Mar 162017
 
 March 16, 2017  Posted by at 2:53 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
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Marc Riboud Sur les Quais de Paris 1953

 

The Dutch elections on Wednesday have provided a whole bunch of Orwellian narratives. PM Mark Rutte’s right wing VVD party, actually the ‘business’ -or should we say ‘rent-seekers’ in 2017- party, who lost some 20% of the seats they had obtained in the previous parliamentary election in November 2012, down from 41 to 33 seats, is declared the big winner. While Geert Wilders’ very right wing party, PVV, won 25% more seats -it went from 16 to 20- and is the big loser.

Moreover, Rutte’s coalition partner, labor PvdA, gave up 29 out of 38 seats to end up with just 9. That’s a loss of over 75%. Together, the coalition partners went from 79 seats in the 2012 election to 42 in 2017. That’s an almost 50% less. Not that it could prevent Rutte from proudly declaring: “We want to stick to the course we have – safe and stable and prosperous..” Makes you wonder who the ‘we’ are that he’s talking about.

That course he wants to stick to had a finance minister named Dijsselbloem, and his party just lost by over 75%. So he won’t be back. But perhaps the EU can pull another ‘Tusk’, and leave him in place in Brussels as chairman of the Eurogroup no matter what voters in his own country think of him. Still, declaring your intention to ‘stick to the course’ when your coalition has just been sawed in half, it’s quite something.

 

The only reasons Rutte’s VVD ended up being the biggest party all have to do with Wilders. The anxiety over the election all had to do with polls. Wilders is a one man party and a a one trick pony. If he would leave, his party would dissolve. And his sole ‘message’ is that Islam is bad and should vanish from first Holland and then Europe. He doesn’t really have any other political program points. Ok, there’s Brussels. Doesn’t like that either.

Perhaps that’s why he largely shunned the pre-election debates. Problem with that is, these things attract a lot of TV viewers, crucial free air-time. All in all, since he’s his own worst enemy in many respects, it’s not that much of a surprise that Wilders’ support collapsed, and that’s just if we were to take Dutch pollsters more serious than their counterparts in the US and UK.

Talking of which, according to Rutte, those are the countries where ‘the wrong kind of populism’ has won and delivered Trump and Brexit. And of course there are lots of people who agree with that. What either they, or Rutte himself, would label ‘the right kind of populism’ is unclear. Maybe Rutte himself is the right kind of populist?

 

The row with Turkey over the weekend must have helped Rutte quite a bit. Not only were his actions in the row met with approval by a large majority of the Dutch population, including just about all other party leaders, the Dutch also got to think about what WIlders would do in such a situation. And there can be no doubt that Rutte is seen as much more of a statesman than Wilders.

Not that the row is over. After Turkey announced yesterday it would return 40 Dutch cows (?!) , today Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said Europe’s politicians are “taking Europe toward an abyss”, and: “Soon religious wars will break out in Europe. That’s the way it’s going.” There can be no doubt that a shouting war like this with Wilders as one of the participants would take on a whole different shape, and a different choice of words.

What Rutte’s going to do next is form a new coalition, this time not with the left but with the center-right, and no-one will be able to tell the difference. If Dutch, and European, and global, politics have one main problem, it’s that. Left is right and right is left and winners are losers. If a guy like Dijsselbloem can squeeze Greek society dry in his capacity as Eurogroup head, while he runs as a leftist candidate in his own country, and loses hugely, anything goes.

 

All those who think they can see in the Dutch experience, a sign that Marine Le Pen’s chances in France’s presidential elections in April and May have dropped a lot, would appear to be delusional. Judging from reactions in the financial markets, many seem to be. But Le Pen is much less of a fringe figure than Wilders is, and she certainly wouldn’t shun a debate. It’s true that her Front National is a one-woman operation, bit she has a much clearer political program than Wilders does.

