Thursday, January 13, 2011

“And Europe? Fine, Thanks for Asking”: Portugal Buys Time, So Common Euro-Bond Gets Vetoed

The European Commission’s head, José Barroso, failed in his bid to expand the size of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) from its current €440 ($578) billion level—both France and Germany essentially killed the idea by way of public pronouncements.

European Commission head
José Barroso
Now, the EFSF is issuing bonds in order to raise the funds to bailout the insolvent nations, such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and soon Spain. 

But Barroso’s goal wasn’t just to beef up the rescue fund—he also wanted closer integration of the eurozone states: Integration among in terms of the sovereign budgets, integration of their social programs, integration of their bond issuance, and so on.

“Integration”, of course, means control—which is exactly what Barroso really wants: More control of the individual eurozone economies by way of having Brussels control their sovereign budgets. 

Following the famed advice of Rahm Emmanuel (“Never let a crisis go to waste”), Barros was trying to use the sovereign debt crisis to concentrate more power in Brussels. 

Barroso clearly was trying to set the stage for the EFSF to be the de facto sovereign bond issuer for the whole of the continent. That way, by expanding the EFSF, he could have the excuse for phasing out the individual sovereign bonds of the eurozone nations by telling them: “Why do you need to issue sovereign bonds? The EFSF can do it for you! . . . so long as you do as we in Brussels say.”
But Barroso’s power grab (well, it wasn’t so much a power grab as a power grope) was transparent—

—as well as ill-timed: The successful Portuguese bond auction today, which raised €1.25 ($1.65) billion, shored up that country’s finances, and staved off the need to tap the EFSF for a rescue package (at least for now).

It also gave everyone a sense that there was a returning normalcy to European finances. Bond spreads came down across the board, the yellow alert went back to a mild green. Everything copacetic in Europe—for now.

We’ll see how long that normalcy remains. The Hourly G bets that by the end of the month, the red alert claxon will be whooping across the continent once again: Situation Normal—All Fucked Up.

Then we’ll see about “European integration”.


  1. Haaa, the European Union foisted upon the unthinking masses of the Europe nations.
    Little do they realize the long term PLAN that is in store for them.

  2. Even students of European history at only the introductory-course level soon grasp how the EEC/EC/European Union is an unprecedented success within human history in the degree to which it has brought both peace and prosperity to a continent reeling in the wreckage and despair resulting out of the second world-wide conflagration within only a thirty-year span which it was responsible for detonating.

    Peace, because ever since the days of the EU's first institutional manifestation, the European Coal and Steel Community (1952), it has been unthinkable and in fact impossible for the two hereditary enemies at Europe's heart - Germany and France - to make war on each other again, and that is now true for any conceivable belligerent combination of the present 27 member-states. (Granted, the EU is rather incompetent in snuffing out conflicts outside of its territory, even when they occur in immediate neighbors.)

    Prosperity, because the complete dismantling of tariff barriers (achieved ahead of schedule in the 1960s) and other measures smoothing intra-European trade resulted in an explosion of commercial opportunities and exploitation of comparative advantage to make Europeans much more well-off - and with much more exposure to the people and products of their European neighbors - than they otherwise would have been in a continent stratified by trade barriers. This even reached the point of a common currency for the majority of member-states - perhaps a step too far, and certainly the root-cause of the current sovereign debt crises, but at any rate at least understandable as a natural extension of the prevalent Euro-euphoria over four decades of spectacular economic success.

    No talk of some Europlot being "foisted upon . . . unthinking masses" can therefore be remotely accurate. Further - if I can be allowed the assumption that the "Anonymous" commenter is American - the US federal government has much more power over the individual 50 states, and displaces them to a much greater degree in its authority over individual Americans' lives, than the EU does over its member-states and their citizens. I'd ask him to consider the (presumably oppressive, liberty-destroying) "long term PLAN" in store for Americans instead!

  3. Apparently Barroso was (still is?) a Marxist in the 70's. Well that failed but the idea must manifest itself somehow for these pinkos, hence EU and its current course.


  4. Yeah, but the next time the claxon rings, and it will, the need for money will be much higher, and the degree of cooperaion with France and Germany will be much lower.

  5. gaaah! I just typed a rebuttal of MAO's ludicrous post about peace and prosperity, but it just got lost in cyberspace... suffice to say, Mao, like your namesake, you are WRONG.


    "What the facts tell us is somewhat less glorious. There was demand for the debt so that Portugal did sell the whole amount. What we don't know is how much of that demand was actually the ECB or proxy buyers for the ECB. We can be fairly confident quite a lot was bought by the ECB on the grounds that the ECB has stepped up its buying of European national debt specifically to avoid a no bid and the subsequent panic in the market."


Knock yourself out!

The cult of stability is a culture of death.