Tuesday, 15 May 2012

07:48 - I’m working on the final lab session in the forensic biology group, on separating DNA with gel electrophoresis. That’s the final lab session, other than the one that I skipped back in the soil analysis group, on chemical characteristics of soil. For that one, I intend to do a quantitative analysis of phosphate using the molybdate test. I’ve never done that one, or if I have I don’t remember doing it, so I need to mix up some reagents and do the reaction several times under different conditions to make sure things are reproducible before I write up the lab.

Barbara’s firm is having an employee night at the stadium tonight. If it’s not rained out, she’s going to baseball game; if we have another deluge–we had 6 inches (15 cm) of rain yesterday–she’ll just hit the gym as usual.


11:33 - A year ago, I said that Greece reminded me of that scene in Blazing Saddles where Bart takes himself hostage with his pistol to his head, threatening to shoot unless his would-be lynchers backed off.

That worked for Bart, and it’s been working for Greece for a year now. Each time the Troika tried to force Greece to implement realistic measures to deal with its debt crisis, Greece refused, with the implied threat of defaulting on monies owed to EU banks, the ECB, the IMF, and other government and quasi-government entities. The EU, of course, never really cared if Greece defaulted on monies owed to private creditors. In fact, the Troika forced through the short-sighted private-sector involvement, whereby private investors were forced to take an immediate 75% write-down on the debts owed them, in return for new Greek bonds valued at a nominal 25% of the debt Greece actually owed. (Of course, those “new” Greek bonds, issued in March 2012, are now worth essentially nothing.) But the Troika made sure of the important part; that Greece continued to pay the debts owed to the Troika.

Well, it’s now obvious to everyone that those debts will also have to be written off. Actually, it’s been obvious for a long time, but EU leaders are just getting around to admitting it publicly. And, with Greece’s departure from the eurozone and return to the drachma no longer in any doubt whatsoever, Greece no longer has that threat to hold over the Troika’s head. That means no more money from the EU, the ECB, and the IMF, which means Greece must default (again) the next time a significant bond payment becomes due. That won’t be long.

Meanwhile, the EUrocrats are, as always, living in a dream world. They believe–just how catastrophically wrongly will become obvious very soon after Greece defaults–that “contagion” can be avoided. This despite the fact that Spanish 10-year bond yields are higher now than they’ve ever been since the euro was introduced, with Italian bond yields not far behind. When Greece defaults, the bond market will immediately shift its focus to the other weakling eurozone countries, namely Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland, with Belgium and France not far behind. Many people, including me, have made reference to a toppling row of dominoes, but in fact the impending catastrophe is more likely to resemble a house of cards, with the whole mess collapsing in one huge pile. I hope Germany has done as I speculated they’ve been doing, printing new marks and getting ready to change back to their old currency overnight. Otherwise, even Germany won’t escape the collapse.

The EU succeeded in putting off the collapse for a year now, but at hideous cost. I am reminded of that famous film clip of the catastrophic failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, caused by positive feedback. Everything, and I mean everything, the EU authorities have done for the past year has been positive feedback in terms of the effect on the euro, which, like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, was fatally flawed at the design stage. Ultimately, the result will be the same.


16:31 - Now that Merkozy is no more, with Francois Hollande replacing Sarkozy as the French president, we needed a new name for the French partnership with Angela Merkel. Apparently, Frangela is out to an early lead. I think my proposal is much better. Merde.


16:44 - Oh, my. The day has been full of bad omens for Greece, if you believe that sort of thing. First, Hollande’s plane was struck by lightning on its way to Berlin. Then, in a story eerily reminiscent of Harry Chapin’s 30,000 Pounds of Bananas, a tractor-trailer crash in upstate New York has spilled 36,000 pounds of yogurt. Greek yogurt.

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34 Responses to Tuesday, 15 May 2012

  1. Chad says:

    We too have a company outing at a baseball game coming up. Unfortunately, unless it’s during the work day (so everyone can ditch work) attendance is almost zero.

