Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Troika to resume Greek bailout review end-January, official says

Irish ExaminerTroika to resume Greek bailout review end-January, official saysReuters27, Greek officials have said. While no return date had been officially set, the troika was expected to return to Athens this week after interrupting the review in mid-December. "We felt it was not possible to reach agreement by the Eurogroup as we ...FT: Greece's Return to Markets is Like Giving Ouzo to an AlcoholicGreek ReporterGreece's Bond Plans May Be Wishful ThinkingWall Street JournalTroika expected in Athens before the end of the monthKathimeriniCenter for Research on Globalization -The Corner Economic -Financial Timesall 35 news articles »


Who Is The Greek Freak? Your Guide To The NBA's Coolest Rookie

Who Is The Greek Freak? Your Guide To The NBA's Coolest RookieDeadspinUnless you are a big Milwaukee Bucks fan or a basketball nerd who lives on the internet, it's very likely that you have not yet been properly introduced to Giannis Antetokounmpo. It's time for that to change, because he is the most exciting rookie in ...


Greece delivered, Samaras tells European Parliament

KathimeriniGreece delivered, Samaras tells European ParliamentKathimeriniOn the subject of Greece, Samaras said that the country's rough course was due to its own mistakes but also to errors in the fiscal multiplier used by the troika for its adjustment program. The country, which was now entering a period of growth, had ...Samaras defends Greece's EU presidencyeuronewsSamaras tells EU Parliament that Greece has deliveredEurActivGreek presidency of the EU: MEPs express concern over economic situation in ...European Parliament (press release)Greek Reporter -Europe Online Magazineall 51 news articles »


Is That Demi Lovato, Or The Ancient Greek Goddess Of Bikinis And Beach Days?

Is That Demi Lovato, Or The Ancient Greek Goddess Of Bikinis And Beach Days?MTV.comWell, it's official, kids! This photo of Demi Lovato tanning her impeccably toned body all but confirms that she's actually some kind of Ancient Greek goddess (Demi-goddess????) of sunlight and beaches. Translation: DEMI STAYS SLAYING THE BIKINI GAME!and more »


Greek Youth Travelling Abroad for Internships

Greek ReporterGreek Youth Travelling Abroad for InternshipsGreek ReporterDuring recent years more and more Greek students and young people have grasped the opportunity to undertake internships with companies or public institutions abroad. “I had decided to accept any offer made by my bank, even if it was another internship ...


Greece and France in bilateral cultural alliance

KathimeriniGreece and France in bilateral cultural allianceKathimeriniThese are some of the events listed under the Greece-France Alliance 2014, a bilateral cultural and educational program organized by the French Institute and the country's embassy in Athens on the occasion of Greece's six-month presidency of the ...


Greece’s Bond Plans May Be Wishful Thinking

Greece wants to make a new start. Boasting its first primary budget surplus in a decade, the country at the center of the European debt crisis wants to sell government bonds–possibly in the second half of the year–for the first time since ...


School holiday rules too inflexible, says father fined for Greek break during ...

The Times (subscription)School holiday rules too inflexible, says father fined for Greek break during ...The Times (subscription)A man facing a £1,000 bill for taking his children on holiday during term time complained today that new rules on pupil absences had been invented by people who “don't live in the real world”. Stewart Sutherland and his wife Natasha were handed a £630 ...


Greece considers swapping coal for renewables

A number of politicians in northwestern Greece have grown weary of the pollution and health risks resulting from local coal mining. They are looking into an energy overhaul based on renewables. Driving through the northern Greek towns of Kozani ...


Who's to blame for the crisis, bankers or benefit claimants?

Class is the real dividing line in British politics, but politicians only talk about the middle class. That will have to change

David Cameron's is a government of naked class interest. Its leading party is the political wing of the City of London. For all its Liberal Democrat fig leaves, it is waging war on the poor while slashing taxes for banks, corporate giants and the richest people in Britain. Its cuts have hit the most deprived, the disabled and women hardest.

In crucial ways – the scale of its attacks on social security, service privatisation and falling living standards for the majority – Cameron's coalition has outdone even Margaret Thatcher. Its austerity programme halted recovery for four years and has cut most people's real terms pay deeper and over a longer period than at any time since the 19th century. Wealth is being energetically redistributed up the income scale.

This is the government of foodbanks, payday loans and the bedroom tax. None of that is, of course, very popular. So to divert anger from the top to the bottom – from those who caused the economic crisis to its most deprived victims – Tory politicians and their allies have turned their fire on migrants and benefit claimants.

If they can convince enough people that the crash of 2008 and the stagnation since 2010 has been the result of too much welfare spending, rather than financial speculation and recovery-choking austerity, they're in with a shout at the next election. In this task, they have the advantage of a mostly pliable media running a daily campaign against "welfare" and immigration.

Latest up has been Channel 4's Benefits Street series about a deprived area of Birmingham, which kicked off with a Little Britain-style portrayal of unemployed claimants as criminals, scroungers and addicts. It's only one of a string of such shows whose themes are the meat and drink of Tory tabloids.

