Campaign Against the Austerity Treaty

Vote No to the Fiscal Compact Treaty, Referendum in Ireland, May 31 2012

Archive for the ‘Economists’ Category

Eve of Poll Messages – Paul Krugman and Rónán Burtenshawe

leave a comment »

 

Paul Krugman Says No to the Austerity Treaty :

NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING ECONOMIST Paul Krugman has advised Irish voters to vote No in Thursday’s referendum on the Fiscal Compact.

“I’ve thought about it, it’s hard. I would say vote No,” he said on BBC Radio 4 this morning. Krugman dismissed the suggestion that a No vote would anger Germany and see Ireland cut off from bailout funds or from the Eurozone.

“At this point the Germans need to face the reality that this cannot work and that the Irish, who’ve been such good soldiers in this crisis, if even the Irish say no then that would actually send a helpful message,” he said.

Read More Here :

Paul Krugman Says Irish Voters Should Say No the Austerity Treaty

 

Rónán Burtenshawe Replies to Katherine Zappone :

 

On theJournal.ie on Monday Senator Katherine Zappone established her support for the Fiscal Treaty in an article titled, ‘I’ve always fought for those who have the least. That’s why I’m voting Yes.’ For many of us who are fans of her academic and political work it will have been a disappointing read – laced with conformism, neoliberal logic and uncritical repetition of conventional wisdom which serves the interests of the powerful. The article requires a response – particularly because of its assertion that voting Yes serves the interests of the weakest in Irish society.

More Here :

This Treaty Does Not Serve The Interests of Those Who Have the Least – response to Senator Katherine Zappone

 

 

 

Written by tomasoflatharta

May 30, 2012 at 8:47 pm

“Oppose the erosion of social rights…reject better treatment for banks over people” – Patrick Kinsella’s Article in the Irish Times

leave a comment »

Writing in the May 24 2012 Irish Times Patrick Kinsella argues for rejection of the Austerity Treaty, finishing with this blunt warning for the Irish Labour Party in a coalition government with the ultra-conservative Fine Gael party:

On this issue, the Labour Party in Government has abandoned its traditional constituency, signing up to support the banks at the expense of equality, jobs and fair working conditions. It has abandoned the social pillar of the European Union in the interests of an illusory “stability”. I sense that its traditional constituency will abandon Labour at the next election

We recommend the full article, proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Fiscal Compact is a dangerous enemy to all shades of the left, including very moderate traditional social democracy.

A British New Statesman article entitled “The EU treaty is a disaster for the left” is just as compelling :

New Statesman – The EU treaty is a disaster for the left

The author Owen Jones, whose “Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class” is published by Verso says bluntly :

Consider this: as Paul Mason has written, “by enshrining in national and international law the need for balanced budgets and near-zero structural deficits, the eurozone has outlawed expansionary fiscal policy”.

Read that last bit carefully. Left-wing governments of all hues will, in effect, be banned by this treaty. If the French or the German left returns to power in the near future (and both are in a good position to do so), it will be illegal for them to respond to the global economic catastrophe with anything but austerity. An economic stimulus is forbidden – because the treaty has buried Keynesianism.

To date, Four Irish Trade Unions – MANDATE, UNITE, the TEEU (Electricians) and the Civil and Public Service Union (CPSU) have logically acted, understood the Treaty threat, and called for a NO in the referendum to be held on May 31.

Many activists know of people close to the Trade Union movement and Labour Party who know these arguments are 100 per cent true, but have not spoken their minds – they should broadcast now, reject the austerity policy of Tánaiste Éamon Gilmore and his government ministers, and join the NO Campaign.

They need look no further than Patrick Kinsella’s article :

Treaty is a social, political and economic threat

Thu, May 24, 2012

OPINION: Voting No is not a rejection of the EU – it is to oppose the erosion of social rights. It is to reject better treatment for banks over people, writes PATRICK KINSELLA

FOR NEARLY 40 years it has been pretty easy to find reasons to vote Yes to the succession of European treaties.

Like the rebel plotters in Monty Python’s Life of Brian asking “What has Rome ever done for us?”, we can answer that as well as better roads, we have more jobs, agricultural prosperity, quality education, cleaner water, and the promotion of equality and human rights, all benefits that might have seemed utopian back in the 1970s.

Yes, things are grim compared to a couple of years ago, and unemployment is at crisis levels. But total incomes, personal consumption and the number of people at work are all still higher than in 2003, which was not a bad year.

