants, yet nowhere except for London you will see property prices pushed up so high (a vast apartment with excellent location in Berlin for the price of a dingy room in Dublin a galaxy away from any sorts of jobs).

      So the influx of immigrants cannot be the main factor in that price rip-off, and property prices – combined with other prices (for example public transport in Dublin, while being 50 years behind of the one in Warsaw, is also 5 times more expensive than in Vienna – I am talking about the annual ticket) – make the Irish society poorer than it is on paper.
      It’s a pity that the electorate in Ireland does not exert enough (or any) pressure on TDs during the elections to address that issue, as surely it hits not only immigrants to Ireland, but primarily the young Irish who cannot afford renting or a mortgage.

      Then again, there does not seem to be anyone to vote for on the Irish political landscape (I only voted once, and even that I partly regretted).

      Of course, I agree with you on France. They have mega problem. Without being judgemental, one cannot escape the fact that whatever one can say about Irish immigration politics, letting in people who cannot avail of social welfare (10 new countries) without 2 years of PRSI full contributions is surely a wiser policy than doing the reverse, which is what the French have done – closing the job market while inviting gigantic families to avail of their social welfare system and, to cap it all, placing them into ghettos.

      I do not know if you realise, but there is a growing immigration to Poland from countries like France (French diaspora in Krakow has, if my memory serves me correctly, 30,000 people – and btw, the Irish pushed up property prices over there a lot in boom times, being the second biggest group of investors in property in Krakow after Germans) – not because the job prospects are better in Krakow, but simply because it is way safer to live in Krakow than in Paris (and than in some places in Dublin).

      I am going to post excerpts from an interview with Madame Le Pen (on immigration among other things) I translated for you guys.

      BTW, a propos debt. If you go to any statistics website you will see that the Irish are, since I have been checking, in the top 3 of the most indebted nations on earth – at some stage occupying the first place.

      I cannot fathom h o w c o m e this is not a topic in the elections. I mean talking about a need for benchmarking instead of deleveraging Ireland (the more debt you have the less sovereignty you have as a country, unless you have the US army – and even that won’t help you with debt – President Obama had to reduce it by half, so did France) is like talking about those landscapes in Robert Browning’s poem (pay attention to the last line):

      “Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
      “And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
      “And everything was strange and new;
      “The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
      “And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
      “And honey-bees had lost their stings,
      “And horses were born with eagles’ wings;
      “And just as I became assured
      “My lame foot would be speedily cured”

      I am not being smart with the lack of awareness within the electorate, I am just being sad for the results are so predictable (a loss of sovereignty – I refer to what I wrote about the Prussians forcing loans on naive Poles in 19th century).

      • michaelcoughlan

        Many thanks grzegorz.

        The trouble with the Irish economy is too much debt and it is Admistered by Irish people.

        Michael.

      • joe sod

        Hi Grzegorz you say that irish political system is based on clientelism which is very true. You also say there is no party in ireland that you would vote for, an interesting observation. What in your opinion is missing from the irish system?. In my opinion politics in ireland is not very ideological and there is no right wing party. We basically have centrist and left wing parties. The left wing brands the centrist parties as right wing. The system in my opinion veers towards socialist in that public sector and social welfare payments are high and taxation is less than the eurozone average if you earn under 34000 but rises very quickly above this. The corporation tax is so far right it would make the republicans in the US blush but this is an anomoly there to bring in revenue and jobs and keep the whole show on the road and not there for ideological reasons. We are unlike a socialist country in that our public services are very bad despite the high public wages so the people paying high taxes dont see the benefits in services like in France or Scandinavia. So I think our system even though paying out socialist levels of expenditure cannot deliver a socialist system because of “clientelism” and weak government.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          Joe,

          I think there are two things missing in the Irish political system – one is strictly political, other economic, but it follows from some political decisions being made when the Irish state was created.

          The first thing is that, as you pointed out, that there is no right wing party in the Irish political landscape. But why is that? It is, again with keeping in your observation, because the Irish political system is not driven by ideology, but by history.

          This in long term is in my opinion detriment to shaping a mature political system, based on different socio-economic worldviews rather than family divisions (many Irish I knew voted for, say, SF or FF or FG because their parents voted for them, and so did their grandparents, etc), and if there is no mature political system, all political debates will end up being personality contest and history debates, with no constructive solutions and no lessons learned from that history.

          Something similar can be said about the Polish political system. The Poles, like the Irish, are also driven by family divisions (for example, whether your parents belonged to a party or not and what echelons of the party and whether you are, consequently, a member of a privileged cast with restricted jobs available for you or not – I remember being in big towns passport office where it was clearly stated – I took a photo because it seemed so surreal to me – that one of the conditions to apply for senior receptionist job was to have access to classified documents, which you usually have if you were a communist stitch in the past).

          The funny thing is that historical divisions in Poland are not only related to the post-WWII history, but go back to before WWII (i.e., one of the most heated divisions on the political right in Poland is between the followers of Pilsudski and Dmowski, with their geopolitical concepts of Poland as a multi-culti empire or Poland as a national state).

          The difference between Poland and Ireland is that the new generations of politicians (mainly conservative, but even some on the far left), at least the most clever of them, have gone through readings of classical political authors such as Burke (interesting that Burke was an Irishman, but he has an institute named after him in Poland, not in Ireland – while in Ireland morons are being looked upon with piety, people like James Larkin, who was basically a little whore taking money from everyone from those in the US who wanted to further the interests of the US and German industry at the cost of the British industry (such as Indian rubber producers), then from the Germans and finally from the Soviet Union; or people like James Connolly who basically wanted to introduce Leninism into Ireland which would make Ireland poorer than Syria – it is telling that Larkin’s monument in in the central place while Pearse only has his street – that the same people who describe themselves as the Irish nationalist would laud a foreign spy shows that nothing has been learned), Tocqueville, Bastiat, von Mises, Hayek, Carl Schmitt; but also left wing ideologist like Rawls, etc).

          As a result of those learning slowly and in pains, but still, a normal political scene in Poland is being created, whith classical social-democrats (Civic Platform), conservatives with centrist inclinations (Law and Justice), libertarians (Korwin-Mikke), nationalists, socialists, etc, etc.

          What I see in Ireland is a society which is pre-political – that is a society which on the one hand goes very far in its tolerance and apologizing that it exists (post-colonial legacy) – which translates into seeking acceptances from its masters and Enda Kenny’s famous pat on the head in Brussels I had written in Indo, but on the other hand it is unable to take responsibility for its structural deficiency, explaining everything by the 800 years occupation nonsense, as if Ireland was unique in that (I even met a guy who explained a lack of post-codes by that).

          Now, the second thing is economic, but it harks back to some decisions taken by De Valera.

          What I mean is that we in Ireland have massively competitive corporation sector driven by foreign investment on the one hand, but on the other hand comically uncompetitive domestic sector, both private and public, except maybe for things like pubs.

          This is driving prices up, but sadly it suits more people than they would like to admit (hence the serendipitously good result of FF after their first fuck up and before FG took power.