And she doesn’t have an opponent like Rutte, who’s become a formidable presence domestically, as anyone would be who can be PM for many years and not be put out by the curb. The man who should be Le Pen’s main adversary is not; Hollande is out by that curb and doesn’t even dare run again. His Socialist party has become a joke. The next strongest opponent should be François Fillon, but he’s all but gone now he’s been placed under formal investigation.

That leaves only Emmanual Macron, an independent without a party and without a program. In France, you can be elected president in such a situation, but your hand are tied in all sorts of ways, because you need parliament to vote for things.

..the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority. Although the constitution of the French Fifth Republic, created by Charles De Gaulle in 1958, extended presidential powers, it did not enable the president to run the country.

There are only a few presidential powers that do not need the prime minister’s authorisation. The president can appoint a prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly, authorise a referendum and become a “temporary dictator” in exceptional circumstances imperilling the nation. They can also appoint three judges to the Constitutional Council and refer any law to this body. While all important tasks, this does not, by any stretch of the imagination, amount to running a country. The president can’t suggest laws, pass them through parliament and then implement them without the prime minister.

The role of a president is best defined as a “referee”. Presidential powers give the ability to oversee operations and act when the smooth running of institutions is impeded. So a president is able to step in if a grave situation arises or to unlock a standoff between the prime minister and parliament, such as by announcing a referendum on a disputed issue or by dismissing the National Assembly.

So, why does everyone see the president as the key figure? In a nutshell, it’s because the constitution has never been truly applied. There lies the devilish beauty of French politics. A country known since the 1789 revolution for its inability to foster strong majorities in parliament has succeeded, from 1962, in providing solid majorities.

Perhaps those who believe that what happened in Holland is also likely to happen in France are swayed by the notion that both are part of the EU. But they are very different countries and cultures, and different political systems. And Le Pen is no Wilders. She doesn’t say crazy things anymore, she’s cleansed the public image of her party by getting rid of her father, and she keeps any remaining extremists out of view.

There is still plenty suspicion in France about her, and about her party, but there are also a lot of people who agree with a lot of what she says. The perhaps most noteworthy statement she’s made recently is that she would step down if she loses the referendum about membership of the EU she intends to launch if elected president. That should keep Brussels on their toes. Marine means what she says. And a lot of French people may get to like her for that. In a political landscape in which the competition keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Another thing about Le Pen is that her political program contains quite a few bits and bolts that could be labeled leftist; a 35-hour work week, retirement at 60, lower energy prices. It’s just that she wants to reserve these things for the French. Foreigners, especially, Muslims, are not invited. And she is very much opposed to neo-liberalism and globalization:

They’ve made an ideology out of it. An economic globalism which rejects all limits, all regulation of globalization, and which consequently weakens the immune defences of the nation state, dispossessing it of its constituent elements: borders, national currency, the authority of its laws and management of the economy, thus enabling another globalism to be born and to grow: Islamist fundamentalism..

Le Pen’s popularity does not come from an overwhelming innate racism in France -though such a thing certainly exists-. It comes instead from the formidable failure that the country’s immigration policy has been for many decades. At the outskirts of major cities ghetto’s have been allowed to form in which those that come from former French colonies, especially in Africa, feel trapped with no way out. The French tend to feel superior to all other people, and the political system has let the situation slip completely out of hand.

Now France, and Europe is general, will have to deal with this mess. So far, the main European reaction is to turn Greece into a prison camp for a new wave of refugees and migrants. That can of course only make things worse. And it doesn’t solve any of the existing problems. Which makes the rise of Marine Le Pen inevitable.

And Wilders too; he’s the no. 2 party in Holland, because his party won 33% more seats than in 2012 to go from 15 to 20. That 33% gain, versus Rutte’s 20% loss, makes Wilders a loser in the eyes of many ‘relieved’ observers.

Winners are losers, and as is evident in Le Pen’s social policies for the French, in European coalition governments that contain Labor and right wing parties, and in the course of the Democratic party in the US, left is definitely the same as right.

