Michael Berendt's blog

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The European Commission is struggling to justify an increase of nearly 7 per cent in the EU payments budget for 2013. The timing could hardly be worse, with national budgets feeling the full force of austerity, governments facing fierce opposition to spending cuts at home, and the Dutch being forced into new elections as coalition… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

It’s no surprise that the “disciplinary” elements of this week’s Greek bail-out deal have been badly received by many in Greece. Strengthening of the Commission Task Force in Athens to provide an “enhanced and permanent presence” to oversee Greek government measures, and deposit of quarterly debt repayment funds in an escrow account to ensure their… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

Devaluation was invariably the path to survival for weaker European economies in the days before the euro. But when devaluation is no longer an option, there is evidently no choice for failing economies but to squeeze public spending and slash labour costs in the hope of paying off debt and restoring competitiveness. A striking aspect… » read more

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Since the eurozone crisis first erupted three years ago it has largely been seen as Europe’s problem. It has now become a global emergency. This crisis is “scaring the world” says President Obama, whose Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner visited Europe twice in a week to meet European finance ministers and who has demanded speedy action… » read more

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A game-changer: that’s how Christine Lagarde, new boss of the IMF, described last week’s eurozone crisis summit, which agreed revised bail-out terms for Greece and far-reaching new capabilities for EU financial institutions, virtually creating a European Monetary Fund. There is no doubt that the decisions taken in Brussels on July 23 2011 opened a new… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

Greece must choose the road of change or the road of catastrophe: that was how Greek prime minister George Papandreou described the two options facing the Greek people before Wednesday’s austerity vote in the Athens parliament. Parliament’s approval, by 155 votes to 138 with five abstentions, marked a first step. More must follow as implementing… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

Merkel and Sarkozy have spoken! Forget about euro-bonds. Forget about increasing the emergency funding launched last May. Europe’s leaders, when they meet in Brussels next Thursday, will face a stark reality: the limits of eurozone support have been determined, at least for now, following the Franco-German summit in Freiburg. Economic growth combined with budget restraint… » read more

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The eurozone will never be the same again – and nor will Europe as a whole. The scale of the crisis which has hit the single currency area in recent weeks is transforming the European Union. It looks as if the first victim is the European social model, as governments slash and burn, reducing public… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt

Don’t expect the earth to tremble: this is evolution not revolution. New rules on supervision of Europe’s financial markets, which ECOFIN ministers were expected to approve on Tuesday (September 7) will certainly strengthen Europe’s capacity to anticipate trouble and to handle it when it comes, but the armoury remains firmly in the hands of intergovernmental… » read more

Posted by Michael Berendt