          One mirage (lessons not learned from the history) leads to another, and we ended with the economy where the healthy growth of the 90s was wasted on the mirage – in 200-2008 the value of Irish assets went up from €222bn to €477bn, but €300bn of that were ridiculously badly built dingy house, only €70bn real assets (and out of that €20bn retail infrastructure).

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            I was going to add, but I clicked on the keyboard to fast, that the cost of maintaining such a system with savage competition in the corporation sector, little competition in the domestic private sector and no competition in the public sector (the reasons we are treated in Victorian hospitals and have public transport a la Warsaw 1981 is because fruits of every growth are wasted on things like benchmarking), the cost of that is that in every generation some Irish, who have no ins and outs in predetermined clientelistic system are forced to emigrate.

          • joe sod

            Thanks for that great reply. That’s a great synopsis so those that are not in on the Irish system end up emigrating. Even though we like to complain about our bad infrastructure there are a lot of people who are “in” on the system and don’t want to change it, even though they won’t admit it. So that’s it in a nutshell, very articulate response, thanks great food for thought grzegorz

          • “Something similar can be said about the Polish political system. The Poles, like the Irish, are also driven by family divisions”

            Which country on Earth isn’t Grzegorz?

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Hi Adam,

            “The Poles, like the Irish, are also driven by family divisions. Which country on Earth isn’t Grzegorz?”

            What I meant was that in Poland you often have families voting for the same party. The reason is far from sentimental or ideological – certain professions are regulated and closed for competition to non-members of the family or their friends (hence massive emigration). In that sorry statistics Poland is a pathetic leader – 380 closed professions, compared to 154 in over-regulated Germany, 152 in Finland and 50 in Latvia (anyone noes the figure for Ireland?).
            But there is also another factor while there is no real circulation of elites in Poland – while in Ireland those who inherited property in Dublin to live have privileged start (even in famine times emigration from Dublin was much smaller than from other places, let alone now, with such costs of living) while the rest have to either accept being in top 3 in the world in terms of cost of commuting, renting and childcare, in Poland there is an equivalent – some people could purchase their flats for a fraction of their market value – i.e. 10% or even 5% (in some towns it was the policy of the town, but in many cases it was because you were connected to someone).
            Those people would also not vote for the administration, whether it is local or on a national level, who would in introduce a fair play ground.

            So which country on Earth is not?
            Those countries which had capitalist rather than feudal structure.
            Even the JFK’s US was very unregulated country compared to Poland when it comes to closed shops or amount of GDP spent by the state and hence the Clientelism (JFK lowered taxes, while in Ireland since the recession both taxes and public spending – unlike what people think went up significantly, and so did in Poland under the previous Civic Platform government of Donald Tusk – the most socialist regime in Poland since 1988).

            This was reflected in the phenomena of the hippies voting opposite to their parents and then yuppies voting opposite to their hippie parents.

            Like I said, a situation with a mirage wealth of property bubble suits many voters in Ireland who would demand benchmarking rather than lowering cost of living and improving Ireland’s competitiveness (do people even wonder the Irish export structure has changed since bubble Bertie?); as for those poor souls who have to pay ridiculous prices for ridiculously low quality services – they welcome to go Australia, so is the official policy of both Poland and Ireland; all will stay in the family.

          • joe sod

            Grzegorz you referenced Donald Tusk in your last reply and said he led the most socialist government since end of communism. Of course we now see Donald Tusk with a very high profile as president of european council. So when he speaks its as if he speaks for a whole continent. Also another high profile women Federica Mogherini from Italy as basically the EUs foreign affairs and security minister. When you look into her past we see that she was formerly a member of the italian communist party. So we have two very left leaning people basically articulating the viewpoint of the european continent when I know the majority of people in europe would not support this viewpoint. Therefore we have a system that elevates people with a certain world view to very powerful positions without people having any say in this. It is the highly undemocratic nature of the EU that could break it up and unless it starts to allow opinions and beliefs that are not leftist to hold centre stage then expect many more Le Pens getting power in Europe.

          • Onda

            Thank you Grzegorz Kolodziej for your input. Sometimes we need to look at things from a different vantage point to see what we cannot see.

          • Ok thanks Grzegorz. That’s clearer.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Joe,

            “So we have two very left leaning people basically articulating the viewpoint of the european continent when I know the majority of people in europe would not support this viewpoint.”

            Yes, that’s the gist of it.

            Mr. Tusk does not even express the viewpoint of most people from his own country, as shown in the last election – his sinecure was basically an award from Mrs. Merkel for 2 decade of consistently pro-German stance in politics.

            Mr. Tusk is actually an interesting case to study when in comes to understanding politics in Eastern Europe, as his career shows how easily one can become a turncoat in politics when confronted with an outside empire.

            His origins hark back to Solidarnosc movement, although he was too young at the time to play a prominent role – nonetheless, he, along with his collegue Janusz Lewandowski (the former EU Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget) was one of the liberals from Gdansk involved in publishing underground texts presenting views of the Austrian school of economics.

            At that time, Mr. Tusk was known for his extremely liberal views not only in liberal sense, but in a cultural too.

            In 1987, he answered a questionnaire “What does it mean being Polish?” in the Catholic quarterly “Znak” by writing;

            “What remains of Polishness, when we subtract from it all this erected-darkly-funny theater of unfulfilled dreams and unjustified fantasies? Polishness means abnormality – such association persistently imposes itself on me whenever I touch on the unwanted subject.

            Polishness makes me invariably to rebel against it: history, geography, historical bad luck and God knows what else threw on my shoulders the burden that I have no special desire to carry”.

            It is hard to establish whether at that time Mr. Tusk had been already involved in accepting financial assistance from the German embassy – many Polish opposition leaders were in the 80s supported by German foundations (in good will, as we then believed), notably people like Adam Michnik, Andrzej Szczypiorski (who had done a lot in Germany, through his writing, to take the burden of anti-semites from the Germans and transfer it onto Poles), and Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, who was known for saying, in a written and authorised interview, that “one does not profit anymore from being decent” – when Germany forgot to give him an award he had been getting from this or other town on a regular basis (this omission was rectified).

            It has been established as a fact (there was a discussion on it in the Polish parliament and it had been a big topic in the German media 15 years before it became a topic in the Polish media) that Mr. Tusk benefited from the CDU donation scandal.

            It was at that time when he changed his second-hand Toyota Corolla, which he had bought from money he has earned in Sweden picking strawberries as a student – the only job he has ever done – into a brand new flagship BMW and Polish suits into Hugo Boss.

            On 28 May, with half of parliament’s members absent, Sejm member Janusz Korwin-Mikke of the small conservative libertarian Real Politics Union successfully pressed for and passed a motion requiring the Ministry of Interior to identify all of the republic’s leading politicians who collaborated previously in the communist secret services.

            In 1992 Mr. Tusk was involved in an event known as the nocna zmiana (“the night change”), when some political leaders including President Lech Walesa and Donald Tusl (and a representative of the Russian intelligence) convened for a vote of no confidence.

