Sunday, 24 March 2013

09:00 – The patience of Germany for continuous bailouts of other eurozone countries has now obviously been completely exhausted. At this point, Germany obviously doesn’t care whether Cyprus meets its terms for a bailout, believing that the “contagion” can be contained. They’re wrong, but that’s what they believe. For Cyprus, the point is moot anyway. Either way, Cyprus has been written off. Its economy is based on off-shore banking, and that no longer exists whether or not Cyprus is bailed out. To Cypriots, it must seem as though this catastrophe has occurred overnight, but there’s no question that Cyprus has now become the new Greece, with all that implies. And Cypriots are pissed, feeling abandoned and betrayed by the rest of the eurozone, particularly Germany. They’re screwed either way, and my guess is that this week they’ll tell the EU to get screwed. That means Cyprus defaults, crashes out of the euro, and returns to its local currency, but at this point I think most Cypriots no longer care.


45 thoughts on “Sunday, 24 March 2013”

  1. I hope Cyprus does crash out of the Euro. The continuous bailouts have already massively prolonged and worsened the situation. If they had skipped the whole bailout business, Europe might already be on the way to recovery.

    But I don’t believe it. Just watch: they will kick the can just a little bit farther down the road.

  2. I think the difference this time is that Merkel is really, really convinced that Cyprus is too small to matter. Also, she’s up for reelection soon, and her electorate is becoming increasingly vocal about throwing their good money after bad. Politically, I don’t think Merkel can back off even slightly.

    And, as I said, it’s really immaterial whether or not Cyprus ends up being bailed out. Either way, they’re toast. Their second-largest bank, Popular Bank, is already belly-up. Their largest bank, Bank of Cyprus, is a zombie, and the Troika is insisting that it accept the liabilities of Popular Bank, including the ECB senior debt, which boosts BoC up to something like 9.1 billion euros of debt that it has no hope of repaying. Germany is determined to destroy Cyprus’s offshore banking model, which is essentially Cyprus’s whole economy. For all intents and purposes, Germany has already succeeded in doing that, whatever the results of the bailout discussions.

  3. Okay, what did Cyprus do to get into their current fix?

    o spent at unsustainable levels

    o based its economy on no-questions asked bank accounts that paid very high rates of interest

    o invested very heavily in Greek banks and thus lost a great deal of the investment

    o trusted the EU

  4. … and here in the USA, Home Security continues staffing up, arming, and deploying large armored vehicles (used, gotten from the USA army for a very cheap price) for the day when America’s vaunted and glorious cities are having rioters run amok:
    http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2013/03/24/

    BTW, my former USMC son says that MRAPs suck. They are 10+ ft tall and make very big targets for RPGs. He hated them in Iraq and prefers humvees as they are able to sneak into areas of low profile and go cross country easily.

  5. Nice accurate cah-toon, there, homes.

    The drivers bettuh remembuh that we know where they bunk, where they eat, where they pee.

  6. The drivers bettuh remembuh that we know where they bunk, where they eat, where they pee.

    Yeppers. That’s what I’ve been saying for a while. Talking about ways to disable the armored vehicles is stupid. All the TSA gropers and the F-troopers and the politicians live somewhere, and someone knows where it is. It would be a good idea, whenever the country class talks to neighbors and people here and there, to find out what they do for a living and where they work. At some point we’ll be glad to have a little list of people who never would be missed.

  7. The drivers bettuh remembuh that we know where they bunk, where they eat, where they pee.

    Oh, I’m quite afraid that if things go bad, for instance The Great Default (which last happened in 1933), that people will find the people in charge and administer street justice. Hopefully that will stop there and not progress to the universities, city halls, state capitals, local banks, etc. The line for “street justice” could be quite long.

  8. If there were anyone with any financial common sense left in the leadership, they’d kick Cyprus out of the EU just to see what happens. Not because the Cypriots deserve it more than the PIIGS, but because they’re small enough that it won’t be the disaster that kicking Greece out of the EU would be. They can see what the departure of Cyprus does to the EU, and estimate how much worse Greece will be. That and if the utter collapse of Cyprus doesn’t scare Greece back into line, nothing will.

