Austerity, Social Unrest, And Europe's 'Lose-Lose' Proposition

Tyler Durden's picture

The link between government spending cuts and social unrest is highly non-linear and extremely troublesome. We first noted the must-read quantification of the relationship between so-called CHAOS of social unrest and spending cuts back in early January and this brief lecture reiterates some of the frightening conclusions. Critically, small spending cuts impact social unrest in very marginal ways but once the cuts begin to rise to 2-3% of GDP then the probability of considerable and painful social unrest becomes much higher. As Hans-Joachim Voth points out in this INET lecture, analogizing between a burning cigarette as a catalyst for a forest fire in an arid landscape, he suggests the rapid build up of combustible material caused by austerity (youth unemployment in Spain perhaps?) could be inflamed by a seemingly small catalyst that would otherwise be ignored in general (a poor immigrant being shot or motorist murdered in a bad part of town) when spending cuts are at the extremes we see across Europe currently. The frightening reality of the non-economic, real social costs of the Troika's handiwork look set to be tested going forward as the link between periods of very heavy unrest (clusters of rioting for instance) and austerity is very strong. His findings on the post-chaos fiscal policies, (what does the government do once social unrest explodes) are perhaps more worrisome in that governments will immediately withdraw from austerity patterns which leads to some tough game-theoretical perspectives on the endgame in Europe in a 'lose-lose proposition' for austerity as the uncertainty shock of these events cause dramatic drops in Industrial Production.


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battle axe's picture

French Revolution updated to today, but  it encompasses all of the EU. Dust off the Guillotine, sharpen that blade.

bank guy in Brussels's picture

The guillotine was a humane invention, actually ... the French Revolution gave every person condemned to die the nearly instant, aristocrat's death of beheading ... whereas the Anglo countries, America and the world, did the reverse, all executions became slow death and usually by torture, strangling people at the end of a rope, where it can take up to an hour to die.

(Hanging is slow death even where the neck breaks from the modern rope drop, putting the person mercifully into a coma ... but that is not reliable, many still slowly strangle ... and the USA still hanged two people in the 1990s, Japan still hangs people, and much of the world still uses this British Empire torture death.)

We Europeans are really horrified at the death penalty. But if one is going to have it, there are really only two humane ways, either beheading, or bullets, either from a several person firing squad, backed up by a handgun for the coup de grace, or one bullet in the back of the head - like the guillotine, very messy but humane and reliable.

Lethal injection is clearly often a half-hour of mental torture and getting jabbed repeatedly with a needle to find the 'right spot'. When a man in the US - in Utah I think - had the choice of legal injection or the firing squad, he chose the firing squad.

The guillotine is a mess to onlookers, but it was much better than most all the other execution techniques. America's many methods have all gone horribly, tormentingly, torturingly wrong.

Guillotine or bullets, should be the only choices for those societies who simply can't get beyond the death penalty.

jumbo maverick's picture

i know a guy that shot himself in the head with a 9mm blew his eyeball right out. the bullet went out the top of his head. he lived as soon as he pulled the trigger he wished he had not. said it hurt like hell. saw a guy once shoot himself in the head with a .25. he lived for several minutes afterward. each time you thought it was his last breath and he was done he would take another deep breath fighting to iive. also saw a guy once had shot himself with a glock .40 caliber. looked like a missle shot thru the top of his head. you could look right down inside his head. so the moral of the story is don't just use a bullet for the coup de grace-use the right bullet.

DeltaDawn's picture

You hang with a rough crowd!

AldousHuxley's picture

hanging is more effective:


Actor David Carradine killed himself in Thailand from auto erotic asphyxia where he had ropes around his wrists, neck and genitals.




Buck Johnson's picture

I remember that, David Carradine was into erotic asphyxia.

schatzi's picture

Reminds me of the experience my mom had with her neighbours. An elderly couple got attacked by robbers in their house. One chap used a hammer to bash the the old guy and consequently broke his skull so badly, that the socket failed to hold the eyeball and therefore fell out. As the alarm went off for some time, my mother went over to the neighbours, entered the house called the police and ambulance and after having put the eye-ball back into the socket, had to hold it there until the ambulance arrived. He sadly died of his wounds. Happened in Cape Town two years ago.

