World

Turkey Takes Off

The EU's perennial reject has seen impressive growth—but there are warning signs for the future.

Flickr/ognjenodobasic

 

What a difference ten years makes. In 2001, Greece adopted the euro as its national currency. Its borrowing costs, which plummeted in expectation of this momentous event, were almost as low as Germany’s. Its growth rate for the year climbed to 4.1 percent and inflation hovered around 4 percent—a sharp decline from the double digits of the ’80s and ’90s. It was a country on the way up. On the other hand, Turkey, its neighbor and geopolitical arch-rival, was mired in a major financial crisis. Its currency was collapsing, its banking system was broken and unemployment was skyrocketing.

Vive la France!

Flickr/gpaumier

Yes, folks, it's another Tigger day. Last week, while I was talking about how straight people changed marriage so that same-sex couples now belong in it, the new French government announced that it will gender-neutralize the entrance requirements for marriage early next year, which will also grant same-sex couples full adoption rights. That would mean that twelve nations marry same-sex pairs, plus some states and provinces scattered hither and yon. In historical order, that would include The Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2003, in some provinces; 2005, nationally), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), and Denmark (2012).

What’s the European Central Bank?

The Prospect takes a look at one of the key players in Europe's financial crisis.

(Flickr / Davide "Dodo" Oliva)

Weird terms like “yield spreads,” “troika,” and “Merkel” have been popping up in the news, often surrounded by acronyms like IMF, ESM, EFSF, and FROB. Our politicians aren't talking about it much, but you can bet your retirement they will once Wall Street underwriters start freaking out about it. Today, the Prospect fills you in on one of the most important acronym in the euro crisis: the ECB, or the European Central Bank.

The European whatsit?

In a nutshell, the ECB is the central bank of the Eurozone—the countries of the European Union that use the euro. Though it only technically became a crucial apparatus of the European Union in 2009, it has a large role in the history of European integration. For now, we'll just leave it at this: The ECB controls the monetary policy of Eurozone countries. It's also one of the newer venues in which France and Germany play chicken over who's the boss of Europe. More on that later.

Romneyland on the Mediterranean

What does having a Bain-style CEO do to a country? Israel has run the experiment, and the results are ugly.

(Flickr/TheeErin)

If Mitt Romney visits Israel this summer, it's a safe guess that his tour will avoid demonstrations against the government's economic policies. When Mitt and Bibi dine together, the Israeli prime minister probably won't show clips of riot cops dragging away Daphni Leef, the woman who ignited the economic protests, as she tries to re-establish a tent encampment in downtown Tel Aviv.

If the Tibetan Can't Go to the Homeland...

As some of you know, there is far more to the Tibetan diaspora than the Dalai Lama. More than 200,000 refugees are living, sometimes stateless, in other countries. Tenzin Dorjee, whom I've mentioned here before, is the director of Students for a Free Tibet and one of the next generation of Tibetan leaders in exile. Last week, he wrote at The Huffington Post about an incredibly moving art project, conceived after activist and artist Tenzing Rigdol's father died in exile longing to see his homeland one more time: 

What’s So Radical about Same-Sex Marriage?

(Flickr / City of West Hollywood)

Two days ago I wrote about David Blankenhorn, longtime “traditional” marriage proponent who reluctantly announced he will no longer oppose same-sex couples’ freedom to marry. I examined his reasoning, because I believe it’s important to understand the logic of those with whom we disagree. And I took issue with Richard Kim’s response at The Nation, which I took to represent the radical/progressive wing of the LGBT movement, which has long groaned at the focus on marriage equality. I got some heated critiques about that post.

Can European Leaders Go Big?

With Spain, Italy, and Cyprus reeling, the stakes are high for the Brussels summit—but Germany stands in the way of broad reform.

