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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Isis destroys thousands of books and manuscripts in Mosul libraries

Shocked staff fear further damage and ‘cultural cleansing’ under the militants’ rule
Isis in Mosul
Isis fighters parade in a commandeered Iraqi armoured vehicle down a main road in Mosul in June 2014. Photograph: AP
Reports this week that Mosul’s central library has been ransacked by Isis and 100,000 books and manuscripts burned has cast an international spotlight on a new wave of destruction that has been raging through the northern Iraqi city since last summer.
Earlier this month the head of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) voiced alarm over “one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.” Director general Irina Bokova said the destruction involved museums, libraries and universities across Mosul.
She added: “This destruction marks a new phase in the cultural cleansing perpetrated in regions controlled by armed extremists in Iraq. It adds to the systematic destruction of heritage and the persecution of minorities that seeks to wipe out the cultural diversity that is the soul of the Iraqi people.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Good find dept.

Magna Carta edition found in Sandwich archive scrapbook

A parliamentary archive conservator examines the Salisbury copy of the Magna Carta Magna Carta has been on display at the Houses of Parliament

An early edition of Magna Carta has been found in a Victorian scrapbook during a search of a council's archives
The discovery has come months ahead of the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta in Runnymede in 1215.
Kent archivist Dr Mark Bateson had been asked to search for another charter from the town of Sandwich.
Dr Bateson found the town's Charter of the Forest in a Victorian scrapbook in Kent County Council archives - with the long-forgotten Magna Carta edition.
The document was ripped with about a third missing but could still be worth up to £10m, according to Professor Nicholas Vincent, a specialist in medieval history from the University of East Anglia.
Its high value comes from the fact that it was found with the Charter of the Forest. The only other such pair - dating from 1300 - in the world is owned by Oriel College, Oxford.
Picture of King John signing the Magna Carta Many pictures show King John signing Magna Carta at Runnymede - although experts agree it was sealed
Professor Vincent, who asked Dr Bateson to search for the forest charter in December and went on to authenticate the Sandwich Magna Carta after it was found, said it was "a fantastic discovery".
He said it backed the theory that Magna Carta was issued more widely than previously thought, to at least 50 cathedral towns and ports.
He also said the discovery gave hope that further copies would also turn up.
Twenty-four editions of Magna Carta, which established the principle of the rule of law, are currently known to exist.


Thrift-store Vince Lombardi sweater sells in auction for $43,020, bought for 52 Cents

By Ryan Wilson |
Vince Lombardi's $0.58 West Point sweater. (Getty Images)
Vince Lombardi's $0.58 West Point sweater. (Getty Images)
The couple who paid 58 cents at a thrift store for a West Point sweater had no idea it once belonged to legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
Turns out, it did. And on Saturday, that sweater sold in an auction in New York City for $43,020, according to Press-Gazette Media.

Chinese farmer finds 7.85kg gold nugget worth $250,000 on the ground

Berek Sawut found the 7.85kg nugget in the far western region of Xinjiang
A 3kg old nugget was found by a man last year on his California property. A Chinese herdsman has now found a 8kg nugget in the region of Xinjiang.
A 3kg old nugget was found by a man last year on his California property. A Chinese herdsman has now found a 8kg nugget in the region of Xinjiang. Photograph: AP
A herdsman in China’s remote far west has struck gold after stumbling upon a huge nugget of the precious metal estimated to be worth at least $250,000, state media reported Thursday.

Rare Ferrari owned by actor and found on French farm fetches $21 million at auction

Published on Feb 7, 2015 4:55 AM
 609  88  1  2 PRINT EMAIL
An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP 
PARIS (AFP) - An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday.
- See more at:

Rare Ferrari owned by actor and found on French farm fetches $21 million at auction

Published on Feb 7, 2015 4:55 AM
 609  88  1  2 PRINT EMAIL
An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP 
PARIS (AFP) - An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday.
- See more at:

Rare Ferrari owned by actor and found on French farm fetches $21 million at auction

Published on Feb 7, 2015 4:55 AM
 609  88  1  2 PRINT EMAIL
An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP 
PARIS (AFP) - An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday.
- See more at:

Rare Ferrari owned by actor and found on French farm fetches $21 million at auction

