Friday, 24 May 2013

Nobel economics laureate Edmund Phelps and Iceland say no to the European Union

Congratulations to Prime Minister-elect Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson of Iceland for the wise decision not to join the European Union! Perhaps the Icelanders were influenced by Nobel Economics Laureate Edmund Phelps's sound views on the future of the  EU:  

NOBEL Laureate Edmund Phelps warned yesterday against the dangers of European Union membership as Iceland became the latest nation to question the sense of affiliation with a bloc mired in economic crisis.

Iceland's new government said on Wednesday it will halt its EU bid and drop the previous coalition's goal of euro adoption.
Prime Minister-elect Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, whose Progressives won last month's vote together with the Independence Party, said he doesn't want to join a bloc in crisis as his own economy recovers.

According to Mr Phelps, the decision is likely to spare Iceland many of the risks plaguing the EU. "We're still learning about the European experiment and to what extent it's going to succeed," Phelps (79) said in a telephone interview. "The possibility is not foreclosed that the experiment is going to prove unworkable, unsuccessful."
The appeal the EU once held to nations seeking economic stability and access to free trade is crumbling as the region fails to emerge from its crisis.
The UK is now openly questioning its allegiance with the EU while other members like Denmark have distanced themselves from the goal of euro adoption to protect their economies. Iceland, which in 2008 became the first nation to succumb to the global financial crisis, now enjoys faster economic growth than the EU average.
"I can't believe that anybody's serious about joining the EU right now," Mr Phelps said. "It's like saying: 'It's a beautiful house – it happens to be on fire at the moment – we should buy it!'"
Mr Phelps, who won the Nobel Economics Prize in 2006 for his theories on the interplay between inflation expectations and unemployment, questions the future of the euro, and the larger EU, after three years of debt crisis have left five nations relying on bailouts.
Read the entire article here

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber wants to"fundamentally rethink" the economy because of global warming

People who live in this Jakarta slum will have to stay put, because "unlimited economic growth on a finite planet is beginning to bump up against the physical limits of our planet” 
(image wikipedia)

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has jumped on the doomsday bandwagon and wants to "fundamentally rethink" the economy: 

Governor Kitzhaber said one of the problems we face is “the assumption that consumption can go on forever and at an increasing rate.”

“Global climate change, the decimation of our rainforest, the collapse of fisheries – a whole host of things suggest that unlimited economic growth on a finite planet is beginning to bump up against the physical limits of our planet,” said the governor. “More people are impoverished, their kids are hungry, fewer and fewer people are being lifted up by that economy.”
Here is a suggestion to the Governor: Why don't you go to the poorest regions of Africa and other continents and tell the people there, that they cannot have any economic growth or increased consumption, because "unlimited economic growth on a finite planet" bumps up "against the physical limits of our planet". Your message might not go down as well there as in the leafy suburbs of Portland or Salem.
Governor Kitzhaber also has a rather peculiar way of describing what is considered to be "great for the economy":
Another problem is that “we measure the wrong things,” said Kitzhaber.
The Gross National Product measures all the economic activity of the country and anything that produces a profit counts as a plus. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was “great for the economy,” he said, “carnage on the highways, crime, the prison system, the war in Afghanistan – all count as positive in our current way of measuring,” the governor explained. 
Really, oil spill, war and "carnage on the highways" considered "great for the economy"? 
And, of course, the Governor believes we need to put a price on carbon "so carbon dioxide emissions can be limited":
“Most people know in their hearts that we will sooner or later be putting a price on carbon. It’s happened in California, it’s happened in British Columbia with the carbon tax, which is a much simpler more direct way,” he said. “The point is, we’re going to get there. We need to be much more explicit about having this conversation. It’s beginning to surface in this state, I’m sure it will surface in Washington under Governor [Jay] Inslee’s jurisdiction. If the West Coast were to move in that direction together, it’s the sixth largest economy in the world.”
Fundamentally rethinking the economy is the long-term solution,” he said.
Read the entire article here

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

EU climate madness: ECOFIN conclusions on "climate finance"

Last week EU finance ministers rubber stamped a paper, written by bureaucrats working for EU's überwarmist Connie Hedegaard: 