(AP Photo/Philippos Christou)

The European Summit today and tomorrow in Brussels is the latest in a series of make-or-break moments for the European project. On many occasions since May 2010, when Greece was first cut off from market access, European leaders have been called upon to make a bold leap forward in the policy integration of the Eurozone—the only way to convince investors of the iron irrevocability of the common currency. Under constant pressure from the ongoing crisis, they have often seemed to be making the big decisions to reform the flawed architecture of the monetary union, only for initial perceptions to give way to a much more underwhelming reality. Markets have grown increasingly savvy and cynical in interpreting summit communiqués. They know that behind grand words and large headline numbers, the political will to come together has yet to be demonstrated. Is this summit meeting—in the week when Cyprus became the fourth Eurozone member to ask for an official rescue and Spain confirmed that it would need 100 billion euros to shore up its banks—going to change all that?

The Army's Bizarre Cover-Up

(AP Photo/ U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ernesto Hernandez Fonte)

Lieutenant General William Caldwell, a rising star in the Army who formerly oversaw the training of Afghan security forces, was recently accused of impeding a 2010 investigation of corruption in the Afghan military medical corps to avoid affecting the outcome of congressional elections, as reported by Danger Room.

Caldwell, who now commands the U.S. Army North based in Texas, was supposedly worried that a revelation of mismanagement and neglect would hurt Democrats’ electoral chances, damaging the close rapport he enjoyed with Obama.

The Simmering Sinai

Despite border clashes, Israel must keep itself out of Egypt's roiling politics.

(AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The polls had closed a few hours earlier in Cairo, after two days of voting for a president who may or may not have any power. The Muslim Brotherhood was preparing to claim victory. Meanwhile, in the desert to the west, three gunmen crossed the border between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Israel, attacked an Israeli crew building a border fence, and killed a worker, an Arab Israeli named Saeed Fashafshe.

A Paralyzed G-20

All the bland platitudes coming out of the Group of 20 Meeting in Mexico can’t disguise the absence of progress on the European crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is totally dug in on the proposition that Greece, Portugal, and Spain need to stick to the austerity medicine that will only deepen the collapse and embolden more speculative attacks on government bonds.

Greece Gives the Euro One Last Shot

(AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis)

It was a night of high drama, after a tense pre-election period that often descended into violence. By the end of it, Greek voters had narrowly given the pro-bailout forces one last stab at salvaging the adjustment program with Greece’s creditors and avoiding a disastrous exit from the euro. This has bought the country some time. It must now make the best possible use of it.

Will Greece Drop the Mic?

The country's elections on Sunday amount to a referendum on austerity—and could lead to an exit from the euro.

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

“Not a step back: End the troika and the memorandum.” Thus read one of the placards hung up on a lamp post close to Omonoia Square in downtown Athens, where Syriza—the surging left-wing party led by Alexis Tsipras—held its major pre-election rally last night.

Europe’s Tragic Farce

(AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)

Europe’s top politicians, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seem determined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Last weekend, the financial crisis seemed to be contained for the moment when the Germans and the European Central Bank agreed to commit 100 billion euros through the European Union’s (E.U.) rescue funds to recapitalize Spain’s faltering banking system. The Spanish government bargained hard, and won an agreement that the bailout would not be tied to new austerity demands of the sort imposed on Greece and Portugal.

Structurally Flawed

A face-off over the legality of Israeli settlement has left Benjamin Netanyahu weaker.

(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Before July 1, five apartment buildings in a West Bank settlement will be cut from their foundations and dragged over the hilly terrain to a new location elsewhere in the community. That's Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan, anyway.

From an engineering perspective, the idea is "delusional," as one expert put it. That's an understated evaluation. If the three-story buildings are moved and survive, it's reasonable to assume that they'll be riddled with visible and unseen fissures—just like Netanyahu's Likud party, his ruling coalition, and the jerrybuilt legal underpinnings of Israeli settlement in occupied territory. The interesting question is which of these flawed structures will collapse first.

Germany's Tightrope Act

BERLIN—Germany, uniquely, is prospering while the rest of Europe sinks deeper into recession. And the recession is substantially the result of the very austerity that Chancellor Angela Merkel is imposing on the other member nations of the European Union.

Why is Germany spared? One good reason and two bad ones.

The good reason is that Germany promotes manufacturing, with sensible training and technology policies. Its industries have partnerships with effective unions. So Germany’s huge export surplus means that it can have tight budget policies at home and still have plenty of good jobs. 

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