Free trade has been good to Ireland. But the European project is not just about free trade, and there are two compelling reasons to vote No to the latest treaty.

The first compelling reason is economic: the fiscal stability treaty does nothing to repair damage to our banking system, and nothing to reduce unemployment. The Government is locked in to an austerity policy that both theory and practice demonstrate to be wrong. It has been abandoned by the United States, by voters in Greece and France, and earlier this month by the voters of North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

The policy problem is Angela Merkel’s obsession with reducing debt. She is wrong: running a national economy is emphatically not like running a household or a business – households and businesses do not control the money supply. Governments need to borrow to invest and central banks need a stock of government bonds as a means of managing interest rates.

Obviously, excessive borrowing will lead to inflation, but excessive saving will lead to deflation – more job losses and business closures – and that is what is happening across much of Europe now.

Voting No to the fiscal treaty will not reverse current economic policy – that’s a political issue that will be resolved only after the German federal election next year. But voting Yes would make the austerity permanent, writing into national law a requirement to cut budgets or raise taxes here for as long as general government debt is more than 60 per cent of gross domestic product.

It’s no good the Government talking about a growth agenda if it means only market liberalisation and further cuts in pay. European governments need to borrow more money and invest it in worthwhile projects if unemployment is to be brought down. And large-scale, long-term borrowing to invest would be legally banned under the fiscal treaty.

The second compelling reason to vote No is purely political. The treaty upsets the historic balance that lies at the heart of the European project – the balance between labour and capital. The EEC was founded partly to prevent another war between France and Germany. But free trade, and free movement of goods, services and money were always to be limited by the protection of social rights.

Europe built on Germany’s post-war “social market economy”, which provided stability, profits, low unemployment and a welfare state. The main trade unions and most social democrats have been enthusiastic supporters of a project that promised social justice as well as prosperity; a commitment to equality as well as the right to make profits.

The fiscal treaty, by what it says and what it does not say, ends that balance. For the countries that sign it, the needs of the banks will be permanently ahead of the needs of the people. There is no social chapter here: just cut the deficit and limit government borrowing, whatever the social cost.

What kind of Ireland, what kind of Europe do we want? Competitive and flexible? Yes, but surely not at the cost of permanently low wages, poor public services, high unemployment and social insecurity. This is not a fantasy nor scaremongering, it is already under way.

Just one example from my place of work: there’s no such thing as a “job” in a university anymore. The very best we can offer new recruits is a five-year contract. Not just in the State sector but throughout the economy, on issues of job security, employment conditions and pension provision, risk is being transferred from investors and employers to employees and the unemployed.

This turns the expectation of profit as a reward for taking risk on its head, and reverses the historic consensus on which European prosperity and social cohesion has been based – and all to protect the integrity of a banking system that failed in its primary duty of prudence in lending.

The single currency scheme was flawed from the start, because the euro member states were unwilling to surrender the sovereignty needed to sustain it. Unwilling to harmonise taxes and spending policy, unwilling to borrow money as a unit, unwilling to transfer resources from one region to another in the way the US federal government does, unwilling to tax and properly regulate the financial system.

Merely limiting states’ capacity to borrow does not address these issues, and does not provide any basis for currency stability. That’s a task to be tackled by the new French president and a new German chancellor.

The Government is rigorously following the policies required by the troika of intergovernment lenders who support our current spending deficit and our bank rescue, and voting No will not change that. But the political situation in Europe is changing radically, and it is absurd to think that our partners will leave us high and dry for future loans because we reject a legal straitjacket on future policy demanded in the dying days of the Merkel regime. And don’t think the ideological rebalancing demanded by the fiscal treaty is limited to the euro zone members: the final article says “steps will be taken” to incorporate the substance of it “into the legal framework of the European Union”.

The political context for the social market economy in the 1950s and 1960s was the spectre of communism that haunted Europe. The context now includes the indignados of Spain, riots in Greece, and right-wing parties. Those of us with no great wealth other than our education worry for our children: where will they work, how will they live?

On this issue, the Labour Party in Government has abandoned its traditional constituency, signing up to support the banks at the expense of equality, jobs and fair working conditions. It has abandoned the social pillar of the European Union in the interests of an illusory “stability”. I sense that its traditional constituency will abandon Labour at the next election.

