Catalan parliament approves declaration of state sovereignty

Catalan separatist merchandise is displayed at a stall in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain. (file photo)

 

The parliament of Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia has approved a declaration of the region’s sovereignty as a major step towards its independence from Spain.

The non-binding resolution was passed on Wednesday by 85 votes in favor, 41 against, and two abstentions, the Associated Press reported.

The declaration, which states that the people of Catalonia have a democratic right to decide on their sovereignty, sets up a potential showdown with the central government in Madrid.

Catalonia, one of the most developed regions in Spain, already enjoys a wide degree of autonomy, but the country’s economic crisis has fuelled Catalan nationalism.

Growing Catalan separatism is a huge challenge for Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is trying to avoid getting bailed out by its European Union neighbors.

Rajoy says a referendum on secession is unconstitutional and hurts all Spaniards, who are already suffering in a recession with the unemployment rate higher than 25 percent.

The approximate 16 billion euros Catalonia pays Madrid in annual taxes is more than it gets back from the central government.

In addition, the autonomous region owes around 40 billion euros in debt, which has forced regional authorities to introduce spending cuts in healthcare and education.

Many Catalans believe their economy would be more prosperous on its own, complaining that a high portion of their taxes goes to the central government in Madrid.

Catalonia, which consists of Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona, accounts for one-fifth of Spain’s economic output.  Continue reading

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Spain: the pain of austerity deepens

Unemployment in Spain already stands at 26%. Crowds scavenge the streets at night for food. And life is about to get tougher still

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A family prepares to sleep on the street in Madrid. Oxfam says that by 2022, 38% of the Spanish population could be in poverty. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters

By Giles Tremlett, The Guardian

Forget, for a moment, the Greek tragedy. The tale of social woe set to play out in Spain this year is both bigger and more important to the world. For the drama of rescuing the euro, or letting it sink, will be played out on Spanish soil.

That is not to say Spaniards will have it worse than Greeks, though Eurostat figures show only Bulgaria and Romania now have a higher percentage of people deemed at risk of poverty. Spain’s economy will shrink, once more, by 1.5% – a dramatic enough figure, though one most Greeks would happily settle for. But Spain represents a quantitative leap in Europe’s ongoing tale of misery. Its economy is five times bigger than Greece’s – accounting for 12% of the eurozone. And there are almost twice as many Spaniards as there are people in bailed-out Portugal, Ireland and Greece together.

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Spain Will Exit The Eurozone First—This Year

By Gonzalo Lira

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In the LiraSPG Scenario “When The Euro Breaks”, I discussed what would happen to the euro and the eurozone when those countries—unable to continue under their massive debt burdens—began exiting the European monetary union.

One of the assumptions I made was that one of the smaller nations of the eurozone would leave the monetary union first, thereby encouraging one of the bigger nations to follow their example and leave as well. I postulated that the small country would likely be Greece, and that the large country would probably be Spain.

From this exodus, I analyzed what would happen to the euro vis-à-vis gold and the rest of the world’s currencies—namely, that the euro would suffer a staggered loss of value against commodities and other currencies: An initial drop-and-recovery when the smaller nation exited the eurozone, followed by a sustained drop when the big nation exited the monetary union.

The Scenario was written and published on the LiraSPG site in May 2011.

Since then, I have changed my mind: I no longer think that a small country will exit the eurozone first, followed by one of the bigger countries.

I now think that Spain will exit the eurozone first—precipitously and without warning—and that the impact on the euro will be much more sudden and dramatic than I had earlier thought.

In this SPG Supplement, I will explain my thinking. First I will discuss the general European situation; then the Greek debacle, and how the European leadership has lost sight of what salvaging Greece was supposed to be about; then the current Spanish situation, how it is unsustainable, and how the new Rajoy government’s only escape—politically and economically—is to default and then exit the eurozone.

Plus Ça Change, Plus C’est La Même Chose

There has nominally been major changes in the European political situation since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008—which in fact have proven to be minor: To wit, the Italian, Spanish, Irish, Portuguese and Greek governments have been replaced by the opposition, and the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy looks like it will fall in this coming May’s elections. Of the replacement governments, the Italian, Greek and Portuguese are dominated by “technocrats”—that is, austerity hawks that will genuflect to Brussels’ and Frankfurt’s desire for the debtor countries to pay every last pfennig back to the bond holders.