The reality of the social security system George Osborne is now aiming to cut by a further £12bn is very different. Most goes on pensions, and far more is spent subsidising in-work poverty wages and insecure jobs than the unemployed. But the distorting mirror of the press and current political debate means that, on average, people think 41% of the welfare budget goes to the unemployed, when the real figure is 3% – and that 27% is claimed fraudulently, when the government's own figure is 0.7%. That's about £1bn, compared to an estimated £70bn of tax evasion.

Which gives a clue as to which class interest the government is most concerned to protect. To listen to politicians and the media, you'd think the only class left standing was the middle class. By definition, there must be something above and below this mysteriously undefined class, but almost nobody in public life wants to mention what it might be.

Across the world, corporate elites routinely hail the growth of a middle class as the elixir of development and civilisation. In the US, it has long been the only mentionable class in political life. Britain is going the same way. But contrary to the media mythology of "we're all middle class now", most people continue to regard themselves as working class – 60% in the most recent British Social Attitudes Survey.

Those words, however, almost never pass the lips of mainstream politicians. They'll use all sorts of euphemisms, such as "hard-working people" (or "working people", if a Labour politician is being especially daring) – the implication being that everyone else is somehow part of a feckless underclass. Only Ukip's Nigel Farage, now fishing for disaffected Labour voters, uses the term regularly. For the rest, it's as if to conjure up the reality of working-class Britain – including its traditional association with unions, solidarity and demands – might be too alarming for other sections of the population.

Ed Miliband has this week promised readers of the Conservative Daily Telegraph that Labour would "rebuild our middle class", threatened by the living-standards crisis afflicting the majority in Britain. The rebuilding of the working class wasn't mentioned, only "people on tax credits, zero-hours contracts and the minimum wage" – in other words, poorer sections of the working class.

Whether the Labour leader meant his "squeezed middle", those on middle incomes (about £22,000 a year), deskilled professionals or the more affluent being displaced by the super-rich, he's right that a winning electoral coalition for Labour has always been based on an alliance of working class and middle-class support. But to treat working-class voters as the captive "poor" would only risk increasing political alienation and the toxic appeal of the populist right.

The same goes for the other side of the class coin. If the middle class is being squeezed, it's certainly not by manual or white-collar workers. But just as the working class has been airbrushed out of public debate, the ruling class responsible for the crisis still gripping Britain and most of the western world is also hardly mentioned in polite company – though it sometimes gets a walk-on part as the "elite", or the "establishment".

The crudeness of the class egotism and greed that has driven much of western politics in recent years means that can't last. In fact, class politics has been resurfacing in different forms since the crash – from the Occupy movement's targeting of the 1% to the rise of the left in Greece and the election of the progressive Democrat Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York.

In Britain, the social costs being exacted on behalf of a failed elite means class is "the real dividing line in British politics", as one Telegraph commentator puts it. Cameron and Osborne now insist they want to make small-state austerity permanent, and are threatening another £25bn of cuts as they demand welfare states be slashed across Europe. They're hoping the current increase in credit and consumption will boost real wages before the election and soften the sense of a recovery for the rich – though there's little sign of that as yet.

They're also trying to push those Labour frontbenchers who want to "shrink the offer" to the electorate to embrace more cuts and austerity. That would be self-harm. Whenever Miliband has challenged corporate and elite interests, from the energy monopolies to Rupert Murdoch, his support has grown.

The government and their friends in the media want to turn people's anger at poverty and insecurity against their neighbours. The alternative is to turn it against the bonus-grabbing bankers, tax-dodgers, rapacious landlords and employers who are actually responsible.

Twitter: @SeumasMilne

ConservativesBankingLabourEd MilibandDavid CameronSeumas © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Why has Europe's economy done worse than the US?

The eurozone experience shows what can happen when people lose control over their government's economic policies

If we compare the economic recovery of the United States since the Great Recession with that of Europe – or more specifically the eurozone countries – the differences are striking, and instructive. The US recession technically lasted about a year and a half – from December 2007 to June 2009. (Of course, for America's 20.3 million unemployed and underemployed, and millions of others, the recession never ended – but more on that below.) The eurozone had a recession of similar length from around January 2008 to April 2009. But it then fell into a longer recession in the third quarter of 2011 that lasted for another two years, and may only be exiting that recession currently.

This makes a big difference in people's lives. In the eurozone, unemployment is at near record levels of 12.1%; while in the US, it is currently 6.7%. Despite the incompleteness of these measures, these numbers are comparable. And, of course, in Spain and Greece unemployment is 26.7 and 27.8%, respectively, with youth unemployment at an intolerable 57.4 and 59.2%.

