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Irish Left Review
Joined up thinking for the Irish Left

offsite link Greece ? The Rocky Road Ahead Wed Mar 04, 2015 17:18 | Cillian Doyle

offsite link The Money Exists for Investment in Greece Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:49 | Michael Burke

offsite link Government Misleading Europe about Austerity and Ireland?s Debt Crisis Mon Mar 02, 2015 23:18 | Rory Hearne

offsite link Issue PN 120 of the People?s News Out Now Mon Mar 02, 2015 22:36 | The People's Movement

offsite link International Women?s Day Celebration Mon Mar 02, 2015 09:12 | Irish Left Review

Irish Left Review >>

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link Spain is not Greece, or is it? Electoral prospects for the left in 2015. Thu Feb 05, 2015 19:00 | modulus

offsite link SYRIZA and Memnosyne Sat Jan 24, 2015 09:09 | Jerome Nikolai Warren

offsite link Why the Workers’ Party Wed Jan 21, 2015 20:08 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link “It’s boring but necessary”: An Interview with Jos Alembic (aka “Q”) o... Mon Jan 05, 2015 18:44 | Jerome Nikolai Warren

offsite link Is Class Real? Some Empirical Contributions from Econophysics Tue Oct 28, 2014 18:40 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Public Inquiry
Just another WordPress site

offsite link Labour Party Conference report

offsite link Economist Dan O’Brien: A seriously confused man Anthony

offsite link ‘Journalist’ Jim Cusack: A spineless lackey Anthony

offsite link RTE: The listeners can wait Anthony

offsite link Vincent Browne: Captured by the bankers Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

NAMA Wine Lake

offsite link Farewell from NWL Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Happy 70th Birthday, Michael Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Of the Week? Sat May 18, 2013 00:02 | namawinelake

offsite link Noonan denies IBRC legal fees loan approval to Paddy McKillen was in breach of E... Fri May 17, 2013 14:23 | namawinelake

offsite link Gayle Killilea Dunne asks to be added as notice party in Sean Dunne?s bankruptcy Fri May 17, 2013 12:30 | namawinelake

NAMA Wine Lake >>

Cillian Doyle - Wed Mar 04, 2015 17:18

It?s been a week now since the guns fell silent between Greece and its creditors and a 4 month armistice was agreed - so what are we to make of the outcome? Yes it?s true that Tsipiris, Varoufakis and Co. were not able to deliver on one of their two main election pillars - debt forgiveness - but does that necessarily make it the complete capitulation that some have said? Would an honourable defeat be a more accurate appraisal? Or could it be that the agreement was simply a crucial exercise in buying time and space?

These are certainly valid questions but unfortunately valid questions don?t always elicit easy answers. For the position we take on this temporary agreement is in many ways determined by how we viewed the bargaining power of Syriza relative to the European establishment from the outset. In other words; hows we perceived that power differential helps determine what range of outcomes we would have considered possible.

So for example if you thought that in the negotiations Syriza held the trump card and all that was required was calling the Eurogroup?s bluff and threatening the nuclear option (Grexit) then you would see the agreement as a relative failure largely attributable to a leadership that lost its nerve. Thus all that was required was different players made of tougher stuff.

If on the other hand you believed that Syriza was negotiating from a much weaker position given that they were seemingly less prepared (and more scared) of Grexit than their interlocutors, then you could rationalise the agreement as best that could have been bargained for whilst providing the necessary breathing room to prepare a potential Grexit strategy.

Michael Burke - Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:49

This article originally appeared in Socialist Economic Bulletin on Friday, the 27th of February

The fraught negotiations between the new Greek government and representatives of the EU institutions are likely to be prolonged. They have centred to date on Syriza?s efforts to find room to alleviate some of the worst effects of austerity and address what is called the ?humanitarian crisis?.

This is entirely justifiable given the depth of the fall in living standards with widespread malnutrition in Greece, a health crisis, hundreds of thousands of homes cut off from electricity supply and other ills.

Policies aimed at income redistribution can help in this key area, so it is entirely correct to attempt to increase tax revenue from the rich in order to ameliorate the effects of poverty on the poor. But any sustainable improvement in living standards must be based on increasing the productive capacity of the economy which requires investment. Any transfer of income will be a one-off effect if income does not grow. Yet the austerity measures imposed by the Troika (EU Commission, European Central Bank and IMF) and the existing burden of debt interest payments prevent the government from investing and provide a further disincentive for the private sector to invest of its own volition.

Domestic sources of investment

There are two key sources of funds that could be tapped for investment; domestic and international.

Domestically the Greek business class claims the highest share of national income in the whole of the OECD. In 2013 (in nominal terms) the Gross Operating Surplus of Greek firms was ?102.2bn from a GDP total of ?182.4bn. This profit share in GDP of 56% is way in excess of the customary levels in the OECD. By comparison the German profit share in the same year was 39.3%.