Excuse me, did I say “pfennig”? I meant “euro cent”.

I can prove quite easily that the political “change” has been totally cosmetic because the economic prescriptions remain the same: On the one hand, austerity for the smaller countries (Greece, Portugal, Ireland), coupled with surreptitious bank bailouts by the European Central Bank (ECB) via Long Term Refinancing Operations (LTRO).

Keep on doing’ the same thing, you’re gonna get the same results: Since May 2011, Europe-wide unemployment has increased, to 10.8% across the eurozone; sovereign debt levels have increased both nominally, to €14.8 trillion ($18.35 trillion), and as a percentage of gross domestic product, to 113% of GDP; growth has slowed to a crawl in the big economies of the zone, with France projected to grow 0.7% in 2012 and Germany projected to grow 0.8%; while the economies of the smaller countries have been and will continue to shrink, with Italy projected to be flat in 2012 and Spain to shrink by 1.5% to 2.5%.

Why Greece Used To Matter

Everyone has been paying attention to Greece for so long—and all the European bureacrats have been trying to save Greece from sovereign insolvency for so long—that everyone has forgotten why Greece mattered.

But as I said in the Scenario, saving Greece does not matter in and of itself: After all, it’s tiny—less than 2% of the total GDP of the eurozone.

Saving Greece mattered—past tense—as a sign to the rest of the eurozone and to the financial markets that the European bureacrats—namely the ECB, the European Commission (EC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—were willing and able to guarantee the sovereign debt of all the members of the Eurozone.

The European monetary union never explicitly stated that all the eurozone nations would back up the sovereign debt of any of the member nations. This collective guarantee was tacitly assumed—but never explicitly agreed upon.

When Greece got into trouble with its sovereign debt, the idea was to salvage it not because Greece was a large piece of the eurozone, but as a sign that the eurocrats would honor the tacit promise.

In other words, saving Greece was never an end in itself—it was just a symbol.

Saving Greece was also supposed to scare away the bond vigilantes and anyone else who might think that the sovereign debt of any of the eurozone members was vulnerable to financial rape and pillage.

We saw how that all worked out: The failure of the ECB-EC-IMF Troika to “fix” Greece between 2010 and 2012 wasn’t just a political embarrassment. It undermined the markets’ belief that the eurocrats knew what they’re doing. They quite obviously don’t.

It doesn’t matter that—finally, at the last second—the Troika sort-of saved Greece: The impression remains that they’re the Gang That Can’t Salvage Straight. And the impression is accurate: If they did know what they were doing, they would have solved Greece back in May of 2010—completely and definitively—and we wouldn’t still be talking about Greece.

But we are. Which means that now, we’re also talking about other, bigger countries—
__like Spain.

Spain’s in Trouble

Spain’s GDP in 2011 was €1.05 trillion (US$1.33 trillion). In 2012, as previously mentioned, the general consensus is that it will shrink by between 1.5% and perhaps as much as 2.5%; a figure of –1.75% seems reasonable.

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Protests in Spain.

Unemployment in Spain is 24%. Youth unemployment (under 24 years old) is a shocking 53%. Both figures will rise during 2012 as the economy continues to contract. An unemployment of 30% by year’s end is within the realm of the possible. Hell, within the realm of the likely, even.

Total government debt is projected to be 79.8% of GDP in 2012—that is, €800 billion. Much more troublingly, the debt last year was “only” €680 billion—but that was still 21% higher than in 2010. So at this rate—assuming the status quo remains unchanged, and without factoring in the contraction of GDP—in 2013 the projected Spanish government debt could well rise to 90% of GDP.

(Throughout this Supplement, when discussing “government debt”, I am referring both to Madrid’s and to the autonomous regions’ consolidated debt situation.)

Private debt is an additional 75% of GDP—and let’s not even start talking about the delinquency rates—while the banks have a capital shortfall estimated at a mere €78 billion.