How are we to explain these differences? The United States was, after all, the epicenter of the world financial crisis and recession in 2008. But US policy-makers responded to the recession with different policies. Most important was monetary policy: the Federal Reserve lowered short-term interest rates to about zero in 2008 and has kept them there since. The Fed also signalled its intention to keep these interest rates at these levels for a long time. And venturing into uncharted territory, the Fed engaged in three rounds of "quantitative easing", or more than $2tn of money creation. This enabled the Fed to stimulate the recovery by lowering long-term interest rates, including the crucial home mortgage interest rate, which helped recovery in the housing market. After some stimulus in both areas, the eurozone governments also engaged in more and earlier budget tightening than the United States did; and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has shown a clear relationship (Figure 6) between this fiscal tightening and reduced GDP growth.

Now the question is why our European brothers and sisters have been so unfortunate as to be subjected to much more brutal economic policy than what we have experienced in the United States. While there are many nuances, there are also some simple but critically important reasons. Most vital is the accountability, or lack thereof, of the people and institutions making the decisions. In Europe you have the so-called "troika" – the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and (more recently recruited) the IMF. These are much less accountable to eurozone residents – especially but not limited to those of the most victimized countries (Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy) – than even the relatively unaccountable Federal Reserve and US Congress and executive branch are to Americans.

Even worse, the European authorities have pursued a political agenda, and this involved actually using the crisis to promote certain "reforms" that the citizens of the victimized countries would never vote for. This is not a conspiracy theory: Exhibit A is a review of 67 IMF reports on the 27 European Union countries during the four years from 2008 through 2011. These reports, based on consultations with the respective governments, show a remarkably consistent pattern: reduce the size of government, reduce the bargaining power of labor, cut spending on pensions and healthcare, and increase labor supply.

Some examples: in all 27 countries, the IMF recommended budget tightening, with spending cuts generally favored over tax increases. In 15 countries there were recommendations on healthcare: 14 were to cut spending. In 22 of the 27 countries there were recommendations to cut pensions. In half the countries, the IMF also gave advice on employment protection; in all of them, the recommendation was to reduce employment protections. Reducing eligibility for disability payments or cutting unemployment compensation, raising the retirement age, and decentralizing collective bargaining were also recommended.

The IMF is not an independent entity, and its European directors hold sway on matters of European policy. So these papers tell us the political agenda of the troika, not just the IMF.

It is not surprising that these are the kinds of policy changes that we have seen during the last few years in the weaker eurozone countries like Greece, where real healthcare spending has been cut by more than 40%; or Portugal, where the number of private sector workers covered by union contracts has shrunk from 1.9 million to just 300,000.

But perhaps even more remarkably, this evidence tells us why the ECB allowed repeated and severe financial crises in the eurozone to take their toll both on the eurozone and the world economy for nearly three years. Not until July 2012 did ECB President Mario Draghi utter those famous three words – "whatever it takes" – which, backed up a few weeks later by the new "Outright Monetary Transactions" program, put an end to the threat of financial meltdown.

Until then, the European authorities saw the crisis as an opportunity to implement their favored "reforms". As the IMF put it in a 2009 report (pdf):

Historical experience indicates that successful fiscal consolidations were often launched in the midst of economic downturns or the early stages of recovery.

All this is not to hold up the US recovery as an example; it is disgraceful that we have fewer people employed than we did six years ago, and a lower proportion of employed workers than we had at any time going back to the 1980s. It is also unnecessary: the media is filled with nonsense about cutting deficits and debt, and our government is also slowing growth with unnecessary budget cuts. And all this when our federal debt has a net interest burden of less than 1% of our national income, about as low as it has been in the post-World War II era. But the eurozone experience shows how much worse it can be when people lose most of their control over their government's most important economic policies.

After more than 20 European governments changed political leadership during the prolonged crisis, the pace of the destructive budget tightening there is finally winding down: from about 1.5% of GDP in 2012, to 1.1% in 2013, to 0.35% in 2014. But who knows how many more years it will take to reach normal levels of employment. That is what democracy, on economic issues, looks like in the eurozone: operating, barely, in painful slow motion.

Eurozone crisisUS economyUS economic growth and recessionEconomic recoveryUnited StatesEuropeMark © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Bailed-out euro nations expect painful challenges to remain

Bailed-out euro-area countries are facing “painful” challenges with worse-than-anticipated consequences of economic adjustment, including high unemployment and slow growth, central banks and finance ministries said. Officials and ministers from Greece, Ir... ...


Venizelos to meet Kerry on Friday

A meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington has been postponed to Friday, according to reports. Reports said the meeting was rescheduled because of Kerry's delayed return from Kuwait wher... ...


Greece and the European elections: a preview

What the architects of the European project had sought was the political and economic union of the member states in a common pursuit of the European citizens’ best interests ... which scored about 7 percent of the vote. After that election ...


Greek banks will likely need new capital boost after stress tests

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek banks will most likely need additional capital after stress test results are published later this month, Central Bank Governor George Provopoulos said on Thursday. "They will ...


