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I think we can all argue about the timing and the exact mechanisms of European disintegration, post EU, but what your scenario painting achieves admirably is to demonstrate how much is at stake should the EU be allowed to disintegrate.

The EU is so much more than a common market or common currency area and those who seek to reduce it to that do us all a great disservice.  Unfortunately the achievements of the past 64 years are easily forgotten or taken for granted, and once things start to fall apart. it becomes increasingly difficult to stop the rot.

In that sense the EU is an apt model for catastrophe theory modeling where a highly optimized system can exist in only one of two states: stable or rapid and irreversible disintegration.  We need to build in a lot of firewalls to add resilience to the whole structure so that (say) a serious breakdown of the Franco German relationship cannot destroy the whole edifice.

This seems to me to require a reduction in German dominance, an increase in the powers (and Europe wide accountability) of EU institutions, and an increase it fiscal transfers and solidarity with less successful regions. The UK is an obvious barrier to the latter two requirements, and may have to be ditched (of its own accord) in the process, but we have to find ways of reducing and reversing the current destruction of the "Social Europe".

My suggestions would be a huge increase in the development of EU competencies and agencies in Education, Healthcare, social welfare, taxation, job creation, defense, policing, the environment, energy policy and infrastructural development none of which is possible without at least indirect fiscal transfers.

The EU has to become relevant again to the felt needs of the populace if it is to survive.  50% youth unemployment in southern Europe is an affront to all of us.


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 10th, 2015 at 02:04:42 PM EST
I'm having a lot of wifi problems which are restricting blogging.  BTW the above scenarios make me quite glad to be living in boring Ireland... unless someone is going to invade us too

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 at 07:39:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Acoording to tradition, Denmrk, Norway or SNP-Scotland
by IM on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 at 07:46:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
er... you seem to have forgotten one?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 at 07:47:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Normans?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 at 07:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the sassenach?

Boooring. I want a resurgence of viking ireland.

by IM on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 at 11:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"an increase in the powers (and Europe wide accountability) of EU institutions, and an increase it fiscal transfers and solidarity with less successful regions."

Fortunately this "benevolent" despotism (power grab by independent commission for competency/budget (ECB style) using divide & conquer (EU Parliament)) is never going to happen, democracy is still more precious than Euro or EU.

EU is dying but Europe will be fine, back to pre-maastrich.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Wed Feb 11th, 2015 at 08:34:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
divide & conquer (EU Parliament)

What are you smoking? And when will you call for an uprising against the "benevolent despotism" of Paris when it executes fiscal transfers to Normandy or Corsica?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 04:00:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't aware.

But I for one am totally in favour of an uprising against the benevolent bobocracy of Paris, wherever that may take place, though as for Corsica my own preference would be to be rid of it (and we tried to go in that direction with a referendum about ten years ago...unsurprisingly when given the chance at more autonomy they voted NO...they know who butters their bread).

This being said, not sure what you need to be smoking to think the EU Parliament in Strasbourg is just powerless democratic window dressing which is used as cover for where the EU power grab, such as it has been attempted, has actually taken place (in Brussels and Frankfurt). A democratic smoke screen but no one except Daniel Con-Bandit is fooled.

In any event, I don't think fredouil is saying he is against these fiscal transfers so much as he is inveighing against the cruel joke which is the EU at present viz. democratic institutions in the EU and proper fiscal and monetary policy in the face of a financial deleveraging environment. I'm wondering why you are referencing fiscal transfers in the French context when in the EU context these have been, and quite by design (the maastricht reference is apt here), pathetic.

And given the current and near future political context in Berlin, London and nearly every other capital in the Northern parts of the Union, they will remain pathetic.

You don't need to be smoking anything to not only wish for the EU's demise, but also to be cautiously optimistic that the day may soon be coming.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 04:52:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This being said, not sure what you need to be smoking to think

...something completely different from what fredouil said.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 10:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are aware, I'm sure, that using "con bandit"() instead of Cohn Bendit is a specialty of the far right?

I am not at all pleased to see a lepenist expression making its way through to ET -to which I am associated-, so maybe you'd be courteous enough to avoid it in the future?

Thanks.

