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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Letters: The Tory plan to crash the economy

The idea that George Osborne is a part-time chancellor with a second job (Osborne reeling as economy enters the disaster zone, 26 July) misses the point. Osborne is a full-time party strategist and he has made running the economy a subsidiary part of that role. In 1979, the Conservative party successfully exploited the crisis of the "winter of discontent" to pin economic failure on to the Labour party, project social democratic measures as illegitimate and create a political hegemony that lasted nearly two decades.

The Conservatives' attempt to repeat the trick in 2010 faced two problems. First, it was the bankers, not the unions, that the public identified as the villains of the piece, and the Conservative party needs bankers in the same way that drunkards need breweries. Second, Alistair Darling's mix of deficit reduction and Keynesian economics was working.

To create a crisis that would produce another Conservative hegemony required Labour's promising economic approach to be tarred with a similar brush to that used by Saatchi and Saatchi in 1979 and an economic policy driven by the needs of Tory political strategy. If Conservative strategy requires economic disaster, the answer is: so be it.
Dr Chris Stevens
Canterbury, Kent

• Your report on the immediate slump in GDP suggests that the prime minister will attempt to blame his government's failure on the eurozone crisis.

As a major decline in the building construction industry is the principal cause of the present disaster, this is a little difficult to accept, unless he believes that recovery depends on selling houses to Greece, modernised schools to Italy and new roads to Portugal and Spain.
Roger Truelove
Sittingbourne, Kent

• The GDP figures reveal that the economy has shrunk further, yet employment has increased. This has led some commentators to suggest that the GDP figures are inaccurate. I disagree.

The apparent contradiction between the contraction of the economy and the increase in the number in work can surely be explained by a reduction in full-time work, which has been replaced by part-time and self-employed work. So, as a society we are less productive because we are working fewer hours.
Dana Carlin
London

• Reacting to the rapid contraction of the UK economy, David Cameron has trotted out the childish response this government uses to every problem it faces: "It's not out fault: Labour caused it." In June 2010, after Cameron, George Osborne, Danny Alexander et al had seen Treasury books showing the state of the finances they had inherited, they accepted the Office for Budget Responsibility's GDP growth forecasts, which projected growth this year of 2.8%. Any divergence from that forecast has nothing to do with past governments. If the prime minister and the chancellor aren't willing to accept the responsibilities of their offices, they should do the decent thing – resign.
Martin Quinn
Tavistock, Devon

• Sheila Lawlor misrepresents Gordon Brown's record as chancellor when she blames him for a public spending rise from 36% of GDP to about 50% (Is George Osborne responsible for the double dip?, 26 July). In 2007-08, just before the recession, the share was 41%, which is fairly low historically, having risen from 39% in 1996-97. If only Brown had been allowed to continue to lead us out of recession.
Christopher Jordan
Derby

• Aditya Chakrabortty (G2, 31 July) rightly points to our likely economic decline among the world's nations – but is this necessarily a source of dismay? GDP, as several commentators have pointed out, is no measure of human happiness. If a point or two off growth meant less money spent on aircraft carriers or foreign wars, I for one would celebrate. We might even pay more attention to Europe and worry less about the value of our "special relationship" as expressed in recent comments by Mitt Romney.
Dr Simon Harris
Wrexham


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Far-right Greek party hands out food only to citizens

Members of Greece's extreme right Golden Dawn party handed out food parcels outside Parliament on Wednesday, but made sure only Greek citizens received the assistance.



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TV show attack shows 'real face' of far-right in Greece?


Bradenton Herald

TV show attack shows 'real face' of far-right in Greece?
NBCNews.com (blog)
A politician in Greece is wanted by police for his behavior on a live TV program where he threw a glass of water on a political rival then punched another. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports. By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com. The far-right Greek politician who ...
Greek far-right party hands out food _ to citizensBradenton Herald
Greek far-right party doles out food to GreeksAtlanta Journal Constitution

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Greek Coalition Partners Agree On Austerity Measures Timeframe


Telegraph.co.uk

Greek Coalition Partners Agree On Austerity Measures Timeframe
Wall Street Journal
By Stelios Bouras and Philip Pangalos ATHENS--Greece's government Wednesday agreed to take fresh austerity measures of 11.5 billion euros for 2013 and 2014 after junior partners in the ruling coalition dropped demands to implement the steep cuts over a ...
Greek junior coalition partner drops key objection to new austerity programWashington Post
Greek coalition partners agree on spending cutsThe Associated Press
Greek leaders agree budget cutsReuters
Businessweek -Xinhua
all 732 news articles »

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Greek junior coalition partner drops key objection to new austerity program


Telegraph.co.uk

Greek junior coalition partner drops key objection to new austerity program
Washington Post
ATHENS, Greece — Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday talked junior partners in his fragile coalition government into dropping objections to new spending cuts demanded by the debt-crippled country's bailout creditors, averting a crisis ...
Greek leaders agree budget cutsReuters
Greek Coalition Partners Agree On Austerity Measures TimeframeWall Street Journal
Greek Coalition Leaders to Back $14 Billion in Budget CutsBloomberg