  9. “Hopefully that will stop there and not progress to the universities, city halls, state capitals, local banks, etc. ”

    Eh? R U nutz? Of *course* we will progress thusly!

  10. Why? It didn’t happen during that previous collapse you mention. And that went on for over 10 years without the collapse of civilization as we know it. Oh, ye of little faith.

  11. Faith in what? The Almighty State? Leviathan? Behemoth?

    There was plenty of misery during the last Collapse and it led directly to the worst war in human history with over 100-million dead, followed by a Cold War and the formation of our national security state in 1947 at the hands of Truman, Dulles, et. al. with one fellow architect (James Forrestal) leaping to his death from his upstairs hospital window after finishing his reading of Sophocles’s “Ajax.”

    Now we have a corporate fascist oligarchy, twice the population (most totally dependent on the Grid), up to a billion firearms, and the Internet. We also have millions of trained veterans, among them a whole lotta pissed-off ex-combat grunts.

    Maybe we’ll all just be poorer and have to struggle through life harder but will manage to somehow muddle through. Or we could have us a real entertaining few decades ahead.

  12. Maybe we’ll all just be poorer and have to struggle through life harder but will manage to somehow muddle through. Or we could have us a real entertaining few decades ahead.

    I expect the former, although the latter wouldn’t surprise me. We’re all old enough to remember the riots in Watts and the other cities where they were lucky to keep the lid on. Luckily. Things like that tend to come to a boil very quickly and boil over. I suspect that’s what the feds are concerned about containing now, because if it spreads it could be impossible to contain. Every time I see a news headline about people rioting in one big city or another because the cops shot a black kid or whatever, I wonder if it may be the one. Fragmentation and tensions now are at a much higher level than they have been in my lifetime and probably ever.

  13. The riots in Watts and the other cities back then featured residents burning down their own housing and sniping at police and firefighters. This has been historically rendered in the PC history books and fawning media as ‘justifiable rage.’ So the Feds sent in the paratrooper divisions and they raked those buildings with .50 cal and other types of fire until all the shit ceased.

    Next time both sides will have more advanced technologies working.

    And if the suburbs and exurbs end up suffering unduly because of food shortages, empty store shelves, tainted water supplies and lights out, there could be a lot more stuff happening. I would not care to be within fifty miles of any large North American metro area or within five miles of an interstate highway, railroad freight tracks, or military base.

  14. Watts had nothing to do with a breakdown in anything; it was people who stupidly believed that if they burned down their houses, somebody would come in and rebuild them a palace in its place. Until there is no ability to carry on commerce—i.e. complete rejection of a formerly accepted currency—there is not going to be a massive interruption in supply chains of anything. Yeah, there is a 1 in 100 chance of that happening, but practically, it ain’t gonna. It is going to be about the same odds that somehow human consciousness magically continues beyond death to meet a strange, evil bastard who created us and even now remotely controls us and our surroundings.

    My father and grandfather promised me in the mid-1960’s that by 1975, there would be complete and total collapse of American society, and we would live as barbarians, fighting off marauding neighbors and gangs who would be out to steal anything and everything, especially all our food. Hey, that does not even happen in the poorest of third world countries; only politics and tribally-motivated genocide is responsible for terrorism and killing there. My dad and grandfather’s greatest regret was having sold the formerly collectively-owned family farm to just one member of the family, so there was no place for the rest of us to retreat to, when Armageddon came. (That family member later sold out to a big consortium, so now there is no place for even his kids to go when the barbarians arise—he died quite some years ago.)