Orwell always wins. Next problem: the actual left are not represented by anyone anymore.


MarcRiboud Sur les Quais de Paris 1953

 

The Dutch elections on Wednesday have provided a whole bunch of Orwellian narratives. PM Mark Rutte’s right wing VVD party, actually the ‘business’ -or should we say ‘rent-seekers’ in 2017- party, who lost some 20% of the seats they had obtained in the previous parliamentary election in November 2012, down from 41 to 33 seats, is declared the big winner. While Geert Wilders’ very right wing party, PVV, won 25% more seats -it went from 16 to 20- and is the big loser.

Moreover, Rutte’s coalition partner, labor PvdA, gave up 29 out of 38 seats to end up with just 9. That’s a loss of over 75%. Together, the coalition partners went from 79 seats in the 2012 election to 42 in 2017. That’s an almost 50% less. Not that it could prevent Rutte from proudly declaring: “We want to stick to the course we have – safe and stable and prosperous..” Makes you wonder who the ‘we’ are that he’s talking about.

That course he wants to stick to had a finance minister named Dijsselbloem, and his party just lost by over 75%. So he won’t be back. But perhaps the EU can pull another ‘Tusk’, and leave him in place in Brussels as chairman of the Eurogroup no matter what voters in his own country think of him. Still, declaring your intention to ‘stick to the course’ when your coalition has just been sawed in half, it’s quite something.

 

The only reasons Rutte’s VVD ended up being the biggest party all have to do with Wilders. The anxiety over the election all had to do with polls. Wilders is a one man party and a a one trick pony. If he would leave, his party would dissolve. And his sole ‘message’ is that Islam is bad and should vanish from first Holland and then Europe. He doesn’t really have any other political program points. Ok, there’s Brussels. Doesn’t like that either.

Perhaps that’s why he largely shunned the pre-election debates. Problem with that is, these things attract a lot of TV viewers, crucial free air-time. All in all, since he’s his own worst enemy in many respects, it’s not that much of a surprise that Wilders’ support collapsed, and that’s just if we were to take Dutch pollsters more serious than their counterparts in the US and UK.

Talking of which, according to Rutte, those are the countries where ‘the wrong kind of populism’ has won and delivered Trump and Brexit. And of course there are lots of people who agree with that. What either they, or Rutte himself, would label ‘the right kind of populism’ is unclear. Maybe Rutte himself is the right kind of populist?

 

The row with Turkey over the weekend must have helped Rutte quite a bit. Not only were his actions in the row met with approval by a large majority of the Dutch population, including just about all other party leaders, the Dutch also got to think about what WIlders would do in such a situation. And there can be no doubt that Rutte is seen as much more of a statesman than Wilders.

Not that the row is over. After Turkey announced yesterday it would return 40 Dutch cows (?!) , today Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said Europe’s politicians are “taking Europe toward an abyss”, and: “Soon religious wars will break out in Europe. That’s the way it’s going.” There can be no doubt that a shouting war like this with Wilders as one of the participants would take on a whole different shape, and a different choice of words.

What Rutte’s going to do next is form a new coalition, this time not with the left but with the center-right, and no-one will be able to tell the difference. If Dutch, and European, and global, politics have one main problem, it’s that. Left is right and right is left and winners are losers. If a guy like Dijsselbloem can squeeze Greek society dry in his capacity as Eurogroup head, while he runs as a leftist candidate in his own country, and loses hugely, anything goes.

 

All those who think they can see in the Dutch experience, a sign that Marine Le Pen’s chances in France’s presidential elections in April and May have dropped a lot, would appear to be delusional. Judging from reactions in the financial markets, many seem to be. But Le Pen is much less of a fringe figure than Wilders is, and she certainly wouldn’t shun a debate. It’s true that her Front National is a one-woman operation, bit she has a much clearer political program than Wilders does.

