The Tearing Of Europe's Social Fabric

Tyler Durden's picture

We have long-discussed the growing concerns of a rising level of social unrest in Europe. Our go-to chart has been youth unemployment - and it still reigns supreme as the scariest chart for European leaders (no matter what they publically claim). JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest shares our concern as he opines on the potential for a tear in the social fabric in Europe.


Via Michael Cembalest, CIO JPMorgan,

Over the last couple of years, we have been watching the social fabric in Europe given 18% unemployment (and rising). With little growth on the horizon, it’s not clear how jobs will improve much, and what the long-term social implications will be.


Whether it’s Europe in the 1930’s or the US during the same period (conflicts between strikers, the National Guard and armed militias), unemployment can create a powerful cocktail of unrest.

So far, European demonstrations have been fewer than what one might have expected given the situation.

Could a mitigating factor in Europe be a better starting point vs. other countries?

“Quality of life” is hard to measure. There are organizations that give it a shot: the most detailed version we have seen is from the OECD. There are clear patterns in the OECD data: on issues related to work-life balance, life expectancy, environment, personal safety, family support network and life satisfaction, the Eurozone ranks ahead of the US. However, the recession does seem to be taking its toll: fertility rates, which were finally rising in Europe during the prior decade, declined sharply in 2011; according to the UK Economic and Social Research Council, suicides have been rising in Italy and the UK due to economic stress; and in Spain, there has been an increase in observed depression, anxiety and mood disorders (as per the Red de Actividades Preventivas y Promoción de la Salud en Atención Primaria). The imposition of regressive VAT taxes has also widened income disparities in many countries. Some of the same trends are observed in other countries which experienced a large recession, like the US.

While there may be increasing cracks in the social fabric, so far, concrete political manifestations have been limited. Despite the complaints that show up in Eurobarometer surveys, Eurozone citizens appear committed to persevering with the Euro despite the hardships. With the ECB doing the heavy lifting instead of national parliaments making large fiscal transfers, the perceived costs of the regionwide bailout seem low. No political party that clearly advocates Eurozone withdrawal have done well in national elections, not in the surplus countries in the North, nor in the deficit countries in the South (the closest would be the Movimento 5 Stelle, or M5S, in Italy). We have noted in the past the modest rise of rightist parties in some countries, but so far the political status quo is holding better than I thought it would. This is particularly true in Germany, where opposition parties are also pro-Eurozone, if not moreso. I suppose there’s still a long way to go, and that the impact of a generation of disenfranchised, jobless youths will take time to appear.

In 1992, the author of the German Constitutional Court opinion on Maastricht wrote the following:

“A Europeanisation without a prior European consciousness and therefore without a European people with a concrete capability and readiness for common statehood would be, in terms of the history of thought, un-European”.

Could it be that the social fabric in Europe is stronger than many perceive it to be, and that “Europeanization” has advanced a lot since 1992? Perhaps; but I am equally tempted to believe that Europeans simply recognize the financial and economic dangers of immediate dissolution, and remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately!”

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AldoHux_IV's picture

Unpossible! Sounds like the mad rant of a lunatic fringe brah

philipat's picture

It's less convenient for JPM to rip everyone off in multiple currencies so, for them, the EUR is important.

For an opposing view on all this, please refer to Mr. N. Farage.

kaiserhoff's picture

Euro-girls have lot less going for them than American chicks.  On average, about a hundred pounds less.

philipat's picture

And a LOT less attitude??

kaiserhoff's picture

Amen Brother. 

A lovely young woman who likes men and WANTS TO PLEASE is already 90% there;)


TBT or not TBT's picture

French women are equally chiante whether beautiful or not.

dtwn's picture

This dude pretty much suggests not dating American women between their weight and entitled attitude and basically traveling and meeting girls around the world, especially eastern europeans.

TBT or not TBT's picture

fifty years ago.   now they adopt the modern ideal from porn shot in the LA suburbs    Not the 70's stuff obviously.

q99x2's picture

And they are to be found en masse in SoCal colleges.

ReptilianSlaveMaster's picture

The future has never looked so much brighter -  this article makes a very good point about why we should all be buying as many european equities as we can

Harbanger's picture

Cameron made a good point in his EU speech last week:

Europe has 50% of the Worlds social entitlement spending

25% of the Worlds GDP

and 7% of the Worlds population.

That's not exactly the formula for a bright future.

