Short political legitimacy

July 3, 2013

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It’s a good time to go short political legitimacy. There is, of course, Egypt. Meanwhile, Europe’s political climate has deteriorated in a strikingly familiar way. Here’s Reuters’ Luke Baker:

From Greece to Cyprus, Slovenia to Spain and Italy, and now most pressingly Portugal, where the finance and foreign ministers resigned in the space of two days, a host of problems is stirring after 10 months of relative calm imposed by the European Central Bank.

According to one political scientist, “it looks like the end-game for the government” in Portugal, as yields hit an intraday high of 8.18% today, their highest since November 2012. In comparison, Portugal sold 10-year debt in May at less than 6%. After Portugal’s finance minister stepped down earlier this week, the country’s foreign minister, Paulo Portas, followed suit. Portas’s conservative CDS-PP party had been pushing for changes to the terms of Portugal’s €78 billion bailout.

This austerity fatigue comes as the Troika — the ECB, the European Commission, and the IMF — are due to review Portugal’s progress towards those same cuts. (Reuters has a nice explainer of the latest round of cuts here; Portugal has already cut primary spending by €13 billion in the last two years.) At the moment, Barclays projects that Portugal’s public debt will peak at 134% of GDP in 2015, far above previous estimates. As Alan Pyke notes, the results of austerity experiment in Portugal have been terrible:

Instead of the 1.2% annual GDP growth bailout authorities projected for 2013, the economy is expected to shrink by 2.3% this year. Unemployment was supposed to hit 13% in 2013, according to the bailout announcement, but in fact it’s nearly 18%. More than four out of 10 young Portuguese are unable to find work.

Things aren’t much brighter in Greece, which now has just a few days to satisfy its bailout lenders over its own cuts. Matt Yglesias argues that this recent Euro crisis flare-up is simply reflective of the “rickety structure” of Europe’s economic agenda. “Everything is being held together, financially, by measures with dubious levels of political legitimacy,” he writes. – Ryan McCarthy  

On to today’s links:

The Fed
How the Fed got lost in translation – Alister Bull and Jonathan Spicer

Startups
The BART strike shows the dark side of Silicon Valley’s privatization fetish – Kevin Roose

Healthcare
Obamacare’s employer mandate shouldn’t be delayed. It should be repealed – Ezra Klein

Regulations
“It’s like the seventh grade but without the lollipops”: The battle over cross-border financial regulation is getting snippy – Ben Protess
A great explainer on the Fed’s new capital rules, and how they relate to Basel – Peter Eavis

Remuneration
Zynga’s new CEO is getting a pay package worth about $50 million – Kara Swisher
3 not-so-good reasons why CEO pay is soaring – Ben Walsh

Boondoggles
The State Department spent $630,000 trying to get Facebook likes – Foreign Policy

Ugh
84% of NYC fast food workers say they’ve been victim of wage theft – The Nation
A sad, sordid tale about a former NYU professor arrested for stalking Citi’s Willem Buiter – Daily Mail

Long Reads
Why Brazil’s middle class is seething – Paulo Prada

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