18 March 2013

Cyprus Update - The Calm Before the Storm - One Europe?

I am sure you are aware of the events unfolding in Cyprus, at least if you follow the financial news and the internet.

The vote in the Cyprus Parliament has been postponed until Tuesday, most likely because the votes were not there to pass a resolution that was acceptable to the EU.

The bank holiday has been extended to Thursday, and it is doubtful they will reopen until the Parliament has sorted out a plan of action.  The shutting of the banks while the politicians wrangle over the details of the confiscation is not designed to heighten confidence.

As you may recall, the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, a member of the conservative Democratic Rally (DISY) party, was elected in February of this year with about 58% of the vote. He is known as a blunt, chain-smoking 'strong man' with strong ties to the right wing politicians of Europe. Indeed, these connections and his promise of a solution favorable to Cyprus were strong factors in his recent electoral victory.

The extenuanting factors here are that Cyprus is viewed as a bellwether for Italy and Spain. There are many who would dispute this, and point to the particularities of the size and structure of the Cyprus banking sector. But there is a widespread perception that the heavy hand of Germany is running the EU these days, and prior pledges and principles cannot be trusted if the central rulers of the EU are willing to confiscate the insured deposits of private citizens, no matter how they try to rationalize it.

I tend to view this as the overall progress in the foregone drama of an inherently unstable European Union that has fallen into a financial plutocracy. Any actions they take now are merely delaying the inevitable. And the consequences for the global financial sector are profound.

The EU and the Fed may be able to paper over the problems and achieve an uneasy stability that could last a year or two, but without profound changes to the European financial arrangements that include transfer payments, a single currency spanning such diverse national economies is inherently unstable.  It is the child of the overreach of bureaucratic arrogance and economic fairy tales.

This *could* be a rather clever move to force at least a portion of Europe into a single political government of twelve or fifteen members, but I hate to give the plutocrats that much credit for planning. 

I know there is and has been talk for quite some time of dividing the world into five or six major spheres of political influence, including North America and a few South American client states, Europe, Russia, China, and Japan.  The particularities of southeast Asia and the Pacific are very much in play, along with the status of various economic colonies in the Third World including Africa.  India and Australia are major outliers.  The UK has been particularly troubled by its relatively minor role, and aspires to be the financial center and interface to the world for the rest of Europe.

Whether any of this happens or not is very much open to question.  But the establishment of a 'new order' in the world has quite a few globally powerful adherents who are willing to work for this in the long term.  It should be remembered that the fashions of 'centralization and decentralization' of power have their swings, seemingly like a natural ebb and flow over time,  quite similar to what we often see in the corporate world.