Belgium is known for its surprises. For example, it got by amazingly well for a couple of years without a national government, to the chagrin of a lot of people. Now that tiny country with a tiny economy is suddenly piling up a mountain of US Treasuries.
Entries in Europe - Other (20)
By Cassandra: In the South of the Eurozone, people feel crushed, their future sacrificed on the altar of the Holy Euro. I’m in the Netherlands, so north of the Great Divide. We’re not suffering as much as the people in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Not yet.
The tiny country of Belgium with a GDP of $484 billion, a country that became famous to the chagrin of some people because it did just fine for a couple of years without a national government – well, it’s growing an enormous mountain of US Treasuries.
By Don Quijones: "We will not be taking any questions on the specifics of the Spanish situation."
The Piranha of Portugal: Greatest Counterfeiter Of All Time (Or: Any Real Difference Between Keynesianism And Counterfeiting?)
Bryan Taylor, Chief Economist, Global Financial Data: Who was the greatest counterfeiter of all time? Governments have done more to destroy their own currencies than all counterfeiters put together, but “government” is not the correct answer.
Another Edward Snowden revelation indicates that I, a humble, incoherent, harmless, and (mostly) law-abiding American, may have gotten tangled up in the NSA’s vast spying dragnet for inexplicable reasons of national security. It’s getting personal.
The huddled masses yearning to breathe free in the EU drown by the boatload in the Mediterranean. They languish in detention centers in Greece and elsewhere. They’re maligned, hounded, sometimes killed. But it’s getting cheaper and easier for the rich.
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.
Contributed by Chriss Street. The UK has been committed to green economics. Powered by subsidies, environmental and low-carbon businesses employ one million people and make up 8% of GDP. But with the nation heading into its third recession in four years, the public seems ready to pull the plug on green economics and join the “Dash for Gas.”
Bank bailouts have made owners of otherwise worthless bank debt whole through a circuitous process by which taxpayers transferred their money to investors. Even in Greece. Even a bank that had siphoned off $1 billion through fraud and embezzlement. It wasn’t fair. But fairness had nothing to do with it. That’s how bailouts were done. Until now.
By now we should have gotten used to the odor emanating from banks—bailouts, money laundering, Libor rate-rigging, the other misdeeds. But in Europe over the last few days, it was particularly dense. “In this uncertain world, I cannot exclude anything,” said Deutsche Bank co-CEO reassuringly.
As the Eurozone flails about to keep its chin above the debt crisis that is drowning periphery countries, and as the European Union struggles to duct-tape itself together with more “integration,” that is governance by unelected transnational eurocrats, Sweden is having second thoughts: never before has there been such hostility toward the euro.
Contributed by George Dorgan. After Moody’s downgraded France, we are waiting for the next major sovereign to suffer the same fate. According to the interactive graph on the BBC, France now has a medium risk of default, though the UK is still in risk status “low.” But he who downgrades France MUST downgrade the UK, too.
Contributed by Jan Bennink, a Dutch columnist for the leading newspaper De Volkskrant. As far as I can remember I’ve never been afraid of the government. Not when I was a young upstart protesting military parades with safety pins through my ears. Even if the place was swarming with soldiers. Not when I was the bass player in a punk band, screaming at all kinds of government injustice. Not in protest rallies against nukes.... But now my critical fingers hesitate more and more when I am writing stuff.
Updated on Friday, August 3, 2012 at 9:28AM by Wolf Richter
As a kid in Germany, I engaged in underage beer drinking. I was too young to drive, so it didn’t bother anyone, except me the next day. It was when German beer consumption peaked at 151 liters per capita, the highest in the world. But then I went to America ... and German beer consumption took a multi-decade dive. In the US and other Western countries, the beer industry is now morose as well, but it's booming elsewhere.
Bailout queen Dexia, the mega-bank that was bailed out twice in three years, turns into a nightmare for the tiny Kingdom of Belgium, which guaranteed a pile of debt, nationalized local subsidiaries, and bailed out the rest of the financial sector. Exposure: €162 billion—41% of GDP! And now Dexia announces monumental losses. But finally there is resistance.
Dexia, the Franco-Belgian mega-bank that was bailed out in 2008 and re-collapsed in October, dwarfs Belgium's economy. To keep it afloat, Belgium spent and guaranteed phenomenal amounts at a huge risk to the country. Yet there have been no legal consequences for those responsible. Until now....
When a bank is allowed to collapse, the lies behind its financial statements come out of the woodwork—and Dexia, the bailed-out French-Belgian mega-bank that re-collapsed in early October, is no exception: a report surfaced with the damning results of an earlier investigation by French regulators. And then? Nothing.
Bailed-out Dexia, a major Belgian-French bank, is kaput again and will be broken up. Bondholders and counterparties will be bailed out. As usual, taxpayers will foot the bill. But remember the "stress tests" in July?
We get some of our harder-to-find Japanese foods directly from Japan by mail, though we have some good Japanese stores in the Bay Area. And normally, we don't run into problems. Well, except once, when we were living in Belgium.