The solar-panel industry, once fattened by taxpayer subsidies and false hopes, has been in a death spiral around the world. In the US, a slew of photovoltaic standouts like Solyndra went under, taking billions of subsidies and investor capital with them. In Germany, it has been just as brutal. Even large companies are licking their wounds.
Entries in Europe (246)
It was announced Friday afternoon, when no one was supposed to pay attention: after years of controversy, heated rhetoric, intense lobbying, and stiff opposition from some unlikely bedfellows, the Obama Administration decided in favor of the US oil and gas industry. With major geopolitical impact.
In my interview with Voice of Russia, I talk about the ECB's fears for its own existence. I use Spain, which is stuck in an existential crisis, as an example of the greatest “achievement” of central banks: the separation of economic reality from stock markets. And I get a chance to lambaste the French finance minister who is once again barking up the wrong tree.
Contributed by Don Quijones: The eternal economic malaise affecting many European countries is sparking a resurgence of the long-dormant forces of nationalism. In the most perverse of ironies, the closer the old continent gets to fulfilling the Eurocrats’ vaunted dream of political union, the more divided and unruly its constituent parts become.
At first blush, the German economy appears to be ailing – at first blush because the stock market, in its omniscient manner, is predicting wondrous developments as it hop-scotches from one all-time high to the next. This relentless optimism has morphed into a breeding ground for projections into outright magnificence. But inconvenient data is getting in the way.
Aircraft maintenance was a highly paid blue-collar job that required education, training, manual skills, and brains. It was one of the perfect American middle-class jobs with generous healthcare, retirement, and vacation benefits; and free flights! They were working for icons like Delta, American Airlines, Continental, TWA, or Pan Am. Icons indeed!
Officially, the EU doesn’t have an intelligence service. It’s dependent on the national intelligence services of its members. Officially. In reality, it is building an intelligence apparatus of six services, populated already by 1,300 specialists, some operating overseas, with vast databases at their fingertips. Much of it beyond any kind of democratic control.
Contributed by Don Quijones: A daily ration of bread is now beyond the reach of roughly a billion people on planet Earth. What’s more, hunger is spreading like a pandemic, making incursions from its traditional strongholds in the global south to towns and cities across depression-hit Southern Europe. In Greece....
In theory, a class-action lawsuit allows the little guy to stand up to a big corporation and seek redress. Alone, the little guy wouldn’t have the means. Justice comes down to money, and class-action lawsuits add leverage. In theory. It’s a world-famous American product, infested with flaws. And it’s about to be imported by ... France!
The French government is saddled with enough problems; in theory, it no longer needs to create new ones. But now it wrote another excellent chapter in its tome on how to interfere with private-sector businesses, hamper entrepreneurs, and encourage them to start up their operations elsewhere instead of creating jobs in France.
Contributed by Don Quijones: It is as if the youngest democracy in Western Europe has lost its youthful innocence. After the betrayal of so many hopes and promises, reality is dawning on the people that neither democracy nor EU membership quite are the panacea they were cracked up to be.
Luxembourg, with a population of just over half a million, smaller even than the other speck in the Eurozone, Cyprus, ranks in the top three worldwide in per-capita GDP. In a Eurozone wealth survey, it had the highest average household wealth. Only Cyprus, a former off-shore banking center in the Eurozone, came close. Yet Luxembourg is threatened with ruin.
Austerity succeeded in trimming the bloated government sector. But instead of picking up the slack, the private sector destroyed jobs almost four times faster! The hope is that this fiasco will finally reverse course, that something will click and start a virtuous cycle before the unspeakable happens. But so far, it has relentlessly gotten worse.
“Those wanting to prevent change are willing to do anything,” firebrand Beppe Grillo griped. “They are desperate. Four people, Napolitano, Bersani, Berlusconi, and Monti, met in a living room and decided....” They’d ganged up on him and restarted the corrupt political machinery he’d brought to a stop. The one that is strangling Italy's economic core.
Those close to the epicenter of power, those near Chancellor Merkel, have to toe the line on the euro – it’s far more than just a currency, it’s a sacred concept worth saving no matter what the costs. While the possibility of a small country's exit from the euro has been accepted, the euro itself has been inviolable in those circles. Until now. An insider offered a "Plan B"; and the euro’s life is limited to five years!
Contributed by Don Quijones: “We make or break human life every day of every year as probably no other force on earth has ever done in the past or will ever do again” — Davison Budhoo, former IMF economist who in 1988 broke ranks and published a scathing 150-page resignation letter. In it he accused the IMF of corruption, self-interest, and deceit.
Where German industrial companies plan to invest: a slew of losers out there, including Germany. But one country stands out ... and the reasons why!
Contributed by Chriss Street: Italians are electing their 63rd government in 68 years. Normally, Europeans chuckle about this. But Italian political trouble just became EU economic trouble as its debt was downgraded to BBB+ and a bank run seems to have begun. The realization that it's too big to bail out is heating up the Eurozone debt crisis.
Quiet … EMPTY … If you want to make a deal opening a shop of some sort, you can pick and choose amongst prime locations. The time is now, if that is your inclination, and if you have the financial staying power, or a concept for selling things people can’t do without, something cheap! Every second shop, ah OK, maybe every third or fourth, is closing down.
Secretary-General María Dolores de Cospedal, number two of the governing party in Spain, said that she knew she'd get criticized, “but this is pure Nazism.” The next day, she repeated it and added that going to someone’s house to “harass” him was “comparable to what occurred in the 30s in a European country.” A reference to Nazis marking the homes of Jews. But these “Nazis” are folks who are standing up to the banks and draconian mortgage laws that the government is hell-bent on protecting.