On top of all this—as if “all this” weren’t bad enough—is the issue of the outstanding Spanish debt—

—the nub of the problem.

Spain has redemptions totalling €149 billion in 2012. It will issue a total of €186, with an eye to extend the maturity of the outstanding debt. But even with these concerted efforts, in 2012, the maturity of Spanish debt will in fact shrink from 6.4 years to 6.2 years. Add to that, in 2011, interest payments totaled €28.8 billion—up from €22.1 billion the year before. Why? Because of rising bond yields: Spain is considered riskier—due to the Troika’s inability to finally “fix” Greece and Spain’s own obvious domestic financial issues—and thus Spain has to pay more to borrow money.

In other words, Spain has fallen into the classic “borrowed-short-but-my-income-is-long-and-on-top-of-that-my-loans-are-getting-more-expensive” trap.

Last week, April 4, Spain’s Treasury held a bond auction—and fuck-all was it nasty: Of the expected €2.5 to €3.6 billion, Spain barely managed to get bids for €2.6 billion—and the yield on the 10-year spiked to 5.85%, before settling at a still-way-high 5.75%.

Worldwide markets all got down on this auction—

—but here’s the thing: Spain has a lot more of these auctions coming up—on average one every two weeks.

They have to raise €186 billion in 2012.

And of the first of these, they had a quasi-failed auction.

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How Iran Changed The World

By Sharmine Narwani at The Sandbox

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Imagine this scenario: A developing nation decides to selectively share its precious natural resource, selling only to “friendly” countries and not “hostile” ones. Now imagine this is oil we’re talking about and the nation in question is the Islamic Republic of Iran…

Early news reports on Wednesday claimed that Iran pre-empted European Union sanctions by turning off the oil spigot to six member-states: the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Portugal.

The reports were premature. According to a highly-placed source in the country, Iran will only stop its oil supply to these nations if they fail to adopt new trading conditions: 1) signing 3 to 5-year contracts to import Iranian oil, with all agreements concluded prior to March 21, and 2) payment for the oil will no longer be accepted within 60-day cycles, as in the past, and must instead be honored immediately.

Negotiations are currently underway with all six nations. Iran, says the source, expects to cut oil supplies to at least two nations based on their current positions. These are likely to be Holland and France.

Meanwhile, the other four EU member-states are in dire financial straits. They are knee-deep in the kind of fiscal crisis that has no hope of resolution unless they exit the union and go back to banana republic basics. Yet, they found the time to sanction Iran over some convoluted American-Israeli theory that the Islamic Republic may one day decide to build a nuclear weapon. I am sure arm-twisting was involved – the kind that involves dollars for votes.

But I digress. This blog is really about ideas. And not just ideas, but really ridiculous ideas.

New World Order Jump-Started by Iran?

Alternative sources of oil will be found in a jiffy for these beleaguered EU economies. But this isn’t so much about a few barrels of the stuff that fuels the world’s engines.

This is about the idea that a singular action taken amidst the political and economic re-set about to take place globally, can propel us in a whole new direction overnight.

The past few years have shown that there is no global financial leadership capable of pulling us back from the abyss. The US national debt hovers around the $15.3 Trillion mark. Its GDP in 2011 was just under $15 Trillion. You do the math – there is no fixing that one. The only next-big-thing coming out of that dead end will be the complete transformation of the current global economic order.

But how will that take place without leadership and clear direction? I’m betting hard that It will not come from the top, nor will it be directed. The new global economic order will be organic, regional and quite sudden.

What do I mean? Imagine: Iran stops selling oil to the EU; China tells the US to take a hike on currency values; India starts trading in large quantities of rupees; Russia’s central bank becomes a depot for holding dollars that don’t need to pass through New York; the creation of a global payment messaging system competing with SWIFT. Now imagine that a combination of actions – triggered only by an attempt to circumvent some really very silly sanctions – can suddenly unleash some unexpected possibilities that were beyond the realm of imagination a mere few years ago.
Imagine the emergence, say, of regional economic hubs, powered by the currencies of the local hegemonic powers, where bartering natural resources, goods and services becomes as commonplace as transactions involving currency transfers. Because of the frailty inherent in dealing with these new local currencies and a bartering system, nations tend to trade most with those closest to them in geography and culture. Shocking? Maybe not. Sometimes it just takes a need for change…and a handy tipping point.