Council conclusions on climate finance – fast start finance 
3238th ECONOMIC and FINANCIAL AFFAIRS Council meeting 
Brussels, 14 May 2013 

"The Council: 
1. NOTES the EU and its Member States' commitment to provide EUR 7.2 billion cumulatively 
over the period 2010 – 2012 to fast start finance; UNDERLINES that despite the difficult 
economic situation and tight budgetary constraints, the EU and its Member States have more than fulfilled their commitment by allocating EUR 7.34 billion to fast start finance; ---

3. ... UNDERLINES the importance for the EU, together with other developed countries, of continuing to provide support beyond 2012 as set forth in the Doha decision and; REITERATES that in this respect the EU and its Member States are continuing to provide climate finance support after 2012 ; ---

4. RECALLS the Council Conclusions on climate finance of November 2012; REITERATES in this respect that the EU and other developed countries should continue to work in a 
constructive manner towards the identification of pathways for scaling up climate finance 
from 2013 to 2020 from a wide variety of sources, public finance and private sector finance, 
bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance, as needed to reach the 
international long term committed goal of mobilising jointly US$100 billion per year by 2020 
in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation

My conclusions:
1. I RECALL what I wrote on April 23:
  • Over 26 million people are unemployed in the EU countries
  • Eurozone unemployment rate is 12%, a record since the single currency was created in 1999
  • Youth unemployment in Greece is 58%
  • Youth unemployment in Spain is 56%
  • The eurozone economy has contracted for five consecutive quarters in 2011-2012
  • Forecasts for the first quarter of this year, to be released in May, are not expected to show any improvement
2. I NOTE that the EU finance ministers, in the middle of the worst economic crisis probably since the Great Depression of the 30s, take pride in announcing that billions of EU taxpayers' money have been wasted on useless "climate finance" in Africa and other continents. 

3. I RECALL that the percentage of European nationals who distrust the European Union is growing faster than ever. In November 2012 e.g., some 72% of Spaniards said they “tended not to trust the EU,” compared to just 23% five years earlier. In Italy, the figure has spiked to 56% from 41%, according to Eurostat figures. Anti-EU opinion is in a steep rise in almost all member countries. 

4. I UNDERLINE that most ordinary EU citizens understand that "business as usual" is over. The fact that EU finance ministers, as well as other ministers, do not seem to understand that, most certainly will lead to even more anti-EU views (which as such is welcome, of course). 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Biographer Masha Gessen: Vladimir Putin is "a ruthless dictator" who is in the "last stages of his regime"

Masha Gessen, the Moscow based journalist holding both Russian and US citizenship, has written an unofficial and highly critical biography of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Today she was interviewed by Susan Wood of New Zealand's TVnz.:

SUSAN          How much of a threat is Putin to the Western world, to the rest of us?
MASHA          Well, think about it. It’s one-sixth of the Earth’s landmass, it has more nuclear warheads than any other country except for the United States and it is in possession of a large part of the world’s supply of oil and gas. And it is run by a ruthless dictator who openly shows and tells that he is temperamental and he has trouble controlling his temper.
SUSAN          How long will he stay in power? I mean, you’re talking about a man who will stop at nothing to keep it, really, aren’t you?
MASHA          I think he is in the last stages of his regime. Those last stages, those agonising and miserable last stages can last a while. But this is the final act. He no longer has popular support. He has had to resort to a crackdown to keep power. Now it’s a question of how stable oil prices remain and whether there’s an economic crisis that causes the whole thing to boil over. That could happen in a year, it could happen in five years.
SUSAN          Yeah, so hard to predict, but you would be predicting a violent, some sort of violence to the end of Vladimir Putin?
MASHA          Well, the more and the tighter he puts on the screws, the more pressure there is on people and the less of the probability of a peaceful outcome.
Gessen is spot on about Putin's dangerousness. Of course everybody, including Obama, Merkel and Cameron, knows that the man is a ruthless dictator, but they have to tread very carefully, because they know that he controls the world's second largest arsenal of nuclear warheads as well as Russia's huge energy resources. Still, as Gessen rightly points out, the dictator is in the "last stages of his regime". 
Read the entire interview her.