And she doesn’t have an opponent like Rutte, who’s become a formidable presence domestically, as anyone would be who can be PM for many years and not be put out by the curb. The man who should be Le Pen’s main adversary is not; Hollande is out by that curb and doesn’t even dare run again. His Socialist party has become a joke. The next strongest opponent should be François Fillon, but he’s all but gone now he’s been placed under formal investigation.

That leaves only Emmanual Macron, an independent without a party and without a program. In France, you can be elected president in such a situation, but your hand are tied in all sorts of ways, because you need parliament to vote for things.

..the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority. Although the constitution of the French Fifth Republic, created by Charles De Gaulle in 1958, extended presidential powers, it did not enable the president to run the country.

There are only a few presidential powers that do not need the prime minister’s authorisation. The president can appoint a prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly, authorise a referendum and become a “temporary dictator” in exceptional circumstances imperilling the nation. They can also appoint three judges to the Constitutional Council and refer any law to this body. While all important tasks, this does not, by any stretch of the imagination, amount to running a country. The president can’t suggest laws, pass them through parliament and then implement them without the prime minister.

The role of a president is best defined as a “referee”. Presidential powers give the ability to oversee operations and act when the smooth running of institutions is impeded. So a president is able to step in if a grave situation arises or to unlock a standoff between the prime minister and parliament, such as by announcing a referendum on a disputed issue or by dismissing the National Assembly.

So, why does everyone see the president as the key figure? In a nutshell, it’s because the constitution has never been truly applied. There lies the devilish beauty of French politics. A country known since the 1789 revolution for its inability to foster strong majorities in parliament has succeeded, from 1962, in providing solid majorities.

Perhaps those who believe that what happened in Holland is also likely to happen in France are swayed by the notion that both are part of the EU. But they are very different countries and cultures, and different political systems. And Le Pen is no Wilders. She doesn’t say crazy things anymore, she’s cleansed the public image of her party by getting rid of her father, and she keeps any remaining extremists out of view.

There is still plenty suspicion in France about her, and about her party, but there are also a lot of people who agree with a lot of what she says. The perhaps most noteworthy statement she’s made recently is that she would step down if she loses the referendum about membership of the EU she intends to launch if elected president. That should keep Brussels on their toes. Marine means what she says. And a lot of French people may get to like her for that. In a political landscape in which the competition keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Another thing about Le Pen is that her political program contains quite a few bits and bolts that could be labeled leftist; a 35-hour work week, retirement at 60, lower energy prices. It’s just that she wants to reserve these things for the French. Foreigners, especially, Muslims, are not invited. And she is very much opposed to neo-liberalism and globalization:

They’ve made an ideology out of it. An economic globalism which rejects all limits, all regulation of globalization, and which consequently weakens the immune defences of the nation state, dispossessing it of its constituent elements: borders, national currency, the authority of its laws and management of the economy, thus enabling another globalism to be born and to grow: Islamist fundamentalism..

Le Pen’s popularity does not come from an overwhelming innate racism in France -though such a thing certainly exists-. It comes instead from the formidable failure that the country’s immigration policy has been for many decades. At the outskirts of major cities ghetto’s have been allowed to form in which those that come from former French colonies, especially in Africa, feel trapped with no way out. The French tend to feel superior to all other people, and the political system has let the situation slip completely out of hand.

Now France, and Europe is general, will have to deal with this mess. So far, the main European reaction is to turn Greece into a prison camp for a new wave of refugees and migrants. That can of course only make things worse. And it doesn’t solve any of the existing problems. Which makes the rise of Marine Le Pen inevitable.

And Wilders too; he’s the no. 2 party in Holland, because his party won 33% more seats than in 2012 to go from 15 to 20. That 33% gain, versus Rutte’s 20% loss, makes Wilders a loser in the eyes of many ‘relieved’ observers.

