Tag Archives: big government

Markets dive on Greek referendum

BBC News – Eurozone debt crisis: Markets dive on Greek referendum.

US and European markets have fallen following Monday’s announcement of a Greek referendum on the latest aid package to solve its debt crisis.

Eurozone leaders agreed a 50% debt write-off for Greece last week as well as strengthening Europe’s bailout fund.

But the Greek move has cast doubt on whether the deal can go ahead.

New York’s Dow Jones ended the day 2.5% lower, after a mid-afternoon rally on hope that Greek MPs may block the referendum proved short-lived.

One of Mr Papandreou’s MPs, Milena Apostolaki, resigned from the ruling Pasok parliamentary group on Tuesday, leaving the government with a two-seat majority in parliament.

Six other party members have called for Mr Papandreou to resign, according to the state news agency.

There are doubts whether the government will last long enough to hold the referendum, pencilled in for January.

A confidence vote is due to take place in the Greek parliament on Friday.

Banks down

Earlier in the day, London’s FTSE 100 had ended trading down 2.2%, while the Frankfurt Dax fell 5% and the Paris Cac 40 some 5.4%.

Analysis

January seems to be the best bet for when a referendum will take place.

If a week is a long time in politics, two months is an eternity in financial markets in their current state of mind.

A “no” would blow away one leg of the euro rescue package agreed in Brussels last week, and it was a precarious, unfinished structure in the first place.

Some even see the vote as a referendum on Greek membership of the eurozone.

Perhaps Mr Papandreou is gambling that voters will see it that way and reluctantly say “yes”.

The markets may have good and bad days, but they won’t quietly bide their time while they wait to see if the bet pays off.

Shares in French banks saw the biggest falls, with Societe Generale down 16.2%, BNP Paribas 13.1% and Credit Agricole 12.5%.

Other European banks also fared badly for the second day, with Germany’s Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank and the UK’s Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland all 8% to 10% lower.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a joint statement following a telephone conversation between the two leaders saying: “France and Germany are determined to ensure with their European partners the full implementation, as quickly as possible, of decisions taken by the summit, which today are more necessary than ever.”

The two also said that eurozone leaders and the IMF would meet on Wednesday to hold talks over Greece.

Confidence vote

Greek opposition parties have accused Prime Minister George Papandreou of acting dangerously, and called for an early election.

“Elections are a national necessity,” conservative leader Antonis Samaras said, adding that Mr Papandreou was putting Greece’s EU membership at risk.

Opinion polls in Greece suggest that most people do not support the deal and there have been demonstrations against the austerity measures across the country, some of them violent.

Start Quote

Last week’s eurozone rescue package could unravel long before political events in Greece take their course”

Mr Papandreou told a meeting of his governing Socialist party on Monday that Greek people would have the final say on the austerity package, which is designed to reduce Greek debt by about 100bn euros through a series of measures including public sector pay cuts, tax rises and falling pensions.

The austerity measures are a condition of the bailout packages from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Some analysts are saying that the referendum would in effect be on whether Greece should abandon the euro.

Nobel Prize winning economist Christopher Pissarides said, “If there is a ‘no’ vote, Greece would immediately declare bankruptcy. I do not see how Greece could remain in the euro.”

There is also concern that the referendum would be unlikely to take place before January, which would create months of uncertainty for the markets.

In Athens, some Greeks greeted the referendum plan with scepticism

“We cannot wait until 15 January,” said Konstantinos Michalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce.

“Personally, I do not think we will ever get there.”

A senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition in Germany said he had been irritated by the referendum announcement.

“The prime minister had [agreed] to a rescue package that benefited his country,” Rainer Bruederle told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Latest Planned Austerity Measures

  • New pay and promotion system covering all 700,000 civil servants
  • Further cuts in public sector wages and many bonuses scrapped
  • Some 30,000 public sector workers suspended, wages cut to 60% and face lay off after a year
  • Wage bargaining suspended
  • Monthly pensions above 1,000 euros to be cut 20% above that threshold
  • Other cuts in pensions and lump-sum retirement pay
  • Tax-free threshold lowered to 5,000 euros a year from 8,000

“Other countries are making considerable sacrifices for decades of mismanagement and poor leadership in Greece.”

He added that the only thing to do now would be to prepare for the Greek state to be insolvent and try to limit the damage to Europe’s banking system.

On the currency markets, the euro continued to slide, falling a further 1.3% against the US dollar.

The yield on German bonds fell to near-record lows, while the difference between the yield of German bonds and those of Italian and Belgian bonds rose to the highest since the introduction of the euro.

Earlier, the Nikkei in Tokyo closed down 1.7% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed down 2.5%.

Europe’s main share markets had all fallen before the referendum announcement as well, with the FTSE, Dax and Cac 40 all dropping by about 3% on Monday.