In the meantime, those of us who think that on balance the European Union has been good for Ireland, and do not want to see that balance overturned, have compelling reasons to vote No to this treaty.


Patrick Kinsella is head of the school of communications at Dublin City University and is a member of the Tasc Economists’ Network

© 2012 The Irish Times

Is the response to the crisis simply stupid?

leave a comment »

Answering the Quextion above – Perhaps Not.

Decision-makers may be : “continuing a long established pattern of putting in place certain economic policies and insulating them from democratic decisión making.”

Much current discussion of the euro crisis focuses on the seeming irrationality or incompetence of decision makers.  For example, Guardian economics editor Larry Elliot says that “there is a failure or an unwillingness to grasp a basic truth about the single currency: it doesn’t work”.  While this may be true to a certain extent, one can also interpret the response to the current crisis as continuing a long established pattern of putting in place certain economic policies and insulating them from democratic decisión making.

The logic of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was always to ensure that the costs of economic adjustment were to be borne through ‘internal devaluation’ – the loss of monetary independence prevented countries from responding to a crisis by printing money, lowering the interest rate or devaluing the currency.  The Stability and Growth Pact was intended to achieve something similar in the área of fiscal policy, and the Fiscal Treaty seeks to complete that unfinished task. Steve McGiffen has quoted an approving neoliberal economist as saying that “Either the euro subverts the welfare state, or Europe’s welfare state subverts the euro… smart money should bet on the euro”.

The mention of the fiscal treaty shows how, to a certain extent at least, the crisis is being used to advance a pre-existing agenda, along the lines of former Obama administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s injunction that “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Like the Fiscal Treaty. (Naomi Klein has used the idea of the ‘shock doctrine’ to describe this kind of stratagem).

And it is still in play.  Many commentators see ECB lending to sovereign states as an essential component part of a proper response to the crisis, but a reason for its rejection has been put forward by the head of German Central Bank with reference to Italy, in November of last year: “Recent experience has shown that market interest rates do play a role in pushing government towards reforms… [ECB buying sovereign bonds would mean] there’s a risk that you mute the incentives that come from the market”.  In other words, (one way of) defusing the crisis would take away the opportunity to implement the ‘structural reforms’ of the Italian economy that are deemed desirable. This approach may be playing with fire but it is, on its own terms, perfectly rational.

Now this is not a crude conspiracy theory – it is not as if the crisis has been concocted to advance these policies, but it is certain that it is being opportunistically made use of in that way.  So those of us who are critical of what is (and is not happening) should perhaps place less emphasis on the seeming stupidity of what is going on and rather more emphasis on the amount of sense it makes if looked at from a certain perspective.

 

http://europedebate.ie/is-the-response-to-the-crisis-simply-stupid/

Written by tomasoflatharta

May 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Group of Economists Urges No vote

leave a comment »

 

From the Irish Times (May 16 2012)

 

Three economists have accused the Government of misleading people over the need for extra cuts and taxes in the event of a No vote in the fiscal treaty referendum.

Prof Terrence McDonough of NUI Galway insisted there would be “no disaster” in the event of the need for a second bailout. Prof McDonough argued recently in The Irish Times that the treaty made reform less, not more, likely.

“It is the adoption of the budget provisions of the treaty which is risky and dangerously experimental. Change is needed in Europe, but the fiscal treaty strategy is being adopted instead of these needed changes,” he said.

Prof McDonough was speaking at a press conference organised by the Campaign Against Austerity Treaty along with Dr Andy Storey of UCD and Michael Taft of the trade union Unite.

Dr Storey claimed that crucial aspects of Government policy would be taken away from the realm of democratic debate and into the hands of unelected technocrats and judges.

“A major reason for a No vote is to defend democracy…If the treaty is passed, the Government must introduce legislation concerning the ‘structural deficit’ and other aspects of austerity.”

He said if a future Government decided to repeal the legislation, it could be taken to court for altering economic policy.

Mr Taft accused the Government of “cynically raising expectations” of additional stimulus while planning to cut public investment by a third.

“The Government is misleading the public over the issue of how much extra austerity the fiscal treaty will impose on the economy,” he said.

According to the Campaign Against Austerity Treaty website, among the organisations that have signed up to the campaign include: the Communist Party; éirígí; the Peace and Neutrality Alliance; the Peoples Movement; Sinn Fein; the Socialist Party; the Socialist Workers Party; the Workers Party, and the United Left Alliance.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0516/breaking37.html