    You guys are getting old and irrational. More people are out and about, buying things today than ever before. In the last several weeks, I have been seeing more people on the roads, in groceries, stores, and restaurants than ever before. Our economy was dealt a huge blow, but it is chugging along and gaining steam. And when I first returned from Germany, I saw a lot of people around me without jobs but looking. I no longer know anyone who is not working. All have found jobs. We are all going to be making less in purchasing power than in previous years and decades, but we are employed and productive. And most of my same-age friends are choosing to work past retirement by choice, not because they financially need to. I have lived through far worse times than these, and except for our loss of civil liberties and Walmart cutting back its stock to just one brand choice of every item, instead of their former three, things are improving all the time.

  15. I hope I’m just old and irrational and that Chuck in Tiny Town is seeing the real present and future; I really do.

    But I fear not; all those drones and lemming running around out there and buying stuff are whistling past the graveyard; we are facing massive and crushing total debt, which will eventually simply have to be repudiated in a great default. That money spent at Walmart and the restaurants is fiat money, phony, ersatz, bullshit. And being spent with salaries and pay that haven’t moved much since 1973. This gigantic house of cards is simply not sustainable, Chuck. It is mathematically impossible, and I say that as a dysfunctional math illiterate, or innmurate. The money is just not there, not really.

    And while I respect the American tradition of science, technology, engineering, invention and innovation, I also fear that those qualities and characteristics have been disappearing and that we will not see armies of engineers and tech geniuses spawning from the landscape to fix the huge mess that we’re creating.

    I also note that the folks telling us everything is groovy and that things are alright now and getting better tend to come from the State and its captive media. While other factions of the State keep warning us of terrorists, crime, and globalwarmingclimatechange.

    Can’t hurt to stock up on all the things that make life worth living anyway.

  16. things are improving all the time

    Who are you and what did you do with the real Chuck W?

  17. I have lived through far worse times than these, and except for our loss of civil liberties and Walmart cutting back its stock to just one brand choice of every item, instead of their former three, things are improving all the time.

    I do not see this at my Wal*Mart. There are three brands of TP at mine: charmin, northern and the house brand. There are three plus brands of soda, cereal, salsa, chips and many other items. If you see one brand of TP at Wal*Mart, and it has wood chips in it, then you will know that we have arrived at the communal state of existence.

  18. And while I respect the American tradition of science, technology, engineering, invention and innovation, I also fear that those qualities and characteristics have been disappearing and that we will not see armies of engineers and tech geniuses spawning from the landscape to fix the huge mess that we’re creating.

    It’s happening now, as we watch. Fracking was unheard of until recently, and now the cheap energy it provides will be largely responsible for a renaissance in American manufacturing. American manufacturing. Everyone else is screwed. That’s why plastics and other chemical plants are being built in the US and Canada and closed elsewhere. That’s why energy-intensive manufacturing, which is to say almost all modern manufacturing, is blooming in the US and Canada and dying elsewhere. Then we have the Japanese, who are well on the way to destroying the Chinese monopoly on REMs. And those smart engineers who are currently making membranes one molecule thick that will before long make cheap desalinization practical, relieving parched areas near seacoasts.

    Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of these people, and we’re producing more than enough of them to keep essential things going. As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s not the 1% of our brightest who matter, nor even the 0.1%. It’s the 0.01% and ultimately the 0.0001%.

    Now, some scientists are a bit conceited. Their world view is that the science is what’s really important, and “everything else is just engineering”. I take exception to that “just”. Science and engineering are both critical, and both are getting enough kids interested to maintain a more than critical mass. It’s true that we need more, many more. But the essentials are covered and in no danger of disappearing.

  19. I hope you’re right and that this will continue; but all bets are off if we do indeed enter The Great Default Territory and if the Grid goes down. We may be back to running off river/steam power plants again and I would happily shovel mud and haul loads of bricks and stone here in northern Nova Anglia to get them going again, if need be. It was good enough for my dad and granddad as engineer and New Bedford, MA Water Department Commish, respectively, back in the day. Ditto commercial marine freight and local/regional rail freight. Crystal set radios! Vacuum tubes! Setting type by hand! Blackpowder rifles! Gold and silver coins! Stockings hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there!

