Thursday Reads: Crisis in Cyprus, The End of the “Creative Class” Dream, the Grand Betrayal, and Other News

coffee break

Good Morning!!

There’s quite a bit of news on the Cyprus crisis this morning. But first, last night Joe Weisenthal posted this assessment of how bad things had already gotten: In Just Days A Modern Economy Has Been Set Back 50 Years, And It May Never Be The Same Again. That’s a quote from Ciaran O’Hagan of Société Générale in Paris. Weisenthal writes:

According to reports, Cyprus will try again tomorrow to cobble together some kind of bank bailout bill that can pass parliament.

Cyprus needs to raise another 5.8 billion euros, which it could do from some combination of deposit taxes, Russian money, and pension nationalization.

None of the options are good, but until it’s done, banks will likely have to remain closed, a situation that can’t go on much longer.

This is a stunning turn of events for a modern Eurozone nation.

This morning, the news broke that the European Central Bank (ECB) has given Cyprus an ultimatum. Bloomberg reports:

The European Central Bank said it will cut Cypriot banks off from emergency funds after March 25 unless the Mediterranean island agrees on a bailout with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

“The Governing Council of the European Central Bank decided to maintain the current level of Emergency Liquidity Assistance, ELA, until Monday, 25 March 2013,” the Frankfurt- based ECB said in an e-mailed statement today. “Thereafter, ELA could only be considered if an EU/IMF program is in place that would ensure the solvency of the concerned banks.”

The Cypriot parliament this week rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.5 billion), which euro-area finance ministers backed as a condition for the country’s bailout. A bank holiday in Cyprus has been extended to March 25, giving policy makers until Monday to find a compromise to prevent a collapse of the country’s banks.

“With this statement, the ECB put even more pressure on European finance ministers and the Cypriot government to come up with a deal,” said Juergen Michels, chief euro-area economist at Citigroup Inc. in London. “But we’ll have to see whether they’ll actually follow through with their threat if there’s no deal by Monday and policy makers decide to further extend the bank holiday.”

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Axelrod explains it all …

A tweet and facebook post from Digby alerted me to an Axelrod/Blogger “roundtable” where he explained the semantics game in the SOTU.  I just found the SOTU contradictory and rather schizophrenic.  Except for the fact he still appears to know nothing about economics, Obama was full of on the one hand on the other hand kinds of policies.  It was full of dichotomous metaphors along the lines of building up things while tearing them down and defunding things down while investing them up.

Chris Bowers has further coverage here at the Giant Talking Cheeto.  It appears the usual “neoliberal” apparatchiks were there.  Digby calls it a matter of semantics.  Digby also believes we’re about to see a campaign of  ‘strengthening Social Security’ argument by doing things that actually weaken it. She calls it “strength through weakness”. It’s that old Reagan game of labeling offensive, deadly missiles ‘peacekeepers’ to make them sound less offensive and deadly.  She’s got a really good list of examples where  the language mixes up the intent of the actions.  At least some one else is noticing the schizophrenic policy and language.

As far as I can tell from Axelrod’s conversation with the bloggers and everything we’ve seen and heard from the political establishment, the only real “principle” here is bipartisanship. Obama gets high marks from the Villagers and Democrats when he forges a bipartisan deal with the Republicans — no matter what the deal is. That he was praised and rewarded for cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans in a time of deficit fever tells you how far the American people have fallen down the rabbit hole. Don’t think he doesn’t get that.

Here’s the bottom line on Social Security from Chris Bowers who–at the moment–is less than enthusiastic.  Let’s see how long that lasts.

The answers that we received are not answers that will make anyone entirely happy. Here is what I took from them:

  • The Obama administration is not willing to repudiate the “crisis” narrative surrounding Social Security that dominates the national political media.
  • President Obama explicitly repudiated privatization of Social Security in his speech last night, and David Axelrod reaffirmed that repudiation today.
  • If there is going to be a “bi-partisan” agreement to alter Social Security, it will be brokered by President Obama himself. Congress is not going to pass a deal to which President Obama has not given his prior approval.
  • President Obama strikes generally strong notes in defense of Social Security when it comes to other possible ways to cut the program. However, other than privatization, both he and his administration are unwilling to get too specific about where the line is drawn.

At least now, there’s a general realization that this doublespeak means we’re going to clearly get the pro-business, highly Republican alternatives for the next two years.  Obama has gone full throttle on the Chamber of Commerce agenda and language.   At this point, however, I think there’s also a general recognition that that the access bloggers will eventually throw their hands up and throw in the towel behind Obama because of the usual deal.  That is the Republicans are clearly bug fuck nuts so we can do worse.  The Republicans seem hell bent at showing exactly how worse they can be right now.  Even Bohenerella couldn’t shut up Michelle Bachmann and her twisted sister audiovisuals and crazy delivery to some camera some where stage right.  Don’t even get me started on her revisionist history of slavery and the founding fathers.  She’s a good example of what you get when you dumb down education via religication.

All you had to do was listen to Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann to see that both have a less than firm grasp on reality and the facts.  They are deniers of history, economic theory, science, math, and facts. The more they speak, the more those independent voters flip the approval switch on the Presidential mumbo jumbo policy gumbo.   This just puts the president in the catbird seat to continue the Corporate Takeover of America and its institutions.

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