Belgium is known for its surprises. For example, it got by amazingly well for a couple of years without a national government, to the chagrin of a lot of people. Now that tiny country with a tiny economy is suddenly piling up a mountain of US Treasuries.
By Cassandra: In the South of the Eurozone, people feel crushed, their future sacrificed on the altar of the Holy Euro. I’m in the Netherlands, so north of the Great Divide. We’re not suffering as much as the people in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Not yet.
The tiny country of Belgium with a GDP of $484 billion, a country that became famous to the chagrin of some people because it did just fine for a couple of years without a national government – well, it’s growing an enormous mountain of US Treasuries.
By Don Quijones: “We will not be taking any questions on the specifics of the Spanish situation.”
Another Edward Snowden revelation indicates that I, a humble, incoherent, harmless, and (mostly) law-abiding American, may have gotten tangled up in the NSA’s vast spying dragnet for inexplicable reasons of national security. It’s getting personal.
The huddled masses yearning to breathe free in the EU drown by the boatload in the Mediterranean. They languish in detention centers in Greece and elsewhere. They’re maligned, hounded, sometimes killed. But it’s getting cheaper and easier for the rich.
Bank bailouts have made owners of otherwise worthless bank debt whole through a circuitous process by which taxpayers transferred their money to investors. Even in Greece. Even a bank that had siphoned off $1 billion through fraud and embezzlement. It wasn’t fair. But fairness had nothing to do with it. That’s how bailouts were done. Until now.
By now we should have gotten used to the odor emanating from banks—bailouts, money laundering, Libor rate-rigging, the other misdeeds. But in Europe over the last few days, it was particularly dense. “In this uncertain world, I cannot exclude anything,” said Deutsche Bank co-CEO reassuringly.
As the Eurozone flails about to keep its chin above the debt crisis that is drowning periphery countries, and as the European Union struggles to duct-tape itself together with more “integration,” that is governance by unelected transnational eurocrats, Sweden is having second thoughts: never before has there been such hostility toward the euro.
As a kid in Germany, I engaged in underage beer drinking. I was too young to drive, so it didn’t bother anyone, except me the next day. It was when German beer consumption peaked at 151 liters per capita, the highest in the world. But then I went to America … and German beer consumption took a multi-decade dive. In the US and other Western countries, the beer industry is now morose as well, but it’s booming elsewhere.