Bank of Cyprus to cut 30% off deposits over €100,000
March 25, 2013

Depositors in the Bank of Cyprus, the biggest bank on the island, will reportedly lose 30 percent on their holdings above 100,000 euros, the chairman of the Cypriot parliamentary finance committee said on Monday.

"I haven’t heard a formal announcement about the haircut, but this is the figure I heard," Irish radio quotes Nicholas Papadopoulos as saying.

At dawn on Monday, Cyprus and the troika of international backers reached agreement on a €10bn bailout plan, aimed at preventing the bankruptcy of the island’s financial system and the country’s exit from the Eurozone. Under the plan the depositors in Bank of Cyprus will be compensated with equity in the bank, while Laiki Bank, which is the island’s second largest financial institution, will be closed down.

Those with deposits under 100,000 euros in both banks will continue to enjoy the protection of the state’s guarantees, after an earlier proposal to impose a 6.75% tax on them provoked anger.

Banks are due to reopen on Tuesday, however, withdrawal limits will be imposed to avoid a run of capital.

Source

Richard Wolff comes back to PBS’ Bill Moyers for Part II
March 23, 2013

Richard Wolff on Cypress:

Absolutely! That Cypress story is extremely important.

Even though it’s a very small country and people might not pay attention because it’s so small. Here is the austerity program of raising taxes and cutting government spending, taking a qualitative new step: to help bail out a capitalism that hasn’t worked in Europe and that has crippled this little country of Cypress. The step taken to try and fix the problem is to literally reach into the private insured bank accounts of people in the local banks in Cypress and take money out of it to pay for fixing this broken system.

For all working people, not just in Europe in the United States and the rest of the world too, this should be a wakeup call if you still need one.

We’re in a situation where the most dire, unexpected, unimaginable steps are being taken to fix (capitalism) a system that keeps resisting being fixed so that we are required now to dip into people’s checking accounts and literally TAKE the money.

Q: Student loan debts are overwhelming me and many others. What does Professor Wolff think would happen to the economy if those debts could be forgiven under personal bankruptcy? Is that even possible?

Well the law in the United States specifically prevents you from using bankruptcy to erase your student loans. Bankruptcy does allow you to erase other kinds of debts but the student loan system was set up to prevent that – so students are in an especially bad place by virtue of this.

In our history as a country, we’ve never before done this. We’ve never required college students to take anything remotely like this kind of debt. We’re requiring students to acquire HUGE amounts of debt just to get bachelor’s degrees, let alone more advanced degrees at the same time that we offer the graduates the poorest job market & prospects in a generation. That’s a one, two punch. You have to borrow more than you can afford to face a job that will not allow you to ever pay it off. Hence this person’s very intelligent question – how is this going to work?

We’ve solved a problem in our society – how to educate the next generation – and let me tell you this is a very important matter. We economists believe that the single most important factor shaping the future of any economy in the world, including the United States, is the quality and quantity of the educated, trained labor force that it produces. Colleges and Universities are where we do that. But if we’re crippling an entire generation with debts they cannot support and jobs that will not encourage them to continue in their studies, we are as a nation, shooting ourselves in the foot going forward. It’s a demonstration of the dysfunctionality of our system.

And then the question comes, could we forgive our student’s debts? Well, it’s an interesting idea. But how do you go to the people who can’t afford their credit card debts or their mortgage debts, they’re all hurting. And the students have a special claim – I acknowledge that. We need those students – I understand it. But we have to go to the root of a society that allows unspeakable wealth to accumulate in the hands of a tiny minority, while condemning an entire generation of students to a set of burdens. We don’t want them to have those burdens; we need what they can produce for our society.

Moyers: But what does this young woman do who says that she is overwhelmed by her debt?

Many students are not aware that they actually have some ways to help them.

But the more broad answer is that you need a social movement. If there were masses of students saying “this is intolerable,” saying it loudly and saying it publicly – peacefully for sure, but making it clear…then the powers that be would begin to realize that there are millions of students (upward of 15-16 million people going to colleges & universities in the United States). You’re talking about a well-educated constituency that, if they were organized and mobilized, you would begin to get the response of dealing with their crisis more effectively than what we have now. 

Watch the video of the entire Part II interview here.

Read more about Wolff’s organization to combat capitalism here.  

Follow that organization on Tumblr here.

Cypriot “no” inspires Greeks to rail against austerity
March 20, 2013

Greeks and opposition parties inspired by the Cypriot rejection of an unpopular bailout deal urged Athens on Wednesday to stand up to foreign lenders whose demands have resulted in repeated rounds of austerity that have made Greek life a misery.

Cyprus’s parliament on Tuesday rejected a levy on bank deposits demanded in return for aid, raising the spectre of a default for the island nation that could mean enduring wave after wave of spending cuts and tax rises, just like Greece.