            There was virtually no mention about it in Western newspapers (I mean there were mentions that Mr. Olszewski government received a vote of no confidence, but no mentions how did that happened and what had led to it; a few years ago I have done a short presentation on it in Ireland); I only found this link from an article BEFORE the June Night Change:

            http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/08/world/poland-buzzes-with-party-strife-and-talk-of-coup.html

            Fast forward to 2005 and Mr. Tusk is heading the Civic Platform, having ousted 2 other co-founders of it. His program at that time was still very liberal: 3 times 15 (income, corporation and VAT taxes lowered to 15pc).

            But instead of Mr. Tusk Mr. Kaczynski won and the two twin brothers became the prime minister and a president; Mr. Kaczynski accepted the author of Mr. Tusk’s economic program, prof. Zyta Gilowska, into the government and his government was one of the 2 in the Polish new history to lower taxes (albeit on a smaller scale than promised by Mr. Tusk).

            Mr. Tusk won the election in 2007 (skillfully mobilising public opinion in the West, with no so little help of the Germans, against the Kaczynski brothers) and this is when the biggest tax hike in Polish history had began, combined with by far biggest levels of debt, restricted only by the Polish constitution (for those who are interested how his government managed to roll over debts, read my comment in The Economist:

            http://www.economist.com/node/18620924/comments#comments).

            Mr. Tusk’s position in the EU was a safety net given to him by Mrs. Merkel – he was in real danger of being put under the State Tribunal in Poland for his financial swindles.

            Recently I noticed some interesting statements of Mr. Tusk which seem to show a slight difference of opinion with Mrs. Merkel – whether this is for real (Mr. Tusk may feel no longer protected by Mrs. Merkel; interestingly, in a famous biography of Angela Merkel “The Godmother” – the Civic Platform has literary burned Polish edition of that German book – Mr. Tusk is listed as the STASI agent “Oscar” in the 80s).

            An even better example of the influence of Germany on Polish (and the EU, via Poland) politics was the Defense Minister Bogdan Klich.

            Mr. Klich has been involved with the Institute for Strategic Studies sponsored by German foundations – Konrada Adenauer, Friedricha Naumann, and Friedricha Eberta (which he was even when he was a Minister for Defense), chaired by his wife, Mrs. Anna Szymanska-Klich.

            It is very telling and worrying that this fact was not of an interest for the Polish military counter-intelligence during the Civic Platform government – it is as if the Irish Defense Minister had an institute financed by Mr. Ian Paisley junior.

            As a defense Minister Mr. Klich proposed to purchase a German U-214 submarine for the Polish army (the Civic Platform government facilitated closing down Polish shipyards), which was rejected even by the corrupt Greek government.

            His achievements as Defense Minister are impressing: under his regime, a small plane crash on 23 June 2008 in Miroslawiec wiped out the Polish air-force command; the visit of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Smolensk, which resulted in deaths of the Polish President and the rest of the command of the Polish Army (some of it trained for years in West Point Academy) was also organised under his supervision.

            There had been two other plane crashes involving army people under his regime; the first commander of the most elite Polish special forces unit (which recovered CIA agents from Iraq that CIA was not able to recover) said about the former Defense Minister Klich:

            “He is a man without honour. As a matter of fact, after the crash in Smolensk, in which he lost all commanders, he should have gone to the place of tragedy and shoot himself in the head.”

            It will be interesting to observe what Mr. Tusk says next, whether he toes the German line in the EU or will he try to re-orient himself after 20 years and hundred of thousands of Deutsche Marks received from German Foundations (btw, I still have some magazines published by the German embassy with Mr. Tusk articles in which he lambasted Mrs. Thatcher’s idea of Europe of sovereign nations on the lines of the concept of nationality being in the decline and future Europe being the Europe of the regions, starting from those on the German-Polish border).

            Mr. Tusk is also a well knows lover of soccer (he plays soccer himself, notably in his room when he was a Prime Minister). In the 90s he said that that’s what the Poles should do on Sundays instead of going to Church and accordingly, he appeared with the other members of the government in which he was a minister on the government vs the journalists charity soccer match, advertsing the German steel company Mannesmann…

    • Deco

      The French people have been shafted. Now that they are waking up, the elements who have been doing the shafting, are outraged.

      Maybe they are afraid that the guilotine might be re-employed for failed ruling classes ?

  4. bluegalway

    The trouble with the French is that for decades France has used the EU to further its own interests – protecting and funding its farmers and forcing everybody else to accept massive costs for businesses so that France can carry on with its expensive and stifling “social model” whilst setting itself up as the Leader of Europe so that it could challenge US hegemony.
    That was fine when competition was from within Europe, but the world has changed, and the EU can no longer protect the French.
    So now what? Holland, Germany, the UK and perhaps even Italy, are no longer going to accept French strangulation, and the Euro has been a disaster.
    It’s taken fifty years, but the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

  5. jbradyyvoir

    “Hopefully, Ireland will be based in this region for Euro 2016, as it is the region closest to us and the easiest to reach.”

    Have they moved Britanny ?

    • Deco

      To be honest, I do not care. I will play the odd game of soccer for fun.

      But sitting in a pub, listening to a continual stream of irrelevant nonsense, and drama about nothing, does not interest me.

      It is irrelevant, to people’s lives – unless your income comes from the Booze business.

  6. dwalsh

    Thanks for elucidating all that David.

    It seems to me the intention behind QE is not to enrich the rich guys, although that is a collateral effect; the intention is to prevent the collapse of the big banks and financial institutions. In other words, to keep the speculative casino of the financial markets going; because not only can it not be stopped, it cannot even be allowed to slow down too much without disastrous consequences. Consequences which would not only affect the institutions involved in the financial markets scam, but would literally collapse the physical or real economy we all live in.

    To my knowledge nothing has been done to address or even to clearly define and name the underlying issues of money, debt and unregulated speculation that are the source of the crisis, and are in my opinion socio-economic issues of the first order which I think need to be reformed fundamentally.

    It seems obvious to me that our political misleaders and economists are trapped in an ideological cul de sac (neoliberalism) and are unable to think their way (and our way) out.

    What do others here think?

    • McGoo

      As I understand it, the purpose of QE is to cause inflation, ie. make the value of the Euro go down. This is seen as the solution to all the excessive debt, my making the real (inflation-adjusted) value of debts shrink.
      It’s a reasonable plan, but so far it does not seem to be working.

      Logically, if you openly tell your creditors (bond buyers) that you are going to inflate away the value of your debts, they should charge you a higher interest rate to ensure that they get a real return. But, the ECB has been using the QE money to buy huge amount of government bonds, which has pushed interest rates to near zero. This suggests to me that QE can never stop, because as soon as it does bond markets will be able to price bonds correctly, which will push interest rates through the roof.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi.

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. Our host has been lobied to consider analysing the shit pile of debt derivatives etc especially with his capacity for identifying bubbles but he has ignored the lobby thus far.

      Michael.

