The Great Debate UK
from James Saft:
From Dublin to Paris to Budapest to inside those brown UPS trucks delivering holiday packages, it has been a tough few weeks for savers and retirees.
Moves by the Irish, French and Hungarian governments, and by the famous delivery company, showed that in the post-crisis world retirees, present and future, will be paying much of the price and taking on more of the risk.
This goes beyond merely cutting back on pension benefits, rising to actual appropriation of supposedly long-term retirement assets to help fund short term emergencies.
Let's start with Ireland, which is kicking in 10 billion euros from its National Pensions Reserve Fund into an 85 billion euro package of support for its banks.
Portuguese 10-year government bond yields have hovered stubbornly above 7 percent since the Irish bailout announcement, hitting a euro-lifetime high and giving ammunition to those who say Lisbon will be forced into a bailout.
– Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. –
Supporting Ireland to the tune of a few billion quid must look like a no-brainer to the British Government. We should not make the same mistake as the Germans, who managed to get the worst of both worlds over Greece – forced by the scale of their bank exposure to support Greece, but providing the money with ill will, causing bitterness rather than gratitude – and now repeating the error in the Irish case.
Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, popularized the motto that one shouldn't waste a good crisis. But there is a severe risk that this is precisely what the world has been doing by being excessively soft in bailing out banks and countries since Lehman Brothers went bust in 2008.
Bailouts, such as that being negotiated for Ireland, may be needed to prevent a descent into chaos. But the conditions must be tough. Otherwise, the world won't learn the lessons from the crisis and justice won't be seen to be done.
-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Back in 1997, when I wrote about the prospects for the forthcoming European Monetary Union, I said I expected something like the Greek crisis to end with a wave of bailouts of ClubMed countries, and I followed the situation through to what seemed its logical conclusion.
You might have thought that, with the Eurozone in turmoil, the EU would have its hands too full to pursue its vendetta against hedge funds.
Far from it, the latest proposals are even more wide-ranging than most observers anticipated, involving the establishment of a Europe-wide regulatory authority with the power (presumably) to dictate to the FSA how to police the UK financial sector, restricting the ability of hedge-funds based outside Europe to sell inside Europe and making it hard for European investors to invest in the rest of the world’s so-called alternative investment vehicles.
-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-
Next month’s UK general election is not the only one of significance in Europe. There is the possibility that the German regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 9 could result in the end of the CDU/FDP government’s majority in the upper house of parliament.
Forget about Greece for a moment. Just think about country X, which has lived well beyond its means for years thanks to loans from inattentive or foolishly optimistic lenders. When the crunch comes, the X-people will have to cut back on spending. And the X-lenders will generally suffer from the famous rule of banking: "Can't pay, won't pay."
If Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, has his way, Greece is not going to be country X despite its weak government, bloated civil service and poor trade position. Van Rompuy said on March 25 that a vague new support agreement should "reassure all the holders of Greek bonds that the euro zone will never let Greece fail". This default taboo should be reconsidered.
- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. -
The (probably temporary) resolution of the Greek crisis seems to have produced a result which was unexpected – by me, at least. For the first time in the history of the EU, the German taxpayer has refused to be sacrificed on the altar of European solidarity.
Britons have never really got the euro zone. "Its not really going to happen, is it?" was a typical question from a City analyst to Reuters back in the mid-90s. The political drive behind the creation of the monetary union was beyond many in eurosceptic Britain.
So the results of a straw poll at an event sponsored by independent City advisers Lombard Street Research were somewhat suprising. A hundred or so mainly British investors were asked whether the euro would be around in five years with its current membership. Response was about 80 percent saying yes to 20 percent saying no.