      

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Barbara’s firm always does an evening game, with catered food before the game. They get pretty good attendance. I went to one last year, mainly because Barbara wanted me to meet the people she worked with and vice versa.

      

  3. SteveF says:

    Question for Chuck: Some months ago I suggested that you use a computer-controlled power strip and a powered USB expander in one of your radio shacks. The problem to be solved was that the doohickey attached to the computer by USB would sometimes get spastic and you’d have to physically drive out to reset things.

    Did you try that? Did it work?

    Someone I know (in meatspace, if you can believe it) is having a sorta similar problem. If that solution worked for you it should work for him.

      

  4. Dave B. says:

    I think my proposal is much better. Merde.

    I always wondered why I took French in high school. Now I know. I did so that I could understand your joke an undisclosed number of years later. Until now, I thought I took French because I wanted to sleep with the women who taught high school French…

      

  5. BGrigg says:

    Heh heh, I only know the bad words in French. The press will never use it, as they didn’t think of it.

      

  6. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Does merde mean something bad in French?

      

  7. SteveF says:

    The only French swear word I know is “soap”.

      

  8. Chuck Waggoner says:

    @SteveF

    I suggested that solution, but I am not the Chief Engineer, and he ended up setting the computers up so they could be rebooted remotely. That solved the problem, too.

    But the whole situation has changed now. The station did a fund raising event for several months and now has a brand-new solid state transmitter. That free’d up a temperature probe that was being used inside the cabinet of the old tube transmitter, so the problematic temperature sensor has been replaced with that one.

    Tube transmitter was about 65% efficient and generated a LOT of heat, in addition to having 4kv of high voltage to apply to the plate of the final stage amplifier tube. New transmitter is about 90% efficient, is about 1/20th the size (fits in a standard rack and is only about 16 inches tall), and the air that comes out of the exhaust ducts is literally no warmer than what comes from the output duct of my laptop. Plus, the 120v input is the highest voltage in the unit—far safer than the old tube unit.

    That tube transmitter was built to military specs and cost $35k when manufactured in 1984. With reliable power, it could easily do jungle service and never flinch. Over half of all AM and FM radio broadcast transmitters in the US are still tube models, but I do not think one could be manufactured in today’s economy to the standards our old one possessed for less than about $100k. I cannot say how much the solid-state cost (we got a special deal, and it is a fraction of the old unit)

      

  9. Chuck Waggoner says:

    (which we got free as a tax write-off from another station in Ohio). The new solid-state is very noisy, as it has 6 fans on it that make it sound like an RC helicopter about to take off.

    The old transmitter will be hauled out within the next few months. It has performed excellently—even though it was hit with a power-line spike during an electrical storm that melted one of the wires running from the breaker box to the transmitter, and caused some other failures in the transmitter (high voltage contactor and electrolytic capacitors). Not sure the new one could take a spike like that; however, it has significantly more line filtering and protection than the old one did. Anybody could fix the old transmitter, whereas if the new one breaks down, it will not be serviced in the field but will have to be sent back to the factory. New young whippersnapper chief engineers don’t care about that, though. They are somehow intimidated by tube equipment, while being quite willing to box up a solid-state device and sending it off for someone else to fix. Still, the dramatically increased efficiency will make a huge difference in the power bill.

    Sorry I couldn’t give you a ‘yes it worked’, but an alternate solution was implemented.

      

  10. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I cannot explain why the first post above was only partial.

      

  11. OFD says:

    And still another French swear word is “America.”

    But maybe I exaggerate.

    ” I hope Germany has done as I speculated they’ve been doing, printing new marks and getting ready to change back to their old currency overnight. Otherwise, even Germany won’t escape the collapse.”

    It was my understanding that the German presses were working O.T. on all three shifts seven days a week recently printing new marks. Soon, they will once again stride across Europe, a mighty colossus. Maybe partner up with Russia. I gotta tell our daughter to bag the French, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, etc. and get ramped up on German and Russian.