SYRIZA With Big Lead in Attica, PASOK Vanishing

ATHENS – As Greece’s coalition government battles a series of problems – a terrorist escape, growing scandals and unsettled talks with its international lenders – the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party has taken a runaway lead in the critical Attica region around greater Athens. SYRIZA, which opposes the austerity measures being […]

The post SYRIZA With Big Lead in Attica, PASOK Vanishing appeared first on The National Herald.


Central Banker Says Greek Effort in 'Last Mile'

Greek central bank chief: recovery effort in 'last mile,' asks politicians to cool rhetoric    


World Cup 2014: Greece's journey from Euro 2004 suggests improvement possible with different approach

The team that came out of nowhere to shock the sports world by winning Euro 2004 hopes to accomplish the same feat 10 years later at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. That mostly defensive squad, put together by German coach Otto Rehhagel has been ...


Greece: Golden Dawwn; more incriminating photos emerge

(ANSAmed) – ATHENS, 16 GEN - More photographs showing members of Greek neonazi Golden Dawn – including suspects accused of murder – posing with weapons and Nazi symbols and engaging in training have been published. Daily Ta Nea, which published the ...


Kontominas Out On 5B Euro Bail

Greece ‘s Alpha TV owner Dimitris Kontominas, one of 25 people arrested in a probe into 500 million euros in bad loans at the failed state-owned Hellenic Postbank was released from custody on Jan. 15 on five billion euros bail and orders he not leave country and must report to police twice a month. He […]


Maximum Security Prison at Domokos Poorly Thought Out

Τhe escape of Christodoulos Xeros last week has led to Justice Minister, Charalambos Athanassiou announcing the creation of a maximum security prison within 100 days, for housing those convicted on terrorism charges as well as other serious criminal offenses. The new prison is to be created at the Regional Penitentiary of Domokos in Central Greece. According to the […]


Most Homeless in Thessaloniki Are Young Men

A dormitory for the homeless opened in Thessaloniki, Greece on December 23, 2013. Most of those using the facility are young men who have only been homeless for a few months. “We mainly encounter newly homeless people who used to rent and had family, but then lost their jobs and were forced to sleep on the […]


Nearly 100 Participants to Launch the Famagusta Ecocity Project

Close to 100 participants will take part in the five-day Famagusta Ecocity Project Design Studio launching tomorrow to draft a range of design proposals for turning the ghost town of Varosha and the wider Famagusta area into a model reunited ecocity, fit for the 21st century. The design studio, led by distinguished MIT professor and […]


Tsipras: “It is Certain that we Will be the Next Government of Greece”

The president of the major opposition party, Alexis Tsipras, while addressing the plenary session of the parliamentary group of SYRIZA earlier today, underlined that his party is strongly against the policies that the Memorandum imposes on Greek society. Furthermore, he warned troika that his party will not countersign any new Memorandum. He quoted “You must […]


New Evaluation Method for Public Sector Employees

The new evaluation method for the Greek public sector employees will put an end to “excellent” grades, as it introduces a new quota on ratings. The bill concerning the evaluation of civil servants is one of Greece’s obligations under the memorandum rules and will be tougher on employees, potentially opening the way for layoffs. Any […]


Coca Cola Investing 11 million euros in Greece’s Production

The Coca-Cola company has announced that it will perform significant investments during 2014, within the frame of its strategic commitment for the company’s presence in Greece’s market. In a related announcement, the company will take actions in order to achieve improvement in production. The company’s goal is to boost the efficiency of its profit units […]


Sculpture Exhibition with Greek Drachmas

The Greek artist Nikolas Mpenopoulos, inspired by the history and the aesthetics of Greek banknotes, presents his new sculpture exhibition entitled “Typonontas drachmes” (“Printing drachmas”) in the Skoufa gallery, in Kolonaki, Athens. The drachmas of Nikolas Mpenopoulos are enlarged and wrinkled, all printed on Plexiglas. Therefore, paper drachmas, which once belonged to the community and […]


Greece must resist return to capital markets

Greece must resist return to capital marketsFinancial TimesThe year has started with a party in the debt markets of crisis-hit countries on the eurozone's periphery. What present should Greece, the eurozone's bad boy, bring? Offers of longer term bonds earlier this month from Ireland, which exited its bailout ...The Real Causes of the Catastrophic Crisis in Greece and the “Left”Center for Research on Globalizationall 4 news articles »


Watch: Vancouver's Olympic gift from Greece still looking for home

Watch: Vancouver's Olympic gift from Greece still looking for homeGlobalnews.caIt has been four years since Vancouver Olympics, but a gift from the birthplace of the Games has yet to be erected. The Greek city of Olympia donates a bronze sculpture to every Olympic host city . When London received its statue from Greece during the ...


Anger of father fined for taking children out of school for holiday to Greece

Stewart Sutherland and his wife Natasha (pictured at Telford Magistrates' Court today, left) both admitted three counts of failing to ensure their children attended school for six days in September last year.


Sweet bread a Greek New Year's tradition

MiamiHerald.comSweet bread a Greek New Year's traditionMiamiHerald.comGail asked for help finding a recipe for a traditional Greek New Year's sweet bread she remembered her grandmother making when she was a child — and she is now almost 80. Readers were quick to tell us it is known as vaselopitta. Donald Bernis sent a ...