(): a dickhead and a thief

by Xavier in Paris on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 07:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may have missed discussions like this one...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 02:32:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Are there fiscal transfers to Normandy?
I wasn't aware.

Quelles sont les différentes ressources des collectivités ? - Les ressources des collectivités locales Découverte des institutions - Repères - vie-publique.fr

Les transferts financiers de l'État en faveur des collectivités territoriales, qui totalisent 101,2 Mds€ en 2014, sont composés de trois parties : les dotations de l'État aux collectivités territoriales (59 Mds) ; les dégrèvements d'impôts locaux et les subventions spécifiques versées par les ministères ; et la fiscalité transférée pour laquelle le législateur détermine une part locale d'assiette.

Transfers from the central state to regions, départements, municipalities totalled €101.2 bn in 2014.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 07:40:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two aspects to this :
a) Perequation : transfers from richer entities to poorer entities (this is especially true at the municipality level)

b) Jacobinism applied to decentralisation. Rather than giving the entities (departments, regions) the right to raise taxes themselves, the government prefers to keep them on the dole.

So it's certainly not true that there are 101 billion euros of net fiscal transfers; but certainly, there is a considerable amount of effective inter-regional transfer going on. Not sure if Normandy is a net beneficiary.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:35:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would gather it receives something, because the transfers are purely made on a population basis, whereas the taxes are still quite correlated to wealth and production.

Paris and the Ile de France are the clear losers here (but it's a bit complicated, because benefits are counted at the company's headquarters, usually in Paris, and not at the plant level).

And you forget that half the public expenses (so something around 25%GDP) in France are actually pensions and medical bills, which result in a transfer between young and productive people (Paris...) to unemployed, old or sick people (everywhere else).

by Xavier in Paris on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 11:10:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
youth unemployment in the southern periphery is an affront to all of us.

Especially not the likes of a Michael Noonan.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 04:23:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well in fairness to Michael Noonan, he has enough on his plate trying to reduce Irish unemployment, and under his watch it has reduced from 15 to 10.5%.

A bit more solidarity with Greece wouldn't go amiss, and could improve medium term Irish prospects via greater and more balanced growth in the EZ.  But with an election coming up, it is hard to blame him for focusing on finding more ways to reduce Ireland's National debt interest rate burden...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 10:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, what? Noonan has been holding up unemployment for years with his cutbacks, now they've levelled off a bit the economy is reasserting itself. Propaganda works ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 11:09:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Noonan has been operating within the framework of the Troika agreement which he inherited.  Going the Syriza route was never an option for an FG led government (and within the different political environment in the EZ in 2011-2014, and we have yet to see how successful Syriza will be at reducing unemployment.

I suspect they would be quite happy if they achieved in excess of a 1% p.a. reduction in unemployment on a sustained basis, and they are starting from a much higher base of unemployment. Even now, Noonan has gone against EC, ECB, IMF, OECD and the Irish Fiscal council advice in reflating the economy faster than they would like and have actively pressed for.

But no doubt you would have done a much better job with or without a Dail majority.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 12th, 2015 at 01:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Noonan has been operating within the framework of the Troika agreement which he inherited.
I note that Tsipras refused to inherit a Troika agreement.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 04:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FG, quite the contrary.

We can't complain about the other side doing what the other side does, it is like complaining the wolf eats sheep. Of course the wolf eats sheep, that is what wolves do.

What is a problem is when the shepherd dogs, the ones on our side who are elected to fight for us, but instead of even trying to guard our sheep, assume the prone position when the wolf comes and accepts to take it in the ass instead.

Think PSOE, PS, Pasok, the list goes on.

I personally respect a bit of flexibility on the part of the wolf if it means having a few less sheep eaten, indeed I respect it more than the sexual flexibility of our social democratic friends when they are confronted with said wolf, for this flexibility not just doesn't save any sheep, but because it gives the wolves the idea they can eat to their hearts content indefinitely, gets even more sheep eaten in the future.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 05:38:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is nonsense and just an apology for agressors.
by IM on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 06:49:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is an expression of how things are, or often are, not as we might want them to be, and not an apology for anyone or anything.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 11:11:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note that Tsipras refused to inherit a Troika agreement.