A high profit share is not itself directly harmful to growth and prosperity. If firms were investing profits the productive capacity would be rising rapidly and new high-quality and high-paid jobs could easily be created. But the opposite is the case in Greece, which also has the lowest rate of investment as a proportion of GDP in the whole of the OECD. Again in nominal terms investment (Gross Fixed Capital Formation) in Greece in 2013 was just ?20.5bn or 11.3% of GDP. By comparison the German proportion of investment was 19.8%.

This is not to hold up the German economic model to be emulated. Like all the Western economies (including Britain) the rate of investment in the German economy has slowed dramatically over several decades, which is the cause of the ?secular stagnation? of the Western economies over the same period.

Even so, the disparity in the profit rate and the investment rate is exceptional in Greece. The proportion of uninvested profits in Germany is equivalent to 19.5% of GDP (profits equal to 39.3% of GDP minus an investment level equivalent to 19.8%). This level of uninvested profits is very high by historical standards. But the proportion of uninvested profits in Greece is 44.7% (profits of 56% of GDP minus investment of 11.3%). The nominal level of profits and investment is shown in Fig. 1 below.

Rory Hearne - Mon Mar 02, 2015 23:18

The government is misleading Europe about the reality of austerity and the debt crisis in Ireland so as to avoid admitting that they took the wrong approach with austerity and their failure to get a meaningful debt deal. The truth is austerity is based on flawed economics and it hasn?t worked in either Ireland, Greece or for Europe and Ireland?s debt is unsustainable.

Austerity has devastated Irish society. For most people recovery is just a word being spoken by politicians and the media. The Central Bank and ESRI have highlighted that the much lauded growth figures do not reflect the true health of the Irish domestic economy because they are artificially inflated by multinational and financial activities that do not take place here.

Austerity has resulted in 1.4 million people, almost 31% of the population, suffering from deprivation ? which is up from 14% in 2008 and 37% of children suffer deprivation (up from 18% in 2008). The legacy crises are multiple - from mortgage arrears, rent, homelessness, childcare, hospitals, and community services. Unemployment figures are largely reduced because of emigration and the use of unpaid jobs schemes. Domestic demand remains static and working class communities, small towns and rural areas are devastated. Austerity has not worked for the low income and working people of Ireland. At a European level the Euro area is mired in stagnant growth of 0.8%, mass unemployment of 11%, and a debt-to GDP ratio that that has risen from 72% in 2009 to 92% today.

The calculations of economists Reinhart and Rogoff that austerity was required to reduce government debt levels below 90% in order to return to growth was also found to be incorrect. The IMF has also admitted that it underestimated the negative impact of austerity?s higher taxes and spending cuts on economic growth and unemployment.

The People's Movement - Mon Mar 02, 2015 22:36

Issue PN 120 of the People's News Out Now (PDF)

Page1. Report reveals escalating poverty across EU ? the mirage of Social Europe Caritas Europa, has just published a report: Poverty and Inequalities on the Rise ?Just social systems needed as the solution!

P1. Ukraine, the EU and Russia

P3. The poor Germans! An unbelievable total of twelve million people in Germany are classed as poor, according to a study by a German welfare association.

P4. Greece baiting seems to have become the favorite sport of the political and media elite

P6. TTIP points to the demise of the public health service. A key part of the TTIP is 'harmonisation' between EU and US regulation, especially for regulation in the process of being formulated.

P8. Government prepared for the collapse of euro zone

P8. A lackluster defence of public services

P9. Plain packaging. There's a big difference between the threatened tobacco plain packaging legal case and what a similar case might look like under TTIP!

P10. Another EU con job

P12. Giscard: 'Greece should leave the euro.? Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, author of the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty, has said that abandoning the single currency would be the best way for Greece to solve its debt crisis.

P12. Ireland continues to suffer from Common Fisheries Policy

P13. TTIP; education and for-profit colleges. Proposals to make education a ?traded? commodity could cost the Irish taxpayer millions, by allowing investors in ?for-profit? colleges to sue the government for loss of profit as a result of state investment in public education.

Irish Left Review - Mon Mar 02, 2015 09:12

Satharn 7 Márta, 2 i.n.

Ceiliúradh Lá Idirnáisiúnta na mBan

Women in the water resistance

Cainteoirí: Ann Farrelly (Sord), Cat Inglis (Baile Átha Cliath Thoir Thuaidh), Jessica Hughes (Fionnghlas), Carole Watson Purcell (Tamhlacht). Cathaoirleach: Betty Purcell.

? Teach Shéamais Uí Chonaíle (43 Sráid Essex Thoir)

 

Saturday 7 March, 2 p.m.

