Guest post by CENAN PIRANI
Though the US has seemingly bounced back from the 2008 financial crisis, southern European countries like Portugal and Greece are currently dealing with debt situations that were once only characteristic of the “developing world”. In order to stabilize their economies after the 2008 crisis these European countries took on a series of IMF and European Central Bank loans in which rates of interest were higher than the countries’ rates of GDP growth, thus stagnating their economies for the foreseeable future.
This situation that currently befalls these countries’ economies was explained by Thomas Piketty in a recent interview he gave for the major Portuguese newspaper, PÚBLICO. Piketty, who has become a prominent public intellectual due to the popularity of his recent work, “Capital in the 21st Century”, was in Portugal this week in order to discuss the economic future of the country with some of its political figures. Besides outlining the problem, he discusses possible courses of action for the countries to release themselves from perpetual debt and austerity. These ideas ironically enough come out of the paths once carved by those now economically dominant countries in the Euro Zone, specifically France and Germany. Continue reading Piketty and the Economic Crisis in the Euro Zone: Cenan Pirani
Is this one of those rare occasions where policymakers self-critically correct a gigantic blunder? Or is it a cold turn-about guided by pure self-interest? On August the 15th, the Foreign Ministers of EU-countries gathered in Brussels and decided that each would henceforth be free to supply arms to Kurdish rebels fighting Sunni extremists of ISIS in the North of Iraq. Even Germany which in the past had been unwilling to furnish military supplies to warring parties in ‘conflict zones’, is now ready to provide armoured vehicles and other hardware to the Kurds opposing ISIS’ advance. The decision of Europe’s Foreign Ministers may surprise some, for barely a year and four months ago, in April of 2013, the European Union had lifted a previously instituted ban on all imports of Syrian oil (1). Moreover, the lifting of this boycott was quite explicitly intended to facilitate the flow of oil from areas in the North-East of Syria, where Sunni extremist rebel organisations had established a strong foothold, if not overall predominance over the region’s oil fields (2). ISIS was not the only Sunni extremist organisation disputing control over Syrian oil fields. Yet there is little doubt but that the fateful decision the EU took last year has helped ISIS consolidate its hold over Syrian oil resources and prepare for a sweeping advance into areas with oil wells in the North of Iraq (3). Continue reading The European Union And The Twin Civil Wars In Syria/Iraq: Peter Custers