Published on Feb 7, 2015 4:55 AM
 609  88  1  2 PRINT EMAIL
An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP 
PARIS (AFP) - An ultra-rare Ferrari that once belonged to actor Alain Delon and was discovered rusting under a pile of old magazines on a French farm fetched €14.2 million (S$21 million) at auction on Friday.
- See more at:

Cop's seafood stew had a gem of an extra ingredient: $10,000 pearl

This pearl, weighing more than six carats, was found in a bowl of seafood stew by a Massachusetts policeman, but appraisers say it may fetch more than $10,000. CBS Boston
SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. -- When Swampscott, Mass., policeman Mike Serino sat down for a birthday dinner in nearby Peabody he didn't expect to find anything in his seafood stew.
"We thought it was a rock. We didn't know what it was," Serino told CBS Boston. The egg-shaped object was an attractive find, "so we took it home," and it sat in a jewelry box for nearly six years, until he saw news of a similar discovery.

Amateur treasure hunter finds £1million hoard of 1,000-year-old Anglo Saxon coins - after a whip-round for petrol to get there 

  • Paul Coleman, 59, stumbled upon silver coins in dig in Buckinghamshire
  • He was on dig with Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club on December 21
  • Initially father-of-two wasn't going to go because he couldn't afford petrol

Carencro family's desk sells for more than $1M

The lost Louis Majorelle "Orchid" desk, discovered in the Carencro home of the late Bill Wilkinson Jr., has been sold for more than $1 million, according to Regina Kolbe, publisher of Antiques Weeks Media.
Kolbe said the rare, museum-quality desk was sold Tuesday at auction at Southeby's in New York.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is gold money?

As the secular gold bear drags on, it is becoming increasingly popular to "debunk" the claim that gold is money, and that gold has ever been money.

Most of the arguments tend to center around observations such as the Maya used Chocolate as money, or the Laplanders used stones.  This is like saying the Wheel is not the basis of mechanical travel because the Icelanders used snowshoes.  In other words, a non-sequitur.


650-700 BCE to 500 BCE Lydian Stater: 

600 BCE - 350 BCE Kyzikene Stater:



100 BCE to 400 AD ROMAN AUREUS: 500 years of relative stability.

400 AD to 1200 AD BYZANTINE SOLIDUS: 800 years of stability.

1200 to 1600 AD: Venetian Ducat: along with French and English coinage.

1700 to 1900 British Guinea: Image result for gold guinea

Historically, from 700 BCE through the end of the Byzantine Empire, gold was certainly the reserve or primary currency par excellence.  Certainly dominant military cultures that had access primarily to silver mines, like Athens and Macedonia used silver currencies too.  Yet the Athenians kept large numbers of Kyzikene Staters in their Treasury and used them along side silver Athenian owl coins for official state payments.  And Philip of Macedon's Empire was only consolidated with the conquest of the gold mines in the North East, from which time Gold became the dominant currency.  Until the 20th century, whenever an Empire had access to gold, it was always the dominant currency.  And, perhaps not coincidentally,  there has never been an Empire that did not have access to gold.

We can go back to 3000 BCE to700 BCE, but this is futile because there was no concept of Money.  It simply didn't exist as we conceive it.

So, what is money? 
To narrow the frame of argument some will claim money is simply a medium of exchange.  By this definition obviously anything can be money - over the very short term, as long as two people agree to exchange something for something else.  Barter.  A bottle of piss could money, if you're willing to trade me something for it.

Of course, if a government is powerful enough they can proclaim and enforce anything to be legal tender for settlement of all debts: ie: a medium of exchange.  This has been the case, for example, in the global economy under the American Empire since 1970.  45 years.  In historical terms, the blink of an eye.  Statistically irrelevant.  Yet it is the system currently prevailing. 

To determine how long it can prevail we must look at other characteristics of money to try to judge how important they might be.

Obviously for longer term use, if you're planning an economy that might theoretically endure,  money must be a store of value.  That rules out Chocolate, for example.  If chocolate were money in my personal economy I would probably consume all my capital in no time.   Stones would still be pretty good.  Though it might be difficult to settle international trade with 200 pound stones.

