December 2, 2012
Greeks turn to the forests for fuel as winter nears
After first felling society’s most vulnerable, with pensioners and low-income workers at the fore, debt-stricken Greece’s great economic crisis is now destroying the middle class. The announcement this week that €44bn in emergency aid will soon be funnelled into the country – the latest in a series of rescue programmes by the EU and IMF to prop up an economy running on empty – comes as little consolation for people on the ground.
Poised for their worst winter since the eruption of the crisis three years ago, Greeks who once thought nothing of heating their homes now hesitate. After relentless waves of austerity and tax rises that have seen their purchasing power drop by up to 50%, even doctors and lawyers are feeling the pinch, with many saying they cannot afford the 40% surcharge the government has slapped on heating oil.
Having been on the frontline of Europe’s debt drama from the outset, Greece embraced austerity in return for international financial assistance that has kept bankruptcy at bay and tied it to the family of single currency nations. But the effect has been ever more devastating on its social fabric. Middle class downsizing is the latest tell-tale sign in a country whose GDP officials predict will shrink 25% by 2014 – a contraction unheard of in an advanced western economy since America’s Great Depression. (via The Guardian)

Greeks turn to the forests for fuel as winter nears

After first felling society’s most vulnerable, with pensioners and low-income workers at the fore, debt-stricken Greece’s great economic crisis is now destroying the middle class. The announcement this week that €44bn in emergency aid will soon be funnelled into the country – the latest in a series of rescue programmes by the EU and IMF to prop up an economy running on empty – comes as little consolation for people on the ground.

Poised for their worst winter since the eruption of the crisis three years ago, Greeks who once thought nothing of heating their homes now hesitate. After relentless waves of austerity and tax rises that have seen their purchasing power drop by up to 50%, even doctors and lawyers are feeling the pinch, with many saying they cannot afford the 40% surcharge the government has slapped on heating oil.

Having been on the frontline of Europe’s debt drama from the outset, Greece embraced austerity in return for international financial assistance that has kept bankruptcy at bay and tied it to the family of single currency nations. But the effect has been ever more devastating on its social fabric. Middle class downsizing is the latest tell-tale sign in a country whose GDP officials predict will shrink 25% by 2014 – a contraction unheard of in an advanced western economy since America’s Great Depression. (via The Guardian)

October 28, 2012
Lisbon, Portugal
A protest against austerity measures (via guardian.co.uk)

Lisbon, Portugal

A protest against austerity measures (via guardian.co.uk)

October 20, 2012
 Parallel universes - cartoon
At the European Council, François Hollande and Angela Merkel remain divided on the issue of ECB supervision of European banks. Meanwhile, in the Greek capital, the growing number of violent attacks on immigrants mounted by neo-Nazi activists of the Golden Dawn party is met with indifference by the country’s political class. Recently Greek MP Eleni Zaroulia, who is the wife of the leader of Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos, and a member of the European Council’s commission on equality and non-discrimination, described immigrants as subhuman in a speech to parliament. (via Presseurop)

Parallel universes - cartoon

At the European Council, François Hollande and Angela Merkel remain divided on the issue of ECB supervision of European banks. Meanwhile, in the Greek capital, the growing number of violent attacks on immigrants mounted by neo-Nazi activists of the Golden Dawn party is met with indifference by the country’s political class. Recently Greek MP Eleni Zaroulia, who is the wife of the leader of Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos, and a member of the European Council’s commission on equality and non-discrimination, described immigrants as subhuman in a speech to parliament. (via Presseurop)

March 14, 2012
Dutch government in lockdown as AAA-rated country comes unstuck 
A hush has descended on a handsome 17th century villa in The Hague where the leaders of the Netherlands’ rightwing minority government are huddled over spending ledgers, debt projections, budget balances, housing market analyses and deteriorating pension fund figures.
Mark Rutte, prime minister and leader of the liberal-conservative VVD party, has imposed a vow of omerta on his colleagues locked away in his official residence until they chart a path out of a worsening public finances debacle.
Europe’s two-year debt and deficit crisis has pitted preachy northern creditors against “feckless” Mediterranean spendthrifts – countries the Dutch are wont to dub the “garlic belt”.
But suddenly the air in Brussels and elsewhere is thick with tales of pots and kettles, glass houses and stonethrowing as the triple-A rated Netherlands comes unstuck.
Rutte launched the three-week retreat for the top members of his government at his residence last week after shock budget projections from the CPB Bureau for Economic Analysis, the old and authoritative thinktank which crunches the finance ministry’s numbers.
The CPB, accustomed to delivering inarguable verdicts on fiscal and budgetary policy, said the Netherlands was in flagrant breach of the new eurozone rulebook and fiscal pact it has been highly instrumental in drafting. (via The Guardian)

Dutch government in lockdown as AAA-rated country comes unstuck

A hush has descended on a handsome 17th century villa in The Hague where the leaders of the Netherlands’ rightwing minority government are huddled over spending ledgers, debt projections, budget balances, housing market analyses and deteriorating pension fund figures.

