Economists polled by Reuters predicted that the recession in Europe that began late last year would continue into the new year and they weren’t disappointed. Reuters announced that economic output in the 17-member eurozone declined by 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2011, the sharpest since the second quarter of 2009 at the start of the recession. Those same economists are now predicting that European GDP growth will stay negative at least for the rest of the year with only modest chances of improvement in 2013.
Following the approval of fresh austerity measures in Greece demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to qualify for the next round of bailouts, furious rioters clashed with police and set dozens of buildings on fire in Athens. But despite the ongoing conflicts between law enforcement and protesters, the Greek police union has threatened to arrest senior EU and IMF officials, too.
The debt chickens are coming home to roost in Greece, and the hen house is collapsing. As the hard-pressed Greek parliament convened to vote on an enormously unpopular austerity measure insisted upon by international bankers with the power to prolong Greece’s agony with another bailout, furious mobs set Athens ablaze and fought pitched battles with police. On Monday morning, Greeks surveyed with horror the smoldering rubble of more than 90 buildings across the capital. The popular consensus: this is just the beginning.
Marta Andreasen (left), the courageous former chief accountant of the European Union, will not give up. In 2002 she was fired for refusing to sign off on the European Commission’s accounts. But she has continued to hold the EU politicians and eurocrats in Brussels to account, exposing fraud, waste and corruption on her website, http://www.martaandreasen.com. In 2009 she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), an office she uses to shine the light of exposure on the dark dealings of the EU’s priviledged politicians and civil “servants.” In a January 26 article entitled “MEPs should hang heads in shame over ‘jollies,’” published by Public ServiceEurope, Ms. Andreasen exposed recent records of lavish spending by the eurocrats for foreign junkets.
“We need a larger firewall.” So declared Christine Lagarde (left), Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during a speech in Berlin on January 23, in which she called on taxpayers of the world to chip in $1 trillion to the IMF to stave off a global crisis. “We need to act quickly or else we could easily slide into a 1930s moment,” Lagarde warned, in an obvious reference to the Great Depression.