“This is not the time to fan the flames,” someone should have told the United States. “You and your pals are sitting in a jalopy tottering on the cliff’s edge – why risk making moves now?” they should have warned. “Be a little less arrogant,” would have been sage advice.

But Washington is absolutely, irrevocably, dangerously fixated on showing Iran who’s boss, and spends a good part of every day trying to tighten the screws around the Islamic Republic.

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The Financial Collapse in Argentina planned by Globalists. Now It’s Europe’s Turn

Argentina tango lessons: Europe’s turn for financial danse macabre

By Adrian Salbuchi for RT

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Exactly ten years ago Argentina suffered a full-scale financial and governmental collapse. That was the end-result of over a decade of doing exactly what the IMF, international bankers, rating agencies and global “experts” told us to do.

Then President Fernando de la Rúa kept applying all IMF recipes to the very last minute, making us swallow their poisonous “remedies”.

It all began getting really ugly in early 2001 when De la Rúa could no longer service Argentina’s “sovereign debt” even after driving the country into full “deficit zero” mode, slashing public spending, jobs, health, education and key public services.

By March 2001, he had brought back Domingo Cavallo as finance minister, a post Cavallo had already held for six years in the nineties under then-President Carlos Menem, imposing outrageous IMF deregulation and privatization policies that weakened the state and led straight to the 2001 collapse.

Well, it wasn’t really De la Rúa who brought back Cavallo but rather David Rockefeller (JPMorgan Chase) and William Rhodes (CitiCorp), who personally came to Buenos Aires to tell/order President De la Rúa to name Cavallo… or else!

So, by June 2001, Cavallo – a Trilateral Commission member and Soros-Rockefeller-Rhodes protégé – tried to allay a default by engineering a new sovereign debt bond mega-swap which increased public debt by $51 billion, but did not avert total collapse that December.

What then? De la Rúa and Cavallo protected the bankers, avoiding a massive run on all banks by freezing all bank deposits. “Corralito” they called it – “the crib” – whereby account holders could only withdraw 250 pesos per week (at the time, equivalent to $250; after the 2002 devaluation, equal to $75).

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NATO’s Missile Defense Backfires

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by Roytov

If Israel fires nuclear missiles at Ankara, would these be stopped by America’s missile defense system?

Certain issues are so indefensible, that elected governments prefer to delegate them to unelected institutions rather than confront voters in a fair process. That’s the case with most of the issues NATO deals with. Moreover, often the issues treated by these undemocratic bodies are intentionally complicated with a myriad of details so that most voters would find following their development very difficult. Yesterday, October 5, 2011, we saw such an example when Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced at NATO headquarters in Brussels that Spain will provide a base for U.S. ships in support of NATO’s missile defense system.

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Movilización mundial 21 de septiembre: EEUU/OTAN Manos Fuera de Libia! Manos Fuera de África!

Hacemos un llamado a todos los africanos en África y la diáspora para demostrar a las embajadas de EE.UU. en el mismo día.
Haddjiac

 

Hermanos africanos, hermanos y hermanas de los medios de comunicación, hoy en día África se enfrenta a la banda más famosa de ladrones a mano armada en la historia. África es como la casa. Libia es como la puerta de seguridad. US / bombardeo de la OTAN es como los ladrones con el bloque de hormigón para vencer a abrir la puerta. Si se abren Libia con sus bombardeos que permitirá a los ladrones armados que entran con sus armas apuntando a la familia africano. Su objetivo es privar al África a punta de pistola con el AFRICOM y la OTAN, apuntando sus armas a todos los africanos con sus dedos en el gatillo.En África, las masas han descubierto que las autoridades no toman medidas decisivas contra los ladrones armados que suelen conseguir algo de los ladrones y las masas se deben organizar y tomar medidas decisivas para llevar a cabo el robo a mano armada. Es hora de que las organizaciones de masas y la acción!

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