Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: European Horror Stories

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  • BenWilson, in reply to kiwifarang,

    With all the quants at their disposal the banks have created a financial system that is truly flawsome.

    Nice word coinage. And welcome.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew C, in reply to kiwifarang,

    – using a currency swap mechanism that “guaranteed” to reduce debt to GDP ratios.

    Surprise, surprise… it didn’t work.

    It was designed to hide the debt rather than eliminate it long term. Make no mistake, GS was doing exactly what Greece asked them to, namely cook the books so they could get into the Euro.

    Auckland • Since May 2008 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Or you could look at the actual data and see that, yes, like I originally said, German workers are far more productive than Greek workers

    Yeah I get that Danyl. But the way you phrased it implied that German workers work less because they are more productive. That isn’t proven and there is good data to suggest that working fewer hours makes you work more productively.

    In fact it’s much more complicated than either scenario. Both the kinds of jobs Germans do and the fact they work reasonable hours contribute to their productivity.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Good show, Russell, Gio, and Rod (and the production team). Currently peaking, too much awesomeness today to do justice to.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Good show, Russell, Gio, and Rod (and the production team).

    Seconded. And nice to meet you finally, Ben.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    Yes, was good to meet Gio and see everyone, but could have listened to the talk on Euro crisis for a lot longer.

    Greece is the word, amen.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2071 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    A day of first meetings for me. Gio, Jolisa, James, and the fantastic Limpet of D Moreau. And others also unanticipated when I woke this morning.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Harvey,

    Just finishing re-reading John Ralston Saul's "Doubter's Companion". His thinking seems to agree with those who suggest that Greece should default.

    The particular aspect he highlights (for me) is that what is at stake is the question of sovereignty: who governs the Greek people? Their elected government (for better or worse) or foreign corporations (bankers and their investors)? And if it comes down to the foreign corporations, wouldn't this tend to alarm other European governments? Because who are the corporations responsible to?

    Westmere • Since Nov 2006 • 37 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Robert Harvey,

    And if it comes down to the foreign corporations, wouldn't this tend to alarm other European governments?

    Maybe not if sufficient key figures in said governments secure their second pensions by advantaging said foreign corporations at the expense of their citizens. Present Government & international insurers, for example.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to Robert Harvey,

    The particular aspect he highlights (for me) is that what is at stake is the question of sovereignty: who governs the Greek people? Their elected government (for better or worse) or foreign corporations (bankers and their investors)? And if it comes down to the foreign corporations, wouldn't this tend to alarm other European governments? Because who are the corporations responsible to?

    It's funny how some things stick in the head. one that stuck in minds is Rodrik's trilemma, which explains using Greece as an example here:

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rodrik43/English

    Deep down, the crisis is yet another manifestation of what I call “the political trilemma of the world economy”: economic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization. If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalization, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.

    Now I don't know how real this is, but it feels like something very much like it might be real.

    If it is real, then I'm kind of meh about which of 'national sovereignty' or 'globalisation' gets ditched. Democracy stays though. Which doesn't, however, seem to be the preference of people with more control than I, natch.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alex Coleman,

    Or could we just have reduced levels of all three? I'm not a giant fan of national sovereignty, but there sure ain't no world government around I'd trust, and nowhere to run to if it goes to shit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman, in reply to BenWilson,

    Agreed. It's kind of hard to imagine how a democratic global government could work, or what it might even look like.

    I guess the point of it would be that it would have limited roles with lots/most things dealt with at regional levels. The thing would be, that the things it did do would be decided not by nation states, but by the global demos. Good luck with that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just to note that the Media7 programme that prompted this post screens tonight on TVNZ 7 at 9.05pm.

    I trust you'll all enjoy it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alex Coleman,

    Agreed. It's kind of hard to imagine how a democratic global government could work, or what it might even look like.

    I can see an end result but I can't see how to get there (like most Utopias). It would probably look much like the USA, a collection of formerly separated states with considerable self-rule on social matters, but far more limited on economic and military ones, and freedom to travel anywhere within to all people. But I don't want NZ to be a part of any currently existing empire myself. Australia is sitting right there, too, and it's supposedly written into their constitution to allow NZ to join their federation (I have no sources on this). But the way Australians treat Aboriginals makes me glad that we're not part of their Empire, actually. And since our borders are open to each other, and we're military allies, and culturally similar (at least Pakeha are), we've got most advantages (in both directions) of being part of such a federation, without having to actually give up our sovereignty to Canberra. We can even be dual citizens (I really wish I'd gone through with that when I lived there).

    Also, their constitution is a POS. They haven't grasped the idea that a constitution isn't just more laws.