In our current system the store of value is determined by a combination of financial stability and military might: both of which inspire confidence in the system.  This is, in fact, as it ever was.  The difference is that from about 700 BCE until 1970 AD money inspired confidence also through its intrinsic store of value: its weight in precious metal: gold, silver and gold-silver or electrum

The Store lies in the inherent properties of being Malleable, durable, and Inert.  The Value is in the hazy concept of Beauty.  Artwork made from gold has always (until the 20th century) been prized above all other materials. 

It is not important why humans feel this way.  Only that they do.

The more pure, and the more constant in weight over time, the greater the confidence in the currency.  Gold being inert is obviously the only metal that could serve as a store of value over extended periods of time.  The Byzantine Solidus was the primary global currency for 800 years, during which time it was mostly 99 percent pure gold at a weight of 4.5 grams.

Finally, to serve in all transactions, large and small, money must be an accurate unit of account.  Malleable, divisible and consant Gold served this functions admirably as it could be cut down to the tiniest proportions and maintain its constant weight and preserve its official stamp that certified its purity and represented the power of the issuing authority.

This is why Gold was the PRIMARY CURRENCY of the Lydians through the Persian Empire, through the Alexandine Empire through the Roman Empire through the Byzantine Empire and right through the Empires of the Early Modern Era until about 1900. 

Today, money is a concept represented by computer accounting and pieces of paper. Image result for Banks

Money is a medium of exchange and a unit of account.  Most of it is stored in Banks and traded on electronic exchanges largely regulated and operated  by bankers.  This has only been so for about half a century in all of human history.  It is the period we live in so it is all we now know.

But current money is only a store of value so long as Confidence in the global banking system can be enforced by managed stability and military might. 

The moment the system APPEARS to be unstable to the point that bank accounts are viewed as unsafe people begin to search for ALTERNATE STORES OF VALUE.  


But how close are we to a crack in confidence?

There are many analysts working with wave and cycle theory to try to determine this answer to this question. Anyone who claims the answer is simple is simplifying.

On the one hand we are in completely uncharted territory with the theoretical issuance of currency units controlled by a cartel of Central Bankers, some of whom are academic theorists and other of whom are essentially employees of the Private Bankers who train and control them.

They are controlling Hundreds of Trillions of dollars worth of Theoretical Currency Units, most of which flow into the vaults of the multinational banks and the multinational corporations closest to the banks.

Many of these central bankers are bright and well educated but none of them are geniuses.  They really don't know themselves exactly what they're doing as there is No Historical Precedent for any of this.

This should strike terror into the hearts of anyone not included in this tiny tiny club.

On the other hand, the banks and the corporations control all politicians and all facets of media.  So the message that we are bombarded with day and night is always that ALL IS WELL.  ANY PERCEIVED TURMOIL IS TEMPORARY AND TRANSITORY.  THE SYSTEM IS FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND.

And, in fact, if you live in Europe or the North America, chances are even if you are poor, you have heat and hot water and plumbing and television and food and schooling. 

These comforts trump most forms of discontent. 

Though these comforts seem to be lacking in most of the Middle East, Africa, and much of Asia.  And it seems some of these comforts are now disappearing in Europe too.  This should be cause for some concern.

In sum,  I can't help with the timing of a crack in confidence.  But throughout history, it has always occurred.

The last time it Almost Occurred was in 2008.

That's within recent memory.

So don't bet everything against it happening again.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Go Tsipras Go!

Greece Reaffirms Rejection of Bailout Before Emergency EU Meeting

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras, Greece's prime minister, front center, stands alongside Giannis Dragasakis, Greece's deputy prime minister, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony for the new government held at the Greek Parliament building in Athens, Greece, on Feb. 5, 2015. Photographer: Yannis Kolesidis/Pool via Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) -- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reaffirmed his government’s rejection of the country’s international bailout program two days before an emergency meeting with the euro area’s finance ministers.
Tsipras vowed to increase the minimum wage, restore the income tax-free threshold and halt infrastructure privatizations in a speech that sets him on a collision course with the country’s creditors.

“It is the irrevocable decision of our government to honor the mandate of the Greek people and negotiate an end to the European Union’s austerity,” Tsipras said in an address to parliament marking the start of a three-day debate on his government’s policy platform. “We aim to work with our partners in Europe to achieve these goals.”

