Officially, the EU doesn’t have an intelligence service. It’s dependent on the national intelligence services of its members. Officially. In reality, it is building an intelligence apparatus of six services, populated already by 1,300 specialists, some operating overseas, with vast databases at their fingertips. Much of it beyond any kind of democratic control.
The last big thing was green tech – from wave-power generators to the smart grid. Hyped in the bipartisan stimulus bill, it promised gobs of jobs, billions in revenues, and untold riches. Private investors plowed in billions too. It ended up in a massive pileup of capital destruction. Fatalities were everywhere.
The Dow and S&P 500 are stumbling like drunken but determined sailors from one all-time high to the next, despite lousy employment and economic data, and declining corporate revenues. Bonds have done the same, and their 100-year graph has assumed the terrifying shape of open crocodile jaws, worse even than in 1999 and 2007.
“Labor market conditions are affected by factors outside a central bank’s control,” admitted Richmond Fed President Lacker as the employment report bounced around the world. Yet for years, the Fed has proclaimed that the heroic motivation for its selfless money-printing mania was the deep desire to improve the unemployment fiasco for average Americans.
In theory, a class-action lawsuit allows the little guy to stand up to a big corporation and seek redress. Alone, the little guy wouldn’t have the means. Justice comes down to money, and class-action lawsuits add leverage. In theory. It’s a world-famous American product, infested with flaws. And it’s about to be imported by … France!
Anecdotal evidence has been piling up. Lamborghini sales hit the highest level in 14 years. Ferrari sales jumped 40%. Luxury retailers forecast fat profits. They ascribed it to Abenomics. “The sudden improvement in the stock market led to a big rise in sales at our department stores for luxury brands,” one of them said. But there is a price to pay.
On paper, Apple has no reason to borrow. Last time it issued bonds was in 1996 when it flirted with bankruptcy and absolutely had to get its hands on some moolah. After Steve Jobs returned in 1997, Apple wisely stayed away from Wall Street and did its own thing. But that era is over. And a new era is dawning upon the icon: Wall-Street engineering.
Luxembourg, with a population of just over half a million, smaller even than the other speck in the Eurozone, Cyprus, ranks in the top three worldwide in per-capita GDP. In a Eurozone wealth survey, it had the highest average household wealth. Only Cyprus, a former off-shore banking center in the Eurozone, came close. Yet Luxembourg is threatened with ruin.
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.
“Those wanting to prevent change are willing to do anything,” firebrand Beppe Grillo griped. “They are desperate. Four people, Napolitano, Bersani, Berlusconi, and Monti, met in a living room and decided….” They’d ganged up on him and restarted the corrupt political machinery he’d brought to a stop. The one that is strangling Italy’s economic core.