    I will stick with Old Norse, Latin, and Old English. The dead rarely talk back.

      

  12. SteveF says:

    Thanks, Chuck. I suggested it to him and he can try it or not, as he sees fit. I’ll also suggest setting up the computer to remote boot, though I don’t know if that’ll reset whatever needs to be reset.

      

  13. Miles_Teg says:

    Dave B wrote:

    “I always wondered why I took French in high school. Now I know. I did so that I could understand your joke an undisclosed number of years later. Until now, I thought I took French because I wanted to sleep with the women who taught high school French…”

    All of my family took German in high school, I was the single exception who took French. I was 12 1/2 when I started high school and we had a quite attractive young French lady teacher called Miss Petrasic (sp?). She was replaced after a week or two by Mrs Masters, who was a crusty old battle axe and one of the deputy principals. [sigh]

    Actually, I’ve never understood the fixation some people here had with their female teachers when they were in school. There were plenty of girls my own age to, ah, admire. I’ll never forget Miss De Nardi, who was my maths teacher for the first term in Year 12. She was a goddess, and more than a bit of a flirt, but she was replaced by a male teacher at the start of term 2.

      

  14. Miles_Teg says:

    RBT wrote:

    “Does merde mean something bad in French?”

    Yeah, well, something like stercus in Latin.

      

  15. BGrigg says:

    Merde is shit or crap, and you know it. :)

      

  16. OFD says:

    It is “kee” in Thai. I forget the Vietnamese, Khmer and Lao. But them buggers understood French anyway, and if a young handsome stud G.I. like myself remembered his middle school French and could parlez-vous petit, he could get over like a big dog with the local rural hotties.

      

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    Bill the Francophile wrote:

    “Merde is shit or crap, and you know it. :)”

    Ahh, but I didn’t know he knew some French. I know he knows some Latin from high school, and some German from his cookery chemistry classes, but not that he’d picked up some French. Perhaps he had a French girlfriend he hasn’t told us about, although I’m sure she wouldn’t have used merde to describe him.

    As I’ve said, we should all go back to Latin.

      

  18. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Hmm. Been hearing of the super-imminent collapse of Europe for a long time here. Still waiting for it to happen. Of course, the Telegraph WANTS it to happen, so they are about the least reliable predictor of the future and reporter of current events available.

    Now it’s going to be a 9-11 collapse, is it? I’ll believe it when I see it.

    The whole world has known for from months to a year that Greece is a COMPLETE write-off. Of course, every economist on the planet except Dean Baker and the late Jude Wanniski are shocked to the core by every event that happens—even when the outcome is clear to non-economists that prove to be correct. Greece will get what they need to survive, and the IMF and Christine Lagarde can go to hell. The IMF and World Bank are nothing more than the sharkster loan department sales arm of big American mafia-rule banking, and the sooner they are shunned by more than Brazil, the better. They have caused much misery and death around the world; Argentina and Brazil know that full well; and it is time both of those mafia wolves in sheep clothing die.

    Amazingly, Tiny Town has a native German visiting. He confirms what I have heard from family and friends there: Merkel has handled things very badly for all of Europe; everybody knows that and wants change. Germany is not where America got its ‘make it by your own bootstraps or die in the street’ attitude. It’s German-derived austerity that is on the ropes now; not the whole of Europe, like the Telegraph wants you to believe.

      

  19. BGrigg says:

    Greg wrote: “As I’ve said, we should all go back to Latin.”

    Pass! As funny as the scene in “The Life of Brian”, conjugating Latin verbs is not my idea of a good time. It is, OTOH, an almost perfect example of Hell on Earth.

      

  20. BGrigg says:

    *As funny as the scene in “The Life of Brian” was!

      

  21. Miles_Teg says:

    Conjugating verbs and declining nouns is what makes Latin so easy.

      

  22. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Nothing is easy in a language that forces gender on all things.