Calmyourself's picture

Lots of that happening in SA... Wonder why, should be a multiculti paradise by now...

AldousHuxley's picture

It is called revenge after apartheid.


As soon as government reversed policies white ignorant farmers and government workers sank to the bottom of the social and economical ladder. Of course, smart folks left town to US, Canada, or Australia.


Watch out in US....plenty of dumbass farmers and government workers (Tea party hypocrites) living the life in front of illegal alien garden slaves, farming slaves, blacks, etc.


Forget liberal art majors complaining about jobs......Imagine Occupy Wall Street with actual working poor minorities who just had it with white queens like Ann Romney who never worked in her life (and barely graduated from college)

LowProfile's picture


Watch out in US....plenty of dumbass farmers and government workers (Tea party hypocrites) living the life in front of illegal alien garden slaves, farming slaves, blacks, etc.

Clearly, you don't know any US farmers, or you wouldn't dream of libeling them like that.

Not just because any one of them could easily kick your candy ass, but because they are some of the smartest guys you'll meet.

SeattleBruce's picture

"working poor minorities" "white queens" - you sound like Al Sharpton.  What's with the race baiting?  There's plenty of hard working folks of all races, and plenty, of all races that don't work much (along various stages of the economic ladder.)  Sure the power structure is still disporportionately caucasian (whatever that means these days).  But there are more and more people of ANY color that are willing to serve at the highest echelons of the status quo and for TPTB.  So, what in the world is your point?  Don't you think it's time for the rest of us to stick together against TPTB that are messing up this world for their own greedy sakes?

entropos's picture

I want to take you behind a middle school and make you pregnant. 

10mm's picture

Anyone who preys on the elderley and kids should fuckin evaporate on the spot.

Troy Ounce's picture


End of story if you bite the gun.


Well, bite on the right place, that is.

mikesswimn's picture

The most recent hanging in the US was Billey Baily in 1996 who CHOSE that particular method of execution among others.  In fact, in the 34 states with the death penalty, 16 offer secondary methods of execution beyond leathal injection (all have lethal injection), generally available as a choice for the condemned.

We Americans are really horrified at a lack of choice.

Oh, also, you sound like you're a smug douchebag.

AnAnonymous's picture

The animals are out!

Bring back the rope, bring back the electric chair.

Randy Gray, official support to Ron Paul, money bomb inventor.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

AnAnonymous said:

The animals are out!

Bring back the rope, bring back the electric chair.

It also can not blame Chinese citizenism, we all know this is a land of block no tomorrow. Therefore, when the collapse of the very impressive Chinese citizenism economy, you understood why banks are empty shells at the same time and ugly bestiality on its head, but also a loss for words to face the many deserted the once mighty booming company of Peoples Liberation Opium Parlor franchises.

But hey, it is self intoxicating.


navy62802's picture

I wouldn't mind seeing some of our evil bankers drawn and quartered on Times Square.

Things that go bump's picture

Hangings used to be a sort of spectator sport. People brought their families and packed a lunch. The condemned didn't get enough drop to break their neck, and if they didn't have a friend or family member to pull on their legs and give them a quick and merciful exit, they kicked and struggled and choked.  A skilled executioner was something of a showman and could keep a hanging going for a long time. Low born traitors were drawn and quartered. They were hanged for a while and taken down alive and a hook was introducted into their abdomen.  Their intestines were drawn out through their bellies. When they finally died, their bodies were sectioned into quarters and sent to be viewed throughout the kingdom as a warning to others.  High born traitors got the axe.          

SeattleBruce's picture

"Low born traitors were drawn and quartered."

Imagine if you were wrongfully convicted, or set up, and suffered this fate simply because you didn't have enough wealth and connections?  Those were rough times...

Schmuck Raker's picture

I like the way China administers capital punishment.

They just leave you in the middle of the road, and run you over with a truck a couple times.

Koffieshop's picture

"Guillotine or bullets, should be the only choices for those societies who simply can't get beyond the death penalty."


What about dropping people to death? If I were to be executed, I'd prefer being dropped from really really high onto concrete.


It's instant, painless and relyable.

