Investors are bullish on Europe yet again after a two-day summit in Brussels produced a triumphant agreement on the part of the 17 eurozone member nations to get their collective fiscal house in order. The options for Europe going into the conference were stark — at least, according to the doomsday rhetoric emanating from European leaders and media commentators on both side of the Atlantic. Failure to reach the foreordained agreement at Brussels would have been “a luxury we cannot afford” opined French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who added that “maintenance of the eurozone is our duty. We have no other choice.”
Well, actually, the other choice, according to the powers that be, was continental and global financial ruin. “Merkel and Sarkozy have been clear — back the plan or face catastrophe. It is a simple as that,” wrote CNN anchor Richard Quest. “The unfortunate point, often overlooked, is that the eurozone countries really have little choice. The euro doesn't work as currently constituted (it never has). They either change it or the project will collapse.” And a collapse of the eurozone would probably reverberate worldwide, possibly leading to a financial panic that would dwarf the 2008 debacle.
Cowed into submission, the eurozone countries feverishly agreed to subject their fiscal policies to international supervision, with the EU empowered to impose fines and sanctions for failure to keep budget deficits essentially at zero and other transgressions.
President Obama and congressional Democrats vowed to cancel Christmas break and stay in Washington over the holidays if Congress refuses to pass a payroll tax cut extension that is set to expire at the end of the year. The President is slated to take his family on a 17-day Christmas vacation to Hawaii beginning December 17, but unless the extension is reached next week his vacationing plans will be canceled.
"[W]e are going to stay here as long as it takes to make sure that the American people's taxes don't go up on January 1st, and to make sure that folks who desperately need unemployment insurance get that help," Obama pledged. "And there's absolutely no excuse for us not getting it done."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reinforced Obama’s vow, asserting that House Democrats are prepared to stay in town for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s if that’s what it takes to get the payroll tax cut extension pushed through. "Republicans have another chance to decide whose side they're on — all Americans or the one percent," said Pelosi, recapitulating the infamous Occupy Wall Street catchphrase. "We must not leave Washington, D.C., for the holidays without extending the payroll tax cut for our working families or unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own."
In testifying yesterday before the House Committee on Agriculture, Jon Corzine, former head of failed MF Global — which took customers' funds for its own use when it had financial difficulties because of risky investments — expressed repeatedly his grief over what went wrong with his company, and his sympathy for the “plight” of his customers who lost millions if not billions of their money with its downfall: “Their plight weighs on my mind every day — every hour. And as the chief executive officer of MF Global at the time of its bankruptcy, I apologize to all those affected.”
Ron Paul has garnered support from a great variety of different groups, as well as from celebrities such as Vince Vaughn and Barry Manilow, and even hip hop performers Prodigy and KRS-One; however, perhaps one of the most interesting and welcome endorsements for the Texas Congressman came this week from an editorial in Forbes magazine.
After being asked about the walkout of a few of his students from his Economics 10 class on November 2, Harvard professor Greg Mankiw responded with an open letter in the New York Times. The walkout involved only about 30 or 40 of the 750 students who usually attend, he noted. In addition, some other students entered his class as a “counter protest,” and at least one of the original protesters returned to his class because he didn’t want to miss his lecture.
In his candid appraisal of the letter from Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy to the European Union meeting that starts Friday in Brussels, Dan Murphy makes clear that this summit will be different from the previous 20: This one is determined to override national sovereignty to save the euro. The core of the letter is the offer of the fatal alternative to the euro zone nations: Either give up essential sovereign control over your budgets to the EU, or destroy the euro.
In its second annual survey of the best- and worst-run states, 24/7 Wall St. noted some significant changes but the same message: “States can do a great deal to control their fate.”
When we studied U.S. history in high school and college, we were taught that during the Industrial Revolution working people in the United States were virtual slaves, mercilessly exploited by their employers. That spawned a strong labor movement, which raised factory workers from a state of destitution, and labor unions continue to wage a ceaseless struggle to prevent workers from once again being subjugated by their employers. But to what extent is this so-called “conventional wisdom” the result of union propaganda that has found its way into our educational establishment, rather than the result of a thorough analysis of the nature of labor unions and a comprehensive study of economic history? In other words, were we really being educated in our U.S. history classes, or were we actually being indoctrinated?
Many history textbooks that discuss the rise of the labor movement assume without question that there is an inherent conflict between employers and employees. This is based on the notion that each party will act in its own self-interest: Employers will want to employ the best workers available for the lowest wages possible, while workers will want to earn the highest wages possible for the least amount of effort. On closer inspection, however, one sees that employers and employees are not actually competitors. Rather than having an adversarial relationship with one another, their fundamental relationship is really based on cooperation and mutual benefit: The employer provides a job and the employee does the work. They must work together, because they are both trying to accomplish a common purpose, namely, the creation and delivery of some good or service for which there is a consumer demand.
On Tuesday, the European Commission for Competition reported that it will initiate an investigation into Apple, Inc. for alleged anti-competitive practices regarding the Cupertino, California, company’s negotiations with book publishers. Such an inquiry is authorized by Article 11(6) of the EU’s Anti-trust Regulation. That measure reads in relevant part: