Friday, April 27, 2012

You need to make summer vacation plans. Europe or America always enters your mind as possible destinations. The problem these days is that everything is so expensive that you don’t know if it is worth going anywhere. Why should I pay inflated prices for anything everywhere? Why is the western world such a mess? Do I have to go to China to find reasonable prices for anything?
Well, the United States economy seems to be picking up. The stock market is up and the job situation is slowly becoming manageable. Even the car companies like Chrysler are doing well and paying their loans back. However, there is a debt crisis going on in Europe now that is stirring up riots similar to what we saw everywhere happening in the Middle East. A recession is also sweeping across the continent.
It is similar to the financial crises that leveled us in 2008 except in Europe, it is not only the banks that are in danger of collapse but entire countries. You would think that there are only few things that can really change your lives. Greece has already defaulted on more than $100 Billion dollars of public debt. The numbers are so large it is too difficult to even reasonably think of a way to pay back.
Ireland and Portugal have needed massive bailouts to stay solvent. They are heading the same way as Greece. Italy and Spain are just hanging on. The Euro Union s turning out to be a very Imperfect Economic Union. At stake is the survival of the European Currency. It took a lot of courage for all these countries to give up something so personal to their heritage as their currency. And now to be witnessing the value of their universal Euro Dollar failing can be a awful reality to such proud countries rich in grand history.
Why should we care about Europe’s economic problems? Well, one very important reason is that Europe is America’s largest trading partner. We import and export more goods and services to Europe than any other region. The European Union has all the characteristics as one nation might have with all its various states only it involves various countries with all its various customs, languages and traditions.
They have voted and spent so much money on the success of the Union that it has its own flag, its own anthem, its own parliament and its own currency; the Euro Dollar. The paper money or currency is shared by 17 of its 27 members. It is a loose economic alliance of countries and customs that have more or less been at war with each other at various times for the past 1,000 years.
Until recently their monetary union had brought stability and prosperity to the continent’s social democracys. Yes, for a change in history Europe is not at war with Europe. The Union also brought good wages, generous benefits and long vacations to the people because they protest and they receive. The European holiday is nice but doesn’t produce more money for the countries.
Louise Cooper, a top financial analyist in London says the European holiday is over. The Europeans are in a debt crisis. The people there are living beyond their means much like the Americans did when we all had 6 to 10 credit cards and managed to max out all of them. After 10 years of booming economic times, we are all paying back our credit cards and it is proving to be very painful for the consumer and very profitable for the credit card companies.
So, as a result 10 European countries are already in a recession. In Spain where the unemployment rate is 23% there have been general strikes and civil unrest. In other words, riots everywhere. In France , three of its largest financial institutions were almost insolvent; Credit Agricole, Generale and BNP Paribas until the World Bank came to their rescue with more than a trillion dollars in easy credit to shore up the system.
Seven European countries have changed leadership because of the crisis and one country, Greece , defaulted on a 133 Billion Dollar debt. This is an extraordinary event in history. A member of one of the most important countries in the Euro Alliance can’t pay its bills. A Western developed country has defaulted. We haven’t seen that since 1940 when Italy did it in the second World War when it refused to pay its enemies.
The European Finance minister is worried that the same fate will happen to Ireland, Portugal, Spin and Italy which are already in crisis and are loosing the confidence of international investors who bankroll their debts. So, where do you want to go on vacation? I think I’ll stay home.

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