Ghordius's picture

it is a good point but remember that we have also the damn taxes that go with them, roughly 40% of GDP, on average, while in some countries there are economists still seriously debating if it's even theoretically possible to collect way more than 20%

entititlement spending fueled by taxes while constricted by balanced budgets has a completely different economic dynamics

actually similar to have to work hard so that your wife can spend, spend, spend - but within your budget

it's not a formula for a bright future, I agree, but perhaps it's a formula for a calm one

CH1's picture

At this point I feel like throwing in the towel.

Fuck it all. No one will ever wake up. They all want to be slaves for life. Even when the checks stop, they'll worship at the altar of the state till they die. Then, their children will worship the state even more than they did. The overlords have spawned a new species, homo slavus contentus.

The rest of us need to build starships and escape. Fast.

TBT or not TBT's picture

The white house rejected the petition to build a death star.   I wonder if they even took it seriously.

Totentänzerlied's picture

I feel the same way most of the time. 

"Fuck it all. No one will ever wake up. They all want to be slaves for life."

They are fully willing and able to continue living in this state-sponsored fantasy world, even if, deep down, they know it's a blood-stained lie for whose existence many do and will suffer. I guess it's bounded rationality in action; if you truly believe you can do nothing, then it is irrational, strictly speaking, to waste more time on the issue. Because it feels pretty good - the path of least resistance, being in harmony with your social environment - even if that environment is defined by the presence of monstrous evils which give all humankind a bad name.

"The rest of us need to build starships and escape."

Not escape. Tactical retreat. Until such time as we can secure the means to effectively neutralize those who threaten our life, liberty, and property. Let those who so desire continue to live as the chattel of sociopathic adult children. Because try as you might, you cannot save people from themselves (contrary to all statist ideology, particuarly the left-wing "perfectibilist" variety) without destroying them in the process (the preferred solution of the right-wing, which is where the left-wing revolutionaries find themselves, the day after the revolution).


There are at least a couple of us out there who appreciate what you contribute, CH1.

kaiserhoff's picture

The Social Fabric of Europe?  I'm confused.  The only Europe I know about is a place where people have been slaughtering their neighbors over tribute/free passage/borders/religion/any damned old thing, since the beginning of history.  Where is this other Europe?

disabledvet's picture

"in the name of Europe" i agree...this was done. And equally "it made many an American into a tycoon." Wise men were our founders who warned us about "keeping out of European entanglements." Now that we have become fully entangled look at how poor this nation has become. Having said that it should not come as a surprise that the two nations most "European" (Germany and France) have been the most assertive and in many respects "successful" as a result of the EU implosion. They were not merely "Present at the Creation" fact..."they created it." To what do they owe the rest of Europe is indeed a good question. And indeed does this not include Britain? And the United States (which created the euro)? AS i've said before i've only travelled their once...southern Germany...just simply the most beautiful place i have ever traveled to in my life. Obviously i have been told the same is true for Italy, Spain, France and Scotland...and i am sure it is all true. But thanks to Alan Greenspan and his ilk...I am poor now! So....

kaiserhoff's picture

More than anything else, I think travel makes us ABLE to learn. 

Who knows ought of England, who only England's seen?


Freddie's picture

England is not London.


The point is just visiting cities in Europe is a bad way to see and experience Europe.  Sadly, I may never return because the hassle and cost now.  Though I have been looking around at real estate online.  Unfortunately, the Czechs appear to be one of a few countries that have any common sense.  Anymore, the window to escape from O-land is closing.


Ghordius's picture

confused and missing the europe where "people have been slaughtering their neighbors over tribute/free passage/borders/religion/any damned old thing, since the beginning of history"?

Well, I do not miss this "old europe" - remember when Dubya was all about "old europe" and "new europe"? though he meant something completely different

I absolutely refuse to conform to this old cliché so that a few speculative hands can reap some nice profits

disabledvet, why do you come (again) with this old "the US created the euro"? do you have anything to substantiate this claim?

and no, actually Britain does not really belong to this "new europe" - hasn't developed the proper attitude to this, yet. It starts with the damn fact that Britain tends to lead boldly or follow demurely or grudgingly, and we are trying to have a set-up of peers

legorf's picture

Ahh, you guys are certainly not economists. Didn't you learn the trick at shool (cheating aside)?

Play with the axis or just turn the charts upside down, problem solved.

TBT or not TBT's picture

It is so much easier to tilt these newfangled flat screen monitors now.  <turns monitor upside down>  Try that with a CRT...or one of those old single color terminal monitors.   Back in the day, the trick was to squint at the numbers.   No charts,   Kid you not.

Joe moneybags's picture

"The fabric might be tearing, or it might be stronger than I thought".  Brilliant.  The author must have been paid by the word.