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Lagarde says IMF stands by Greece, urges euro zone action


Examiner.com

Lagarde says IMF stands by Greece, urges euro zone action
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday vowed the global lender will stand by troubled Greece and said uncertainty over the future of the euro zone was clouding the outlook for the embattled Spanish economy.
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Bundesbank warns over eurozone crisis as ECB prepares to meet

Central bankers play down claims by European politicians about the 'unlimited firepower' for bailout funds

European politicians and central bankers were at odds on Wednesday on the eve of a crucial meeting of eurozone policymakers that has encouraged speculation about "unlimited firepower" for bailout funds to resolve the crisis.

While Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, spoke hopefully of the eurozone's bailout fund being granted a banking licence and access to endless funding from the European Central Bank, Jens Weidmann, head of Germany's powerful Bundesbank, strongly opposed radical action.

The 23-strong governing council of the ECB will meet on Thursday in Frankfurt for the first time since the ECB chief, Mario Draghi, declared a no-holds-barred fight to save the euro last week in London.

Draghi's pledge to "do whatever it takes" to save the currency and the confidence he voiced that "it will be enough" triggered a euro rally over the past week and curbed bond market pressure on Spain and Italy.

Since then European leaders have lined up to make similar pledges using virtually identical language. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Fran├žois Hollande of France, Monti, and Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, the president of the eurogroup, have all parroted Draghi, encouraging belief in the markets that the ECB is about to revive a dormant policy of intervening to buy up the bonds of distressed sovereigns, cut interest rates again from an all-time low of 0.75%, or support a more activist role for the European Stability Mechanism, the main eurozone bailout fund.

Draghi and the political leaders all also committed themselves to "the integrity" of the eurozone, suggesting a renewed resolve not to allow any of the 17 members, most particularly Greece, to leave the currency.

The Austrian government and its central bank chief have been arguing for the past 10 days that the ESM should be granted a banking licence enabling it to tap unlimited liquidity from the ECB to prop up teetering eurozone governments.

"[Draghi's] statement last week was interesting, bold and appropriate," Monti said in Finland on the latest leg of his tour to persuade eurozone leaders to act to bring down the costs of Italian borrowing. "I was in particular impressed by the clarity with which the president said excessive differences between interest rates undermine the transmission of monetary policy."

This was seen as pressure on the ECB to revive a policy, frozen since last summer because of German resistance, of buying government bonds.

Monti also said that the ESM bailout fund, which will not be operational until next month at the earliest, would obtain a banking licence. But the Bundesbank is strongly opposed to such action, the German government has dismissed all talk of a bank licence for the ESM, and in an interview published yesterday Weidmann sounded a warning to Draghi.

The ECB must "not overstep its own mandate," he said in an interview released by the Bundesbank to mark the institution's 55th birthday.

The Finnish prime minister is also taking a hard line. "Finnish people believe in rule-based union. [For us] a rule does not mean the starting point for creative interpretation," said Jyrki Katainen.

But the central conflict is between Weidmann and Draghi. The two men are expected to meet on Thursday morning before the governing council session. Weidmann complained eurozone politicians were abusing the ECB for "fiscal policy objectives".

"European countries today are not at loggerheads despite the common currency, but because of it," noted Jean Pisani-Ferry, head of the Bruegel thinktank in Brussels.

Weidmann delivered an implicit warning that German public opinion would not tolerate the kind of interventionist role for the ECB being pushed by others and that if German confidence in the ECB is wrecked the euro will be in even deeper trouble.

"In Europe, we are faced with some quite different ways of looking at the central bank's role – not only in politics, but also in the media and on the part of the general public. If a central bank also has to work against public opinion, things get difficult."

In Athens, the three leaders backing the country's fragile coalition agreed on the parameters of an €11.5bn (£9bn) package of spending cuts demanded by creditors in return for further EU-IMF rescue loans.

After days of often fraught talks, all three leaders had "accepted the prime minister's proposal" about what the cuts should be, the finance minister Yiannis Stournaras said.

But disagreement over the savings continues to run deep and Fotis Kouvellis, the leader of the small Democratic Left party, emerged from Wednesday's discussions saying the talks would continue. He insisted the government would continue to press international creditors to give the recession-plagued country more time to meet budget deficits by extending its fiscal consolidation programme from 2014 to 2016. The leaders' eventual aim was to "gradually disengage" from the arduous terms of the loan agreement, he said.


