This is so bad, it’s almost funny. It happened May 31, at the end of the month, Friday afternoon, when no one was supposed to pay attention, minutes before the close of the stock market, when volume had died down to a trickle, and when the move was guaranteed to produce huge results.
Contributed by Don Quijones: “In a newspaper like El País it is no longer possible to criticize the main Spanish banks. And you have to be very careful when talking about the Government, in case it gets angry: its benevolence is needed in order to avoid bankruptcy.”
Contributed by Don Quijones: As bank lending has dried up, Spain’s government has barely lifted a finger to help struggling self-employed workers or small enterprises. Instead, it apparently made it its mission to make their working lives as difficult as possible by ramping up their tax burden to historic highs.
Contributed by Don Quijones: A daily ration of bread is now beyond the reach of roughly a billion people on planet Earth. What’s more, hunger is spreading like a pandemic, making incursions from its traditional strongholds in the global south to towns and cities across depression-hit Southern Europe. In Greece….
Austerity succeeded in trimming the bloated government sector. But instead of picking up the slack, the private sector destroyed jobs almost four times faster! The hope is that this fiasco will finally reverse course, that something will click and start a virtuous cycle before the unspeakable happens. But so far, it has relentlessly gotten worse.
Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal, number two of the governing party in Spain, said that she knew she’d get criticized, “but this is pure Nazism.” The next day, she repeated it and added that going to someone’s house to “harass” him was “comparable to what occurred in the 30s in a European country.” A reference to Nazis marking the homes of Jews. But these “Nazis” are folks who are standing up to the banks and draconian mortgage laws that the government is hell-bent on protecting.
Contributed by Don Quijones: Catalonia’s riot police unleashed the untamed fury of the state upon the protestors and cleared Barcelona’s Plaza Catalunya of all occupants. A dense ring of shell-shocked people gathered around the square. I was one of them. A child riding on his father’s shoulders held up a sign: “No soy anti sistema, el sistema es anti yo,” it said (I’m not anti-system; the system is anti-me).
In March, the ECB-organized Eurozone-wide household-wealth survey results trickled out. But when the Bundesbank refused to publish the German data, insiders leaked the reason: too explosive for the bailout era because Italian households were far wealthier than German households. Shocking! And a red herring. The truth turned out to be far more shocking.
Contributed by Don Quijones: Not a day goes by without a new political scandal breaking in Spain. Just the last few days, King Juan Carlos’ daughter, La Infanta Cristina, was charged with aiding and abetting her husband in his myriad scams to embezzle money from the public purse. Now ties to a known drug trafficker hit the governing party, the Partido Popular.
The ominous term “competiveness” is bandied about as the real issue, the one causing Eurozone countries to sink deeper into their fiasco. To address it, “structural reforms,” or austerity, have been invoked regardless of how much blood might stain the streets. And a core element of these structural reforms is bringing down the cost of labor.