Winners are losers, and as is evident in Le Pen’s social policies for the French, in European coalition governments that contain Labor and right wing parties, and in the course of the Democratic party in the US, left is definitely the same as right.

Orwell always wins. Next problem: the actual left are not represented by anyone anymore.

 

 

Home Forums Winners are Losers and Left is Right

This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  V. Arnold 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #33159

    MarcRiboud Sur les Quais de Paris 1953   The Dutch elections on Wednesday have provided a whole bunch of Orwellian narratives. PM Mark Rutte’s ri
    [See the full post at: Winners are Losers and Left is Right]

    #33162

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    Orwell never sleeps. You see the Fed decision? After 8 years of positive growth…which was false; and a 4% unemployment rate…which was false; we coincidentally had Obama’s GDP miraculously rise to +3% so he wouldn’t be the foremost failure ever…which was false.

    So now that we had +3% (false) GDP, the Fed’s own GDP is falling, to .9%…which is also, of course, false. It’s been years since it’s even been above 0% by any normal measure. Also unemployment is rising, but collapsing taxes, collapsing retail, ever-worsening wages, employment, loan paybacks, and GDP are actually signs of a STRENGTHENING economy, which is why they hiked. Who knew? …Which is false. This is because the Fed is not politicized…which is false, and is very careful to prevent bubbles and not fall behind the curve…which is false.

    So the Fed, who had already raised interest rates for the first time in a decade…which is false, they claimed to raise rates but 10-year rates were unchanged last rate ‘hike’ … raised them again yesterday, which is false. Rates dropped sharply. This rate hike will of course cool off the US$ and stock market…which is false: both US$ and US stocks rose, and look to continue to do so.

    Okay then, understand? You got it? Because they’ve given it to all us Americans doubleplus good.

    #33164

    Chris M
    Participant

    Dr. Diablo,

    I enjoyed what Michael Hudson recently had to say about the calculation of GDP in the United States. He suggested that a lot of the “growth” stated in the number is shuffling of money in the financial (aka gambling) sectors and all the paper pushing that goes with it.

    I would really enjoy a treatise here about how that hallowed number is really calculated.

    #33165
    #33166

    That craziest thing about the Yellen and Fed rate hike is that they say it’s to FIGHT inflation. After they spent years trying to CREATE inflation. And it’s still not there, but they don’t know how to define inflation, they simply don’t know what it is. Orwell’s everywhere these days.

    #33168

    “That craziest thing about the Yellen and Fed rate hike is that they say it’s to FIGHT inflation.”

    That is a laugh, isn’t it. I mean, they have claimed inflation has been too low all the while people have gotten much higher power bills, water bills, home & land tax bills, annual extra bill for the fire dept., so on and so forth until most people are pulling their hair out every time a new and much bigger bill hits the mailbox, yet just now they are intending to fight inflation? I’m so confused by their machinations of what they intend to do without actually doing much except watch and wait, that I now have no confidence in the Fed. All the GDP, Unemployment and other stats are faked now, cherry picking one’s that suit their agenda and creatively churning them to spit out a number that fits their agenda, whatever the heck that is. Seems like end game, but how knows how long this travesty can be kicked down ‘The Road’ (which is also a movie).

    #33169

    Nassim
    Participant

    To Protect Climate Money, Obama Stashed It Where It’s Hard to Find

    You can buy an awful lot of good publicity – media plus scientists – for $77bn. When you think of the trivial sums that Exxon was supposed to have spent on influencing the debate.

    Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years

    The article does not mention how much they spent, but I doubt if it was 1% of what Obama alone spent.

    #33176

    ExpAbs

    Higher prices do not equal inflation. And you give a good example of why that is, by mentioning taxes. Which should never be included in any calculation of inflation, because it would mean a government can induce higher or lower inflation simply by raising or lowering taxes. We all know that’s not true; if it were, all inflation issues would be solved. It’s velocity of money (spending) that is the missing ingredient in most inflation discussions.