I note that Tsipras was elected in 2015, not 2011, in a country which is generally agreed to be insolvent (whereas Ireland, marginally, was not), where the political climate within the EZ is changing and there is widespread (and not just left-wing) acceptance that austerity is not working and a growing realization that alternative or additional approaches must be taken, and finally, where we do not know yet whether or to what degree he will succeed.

I repeat and amplify my earlier comment that if you offered Tsipras an economic recovery on a par with Ireland's over the past 4 years (yes, despite austerity)  he would probably bite you hand off and he would also probably be re-elected by a grateful electorate in 4 years time - something which may not happen to the Irish Government.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 07:58:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except he wouldn't get it because Greece isn't Ireland.

I keep saying this, and you keep not hearing it: Ireland's economy is fundamentally in reasonable shape: favourable demographics and infrastructure. The achievement of austerity was stopping it growing - its almost certainly made measures like debt/GDP ratios and unemployment much worse than was necessary in a world where the place wasn't being run by econo-religious maniacs.

The Greek economy is fundamentally fucked: poor demographics and crappy infrastructure. All austerity is doing there is killing people.

The fundamental difference is that Ireland spent enough EU money wisely to build an infrastructure to support growth. Greece did not: too much of it ended up being siphoned off by corruption. Obviously lots of EU money was skimmed in Ireland too, but it's the difference between 30% and 60%.

What Ireland needed was enough support to rebuild its banks and tide us over through a rough patch. Instead we got manic cutting that caused a five year depression and what, 16% unemployment at peak?

The excuse that the government were too stupid, too clueless, too craven or too powerless to challenge the maniacs isn't a very good one.

Even now we've ended up paying as much in interest on loans as we spend on education while we're cutting support teachers from vulnerable kids and telling the sick elderly that they're going to have to pay more, faster for nursing home support.

Allowing the economy to take its head out of the bucket of ice you've been holding it in doesn't deserve praise or thanks. Grateful electorate my arse.

Greece needs help to reorient itself and it needs help rooting out corruption and building infrastructure that should have been built over the last twenty years. More austerity will just kill it.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:27:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't disagree with any of the above, but that doesn't mean I think Noonan is happy to see mass youth Unemployment in Greece or Spain: merely - as I said in the comment which sparked this exchange - that his focus is understandably on the Irish economy. In fact I doubt his analysis of Greece's problems is all that different from yours, but we are then both into the realm of speculating on what he really thinks, which I don't think is a very productive argument to make.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 11:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't being condescending, I was stating a fact.

You've just invoked TINA and given Noonan credit for an economy that's recovering in spite of, not because of him.

Even now, Noonan has gone against EC, ECB, IMF, OECD and the Irish Fiscal council advice in reflating the economy faster than they would like and have actively pressed for.

Hanging (an election next year) has a way of concentrating the mind ...

But fundamentally, there's nothing in the standard EU wisdom that Noonan disagrees with - he's already talking about how we can cut taxes for the well off to encourage emigrants to return.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 04:45:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You implied I had been taken in by propaganda.  We may disagree, but let's not disrespect each other.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 07:28:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously not an FG person, but I can appreciate the contstraints that being one impose.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 04:10:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The bottom line is that if you are a politician in a democracy you have to build or be the beneficiary of a parliamentary majority which supports the broad thrust of your line of policy.  There never has been anything remotely close to a majority for Syriza like policies in Ireland - though that may indeed change after the next elections.

So it's just moral grandstanding to criticize Noonan personally for not doing what what he never had a mandate to do nor could have achieved within the political balance of power in Ireland (and the Eurozone) at the time.  I personally was all in favour of "burning the bondholders" and refusing to socialize private debts, but I and those few people in positions of influence who shared my view never had anything remotely close to a parliamentary majority supporting our views so claiming that Noonan cares not a jot for the unemployed of the southern periphery is at best moot and at worst a cheap shot from someone who never had the responsibility of managing the Irish economy or elsewhere from within the constraints of our democratic system.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 07:47:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... with the parliament available" is not a convincing defense of bad policies until you have demonstrated at least a couple of instances where the government fought for something better than what they actually achieved.

