As the prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone dominates headlines around the world, Greeks are lining up at ATMs and financial institutions to withdraw their funds in what some analysts have already described as a run on the banks. More than a billion euros have been withdrawn just in the last few days. And experts say the panic could soon spread to other fragile countries such as Italy and Spain.
Even Greek officials acknowledged that the nation’s banks were teetering on the verge of a catastrophe as panicky depositors rush to salvage what they can of their savings. According to minutes of meetings cited in news reports, President Karolos Papoulias told political leaders that Greece’s central bank chief knew “there was great fear that could develop into a panic."
The latest numbers on the Eurozone economies are showing nothing, with an official recession call barely avoided. And without Germany’s slightly better economic performance in the first quarter, the recession would be official.
In an impassioned plea before the European Union’s so-called “Parliament,” United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader and popular MEP Nigel Farage compared the EU to the Titanic hitting the infamous iceberg — warning that mass civil unrest, revolution, the re-emergence of National Socialism (Nazism) and economic disaster could all be imminent unless the controversial integration project is abandoned immediately. Europe’s rulers, as usual, largely ignored the speech. But citizens and analysts alike took notice.
Farage, likely the most well-known member of the European Parliament, has become internationally recognized in recent years for his powerful speeches slamming the EU and its controversial policies. Millions of people have seen videos of his talks online. But his latest speech on May 9 — so-called “Europe Day” among EU enthusiasts — was among his starkest warnings about the European scheme thus far. It quickly went viral.
On Wednesday, Russia commemorated the 67th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, with a massive military parade in Moscow. The hour long ceremony was akin to the old May Day and Victory Day rallies held by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
On Sunday French voters, angry over austerity measures, replaced President Nicolas Sarkozy with Socialist Francois Hollande.
In anticipation of the NATO Summit, which is to be held from May 20 to May 21, the city of Chicago is preparing a practical police state. Federal officials are implementing security plans that are so broad they encompass all of Cook County, Illinois.
Last Thursday's two-notch downgrade of Spain's sovereign debt by Standard and Poor's credit rating agency is triggering pushback at the ballot box.
"NATO will be holding its 25th summit in President Obama's hometown of Chicago, United States, on 20-21 May 2012," the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has announced.
The sovereign debt crisis in the European Union can be summed up fairly simply: The governments of overspending nations are asking the governments of fiscally prudent nations to prop them up. The prudent nations, whose governments pay their obligations out of revenue, rather than by selling bonds, tend to be those in the more financially conservative parts of Europe, such as Finland, Holland, and Germany. Those nations that are waist deep in debt, whose bond offerings have in some cases been reduced to junk bond status, tend to be in the south of Europe around the Mediterranean Sea.