  20. And those smart engineers who are currently making membranes one molecule thick that will before long make cheap desalinization practical, relieving parched areas near seacoasts.

    Please hurry soon with this. I am looking at the snow in Ohio ( http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/25/awesome-neighbor-is-awesome/ ) with great longing as the Brazos river dries to a trickle of water. My two 1 acre ponds on my property are down 2 to 3 feet each and the fish will be gasping soon. I refuse to run the well pump to raise those levels.

    We are going to be 36 F tonight and I turned the heat back on in the house this morning. We were 93 F last week. Unreal.

  21. 43 up here right now; down to 20s at night. We may see 93 for one or two days in July or August and that will be it. We have more wottuh than we know what to do with and everything here is GREEN from Spring into early Fall. It almost makes your eyes hurt.

    And Fall is spectacular.

  22. Well, the real problem is that you guys have been using fossil water for a long time. Aquifers that take tens of thousands of years to replenish are being sucked dry in tens of years. Basically the entire Southwest through the Mountain states is overpopulated and overindustrialized by probably a factor of ten or more compared to what the water supply will support sustainably. It doesn’t help that southern California has been stealing so much of the Colorado’s flow for decades.

  23. I’m afraid that folks left out that way will soon all be singing in Spanish at rain dances.

  24. 43 up here right now; down to 20s at night. We may see 93 for one or two days in July or August and that will be it. We have more wottuh than we know what to do with and everything here is GREEN from Spring into early Fall. It almost makes your eyes hurt.

    That’s our forecast for the next several days as well. Highs in the mid- to upper-40’s and lows in the mid- to upper-20’s.

    We’re also water-rich. In fact, an hour or so to our west the climate is literally rain forest, with something like six feet of rain a year. But it’s not always evenly distributed. A few years ago, we had a really severe drought. Winston-Salem gets its water from the Yadkin River, which got down to a flow rate lower than had been measured since measurements began 150 years ago. But even at that it had sufficient flow to supply our needs many times over. But Greensboro, 30 minutes east of us, was in really bad shape. Their reservoirs were nearly empty at the worst of the drought and they didn’t have the Yadkin River to supply them. I believe the city governments built an 8″ pipeline so that Winston could ship water to Greensboro.

  25. We got our snow. Strange as it really came out of nowhere. Well, it came from along the Mississippi and just south of Tennesee. Did not come directly from the Gulf, as usual. We had a high pressure ruling the area and making us cold, but then this low pressure shot up like a, er, uh, man’s private part, and sprayed snow on Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Only rain south of us. We got about 5 of the forecast 10 inches, and while it is still snowing lightly, it is evaporating faster than it is coming down, so we will never have more than the 5 on the ground. Roads are now warm enough that they are melting fast, leaving ponds of water, which will freeze overnight. I suspect we have more than made up for last summer’s drought, as it has rained like northern Europe—almost every other day,—all winter long, with 2 or 3 good snows. Overnight temps will be just below freezing and daytime climbing to 50 by Saturday. Normally, I am never cold, but this extended winter has finally done it to me.

  26. Not sure, Chuck, but didn’t the snow you got come by way of Denver? Mrs. OFD just got back from there yesterday after a day lost when United cancelled around 100 flights on Saturday. Six inches of heavy wet snow and then ice, she said. Then that storm was supposed to roll across the Midwest and head toward the Mid-Atlantic states.

    Looks like we may have Easter weekend in the fotties here.

  27. Not this time. I check the NOAA forecast discussion every day before recording the forecast for Zionsville, Indiana. That Denver snow was way west of us and dissipated well before ours began. Ours came from the collision of Canadian high pressure which was blanketing the whole Midwest, with a low pressure ridge from the South protruding in a shaft up from the Gulf through Mississippi and Alabama, continuing up through Tennessee and Kentucky, and ending right around Indianapolis. While looking at the Weather Channel national map (the link is current, not historical)

    http://image.weather.com/images/maps/current/curwx_720x486.jpg

    you could see rain forming east of the Mississippi, but nothing west of it, almost as if the rain was emanating from the Mississippi.