      

  23. Miles_Teg says:

    Yeah, I wish there wasn’t gender too, but lots of languages have it. At least in Latin the gender of a noun is *usually* sensible, unlike Hindi where it often just has to be memorized. Of course French has le soutien-gorge, a masculine word for a piece of feminine clothing. Crazy.

      

  24. Miles_Teg says:

    Interesting article about the consequences of Greece exiting the Euro:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-16/a-greek-exit3a-how-would-it-work3f/4012490?section=world

    From the article: “All euro notes and coins which originated in Greece would no longer be legal tender, and Greece’s debt would potentially double. ”

    Our host said something like this a few months back and I was skeptical, because when I’d handled Euros there was no obvious (to me) difference between the various Euros. I’d just assumed they were all issued by some sort of European Central Bank.

      

  25. Miles_Teg says:

    RBT wrote:

    “Oh, my. The day has been full of bad omens for Greece,”

    I don’t believe in these new-fangled omens. If reading cat entrails was good enough for the Romans it’s good enough for me.

      

  26. brad says:

    “It’s German-derived austerity that is on the ropes now; not the whole of Europe”

    I normally agree with Chuck, but not here. What is this austerity of which you speak?

    The thing is, “austerity” has been used to mean “we aren’t spending even more money that we don’t have”. Sort of like “spending cuts” in the US are calculated not against what one spent last year, but against what one might dream of being able to spend.

    The whole idea of using government spending to increase GDP is crazy at its base. As far as I can tell, there is zero evidence of this ever having worked anywhere. Meanwhile, there are plenty of counterexamples. Lonely Switzerland, with a Constitutional requirement to maintain a balanced budget, began recovering from the banking crisis last year. This despite banking being one of our major industries. The fact that the government was *forbidden* from insane spending with borrowed money will have played a role here.

    People have a need to do something, no matter how stupid. Politicians can “do something” with other people’s money and never face the consequences. If German austerity has reigned in this impulse, it will only have been for the good. Mr. Hollande’s election is, imho, a very dangerous turning point for all of Europe…

      

  27. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Chuck’s problem is that he takes claims by politicians at face value. The eurozone is in a much, much deeper hole than the politicians will admit publicly. It’s on the hook not for hundreds of billions of euros, but for tens of trillions.

    Just as in the US we have an “official” debt of less than $20 trillion, but an actual debt (counting unfunded liabilities at all levels) of something like $100 trillion, the eurozone’s official numbers do not reflect reality. Hell, just dealing with the direct costs of the imminent Greek default is ultimately going to cost probably a couple trillion euros. Given that the EU and all of its banks are literally bankrupt, we’re looking at an ultimate price in the tens of trillions. However that’s dealt with, by default or by inflation, everyone is going to end up paying that price.

      

  28. Don Armstrong says:

    “Of course French has le soutien-gorge, a masculine word for a piece of feminine clothing. Crazy.”

    Not hardly. Most men would love to do that job.

      

  29. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Chuck’s problem is that he takes claims by politicians at face value.

    Nothing could be further from the truth, and anybody who reads my comments knows otherwise. I pay very little attention to politicians in any country. Politicians lie all the time, so who cares what they have to say? Certainly not me.

    But similarly, I don’t buy this concept that imaginary contrived, unseen debt piled on yet more fictional debt, somehow amounting to trillions, eclipses governments’ ability to service it. What has threatened the service of government debt in Europe is the reckless Angela Merkel, demanding—and getting—a tourniquet applied to the arteries, while the patient is clearly starving to death.

    Chuck says:
    “It’s German-derived austerity that is on the ropes now; not the whole of Europe”

    brad says:
    I normally agree with Chuck, but not here. What is this austerity of which you speak?
    http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2012/05/omg-austerity.html

    Hmm. You do not see the cuts implemented since 2009? That chart hardly shows it, but the cuts have been hundreds of billions in each and every troubled country since 2009—and those countries are teeny-tiny compared to the US. Such cuts are cripplingly major for their much, much smaller economies, and have caused serious unemployment in all those countries, slowing their growth, which includes reversing GDP gains. But that is not all: each and every one of those countries also raised taxes. Just what the US would do in a downturn, too, no? cut spending dramatically and raise taxes!