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Greek leaders agree budget cuts


MiamiHerald.com

Greek leaders agree budget cuts
Reuters
* Junior coalition partners express reservations * Insist Greece must ask for more time to meet targets By George Georgiopoulos and Dina Kyriakidou ATHENS, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Greek political leaders agreed to 11.5 billion euros ($14.14 billion) of ...
Greece Coalition Parties Agree on Spending CutsWall Street Journal
Greece commits itself to cuts to earn time: governmentAFP
Greek junior coalition partner drops key objection to new austerity programWashington Post
Atlanta Journal Constitution
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Leaders end meeting, but still no definite results

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the other two party leaders supporting Greece's coalition government, wrapped up yet another meeting to discuss a package of measures amounting to 11.5 billion euros on Wednesday, once again without reaching firm conclusions on specifics financial issues.

In statements as he emerged from the meeting, Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis said that the talks had only covered "elements and not specific figures" but (...)

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Greece Coalition Parties Agree on Spending Cuts

Greece's coalition partners have accepted a proposal by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to implement budget cuts worth €11.5 billion ($14 billion) over a two-year period

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Greek coalition partners agree on spending cuts


Business Recorder

Greek coalition partners agree on spending cuts
San Jose Mercury News
ATHENS, Greece—A junior partner in Greece's fragile coalition government has dropped objections to new spending cuts demanded by the debt-crippled country's bailout creditors. Socialist party leader Evangelos Venizelos says he agreed to the new ...
Greek leaders reach deal on budget cutsReuters
Greek Austerity Plan Outlined, Working on Details-Democratic Left PartyWall Street Journal
Greek leaders reach deal on austerity cuts: ministerChicago Tribune

all 612 news articles »

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Greek far-right party doles out food to Greeks





Party volunteers dressed in black passed out milk, pasta, potatoes and olive oil in a one-day charity event critics said was meant to soften the image of a party likened to neo-Nazi groups.

Greece is going through its fifth year of recession, with poverty and unemployment rate rising, and Golden Dawn has made inroads in the country's political system with its vehement attacks against traditionally dominant parties and strongly anti-immigrant stance.

The party denies any involvement in a recent surge of street attacks against Asian immigrants in Athens and other cities, despite repeated claims to the contrary by migrant groups and human rights activists.


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Greek far-right party doles out food to Greeks


Atlanta Journal Constitution

Greek far-right party doles out food to Greeks
Atlanta Journal Constitution
A family receives products from the members of Greece's extreme right Golden Dawn party at Athens' main Syntagma Square, opposite parliament, on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012. The volunteers checked ID cards of the public before handing Greek citizens ...
Greek far-right party hands out food _ to citizensThe Associated Press

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Golden Dawn distributes food to Greek nationals

Members of extreme-right party Golden Dawn handed out free food to exclusively to Greek nationals at Syntagma Square on Wednesday.

Over two hundred people who lined up were asked to present ID cards in order to validate their citizenship.

Golden Dawn organizers said that unemployed persons and people with many children would be served first.

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Germans gloomy on economy, Merkel support firm: poll

BERLIN (Reuters) - More than half of Germans are pessimistic about the economy but support for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives is holding firm, thanks partly to their tough stance on the euro zone, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday. The Forsa-Institute survey, published in the Stern weekly, also showed Merkel's junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats, which has said Greece should quit the euro, back above the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament. ...

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Greece's Coalition to Meet on Cuts in First Test of Unity


Business Recorder

Greece's Coalition to Meet on Cuts in First Test of Unity
Wall Street Journal
ATHENS--Greece's three coalition leaders will meet again Wednesday in a bid to iron out their differences over 11.5 billion euros ($14.1 billion) of austerity measures to be implemented in the next two years in what is the first real test for the ...
Greece may issue more T-bills to cover funding gap: officialReuters
Greece says cash reserves drying upFin24
Greek coalition chiefs to hold new austerity talksBradenton Herald

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Greek coalition government still split on massive new cuts, Socialists insist extension needed

ATHENS, Greece - A senior official in Greece's Socialist party says a proposed round of massive new austerity cuts will "will not work" without major changes, acknowledging that parties in the country's new coalition government are at odds over how to rescue troubled Greek public finances.

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Greek Steel Workers Strike


Anarkismo.net

Greek Steel Workers Strike - Greece on the verge of revolution? Think again...
Anarkismo.net
Undoubtedly, Greece is the country that has suffered the most during this last and totally unrestrained wave of liberalization and fierce devaluation of labour which has been sweeping Europe since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. At the same ...


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Decisive fighting continues in Syria with participation of extremists


The Guardian

Decisive fighting continues in Syria with participation of extremists
Xinhua
• Gov't forces are carrying on with operation to eradicate insurgency in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. • Rebels have pushed towards Aleppo apparently after being dispelled from the capital by Syrian forces. • The Syrian leadership has for long said ...
Syrian Conflict Sparks Humanitarian Crisis as Civilians Move to Refugee CampsPBS
Thousands of Syrians trapped in Aleppo: UNHCRReuters
Tens of thousands flee Syria's embattled city of AleppoWashington Post
NBCNews.com (blog) -TIME
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