Europe | - Part 5

It Wouldn’t be a Fair Fight

The latest word from Eastern Europe is that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use military force only as a “last resort” in Ukraine, helping to explain why today’s other big headlines are yet more record highs for U.S. stocks.

Via Reuters, here’s what the match-up would be should that “last resort” come to pass.

Glad They’re Not Greece

The graphic below from Morgan Stanley via this story at Business Insider appears to be today’s Chart of the Day on the internet, this coming after reports that the jobless rate in Greece rose from 27.0 percent in April to a record high of 27.6 percent in May.

Glad they're not Greece

It seems the “debt-laden PIGS (i.e. Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain)” are falling short in restoring economic growth, but nowhere is the pain as severe as in Greece. Youth unemployment stands at 64.9 percent as the nation recently entered its fourth year of receiving bailout money from their European overlords in return for belt-tightening.

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Common Sense (in Portugal)

Having read a lot of Revolutionary War history in recent years, it’s easy to see some parallels between Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, a pamphlet published in 1776 arguing why the colonies should part ways with their British overlords, and the efforts of João Ferreira do Amaral in Portugal who makes the case for the nation exiting the eurozone currency union.

Ambrose Evans Pritchard fills in some of the details in this story at the Telegraph.

Portugal is waking up. A new book calling for withdrawal from the euro and a return to the escudo has vaulted to the top of the bestseller list.

The incendiary tract – “Porque Debemos Sair do Euro” (Why We Should Leave The Euro) – is written by Professor João Ferreira do Amaral from the Insituto Superior de Economia e Gestão (ISEG).

The professor has already secured the backing of Luís António Noronha Nascimento, the chief justice of Portugal’s Supreme Court.

This follows the apostasy of Jerónimo de Sousa, the Secretary-General of the Portuguese Communist Party, who has called for a referendum on both the euro and the EU. De Sousa says the EU is “unreformable”, has been hijacked by a “directorate” of dominant powers, and has led to the death of Portuguese sovereignty.

Pritchard characterizes the economy of Portugal while part of the eurozone as a “structural gargoyle”, a phrase that conjures up all sorts of adjectives, none of which are good.

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Germany Gives In?

According to this story at Der Spiegel, it looks like Germany is about to finally give in to other policy makers in Europe who favor a less austere approach to restoring economic growth. Apparently, graphics like the one below that accompanied this report (and perhaps the fall-out from the Reinhart-Rogoff Excel error) are influencing their views.

Granted, the change in view is from just one man, finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who doesn’t have an electorate to please as does Chancellor Angela Merkel in four months. Nonetheless, this should be interesting to watch play out in the months ahead.

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Rethinking Money

The folks at GoldMoney and Bitcoin Magazine talked to some ordinary people in Cyprus after the recent bank bail-in and put together this video that really makes you feel for those who had nothing to do with the bank dealings that got the island nation into such a mess.

The timing and the results are impossible to predict, but you’d think that, at some point, some alternative to the current monetary system is inevitable, though the powers that be will likely go kicking and screaming toward that outcome.

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