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The ECB attempts to stymie the financial market crisis

The ECB attempts to stymie the  financial market  crisis

 

The crisis of confidence affecting American mortgages has spread to the Old Continent. The French bank BNP Paribas triggered doubts when it suspended withdrawals from three investment funds in the United States on Thursday, August 9th. The European Central Bank (ECB) has made an emergency intervention, injecting almost 95 billion euros into the financial system. Will this be enough to stop the panic? » more

With articles from the following publications:
La Libre Belgique - Belgium, El Mundo - Spain, Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany, La Stampa - Italy

La Libre Belgique - Belgium

The editorialist Bernard Slits is surprised by the wave of panic washing over the markets. "Is this as case of irrationality, of mass hysteria or primal fear?  Only the future will tell, but what is striking right now is the inability of the planet's big bankers, notably America's Federal Reserve and it's European equivalent  (ECB) to find the words and gestures necessary to appease anxiety. Today, markets are literally laying down the law. There are no bumpers or shock absorbers for the bumps and the growing influence of investment funds will not reverse the tendency. The crisis in confidence appears to be deep, structural. ... There is however no great danger for global growth and no reason to think that the stock exchange will not remain an attractive option in the long term, so long is we make it through the tremors, even the most difficult." (10/08/2007)

El Mundo - Spain

"The first institutional sign indicating that we might be approaching the end of a long cycle of economic growth was given by the ECB yesterday", explains the paper. "The ECB's massive injection of funds is aimed to calm markets and help banks deal with their liquidity problems. But this same ECB yesterday admitted in a press release that we are going through 'a nervous period marked by the increased volatility' of money markets. It also made a series of recommendations that imply a fear of a radical drop in economic growth. International stock markets a the first to reflect this uncertainty... . We now have to wait and see how the situation evolves over the next few days. But no one should overlook the red lights that have begun to flash in the middle of the summer." (10/08/2007)

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

"The European Central Bank has sent two entirely contradictory messages," Helga Einecke writes. On the one hand it announced a rise in the base rate in its monthly report for September. On the other it has given financial markets a record money injection in the short term. Einecke points out that this is not in fact a contradiction but the right policy given the current situation. She explains: "In the medium term, meaning over the next one or two years, it wants to take money off the markets because it fears that the liquidity which still abounds in Europe could boost inflation. The ECB has taken the right course of action by giving the nervous players on financial markets a sedative without forgetting its medium-term goal: stable prices for consumers. Moreover, it's good that the financial markets have been forewarned for the month of September and therefore won't get any nasty surprises." (10/08/2007)

La Stampa - Italy

Carlo Bastasin, assistant chief editor of the daily, considers "the ECB's reaction to the crisis that hit Wall Street yesterday was right and convincing. This was a choice that reassures the financial market while showing great stability in Europe. It also allows the ECB to gain clout in relation to the Fed [Central American bank]. ... It is this need for stability that should encourage the penalisation of the risky behaviour of BNP-Paribas, IKB or Banca Italease. There is an epidemic of financial products being sold to clients without informing them of the risks they involve. Not all banks are the same and this crisis an opportunity to distinguish between them. ... For BNP-Paribas, Paris is expected not to react. [The French] Jean-Claude Trichet [president of the  ECB] thus has an opportunity to show his autonomy by hitting the French bank that yesterday shook world finances." (10/08/2007)

REFLECTIONS

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Le Monde Diplomatique - France

Noam Chomky demands absolute freedom of expression

The American intellectual Noam Chomsky considers that in Europe, "freedom of expression is defined in a very restrictive manner." Interviewed by Daniel Mermet, he develops this notion. "In my opinion, the essential question is whether the State has the right to determine what historical truth is and punish anyone who strays from it? An affirmative answer is utterly Stalinist. French intellectuals have a hard time admitting that this is how they are inclined. And yet ... The State should not have the right to punish anyone who believes the sun goes round Earth. There is something very elementary about freedom of expression: either you defend it in the case of opinions you abhor, or you don't defend it at all. ... There is something distressing and scandalous about having to debate these questions two centuries after Voltaire declared: 'I will defend my opinions to my dying day, but will die for you to be able to defend yours'." (01/08/2007)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Robert Misik on politically active intellectuals

