London (CNN) – Controversial and caddish to some, funny and forthright to others, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is arguably the most high profile scalp claimed by the eurozone crisis so far.
Whether it was the ‘Bunga Bunga’ scandal or the unbalanced budgets that booted the former cruise-ship crooner out of office remains a point of discussion.
One thing you can’t argue with however is that eurozone membership has robbed Italy of its traditional tool for tackling boom and bust cycles: The currency devaluation.
Cue Berlusconi, who Italians often call "Il Cavaliere." “Leaving the euro is not blasphemy…” writes the 75-year old on his Facebook page.
"What would happen if Italy, Spain or Greece went back to their old currencies? I don't know, maybe there would be a loss of wealth but I don't understand why," Berlusconi later told Italian news agencies.
(CNN) - If recent history is anything to go by, the number 7 has good reason to be feared in the European bond markets.
Once yields on Greek, Irish and Portuguese 10-year notes hit that unlucky figure, they didn’t come back down - pricing three eurozone members out of the markets in quick succession and into bailout limbo.
Though it may be arbitrary, 7 could soon become the cut off point for a new two-tier common currency; an area where peripheral members pay the high price for low growth and lack of reform, whilst the more buoyant economies of the north enjoy record-low borrowing rates.
That is unless someone can convince the German Chancellor that so called jointly-issued “eurobonds” really are the panacea. FULL POST
With a deficit more than 4 times the European Union limit and an economy mired in a deep recession, Greece hurtled towards insolvency.
Then-Prime Minister George Papandreou assured the world Greece was determined to confront its fiscal problem.
“We are making deep changes in our economy, our political system, our society, building the conditions for a stable economic environment, a transparent economy, a viable economy,” he said.
But those promises proved futile. FULL POST
London (CNN) – Much of the beleaguered eurozone will grind to a halt Saturday for the Eurovision Song Contest, that continent-wide musical tussle of campness and political bickering watched by 120 million-plus TV viewers worldwide, which has launched Abba and Celine Dion among others.
But this year, one suspects, certain European countries may be quietly relieved if their own acts come an honourable second – or even draw the dreaded nul points.
(CNN) – Global investors inhaled deeply when Greek President Karolos Papoulias relayed a difficult call with the head of the nation’s central bank - since Monday, Greeks pulled around 800 million euros (around $1 billion) out of the nation’s banks.
"There is, of course, no panic, but there is fear that could develop into panic," Papoulias said, describing what Central Bank Governor George Provopoulos told him. "He also said that the strength of banks is very weak at the moment."
So how much money is in the Greek banking system? About 170 billion euros (more than $216 billion) at the end of March, according to the Financial Times.
Since 2009, about 25% to 30% of Greek deposits have left the country. That’s not good for Greece, but given the turmoil of the past two years, it certainly could be worse.
London (CNN) – So far, the markets have taken the elections in Greece and France in stride. And why not? What has changed?
France helped broker the so-called Fiscal Compact, which is at the heart of closer integration in Europe. Does France now want to pull away from the eurozone and allow Germany to take all the decisions? Of course President-elect Francois Hollande would not want that.
(CNN) – With the election of Francois Hollande as the president of France and a Greek poll dealing a major blow to the coalition government in Athens, voters in Europe are pushing back on austerity.
"I asked for a strong mandate, but people chose differently. I respect their message," Greece’s New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras said late Sunday. "Today's result expresses people's disappointment towards the implemented dead-end economic policy that tested their limits and didn't include the necessary development policy."
Meanwhile, French voters gave victory to the nation’s first a left-wing president since Francois Mitterrand left office in 1995. "Austerity can no longer be something that is inevitable," President-elect Hollande said.
Both elections have shaken the markets, which yet again are faced with uncertainty about the fate of the eurozone. Will a new coalition government adhere to the agreements that kept the fragile Greek economy part of the eurozone, or will political forces place Greece’s membership among the euro nations once again in doubt? “This could be the start of another deeply uncertain period in Greece with consequences far beyond its borders,” observed CNN correspondent Matthew Chance in Athens.
As Eurozone finance ministers sign off on another badly needed bailout for Greece, the second chapter of this never ending story comes to a close. Mind you, that isn't to say the country won't need a third dollop of cash in the future. Most economists I have asked reckon it will.
Greece's crisis has prompted almost as many dubious puns as it has snorts of derision.
So for those of you fed up with being told "Greece is the word" (get it?) or "it’s all Greek to me" (ha ha) fret not!
In fact, there's a whole dictionary of dodgy terms invented for politicians and pundits to couch themselves.
London (CNN) – The letter from the seven airlines complaining about the European Emissions Trading system made me smile. Not that there is anything funny about the prospect of a full-blown trade war between Europe and inter alia, China, the fastest-growing super economy in the world.
Rather because it smacked of too little, too late. Where were these airlines writing their letters when the scheme was being initiated, promulgated and ultimately brought into force?
No doubt they made protests behind the scenes and lobbied like fury - which got them precisely nowhere! The Commission was impervious to the threats of trade wars. They barrelled on regardless of the damage that was being threatened.
I know this because the EU commissioner responsible, Connie Hedegaard, was on Quest Means Business defending the scheme. To her credit, she hasn't wavered. The view in Brussels was, if the ICAO process was going to be delayed and drawn out then the EU would go its own way - and that is exactly what they have done.
(CNN) - Back on track, the finance minister cried, giddy from all-night negotiations. Back on track they shrilled, grateful that they had got a deal to shovel another €130 billion into Greece to prevent a default… for now.
Wait a moment. From the second my Blackberry buzzed with economists’ analysis this morning, there has been an uneasy truth they may be “back on track” - but for how long?
It may be raining on the eurozone’s parade. There are a lot of private economists who basically say this deal is not good enough because no matter how much money is being shovelled into Greece, it still leaves the country with a debt-to-GDP ratio that is too high.
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