    The EU is another such attempt. As James Bremner said (first time I found myself mostly agreeing with him), they never really hid that the point of the EU was to become a rival power to the USA. I even thought it was a good idea 20 years ago, and I still think it's a good idea, but it should have been done very, very differently.

    I'm not sure if I was a wierdo when I actually had a celebratory dinner when the monetary union was formed - at the time I thought it was probably one of the most significant political events of my lifetime, binding a violent continent into a potential lasting peace. But I was naive, I trusted at that time that the people setting that up were people who genuinely believed that the EU was for the benefit of all Europeans, and that they knew what they were doing. I'm now no longer sure on either point. I was only right about one thing, that it was a very significant event, which barely touched the news here at the time.

    Perhaps that is the world's greatest lesson from the Greek situation, and the GFC in general, that economics is not a matter to leave to specialists. It's still always going to be a highly political matter. This was Marx's greatest insight, that economic struggle is political struggle, so of course it was fantastic to see a Marxist economist getting air-time on Media7 last night, and to read him in Overland several weeks ago. This is a time when everyone has to grapple with economics, because it really is the subject about quantifying all human interactions, and for it to be presented as a science whose main tenets are basically proven is fundamentally misguided about both economics AND science. There are many competing theories.

    I'm still not convinced, myself, about the best solutions, but in the last 5 months or so, I've certainly found the most compelling case coming from people who advocated ideas that haven't had currency for a very long time. Printing money and distributing it directly rather than through banks. Universal benefits to end the existence of a beneficiary underclass and the huge bureaucracies that have come into existence to manage and punish them. Massively increased financial controls, including very strict controls over issuing debt, and financial transaction taxes. In this model, capital is not attacked in favor of workers, a bloody and useless battle. And unfair/exploitative work will only be done if it's well paid, incentivizing finding better ways to do that work, rather than simply finding desperate humans. Lastly, paid work itself becomes non-essential, removing the stranglehold economics has on so many human activities of great worth - child rearing, artistic expression, charitable work, and our own projects, whatever they are. This last one is the thing I consider to be the main failing of worker oriented socialism. Workers are not the only valuable people in society, and paid work is not the measure of human value, indeed most of the time it is exactly the opposite.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Just to note that the Media7 programme that prompted this post screens tonight on TVNZ 7 at 9.05pm.

    I trust you'll all enjoy it.

    In spite of the fact that it's a topic that I find hard to discuss without severe spikes in my blood pressure, I really enjoyed being a part of this. Thank you so much for having me on the show, Russell.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    In spite of the fact that it’s a topic that I find hard to discuss without severe spikes in my blood pressure, I really enjoyed being a part of this. Thank you so much for having me on the show, Russell.

    It was a pleasure. I usually jump up as soon as we stop recording, but I enjoyed spending a few minutes more talking to you and Rod.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17941 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm not sure if I was a wierdo when I actually had a celebratory dinner when the monetary union was formed

    geek is the word.. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15717 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Oram's comment about the money moves at lightspeed but politics is glacial says it all.

    Rid the place of the financial manipulators and then we might be able tosort the shit out.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1458 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Alex Coleman,

    Agreed. It’s kind of hard to imagine how a democratic global government could work, or what it might even look like.

    It looks like 76 police officers with a chopper making arrests at the behest of a foreign law enforcement agency for the heinous crime of running a website.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It was a pleasure.

    I'm looking forward to watching this.

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 888 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    The German tax payer has benefited enormously through having and undervalued currency. That's why industrial output and exports have been doing so well. The Greeks, Spanish and Portuguese have suffered from having a ridiculously overvalued currency. China does the same but the Germans have been clever.

    The Euro was German policy designed to bolster their economy. If they want this model to continue they really are going to have to bite the bullet and accept that a wealth transfer is fair recompense to the these other economies.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1612 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie, in reply to James Bremner,

    Yes, well that's because it was decided that "the people" should no longer have to pay taxes. Hard to keep government solvent in that scenario.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1612 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    Workers are not the only valuable people in society, and paid work is not the measure of human value, indeed most of the time it is exactly the opposite.

    Completely agree.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to BenWilson,

    But the way Australians treat Aboriginals makes me glad that we’re not part of their Empire, actually.

    A small minority of NZers have migrated to the Sunshine Coast or the Outback for that very reason, and as far as we’re concerned, we’re not going to miss them in a hurry. Same with Paul Henry and Sir Joh. The so-called ‘brain drain’ isn’t always a bad thing.

    Don:

    Yes, well that’s because it was decided that “the people” should no longer have to pay taxes. Hard to keep government solvent in that scenario.

    Indeed. Taxpayer Bill of Rights = all sorts of wrong. And its architect couldn't get a more karmic fate.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3899 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to DeepRed,

    And its architect couldn't get a more karmic fate.

    classic

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15717 posts Report Reply

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