    I saw something similar a lot in Berlin, where the river Spree almost always stopped light rainy weather from proceeding east of it. It could be raining in Berlin, but dry as a bone in Strausberg. Heavy rains went right on through.

    This animation of Berlin’s radar shows specific places (if it works on your computer), but does not show the Spree that well—which runs through the eastern part of Berlin down to Potsdam.

    http://www.niederschlagsradar.de/zoom-deutschland.aspx?z=9&lon=13.42&i=1&lat=52.51

    We started out living in Zehlendorf, which was known as the American Sector, and our activities were mainly around there, Steglitz, Schöneberg, then up to Berlin more proper. Go way east from Berlin and you will see Strausberg, which is actually the last stop on the transit line that is officially Berlin. Most of my teaching jobs were in a circle from Tegel, Pankow and then south to the spot marked Berlin. Looong trek in from Strausberg each day (90 minutes each way). I did teach in a school in Ahrensfelde, which was much closer, but those classes did not pay as well as the Berlin jobs and the price of the yearly transit pass was the same to Ahrensfelde as on in to Berlin.

    Looking at the NOAA site, I see they archive the forecast discussions. Here’s an excerpt from Sun morning: “Issued at 322 am edt Sun Mar 24 2013 A strengthening low pressure system will lift northeast across eastern Kentucky today and this evening before moving into southern Ohio overnight. This system is expected to bring significant wet snow accumulation to central Indiana especially considering it is late March.”

    That more or less nails it that the snow we got came from south of us, not west.

  28. Here’s another radar map that better shows the Spree. It is the blue line that runs north-south through the eastern part of Berlin, down to Potsdam.

    http://wind.met.fu-berlin.de/loops/radar_100/R.NEW.gif

    The river Havel splits off the Spree at Spandau and runs southeast through Berlin.

    Rain very frequently stopped cold right around the Spree and did not continue further east. It could be sunny in Strausberg, but cloudy in Berlin and raining west of the Spree.

  29. Yeah, we have micro-climates here in northern Nova Anglia, too; you can see actual dividing lines in the air between snow and rain, sun and fog, etc. from mile to mile. During my commutes this time of year I often pass through a “snow belt” ten miles south of here where it will come at me sideways and heavy, and then I break into sunshine and blue skies. I’ve also driven through snow squalls in June and torrential thunderstorm downpours in the same areas in August. We also occasionally have what we call thunder-snow, a lightning storm combined with blowing snow. The sky will turn purple and yellow, it’s quite a sight.

    Thanks for the radar links; I love looking at those.

  30. Grocery items at Walmart often do have more than one brand. But here’s a few things outside of groceries that I have bought or sought at Walmart recently with no brand competition where there used to be: vitamin C, spoons and forks, screwdrivers, electrical socket, water softener salt, bath towels, spray bottle, clothes hangars. That is all I can think of right now, but I know there have been many more that I just cannot recall at the moment.

    On my first encounter with Walmart decades ago, that was how they operated, and the one brand they carried was always a cheap, crappy brand. They had more competition back then, and expanded to have about 3 brands of everything by the time we left for Germany in 2001, including what most people considered the top brands available. When they remodeled the store here a couple summers ago, they took out over half the inventory (employees here told me they did that), and that is when the lack of brand competition came back in. Not only is that bad for the customer, but it is also discriminatory to manufacturers, as Walmart now chooses who will succeed and who will fail. They stopped carrying Rubbermaid products several years ago, and have almost driven that once thriving company out of business. I saw some Rubbermaid products for the first time in years last time I was in there.

    I shop at Meijer or Target now, every time I can. Target may not have 3 brands either, but what they do carry is quality stuff, unlike Walmart, who has gone back to stocking only the crappy, breaks-after-a-few-months brands. Meijer also has reasonable brand selection, and the best foreign food import section behind Shaw’s out East.