    • What I think is it’s about time David addressed the issues you mention dwalsh in a series of hard hitting articles, that might open more people’s eyes.

  7. It would seem like a prudent time to remind people of this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTUY16CkS-k

  8. McCawber

    The fundamental error in the drive for inflation is the reason for the drive in inflation. ie, it’s to bail sovereigns out of their excessive debt and worse to allow them to continue to increase debt.
    When I bought my home and took out a mortgage, every month I paid an amount that covered the interest and reduced the principle sum owing.
    Why exactly should sovereigns behave or be allowed to behave differently.
    Borrow for capital spending (the house) but not definitely not for consumption and pay down the borrowings.
    Increasing sovereign borrowing is a ponzai scheme.
    I asked the question once before and I’ll ask again.
    How is it that our economy is recovery even while the government has been reducing the size of the stimulus it keeps adding to the fire.
    Accepted economic reasoning would seem to be in conflict with this.
    Just like accepted economic reasoning would dictate that if you print money you get inflation. We haven’t so far although the drop in energy costs might be masking things a little bit.
    Is it that the ECB and FED have got it wrong and if so what should they be doing?
    For example we are, as pointed out, by David and others getting inflation in share prices and housing but not in consumer prices.
    Ergo the ECB and FED have got it wrong because their stated goal was consumer price inflation.

  9. Pat Flannery

    This is just naked political opportunism David.

    You accurately describe the evils of central banking in the global financial system but you attribute all such evils to the European Central Bank, as if it alone had them. You ignore the fact that other central banks such as the US Fed and the Bank of England are equally responsible for the distortion of wealth in their respective countries.

    Selectively blaming the ECB for this global phenomenon is simply part of your incessant drumbeat of denunciation against the Euro currency. That is political opportunism, not economics.

    Leaving the Euro Zone will not solve the problem for the French any more than it has for the British staying out of it. You and other economists need to leave your politics at the door and try to find an economic answer. The problem is as you describe but it is a global financial problem not just a Euro currency problem.

  10. McCawber

    The global financial world, including the sovereigns, need a reality check in relation to inflation and what their misguided understanding of inflation.
    Inflation is a bad, bad thing thing. It robs people of their future.
    Every year prices should be cheaper that each previous year.
    The simple explanation for this is that technology is continuously giving us more for less. More efficient, cheaper manufacturing methods with better quality so the prices of goods should be coming down not going up.
    Ah I here you say if demand rises then this will push up prices.
    Wrong again, more demand gives you greater economy of scale and therefore even cheaper products.
    Follow this to its’ logical conclusion and the pound in your pocket’s buying power should be different (Harold Wilson was wrong), it should be increasing over time.
    Now if the new order in the financial world was zero inflation it would introduce a whole new dynamic. It would reduce the fears of the consumer and increase their buying power. The money in circulation would go around more often and the government’s tax coffers would swell.
    In Utopia everyone is happy.

    • Pat Flannery

      Well said McCawber. You make more economic sense than all the economists together.

      Economists need to get away from their fixation on asset markets. But that is not surprising considering that economists are paid by the asset owners, not by the consumers or the workers.

    • None of the above works with debt based money as currently issued by the central banks.

      But you are correct that inflation is evil and deflation works to benefit us from innovation and efficiency.

      That is why I return to that problem as it is the root cause of the debt slavery of us all. Kill the parasite and the body returns to normal. All elas is treating symptoms.

    • David NZ

      How is aggregate demand sustained in your utopia?

      More efficient, cheaper manufacturing methods are generally achieved by the replacement of people by machines or by the use of cheaper labour outside the Utopia. Those people no longer get paid and so then cannot buy the products those machines produce.

      Unless there is a replacement of this firms employment by other firms then there is a net loss of employment and a net loss of spending by those people, now without jobs.

      If prices continuously become cheaper in real terms throughout the Utopia economy then firms must continuously invest in technology and continuously shed workers in order to reduce the cost of the product. Either that or the firms profits are reduced.

      This can only work for the Utopia economy as a whole if the govt provides jobs for the population or if the surplus products are able to be sold outside of Utopia.

      If all the other Utopias decide to do the same as your Utopia then the total demand and supply of products and employment shrinks, and the world becomes a poorer place.

      Inflation happens when people’s need for goods and services, and their ability to pay for those goods and services outstrips the ability of firms to supply those goods and services. That was the problem in the 1970′s and early 1980′s with the rising baby boomer demand.

      It has been the opposite with the excess savings of Asian economies and the excess savings of baby-boomers together with the opening up of China and it’s cheap labour in the 1990′s and 2000′s causing inflation to subside. This has now come to an end. Chinese wages are rising and baby boomers are spending their savings. The oil exporting nations are spending their savings.

      The wheel is turning and you will see very,very gradually an uptick in real inflation over the next decade.

      Right now I’d say the balance is still with technology and conservative govts refusal to deficit spend. Especially in the EU distopia.

      You are in your golden medium of zero inflation now. How does it feel?
      Is everyone in Utopia happy? They should enjoy it while it lasts.

      The rest of us look forward to a period of moderate slowly rising inflation.

  11. McCawber

    As for the price of gold things could get very interesting in the not too distant future.
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-space-law-interplanetary-gold.html
    There are reasons why the price of Oil is being kept low.
    Some of them are no doubt political but technological developments in solar energy are making PV cells more and more competitive each year.
    Solve the energy storage problem in an economic way and the oil industry would be kaput.
    OR go stellar – http://phys.org/news/2015-12-german-physicists-landmark-nuclear-fusion.html
    Sure this is only a test rig.
    The thing that is most noticeable in technological discoveries in recent years is the ever increasing ability to measure smaller and smaller things.
    With measurement comes control. That fusion reaction that is always thirty years into the future might now only be ten years away.

  12. Sideshow Bob

    In 10 days time the Spanish general election will be held, where Podemos and Cuidadanos are likely to take a combined 30% of the vote from the two traditional parties of the left and right there, the PSOE and PP. A coalition between the PP and Cuidadanos seems the probable outcome.

    This is in addition to the recent win for the anti-austerity left wing three party alliance in Portugal won 51 % of the vote there in the general election two months ago, and of course Syriza, a relatively new party themselves, winning 35% of the vote in recent consecutive elections in Greece. We also have since the ground-swing of support in the British Labour Party that saw Jeremy Corbyn recently elected.

    In Ireland next year, there will likely be a 20% vote for Sinn Fein, and probably another 10-15% going to a motley crew of others; Renua, Social Democrats, Independent Alliance, Greens, AAA/Socialist Party/PBP. Maybe, another 10% to various independents as well. We will have a very fractured Dail.

    Also, in addition to the National Front in France there are Freedom Parties in Holland and Austria with similar levels of support. Less well supported on the right are the UKIP in Britain, the Northern League in Italy and Swedish Democrats in Sweden all with 10-15% of the vote in their respective countries. All of these parties are seeing their percentage of the national vote rising.

