Posts Tagged Europe

GERMANY BENEFITS FROM THE EURO IN MAINTAINING ITS TRADE SURPLUS!

Each country’s currency usually reflects it relative economic health!  When a nation runs a trade surplus—selling more of its products overseas, than it buys—it is running a trade surplus.  Foreign buyers, as well as overseas investors, convert their funds to the seller’s currency.  That greater demand, due to net foreign exports, increases the demand for the denominated currency, thus making it stronger.  Conversely, when nations run a trade deficit—buying more overseas than selling—its currency will decline in value.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, told Donald Trump, on his recent trip to several summits in Europe, that Germany continually runs a large trade surplus within the European Union, as well as with the U. S.  I believe that the trade problem, in this case, is primarily due to Germany’s membership in the Euro Area, the 19 (of 28) E. U. members, that use the common currency, the Euro.

The reflection of Germany’s economic health is somewhat muddied since it shares the same currency as 18 other nations.  Under normal conditions (a single-country currency), there is a self-regulating mechanism in foreign trade.  Strong currencies create a price  disadvantage for themselves, making their products more expensive than their overseas competitors.  Likewise, weak currencies help expand trade exports; because, the nation’s products are more attractive, when priced in the weaker currency.

The single Euro currency must be valued the same way, however, by foreign-exchange traders, since it is the unit of exchange for all 19 nations.  For Germany, and any other Eurozone members that run a trade surplus, this provides a perfectly legal advantage–the Euro is weaker than if it used the old Deutschmarks.   The advantage, of using the Euro applies to transactions, both within the E. U. and globally.  And the deficit nations must contend with a high-priced currency.

Accordingly, the Euro trades around the mean (roughly, the average) for the various nations in the Euro Area.  This enables Germany to run a larger surplus than it otherwise would.  And likewise, the negative impact of the stronger currency provides a price disadvantage for nations with weaker economies, that run a trade deficit.

In effect, Germany has maintained a low unemployment rate, 3.9% as of April, as compared to Spain at 17.8%, and Greece at 23.2%, by exporting its unemployment.  Besides the great many benefits of membership in the European Union brings, they far outweigh the negatives.  But, after so many years, the Euro Area needs to be changed, so that the E. U. remains relevant.

The convenience of a single currency—in two-thirds of the member nations—seems to be outweighed by the structural trade imbalance that the euro provides.  And, that problem will never be solved as long as there is a common currency!  Whether a Euro member is weak or strong, the common currency will keep them in that same alignment–and this needs to stop!

NOTE:  Germany is merely taking advantage of an edge that is available to it; however, its actions might not be quite in keeping with the spirit of why the E. U. and the Euro Area were established.

 

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LORD MAYOR SHOWS TRUMP HOW TO BE A LEADER

I read this excellent column, by Solomon Jones, a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, reprinted in The Miami Herald.  It is a fitting response to Donald Trump’s obnoxious behavior, in heckling Sadiq Khan, the Lord Mayor of London, while he is leading his City, during it’s Time of Sorrow.  Realistically, I believe that Mr. Jones has unveiled Donald Trump’s true intentions: No, not America First, his arrogance suggests “Me First!”

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    When three terrorists killed seven people and wounded 48 in the London Bridge terror attack on Saturday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan released a statement expressing grief and resolve. Then he told Londoners they should not be alarmed by an increased police presence.

Shortly afterward, President Trump renewed a monthslong feud between the two men by attacking Khan’s statement via Twitter.

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” Trump tweeted.

That reply — based on the wrongheaded notion that Khan was somehow minimizing the attack — was about more than targeting a man who’d called Trump’s views of Islam “ignorant.” It was a message that is in keeping with Trump’s overall goal.

Trump, after all, wants to ban travelers from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. After federal courts blocked the ban, the Trump administration appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could hear the case this month.

Trump is not waiting for the courts to decide, however. He is attempting to win in the court of public opinion. If that means exploiting the dead in the wake of a London terror attack, he is willing to do so. Perhaps more troubling, Trump is ready to do everything he can to convince us that Muslims — no matter what positions they attain in Western societies — are not to be respected.

Belittling London’s first Muslim mayor on the world stage delivers that message.

Sadiq Khan is a well-respected, British-born Muslim of Pakistani descent. Born to working-class parents in south London, he earned a law degree from the University of North London and climbed the political ladder. He did so even as the British were fashioning the Brexit campaign around the resentment of people who looked and prayed like Khan.

