The French Enigma and Germany's dithering

, 27/01/2011

In response to my post Why is Europe dithering? George Krimpas sent me the following. It may well be he is right. But what does everyone else think?

That morning after feeling again (when the buy-back scheme proves ever so unattractive in the day's unforgiving light)

, 26/01/2011

The rumour of a buy back of the Greek debt began with an email sent by German daily Die Zeit. My last post explained why this idea ought to be treated with contempt. Soon after, Die Zeit  Online featured an article by Mark Schieritz that makes the same point. Here is a summary of his argument: The […]

Why the musings of a Greek debt buy-back deserve to be treated with contempt

, 24/01/2011

A recent report by German daily Die Zeit filled the newspaper columns and our television screens with rumours of a brilliant solution for the Greek debt. And when Reuters and Bloomberg beamed it around the world, false promises of a final resolution for the euro crisis began to spread like a bushfire. In this post I […]

Why is Europe dithering? Our politicians caught in a classic Buridan conundrum

, 19/01/2011

So, Europe’s leadership, under German pressure, decided to postpone any decision on how to tackle the euro crisis until the end of February, or even March. Hiding behind the ECB’s agonising and costly attempts temporarily to contain the periphery’s spreads, the eurozone has decided to do what it is best at: To dither a little […]

Further debate on the Modest Proposal for the Resolution of the Euro Crisis

, 16/01/2011

JG, a regular contributor to this blog (see here and here) and ex City of London banker, suggested to me that Step 1 of the Modest Proposal should be rethought in the context of the experience with Brady bonds; the financial instruments US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady devised in order to tackle the Debt Crisis […]

So, why did the Crash of 2008 happen? A first glimpse of the Global Minotaur

, 15/01/2011

Regular visitors will know that these days I am deeply immersed in the writing of a book about the Crash of 2008 and its after math. One that will bear the title THE GLOBAL MINOTAUR: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy. Well, I just finished a […]

Two challenges to the Modest Proposal Redux

, 14/01/2011

Soon after posting the 2011 version of the Modest Proposal, I received two repudiations: One from a convivial ex banker (whose views have appeared on this blog before) and one from my comrade-in-arms, George Krimpas. Their objections are important and this is why I am posting them here, along with my answers.

The Modest Proposal Redux (a new version for the turbulent 2011)

, 11/01/2011

As the euro crisis will enter its final stages in 2011, and the debate on how to end it will heat up, I thought it important to update the Modest Proposal, in preparation for the debates to come. Click here for a copy. The main difference from the last version concerns the first step: Rather […]

The calm before the storm

, 10/01/2011

I just watched a talking head on CNBC, clearly somehow connected to the European Commission, suggesting that 2011 will be a better year for the euro given the new institutions for managing the debt ‘crisis’. New institutions? Could he be referring to the European Financial Stability Facility, the EFSF and its successor ESM? I am speechless. It seems to me […]

No more domino metaphors please for the euro crisis. Mountaineering ones only from now on.

, 07/01/2011

In yesterday’s post, I argued that the chain reaction that started with Greece, moved to Dublin and now is proceeding to the Iberian peninsula, is increasing in magnitude inexorably because of the CDO-like structure of the EFSF/EFSB ‘bail outs’ of heavily indebted eurozone members. So far, we have all been thinking of this process in terms […]

Toxic eurobonds that divide versus benign eurobonds that bind

, 06/01/2011

So, a eurobond of sorts is now being issued by the EFSF (the European Financial Stability Facility), to the initial tune of a mere €5 billion, as part of the Irish banks’ bail-out. The public is, thus, justified to be puzzled by the headlines of Germany’s insistence that no eurobonds will be issued in the […]

An exchange with a retired City of London banker on economics' role in bringing about the Crisis

, 05/01/2011

A retired City of London banker, who happens to be a remarkably charming man, sent me an email commenting on my recent piece in which I criticise economics in general and Paul Samuelson in particular. Jerry (for that is his name) suggested that (despite the economists’ fixation with weird models of little significance) we economists […]