International Women?s Day celebration

Women in the water resistance

Speakers: Ann Farrelly (Swords), Cat Inglis (Dublin North-East), Jessica Hughes (Finglas), Carole Watson Purcell (Tallaght). Chairperson: Betty Purcell.

? James Connolly House (43 East Essex Street)

 

Seán Sheehan - Sun Mar 01, 2015 22:19

Wikipedia scores zilch when it comes to introducing the term fine art photography:

Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, such as photojournalism, which provides a documentary visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the subjective intent of the photographer; and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.

This begins by implying that non-fine art photography cannot the act of a creative photographer or --  another possibility given the partisan logic of the premise  --  all photography created by an artist belongs to the fine art stable. The error is then compounded by a categorical contrast between the esteemed subject of fine art photography and two other types of photography: the representational sort, such as photojournalism, and the commercial kind. We can take the hint and regard these last two as inferior: one is merely a visual record of what exists and the other merely vulgar advertising.

Two books published by Hatje Cantz embody what is really at stake here. World Wide Order is a collection of photographs by Julian Röder, divided thematically but united by a concern with the incestuous union of power and economics that we know as capitalism. The first section is entitled The Summits, a series that started when Röder was a participant in the protests at Genoa in 2001 and which evolved as he recorded moments from the opposition to the G8 summits in Brussels, Evian, Gleneagles, Heiligendamn, Thessaloniki and Hokkaido. Impressive as the 2003 anti-war protests were, bringing millions of civilians onto the streets around the world, they were essentially passive and cannot be compared with the spirit of protesters that Röder captures with his camera. He records civil disobedience as it should be -- organized, focused, prepared to defend itself, courageous ? epitomised by a shot taken at Gleneagles in 2005 that calls to mind an infamous  moment photographed during the Battle of Orgreave. As the G8 organizers retreated to rural locations in order to outwit opposition, conflict moved from urban barricades to country lanes and fields. Gentrify this if you can.

Christos Kefalis - Wed Feb 25, 2015 00:08

The last 10 days, from February 11th to February 20th, saw some critical developments in Greece. After a number of clashes in the Eurogroups of 11th, 16th and 20th February, an agreement was reached extending the ?current arrangement? with the Troika for 4 months. This agreement, as is generally agreed, was a heavy compromise on the part of the Greek SYRIZA-ANEL government, putting into doubt the possibility to carry out its program, i.e. SYRIZA?s Thessaloniki program. There was another serious compromise too, when, on February 18th, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a representative of the conservative camp and leading figure of the ND party, was elected President of the Republic.

The same period witnessed, on the other hand, some big demonstrations in Greece and other European countries too, centered round the task of cancelling debt. Although not as massive as those in the 2011-2012 period, they show some real hope of a new rise of the movements and their possible intervention in the scene. Significantly, these demonstrations, which begun as acts of spontaneous support to the Greek government, seem likely to continue after the compromise made ? a new one was announced for February 26th in various facebook pages.

Taken together these developments pose some serious questions. Does SYRIZA relinquish its promises of a substantial change with regard to the previous austerity ND-PASOK regime? Is such a change feasible within the EU through an acceptable compromise reached after a negotiation? Or is it impossible and Greece should head instead for a payment default and exit the EU ? the prospect broadly known as ?Grexit??

In this article we will discuss these questions, with an eye to the coming solution of the Greek drama when the four month prolongation of the Memorandum ends.

Michael Burke - Tue Feb 24, 2015 21:26

This article originally appeared on Socialist Economic Bulletin on Monday the 23rd of February. 

?The Austerity Con? is the title of a recent article in the London Review of Books. It is written by a leading Keynesian economist Professor Simon-Wren Lewis, who is also a fellow of Merton College, Oxford. The article is available to non-subscribers here. It deserves to be widely read because it contains two important arguments against austerity.

The first argument nails the lie that austerity was necessary because of an immediate crisis of government funding. The second argument exposes the myth that austerity has been responsible for an improvement in government finances. Both of these arguments will be familiar to regular readers of SEB and Prof. Wren-Lewis will give them a far wider airing. Given that averting the crisis in government finances is offered by the supporters of austerity as its main justification, the title of his piece is fully justified.

However there is a difference of view among opponents of austerity about the nature of the current crisis. It is important because it underpins both the overall analytical framework and the suggested policy prescriptions. Prof. Wren-Lewis says, ?The place to begin is 2009. By then the full extent of the financial crisis had become apparent.? He goes on, ?The financial crisis was leading consumers and firms to spend less and save more. That made sense for individuals, but the problem was that because everyone was doing it, the total amount of demand in the economy was falling. As demand fell, firms produced less, so they reduced their workforce.?

This is not entirely accurate. Demand is comprised of two components, consumption and investment. By taking a step back to 2007 it possible to see more clearly how the crisis arose. Regarding the industrialised countries as whole grouped in the OECD it is possible to see that only one of these experienced a sharp fall. This was investment not consumption.