Khan did everything Western society tells brown people to do. He worked hard. He sought an education. He rose through the ranks. He assimilated.

And still, it isn’t enough, because Sadiq Khan is a Muslim, and in the worldview Trump would have us adopt, Khan should be judged on that basis alone.

That kind of prejudice undergirds the very notion of a travel ban, because it assumes that anyone from a particular country who practices a certain faith must have terrorist leanings. It assumes that they inherently possess certain characteristics that make it necessary to treat them differently.

Prejudice feeds the false notion that such people are always dangerous, whether they are employed or unemployed, leaders or followers, doctors or lawyers, councilmen or mayors.

They’re all alike.

That mindset allows us to paint people with the broadest of brushes. I know, because that same mindset allowed America to embrace slavery, Jim Crow and the disproportionate economic and social outcomes that both systems produced.

If we believe they’re all alike, then we can establish a Muslim registry, as Trump suggested on the campaign trail.

If they’re all alike, we can have a “complete and total shutdown of Muslims” coming to the United States, which Trump also said on the campaign trail.

If they’re all alike, it doesn’t matter whether they’re Osama bin Laden or Sadiq Khan. They all have the same intentions. They all walk in lockstep. They all look alike, sound alike and think alike.

So why do I care if Trump peddles this kind of foolishness? Because that’s what America said about my people. Such reasoning was used to justify everything from enslavement to lynching to segregation to murder. And it began with attacking our leaders.

Black luminaries from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama were criticized, demeaned and disrespected, all in an effort to show the world that blacks, no matter their achievements, are unworthy of respect.

I recognize that same mindset in the attempt to ban Muslims from our country. Moreover, I see it in Trump’s apparent effort to demean Khan in front of the world.

Khan is not taking the abuse lying down, nor should he. But seven people were killed in the city he governs, and, as Khan’s staff pointed out after reading several insulting tweets from Trump, Khan has a lot to do right now.

He has to lead.

I only wish our president would stop tweeting long enough to do the same.

Solomon Jones is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may email him at sj@solomonjones.com

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WHEN WE READ, OR SPEAK, OF HOW HORRIFIC THE MURDER OF CHILDREN IS, WHAT DOES THAT ACTUALLY MEAN?

The horror of the terrorist bombing, at last week’s Adriana Grande concert in Manchester, was indeed horrific.  And, as always happens with a young crowd, there were children among those killed.  Before responding to those evil acts, I believe that the British Authorities are currently trying to determine the “Who” and “Why”, before they establish a Plan of Action.  Everything must be analyzed in detail. (Sorry, Donald!)

But, is the life of a child any more valuable than that of:  a young mother, on a night-out, who works to support her young children; the middle-aged husband and father, who teaches in one of the poorest high schools in town; or the retired couple, accompanying their grandchildren?  Is one life worth more than another, especially when our very essence can be snuffed-out at any time…in a flash?

To me, all life is equally important; however, when it is one a yours—a spouse, a son or daughter, a grandchild; obviously you look at death differently.  I truly understand that!  And it doesn’t have to be terrorists to strike at our hearts, and at our very souls.  What did it take the mentally unstable mass murderer, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Connecticut, to execute 20 first graders; or the drive-by gang shooting, taking the life of a little seven year-old girl, playing on her front porch in Miami?

When terrorists use bombs or automatic weapons to kill those who are enjoying life, having fun and not particularly hating anyone, there is no selectivity as to who dies in such attacks.  Consider that there were also a number of Muslims who worked at the World Trade Center, and were killed when Saudi terrorists crashed jetliners into the Twin Towers.  Once again, by such desperate acts, the terrorists merely reflect their own ignorance, hatred and insecurities.

The murder of anyone—regardless of sex, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual preference— is equally horrendous.  I prefer not to point to those of any one group as being particularly saddening, however, because that implies a higher value, to some lives, and perhaps, a lesser importance to others.

And lets’s not kid ourselves:  as a nation, we Americans do not have clean hands.  Just consider how many civilians have been needlessly killed—“collateral damage”, it’s called—in the unnecessary wars in which America has engaged.  Therefore, in a way, we are no better than the terrorists!

NOTES:

#1. I am including a prior post, written just after the Paris Attacks, in November 2015.  In it, there is a marvelous letter, from “Le Monde”, written by the father of an infant, advising his little son—when he grows-up—not to hate the people who killed his mother.   It’s good advice for Britons, and its good advice for us!