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To! Why even the best post-war analytical economist ended up a tragic figure

, 04/01/2011

Previously I have written about the Econobubble (the handmaiden of the “real” Bubble) and the toxic theories of economists who were very recently rewarded with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.  Following those tirades, a number of colleagues (and students) put it to me that economics is not what it used to be.  That once […]

Two New Initiatives for 2011: vitalspace.org and 'The Global Minotaur'

, 03/01/2011

This blog began life a few months ago in response to the European crisis and with a view to campaigning in favour of our Modest Proposal. The New Year comes with a renewed commitment to the Modest Proposal but also with two new initiatives. The first new initiative is called vitalspace.org; a joint project with […]

Good riddance 2010, Welcome 2011

, 31/12/2010

No year is of course responsible for what we humans get up to during its course. But then again, the very concept of a year would not exist without us. In this sense, it is not illegitimate to farewell 2010 with a sense of outrage at what it brought us. So, what did it bring? Paul […]

The Joylessness of Happiness Economics

, 28/12/2010

Or why looking for happiness is not like looking for gold That money cannot buy happiness has been known at least since the Midas story gained currency in ancient Greece. What is new is that, after the Crash of 2008, what had hitherto passed as scientific economics (and the neoliberal policies that they supported) lost […]

A thought for Xmas Day: Faustus, Scrooge and Debt in the Age of Capital

, 25/12/2010

Some idle economic thoughts for Christmas day: In late 16th century, Christopher Marlowe told the story of Dr Faustus who famously contracted, using his own blood to sign on the dotted line, to sell his body and soul twenty four years hence to Mephistopheles. [i] In exchange he demanded, and secured, a long catalogue of […]

Quiz question

, 24/12/2010

Quiz: Who wrote the following  and when“To read the newspapers just now is to see Bedlam let loose. Everyone who hates social progress and loves deflation feels that his hour has come, and triumphantly announces how, by refraining from every form of economic activity, we can become prosperous again” ?

From Scrooge's rehabilitation to Scroogeonomics?

, 24/12/2010

Two days ago, I called for the rehabiliation of Ebenezer Scrooge. Today, in the FT, Martin Wolf goes one step further: he puts forward Scroogeonomics. I beg to differ. Scrooge offers  an excellent morality tale for our day and age. But not a blueprint for economic thinking. Then again, I am sure Martin Wolf knows […]

Striking Greece, Dithering Europe and the Modest Proposal

, 22/12/2010

I had posted here an interview of mine on the BBC World Service (World Business News) on the Greek government budget, the resulting strike and the prospects of austerity. I used the opportunity briefly to outline the Modest Proposal.  However, as the BBC updates this particular program ten times a day, the link seems to […]

Austerity? What austerity? In defence of Ebenezer Scrooge

, 21/12/2010

The figure of Ebenezer Scrooge is the only one that our societies allow their upstanding members to despise during the festive season. Of course, the point of the ritual admonition of Dickens’ Christmas Carol protagonist is to celebrate charity and the Christmas spirit by focusing attention on Scrooge’s remarkable Christmas Eve transformation (with the ghosts’ […]

Alternative Strategies for Exiting the Euro Crisis

, 19/12/2010

And why they do not measure up to the Modest Proposal The good news is that the debate we had to have about a year ago is, at long last, beginning. The bad news is that it is proceeding slowly and in often hopeless directions. The recent EU summit, for instance, decidedly refused even to […]

The Modest Proposal in 600 words

, 17/12/2010

I was just asked to prepare a shortened version (600 words) of the Modest Proposal for publication in the UK Government Gazette. Since some of you may be interested in a handier, punchier version, here it is:

Echoes of the Modest Proposal begin to reverberate in Germany

, 15/12/2010

An article of immense importance appeared in the Financial Times yesterday, 14th December 2010. Effectively, it signalled a split in the country’s hitherto united front on its vision of the eurozone. Its social democrat authors, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany’s Foreign Minister, 2005-9) and Peer Steinbrück (Germany’s Finance Minister, 2005-9), pinned their colours on the mast of […]

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