    Now a housing bubble hit both Spain and Ireland around 2008 about a year after one hit the US in 2007. Did the US implement spending cuts during the US property crisis and raise taxes? Oh. No, you say? Why not, I wonder? Should Spain be required to sustain government spending budget cuts and increase taxes, when in a similar situation to the US and the US does not do that to itself? In fact, did the US implement ANY budget cuts related to the double-whammy of housing, then banking crises? No? Why should European nations be required to do so? Are they special? Their spending to GDP ratios in the troubled nations, were actually less percentage-wise than in the US.

    In fact, the economic woes of the housing and banking crises in the US were met with the unprecedented spending of quantitative easing. Why does Europe not get to do that on a proportionately similar scale to solve its very similar housing and banking crises?

    Except for jobs, I can tell you that the US economy is humming along pretty well—probably at about 1997 levels now. There are more people of working age today than then, thus the higher unemployment when the economy had to step back 15 years, but the number in the working population did not.

    However, Merkel—witch that she is—screamed bloody murder and got her buddy Sarkozy in France and the ECB to whip those poorer EU nations and punish them good—just like circus animals and conquered countries.

    There is no economist I trust, who believes that ANY reduction in government spending should be attempted during economic bad times—and that even includes a good number from today’s members of the Austrian school. The fact is that times were not that bad in those unfortunate EU countries, until Witch Merkel started screaming Wolf, scared the hell out of investors, and destroyed the sovereign debt market in the EU.

    Before Merkel’s killer intervention, the debt to GDP ratio in Italy had actually been declining for several years. Meanwhile, both Spain and Ireland were running budget surpluses. But not since Witch Merkel’s austerity!

    I cannot think of enough derogatory words for Merkel. She needs to resign, step aside, and let someone with actual brains take over. She is a fool, responsible for needless misery and suffering of whole European nations. None of this would have happened without Merkel’s wicked interference.

    This is EXACTLY the same crap that the IMF and World Bank mafia have repeatedly inflicted on countries around the world since WWII. Those countries, already bad risks, were given massive loans they should never have had, because the IMF and World Bank are merely high-pressure salesmen, made up primarily of large US banks (at least that is where the vast bulk of the money comes from) and like venture capitalists, they are sharks who want their cake and to eat it too—they want high interest returns AND their money back, AND control of the company (country). If you loan to countries in trouble, then you are most certainly going to be in trouble. German banks did plenty of lending to inflate the Spanish and Irish housing bubble. Trouble is, that is the point when the banking mafia get out their godfather techniques and tell those countries they must either pay up, or eliminate government spending and raise taxes. That has caused economic crisis in country after country where the IMF and World Bank have been involved. It brought dictators to power in lesser countries and made Argentina and Brazil bitter enemies of the IMF and World Bank. The best thing that could happen to them, is for ALL countries with money from those two mafia organizations to repudiate all debts and put them out of business once and forever by bankrupting them.

    Witch Merkel learned from the IMF and World Bank: cut government spending during recession, tell everybody that those countries’ sovereign debt is worthless, cripple the nation’s economy, and make them raise taxes, too! Yes, yes. Get out the whip and start hitting them!

    We obviously have a real difference in economic outlook between us here, and I suspect it is because I am not at all aligned with Conservatives on this, who believe countries should be operated like households. That is not possible. AND, spending needs to grow as economies grow. Getting a return from spending nothing on investment is as impossible in business as it is in national economies.

    All I can say is—thanks to better economists than the EU has, the US did not do—in the face of our economic downturn,—what Merkel the Hexe has caused the EU to do. We are doing fine today—better than most expected after trillions in personal and business asset loss. And it was not done with austerity; quite the opposite.