Tsipras, who came close to tears at one point during his speech Sunday evening in Athens, also said he would ask for World War II reparations from Germany and the repayment of forced loans Greece made to the Nazi regime during the country’s occupation.

Well he got something right:

Greenspan Sees Greek Exit From Euro as Just a Matter of Time

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Greece’s crisis can’t be resolved as long as it remains in the single currency.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
(Bloomberg) -- Greece’s exit from the euro is just a matter of time because no one wants to risk lending money to the country any more, according to Alan Greenspan.
Hours before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was due to set out plans on how to keep his government paying its bills, the former Federal Reserve chairman said the nation’s crisis can’t be resolved as long as it remains in the single currency.
“I don’t see that it helps them to be in the euro and I certainly don’t see that it helps the rest of the euro zone,” Greenspan said in a radio interview with the BBC on Sunday. “I think it’s just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy.”
Greenspan spoke on the eve of a critical week for Greece, providing a backdrop to Group of 20 officials meeting Monday before euro-zone finance ministers gather for emergency talks on the country on Wednesday and a summit of leaders the next day. Greek public debt stands at more than 320 billion euros ($362 billion), about 175 percent of gross domestic product.
“Greece is in the position that if they don’t get additional loans, then they will default and leave the euro,” Greenspan said. “At this stage, I don’t see any people who are willing to put up the funds, having been disappointed so often.”
Greenspan, 88, was asked if he backed the approach of Germany, to stand firm and against demands from the new Greek government for leniency in its bailout terms.
“I certainly do,” he said.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Spanish Elections: Podemos Draws Thousands To Anti-Austerity Party's Rally In Madrid

Podemos rally in Madrid
People fill Madrid's landmark Puerta del Sol as they gather at a rally called by Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) Jan. 31, 2015.
A rally in Madrid organized by Spanish left-wing party Podemos drew tens of thousands of people Saturday. The so-called March for Change was the biggest turnout yet for the anti-austerity party, which says it is seeking to unseat Spain’s political elite in elections this year, Reuters reported.
Podemos transported thousands of supporters in 260 buses across the country to attend the march in the center of the capital Saturday, the Guardian said.

Supporters at the rally waved Greek and Republican flags and chanted, “Yes, we can.” Rosa Diez, who founded Spain’s Union, Progress and Democracy party in 2007, told Europa Press last month that Podemos shares similarities with the Greek leftist party Syriza, which won a sweeping victory in Greece’s parliamentary election Jan. 25. After the Syriza triumph in Greece, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said, “Hope had been born,” BBC News reported.

“This is not about asking for anything from the government or protesting. It’s to say that in 2015 there will be a government of the people,” Iglesias said last month while announcing the March for Change rally, the Guardian reported. “We want a historic mobilization. We want people to be able to tell their children and grandchildren: ‘I was at the march on 31 January that launched a new era of political change in Spain.’”
In Greece, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, who is popular among working-class Greeks, has pledged to ditch austerity, create jobs and renegotiate Greece’s €240 billion bailout with Europe’s central authorities, as BBC News noted. Tsipras promised five years of “humiliation and suffering” were over, and is already refusing to cooperate with international lenders.

Greece’s new leftist government refused to extend its bailout program Friday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel flatly declined a debt write-down Saturday, and the European Central Bank threatened to cut funding to Greek banks should the government not renew the bailout.

Syriza’s win in Greece galvanized supporters in Italy ahead of the presidential election, but not enough to unseat the country’s ruling majority. Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi welcomed Saturday the newly elected Italian president, constitutional court judge and center-left politician Sergio Mattarella.
Podemos, which may be translated as “We Can,” has promised an audit of Spain’s debt, to increase the country's minimum wage and tax hikes on the rich. Spain has now officially emerged from a seven-year recession, but nearly one in four workers remain out of a job, Reuters reported.

The leftist party was formed in Spain last year, but has already had a meteoric rise in popularity, particularly in the wake of Syriza’s victory in Greece. Podemos won 1.2 million votes and five seats in the European parliament elections in May. The party is also leading in opinion polls ahead of local, regional and national elections, despite criticism in liberal and conservative media accusing its senior members of financial misconduct.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Euro is in trouble, the Japanese are purposefully depreciating the yen.   That leaves the dollar to strengthen indefinitely while US debt and debt derivatives continue to mount exponentially.  


