November 23, 2011
BERLIN - We now have to rescue whatever is left to rescue of the euro, at any price. And as the crisis continues, one thing is abundantly clear: a decade ago, when the currency was introduced, we were way too gullible.
Here are 10 reason why the euro was a mistake. Some of them – superficially at least – seem fairly obvious. Some were aired, and discarded, in the various public and private debates that took place in the 1990s. Other aspects were simply overlooked at the outset, even by currency's most ardent opponents.
1. No conflict resolution mechanism In its first decade, Europe's economic integration was uniquely successful. At their summits, leaders divvied up profits. That dynamic changed with the euro crisis: now they had to share burdens -- something no one was prepared for, either institutionally or mentally. This, in turn, has led to squabbling among nations at a level that hasn't been seen since 1957, when the Rome Treaties were signed.
2. No rallying points With the exception of soccer and the Eurovision Song Contest, there's nothing around which Europeans rally as a whole – no regional TV stations or newspapers, and certainly no common language. During the win-win period, this wasn't much of a problem. But as soon as the euro crisis broke out, a bad-mouthing "us vs. them" attitude quickly took hold. Even if the crisis itself doesn't tear the European Union apart, the basic rallying point problem remains.
3. Language barriers Why were institutions such as Germany's central bank, or the EU Commission not made aware during the last decade of the extent of the problems in Greece and Portugal? Because experts depended on the Greek and Portuguese governments for whatever information they were getting. Not knowing the languages meant they couldn't independently read Greek and other newspapers, which would have made the situation abundantly clear. This is an ongoing problem.
4. Trust Experiences so far are sobering. A case in point is the fudged figures on which Greece's entry into the zone were based in the first place. And there are no signs presently of any behavior anywhere that would warrant greater trust.
5. Control It's not just about the four big economies: Germany, France, Italy and Spain, which together represent three-fourths of the euro zone's economic performance. The crisis has made it clear that even a country like Greece, which barely contributes 2% of the currency zone's GDP, is "system relevant." That means that with the possible exception of tiny Malta, any euro country has the potential to blow up the whole system. A related problem is shifting power – usually seen as German dominance, but it can also mean weaker members taking the others hostage.
6. Shared-value deficit Europe wouldn't necessarily need many shared values to function as a free trade tone. But as a currency union, survival depends on shared economic and political values. Some northern European governments seriously thought the euro would bring a German-style "culture of stability" to southern European countries. But it's become clear that France, Italy, Spain and Greece continue to perceive the European Central Bank as an opportunity. Seen objectively, that may not be wrong, but it contradicts the deeply-held German conviction forged out of negative experience that an independent central bank is the only guarantee against governments piling up debt that is then "inflated away" by printing more money.
7. The missing European mind Differences in mentality between nations would not pose a problem if at the very least there were people in national government and the joint institutions who had cast off national thinking. But there are no "true Europeans' either among politicians, technocrats or among the members of the supposedly independent European Central Bank.
8. Interest rates When the euro was first introduced, even skeptics thought the economic situations among currency union members would soon balance out. Not so, and that's a problem because there's only one key interest rate. It's too high for some countries, too low for others. The results are unnecessarily long declines in economic activity and high rates of job loss on the one hand, and high inflation -- and in some cases bubbles (think: real estate markets in Spain and Ireland) – on the other.
9. Lack of mobility People have to be mobile in a currency union – ready to move to wherever the good jobs are so that areas where jobs are plentiful balance areas where they aren't. With time, Europeans are becoming more mobile, as the number of Spaniards migrating to Germany shows. But there's still a long way to go.
10. No real will to enforce the rules Despite all the difficulties, the currency union could work if governments would exert "peer pressure" on each other. But the fathers of the currency union overestimated their own political caste. Greece, Italy, Germany – all have treated Maastricht Treaty rules like non-binding suggestions and no amount of EU Commission "Blue Letters' have done any good in changing that. None of the violators, in other words, have been punished.
Read the original story in German
Photo - Images_of_Money
Die Welt ("The World") is a German daily founded in Hamburg in 1946, and currently owned by the Axel Springer AG company, Europe's largest publishing house. Now based in Berlin, Die Welt is sold in more than 130 countries. A Sunday edition called Welt am Sonntag has been published since 1948.