Disabled man arrested for allegedly robbing Greek bank with shotgun hidden on ...

Disabled man arrested for allegedly robbing Greek bank with shotgun hidden on ...Fox NewsDisabled man arrested for allegedly robbing Greek bank with shotgun hidden on his crutch. Published January 15, 2014. Associated Press. THESSALONIKI, Greece – A disabled man has been charged with robbing a bank in Greece with a shotgun hidden on ...Greek bank robber hid weapon in crutchCourier Mailall 53 news articles »


“The Greeks” Ready to Take Over America

Greek Reporter“The Greeks” Ready to Take Over AmericaGreek ReporterThe Field Museum of Natural History and the National Hellenic Museum will co-present an extraordinary exhibition of ancient Greek antiquities — “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great,” The exhibition will come to Chicago in November of ...


Easing your path to Greek citizenship

People ... have part or all of the following information. The starting point is the full name and data of the ancestor(s) of the applicant, who were born in Greece. This includes the ancestor's name, last name (surname), his or her father's first name, the ...


British fugitive Michael Voudouri arrested in northern Cyprus

Daughter's Facebook photograph and expat informers helped police track down man wanted over VAT scam

One of Britain's most wanted men has been arrested in northern Cyprus after being given away by expats and a telling Facebook photograph.

Michael Voudouri, who confessed to secreting away more than £10m in accounts in Cyprus, Greece and Switzerland as part of a complex VAT scam before he skipped bail 14 months ago, was tracked down by police after his 26-year-old daughter posted a photo of herself on one of the island's beaches.

"That's when British authorities first got in touch with us requesting help," said a police source in the Turkish-run territory, a bolthole for British criminals as it has no extradition treaty with the UK.

Voudouri, 46, from Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, who holds dual Cypriot and British nationality, was seized after allegedly being discovered with a bogus passport. Officials said he was expected to remain in custody while he was investigated in what is being described as a case of identity theft and illegal entry. If found guilty he will be deported to Turkey and from there returned to Britain.

He had been living the high life, renting a luxury four-bedroom villa in the seaside town of Famagusta with his wife and two daughters. It is believed that other expats informed on him after they discovered that the jovial character they had come to know as Paul was a criminal at large.

"We have some very good informers," the police source told the Guardian. "They are law-abiding people and they want to help clear up our country's reputation."

Crimestoppers and the National Crime Agency have previously appealed for help in trying to locate wanted individuals in the territory. "There has been a tremendous response from expats living in the north of Cyprus who are uncomfortable with convicted criminals living in their community," said a British high commission spokesman in Nicosia. "It's put a lot of pressure on people who are wanted."

CyprusEuropeHelena © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Europe's welfare spending is its strength, not its weakness

Don't listen to George Osborne. His idea of reforming the EU from within to compete in the 'global race' would undermine its very success

In the debate about Europe, it is easy to become so polarised about the question, "is it better to reform the EU by collaboration or by threat?", that one fails to look at the actual reforms being proposed. I am guilty of this myself. Faced with such incredible hostility to the European project as a whole, I find myself cornered into a position of defending the European project as if my life depended on it. In fact, as a Greek citizen who has chosen to study, work and live in the UK for nearly all of my adult years, my life does depend on it.

The truth is that seeing the economic misery the troika has bestowed on my country of birth, I hate much of what the EU has become as passionately as the most avid Eurosceptic. I just don't think that the fragmentation of this continent into suspicious nation states, hostile to each other – because, make no mistake, that is what a break-up would bring – is the answer. A change would be unlikely to bring the democratic utopia that some suggest.

I watched the chancellor George Osborne's speech on Wednesday about reforming the EU from within. Predictably, the debate that has followed stays within these polarised parameters of accepting it as brave or dismissing it as "bunkum", and has failed to look at the content of the reforms being proposed.

Osborne zeroed in on helping Europe to compete in that much-tortured catch-all: the global race. But what is it a race to and how does one "win it"? His focus is on reducing borrowing, cutting taxes, capping welfare and controlling immigration. He berated the fact that Europe accounts for only 7% of the world's population, 25% of the world's economy, but 50% of global social welfare spending. It is presented as somehow obscene that the nations of this continent spend so much on keeping their citizens healthy, safe and educated. The chancellor makes the explicit link between this and falling behind globally. These overtures confirm what has been clear to many for a while: that austerity is not a temporary response to a crisis, but a permanent adjustment of expectations and living standards for the majority.

A more plausible explanation might be that, as emerging economies develop and their educational and living standards rise, they participate more prominently in innovation and have a global economic share more commensurate to their size. Instead, the idea is pushed that our workers' salaries, living standards and working conditions need to descend to meet those of the sweatshops of Indonesia if we are to prevail. That in order for business to win, people have to lose.