Zaydac's picture

The drop would not be instant. It would seem very long while you were doing it. A bit like the whale in Hitchiker. Or watching Greece decompose. History will say it happened quickly. It doesn't seem quick to those who are there at the time. The time something seems to take is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the observer.

Ahmeexnal's picture

so much for  Bismarck's pipedreams of a pan-european welfare state. back to square one: the pan-european feudal state.

Buzzworthy's picture

Bismarck implemented welfare measures as a way of reducing the influence of the SDP, not because he believed in them.  The landed and industrial elites in late 19th century Germany were under siege and faced what they thought was the very real threat of social upheval (i.e. a la the French Revolution).  Bismarck therefore instituted a policy of Realpolitik that relied on concessions in social welfare in order to diffuse political support for leftist political parties.  The "welfare state" was a defensive measure intended to maintain the power of the status quo, not a policy intended to push a leftist agenda.

Seize Mars's picture


I understand what you're saying but it seems like some sort of tautology. Ok, the welfare state wasn't a policy intended to push a leftist agenda, but what it did was push a leftist agenda.

bank guy in Brussels's picture

Indeed, for whatever the motive, many, perhaps even the majority of wealthier people here in Continental Europe, are what US people would call 'socialists' ...

There is just a broad feeling here that it works, it is better, it creates much social peace and reduces tension.

With the result that rich people in Brussels can pump petrol into their Ferraris and pop in to get a bag of crisps and a 'tall boy' beer, and not get hassled.

Almost no one here wants to 'end the welfare state' - the discussion is how to adjust it, make it fair and sustainable, while keeping lazy people from exploiting it.

Americans are so gone in the other direction - radical Americans tend to the libertarian side - it is almost as if Americans and Europeans cannot really have a conversation.

falak pema's picture

they can about jazz but thats it.

TBT or not TBT's picture

In any case it was about power.   Statism in both cases, meant to elevate an elite, only ostensibly for social justice etc.

Gunther's picture

For Bismarck Germany was settled in the pre-1914 borders. He did not even want to include Austria.
Make blue-collar workers save for their old age was quite different from today's welfare state. Keep in mind that at the time Germany had a gold standard.

Sudden Debt's picture

It's friday, just people having some fun... Molotov anyone?

trilliontroll's picture


(I hope no one gets the reall meaning...)

GeneMarchbanks's picture
President Obama says the US is "on track" to its goal of doubling exports

Now that is comedy.

Unprepared's picture

... of USD inflation, unquote

Ahmeexnal's picture

the US will double it's exports of  "freedom and democracy"?

Hmmm...that means Syria and iRan are not the only ones on the list.

SheepDog-One's picture

Double the exporting of what? Debt?

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


Double the exporting of what? Debt?

Yes, that and fraud.


Tom Servo's picture

Figured he meant "empty shipping containers" as our leading export.

ATM's picture

It's going to be oil, coal and natural gas. All the filthy wealth creating cheap energy. That's what the US is going to export.... oh and paper too, trillions and quadrillions and quintillions of worthless paper.. 

Sudden Debt's picture

Sure he didn't say "on track to doubling the deficits"?

Tenshin Headache's picture

Perhaps he meant in nominal terms.

moskov's picture

I don't believe Europe can maintain social order and stability at all.

They are in fact literally worse than Russia and China during the cold war times.


They would have their Tanks rolling on their streets very soon

GeneMarchbanks's picture

All the 'Tanks' are in Syria just FWI. You're confused, read more hyperbole less, eventually you'll get it.

seamus3500's picture

didn't greece just get a fresh shipment of a 1000 tanks?

JOYFUL's picture

...All the 'Tanks' are in Syria just FWI. You're confused, read more hyperbole less, eventually you'll get it...

in spirit of which advice, here are some of the developments ZH readers are missing, as we round out another week of self imposed (?!??!-clarification invited!!!) blackout of stories from that fringe area of the globe simmering on the verge of regional tensions going nuclear...

...oh for the days when only one url was needed to keep up on important world events!

Hondo's picture

Hyper inflation will have the same tail effect......and there is very little room in the middle

lizzy36's picture

It will be interesting to see what post election France brings.

There is no way with youth unemployment in many areas of Europe between 25%-50% that social stability stands a chance.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Legalize soma. Problem solved.