I’m guessing USW is still swamped, so posting open mic and a few topics. First a question for all, if we look at what events are taking place today, what is the most important one(s)? Watching FOX this AM, they are talking about Obama and his employment plan, the tragic car crash, the prisoner exchange in Israel (One for one thousand).
I still think the Middle East is a powderkeg.
I think the world and US economy may be the biggest story.
Greece heads for standstill before austerity vote
By George Georgiopoulos and Renee Maltezou
ATHENS | Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:14am EDT
(Reuters) – Prime Minister George Papandreou appealed for unity on Monday as Greece braced for a 48-hour general strike timed to coincide with a vote on a deeply unpopular package of austerity measures demanded by international lenders.
“This is maybe the most crucial week for Greece and Europe,” Papandreou said during a meeting with the head of state, President Karolos Papoulias.
“It is very important on our part, that the entire Greek political class shows a sense of unity and responsibility.”
His comments came as Greece’s two main unions, representing about half the four million-strong workforce, prepare for one of the biggest protests since the crisis began two years ago, likely to hit food and fuel supplies, disrupt transport and leave hospitals run by skeleton staff.
The 48 hour general strike is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday to coincide with the vote in parliament, expected to take place in two stages on both days.
Memories are still fresh of the battles between riot police and stone-throwing protesters at anti-austerity demonstrations in June and sporadic signs of trouble were reported on Monday with a petrol bomb hurled at a garbage truck in a northern suburb of Athens.
Papandreou, trailing badly in opinion polls, has defied a wave of protests, pledging to push through a deeply unpopular package that includes tax rises, pay and pension cuts, job layoffs and changes to collective pay deals.
Berlin dampens summit hopes, banks under pressure
By Matthias Inverardi and Steve Slater
DUESSELDORF, Germany/LONDON | Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:49am EDT
DUESSELDORF, Germany/LONDON (Reuters)- – Germany lowered expectations on Monday of a breakthrough in the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis, saying a weekend summit of EU leaders would not produce a definitive solution, in comments that pushed down the euro and European stocks.
Financial markets have risen in the last week on hopes that the 27 European Union leaders will agree on a comprehensive plan to draw a line under the two-year-old crisis, which is weighing on the world economy.
But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in Duesseldorf on Monday that while European governments would adopt a five-point platform to address the turmoil, it was wrong to expect miracle cure from the summit.
“We won’t have a definitive solution this weekend,” he said.
Schaeuble said the plan would have to include a reduction in Greece’s debt mountain. He repeated at the weekend that private bondholders would have to accept steeper voluntary write-downs on their Greek holdings than the 21 percent agreed last July.
A lead negotiator for the banks said this could only happen if policymakers addressed the “full range” of sovereign debt issues in Europe. Charles Dallara of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) declined comment on reports that the private sector might have to take a 50 percent loss.
Nearly two years in, Europe’s leaders bid to draw a line under the debt crisis this week and deliver a “lasting” solution to ring-fence their money and prevent EU disintegration.
The stakes are high, in the run-up to marathon Brussels talks amid global pressure to end in-fighting and avert the “scary” future US President Barack Obama fears otherwise awaits us all.
But Europe remains steadfast. “The results of the October 23 summit will be decisive,” insisted French Finance Minister Francois Baroin after chairing weekend talks with G20 counterparts in Paris.
In a nutshell, the European Union must:
- — micro-manage how much Greece can default on its massive loans, striking a delicate balance between debt write-downs that reflect actual market values, and perceived bankruptcy;
- — plug the consequent hole in banks’ balance sheets, a job the International Monetary Fund reckons could cost 200 billion euros, and that ratings agencies suggest could result in a downgrade for France;
- — and nail down safeguards against any repeat of the present mess, to begin with by enhancing the eurozone’s existing financial “firewall” to convince doubtful investors that Italy and Spain won’t fall into the same desperate spiral.
Culminating in that ‘mother-of-all-summits’ on Sunday, one that could run right through the night, finance, foreign and finally prime ministers, presidents and Germany’s chancellor will each troop in.
All, even Angela Merkel, are under international orders to cater for every potential side-effect of their decisions, and deliver “comprehensive” defences aimed at turning the gaze of market wolves elsewhere.
These talks were meant to climax on Tuesday, but were put back in the hope the EU can end perennial internal squabbling before its key figures meet the United States, Japan and upstart rivals at a G20 summit on November 3-4.
The preparatory talks in Paris left European participants with burning ears — and bruised egos.
For instance South Africa, a fast-rising economy two decades after apartheid fell, dismissed Europe as operating “behind the curve.”
Pivotal as his eight-year tenure as head of the European Central Bank draws to a close, Jean-Claude Trichet told the Financial Times that Europe would rise to the challenge once governments cede fully to market-economy realities.
But even the most pro-EU among seasoned observers prefer caution.
“The limits will be set by the people,” Hans Martens, who heads the leading Brussels think tank, the European Policy Centre, told AFP.
So what say you SUFA, what’s on you mind?