• Steve H. Hanke
    05/04/2016 - 08:00
    Authored by Steve H. Hanke of The Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke. A few weeks ago, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) sprang a surprise. It announced that a...

European Union

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Frontrunning: October 13





  • Privately, Saudis tell oil market: get used to lower prices (Reuters)
  • OPEC Members’ Rift Deepens Amid Falling Oil Prices (WSJ)
  • Russia Spending $6 Billion Not Enough to Stop Ruble Rout on Oil (BBG)
  • Deutsche clampdown on bad behaviour prompts exodus of traders (FT)
  • Can't beat the spin: China trade data eases slowdown fears, more stimulus may still be needed (Reuters)
  • China’s Exports Buoy Growth as IPhone Inflates Imports (BBG)
  • Italy on Sale to Chinese Investors as Recession Bites (BBG)
  • Hong Kong Protesters, Antiprotest Activists Clash (WSJ)
  • Turkey Offers Military Bases to U.S.-Led Coalition (BBG) ... and the price is a small piece of post-Assad Syria
  • Passenger With Flu-Like Symptoms Causes Ebola Scare At LAX (CBS)
  • Boston patient deemed unlikely to have Ebola virus (Boston Globe)
 
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Draghi The Dictator: "Working With The Germans Is Impossible"





The war of words between Europe's unelected monetary-policy dictator Mario Draghi and Germany's "but it's us that pays for all this" Bundesbank has been gaining momentum since Jens Weidmann penned his Op-Ed slamming Draghi's OMT 'whatever it takes' as "too close to state financing" in 2012. A week ago, Weidmann stepped up the rhetoric by claiming ECB policy is "hostage to politics" and has lost its indepdendence - warning Draghi's dictatorial policies were leading Europe down a "dangerous path." But now, as pressure grows from the Spanish (record unemployment, record bad debt, record low yields), Italian (record unemployment, record debt-to-GDP, record low yields) and French (record unemployment, treaty-busting-deficits, record low yields) for Draghi to monetize more assets, he has struck back in Focus magazine, blasting Weidmann is "impossible" to work with because the Germans "say no to everything." Dis-union...

 
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The Disgrace Of Sacrificing A Generation





Would you like to know how bankrupt our societies are? Financially AND morally? Before you say yes, please do acknowledge that you too ar eparty to the bankruptcy. Even if you have means, or you have no debt, or you’re under 25, you’re still letting it happen. And you may have tons of reasons or excuses for that, but you’re still letting it happen. Our financial and moral bankruptcy shows – arguably – nowhere better than in the way we treat our children.

 
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The Calm Before The Storm In The Gold Market





Physical gold is being accumulated and used in exchanges but very discretely as of now. The geopolitical and economic environment in the last few months was in my view the calm before the storm. Both the economic and political environments are uncertain and will surprise the complacent markets.

 
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France Crushes Socialist Welfare Dream, Admits "Living Beyond Its Means" For 40 Years





Facing up to the pressures of responsibility as a member of the European Union - having been told their treaty-busting budget plan was unacceptable - it seems France is resorting to the worst case scenario - cut spending! As Bloomberg reports, the glory days of France’s welfare model may be behind it, as France, which hasn't had a balanced budget since 1974, admits "for 40 years we have lived beyond our means," but French PM Valls is "convinced [France] can make up for lost time." His plan - streamlining unemployment benefits, cutting bonuses for newborns, and pegging family allowances to household income (all of which amount to a de facto re-writing of France’s welfare rules), are being spun positively: "It's not the end of a generous system,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said yesterday. "It's the end of spending that wasn't useful - and that's in order to preserve a system that is a costly one." We wonder how much those 'slightly used' guillotines are going for on eBay now?

 
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Presenting The "Hookers & Blow" GDP Component For Select European Economies





Simply put, illegal activities are now the difference between economic growth and economic recession in Europe.

 
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Bundesbank Blasts Draghi's QE, Fears "Monetary Policy Is Hostage To Politics"





"The concept of an independent central bank clearly focused on price stability is neither old-fashioned nor outdated," exclaimed Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann. As The WSJ reports, he criticized the European Central Bank’s decision to buy private-sector bonds and signaled his fierce opposition to purchasing government bonds, underscoring his reluctance to back additional stimulus measures to combat weakness in the eurozone economy. "There is a risk of monetary policy, especially in the euro area, being held hostage by politics," Mr. Weidmann said, tying fiscal policies together through ECB bond purchases “is a dangerous path,”

 
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Brussels Ready To Sanction France For EU Treaty-Busting Budget Plan





"What people underestimate is that what's at stake is the entire credibility of the rules," warns one EU official as The WSJ reports, is preparing to reject France’s 2015 budget, that would be the biggest test yet of new powers for Brussels that were designed to prevent a repeat of the eurozone’s sovereign-debt crisis. With the looming handover to former French FinMin Pierre Moscovici (fox, henhouse?) it appears the current European Commission will not stand for Current French FinMin Sapin's plan that would run a budget deficit of 4.3% of GDP next year (far greater than the 3% deficit it had previously promised) put France’s budget in "serious noncompliance" with the new EU rules and risking sanctions of as much as 0.2% of GDP. The credibility of Brussels' new powers threatens to be seriously undermined if big countries such as France and Italy are able to flout the new rules as "it’s not like they will try - and fail; they're actually planning not do it," another EU official said.