    What all of the various parties named above, regardless of ideology, have in common is a distinct identity allied with policies which set them apart from the tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum traditional parties of the center which have occupied alternating positions in Government for at least one if not several generations.

    Personally, I hold Tony Blair and New Labour´s Third Way as being largely responsible for blurring of the center ground over the last twenty years across Europe, and even in Ireland, too. The Blair and New Labour style so was successful in attracting voters and holding onto power that Conservatives even ended up reproducing the template with David Cameron. One thing worth noting that subsequent to the financial crisis in 2009 that every major leader then present in Europe was replaced with a carbon copy from the opposite side of the center, with the exception of Merkel, and no change occurred in any key policies in those member states regarding finance and austerity for the masses nor in the general policies and response of the EU to the crisis. The democratic deficit is blindingly obvious.

    There is a background to this too of de-industrialisation and job losses due to globalisation, lowering fertility rates as uncertainty, debt slavery and declining living standards are youth´s future. So, I think Draghi´s QE has had a minimum impact on all this. For me at least this has been brewing for while and across a number of elections, over twenty in a variety of countries.

    Podemos in Spain have identified it a significant part of the problem as being what they call `la casta´, or the political caste from the main centrist parties. Those parties ,they say, have had for thirty-five years an alternating grip on power and the gravy-train that goes with it, simply exchanging roles every five years or so, and carrying on with the same badly played out drama as always.

    Podemos are, for me, the most fascinating party and movement to watch in Europe at the moment, without a shadow of a doubt. I will be very interested to see how they do in days time.

    • Sideshow Bob

      A couple of typos:…we have seen…Re: Jeremy corbyn and at the very end…in 10 days time.

      • Sideshow Bob

        Actually a lot of typos.

        …with 51% of the vote…

        …we also have seen the ground-swing…

        …,over twenty years in a variety of countries.

        I will take more care next time!

    • Good write up Sideshow Bob, succinct and informative, thanks.

    • Deco

      Name one ‘achievement’ of the ECB ?

      Putting the family dynasty political franchise owning rackets under immense pressure.

      We have seen this in Greece. And we seen the demise of the FF (plus PD splinter built from those who figured that FF were not close enough to money).

      If Merkel stays at the top of the CDU, they will be next to implode.

      These political movements have become arrogant, and nasty. The real nasty element in politics right now is the elements that align to form the EPP (centre right) and the SP (centre left) in the Euro Parlaiment.

      I see strong similarities with the demise of equally arrogant political rackets in 1989.

      But….there is a critical differeence this time.

      In the 1980s, the ideological leadership centre in Moscow, is recommending that the party machines to reform and to listen to the people.

      Currently, the nonsense factory in Brussels is doing all it can to make the system more unworkable, by coming up with one ridiculous idea after the next.

      Similarly, the indispensible invasion machine in Washington is recommending that the party machines continue to ignore the people, and continue to preserve needs of the beneficiaries of an extremely dysfunctional power distribution system.

  13. Pat Flannery

    Tony, how are things in Nelson down under?

    • Hi Pat

      Good and so so.

      We had some nice drives over to the Golden coast and took a boat trip out up the coast to be let off for a tramp and then picked up later.

      We stayed at Westport and visited a pub near Cape Foul Wind. Very hospitable and played a game of table tennis.

      Saw some marvelous scenery on the way down the coast road and the canyon through the mountains to Franz Josef. The Glaciers were a letdown as we could not get close.

      Food at the grocery store is about the same price or cheaper. Restaurant and cafes are expensive. Hostels are expensive and hotels worse.

      Interest rates have just dropped ad the headline is that more will be able to get on the housing ladder!!!

      tomorrow we go to Wanaka. So far it is just like an Irish summer??!!

      Take care.

      • michaelcoughlan

        Was on the franz Joseph glacier in summer 96. Time of my life with then girlfriend now wife.

        • Michael, to liberally adapt the well known moral dilemma – ‘would you kill a baby Hitler?’… knowing what you know now – would you have pushed the missus off the side of the glacier? Or in your parlance, would you have ‘whacked’ her Michael?

      • Pat Flannery

        Hi Tony, I’m sure you stopped at Hokitika on your way down to Franz Josef. At the time of the West Coast Gold Rush in 1866 Hokitika had over 25,000 people and almost as many pubs. It was the biggest town in NZ.

        Christchurch grew as a result of Hokitika gold. It was to get there that Christchurch built the road through Arthur’s Pass, named after the son of the engineer who built it.

        But my favorite place on the West Coast is still Greymouth. They are very proud of their Irish history there. I still correspond with them.

  14. DB4545

    Sideshow Bob

    I think the thread that’s running through politics in France the USA and elsewhere is that voters are gearing up to ditch anyone associated with the political establishments of the left and right. They see the tag team left/right gravy train for what it is and they’ve had enough. Trump might be crass but he’s a Wharton graduate who was somehow smart enough to conveniently avoid serving in Vietnam. Trump was of draft age and got college and medical deferments.

    It’s almost a law that those who are cheerleaders for wars have never fought in one (Thatcher, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Blair and Sarkozy spring to mind). Chirac described Sarkozy as a military service skiver because he did his military service in the airforce in Paris. In contrast the late Denis Healey, Tony Benn and even Enoch Powell were genuine war heroes.But Trump is not Ivy league and the US has a strong anti-elitist streak and that may count. Hilary can’t touch Trump on his draft record because Bill pulled the same stunt as a Rhodes scholar. There lurks in the mind of every French politician the simple historical fact that the French had no problem introducing elites to the business end of a guillotine when they are pushed too far. The French military parade in front of Hollande with de-activated weapons because apparently his security have concerns that they could be a potential threat to him.

    The PC ideology is facing a backlash because it does not address and even deliberately ignores the growing and genuine fears of ordinary people. All ideologies (Communism, Thatcherism) have a sell-by date and this one is fast reaching expiry.Look at the changed political landscape in the Netherlands which had an extremely liberal political culture just a short time ago. They’ve had enough. When black working class women are prepared to vote for Trump it may point to seismic political shifts on the horizon.

    • Sideshow Bob

      Deco,

      Yes, the `PC age´ notion is a relevant one, definitely. The amount of intolerance that is shown to anyone who threatens it via democratic avenues shows it to be an idea about equality that has become hijacked by very hypocritical people with controlling tendencies. It has long become an agenda in itself used to stifle debate.

      It struck me as though Trump reckons the US Presidential race is just a bigger version of a reality TV show, like the Dragons Den show he was previously involved in. There was a chart attached to one recent Guardian article on him showing how his popularity was going up with each controversial act, and not down. It is a good thing the UK doesn´t get to vote like this for its Executive Leader ´cause Simon whats-his-face-off-X-Factor would be a shoe-in!

      • Deco

        Bob – the US Presidential race has been a farce for decades.

        Usually the winner is a lawyer, who speaks eloquently, and “connects” with the populace – before selling them out for corporatism.

        George Carlin was correct. The really wealthy, are really in charge in Washington. And they “own” you, without most people even thinking about it.