If you hit every goal you aim for, you're not aiming as high as you could.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 04:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Government tried and failed to get their "partners" to agree to Irish debts being refinanced at lower interest rates and only stopped when market rates went below any rate concession they were likely to get from their partners. (They did get the IMF to agree to early repayment of high interest loans with capital sourced from capital markets at cheaper rates).  They also managed to get the ECB to "look the other way" whilst it effectively used monetary financing to fund swapping the promissory notes for long term bonds but failed to persuade the ECB to allow it to burn some bondholders much earlier in the crisis. So some limited successes, but overall, a failure to overturn the worst effects of the bank bail-out visited on us by their predecessor Government.

I note that Tspiras, too, has abandoned attempts to get his "partners" to write off more debts, and focused on negotiating lower interest rates and longer maturities.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 05:18:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That last bit is not an adequate description of Greece's position.

The Greek position will involve write-offs, so long as the Greek government remains of the view that the Thessaloníki Program is senior to the bonds of previous governments.

Permitting the other side of the table to pretend that this is not so is a costless concession: It is not the Greek government's job to teach the German parliament, or their voters, elementary arithmetic.

Which brings us to the salient point of all your examples: They are all limited to shuffling around impaired assets on various balance sheets. If you want to argue that all this accounting legerdemain actually matters, you need to show how they impacted, in whatever minor way, the actual fiscal stance of the government.

Because the difference between running a 1 % primary surplus to pay all of the interest on half your original foreign debt, versus running a 1 % primary surplus to pay half of the interest due on your full original foreign debt...

... is simply not a matter of very great consequence.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 06:32:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they have reduced interest payments due in this and future years quite significantly and helped enable quite a rapid reduction in the forecast debt/GDP ratio from last years all time high of 123.3%


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 07:51:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That still does not explain how any of that ever reaches the real economy. Debt/GDP is not an interesting metric, so having it go this way or that tells you nothing much.

(On a minor point, when is that graph from? Clearly at least one of the columns is a forecast, but there could be several.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:08:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.publicpolicy.ie/irelands-current-fiscal-profile/

The reduction in interest payments each year is real

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:39:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That graph is actually somewhat out of date (May 2013).  The actual out-turn has been somewhat better -  see here

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:51:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But of course you also have to factor in the distortion in Ireland's GDP figures - see The idiot/ eejit's guide to distorted Irish national economic data

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So how many houses are built because of those reduced interest payments? How many kilometer of railway track laid? How many MW of power plants built? How many fibers of internet backbone laid down? How many ships launched?

Unless these reduced interest payments actually manifest in changed government outlays into (or revenues from) the domestic economy, they remain funny-money moving around within the consolidated government balance sheet.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 08:53:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The last budget (for 2015) was the first "post austerity" to include real increases in government expenditures- the previous trend was:
Graph 1: December Exchequer Returns (€000's)

Full text: Brendan Howlin's Budget 2015 speech

Gross current expenditure for 2015 will be just over €50 billion. This figure represents an increase of €429 million over the 2014 Revised Estimates.

This increase is targeted primarily at critical areas in Social Protection, Health, Education, Justice and Housing.

It is intended also that current expenditure will rise by further amounts in 2016 and 2017. The allocations published today contain some increases to meet service pressures. There will be further improvements announced next October, in line with the Government's priorities. The extent of such increases will be determined by future economic growth and by the level of progress made towards our medium term objectives.

I am also pleased to announce an increase of €210 million in Capital spending for 2015, to over €3.5 billion. There will be further increases in 2016 and 2017.

We are investing in our future and the detailed Capital Review, setting out priorities to 2020, will be published before year end.

This brings the net overall increase in expenditure over last year to €639 million, a position €2 billion better than envisaged in last year's Expenditure Report.

1.e the first small increases from a low base, but c. 2 Billion more than the further consolidation envisaged by the Troika.

AND FROM THE EU ECONOMIC FORECAST:
ie_en.pdf

Public debt is projected to fall to 107.9% of GDP in 2016, down from 123.3% in 2013. This marked improvement largely reflects the liquidation of the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC)(45), along with the pick-up in growth

I.E  some of the bank bail-out costs are being unwound

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 13th, 2015 at 09:37:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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