Saturday, January 31, 2009

Depth of Economic Downturn in Europe Spurs Large Protests

The UK Guardian is reporting that thousands of Europeans in capitals from Paris to Riga to Kiev are taking to the streets to protest the massive unemployment stemming from the economic recession. Millions of East Europeans, tired of Stalinist repression and economic stagnation, were lured to the glittery dreams of the capitalist West. Now, things aren't looking so good.

But even in the big Western states, things are not looking so good. While the U.S. population remains quiescent, placing their hopes in the new Obama administration, American bankers hauled in their sixth-largest year of bonuses, nearly $20 billion, for administering the greatest financial disaster since the 1930s. Some of this money came from taxpayers dollars for the bank bailout. Obama bristled, but nothing will stop this ongoing transfer of wealth to the very richest, all while the official unemployment figures are over 11 million, and growing by 100,000 leaps and bounds.

Meanwhile, in France, the Sarkozy government is so so afraid of their own people -- rioters are busting up the streets of Paris, while a million workers are now on strike -- that they won't even release their latest unemployment figures out of fear of raising even more angry dissent. In Iceland, riot police patrol Reykjavik, and the old government has been forced from power.

But according to the Guardian, it's in the Eastern European countries where the dissatisfaction, and the economic disaster runs deepest:
The old Baltic trading city {Riga] had seen nothing like it since the happy days of kicking out the Russians and overthrowing communism two decades ago. More than 10,000 people converged on the 13th-century cathedral to show the Latvian government what they thought of its efforts at containing the economic crisis. The peaceful protest morphed into a late-night rampage as a minority headed for the parliament, battled with riot police and trashed parts of the old city. The following day there were similar scenes in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital next door.

After Iceland, Latvia looks like the most vulnerable country to be hammered by the financial and economic crisis. The EU and IMF have already mounted a €7.5bn (£6.6bn) rescue plan but the outlook is the worst in Europe.

The biggest bank in the Baltic, Swedbank of Sweden, yesterday predicted a slump this year in Latvia of a whopping 10%, more than double the previous projections....

A balance of payments crisis last autumn, heavy indebtedness and a disastrous budget made Hungary the first European candidate for an international rescue. The $26bn (£18bn) IMF-led bail-out shows scant sign of working. Industrial output is at its lowest for 16 years, the national currency - the forint - sank to a record low against the euro yesterday and the government also announced another round of spending cuts yesterday.

1 comment:

Sheilanagig said...

Good info. It is really a good thing in a way because scarcity is waking people up. Not that I wish any to suffer.

I am delighted about people being able to demand that govt serve their well being and be accountable.

God only knows how it will affect the Lisbon Treaty.

Good post....thank you.

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