        The same societal model of power and wealth, is extending to the EU.

        The objective is a society organized to increase the power of ponzi capitalism.

        • Sideshow Bob

          It´s hard to disagree about the farce that it is.

          However, both Regan and Bush Jr were not smart lawyers with distinguished academic records like Obama and the Clintons. They were primarily safe performers with indifferent college records, who were simply on message with what the people wanted to hear and could be easy manipulated by the Republican elite. Both won and held power for eight years.

          This is approach Trump appears to be taking, but now in the internet and reality TV era.

          • DB4545

            Deco & Sideshow Bob

            How does a Country like the US which was built on tooth and claw capitalism end up with just two political parties to choose from and almost zero to choose between them? The US is such a diverse market that even a niche player like Trump can make serious money. It’s a pity that a mind as sharp as a razor in the world of real estate is also as broad as a razor when it comes to non-US culture. The man is clearly out of his depth in too many critical areas. Some of his comments could put his fellow Citizens in grave danger and he would have realized that if he had served his Country when he was required to do so.

            I usually like the underdog but I’m afraid this is one dog I wouldn’t back for a very simple reason. Americans revere those who have served their Country with honour in the armed services. Both John McCain and John Kerry served their Country with honour when called upon to do so. They were both from affluent backgrounds and probably could have avoided serving in Vietnam by pulling strings but they did their duty like many of their generation.

            When Trump had the opportunity to serve his Country he decided it better served his interests to seek college deferments and then obtained a medical exemption(for heel spurs). That was his choice and it was a choice made by many “”poor little rich kids”. It was a choice rarely available to working class kids of his generation.

            This man now wants a job where he gets to make life or death decisions about his fellow Citizens which may put them in harm’s way despite his cowardly weaseling out of harm’s way when it was his turn. Why would anyone vote for a cowardly draft dodger for President?

          • StephenKenny

            They voted for GW Bush & Bill Clinton.

          • DB4545

            Stephen Kenny

            I know they did Stephen and it may be the point where foreign policy goes wrong. It used to be the case that people who ran for the highest elected offices had military experience.It meant that they had faced personal danger themselves and therefore had some moral authority underpinning a decision to put people in harms way.

            But modern leaders don’t have that authority and just like bankers who face no consequences for the outcome of their decisions a moral hazard is being evaded.I understand that people may have conscientous objections to war or may just want to become real estate brokers or otherwise make money. It could be argued that making that choice renders them unsuitable for a role that requires courage and moral authority.

            I’m at a loss to understand how decent people who actually served their Country allow themselves to be seen or associated with Trump. I hope the US hasn’t reached the stage where the love and worship of money blinds people into worshipping it above all else.

          • StephenKenny

            The problem is how to chose? It’s always been a case of selecting the ‘least worst’, but it has reached a point of being thoroughly repelled by all of them.
            I can quite comprehend why people want Trump, and his kind.
            For the last 20 years they have been lied to, cheated, conned, and robbed by their country’s government and financial sector; they’ve watched they own country’s military taking part in the US/UK ‘geopolitical’ war – wading through the blood of quite literally millions, and destroying the lives of tens of millions – for an end that looks like no more than a power grab by the politicians and corporations.

            They vote, and irrespective of who they vote for, the their governments carry on the policies of the previous governments. Governments are getting frantic, introducing ever more draconian freedom suppressing laws, under the guise of ‘anti-terrorism’. The UK has removed even the idea of freedom of speech, and are working on making suspicion – and being denounced as such – of having the ‘wrong’ thoughts, a criminal offence. The independence of their public sector and legal system has completely vanished, leaving systems in which no on seriously, or sensibly, trusts.
            Other countries are catching up.

            The system is completely broken, I would think that the majority sense this, and that that they live in lands which are on the side of wrong, but those senses are dulled by a non-stop barrage of misleading nonsense in every media.

            People are mighty pissed off, aren’t quite sure why, and are starting to react against the corrupt and decayed system that just seems to be there to hurt them. I don’t blame them.

          • StephenKenny

            DB4545
            This move towards extremism is also an established part of an economic downturn: The system that was in place that created the problem will never try and fix it, just perpetuate it. Many of us around here have been talking about this for 8 or 9 years.
            Eventually, just as has happened, the whole system starts to crumble, none of the established political movements offer anything, and people look elsewhere.
            I notice that the Turkish government now has a paramilitary force operating in a very similar manner to the German SA of the late 20s and 30s. NATO leaders are so actively supportive.

          • Sideshow Bob

            DB4545,

            First past the post systems usually give rise to two party scenarios like the UK and US. Usually these states are stronger and more stable countries for it. They have more continuity of policy and different voices are absorbed and within the big two parties, for better or for worse. PR systems usually gives rise to more plurality of opinion and possibilities ( up-side ) but also political divisiveness and frequently personalized fiefdoms (down-side ).

          • DB4545

            Sideshow Bob

            There are pros and cons with both systems and I prefer PR because it seems to prevent lurches to the extreme left or right as has happened in the UK and elsewhere. Coalitions force pragmatism over ideology which works for me. On a local level majority governments of any party have been a disaster for Ireland in the past. I would suggest that a decentralized system like Switzerland responds best to the needs of Citizens.

            I would also suggest that we align ourselves with a Nordic Union or a Northern European Union with the UK and others because the EU is no longer serving our needs or the needs of most of Northern Europe. It was an experiment with nice ideals but it’s not working so it’s time to pull the plug.

          • There’s no good choice in the US election but it looks like it’s going to be Hilary Clinton, which is awful as she’s a bare-faced liar.

            Meanwhile, as you mentioned Stephen, the West carry on killing people in their thousands every day while we have to endure interminable ‘tributes’ to the couple of hundred Paris victims (probably killed by guns sold to ISIS by one Western nation or other).

            To add insult to injury we have to listen to the likes of ponces such as Bono and Madonna doing their own ‘musical’ (this bit is highly debateable) ‘tributes’ to the Paris dead, purely for the purposes of his/their own self-aggrandizement. He may as well have pissed on their graves with his cringeworthy carry on.

            People are mad, they’d believe any old shite on the telly, so in my view they get what they deserve most of the time.

          • DB4545

            Adam

            Don’t get me started. I think the people you mentioned would stage a musical in Auschwitz if they thought they could bask in the reflected applause because they are completely shameless. There’s no problem accessing firearms anywhere in Europe Adam if you’re a criminal or a terrorist. We have open borders to the Urals and Europe is awash with firearms. If we can’t stop people moving across borders how do they think they can stop firearms it’s just ridiculous? Criminals can often buy them cheaper than the public because they bulk buy. Cameron now wants a clampdown on firearms in Europe. You might as well try to ban alcohol in Europe. It just prevents law abiding people from accessing firearms as criminals and criminal terrorists couldn’t give a flying f**k about any laws.

            It’s the one issue that I actually agree with Trump on. If a few people had access to firearms in Paris it might have reduced the number of people murdered. The British (and Irish governments) have a control freak fixation with firearms that is not borne out by the facts. Do they really think the British public are living in a safer society when compared with the 1950′s when you could still have a firearm for personal protection?