#2. I am also including a post, from the “In Saner Thought” blog, which I have recently come across, and follow.  The linked post gave me the idea of placing the terrorist attacks, which caused the deaths of children, into some sort of context.

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TRUST IS VERY IMPORTANT WITH DONALD TRUMP. SO, WHO DOES HE RELY ON FOR TRUSTED ADVICE?

It has often been suggested that Donald Tump has numerous emotional disorders; but, it appears to me that his neurotic behavior is a controlling one.  If you believe him, Donald is perfect and never makes mistakes, and it appears that he always seems to find others to blame for his problems.  Based on the fact that he seems to feel that everyone else is out to get him, he often relies on a very small group of confidents, in whom he can trust!

Just before his first overseas trip, when Donald addressed the graduates of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, he told them:  “Look at the way I’ve been treated, especially by the media.”  He went on to say: ”No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”  Remember that Trump is a man, who has lived his entire life in privilege, and he complains because the media reports the obvious!

Now, since he has somehow stumbled into the highest office in the land, Donald is delusional about non-existed “accomplishments”.  After kowtowing to King Salman, of the Saudi Arabia, one of the two foremost financiers of Islamist Extremism, Trump stopped in Palestine, and then he travelled on to Europe.  There, during several summit conferences, he established himself as being boorish and ignorant. his signature move resulted in his pushing the President of Montenegro, so that he could be front-and-center for the “Class Picture”.

In the extreme delusion, which personifies Trump, he declared that his overseas trip was: “…a Home Run!”  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, suggested that she can no longer feel confident of a European-U. S. Partnership!  Then, upon returning to Washington, Donald announced that he is considering re-shuffling his Staff, in order to stop the leaks.  But, Trump appears to be asking the very leaders of the past disruption to provide the needed cooperation and security.

For a self-proclaimed businessman, Donald Trump seems to rely too much on Jared Kushner for virtually everything.  His 36 year-old son-in-law, Kushner has been involved in negotiation in Lain America and China, he is Trump’s Envoy to Palestine and the Middle East, and let’s not forget his discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, allegedly about establishing a secret communications link.  Oh, and Donald has also tapped Jared to reform the government along business lines.

Might this be a combination of factors:  Donald Trump is too despised by anyone with valid high-level Foreign Affairs experience, to join his Regime; no one in his Inner Circle would dare suggest a highly regarded consulting firm to re-align government, as if that was actually a realistic idea; or Donald Trump really is that dumb?  Personally, I believe that it is a combination of all three. Trump is despised, narrow-minded, and dumb!

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers in Cyprus and Oman.

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DONALD! ON YOUR FIRST TRIP OVERSEAS—ESPECIALLY MEETING WITH ALLIES IN EUROPE—YOUR PERFORMANCE WAS TRULY DISGRACEFUL

Let me break it down for you:

1.  Remember that comment about Germany selling cars here?  Well, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen all have auto plants in the U. S., and they employee American workers.  As a self-proclaimed “Businessman”, you ought to realize that it is more cost-effective to manufacture the Supply, when it comes to heavy industry, near where the Demand is!

2.  There should absolutely not be any pushing and shoving—as you did to the President of Montenegro—in getting to your pre-assigned photo-op places.  I realize that you always like to be “In-Front”; but, in this case, everyone was also a Head of State.  So, be civil next time!

3.  Surely, a number of the NATO Allies have not adequately been funding their respective Defense Budgets, at two percent of GDP, as agreed upon!  But, you have to stop lying that they owe it to the American People.  Donald, with your various absurd health care proposals, you have already shown how much YOU care for the American People.  HA! When a Nation underfunds its own budget, regardless as to whether it was Defense or not—it would only be underfunding itself!  And thus, they would owe nothing to America, or its people!

4.  I wish that there was such as thing as “The European Union—for Idiots”; because, I would be happy to send you a copy!  When you meet a group—in this case, it was members of the European Union—it is just common sense to, at least, know something about them—and how they function.  By the way, it certainly was foolish on your part to attack Germany for its Trade Surplus; because, the E. U. negotiates trade policy as one unified bloc–even with the U. S!  (In fact, there has already been some discussion, within the E. U., about Germany’s trade surplus with its European neighbors.)