This is my objection to the reforms being proposed – whether from the inside by threatening exit, or by exiting and heckling from the sidelines. It is not blind Europhilia to observe that, in a race to talk the toughest on Europe, we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Or even worse, throwing the baby out and keeping the bathwater. Because, even those mooting exit foresee a scenario where the UK remains part of an EEC-type single market. In short, what is being proposed is a format of the EU that still benefits large corporations – setting up their affairs to sell in the UK but pay tax in Luxembourg, merging so that they can create European oligopolies in energy, media and travel and a dogged resistance of regulating the financial sector – but no longer affords any protection to its citizens.

Europe-wide austerity, attacks on the protection of individuals by the ECHR, welfare reform, relaxing of business regulations, streamlining dismissal procedures, anti-immigration hysteria, making it more difficult for unions to take industrial action and the dumping of environmental controls on industry, are all part of that same nexus.

The fact that as a continent we have embraced values of social security and solidarity, a high standard of education and health for all, and dignity in old age, should be celebrated. The weakening of those values will further increase the shift of power from the elected to the corporate. They are not the cause of our failure in competitiveness or innovation. They are, instead, the reason for our extraordinary and disproportionate success. They are not why we are losing the global race. They are why we have been winning it, against the odds, thus far.

European UnionGeorge OsborneEuropeGlobal economyEconomicsWelfareAlex © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Greek cenbank urges firms to tap capital markets to cope with credit crunch

Greek cenbank urges firms to tap capital markets to cope with credit crunchReutersProvopoulos said Greek firms faced substantially higher borrowing costs compared to peers in the euro zone, and banks were not eager to extend credit until their potential capital needs were clarified after a second round of stress tests. Greeks ...


“Blue” is Authentic, Atmospheric Greek Dining

Siskiyou“Blue” is Authentic, Atmospheric Greek DiningSiskiyouAmbiance. Dimmed lights, enchanting Greek music, and candles delicately placed on each simple wooden table pulled me in. As I was greeted by a handsome, friendly waiter I noticed intricate blue designs and Greek art work painted on the off-white walls.


Wall Street's Brightest Minds Reveal Their Best Investment Ideas For The Next Decade

Most agree that we have witnessed the end of a massive, three-decade bull market in bonds.

Some are also skeptical of the potential for returns in the stock market in the years ahead, given common valuation multiples that are currently above historical averages.

We asked a few of our favorite traders, strategists, and economists for their best investment ideas for the next 10 years. Here's what they told us:

1. Greek GDP warrants

"These instruments are a bi-product of Greek debt restructuring and will pay a cent a year if and when Greek GDP hits certain thresholds. They won't pay those cents for several years yet because Greek GDP is still some way from the triggers, so they are suited to the patient professional investor with a long term horizon. But in the meantime default risk is tiny; it's hard to default when you only have to pay in good times."

—Gabriel Sterne, fixed income economist at Exotix

2. Qatari stocks

"On a ten year view I'd invest in the Tehran stock exchange, but given its difficult for US citizens in particular to do so, I'd pick the Doha Stock Market in Qatar. Qatar is a country with a GDP per citizen of around $1m that will be investing aggressively into World Cup 2022 to transform itself into a destination for millions of tourists. The country's stock exchange is being promoted to the main MSCI Emerging Markets index this May and trades at under 10x earnings (versus a historic level of 15-20x) with a 5% dividend yield and likely EPS growth of 10%, backed by the government who are extremely shareholder friendly given the locals own the majority of shares. The currency is pegged to the US dollar with appreciation potential. If/when US rates start to rise, net interest margins of local banks will expand dramatically. An easy way to invest is the closed-end Qatar Investment Fund listed in London, which gives you index exposure at a 10% discount to NAV. This should easily triple over 10 years in dollar terms with minimal downside risk."

—Emad Mostaque, strategist at NOAH Capital Markets

3. Chinese consumer sector

"No brainer."

—Jim O'Neill, former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management

4. Tier-2 residential real estate

"There is a great deal of room to rebalance income and output domestically from tier-1 cities that do not have the productivity to justify their high prices and incomes into tier-2 cities. Cities that are competitive may not be the outright cheapest: they are cheaper than tier-1 cities, but still have the fixed capital and stability to support enterprise."

—Matt Busigin, editor and principal author of Macrofugue Analytics

5. Short volatility

"I'd choose ZIV, an ETN that tracks short exposure to medium-term VIX futures. The reason for this choice is that the volatility risk premium is one of the best and most persistent sources of risk-adjusted returns, and selling the middle of the VIX curve has outperformed a lot of related volatility strategies."

—Jared Woodard, principal of Condor Options

6. Farmland

"Ten years is a long time in investments (this time 10 years ago, Eastman-Kodak was a Dow component) so a ten-year single lock-in investment is going to have to meet some criteria: (1) unlikely to be disrupted by technology; (2) meets a need somewhere towards the bottom of Maslow's pyramid; (3) produces a yield; and (4) expectation of capital gain. With this in mind, my ten-year lock-in investment would be agricultural land. The customer base is growing. The customers have little choice about buying the production from agricultural land. It produces a yield. Supply is limited (full disclosure — I own a farm)."