"Euroskeptic" Herman Van Rompuy in keynote speech: "No public support at all" for "more Europe"

Has Herman Van Rompuy gone Euroskeptic? 

For the first time ever, EU "president" Van Rompuy had something sensible to say about the European Union. In a "keynote Speech at the Federation of Young European Greens" he had this to say:

Some are in favour of “more Europe” – at times forgetting it is a Europe for 
which there is no public support at all.

There must have been at least two speechwriters in action for this "keynote speech", because a little later  Haiku Herman repeated his usual message of "more Europe":

The fourth and final point is that we are deepening our Economic and Monetary Union 
with a real banking union, a fiscal union, and an economic union. Step by step, but keeping 
the right direction.

Van Rompuy also remained true to the usual EU Politburo line: Always blame others - never yourself -  for the mess you have created. The bad things came from abroad, according to Herman: "the global credit crisis and its ramifications hit our continent.": 

The financial crisis hurt Europe hard – a brutal, unprecedented shock. In many ways, our 
countries and the eurozone were unprepared. Collectively, we had to build a lifeboat in 
the middle of a storm. It took years of struggle, and I recognise that more than once, we looked into the void. But we managed to keep going, step by step, even if it was sometimes 
messy or slow. And eventually we've managed to make it out of that violent storm.

What a hero of shakesperian or wagnerian dimensions we have in the captain of the Euro-Titanic! The opera "Herman, The Man Who Defied the Storm" is begging to be composed. However, true wagnerians will probably be disappointed, because this opera cannot be anything else than an opera buffa. 

Episcopal "green" bishop Cederholm conducts service to bless solar panels

The Episcopal Church in Massachusetts seems to be a "church of many colors".

Today the "green" bishop Bud Cederholm, who has campaigned together with the likes of Bill McKibben, will bless the taxpayer subsidized, more or less useless solar panels installed on a church Dover, MA:
At 10 a.m. on Sunday May 19, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church will conduct a service to bless the solar panels they installed in April. The blessing will be conducted by the Episcopal Diocese’s “Green Bishop,” the Right Rev. Bud Cederholm, assisted by St. Dunstan’s rector, the Rev. Mark McKone-Sweet.
“Using solar energy decreases our use of fossil fuels, and thus our contribution to global warming,” said McKone-Sweet. “It is a way to live our faith by caring for those who will be affected by the extreme weather global warming causes.”
Two weeks ago, Rev. Victoria Pretti performed another  blessing in Milton, MA:
The transformation Sunday afternoon was part of the Episcopal church’s second annual Blessing of the Motorcycles. Motorcyclists from around the South Shore and beyond came to the church, on Adams Street near East Milton Square, to have their bikes blessed by the pastor, the Rev. Victoria Pretti.
More than 100 people, many wearing black leather vests and other riding gear, showed up for the event, where food, rock music and raffles complemented the friendly atmosphere and the revving of engines.
The Rev. Pretti and her husband, Anthony, are both riders themselves, and they belong to Star, a motorcycle group with members all over the country. Steve Franzosa of Peabody, a fellow member of Star’s Charter 400, which is based on the North Shore, came down to Milton to show support for his friends and his passion for motorcycling.
“It’s nice to see people and be in the group environment,” said Franzosa, who showed up on his Yamaha V-Star 1300. “There’s food, great music and good camaraderie.”
After saying a prayer for the protection of the many motorcycles and their owners, the Rev. Pretti walked up and down the street, blessing the bikes with holy water from a motorcycle helmet.
It is pretty clear that my vote goes to the Rev. Pretti. There is a nice photo of the Reverend sitting on her bike here
But moneywise the "green" bishop Cederholm's global warming scare campaign has been rather successful - there are quite a few people in the "liberal" state who are an easy prey for global warming hoaxters:
This kind of falling in love with creation and responding with passion has generated more than $320,000 for green grants to some 50 congregations these past two years, with even more getting on board this year.  And our Creation Care Season itself has been an awakening in many congregations to the many resources available for worship, education, formation and contemplation in nature, and advocacy that shapes public policy.  Numerous churches and homeowners have reduced their carbon footprint.  Acts of justice have addressed the poisoning of the environment that causes death and extinction of species.