Monday, 20 September 2010

Greek bank stress tests delayed
FT: The international community has postponed bank stress tests for Greece to give the country breathing space as Athens prepares to test the success of its European roadshow last week by raising more money in the capital markets.

The so-called “troika” – the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank – has agreed with Greece’s central bank to delay testing the solvency of the country’s struggling bank sector by one month to the end of October.
See full article.

Greek truckers step up action.
See full article.

New Democracy strikes back
Conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras says the government has lied about the necessity of the austerity measures now being implemented in a speech at the country's highest-profile trade event.
Read the speech.
Read the Q&A.

Greece rules out possibiity of default
FT: Greece’s finance minister has strongly rejected the idea that Athens will be forced to restructure its debts, saying that a default would break the eurozone.

On a two-day visit to London, Paris and Frankfurt to convince investors that Athens has turned a corner in its year-long economic crisis, George Papaconstantinou told the Financial Times that a Greek default would spark selling in other so-called peripheral bond markets of Portugal and Ireland.
See full article.

Sarrazin cleaves Germany in two
Der Spiegel: Rarely has a man influenced the German public discourse as much as central bank board member Thilo Sarrazin has done with his book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany Does Itself In"). In just two weeks, Germany has been hit by three waves of debate stemming from the tome.

Criticism bordering on revulsion dominated the first wave of the reaction. Politicians and opinion leaders condemned Sarrazin almost unanimously. But then it slowly became apparent that many citizens agreed with Sarrazin.
See full article.

Interview with David Petraeus
Der Spiegel: "The construction of Improvised Explosive Devices as well as home-made explosives, tragically, is quite advanced and sometimes even innovative. They know how to use off-the-shelf technology and use it effectively. That is why this symbiotic relationship between the many different groups is so important: Al-Qaida might have a particularly skillful IED maker who shares his expertise with other organizations. Another group might have effective skills in information technology that is passed on to others. There may be some who are good in false documents, again others in weaponry -- and they all share their knowledge, which all adds to our great concern. We're not talking about a threat to Afghanistan alone. It's a threat to the world. The attack on Times Square was not done by al-Qaida, it was launched by a Pakistani Taliban. And other groups are carrying out or wanting to expand their own transnational attacks, too."
See full interview.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Greek economy dying

The latest figures show that the Greek economy is not only shrinking; it is also showing no signs of reform and recovery in the medium term. According to the chamber of commerce for small manufacturers, bunkruptcies were twice as many as startups in the first eight months of this year - 2,076 against 1,088. Greece fell a further 12 places in the World Economic Forum's Competitiveness Index to 83rd out of 139 countries surveyed. The index combines a basket of 121 indicators of public trust in institutions, ease and security of the investment environment, efficiency of government and the judiciary, infrastructure, health, education, innovation, market sophistication and more.

The head of JP Morgan's European interest rate strategy in London told Bloomberg that Greece may have to extend its loan from the EU and IMF by three to six years in order to avoid default, adding his voice to a growing chorus of economists who consider default inevitable.

Trichet: Explore suspension of EU voting rights for indebted
European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet argues that in future, if eurozone members break the rules on deficits the suspension of their voting rights in Brussels "should be explored".
See full article.

Norway funds boosts Greece
Norway's sovereign wealth fund has boosted market confidence in Greek bonds, and the bonds of other weak European economies, by stepping up purchases.
See full article.

Labour relations heating up at OTE
Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) chairman and CEO Panagis Vourloumis, who turned the company around in the last six years and saw it through a successful privatisation, has declared war on its powerful labour union. In a letter he sent to the head of OTE's labour leader on August 30, he says he seeks the abolition of tenure for OTE's 10,000-odd employees, a two-year wage freeze, abolition of seniority-based pay rises, and changes to the company's hiring and firing rules and disciplinary code.
See full article.

Muslim hatefest suspended
A Gainesville, Florida pastor who led a campaign to burn copies of the Koran on the 9th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack has "temporarily suspended" the event after a global outcry. The reason, he says, is that a planned islamic centre in the lower Manhattan area will now be relocated.
See BBC article.
See Guardian article.

Turkish referendum puts AKP in spotlight
FT: Turkey's reformist government is seeking to limit the power of the military futher, with constitutional changes that are turning into a referendum on the party itself. "The package presented to the electorate contains measures all parties accept, including limits on the powers of military courts. But there is no consensus on its core provisions, which give parliament more say in appointments to the constitutional court and the judiciary’s watchdog."
See full article.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Back door recognition for education?

The ministry of education has submitted a bill to boost workers' marketability, which could especially benefit those with a non-state education.

Graduates of universities in Europe and North America may not compete for public sector jobs, about one quarter of the job market, or enrol at a Greek university for posgraduate study.

This is because Greece is the only European Union member not to recognise degrees issued by non-state universities and universities of other member states, owing to strong support within the ruling socialist party and the left wing parties for a constitutional guarantee of free higher education for all.

An attempt to amend the constitution led to street protests and riots lasting weeks during the summers of 2006 and 2007.

The Life-long Learning bill would create a point system for any type of degree, diploma or other certificate of learning acquired by an individual during the course of their life. The points accrued could be used to apply for public sector jobs.

The government took a further step towards integrating non-state degree holders into the full economy in May, when it issued a presidential decree harmonising EU directives on professional qualifications. The decree states that a worker's profession is recognised by the state regardless of where their degree came from, as long as they are recognised in the relevant professional body.

But there has so far been no movement under the socialist government, elected in October last year, to harmonise EU rules on mutual recognition of university degrees as academic titles.