—Lorcan Roche Kelly, strategist at Agenda Research

7. Mortgages

"You are getting paid a premium for risk (extension and prepayment) that has largely been removed. And if we are entering a rising rate environment, you get to reinvest amortizing principal in higher coupons. Rates would have to fall significantly to accelerate prepayments. Plus supply will be shrinking acting as a natural cap on yields. Banks still have tepid loan demand and rising deposits. Buying Fed induced market pukes has been very profitable."

— Vince Foster, interest rate strategist

8. International pressure pumping

"The one investment I think I'd make to hold over the next 10 years would be in oil services, particularly focusing on international pressure pumping. While crude oil continues to ratchet upwards in price and get more and more expensive to find, natural gas through hydraulic fracturing seems to get easier with the boundaries for ever wider-scale production halted by the factionalism and arbitrary hypocrisy of government controls, particularly in the shale rich areas of South America. Those barriers must fall, given the price differential that continues to expand between crude and gas; and the international services group will be the most likely long-term benefactors — think Schlumberger (SLB) and Baker-Hughes (BHI)."

—Dan Dicker, president of MercBloc

9. Southeast Asia

"On the horizon of the next ten years I would probably be looking at Southeast Asia, very favorable demographics and growth potential, and property in the U.S."

—Michael McDonough, chief economist at Bloomberg LP

10. Real assets

"In particular, residential housing looks like an attractive long term bet, especially in places where big adjustments have taken place – or there hasn’t been a bubble in the first place. Baltics in Europe is one good spot with favorable macroeconomic environment amidst stimulative external conditions. Latvia joining the euro zone this year, and Lithuania likely from 2015, the countries will likely catch up with Estonia where home prices are already rising at a double digit pace."

—Aurelija Augulyte, macro strategist at Nordea

11. Top 100 S&P 500 market cap stocks

"And sunscreen."

—David Bianco, chief U.S. equity strategist at Deutsche Bank

12. Something with yield

"Phew, it’s going to be low return world. Something with as solid yield as possible in a decent currency. I own a yield play in Singapore dollars, as an example. Or, if you can find it, rural land with a yield (so probably counts out US farms)."

—Gerard Minack, principal of Minack Advisors

13. Base metal and rare earth mining companies

"If I could own something for the next 10 years, it’d have to be base metal and rare earth mining companies. It’s an area that has not matched in any sense the uplift in global equities. China is key. Any dips in copper prices have been bought by the Chinese as they add to inventories. Once these start to run out and when we see a proper return to growth here in Europe and the US, I would expect to see these very much in demand. On the rare earth metals, the fact that China is moving to tighten control on this industry. Their uses in defence and telecommunications, particularly make them a relevant investment for the future."

—Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist at IG Markets

14. U.S. small cap stocks

—Rich Bernstein, founder of Richard Bernstein Advisors

15. Urban core real estate in "Rust Belt" cities

"Not only do I think this is the best investment out there on a risk-adjusted basis, I don't think it's particularly close. White flight and the de-industrialization of our cities is a trend that's over. The white population of Detroit shrank by 96% from 1950-2010. Meanwhile, while the outer suburbs of those cities continues to shrink, the inner cores are getting younger and more educated. While house prices per square foot are north of $1,000 in parts of San Francisco and New York, you can buy into most of these cities for under $100/square foot. It's only a matter of time before we start talking about places like Buffalo and Pittsburgh and Milwaukee as the Berlins and Brooklyns for the next generation. Not all of these cities will be home runs, and it'd be preferable to live in one yourself if you're going to invest, but the list of options is very long: Milwaukee, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Hartford, Providence, Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis, and Birmingham, for starters. I'd focus on ones with pro sports teams, strong universities, and busier airports."

—Conor Sen, portfolio manager at New River Investments

16. Long stocks, short bonds

—Joe LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank

17. International health care

"For the next 10 years: healthcare, pharmaceutical, bio-pharma and bio-tech stocks with significant markets exposure outside the US. Investment case for these is made by the expectation that once Emerging and Middle-Income economies' middle and upper-middle classes satisfy their demand for leather couches and SUVs, their demand will refocus on their health and life expectancy. This demand acceleration will likely coincide with continued build up of health threats to the emerging markets from internal pollution and environmental degradation, and accelerating ageing and health concerns in the advanced economies. Timing for the demand pressures materialisation is a lot longer than 10 years, but investment window for pricing these risks forward is closing fast. The next 'perfect storm' in global economies is likely to be ageing-related one."

—Constantin Gurdgiev, adjunct professor of finance at Trinity College, Dublin, and University College, Dublin

18. Yourself

"In yourself, from both a physical and educational perspective."

—Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ

19. Short commodities

"For the next 10 years, I like shorting commodities. I expect little inflation—and more likely, deflation—so changes in real and nominal commodity prices will be about the same. The attached chart shows that real commodity prices have fallen steadily since the mid-1800s, despite huge growth in commodity demand from the American Industrial Revolution after the Civil War, forced industrialization of Japan in the late 1800s, mass-produced autos starting in the 1920s, etc. Commodity price spikes caused by demand leaps in the Civil War and World Wars I and II were soon reversed as were price leaps due to the oil supply constraints in the 1970s. Many look for jumping commodity prices in future years since there are limited amounts of copper in the earth’s crust, two billion more mouths to feed, upgrading of diets and rising consumer spending in developing countries, etc. The reality, however, is that human ingenuity always beats threatened shortages. Coke made from coal saved the Industrial Revolution, which was threatened by a shortage of hardwood trees to make charcoal to smelt iron. In the early 1800s, overhunting had decimated the world’s whale population to the point that the lights would go out from a lack of whale oil, many feared. Then in 1858, Edwin Drake drilled a crude oil well in Titusville, Pa., and kerosene lamps rode to the rescue. I can recall when serious economists forecast the end of telecommunications growth because of shortages of copper for wires. Then came fiber optics."

—Gary Shilling, economist

20. The S&P 500

"I hate to be unimaginative here, but 10 years is a long time to hold a very specific investment.  Sure the energy renaissance has a long time horizon, but what will it look like in 3 years much less 10? Who can say? I’d say the S&P 500. I have a chart below that is my favorite chart of all time. I created it over a decade ago and it hasn’t failed me yet.  It simply shows the trailing PE and the next 10 years price return for the S&P 500.  Below is the shortened version of the one I have going back many decades. It’s amazing right? Future Nobel Prize, baby! AMIRIGHT?! Take that Shiller—this one actually WORKS. But I digress… Anyway, right now it shows the S&P 500 will generate about an 8% price return on average over the next 10 years. Add a 2% dividend and you get 10%. A 10% annualized total return is not a bad deal compared to bonds, commodities, or cash for the next 10 years. I'll take it."

—Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial

21. Energy-intensive U.S. manufacturing

"Energy-intensive manufacturing in the USA, generic biopharmaceutical products and any company globally that will be able to lever off the Chinese consumer." 

—David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates and author of "Breakfast with Dave"

22. Financial planning

"As it turns out, that is an easy question: Our own business. I have been plowing money into our own asset management business. This is not a reflection on the price of stocks or bonds, but more on the state of the financial industry. Wall Street is very good at serving its own interests, but terrible at serving its clients. This has created a huge opportunity or anyone who wants to put their clients first. I expect we have a 5 year ramp up before the rest of Wall Street starts to notice something is amiss. I believe there are 4 areas ripe for disruption: 1) Full service Financial Planning/Asset management, 2) Retirement Planning, 3) low cost asset management, 4) RIA Advisory services to members of the industry. We are in the midst of a very significant set of changes; The financial services industry is likely to look very different 10 years hence."

—Barry Ritholtz, chief investment officer at Ritholtz Wealth Management

23. Global stocks

"10 years is a long time. I am partial to Asian growth and was initially going to offer EWH or EWS but they both have small populations. The Indonesian ETFs give exposure to a large population with trading relationships throughout Asia but also seems too concentrated.  I would offer up Vanguard's Total World Stock Index ETF (VT) as a decent alternative. Though not having nearly enough exposure to emerging markets, it should offer downside protection in a big sell-off and inflation + performance on the upside." 

—Daniel A. Baffoe, Treasury sales/strategist at large

24. Investment discipline

"Practice Investment discipline — conduct quarterly portfolio reviews, practice diversification midst, rotation, use losses to offset tax liabilities from profit taking — back to basics. Never forget the quote Mark Twain is credited for: 'History may not repeat itself but it often rhymes.'"

—John Stoltzfus, chief market strategist at Oppenheimer

25. Value stocks

"GVAL (Cambria Global Value ETF) buys equities in the 10 cheapest countries as determined by long-term valuation metrics like the Shiller CAPE ratio."

—Meb Faber, chief investment officer and portfolio manager at Cambria Investment Management

26. Intellectual, social, physical, and emotional capital

"Giving stocks picks and the like is not the business of Abnormal Returns  I have written a lot over the past couple of years talking about the advances in low-cost investing. So in that regard investors would do well to take advantage of this 'free lunch.' So instead of spending countless hours trying to tease out the next hot stock why not invest in yourself. I know that sounds like a bit of new age cliche, but hear me out. The best investment you can make with your marginal dollar (or hour) is in your intellectual, social, physical and emotional capital. Most investment advice is about staying rich. The key to a richer, fuller life is maximizing your potential. For the vast majority of people, time spent in front of the computer searching for the next Twitter or Tesla isn't it."

—Tadas Viskanta, founder and editor of Abnormal Returns

27. Water

"The demand from frontier and emerging economies will collide with inefficient and archaic storage and distribution systems in the developed world. Climate change is altering the natural supply areas."

—Kevin Ferry, chief market strategist at Cronus Futures Management


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