    #33177

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    Just for a rough estimate — and being completely generous — the % of U.S. GDP taken by Wall St. has doubled from 10 to 20% since 1947. Assuming the laughable notion that Wall St. wasn’t taking more than a required in order to smooth and facilitate commerce, we have 10% of U.S. GDP created then funneled directly to Wall St. paychecks. With a supposed $15T economy, that’s $1.5T a year in straight waste. Think we can fill a budget gap with that?

    But that’s not all: Since Greenspan, GDP has been made up of some very questionable parts. Government spending is a prime example. Who really believes that government spending on pork, or bombs, bases, and silos that sit, rust, and are later decommissioned and sold at a loss to the lowest bidder are measuring “productiveness”? Or the implication, that GDP measures an increase in the quality of life? At $6.66T (sic) we can either remove all of it as necessary/unnecessary overhead, But let’s be generous and knock out half, not 90%. $3 Trillion.

    But wait, there’s more! While we’re including wasted military GDP in the regular numbers, the Iraq-Afghanistan and other wars are off-budget. While it is purposefully hard to get an accurate handle on this, recent estimates put it at $6T over the last +10 years, or let’s be generous and make it a rough $400B/year.

    But that’s not all you’re getting! If you order now, we’ll remove the fraud from the U.S. inflation numbers, and thereby adjust the GDP correctly! There are deep issues with John Williams’ numbers, but we know the official are an admitted fraud because the U.S. itself does not use their official inflation rate to adjust GDP…they use a better, even more fraudulent number, the “GDP deflator”. But Williams has the inflation rate at 6%, which is pretty plausible depending what you put in it (health care and taxes are rising +10%, easily) http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/inflation-charts The official deflator is around 1.6% http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-deflator for a +4% difference. 4% of $15T = $600B

    Speaking of Health Care, spending in the U.S. has skyrocketed since the Government started getting involved in the 90’s. The U.S. now spends more per capita than France while getting as close to zero health care as can be measured without special equipment. https://www.mercatus.org/publication/us-health-care-spending-more-twice-average-developed-countries Taking the incredible assumption that health care in 1980 was appropriate when we sharply diverged from RoW –and not including Obamacare, which raised costs and cut services sharply — the U.S. now spends roughly 20% on health care instead of 10%, for a 10% overcharge. 10% of $15T is $1.5T.

    This is not counting the budget deficit, by which we print $1.5T and receive real goods from the world, nor many Trillions in bond and derivative rigging, nor HFT skims that add to GDP by cross-selling the same digital widget back and forth between two owners. It also doesn’t remove the “Goodwill” value of multi-trillion in stocks like Apple, or removing the clearly illusionary value of many Trillions of Silicon Valley stocks that have never turned a profit, ever, like Amazon, Facebook, or arguably Netflix — the FANG value that upholds the entire U.S., and therefore world, stock markets. No, we’re being generous here.

    Putting it together, we have $1.5T + $3T + 0.4T + $0.6T + $1.5T = $6.6T subtracted from $15T = $8Trillion.

    From living here, I’d be surprised if the U.S. had 40% of $15T, or around $7 Trillion, which matches pretty well the envelope numbers above. Which is exactly how much they’re going to devalue the US$ to once the reserve currency ends. Gas at $5.50 anyone? It’s not that the U.S. isn’t powerful or we don’t make anything. It’s just that we’re really more the size of Brazil or Japan, and should take our place among the many nations, as we are — and probably never were — a hyperpower.

    #33178

    V. Arnold
    Participant

    MarcRiboud Sur les Quais de Paris 1953
    What a gorgeous picture Ilargi, thanks…
    The rest; I couldn’t care less…
    We’ve long passed into the Theatre of the Absurd regarding everything governmental/financial/militaryal/ and realitaryial.
    I choose my own, separate, view of the world; the rest be damned…

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