            I wish they would display some honesty and grasp of reality and just admit that no government has the resources to protect ordinary Citizens and therefore Citizens need the ability to protect themselves and provide for their own security. But hell will freeze over before they’ll concede to that reality.

          • Yeah well I don’t have a strong opinion either way on firearms – if you had a fairer, better run society, people wouldn’t be interested in using them (as much) in any case.

            The whole arguement in the US is moot – there’s over 300 million firearms in the country, even if you ban them it would take a thousand years to collect all the guns. That debate is going nowhere fast. Might as well accept reality and move on.

            You are dead right about Bono and Auschwitz – what an odious, untalented, self-obsessed chancer.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          Regarding firearms, I can offer this opinion:
          let’s force the whole world to disarm and reject all violence. Then we, the readers of this blog, could take over the world using only kitchen knives.

          Sorry for being so cynical.

  15. Le Pen is also very strong in PACA ie Nice another location where Ireland may play off in . So should that happen Ma Nolans pub in Nice will be the rendevous point for all to discuss the possible outcomes in the matches that matter .Weather would be better too .

    • Latest local news in Nice :

      Regional elections – Christian Estrosi and Marion Maréchal-Le Pen have held a live debate on France 3 regional television. The debate which lasted one hour and fifteen minutes covered topics such as the economy, culture and security. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen ended the programme asking voters to ‘not pay attention to the fear and intimidation towards her party politics’ while Christian Estrosi declared that ‘everyone’s view would be taken into account’. The second round of the regional elections will be held this Sunday.

      • Regional elections – Fresh opinion polls are indicating a victory for the Republican candidate Christian Estrosi in the second round of the regional elections this weekend. According to the latest indicators the Republicans are predicted to get 52% of the votes against 48% for the National Front and Marion Maréchal-LePen.

  16. [...] in November – The Telegraph Gold and currency market rigging controls the world – GATA Le Pen V Draghi – Will France Leave Euro? – David McWilliams Corporate Insiders Are Dumping Their Stock – Dollarcollapse.com [...]

  17. Grzegorz Kolodziej

    I decided to take my time and translate excerpts from an interview with Madame Le Pen for the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita. Sadly, I won’t be able to do much commenting (time-wise) or a proper translation as I will virtually translate as a speed-type…
    In an interview for the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita (5 December 2015) Madame Le Pen said,
    “And finally people are beginning to understand that the euro is a German, not an European project! It was established by Germany for Germany. This currency is absolutely not adapted to the French economy. And so far, Germany is the only beneficiary of the euro in its current form.”
    - I would also name Austria and Holland among the biggest beneficiaries; France in CAP. In the past I showed Eurostat data which prove that Germany get by far the biggest subsidies from the EU for R&D (per capita, which is the only meaningful calculation). Other examples abound (when it comes to manufacturing base). I also wrote about forcing Poland to close their shipyards (I mean forcing legally) and then taking subsidies to promote German shipyards…
    to which the Rzeczpospolita interviewer lucidly points out that, “However, Germany did not want the euro. 25 years ago François Mitterrand imposed it on Chancellor Kohl in order to maintain control in the Union over the powerful Germans…”.
    Madame Le Pen responds, “Euro is good for Germany, not for France, primarily because the German and French economies are radically different. The choices made by these countries back in the 70s are totally different. We have placed a bet, erroneously anyway, on immigration and Germany focused on automated production. Besides, Germany has Hinterland created by the countries of Eastern Europe, where they have cheap labor. In addition, the strong euro is a child of a strong Deutsche Mark. Except that for 15 years we have the liability of a strongly overvalued currency in relation to our economic needs. Finally, the Germans carried out a kind of internal devaluation during the reign of Gerhard Schroeder. They have also restructured the model of the Union so as to defend their own interests. It is hard to hold a grudge against them for that – you should resented the rulers in those countries that suffered badly they did not oppose this.”
    “Except that I do not see that we would be able to continue to live with the ultra-liberal policies, with full freedom of exchange of goods, with the currency that we need to rescue every three months.”
    “And what kind of an ambition has the EU today other than opening before its bed for the Americans? What else we do except for the building of the common market with America, which will completely destroy whole sectors of our economies? After all why did we create the European Union, if today we throw ourselves, without any reservations, in the arms of America?”

    “Is Poland, a country almost completely homogeneous ethnically, your model?
    I’m looking not for ethnic homogeneity, but a cultural one. I think that multicultural societies are multi-conflicted societies. There must be a dominant culture in which those who come can blend into seamlessly. And whoever does not want to blend, they can leave. Because we have the culture of the majority, which draws on the one and a half thousand years of history.”

  18. coldblow

    ‘And 30% of the electorate is a lot of people who want change – wherever that change may take them.’

    True, nobody knows but the ‘change’ of government they want has to be set against the profound changes which have been forced on the people by previous governments over a long period (I assume, like here and everywhere in concert with, a likeminded press). Who was it who said here the other day ‘Embrace Change’?

  19. coldblow

    Nobody else writes the same way as David, and the same applies to Hitchens. Here he is visiting St Denis’s Cathedral in Paris, gives his thoughts on the French Revolution and ends up in Chichester Cathedral at the memorial to Bishop George Bell whose name has been blackened by an anonymous abuse allegation made (originally) 37 years after his death. Bell had spoken out, in the House of Lords, against Churchill’s bombing of German civilians in WW2. He is at his best in this kind of article.

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2015/12/the-joy-of-cathedrals-and-what-happened-to-my-flowers-a-21st-century-mystery.html

  20. Mike Lucey

    Its been said in a lot of circles that the only thing that is currently keeping the show on the road is cheap oil. Without this form of energy the world would definitely be a different place.

    Solar, Wind and Wave power look to be more than capable of producing enough renewable energy for our needs but the problem is how to store the energy cheaply and sustainably. Great strides are being made in battery development but they still require eco disastrous metal and chemical use.

    Hope may well be on the horizon with ‘Power Paper’. A group of Swedish scientists have achieved a major breakthrough using paper (trees) to store electricity. http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-figured-out-how-to-store-electricity-in-paper

    I hope they bring the technology to its full potential.

  21. Deco

    Power in the EU is centralized in one powerful mechanism called the EU Commission.

    That is the source of misery in Europe.

    • joe sod

      The thing is the eu itself has no power it is only the willingness of the participants to participate and to allow themselves to be dictated to. But the agenda that the eu has been pushing is alienating many people and therefore the rise of le pen and nationalism in Europe. It is the deafness of the eu to the concerns of many of its citizens for decades now that has resulted in this. It is not just France that nationalism is rising but also in surprising places like Portugal. Eastern european countries have basically given the eu the two fingers and even if the eu threatens them by economic means they will still not yield after all these are countries that have faced a far more formidable force than the eu

      • DB4545

        Joe Sod

        It’s not just the EU Joe the US and many other Countries are facing the problems that result from over centralisation of power.But Eastern Europeans faced down a Tiger that had teeth and won. They showed they had balls.The EU is a paper tiger and everyone knows it.t’s a gravy train for people who have demonstrated their inability to handle any crisis. When Eastern Europeans woke up to that reality they acted and Western Europeans now have to do the same before Europe implodes.