5.  Lastly, Donald, you showed no tact whatsoever, when you spoke at a NATO Memorial, for those who died in the 9/11 Attacks on the U. S., and you specifically harped on the underfunding of NATO Defense Budgets.  That, Donald, was neither the time, nor the place!

Frankly, Donald, I feel very embarrassed every time I see you on TV; but, it was certainly even more horrendous, watching you act like a boorish clod, while you were traveling overseas, this past week.

NOTE:  Welcome to my readers in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15c4b1f58f4797b5

 

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WHY DOES RUSSIA SEEM TO CARE SO MUCH ABOUT THE FRENCH ELECTION?

As I write this, it is already early Sunday morning in France, on the day of the Final Round of the French Presidential Election.  The candidates from the two major parties have been eliminated, and the 2017 Presidential Election will choose between: Marion Anne “Marine” Le Pen, of Ultra-Right “Le Front National”, against Emmanuel (Jean-Michel Frederic) Macron of the Centrist “En Marche!” Party.

The Russian cyber-prints seem to be all over the French Election, as was the case in the     U. S., Germany and perhaps elsewhere in Europe.  Unlike Donald Trump, however, who sent his “Special Advisors” to meet with the Russians, Madam Le Pen made a personal visit to President Vladimir Putin, and even had her photograph taken with him.   So, why does Russia care about the French Election?

President Putin seems to have two major problems with the Atlantic Alliance, which includes:  Canada; the U. S; and Europe.  Following the implosion of he Soviet Union, some of it’s former Soviet satellites either claimed independence, or joined NATO and/or the European Union.  Additionally, when Russia annexed Crimea, and began interfering in Eastern Ukraine, the Alliance toughened its economic sanctions on Russia.

The sanctions have greatly hindered Russia’s trade:  either for importing goods that its economy needs; or selling its exports—primarily oil and gas—to acquire necessary dollars, or other reserve currencies.  The Russian economy, which had never diversified much beyond the energy sector, was further devastated when the price of oil—its major cash source—was cut in half, on local markets, from the $90 per barrel three years ago.

Although Monsieur Macron appears favored to win; as we saw in the U. S. Election, strange things can happen.  If Marine Le Pen were to become President, and her avowed Referendum to leave the E. U. were successful, that would mean that two of the three major economies—and largest nations—would be gone.

Also, a FRexit would be even worse than Britain leaving, since breaking-up the 19 member Euro, the common currency, would cause even more of an upheaval—both for France and the E. U.  At that point, losing 30% of the trade pact’s GDP—between France and U. K., would certainly cause the relevance of the E. U. to come into question.  And then, nations that leave, as they look for trading options, might begin to cozy-up to Russia and, thus, reduce the impact of the economic sanctions.

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WHO CARES FOR THE DEAD AT NORMANDY (Re-sent from June 5, 2014)

Last night, as I was turning-off my computer, I noticed that one of my visitors had read the following post, from the eve of the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.  That Landing turned the tide in World War II.   Afterward, the Allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, worked so hard to create an everlasting Alliance, which has promoted Peace through Economic Cooperation ever since.

I wish that Donald Trump, and like-minded demagogues, across the Atlantic, would visit Normandy, sit on that bench (mentioned in the poetic Reuters article) and reflect on what might have been–if the Allies had lost that War!

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Many of the Western Leaders will gather at Normandy, France this Friday to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Landings, by American, British and Canadian Forces, on June 6, 1944. Those Landings–at a considerable loss of Young Lives–turned the tide in World War II. The Survivors from that Fateful Day–at least those who can still travel–will be there, as well. Since they are now in their 90s, however, this will probably be their last chance to commemorate that Day–and honor their fallen comrades.

The linked article, by Alexandria Sage, from Reuters, provides a touching description of what goes on at the several Cemeteries (American, British and Canadian), day-in, and day-out. Although this article is specific to the American Cemetery, the same care and devotion is given the burial places of the other Allied Heroes, as well.  Be sure to read this most touching, poetic story:   http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/30/us-d-day-cemetery-idUSKBN0EA1CH20140530,

As I read Ms. Sage’s article, it makes me think of those splendid words from President Abraham Lincoln’s speech at Gettysburg, Pa., some eighty years before, when he said: “…The World will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but can never forget what they did here…” The story of the successive generations of French who have cared for the Gravesides is quite enthralling, and reflects the love and devotion which they provide.

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