"See what Cyprus did? We are proud of them," said Fey Papadopoulou, 22, a university student. "They should be an example for our politicians, who have succumbed to every demand."

Cyprus pleaded with Russia on Wednesday for a five-year extension and lower interest on an existing 2.5 billion euro ($3.22 billion) loan and 5 billion euros in new loans after voting down euro zone plan for a 10 billion euro bailout.

"The Cypriots set an example to follow," left-leaning Eleftherotypia said in its leading editorial. "How can the Cypriots say ‘no’ and we can’t even reject a single property tax?", ran a headline on Greek television channel Antenna.

Greece which first sought aid from European Union and the International Monetary Fund in 2010, has yielded to demands for harsh austerity measures that have slashed household income by almost a third and sent unemployment up to a record 26 percent.

"Cyprus said ‘No’ on our behalf too," said Odysseas Panagiotou, a 45-year old clerk. "It’s about time that our traitors - politicians - say a big ‘No’ to the troika demands."

The “no” vote from Nicosia comes just days before Athens and its lenders resume delicate talks on the implementation of the country’s bailout, with creditors pushing Athens to respect past pledges to fire civil servants and stick to unpopular tax rises.

Merkel’s Strategy

Whether Athens - which in the past has ignored riots and mass protests to approve austerity packages and avert bankruptcy - will be swayed by the latest outcry depends on whether Cyprus ends up bankrupt or finds a solution elsewhere, analysts said.

"If Cyprus goes bankrupt, then the government’s argument that we must stay on the austerity path will be reinforced, but if it wins better bailout terms the main opposition’s arguments will be stronger," said Thomas Gerakis, head of Marc pollsters.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government - which has been scrambling to assure Greeks that their bank deposits are not at risk due to the Cypriot crisis - said late on Tuesday it supported Cyprus’s choices.

But Greece’s anti-bailout opposition, including the radical leftist Syriza party, rushed to accuse him and Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras of bowing to the austerity demands of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"After the Cypriots’ proud ‘no’, Mr. Samaras and Mr. Stournaras are the most faithful adherents of Ms. Merkel’s strategy," said a statement from Syriza, Greece’s most popular party according to a MARC/Alpha survey published on Tuesday.

"The Cypriot parliament shows the way of real negotiation, which no pro-bailout government in Greece even considered."

Syriza also interpreted a statement late on Tuesday by the European Central Bank to continue funding Cypris banks within existing rules, as a sign of weakness on the part of creditors.

"And just like that, we found out that another way is possible," Syriza deputy Rena Dourou tweeted a few minutes after the ECB statement was release.

Source

Greek seamen & farmers protest government cuts, reforms
February 3, 2013

Greek seamen extended a strike to protest government austerity for a further 48 hours on Sunday, meaning that dozens of islands will have been cut off from the mainland for six days.

Farmers also briefly disrupted traffic on several major motorways across Greece in the latest wave of protest over budget cuts and labour reform that is needed to satisfy international lenders.

Greece’s biggest labour union has called a general 24-hour strike for Feb. 20.

The seamen are demanding months of unpaid wages and the repeal of a draft law that weakens their union by introducing a new employment contract between shipowners and crew.

"The law wipes out the seamens’ profession and all the rules underpinning it," PNO union said.

The strike, which started on Thursday, has begun causing shortages on grocery shelves and is hindering agricultural exports to the Balkans and beyond, the Athens Central Vegetable Market Association said in a statement.

The farmers disrupted traffic with sit-ins and by distributing free rice to drivers, to protest tax increases that form part of the country’s bailout.

"We have no choice but to go on, we’re on the brink of desperation," one farmer told state television NET. Greece’s latest austerity package mandates lower tax refunds and fuel subsidies for farmers and increases the social security contributions they must pay.

The Greek government is holding talks with the protesters but refuses to budge on any demands that might undermine its deficit cutting efforts, a condition of bailout funds and debt relief from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Greece last month invoked rarely used emergency powers to break a strike of subway workers, serving military-style orders instructing them to return to work or face arrest.

Austerity has fuelled social unrest and extremism. Police on Friday arrested two bank robbers who turned out to be members of left-wing extremist group “Conspiracy of Fire Cells”, which has claimed a spate of bomb attacks across the country since 2009.

"Golden Dawn", an ultra-right, anti-immigrant party which ranks third in the opinion polls, staged its biggest rally ever in Athens late on Saturday, mustering about 5,000 supporters.

Source

Anti-Austerity Anger: Greeks take to streets in light of new cuts

September 8, 2012

Thousands have taken to the streets throughout Greece to protest the drastic budget cuts proposed by the government.