        • StephenKenny

          “But Eastern Europeans faced down a Tiger that had teeth and won.”. I think we should be at least a little bit honest about – they did no such thing.
          We simply all waited for the inevitable collapse of a centralised economy. It took two generations, with little push back from the occupied nations of Eastern Europe.
          Now we are watching something similar, although not identical, in the west – an increasingly centralised command structure of both society & economy. I suspect that we’ll just have to wait out this one too, since the form of democracy that we have is completely ineffectual at enabling anything, except the colour something’s painted, to be changed.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Well it’s hard to implement any pro-free market or anti-corruption changes if when you try to do so as, you die in a plane or car crash, or – at best – you will not appear in the state-controlled media.

            What stops us from having a pro-free market anti-Clientelism political movement in a country where you do not die in a car crash for revealing corruption is hard to explain, but part of it comes down to our passivity, including us the readers of this blog; and the other part has to do with the media monopoly and no other street demonstration than those organised by the far left (has the Irish counter-intelligence ever checked where these guys – Marx this, Marx that, come to protest with us under Marxist banner – how people in Ireland quickly forgot that they demanded the nationalisation of the Irish banks even before FF – have their money from? Surely not only from unions contribution as some of them are not even in the unions and yet they did not nearly go bust like De Búrca?).

          • DB4545

            StephenKenny

            The East Germans were on the streets protesting before the wall came and were facing down some extremely nasty people as history revealed. That takes balls. I was in Berlin the weekend after the wall came down and the border guards didn’t look any less menacing. I remember going through a gap in the graffiti sprayed wall and looking at the pristine wall on the Eastern side with one exception. Some British person had obviously gotten there before me and had thoughtfully sprayed “Maggie Thatcher is a c**t” on their nice clean wall.

            It was a close thing. The East German politicians wanted to turn the guns on the protesters but the military wouldn’t entertain it. Apparently when the West Germans got the bill for re-unification they said it would be cheaper to re-build the f**king wall. Looks like they they haven’t learned anything from their recent history with the current refugee issue.

          • DB4545

            Grzegorz

            I don’t know if it’s the German sense of humour but have a listen to the background music in the Kellogg’s Christmas ad. It’s the East German National anthem “Auferstanden aus Ruinen” which translates as I understand it to “Risen from the Ashes”. John Harvey Kellogg is probably spinning in his grave.

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            “have a listen to the background music in the Kellogg’s Christmas ad. It’s the East German National anthem “Auferstanden aus Ruinen” which translates as I understand it to “Risen from the Ashes”.”

            Might be the DDR nostalgia, might be some veiled commentary to current events – who knows…
            Before the events related to the Wall, few people remember now that the East Germans were actually the first to do a serious post-WWII Uprising:

            https://history.state.gov/milestones/1953-1960/east-german-uprising

            Then they stopped until the Fall of the Wall. Only 3 years later the Poles had something similar, and then obviously the Hungarians with the massive Uprising and quite dissapointing attitude of the West, which first had encouraged them and then they abandoned them (they left the Warsaw Pact for Christ sake and NATO washed their hands).

            There were also equally as bloody events in Soviet Union under Khrushchev, but unlike the Eastern Europe, with over 200 striking workers dead after tanks had been used, but the West did not even noticed – such was the level of control in USRR…

            the key thing to know about what Stephen wrote

            “they did no such thing.
            We simply all waited for the inevitable collapse of a centralised economy”

            was that he is right inasmuch socialism collapsed from inefficiency rather than any uprisings, but then again he seems to err in saying “they did no such thing” – they did, but there was a deal with the Commis to leave them in peace and give them a soft landing (in Poland i.e. it was the Round Table – out of 10 richest Poles even today only one did not start his career with communist secret services).
            Mind you, you could not even open a private radio station other than it was agreed at the Round Table.

            From the West, only Mrs. Thatcher was really against that – even President George Bush was pressing Poland to place gen. Jaruzelski to become a President.

            Also, Lech Walesa dissolved the old Solidarnosc around the Round Table time and destroyed the genuine movement.

  22. Good article , David, and well written with your usual flair. All the results of the EURO policy, The central bank policy, and the multicultural policies reach the logical conclusion of the separation of the ultra wealthy from the average person.

    “When you follow the money, you can see what is driving the growth wealth and income gaps in France and these are feeding into general discontent”

    But you do not yet reach the final conclusion of the examination of the money supply. You do not follow the money far enough. Who actually benefits from the insane policy of issuing all its money as debt when it can be as easily issued from a countries treasury at no debt.

    Issuing the money as a debt is what impoverishes us all. The share holders of the central banking system are the ultimate beneficiaries. They are the ones creating the policy. They are creating multiculturalism as a good thing when in fact I agree with LePen in that it is destructive. They are the ones who created the banking system. They want mayhem and conflict. They have the solution. It is an authoritarian world government with the world in thrall to them only.

    Our only way out is to destroy the current central banking system. Revert to local currency for local trade and revert to a world currency for international trade and travel.

    There is but one more step and that is to examine the root cause of why we have a debt based banking system when we should have a debt free money system.

  23. Here is an account of significant changes to our money system.

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Reinventing-Banking–From-by-Ellen-Brown-Digital-Technology_Public-Banking-151212-197.html

    “Global developments in finance and geopolitics are prompting a rethinking of the structure of banking and of the nature of money itself. Among other interesting news items:

    – In Russia, vulnerability to Western sanctions has led to proposals for a banking system that is not only independent of the West but is based on different design principles.

    – In Iceland, the booms and busts culminating in the banking crisis of 2008-09 have prompted lawmakers to consider a plan to remove the power to create money from private banks.

    – In Ireland, Iceland and the UK, a recession-induced shortage of local credit has prompted proposals for a system of public interest banks on the model of the Sparkassen of Germany.

    – In Ecuador, the central bank is responding to a shortage of US dollars (the official Ecuadorian currency) by issuing digital dollars through accounts to which everyone has access, effectively making it a bank of the people.”

  24. Keep an eye on Rand Paul. Perhaps the only real conservative that few give a chance.

    “Rand is on the main stage at the CNN debate.

    This is a huge moment, proving that Rand is a top contender in this race.

    All of the polls agree. CBS shows Rand ahead of Kasich, Bush, Fiorina, and Christie and the latest Fox News poll has Rand in 5th place in Iowa.”

  25. Bitcoin is being cannibalized by government. Suspected bitcoin originator under investigation by Australian tax department.

    http://www.gata.org/node/16028

    • He’s not the Bitcoin creator Tony, he’s a fantasist. Everyone in the Bitcoin community knows this but it will be common knowledge very shortly.

      And his tax affairs have nothing to do with Bitcoin.

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