Westerners do not want Easterners; the Swiss do not want anyone; luxury cars for the Portuguese; Reding’s karma.
It happens that even an American politician may forget that they too may be bugged. The U.S. diplomat for European Affairs Victoria Nuland unwillingly said what she thinks of the EU, during a phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and her “Fuck the EU!” has hit the headlines.
The Swiss have agreed on something similar, namely, on quotas for immigrants from the EU in the recent referendum. Now, we, Easterners, are used to things like that; it even took the EU several years to finally let us dawdle around. But Western countries are rather shocked. Not so long ago, they were developing a plan to further restrict the movement of Romanians and Bulgarians, and today they themselves are limited by the Swiss decision. Barosso responded with a patronizing “Switzerland needs the EU more than the EU needs Switzerland!” and the EU, in answer to that, stopped negotiations concerning cross-border electricity trade. By this move, it punished the Swiss, but also itself because, as it is clear just from the definition, that the trade is beneficial to both parties. But it is a no-win for the Swiss, too. Entrepreneurs already report a lack of skilled workers. And the Swiss national football team without immigrants would look like the picture below.
German court has also made a decision. Or perhaps it did not. Government bond buying program by the European Central Bank (OMT) was proclaimed to be “maybe” illegal. But maybe not. They leave it to the European Court of Justice to decide (and the outcome will not be hard to predict). And so, German judges can sleep peacefully – they said what they wanted (that the ECB has no mandate to monetize the debt of Member States), they did not offend anyone and, at the same time, they flipped the responsibility elsewhere.
The head of the newly formed single banking supervision, Danièle Nouy, also has found courage for some strong words: “We must prepare for the fact that some banks have no future… and we have to let them disappear.” In addition, she noted that government bonds are not without risk. Meanwhile, European banks are getting rid of bad assets and raising the capital before the upcoming stress tests.
One of the current candidates for bank and state bankruptcy – Slovenia – can once again relax for a while. It raised $3.5 billion in dollar-denominated bonds at lower rates than last year. The ECB, having made a promise about buying bonds, just won’t let it get away with that.
Greeks are candidates for an aid package – not for the first, but for the third one (and according to connoisseurs, even the fourth one). So far, Greek politicians have pretended to be in no need of outside help. But they actually expect a “gift” from Troika, and especially from Germany, in exchange for honest fulfilment of the assigned tasks. Whereas Spaniards, like their northern neighbours, are working on a package to revive their stagnant economy. It should include simplification of tax laws and a reduction in some marginal tax rates.
Even Portugal is coming up with new ideas. Following a similar precaution as in Slovakia, where the treasury should be saved by “Tax receipt lottery,” but instead of various small cash winnings or small cars, residents can prepare themselves for 60 luxurious automobiles per year. In 2013 the Portuguese government managed to spend 5.5% more than in 2012, and the amount does not take into account the 700 million euro share of bank help, so they’d better hope for the success of the lottery.
But it is not only the Portuguese that will become rich, all of us will. Thanks to prostitutes and drug dealers. That is because member states’ statistical offices will be obliged to include the shadow economy in the GDP calculations. On the one hand, the GDP numbers will be higher – which is pleasant – on the other, it will mean greater contributions to the EU budget by some countries, which may not be particularly delightful.
What might be missing from the EU budget will be the UK contribution, if the country decides to leave the Union. This was also the topic during Viviane Reding’s visit, when she observed that British people are not able to decide about such an issue in a qualified way. It remains unknown whether the lady is a Buddhist, but karma has acted immediately, and Vice President of the Commission was surprised to find that her unlocked car was robbed – all her luggage was stolen, including her favourite designer clothes.
The reason why Brits want to leave the EU is the transfer of power to Brussels and also the problem of migration of Eastern Europeans. That, however, presents greater problems in Romania. In less than three years, the number of doctors has decreased by one third and some specializations, like cardiologist or radiologist, are now counted in tens in the country whose population totals 20 million.
Britain and the Netherlands are initiating another lawsuit against Iceland for financial losses to their citizens after the bankruptcy of Icesave, Icelandic bank, which was strongly rejected by the then Prime Minister. Bank clients were entitled to compensation only from the deposit protection fund, which did not have enough money for such a huge bankruptcy. Icelandic people refused to compensate foreigners from their own sources in two referendums already. Maybe Icelanders could at least contribute to their education, especially to courses on the functioning of the fractional central banking, so that next time they are not so naive.
Last week’s economic news, however, reported only on the economy of Turkey, Brazil and Argentina. Several countries’ currencies experienced a sharp downturn after their capital begun to flee to the U.S. due to the weakening of quantitative easing. The dose of monetary opium fell only slightly, but we already begin to feel strong withdrawal symptoms.
But in Venezuela, money is missing because of another reason. 15 years ago, a barrel of their oil used to be sold for $8, today it is for $100. The economy was, however, dependent on the constant rise of oil prices, which has ended in recent years. And so the country is lacking dollars (on the black market, one dollar costs 12 times more than a Bolivar compared to the official market), which causes major shortcomings. There is a lack of basic food products in stores, and some factories (including Toyota) were forced to stop production for lack of imported parts.
We should, therefore, leave the saying “Hasta la victoria siempre!” for hockey purposes only.
Translated by Stanislava Dovhunová