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Die Welt, Germany
Euroland Looks for
Scapegoats: U.S. Credit Rating Agencies
won’t be long before Europe’s politicians try again to direct public anger at
the rating agencies. One almost hopes that Europe’s own frequently-demanded
rating agency will now be created. Such an agency would either come to a
similar conclusion as the three market leaders in the United States or it would
allow itself to become a lackey of politics."
Translated By Stephanie Martin
January 15, 2012
Germany - Die Welt - Original Article
Imagine finding ourselves
at the end of a week of negative headlines, during which nervousness and even
panic had developed in financial markets. If a major credit rating agency had for
the first time withdrawn France’s top rating, the question would immediately be
asked: Why must they do this at a moment in which it makes everything even
Standard & Poor’s actually
did downgrade France on Friday evening, but it did so after a week in which
hope had sprung up - hope that the economy would begin to bounce back, hope
that we in the euro crisis would be let off lightly. And so the question still
arises: Why now?
But hold on - doubts about
the resolve of European governments to tackle their problems are still
justified. It is significant that some - and not only southern Europe's usual
suspects by the way - are already busy trying to dismantle the “stability
union” crafted just five weeks ago. And even if such doubts were no longer
justified, it will take some time for them to be dispelled. After many years of
stagnation in Italy, Prime Minister Mario Monti is pressing forward with a
somewhat promising series of reforms. And Monti is already calling the lack of market
confidence in the viability of his country’s future “no longer justified.” Is
And failures that are deeply-rooted
in the past aren't the only things causing domestic and foreign investors to
remain vigilant with regard to Euroland. Political reactions, first to the
financial crisis of 2008/9 and now to the euro crisis, are also to blame. Virtually
all of the important European leaders of the last three-and-a-half years were
motivated by two things. First, as little as possible should be expected of
voters in the short term, since unavoidable future concessions are concealed
for as long as possible. Second, the responsibility for all problems is pushed
onto a third party - one of your choice, or a combination of the banks,
speculators, rating agencies or the Americans - or on the markets themselves,
those amorphous “monsters.” (IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler).
In both cases, the consequences
are already visible. On the eve of the crisis, the Greeks were promised the heavens
and the earth. Now Berlin and Brussels are realizing that the limits of what
can be achieved in Athens have been reached. In Germany on the other hand, the
strategy of fooling taxpayers into believing that the bailout packages are guarantees
for which they will never be asked to pay is coming home to roost. Up to now, no
kindergarten has been left un-built because of Greece, and no highway has been
left in a state of disrepair because the cash was needed for Ireland or Italy.
And yet, the willingness of citizens to make any substantial contribution to
guarantee the survival of monetary union is shrinking.
Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism under threat? DeAnne
chairman of Chatham House, says that the Anglo-Saxon
model is in turmoil. She argues China's model has proved
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SEE ALSO ON THIS:
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The Telegraph, U.K.:
World Needs America
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El Pais, Spain:
Playing Chicken is the
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Mainichi Shimbun, Japan:
U.S. Must Prevent Another
'Made in U.S.' Disaster
Yomiori Shimbun, Japan:
U.S. Lawmakers Should
'Stop Playing Political Games'
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia:
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Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany:
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Tiscali Notizie, Italy:
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Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria:
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America's Astonishing 'Battle for the Ceiling'
People's Daily, China:
U.S. Game of Chicken Threatens Creditors and Economy
Die Zeit, Germany:
U.S. Risks 'Plunging World' Into New Financial Crisis
O Globo, Brazil:
Global Economy Hangs
on 'Mood' of U.S. Voters
The Telegraph, U.K.:
Down on the Fourth of July:
The United States of Gloom
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany:
For Americans, a
Dour Independence Day
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany:
Who Cares about the U.S. Economy?
U.S. Conservatives Threaten to Plunge U.S. into 'Lost Decade'
As a result, cherished
scapegoats are being beaten up with even greater determination. The latest
example of this is the financial transaction tax Chancellor Angela Merkel and
French President Nicolas Sarkozy have just agreed on. This anti-speculation
measure is absolutely useless when it comes to addressing the two key problems
that Europe and America are struggling with: the instability of dangerously
large financial institutions and the insolvency of governments. Chancellor
Merkel is aware of this but can no longer rid herself of the genie she helped
summon. Meanwhile, her own party has incorporated this agenda item from Attac.
It won’t be long before
Europe’s politicians try again to direct public anger at the rating agencies. One
almost hopes that Europe’s own frequently-demanded rating agency will now be
created. Such an agency would either come to a similar conclusion as the three
market leaders in the United States or it would allow itself to become a lackey
of politics - a fact that would be widely recognized quickly, because any
investor who values his money would then continue to base his choices on the
rating decisions of the U.S. competition. In both cases, those in charge, at
least those in Berlin, Paris, Madrid and Rome, would have one less excuse. That
would be something at least.
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