Somewhat under-the-radar amid the US media's attention to housing data is the growing chaos in Europe. UBS' Art Cashin ensures we do not forget that Europe still drives the bus as he reminds us of the rise of the 'Occupy Congress' movement in Spain and the protests later today. With youth unemployment over 50%, it is sure that Rajoy will be keeping a close eye on this demonstration and other European leaders (and Greek demonstrators) will also be paying close attention. As Art says "let's hope the streets don't explode," especially given the NY Times noting that the number of 'hungry' Spaniards rose to nearly one million this year, and even previously well-to-do middle-class citizens are now dumpster-diving for food.
Via Art Cashin, UBS:
Hardly A Siesta – Spanish demonstrators are planning a rather active afternoon (actually early evening). Here's a bit from an AP report on preparations:
Police seal off Spain Parliament ahead of protest
MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Parliament took on the appearance of a heavily guarded fortress Tuesday, hours ahead of a protest against the conservative government’s handling of the economic crisis.
The demonstration, organized behind the slogan ‘Occupy Congress,’ is expected to draw thousands of people from around Spain and was due to start around 1730 GMT.
Madrid’s regional Interior Ministry delegation said some 1,300 police would be deployed though protesters say they have no intention of storming the chamber, only of marching around it.
They are calling for fresh elections, claiming the government’s austerity measures show the ruling Popular Party misled voters to get elected last November.
The protest comes as Spain struggles in its second recession in three years and with unemployment near 25 percent.
This demonstration (1:30 EDT) will be watched very carefully across Europe. It will certainly influence Prime Minister Rajoy's timing and manner in acceding to bailout terms. Other European leaders and even Greek demonstrators will be watching intently. Let's hope the streets do not explode.
Via NY Times: Spain Recoils As Its Hungry Forage Trash Bins for a next meal
On a recent evening, a hip-looking young woman was sorting through a stack of crates outside a fruit and vegetable store here in the working-class neighborhood of Vallecas as it shut down for the night. At first glance, she looked as if she might be a store employee.
But no. The young woman was looking through the day’s trash for her next meal. Already, she had found a dozen aging potatoes she deemed edible and loaded them onto a luggage cart parked nearby.
“When you don’t have enough money,” she said, declining to give her name, “this is what there is.”
Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.
Ramon Barnera, who runs the Caritas programs in Girona, said the organization realized early on that shame was a factor preventing people from coming forward to ask for food. So three years ago, it helped create food distribution sites that looked more like supermarkets, and removed the charity’s name from the outside of the building.
“We looked for a system that would give dignity,” Mr. Barnera said. “This is not easy for people.”
On a recent morning, Juan Javier, 29, who had come to collect milk, pasta, vegetables and eggs from one of the distribution centers, was one of the few clients who would discuss his circumstances. A former printer, he has been out of work for two years. “I would like to have a job,” he said, “and not be here.”
In a nearby soup kitchen, Toni López, 36, waited quietly for a free lunch with his girlfriend, Monica Vargas, 46, a beautician. The couple recently became homeless when they fell two months behind on their rent. “All our lives we have been working people,” Mr. Lopez said. “We are only here because we are decent people. The landlord was knocking on the door demanding the rent, so we said, ‘Here, here are the keys.’ ”
Mr. Lopez, who gets occasional work these days in restaurant kitchens, said he had a sister but had not gone to her for help. “I can’t bear to tell her,” he said. “I have always pulled through. I’ve always managed to get by. This is new.”