Mark Rutte, prime minister and leader of the liberal-conservative VVD party, has imposed a vow of omerta on his colleagues locked away in his official residence until they chart a path out of a worsening public finances debacle.

Europe’s two-year debt and deficit crisis has pitted preachy northern creditors against “feckless” Mediterranean spendthrifts – countries the Dutch are wont to dub the “garlic belt”.

But suddenly the air in Brussels and elsewhere is thick with tales of pots and kettles, glass houses and stonethrowing as the triple-A rated Netherlands comes unstuck.

Rutte launched the three-week retreat for the top members of his government at his residence last week after shock budget projections from the CPB Bureau for Economic Analysis, the old and authoritative thinktank which crunches the finance ministry’s numbers.

The CPB, accustomed to delivering inarguable verdicts on fiscal and budgetary policy, said the Netherlands was in flagrant breach of the new eurozone rulebook and fiscal pact it has been highly instrumental in drafting. (via The Guardian)

March 13, 2012
Brussels, Belgium
Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos is greeted by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker at a Eurogroup meeting (via Reuters.com)

Brussels, Belgium

Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos is greeted by Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker at a Eurogroup meeting (via Reuters.com)

March 7, 2012
Italy’s Mason-Dixon Line: Euro Crisis Fuels South Tyrolean Separatist Dreams 
Many in northern Italy have long wanted to secede. Now, the euro crisis is giving the separatist movement new momentum, with the rich north unwilling to pony up for the poor south. Prime Minister Monti’s efforts to exert control may be making matters worse. (via SPIEGEL ONLINE)

Italy’s Mason-Dixon Line: Euro Crisis Fuels South Tyrolean Separatist Dreams

Many in northern Italy have long wanted to secede. Now, the euro crisis is giving the separatist movement new momentum, with the rich north unwilling to pony up for the poor south. Prime Minister Monti’s efforts to exert control may be making matters worse. (via SPIEGEL ONLINE)

March 7, 2012
Puertollano, Spain
Mercedes Garcia, the director of a residency for severely mentally disabled adults run by Fuente Agria Foundation, hugs a patient. The residency has been running on fumes for months because the local government, squeezed by austerity measures to combat the euro zone debt crisis, has not paid its share of expenses. (via Reuters.com)

Puertollano, Spain

Mercedes Garcia, the director of a residency for severely mentally disabled adults run by Fuente Agria Foundation, hugs a patient. The residency has been running on fumes for months because the local government, squeezed by austerity measures to combat the euro zone debt crisis, has not paid its share of expenses. (via Reuters.com)

March 1, 2012
"It is hardly surprising that “austerity” is unpopular. It is nothing other than a transfer of incomes from labour and the poor to capital and the rich. One of the greatest fallacies of the current crisis is that “there is no money left”. This is wholly untrue. Companies are sitting on cash mountains all across Europe. And the profit share of national income has risen. This is why stock markets are rising – corporate incomes (profits) are rising."

Michael Buurke on how Ireland’s EU referendum can strike a blow against ‘austerity’

(via guardian.co.uk)

January 17, 2012

Europe - what went wrong?

European leaders have been meeting all week in an effort to shore up their economies and to strengthen the perception of solvability so that investors and consumers will not go away. Mark Weisbrot, an economist and co-director at the Centre for economic and policy research, talks about where he thinks Europe has gone wrong. (via RFI)

January 12, 2012
Eurozone in trouble - cartoon 
Tom Janssen (b. 1950) is a cartoonist for the Dutch press. He works for Amsterdam daily Trouw and various local papers. His cartoons are also published in The International Herald Tribune, Time Magazine, Le Monde and The New York Times. In 2009 World Press Cartoon awarded him 2nd prize in the Editorial Cartoon category for his take on “Wall Street” (via Presseurop)

Eurozone in trouble - cartoon

Tom Janssen (b. 1950) is a cartoonist for the Dutch press. He works for Amsterdam daily Trouw and various local papers. His cartoons are also published in The International Herald Tribune, Time Magazine, Le Monde and The New York Times. In 2009 World Press Cartoon awarded him 2nd prize in the Editorial Cartoon category for his take on “Wall Street” (via Presseurop)

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