Fig.1 below shows the level of real GDP and its key components, consumption, investment and net exports. The data is presented in both in constant prices in constant Purchasing Power Parity exchange rates and is itemised in the box below.

Irish Left Review - Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:32

The following are the package of Greek reforms sent to the President of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem at midnight Greek time, last night. 

Dear President of the Eurogroup,

In the Eurogroup of 20 February 2015 the Greek government was invited to present to the institutions, by Monday 23rd February 2015, a first comprehensive list of reform measures it is envisaging, to be further specified and agreed by the end of April 2015.

In addition to codifying its reform agenda, in accordance with PM Tsipras? programmatic statement to Greece?s Parliament, the Greek government also committed to working in close agreement with European partners and institutions, as well as with the International Monetary Fund, and take actions that strengthen fiscal sustainability, guarantee financial stability and promote economic recovery.

The first comprehensive list of reform measures follows below, as envisaged by the Greek government. It is our intention to implement them while drawing upon available technical assistance and financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds.

Truly

Yanis Varoufakis Minister of Finance Hellenic Republic

I. Fiscal structural policies

Tax policies ? Greece commits to:

  • Reform VAT policy, administration and enforcement. Robust efforts will be made to improve collection and fight evasion making full use of electronic means and other technological innovations. VAT policy will be rationalised in relation to rates that will be streamlined in a manner that maximises actual revenues without a negative impact on social justice, and with a view to limiting exemptions while eliminating unreasonable discounts.
  • Modify the taxation of collective investment and income tax expenditures which will be integrated in the income tax code.
  • Broaden definition of tax fraud and evasion while disbanding tax immunity.
  • Modernising the income tax code and eliminating from it tax code exemptions and replacing them, when necessary, with social justice enhancing measures.
  • Resolutely enforce and improve legislation on transfer pricing.
  • Work toward creating a new culture of tax compliance to ensure that all sections of society, and especially the well-off, contribute fairly to the financing of public policies. In this context, establish with the assistance of European and international partners, a wealth database that assists the tax authorities in gauging the veracity of previous income tax returns.

Public Finance Management ? Greece will:

  • Adopt amendments to the Organic Budget Law and take steps to improve public finance management. Budget implementation will be improved and clarified as will control and reporting responsibilities. Payment procedures will be modernised and accelerated while providing a higher degree of financial and budgetary flexibility and accountability for independent and/or regulatory entities.
  • Devise and implement a strategy on the clearance of arrears, tax refunds and pension claims.
  • Turn the already established (though hitherto dormant) Fiscal Council into a fully operational entity.

Revenue administration ? Greece will modernise the tax and custom administrations benefiting from available technical assistance. To this end Greece will:

  • Enhance the openness, transparency and international reach of the process by which the General Secretary of the General Secretariat of Public Revenues is appointed, monitored in terms of performance, and replaced.
  • Strengthen the independence of the General Secretariat of Public Revenues (GSPR), if necessary through further legislation, from all sorts of interference (political or otherwise) while guaranteeing full accountability and transparency of its operations. To this end, the government and the GSPR will make full use of available technical assistance.
  • Staff adequately, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the GSPR and in particular the high wealth and large debtors units of the revenue administration and ensure that it has strong investigative/prosecution powers, and resources building on SDOE?s capacities, so as to target effectively tax fraud by, and tax arrears of, high income social groups. Consider the merits of integrating SDOE into GSPR.
  • Augment inspections, risk-based audits, and collection capacities while seeking to integrate the functions of revenue and social security collection across the general government.
Irish Left Review - Tue Feb 17, 2015 21:56

 

Gluaiseacht for Global Justice, We're Not Leaving, ATTAC Ireland,

Third Level Workplace Watch, and Marea Granate Dublin invite you to a

Grassroots Strategy Weekend

Evening debate, Friday 6th March
All day workshops, Saturday 7th March

The Teacher?s Club, Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Vibrant and spirited grassroots campaigns, including water and housing, have invigorated and energised people, movements and political actors in Ireland. Many of us now speak about austerity, neoliberalism, and the ruling elite that has lost touch with the majority of the people. We speak about and see the connections between the water-tax, the nationalisation of private debt, the housing and homelessness crisis, the scandal of direct provision, the crumbling health care system, trade agreements like TTIP, privatisation of public goods, services and national resources, the decimation of the community sector, the assault of structural violence and institutional racism, and much, much more. 


Still, this awakened public consciousness of how the powers that be operate and influence our lives is not yet visible in the collaboration of social movement groups who work on these issues.

Hence, we invite you to a weekend of discussion intended to establish what connects us

and to work out collectively if there are common strategies or projects we can pursue together to strengthen all of our movements.


For who?

Irish Left Review >>

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