Continua il pessimismo sul futuro dell’eurozona

Il Financial Times del 14 dicembre 2011 commenta molto negativamente l’accordo raggiunto dai 26 nel vertice della scorsa settimana.

A disastrous failure at the summit –

In brief, it is extremely difficult to eliminate fiscal deficits in the structural capital-importing countries, without prolonged recessions or huge improvements in their external competitiveness. But the latter is relative, so the needed improvements in the external performance of weak eurozone countries imply a deterioration in that of eurozone capital-exporters, or radically improved external performance for the eurozone as a whole. The former means that Germany becomes far less German. The latter implies that the eurozone becomes a mega-Germany. Who can believe either outcome is plausible?

This leaves much the most plausible outcome of the orgy of fiscal austerity: long-term structural recessions in vulnerable countries. To put it bluntly, the single currency will come to stand for wage falls, debt deflation and prolonged economic slumps. Can this stand, however big the costs of a break-up?

The eurozone has no credible plan to fix the flaws of the eurozone, apart from greater fiscal austerity: there is to be no fiscal, financial or political union; and there is to be no balanced mechanism for economic adjustment on both sides of the creditor-debtor divide. The decision is, instead, to try still harder with a stability and growth pact whose failures have been both predictable and persistent. Yes, Mr Cameron made a blunder last week. But that of the eurozone looks far bigger.

Obituary: Christopher Hitchens 13.4.1949-15.12.2011

Di Hitchens abbiamo parlato più volte in questo blog, recensendo il suo god is not Great: how religion poisons everything e presentando una sua lunga conversazione con Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins e Sam Harris.

Hitchens ha affrontato il suo cancro con grande dignità (e, ovviamente, senza retrocedere di un passo rispetto al suo ateismo). Il numero natalizio del New Statesman, il settimanale dove aveva iniziato la sua carriera nel 1973, pubblica una lunga intervista di Richard Dawkins. Qui sotto qualche anticipazione.

Dawkins e Hitchens

“Never be afraid of stridency”

Richard Dawkins: One of my main beefs with religion is the way they label children as a “Catholic child” or a “Muslim child”. I’ve become a bit of a bore about it.

Christopher Hitchens: You must never be afraid of that charge, any more than stridency.

RD: I will remember that.

CH: If I was strident, it doesn’t matter – I was a jobbing hack, I bang my drum. You have a discipline in which you are very distinguished. You’ve educated a lot of people; nobody denies that, not even your worst enemies. You see your discipline being attacked and defamed and attempts made to drive it out.
Stridency is the least you should muster . . . It’s the shame of your colleagues that they don’t form ranks and say, “Listen, we’re going to defend our colleagues from these appalling and obfuscating elements.”

Fascism and the Catholic Church

RD: The people who did Hitler’s dirty work were almost all religious.

CH: I’m afraid the SS’s relationship with the Catholic Church is something the Church still has to deal with and does not deny.

RD: Can you talk a bit about that – the relationship of Nazism with the Catholic Church?

CH: The way I put it is this: if you’re writing about the history of the 1930s and the rise of totalitarianism, you can take out the word “fascist”, if you want, for Italy, Portugal, Spain, Czechoslovakia and Austria and replace it with “extreme-right Catholic party”.
Almost all of those regimes were in place with the help of the Vatican and with understandings from the Holy See. It’s not denied. These understandings quite often persisted after the Second World War was over and extended to comparable regimes in Argentina and elsewhere.

Hitchens on the left-right spectrum

RD: I’ve always been very suspicious of the left-right dimension in politics.

CH: Yes; it’s broken down with me.

RD: It’s astonishing how much traction the left-right continuum [has] . . . If you know what someone thinks about the death penalty or abortion, then you generally know what they think about everything else. But you clearly break that rule.

CH: I have one consistency, which is [being] against the totalitarian – on the left and on the right. The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy – the one that’s absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head, not just your actions and your taxes. And the origins of that are theocratic, obviously. The beginning of that is the idea that there is a supreme leader, or infallible pope, or a chief rabbi, or whatever, who can ventriloquise the divine and tell us what to do.