Black Markets's picture

These people still have iPhones though, they're hardly shoeless and queuing round the block for a bowl of soup.

kaiserhoff's picture

Quality of life” is hard to measure. There are organizations that give it a shot: the most detailed version we have seen is from the OECD. There are clear patterns in the OECD data: on issues related to work-life balance, life expectancy, environment, personal safety, family support network and life satisfaction, the Eurozone ranks ahead of the US. However, the recession does seem to be taking its toll.


You make a good point.  There are many mornings when I wake up wishing I had just washed up in some Euro backwater, horny and hungry and... what the hell?

Trends matter.  Our president for life has made a bad joke out of HOPIUM, but it's damned hard to go to work some days, if you don't think your kids will have much of a life.  That, I believe, is the source of most of the West's angst.


disabledvet's picture

eh, we just need to start minting more billionaires. After that things will get better.

davidsmith's picture

Could it be that the social fabric in Europe is stronger than many perceive it to be, and that “Europeanization” has advanced a lot since 1992? Perhaps; but I am equally tempted to believe that Europeans simply recognize the financial and economic dangers of immediate dissolution, and remember the words of Benjamin Franklin: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately!”


This is the biggest bunch of drivel I've read in a long time.  First, Franklin made that statement in order to convince the faint-hearted to continue with the REVOLUTION.  Second, a lot of poor people simply turn their faces to the wall and elect to die, slowly or quickly (there wasn't any revolution in England under Thatcher either--people were simply resigned).  Resignation to bad conditions is not a "stronger" social fabric.  There is no fear of "danger"--there is simply resignation.


But not forever!  The model for social unrest is Italy before Mussolini and Spain before Franco.  Fascist dictatorship don't need revolutions in order to come to power--THAT is what history should teach us instead of this false picture painted by this idiot that the destitute in Europe are simply more "European" (which he seems to think means, "more mature").


No more of these creampuff/moronic posts onZH, please.

disabledvet's picture

and a good bar stool as well as more billionaires too.

Dr. Engali's picture

If Europe is anything like the U.S. maybe the reason there is no real unrest is because the peasants are being tossed enough bread crumbs to keep them pacified. Wait until they start getting hungry then let's talk about real unrest.

Whiteshadowmovement's picture

+1 doc!

At this point occupy wall street has better chance of flaring back up and occupying something besides their parents basements

fonzannoon's picture

I am living in the mid 30's NY crowd. What is interesting is that a lot of people I speak to have embraced the idea of a collapse. They don't actually think they will hit their own breaking point. But by accepting the possibility of it, it frees them up to piss away everything today and not worry so much about having anything set aside for later in life. I think that mindset can drive this jalopy of an economy a bit further, but make the crash into the ditch that much worse.

Harbanger's picture

The mid 30's NY crowd has fully embraced the idea of hope and change.  Any money they spend has zero impact on driving the economy. They don't prep for anything and have no idea what a financial collapse means.  I think they will be among the first roof jumpers.  The rest will be eaten by the bandidos.

Freddie's picture

Hipsters and fat people will be the first to expire when things get bad.

Dr. Engali's picture

It's going to take more than the occupy movement. The problem is that just like the tea party movement the occupy movement is easily marginalized by the establishment. It's going to take a mass awakening were all ages, classes, and ethnicities recognize who the real enemy is .... and it's not each other.

fonzannoon's picture

It ain't happening Doc. Anyone who has been out front on this whole thing, from Schiff etc. to you and me and most others on here, have probably been marginalized by the people around us. Not only that but when the shit hits the fan, they will somehow think that our imaginations had a role in manifesting it. I know you are in a different neck of the woods than I am. Hopefully those around you will have more brains. I don't expect it around me. 

Dr. Engali's picture

After 2008 there was a mini awakening , but the bulk of people slipped right back into the matrix. Having said that most if the people I associate with can see through the bullshit, unfortunately too many of them think that if the right party were in power they could fix things.

Anusocracy's picture

If you can't think outside the ant colony, you're certainly not going to want to live outside the ant colony.

Harbanger's picture

In all the OWS- Schiff videos I saw, the "occupiers" looked like clueless morons.  All the other videos I saw in zuccotii park didn't make them look any smarter.  At first the MSM tried very hard to make them look good, but in time the protestors blew it because there were too many cameras.  That's when they were shut down and removed.

Whiteshadowmovement's picture

Dont get me wrong Doc, that was just me taking a dig at them for being precisely the opposite of a mass awakening.

Fonz what you're describing is essentially the same attitude that young people take toward smoking.