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Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
October 25, 2021
Welcome to Monday, where an apparent coup is underway in Sudan, Colombia's most-wanted drug lord gets caught, and Michael Jordan's rookie sneakers score an auction record. We also focus on a report that the Thai government is abusing the country's centuries-old law to protect the monarchy from criticism (lèse-majesté) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters.
[*Zdraveite - Bulgarian]
🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Developing: Sudan leaders arrested amid military coup reports: Soldiers have arrested several members of Sudan's transitional government as well as civilian leaders, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has reportedly been put under house arrest, in what the information ministry called a military coup. Pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets of the capital city Khartoum where there are reports of gunfire and clashes.
• Colombia's most wanted drug lord to be sent to U.S.: Colombia's most dangerous drug trafficker, known as Otoniel, was caught after a joint army, air force and police operation and faces extradition to the U.S. He led the country's largest criminal gang, and was on the U.S. most wanted list for years.
• Xi speech marks China's UN anniversary: China's President Xi Jinping marked the 50th anniversary of Beijing's entry into the United Nations with a speech calling for greater global cooperation, adding that issues like climate change, terrorism and cyber security needed multilateral solutions. Taiwan was not mentioned.
• German ISIS bride jailed for crimes against humanity: A German court has sentenced a German woman and former member of the Islamic State to 10 years in prison for letting a 5-year-old Yazidi enslaved girl die of thirst in Iraq. The case is one of the world's first trials to prosecute a war crime against the Yazidis.
• COVID update: The Beijing marathon scheduled next weekend has been postponed until further notice as China seeks to stamp out Delta variant outbreak and return to zero cases ahead of the Winter Olympics next February. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases in Eastern Europe have surpassed the 20 million mark as the region fights against its worst outbreak since the pandemic started and vaccination efforts lag.
• Goodbye, Gunther: U.S. actor James Michael Tyler, best known for his role as the barista Gunther on the TV show Friends, has died at 59 of prostate cancer.
• Sneakers record: A pair of Michael Jordan's white-and-red Nike shoes, which he wore during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 1984, sold for $1.47 million — a new record price for sneakers at auction.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
"The end of a boss," titles Colombian daily El Espectador, reporting on the arrest of drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, known as Otoniel, who had led Colombia's largest criminal gang and had been on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's most wanted list for years. He was captured in a raid and will be extradited to the U.S.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
A Georgia man is being prosecuted for wire fraud after spending most of his business's COVID relief loan to buy one Pokémon trading card for $57,789.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
How Thailand's "Lèse-Majesté" law is used to stifle all protest
Once meant to protect the royal family, the century-old law has become a tool for the military-led government in Bangkok to stamp out all dissent. A new report outlines the abuses.
👑 Thailand's Criminal Code "Lèse-Majesté" Article 112 imposes jail terms for defaming, insulting, or threatening the monarchy, with sentences of three to 15 years. This law has been present in Thai politics since 1908, though applied sparingly, only when direct verbal or written attacks against members of the royal family. But after the May 2014 military coup d'état, Thailand experienced the first wave of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of at least 127 individuals arrested in a much wider interpretation of the law.
🚨 The recent report "Second Wave: The Return of Lèse-Majesté in Thailand," documents how the Thai government has "used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations." The investigation shows 124 individuals, including at least eight minors, have been charged with lèse-majesté between November 2020 and August 2021. The new wave of charges is cited as a response to the rising pro-democracy protests across Thailand over the past year.
💻 The more than a century-old law is now largely playing out online, where much of today's protest takes place in Thailand. Thai student activist Juthatip Sirikan says people are willing to go further on social media to expose information such as how the king intervenes in politics and the monarchy's accumulation of wealth, information the mainstream media rarely reports on them. Not surprisingly, however, social media is heavily monitored and the military is involved in Intelligence operations and cyber attacks against human rights defenders and critics of any kind.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
"Children are going to die. People are going to starve."
— The United Nations warns that Afghanistan verges on a "total breakdown" as millions of Afghans, including children, could die of starvation unless urgent action is taken by the international community. The agency calls for the release of frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse, despite concerns over the Taliban government. A recent report said that about 97% of Afghanistan's population may sink below the poverty line, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley warned that more than half of Afghanistan's population of 39 million were facing acute food insecurity and "marching to starvation" in comparison to 14 million two months ago.
🕌 🔍 IN OTHER NEWS
Dutch cities have been secretly probing mosques since 2013
At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.
The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.
The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.
Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talked to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.
All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.
It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.
"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.
Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger
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