You do the math.


Greek debt crisis sharpens, as US jobs report smashes forecasts – live updates

Greece’s new government is plotting its next step after its European debt talks roadshow didn’t yield a breakthrough

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Or maybe not....

Merkel Says Greek Diplomatic Offensive Is Failing

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that a diplomatic offensive by newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to ease his nation’s bailout-aid requirements is failing to win over converts.

“I don’t think that the positions of the member states within the euro area with regard to Greece differ, at least in terms of substance,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday. Later in Paris, Tsipras was told by French President Francois Hollande that “respecting the rules is necessary for all, for France too, and it’s not always easy.”

While Tsipras has retreated from demands for a writedown of Greece’s debt, yielding to virtually unanimous opposition in the 19-member bloc, his pledge to increase spending threatens to collide with conditions of aid commitments totaling 240 billion euros ($275 billion).

Tsipras and his finance chief, Yanis Varoufakis, will have visited seven European cities between them this week after their Syriza party’s anti-austerity campaign swept them into office, upending Greece’s political establishment. Their demands for overhauling the terms of Greece’s bailout package have been met with resistance and alarm in Berlin and Brussels.

“We’re not a threat to Europe,” Tsipras said at the press conference with Hollande. “We’re proposing mutually acceptable, viable solutions on the debt question.”
Varoufakis met today with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt, where he said he had “very fruitful” talks over the ECB’s support of the Greek banking system.

United Front

Calling himself “the finance minister of a bankrupt country,” Varoufakis sought support from counterparts in Paris, London and Rome before venturing into more hostile territory. He’ll sit down tomorrow with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin. Tsipras has encountered officials in Nicosia, Cyprus, Paris, Rome and Brussels.

Merkel said she’s “looking forward” to meeting Tsipras at a meeting of the European Union’s 28 members on Feb. 12 in Brussels and that she’s already spoken to Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi regarding the euro area’s position on Greece.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc in parliament has agreed not to give in to any “bad compromise” that “defacto adds up to a debt writedown,” Hans-Peter Friedrich, a deputy leader of the caucus, said in an interview today.

“Greece, not Germany, is under time pressure,” Friedrich said, citing the Greek government’s cash requirements following the end of the current round of bailout funding at the end of the month. Tsipras and Varoufakis “aren’t in a position to make demands, let alone try blackmailing tactics,” he said.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Angela Merkel must accept that her austerity policy is now in tatters

Syriza’s victory in Greece has produced an unambiguous defeat for the German chancellor and her strategy for sustaining the euro
Syriza party supporters athens
Syriza supporters in Athens celebrate their party's victory in the Greek elections. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images
Not long ago, German politicians and journalists confidently declared that the euro crisis was over; Germany and the European Union, they believed, had weathered the storm. Today, we know that this was just another mistake in a continuing crisis. The latest error, as with most of the earlier ones, stemmed from wishful thinking – and, once again, it is Greece that has broken the reverie.

Even before the leftist Syriza party’s overwhelming victory in the recent Greek election it was obvious that, far from being over, the crisis was threatening to worsen. Austerity – the policy of saving your way out of a demand shortfall – simply does not work. In a shrinking economy, a country’s debt-to-GDP ratio rises rather than falls, and Europe’s recession-ridden crisis countries have now saved themselves into a depression, resulting in mass unemployment, alarming levels of poverty and scant hope.

Warnings of a severe political backlash went unheeded. Shadowed by Germany’s deep-seated inflation taboo, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government stubbornly insisted that the pain of austerity was essential to economic recovery; the EU had little choice but to go along. Now, with Greece’s voters having driven out their country’s exhausted and corrupt elite in favour of a party that has vowed to end austerity, the backlash has arrived.

But, though Syriza’s victory may mark the start of the next chapter in the euro crisis, the political, and possibly existential, danger that Europe faces runs deeper. The Swiss National Bank’s unexpected abandonment of the franc’s euro peg on 15 January , though posing no immediate financial threat,was an enormous psychological blow, one that reflected and reinforced a massive loss of confidence. The euro, as the SNB’s move implied, remains as fragile as ever. And the subsequent decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) to buy more than €1tn in eurozone governments’ bonds, though correct and necessary, has dimmed confidence.