  31. Lynn wrote:

    “…with great longing as the Brazos river dries to a trickle of water.”

    I guess that means I can come over and find your guns that you so carelessly dropped in the Brazos… 🙂

  32. Chuck wrote:

    “Target may not have 3 brands either, but what they do carry is quality stuff…”

    I haven’t been into a Target here in Oz for years. Here they’re the crappiest of the crappy, even worse than K-Mart. And the staff are just the pits. Not positively evil, just incompetent.

  33. According to a little quick research, Target US is not affiliated with Target in Ozland. Here, it is owned by Dayton Hudson of Minneapolis, which was one of the most respected department stores in the US before it started Target. The discount Target subsidiary of Dayton’s department stores ultimately outstripped them, and IIRC, the parent company sold all their department stores and focuses now on Target alone.

  34. We got us some Target stores up this way and also can look forward to a new Walmart Superstsore on the St. Albans/Swanton line on Route 7, right across the highway from the drive-in movie theater and an I-89 exit.

    I don’t care about that so much as I do about seeing the new greatly expanded Ace Hardware store in the newly renovating St. Albans City downtown; between that and Tractor Supply we should be in good shape at the house. But I’m really looking forward to a new Trader Joe’s in Burlap, the so-called Queen City, ho, ho, about thirty-five miles south of us. (fifteen miles north is the international border).

  35. Well, the real problem is that you guys have been using fossil water for a long time. Aquifers that take tens of thousands of years to replenish are being sucked dry in tens of years. Basically the entire Southwest through the Mountain states is overpopulated and overindustrialized by probably a factor of ten or more compared to what the water supply will support sustainably. It doesn’t help that southern California has been stealing so much of the Colorado’s flow for decades.

    Yes, this is serious problem in Texas also. We have serious aquifer depletion along with the accompanying land subsidence ( some areas in Houston were dropping one foot per year and now have horrible flooding problems ).

    The Houston area used to be subtropical. We usually got 50+ inches of rain per year. Lately, we are getting 20+ inches of rain and half of that in one storm. So, we need to build more reservoirs in south Texas.

  36. “…with great longing as the Brazos river dries to a trickle of water.”

    I guess that means I can come over and find your guns that you so carelessly dropped in the Brazos… 🙂

    Well, they were sitting in six inches of water but somebody appears to have grabbed them…

  37. “… police departments around here do not have enough ammo to conduct proper weapons training anymore.”

    Somebody is full of shit. When they *had* the ammo to conduct “proper” weapons training, they didn’t fucking do it. The department brass didn’t wanna spend the time or the money on it and like the armed forces, went to .223 and 9mm crunchentickers and the spray-and-pray philosophy of tactical gunfighting. Keep slapping in magazines and put it on rock-and-roll!

    But don’t get me stahted…

  38. Fuck the police unions. Tell the stupid pigs that they have fitness requirements of X, firearms proficiency requirements of Y, and continuing education requirements of Z. Let them keep up on their own time and at their own expense, or lose their jobs.

  39. I can say from personal experience that the average cop is a really rotten shot. Unless they just happen to be hobby shooters, they typically shoot only for qualification, which can be as little as one box (50 rounds) per year. They do it on well-lit ranges, using only their dominant hand, at known range. Cops are generally a bit better at shooting than bad guys, but only because most bad guys have never, ever practiced.

    I remember one time 35 years or so ago shooting with a guy. When I told him I was practicing for a combat-pistol event, he expressed interest so we shot some of the setups together. He was novice-level at best. I asked him after we’d finished shooting what he did and he said he was the police firearms instructor for a big city department.

  40. He may not have wanted that job, it may just have been allocated to him to do and so his heart may not have been in it. Wage slaves like myself get jobs like this sometimes, like administering the security system. I’d rather someone else do it but since I’m good at it and conscientious I’m stuck with it.

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