Europe: Updates. In an interview with a French daily on 25 December, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde stressed that Europe’s financial crisis is turning into “a crisis of confidence in public debt and the solidity of the financial system.
Greece: According to an IMF source involved in discussions with Greece, the situation in Athens is “deteriorating” and “a further 10-15 billion euros ($13.1-19.6 billion) still needs to be found.” Banks may be asked to agree to write off 65 % instead of 50% of Greece’s debt.
France: The French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) said on 26 December that there were 29,000 new job seekers “without any occupation” in November, up 1.1% over October. The year-on-year increase reached 5.2%. In total, 2,844,800 people did not have any occupation, the highest such figure since November 1999.
An economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conditions speculated that France’s unemployment rate — which currently stands at 9.3% — will reach 10.7% by the end of 2012, and predicted that Paris will not succeed in bringing the deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2013.
Spain: At a news conference on 26 December, Spanish Economy Minister Luis De Guindos said that the Spanish economy had suffered a “relapse” and would record negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2011. De Guindos warned that “the next two months are not going to be easy, neither from a growth nor a jobs point of view.”
Comment: According to the Financial Times and multiple economists the fate of the euro depends on what happens in Italy. This week Italy intends to auction bonds worth Euros 20 billion. The market reaction to the auction will be an important indicator of whether the central bankers have found a way to stabilize the financial crisis, or have just made it worse.
All analysts of European economics predict a recession in 2012. They differ only about how severe it will be. In an integrated global economy, the ripple effects from Europe will drag the US and the Chinese economies, among all others.
Phi Beta Iota: Christine Lagarde, perhaps because she is a woman with a smaller ego and larger intuition than most men, appears to be the first Epoch A leader to “get” that we are all calling into question the very existence of the Western financial system that is rooted in fraud, waste, and abuse. When she begins to point to Iceland as an example, and to demand that Western countries arrest and try Goldman Sachs, Morgan, Citi-Bank, Bank of America, and other officials for high crimes against the public, the healing can begin. Until then, the West is avoiding the fundamentals.