'disturbing' levels of cyber-raids

Top GCHQ spook warns of ‘disturbing’ levels of cyber-raids • The Register.

With a crunch conference on government cyber-security starting tomorrow, the director of government spook den GCHQ, Iain Lobban, said Britain had faced a “disturbing” number of digital attacks in recent months.

Attackers had targeted citizens’ data, credit card numbers and industry secrets, Lobban said.

“I can attest to attempts to steal British ideas and designs – in the IT, technology, defence, engineering and energy sectors as well as other industries – to gain commercial advantage or to profit from secret knowledge of contractual arrangements,” the eavesdropping boss added in his article for The Times.

According to Foreign Secretary William Hague there were more than 600 “malicious” attacks on government systems every day, while criminals could snap up Brits’ stolen card details online for just 70 pence a throw.

The statement was paired with the announcement of a £650m investment in cyber-security over the next four years, with both Hague and Lobbman arguing that industry and government need to work together to pull off a safe, resilient system.

Countries that could not protect their banking systems and intellectual property will be at a serious disadvantage in future, Hague told The Times.

The government could have its work cut out, though: security software maker Symantec today suggests that businesses are cutting back on cyber-security and are less aware of and engaged with the big threats than they were last year. Symantec was specifically staring at industries integral to national security.

It found that only 82 percent of them participated in government protection programmes, down 18 points since last year.

Symantec reckoned that reduced manpower meant companies had less time to focus on big structural threats.

“The findings of this survey are somewhat alarming, given recent attacks like Nitro and Duqu that have targeted critical infrastructure providers,” said Dean Turner, a director at Symantec.

“Having said that, limitations on manpower and resources as mentioned by respondents help explain why critical infrastructure providers have had to prioritise and focus their efforts on more day-to-day cyber threats.” ®

Can Regions Rather than Nations Lead on Climate Change?

Can Regions Rather than Nations Lead on Climate Change?: Scientific American.

what’s with the nobody quoted at bottom?

DAVIS, Calif. — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and three international regional leaders signed a memorandum of understanding today in a bid to assert regional authority on climate change policy.

The “R20 Charter” establishes “regions of climate action” that will share best practices and technologies and form public-private partnerships to execute clean energy pilot projects. Along with Schwarzenegger, signatories included Île-de-France President Jean Paul Huchon of France; Nigerian Delta State Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan; and Association of Regions of Europe President Michele Sabban.

Officials said they had already received interest from more than 20 regions in Brazil, China, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Senegal and Spain. Current actions in the vein of the “R20” concept include a workshop in Nigeria’s Delta State on green business, put on by the International Chamber of Commerce. Another one has the International Energy Agency working with General Electric Co., Veolia Environment and others on a small-scale renewable energy plant in Morocco.

“We can’t afford to wait for national and international movement,” Schwarzenegger said, speaking at the close of his third Governors’ Climate Action Summit. “The role of subnational governments is more important than ever, and California has shown that state and regional governments can institute policies that will grow the green economy, create jobs and clean our environment.”

Schwarzenegger also signed an agreement to work with state governments in Brazil and Mexico on linking California’s cap-and-trade program to the United Nations’ nascent Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD), which provides incentives to rainforest owners to preserve their trees. Govs. Binho Marques of Acre, Brazil, and Juan Sabines Guerrero of Chiapas, Mexico, were co-signers.

‘Remove the blinkers’
The REDD agreement builds off another pact Schwarzenegger brokered at his first climate conference, in 2008. That year saw the creation of the Governor’s Climate and Forests Task Force, consisting of 14 states and provinces in the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and director-general of the Energy and Resources Institute, encouraged the agreements, saying that governments should think bigger. “I think worldwide what we really need to do is somehow remove the blinkers that have constrained the initiatives that businesses and governments have taken in recent decades,” he said.

“We have become too preoccupied with short-term gains, mergers and acquisitions. The U.S. has the ability to innovate, looking at market possibilities 25 years down the road; we need to somehow restore that kind of vision,” he added

But some attendees were wary of an overreaching government and skeptical of Schwarzenegger’s motives.

“I think he wants a legacy; he wants to be remembered,” said Marcia Battershell, a health care consultant from Placerville, Calif. She cited the effect of air pollution control laws on independent truckers and small farmers. “I’m not sure whether it’s good for the people and businesses of California. I don’t think that was a priority for him.”

Battershell said she voted for Proposition 23, which would have postponed California’s global warming law, A.B. 32, until unemployment fell to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. “I think timing is everything, and possibly the government and all the regulations should be less involved,” she said. “If you allow businesses to find their way, people will be behind it.”

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-world-growing-beyond-control/

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space. Continue reading Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control