Guys sorry for going a bit OT, but since you brought up the mid-30's crowd, let me tell you what I see among my generation-Y.

I think the total lack of "motivation" to put it one way, to ever do anything against the system can be summed up by just wrapping your mind around our hipsterism phenomenon-

I forgot where I saw it but there was a fantastic quote somewhere that totally summed up the hipster subculture: "i want to be an individual, just like all my friends". Lol

I think this highlights why hipsterism is the most shallow and bankrupt subculture movement that ever was. You see, I would contend that the essential problem with Hipsterism is that unlike the real and original dirty Hippies, Hipsterism doesnt make poverty seem cool. Instead it makes being middle class seem cool, which I think is a harder achievement in a way. Unlike Hippies who tried in vain to cut themselves off from commercialism, hipsters are not really known to be actually poor, in fact as you know, they are most often portrayed as trust fund babies who are slumming it. Whether this is an unfair generalization I cannot say, but the ones I have observed in different places are more likely than not from middle class backgrounds and their monthly spending seems in line with middle class incomes. I mean who are we kidding, whole foods and buffalo burgers and craft beers aren't exactly representative of a Bohemian lifestyle. Hippies of the 60's truly made being poor seem cool, I mean they are the ones who revolutionized the utilitarian cars like the VW Beetle and VW surfer bus as icons of a counterculture movement. That is a far cry from the Hipster image as the earliest of adopters of overpriced Apple products.

The only way to make poverty cool, even theoretically, is in the genuine belief that money doesn't matter and moreover, a better, fairer system can be set up (ergo the leftist beliefs of Hippies and their concepts of communal living and bartering, etc.). No Hipster in the world would profess such opinions these days. Sure, they have no problem attaching themselves to fashionable causes like Fair Trade etc, but one of the underlying tenets of Hipsterism is a general affectation of a blithe cynicism about commerce with a tinge of nihilism in general which precludes them from believing in any alternatives. Therefore a Hipster can never really claim to reject materialism. Hipsters are by and large politically neutral (or pro youth candidates), all they know is they are against oppression everywhere. Their idea of subversion is buying recycled shit from local retailers, especially mom and pop stores, and making purchases that are as environmentally friendly as possible. I think to make poverty really authentically seem cool, it would only be possible to pull off such a thing in the genuine belief that individual wealth should be abolished altogether or in the belief that money detracts you from devoting your life to something more important. Trust funds babies slumming it can't make poverty seem cool.

fonzannoon's picture

I told you Doc, when you talk to whiteshadow you better pack a lunch.

 This crowd is getting fun again.

Dr. Engali's picture

I agree with your assessment. I've always thought that gen Y wanted to be part of something bigger , but the thing is that without knowing it they let corporations define what that big thing was.... which of course fattened the bottom line. I see it in everything from the music, the movies , the games. Everything is canned.. It has a formula, and that formula is designed to sell.

fonzannoon's picture

I'd give anything to be single today in NYC thanks to the Gen Y crowd. I go to grab some beers every once in a while with some buddies and we sit next to the Gen Y groups of guys. They watch a football game and talk to each other about fantasy football and how they are training for their tough mudder. They are too busy talking about themselves to realize the 6 hot chicks standing six feet away. Eventually these girls wander over to my older married crowd and start bitching and asking wtf is wrong with those guys....

This happens every time. My one or two unmarried buddies completely clean up. The rest of us married guys walk out of there stunned and jealous.

Dr. Engali's picture

That's funny. Around here being a single guy is bit different. Women are plentiful but they all come with an instant family. When I first moved here in the 90s it was darn near impossible to meet a woman who didn't come with kids.

Whiteshadowmovement's picture

Yeah interesting, i used to live in Miami and got to know a bunch of NYers who had their second place in Miami and used to come down. I mean I know it was Miami but all of them said by comparison Manhattan was the hardest place to meet women by far due to the fact that most girls there split their time between social climbing and mass texting

Totentänzerlied's picture

"social climbing"

Reminds me of nothing so much as Doré's illustrations of Dante's Inferno and the Great Flood.

The hapless damned trying to escape the eternal torments of Hell, or the fury of an angry god's judgment - sounds like New York to me.

Totentänzerlied's picture

"Eventually these girls wander over to my older married crowd and start bitching" is erroneous, because it implies that they ever stop.

Perhaps if you spent 5 minutes "getting to know" these *cough* """lovely young ladies""" in triple scare quotes you'd understand, to utter perfection, why their male peers (no prizes themselves, I know) are concentrating on more enjoyable endeavors.

PS: 1/4 of women in NYC have an STI, so, how do you like those odds?