In Athens some 2,000 pensioners marched through the city to protest newly introduced pension cuts.

It was announced that those who earn more than 1,000 euros a month will have 10 percent of their pensions axed. This is despite a 25 per cent cut over the last two years.

"They have cut our pensions into little pieces. They’ve imposed an unfair property tax, other taxes, taxes on petrol, the supermarkets are expensive. They have squeezed the life out of us, they’ve disgraced us," a pensioner told AP.

Saturday’s protests in Athens, which also included trade unionists, caused severe disruptions to traffic. Major roads in the downtown area were also blocked to weekend traffic.

Meanwhile, several demonstrations are taking place in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The largest one is by military and police personnel, who protest wage cuts.

The streets were decorated with banners reading “Solidarity” and “Overthrow” as protesters marched, AP reported.

On Monday the country’s Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, is expected to meet with Troika senior austerity inspectors, who are to decide whether the country is to be given a long-awaited 31 billion euro rescue loan.

In order to secure the rescue package the Greek government is to introduce another round of austerity measures that Samaras himself called painful and unjust, but necessary.

­Many people in Greece think that the country has suffered enough already from being in the Euro, while they are only being offered more of the same, William Dartmouth, MEP from the UK Independence Party told RT.

“The political establishment in these countries always tends to be in favor of more Euro and people are basically against it, because it is not in their interest,” he asserted.

“What we are watching is a slow-motion train crash which also could endanger the entire world economy,” Dartmouth concluded.

Source

French Parliamentary Elections Go to Hollande’s Socialists
June 17, 2012
French President Francois Hollande’s Socialists won an absolute parliamentary majority on Sunday, strengthening his hand as he presses Germany to support debt-laden euro zone states hit by austerity cuts and ailing banks.
The Socialist bloc secured between 296 and 320 seats in the parliamentary election runoff, according to reliable projections from a partial vote count, comfortably more than the 289 needed for a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly.
The result means Hollande won’t need to rely on the environmentalist Greens, projected to win 20 seats, or the Communist-dominated Left Front, likely to have just 10 deputies, to pass laws. The centre-left already controls the upper house of parliament, the Senate.
Source
Follow thepeoplesrecord.com for more news on June 17, 2012 for election results in important elections today in Greece, France and Egypt.

French Parliamentary Elections Go to Hollande’s Socialists

June 17, 2012

French President Francois Hollande’s Socialists won an absolute parliamentary majority on Sunday, strengthening his hand as he presses Germany to support debt-laden euro zone states hit by austerity cuts and ailing banks.

The Socialist bloc secured between 296 and 320 seats in the parliamentary election runoff, according to reliable projections from a partial vote count, comfortably more than the 289 needed for a majority in the 577-seat National Assembly.

The result means Hollande won’t need to rely on the environmentalist Greens, projected to win 20 seats, or the Communist-dominated Left Front, likely to have just 10 deputies, to pass laws. The centre-left already controls the upper house of parliament, the Senate.

Source

Follow thepeoplesrecord.com for more news on June 17, 2012 for election results in important elections today in Greece, France and Egypt.

Movement in Italy following the lead of protesters in Greece
June 16, 2012
Italy’s prime minister has “warned” that he is fending off economic disaster and insists that he must assault the working poor and unemployed as a result but tens of thousands of unionists, activists and regular citizen protesters have followed the situation in Greece closely and refuse to accept austerity attacks. They have taken to the streets in thousands to oppose the brutal austerity measures. 


"We stepped away from the precipice before, but the hole is growing bigger and it may swallow us up. We are again in a crisis," Monti said in Milan on Saturday, trying to threaten his own citizens if they don’t allow him to steal all of their social benefits. 

Monti took over from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011. He inherited a recession and has done everything in his power since to protect Italy’s rich and to create a living hell for the working poor of Italy. Monti has passed tough austerity packages that protect his rich friends and create suffering for the masses. 
-R.Cunningham

Movement in Italy following the lead of protesters in Greece

June 16, 2012

Italy’s prime minister has “warned” that he is fending off economic disaster and insists that he must assault the working poor and unemployed as a result but tens of thousands of unionists, activists and regular citizen protesters have followed the situation in Greece closely and refuse to accept austerity attacks. They have taken to the streets in thousands to oppose the brutal austerity measures.

"We stepped away from the precipice before, but the hole is growing bigger and it may swallow us up. We are again in a crisis," Monti said in Milan on Saturday, trying to threaten his own citizens if they don’t allow him to steal all of their social benefits.

Monti took over from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011. He inherited a recession and has done everything in his power since to protect Italy’s rich and to create a living hell for the working poor of Italy. Monti has passed tough austerity packages that protect his rich friends and create suffering for the masses.

-R.Cunningham