The cause of the euro crisis is not to be found in the irrationality of the financial markets. Rather, it lies in the fact that certain countries lived beyond their means. A Greek train driver earns a monthly net salary of €5,000 ($6,600), and Spanish air traffic controllers make up to €300,000 a year.
In 2007, the Irish government had a balanced budget, and the Spanish government even had a surplus. The financial sector, on the other hand, issued loans that made no sense at all for years. The damage is considerable, but it could be contained if Europe would introduce euro bonds.
Since total new borrowing for the euro zone is substantially lower than that of the United States, the euro bond would be an attractive instrument at the international level. And that's particularly the case since the market for euro bonds would be much bigger than the market for German government bonds.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has already asked (euro-zone) member states for a capital infusion because, since the crisis began, it has bought up close to €75 billion in troubled government bonds. And who is paying the lion's share? Germany. For the time being, the shell game being played by politicians and the ECB is still working. But things will get worse when Greece and others can no longer service their debts. Then we'll have to guarantee amounts that no one could even imagine today.
Without the euro, Germany would have come to resemble Japan, suffering from weak growth and always teetering on the edge of deflation. Like Japan, in order to re-establish competitiveness, we would have had to respond to every devaluation of the dollar with wage freezes. Thanks to the euro, we avoided that. And that's why it's worth doing everything we can to preserve it. Spiegel

Bloomberg to Force Disclosure of Greece Swaps

Bloomberg News filed a lawsuit against the European Central Bank, seeking the disclosure of documents showing how Greece used derivatives to hide its fiscal deficit and helped trigger the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

The lawsuit asks the European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg to overturn a decision by the ECB not to disclose two internal documents drafted for the central bank’s six-member executive board in Frankfurt this year. The notes show how Greece used swaps to hide its borrowings, according to a March 3 cover page attached to the papers obtained by Bloomberg News.
“Decisions made behind closed doors helped contribute to the global economic havoc of the last few years. Money flees secrecy and unanswered questions undermine the financial system and give some participants an unfair advantage. Confidence in markets grows with information,” he said. “Bloomberg wants the ECB, as well as the Federal Reserve and other financial institutions around the world, to end this damaging opacity.” Bloomberg

Jafar Panahi arrested (II)

Jafar Panahi (Persian: جعفر پناهی ; born July 11, 1960) is an Iranian filmmaker and is one of the most influential filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave movement. He has gained recognition from film theorists and critics worldwide and received numerous awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

On 20th December 2010 Jafar Panahi was handed a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making or directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media as well as leaving the country. wikipedia

Note: Panahi is not the only filmmaker jailed in Iran.

Post-election brutality

Alexander Lukashenko and his black-shirted riot police reverted to type at the weekend, cracking heads and arresting opponents while fabricating a landslide election victory. This violent regression victimised the people of Belarus.

But it was also a striking setback for half-hearted European Union attempts to break Moscow's icy embrace and bring Belarus in from the cold. Guardian


Afghan women still suffer

Bibi Aisha, the Afghan girl whose nose and ears were cut off by her husband, was a "lucky victim" because she survived her attack and got help, a top human rights official in the country said yesterday.

While Aisha escaped her abusive family, the deputy chairman of the country’s Independent Human Rights Commission said many women in similar circumstances were less lucky.

“For sure, we have hundreds of Bibi Aishas in Afghanistan,” Ahmad Fahim Hakim said. taipeitimes

Rwanda to unveil Genocide Archive

An ambitious hi-tech project to make the Rwandan genocide one of the most thoroughly documented mass killings ever will be unveiled in Kigali today.

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda will serve as a "unified repository" for all information related to the 1994 massacres, which saw about 800,000 people killed in 100 days, mostly from the minority Tutsi population. Guardian

WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer 'used dirty tricks

Cables say drug giant hired investigators to find evidence of corruption on Nigerian attorney general to persuade him to drop legal action. Guardian

Vatican refused to engage with child sex abuse inquiry

Leaked cable lays bare how Irish government was forced to grant Vatican officials immunity from testifying to Murphy commission. Guardian