In an essay published by the New York Times, renowned intellectual and left-wing liberal politician Michael Ignatieff expressed regret that he initially supported the war in Iraq. Robert Misik says he can't understand why Ignatieff makes the distinction between thinking intellectuals and acting politicians in his essay. "Admittedly, the new politically active intellectual is more an intellectual politician. Ideally, he knows more than the average politician about the complex nature of the world and the aporia of social systems, but unlike 'pure' intellectuals at the end of the day he will make a decision, as a commentator and as an advisor. He is no doubt subject to a different set of incentives and an entirely different type of pressure than a politician, but at the end of the day the two roles aren't that different from each other... Those who make decisions can't rule out mistakes. However, the consequences are different. The intellectual makes a fool of himself at worst, whereas if everything goes wrong for the politician he may end up destroying his career. However, at least they survive. Unfortunately, the same doesn't always apply to the objects of the mistake - sometimes they die." (10/08/2007)

Revista 22 - Romania

Stéphane Courtois on the truly false revolution

In an interview with Rodica Palade, French historian Stéphane Courtois, publisher of the "Black Book of Communism," analyses the different forms of communism and its decline in Europe. "I know that many won't like me describing the Romanian revolution of 1989 as a false revolution. The truth is that there never was an authentic national uprising. But the revolution was false because the uprising was engineered by the communists, and this robbed it of its authenticity. At the time there was a group in Romania with close ties to the KGB, which had cleverly managed to wriggle its way into power. Ion Iliescu [president of Romania following Ceauescu's fall] was also a member of that group... This group was responsible for the events back then, however its objective was to bring about the downfall of Ceausescu only, not the entire system." (10/08/2007)

POLITICS

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The Irish Times - Ireland

Sarkozy's immoral deal with Gaddafi

Lara Marlowe is an American journalist and Paris correspondent for the Irish daily. She argues that Nicolas Sarkozy did an immoral deal with Muammar Gaddafi to release Bulgarian medics and help France's business interests. "The Elysee has refused to divulge the exact terms of the agreement ... Sarkozy has also promised to sell a civil nuclear reactor to Libya, ostensibly to operate a desalination plant. ... Civil nuclear co-operation projects have a sorry history. They led to nuclear weapons programmes in India and Pakistan, to crises with North Korea and Iran, and war in Iraq. Yet Sarkozy wants to sell French reactors across north Africa. ... During his campaign, Sarkozy claimed he would establish 'an irreproachable republic'. The word 'transparency' appears repeatedly in his draft law on institutional reform. Yet Sarkozy bypassed the EU in negotiations and muddled responsibilities in France by using his wife Cecilia as an intermediary, cutting out his foreign minister." (10/08/2007)

Dagens Nyheter - Sweden

Blockage of Internet content

The newspaper warns that Internet filters like those currently under discussion within the EU could pave the way for widespread censorship. "In Denmark and Sweden Internet providers are blocking sites with child pornography content, while in Germany Google is blocking Nazi homepages. But other institutions want to go even further. Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner for Justice, wants to all block sites that show how to build bombs, and five EU parliamentarians have called for a resolution which would make Internet providers responsible for stopping the spread of racism online. Sweden and the EU need politicians with the courage to protest against this control mania - not only in China but also in Europe. Filters are a dangerous tool because they open up possibilities for the arbitrary condemnation of all that is offensive, damaging or illegal." (10/08/2007)

Jyllands-Posten - Denmark

Opposition to the building of new mosques

In several European countries people take a critical view of the construction of new mosques, the newspaper writes, and attempts to explain this attitude: "Just a couple of years ago the prevalent view was that if a religious community financed the construction of a religious building with its own means then it was just like any other building. This has changed. Among other things, the Muhammad cartoons and their consequences have opened many people's eyes: the opposition to mosques is not directed against the buildings themselves, but is rather a symptom of a series of problems and confrontations which people have come to associate with the building. In other words it's about a clash of cultures, and for many Europeans the construction of large mosques... symbolises a threat to their culture and the values it is based on." (10/08/2007)