 
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Clearly Europe Has A Crushing Deflation Problem... Oh Wait





When Mario Draghi set off on his latest quest to slay Europe's deflation monster, after an endless array of failed alphabet soup programs to inject money into stock markets mysteriously failed to fix Europe's insolvent economy riddled by record unemployment and trillions in non-performing loans, he clearly was guided by this latest Eurobarometer survey of Public Opinion in the European Union, in which virtually everyone across the board admitted that the most important issue facing the common folk in Europe is plunging prices and crushing deflation.

Oh wait... it says rising prices/inflation. Well, that's embarrassing.

 
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Why The Chinese Admire "Putin The Great"





Despite constant cries of "isolation" from The West, China's popular support for Russia has risen since Moscow's confrontation with the West over Ukraine - rising to 66% in July from 47% a year earlier. That is borne out dramatically, as WSJ reports, books on Mr. Putin have been flying off shelves across China since the crisis in Ukraine began, far outselling those on other world leaders; leaving book-shop staff members with no doubt which foreign leader customers are most interested in: President Vladimir Putin, or "Putin the Great" as some Chinese call him.

 
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Frontrunning: October 1





  • European Bond Yields Go Negative (WSJ)
  • Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S. (Reuters)
  • Hong Kong Protesters Step up Pressure on Leung to Quit (BBG)
  • JPMorgan to face U.S. class action in $10 billion MBS case (Reuters)
  • Turkey mulls military action against Islamic State (Reuters)
  • Singapore Home Prices Fall for Fourth Straight Quarter on Curbs (BBG)
  • Italy's Economic Woes Highlight Dilemma for European Central Bank (WSJ)
  • Advanced iOS virus targeting Hong Kong protestors (Reuters)
  • Fed Scrutiny of Leveraged Loans Grows Along With Bubble Concern (BBG)
  •  Mosquito Virus That Walloped Caribbean Spreads in U.S. (BBG)
 
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Recovery? 60% Of Greeks Live At Or Below Poverty Levels





While Greek government yields (and political leaders) proclaim the troubled peripheral European nation is 'recovering', the risk of major political upheaval in Greece has not gone away ahead of next year's presidential vote next year. As Reuters notes, under growing pressure from anti-bailout leftists, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras desperately needs a new narrative to get the backing of lawmakers and rally Greeks fed up with four years of austerity. We wish him luck as Keep Talking Greece notes, it is high time that the real data of the economic situation of the Greek society come to the surface and so it did this week. A report from Greece's State Budget Office found that three in every five Greeks, or some 6.3 million people, were living in poverty or under the threat of poverty in 2013 due to material deprivation and unemployment.

 
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Europe & China Start Direct Trading In Euros & Yuan As De-Dollarization Expands





De-dollarization has been an ongoing theme hidden just below the surface of the mainstream media for more than a year as Russia and China slowly but surely attempt to "isolate" the US Dollar. Until very recently, direct trade agreements with China (in other words, bypassing the US Dollar exchange in bilateral trade) had been with smaller trade partners. On the heels of Western pressure, Russia and China were forced closer together and de-dollarization accelerated from Turkey to Argentina as an increasing number of countries around the world realize the importance of this chart. However, things are about to get even more dramatic. As Bloomberg reports, China will start direct trading between the yuan and the euro tomorrow as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to spur global use of its currency in a "fresh step forward in China’s yuan internationalization." With civil unrest growing on every continent and wars (proxy or other) at tipping points, perhaps, just perhaps, the US really does want rid of the weight of the USD as a reserve currency after all (as championed here by Obama's former right hand economist)... now that would be an intriguing 'strategy'.

 
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Frontrunning: September 26





  • Mystery Man Who Moves Japanese Markets Made More Than 1 Million Trades  (BBG)
  • Draghi’s Trillion-Euro Pump Finds Blockage in Spain: Euro Credit (BBG)
  • Apple plays defense on iPhone 6 bending, software concerns (Reuters)
  • U.S. to Shield Military From High-Interest Debt (WSJ)
  • U.S. Outgunned by Extremists on Social Media Battlefield (BBG)
  • Yen Weakens on Pension Fund Reform; Aussie Drops to 7-Month Low (BBG)
  • Secretive Russian oil giant has no fear of sanctions (Reuters)
  • Ride-Sharing Services Face Legal Threat From San Francisco, Los Angeles (WSJ)
  • Putin’s Sell-Treasuries-for-BRICS Bonds Plan Has Limits (BBG)
 
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