The Greek election outcome was foreseeable for over a year. If negotiations between the “troika” (the European commission, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund) and the new Greek government succeed, the result will be a face-saving compromise for both sides; if no agreement is reached, Greece will default.

Though no one can say what a Greek default would mean for the euro, it would certainly entail risks to the currency’s continued existence. Just as surely, the megadisaster that might result from a eurozone breakup would not spare Germany.

A compromise would, de facto, result in a loosening of austerity, which would entail significant domestic risks for Merkel (though less than a failure of the euro would). But in view of her immense popularity at home, including within her own party, Merkel is underestimating the options at her disposal. She could do much more, if only she trusted herself.

In the end, she may have no choice. Given the impact of the Greek election outcome on political developments in Spain, Italy and France, where anti-austerity sentiment is similarly running high, political pressure on the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers will increase significantly. It does not take a prophet to predict that the latest chapter of the euro crisis will leave Germany’s austerity policy in tatters – unless Merkel really wants to take the enormous risk of letting the euro fail.

There is no indication that she does. So, regardless of which side – the troika or the new Greek government – moves first in the coming negotiations, Greece’s election has already produced an unambiguous defeat for Merkel and her austerity-based strategy for sustaining the euro.

Simultaneous debt reduction and structural reforms, we now know, will overextend any democratically elected government because they overtax its voters. And, without growth, there will be no structural reforms either, however necessary they may be.

That is Greece’s lesson for Europe. The question now is not whether the German government will accept it, but when. Will it take a similar debacle for Spain’s conservatives in that country’s coming election to force Merkel to come to terms with reality?

Nothing but growth will decide the future of the euro. Even Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, faces an enormous need for infrastructure investment. If its government stopped seeing “zero new debt” as the holy grail and instead invested in modernising the country’s transport and municipal infrastructure, and in digitisation of households and industry, the euro – and Europe – would receive a mighty boost. Moreover, a massive public investment programme could be financed at exceptionally low (and, for Germany, conceivably even negative) interest rates.

The eurozone’s cohesion and the success of its necessary structural reforms, and thus its very survival, now depend on whether it can overcome its growth deficit. Germany has room for fiscal manoeuvre. The message from Greece’s election is that Merkel should use it before it is too late.
imageROME: Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said all of Europe is watching the new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was sworn in earlier on Monday. "The challenge you face is certainly difficult," Renzi wrote in a congratulatory letter.
"An entire continent is following the Greek political developments."
Renzi has often called on the European Union to focus more on growth than austerity as he struggles to cut Italy's 2-trillion-euro debt pile amid the third recession in six years. Greece's debt crisis threatened to topple Italy into default in 2011 as it forced borrowing costs in the euro zone periphery to soar.
All that makes Renzi a possible ally of the new Greek prime minister who won office pledging to renegotiate a 240-billion-euro bailout deal with creditors.
The 40-year-old Renzi is same age as Tsipras, and both leaders come from left-wing parties.

First Syiza now Podemos, then....

Snap regional elections in Spain as anti-austerity party Podemos leads polls

Since its creation last year, Podemos has rocketed to a leading position in polls

After Greece’s elections, a new European front between traditional parties and their anti-austerity challengers is set to open on Monday when the Andalusian Socialist premier Susana Diaz is all but certain to make a call for snap regional elections for 22 March.

It would act as a curtain-raiser for a year of elections across Spain, with Podemos, a new anti-austerity party, expected to be a serious contender, much like Syriza in Greece. Local elections are due in May, while Catalonia has its own regional vote in September; general elections are most likely in December.
Last Thursday, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was a guest of honour at one of Syriza’s meetings. “Change in Greece is called Syriza, change in Spain is called Podemos,” he said. “Hope is coming. Onwards to victory with Syriza-Podemos.”

Since its creation last year, Podemos has rocketed to a leading position in polls, netting 28 per cent of the vote in a recent survey for left-leaning El PaĆ­s newspaper; the ruling PP party slumped to 19 per cent. Unemployment in Spain, despite a recovering economy, remains at 23.7 per cent, and 34 per cent in Andalusia.
Andalusia is a socialist stronghold, and it’s possible to see the latest decision as a desire to secure a morale-boosting vote before the real battle begins later this year.