Opinion

Ben Walsh

from Felix Salmon:

Counterparties

Ben Walsh
Mar 30, 2012 21:04 UTC

Welcome to the Counterparties email! The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send us suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com

Earlier this week, Mario Monti said the European crisis was "almost over." What Monti certainly knows and what this week's events have reminded us is that almost over is not the same as over. For example: Spain. (The very same country where more than 50 percent of young people are unemployed.)

Some 1.7 million Spanish citizens went on strike as the government released a budget with $36 billion in cuts and tax increases. Spain's yields rose, and Madrid streets became increasingly disorderly, with pockets of violence amid the widespread protest:

The main streets of central Madrid were lined with trash containers and strewn with garbage on Thursday, with sanitation workers among those absent. There was no shortage of police, with picketers and policeman facing off and confrontations at Madrid’s main bus depot. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a police car in Murcia and burning-tire barricades blocked some roads in Barcelona, according to reports.

The protests come at a time when the euro zone is building something of a rainy-day fund in case Italy or Spain needs cash. The ESFS-ESM announced that it would increase the size of its lending firewall to $1.1 trillion. In typical European Union fashion, the content of the statement was undercut by the bumbled logistics. Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker canceled the press conference as a result of leaks from Austria's finance minister.

Why young people aren’t driving

Ben Walsh
Mar 26, 2012 22:45 UTC

At regular intervals, the New York Times adopts the tone of an agitated retiree looking out their window hoping to see children playing so that they can yell at them, only to disappointedly mutter something incomprehensible about social networking when they realize no one is, in fact, on their lawn.

The latest example was last Thursday’s piece by Amy Chozick explaining why young consumers are not buying that many cars:

That is a major shift from the days when the car stood at the center of youth culture and wheels served as the ultimate gateway to freedom and independence. Young drivers proudly parked Impalas at a drive-in movie theater, lusted over cherry red Camaros as the ultimate sign of rebellion or saved up for a Volkswagen Beetle on which to splash bumper stickers and peace signs. Today Facebook, Twitter and text messaging allow teenagers and 20-somethings to connect without wheels. High gas prices and environmental concerns don’t help matters.

from The Great Debate:

Goldman’s capitalistic monoculture

Ben Walsh
Mar 14, 2012 22:03 UTC

Greg Smith doesn’t have any new criticism of Goldman Sachs in his New York Times op-ed today. Nor are his points as detailed and documented as the SEC’s allegations in the ABACUS case.

Instead, Smith is selling a warm, self-congratulatory glow to anyone who thinks that Wall Street used to be great. In some halcyon era, according to this view, Wall Street’s success was great news for employees, for customers and of course for the economy as a whole. And it was great because it was built of great things: “teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients ... It wasn’t just about making money.”

In Smith’s moralistic telling, Goldman’s success was the result of its culture. And as TED has pointed out, that’s a vision of its business that has been sold for a long time, at least since the days of Sidney Weinberg.

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