    Where IS Dorothy when you need her to stomp down the Witch?

      

  30. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    So, Chuck, I guess you took my advice a year or so ago to put all your assets into Greek bonds? I remember you talking back then about how safe euro-denominated sovereign bonds were. Just imagine the interest you could have earned. Well, except for that tiny little issue with Greece defaulting.

    But you still have a chance. Spanish and Italian 10-year bonds are currently paying 6% or more.

    Incidentally, you persist in the fallacy of calling increased spending “cuts”. Even the countries undergoing the most severe so-called “austerity measures”, including Greece, are spending more this year than they did last, when they spent more than they did the year before that. How are those “cuts”?

    I read a great quote from Rajoy, the Spanish PM, yesterday. He’s talking about Spain needing to be bailed out (although he doesn’t use those words). He says that Spain “could soon find it difficult to fund itself affordably on the bond market”.

    Which sums up the problem. One doesn’t “fund” oneself by borrowing money. One funds oneself by earning money. As Greece already knows in spades and Spain and Italy are learning now, eventually no one is willing to lend to deadbeats. Spain is bitching and moaning about being allowed to run “only” a 5.3% deficit. Hell, they should be running about a 90% surplus, with that surplus going to pay down the shitload of debt they already have outstanding.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The euro will break up, probably within weeks or even days, when Greece defaults again. We’ll see them return to the drachma because they’ll have no other choice, just as Spain, Italy, and the rest will have no choice. And those tens of trillions of debt are in no way imaginary. We’re going to see either huge defaults or massive inflation of the euro to make them go away. Either way, those trillions of debts will be in default and the people who hold them will be screwed.

      

  31. Chuck Waggoner says:

    I don’t know where you get your debt figures, but figures in the CIA World Factbook, do not even come close to supporting your amounts. Moreover, I have NEVER said European bonds of any country were okay investments, nor have I ever suggested that anyone—including myself—invest in them. In fact, I have said nothing about Europe, except that the euro will not disappear, nor will the EU break up. It is an incredible leap to interpret that as a recommendation to buy Greek bonds.

    Now the EU cannot kick Greece out of the union. Greece can try to leave, but it would be stupidly foolish to do so. Bottom line is that they have the EU by the testicles; they cannot be kicked out, and they cannot practically be made to do the impossible: sell worthless bonds. That means—unless Greece stupidly withdraws—the final ball will be in the EU’s court, and they cannot make Greece go away.

    If Greece itself withdraws, then they will be dead meat. They have nothing that the world wants, except a tourist destination. Even their olive oil is no longer considered a quality, competitive product on world markets. That is the opposite of Argentina, which has huge natural resource assets, and possessed a well-honed farming industry when they defaulted. Argentina recovered because it had resources and working industries, needing only to straighten out their inability to cope with the terrific deflation forced upon them by remaining tied 1:1 to the US dollar. In fact, the Argentine finance minister during that terrible period of their default, has recommended publicly to Greece that they NOT withdraw from the euro, because of the reasons just noted; additionally, he has remarked on the fact that Greece is super-tiny in all aspects, making comparisons to Argentina disingenuous. He has repeatedly said there is no correlation between Argentina and Greece, and no one should encourage Greece to do what Argentina did. It will not help them.

    I agree with Dean Baker, who notes that he agrees with Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, and Mark Thoma, in calling for the ECB to guarantee the debt of the crisis countries. That would allow those countries to once again sell bonds at reasonable rates after Witch Merkel’s shrill shilling caused their bonds to rocket radically to ill-affordable levels, and would finally give the EU and the rest of the world a rest to get on with life.

    It is tough to deal with the glee most here feel over the EU’s predicament, and the constant misstatement of the overall situation. Maybe it is the American infatuation with zero-sum games, and if the EU wins in any way, it is somehow a loss for America. Americans all around me are only all too happy to predict the EU’s demise. I am in no way encouraging religious-based solutions, but I sure do not want to see whole countries suffering like Greece and Spain are—Italy and Portugal to a lesser extent, and Ireland hardly at all, except for population emigration of the young.