Times of Malta - Malta

Maltese nationality in a globalised world

The Maltese daily welcomes recent amendments to Malta's Citizenship Act allowing second and subsequent generations of Maltese who were born abroad to apply for citizenship. "Ireland, Poland, Italy and tiger economies like India and China have seen the managerial involvement and considerable direct financial and intellectual investment of earlier migrants to the United States now returning to give something back to their country of origin - to the latter's great benefit. In Malta's case we might see these new citizens, now equipped with a Maltese and EU passport, being more inclined to think about investing their know-how and their money in the Maltese economy. For the same reason, Malta stands to profit from the possibility of increased opportunities for cross-fertilisation in arenas such as culture and sport. ... In a globalised world, and with national barriers in Europe increasingly being dismantled, a more liberal interpretation of Maltese citizenship and nationality makes sense." (09/08/2007)

ECONOMY

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Postimees - Estonia

The opening of Germany's labour market

Germany is currently discussing whether to open its labour market to Eastern European workers who are EU members before 2009 in a bid to remedy the current lack of skilled labour. The newspaper points out that there's a lack of skilled labour in Eastern Europe, too. "Hundreds of thousands have left Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and it's only thanks to salary increases that this trend has been stopped in Estonia. Nonetheless, nowadays everyone knows how difficult it is to find qualified workmen because so many have left the country in search of better pay. Therefore it's highly unlikely that Germany will witness a wave of mass immigration from Estonia. The opening up of the German labour market is rather a small but logical step towards the harmonisation of Europe's single market." (10/08/2007)

CULTURE

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New Statesman - United Kingdom

The enduring spirit of auteur cinema

Film critic Ryan Gilbey says that the recent deaths of 20th century art-house cinema icons do not spell the end of the auteur. "It's more a case of being inundated with evidence of the enduring spirit of Bergman, Antonioni and their contemporaries than having to hunt for it. Antonioni's influence is palpable in the work of Carlos Reygadas ('Japón', 'Battle in Heaven') and Todd Haynes ('Safe'), and in Gus Van Sant's extraordinary trilogy of 'Gerry', 'Elephant' and 'Last Days'. Robert Bresson has inspired exceptional work by the Dardenne brothers and Bruno Dumont. ... And how can anyone feel despondent about cinema when Wong Kar-Wai, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Aleksandr Sokurov, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Michael Haneke and Pen-ek Ratanaruang are all in regular employment? Or when Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's wonderfully wise 'Daratt' is out in British cinemas, with Pascale Ferran's 'Lady Chatterley' also opening here this month?" (09/08/2007)

Woxx - Luxembourg

The essence of art under threat from the quest for consensus

The town of Luxemburg, along with Sibiu in Romania, is this year's EU capital of culture. The exhibitions organised to mark this occasion have disappointed Luc Caregari. "Take, for example, 'All We Need', in Belval's disaffected metal works. It is basically just a slightly megalomaniac illustration of somewhat tacky third world theories. It is also a most pertinent illustration of the mind-set of this cultural year's creators that aims to moralise the public while distracting it, not offending it and maintaining consensus. ... This exhibition is frustrating for anyone who expected any revelations. But let's face it: no one ever goes to an exhibition to be unsettled, though that is precisely what art should do. ... Those who direct our cultural institutions all belong to a certain generation - 1968 - and are mainly looking for public consensus. They say yes to something informative, but no to anything that might shock the public, the minister and above all the sponsors." (10/08/2007)

Polityka - Poland

Misty art in Warsaw

By first placing an artificial palm tree at a crossroads and then creating an "oxygenator pond" at Grzybowski Square, artist Joanna Rajkowska is turning familiar sites in Warsaw into exotic places. With the aid of special devices, the pond releases air bubbles and puffs of mist into the atmosphere. Two civic action groups are now campaigning for the pond to remain where it is instead of being dismantled at the end of September, as planned. Piotr Sarzynski praises the project: "The significance of this work of art did not emerge at the moment of its completion but only in the course of its existence and interaction with its environment. Such works of art aid the creation of positive, spontaneous connections. The artist believes people isolate themselves in capsules in everyday life; that they barricade themselves off and are afraid of the unknown. With her projects she tries to break open these capsules." (08/08/2007)

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