    I WANT to see Europe succeed. Even were the southern countries economic sinners (which they are not), I do not believe they should be cast into hell, instead of helped. The fact is that spending by each troubled EU nation, except Greece, was far less as a percentage of GDP than that occurring both then and now in the US. What in the hell is all the criticism about, when those EU countries were living far more within their means than America has been/is? Again, except for Greece, who lied about its economic status, the other nations were only marginally out-of-line with the super, overly-stringent EU guidelines, and every one of them but Greece-the-unknown was gaining ground on complying with the EU parameters. And remember that Germany was the first pot to break the EU spending rules—right out of the gates,—then call the kettle black when others did the same, too. I just don’t get the hypocrisy hype.

    Europe must deal with what they have, within the way they put things together. That means the North will HAVE to support the South to continue the union, whether they like it or not. Funny there are no criticisms of the US South having spent a century in the doldrums after being forced to stay in the Union, but yet Americans and Brits are the first to happily condemn the EU to extinction after less than a decade. They are an intolerant, hypocritical bunch. Merkel needs to emigrate to the US. She would fit right in with American politics. Might even help speed ITS downfall with her pugnaciousness.

      

  32. Miles_Teg says:

    I’ve never understood how currency union can work without political union, and political union is a very bad thing, as power should be decentralised, not centralised. One of my pals who used to work in merchant banking explained how a single currency could work, and I believed him as much as someone who was telling me how to turn lead into gold.

    As to the South, I think it would have been best if Lincoln had let them go. far fewer would have left, perhaps only 2-4 states, and they would have been forced to crawl back in on any terms they could back once the madness of the fire-eaters had worn off. Any states that had remained out would be like Bolivia today.

    I don’t want the EU to fail either, I think it reduces currency conversion costs, reduces the risk of war and makes travel much more convenient. But you have to admit that the southern tier have been bludging off the rest. What would be ideal is for them to impose discipline on themselves, not have it forced from the north.

      

  33. Chuck Waggoner says:

    That just isn’t true about the South living off the rest. That is a bunch of malarkey spread by politicians and false reports in newspapers. Honest journalism is non-existent today—in all countries. Just read only a few days of Dean Baker

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/beat-the-press/

    and you will see how unfounded most reporting is. Here is just one recent example of many that Baker points out daily:

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/wapo-wrong-again-spain-and-ireland-did-not-overspend-and-overborrow

    It is unfortunate that the media can paint a picture of southern Europe as comprised of fat and lazy people, and have the world believe it—but that is the power the media holds these days. And most people have no interest in digging further, like Baker, to find out the truth; they just accept the claim.

      

  34. Chuck Waggoner says:

    As far as political vs. economic union goes, Europe did what it could agree on, in order to get things moving, then acted. IMO, the issue is a red herring, because in living there for nearly a decade, it was clear that every nation involved in the EU was actively changing their laws to allow a closer political union. They did what they could agree on at the outset, and moved forward on those things that needed changing as they went along. What f*cking more can they do? They all agreed perfectly on a few things at the outset, then implemented that agreement. If you wait on perfection, things will never happen. And I venture to say that after more than 230 years, there are a lot of people inside and outside the US who say we still have not gotten it right.

    Nationalism is forever gone in economics. Those who insist on it will starve and fail miserably, and Africa and S. America are living proof of that. As far as I can see, the only thing still subject to nationalism is the Internet. Every country is setting up its own Intranet, and crossing the border is becoming increasingly difficult as time goes on. Right now, that is the only place nationalism is surviving. There may be people who champion nationalism, but fortunately, those actually making decisions and implementing them, are wisely dead-set against it.

    For more information on figures of spending and national debt, see the IMF website. It actually seems to have more updated information than the CIA World Factbook site.

      

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