Summary: While America grapples with its irrational debates about immigration, Sweden grapples with the consequences of massive immigration from failed states. Their experience is rich with lessons for America, as Sweden seems unable to see — let alone understand — what is happening. This also provides another example of how the US press automatically declares Trump wrong, even when there is some truth to what he says.
Policeman at aftermath of riot in Rinkeby, Sweden on 21 Feb 2017. © TT News Agency / Fredrik Sandberg, via REUTERS.
Slowly Trump’s performance as president becomes clear, how he handles the complex multi-dimensional aspects of the role. Uniquely he has become our Court Jester. Much of what he says is entertaining nonsense. But occasionally he says unmentionable truths that we need to hear. Such as the recent chatter about Sweden’s open borders policy, which reveals much about our inability to clearly see the world — and our push-back to news about it that disrupts the approved narrative.
The reaction was swift. Automatic mockery from the Left, and an interesting response from Sweden’s official Twitter account.
Reality quickly pushed back, hard, with stories about a new riot in an area of Stockholm with a large migrant population — with notable riots in 2010, in 2013, and 2016. See “Police intervention in Rinkeby was followed by riots and looting” in Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers (see Wikipedia).
Summary: Banks are the financial heart of modern nations, and Europe’s are in trouble. One of its greatest, Deutsche Bank, has severe problems. Here Stratfor looks at the perilous state of Europe’s banks, looked in a doom loop by their holdings of government bonds.
Can the Eurozone Break Its ‘Doom Loop’?
Stratfor, 16 February 2017.
In 2012, Europe’s sovereign debt crisis exposed the “doom loop.” Created by European banks’ tendencies to hold their home government’s debt, the vicious cycle, in theory, starts when markets lose faith in a government’s ability to pay back its debt, precipitating a sell-off of its bonds. The resulting drop in bond prices would then hit the balance sheets of the banks that still hold those bonds, making them more likely to need a bailout from their governments. This, in turn, could further erode investor confidence, leading to additional sell-offs that damage the banks even more. Despite the danger that banks’ practices pose, eurozone regulators have yet to find a way to sever the loop.
In the years since a doom loop nearly led to the eurozone’s collapse, authorities have tried (but failed) to break the bond connection between banks and their governments. A German proposal to limit the amount of their own government’s debt that banks can hold has been hotly contested by Italy and Spain, since implementing it would cause massive disruptions to their economies. Another German-led measure involved the creation of “bail-in” rules, which were adopted at the start of 2016. They required that a troubled bank’s private debtholders absorb its losses first, essentially losing their investment, before government money could be used to bail it out.
Summary: Brexit and Trump’s election were followed by hysterical predictions of doom by experts, helping journalists manufacture exciting news for their apathetic audiences. Italy’s citizens defied their centrist technocratic leaders, producing yet another round of ominous forecasts. For those who like their news straight and sober, here is an analysis of Italy’s situation by Stratfor.
Italy After the Referendum
Stratfor, 6 December 2016.
Italy’s voters have spoken loud and clear. During Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reforms, more than 65% of the country’s electorate turned out. Nearly 60% of voters rejected the measures, prompting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign immediately after the results were announced, as promised. Renzi’s quick resignation, coupled with the international market’s staid response to the vote’s outcome, suggests that the immediate repercussions will not be as dramatic as some in Italy and abroad had expected. Nevertheless, Italy’s political and financial troubles will endure, as will its threat to the eurozone.
Summary: Ripples of Trump’s win rock the boats of politicians around the world. Europe’s politics were already unsettled, with the far-right profiting from the mainstream parties’ obsession – flooding Europe with immigrants, despite their people’s objections.
How Trump’s Victory Will Galvanize Kindred Spirits in Europe
Stratfor, 13 November 2016.
Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election was cause for celebration among Europe’s largest anti-establishment political forces. Party leaders from France’s National Front, Italy’s Five Star Movement and the Netherlands’ Party of Freedom offered congratulations to the president-elect, thrilled by his demonstration that the political and media establishment can be thwarted. Like Trump, they hope to ride the wave of anti-establishment fervor building on both sides of the Atlantic to power in 2017, when some of the European Union’s biggest economies will hold national elections.
To a great extent, Trump’s victory and the success of the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union are the result of the same trend. Emerging political forces in the United States and Europe blame globalization for the loss of jobs and present immigration as a threat to national identity and security. Their message resonates with people who do not see a benefit in free trade or flexible migration and who feel as if traditional parties do not understand their plight. Mainstream media outlets and opinion polls largely underestimated that segment of the electorate in the runup to both the U.S. election and the Brexit referendum. That they failed to foresee Trump’s victory or that of the “leave” camp demonstrates the extent to which these emerging social and political trends have been minimized, disregarded or misunderstood.
The same political upheaval could manifest again over the course of Europe’s busy 2017 electoral season. In March, the Netherlands — a prominent economic and political power in Northern Europe — will hold general elections. (Italy could join them if constitutional reforms fail in a December referendum, triggering early elections.) France, which boasts the Continent’s second-largest economy, will hold presidential votes in April and May, followed by legislative elections in June. Toward the end of the year, the European Union’s greatest political and economic force, Germany, will hold general elections in October.
Summary: Europe’s elites warned that Britain would suffer for daring to leave the EU. Suffer severely and soon. Four months have passed since the June 23 vote and Britain has felt no ill effects. Britain might have the last laugh, since the EU has to redo its budget following the loss of its second largest contributor. The EU is already under stress. Cutting the budget and raising taxes will make it worse. Perhaps sparking more exits.
A Bitter Budget Battle Looms in the EU
Stratfor, 13 October 2016.
- Because of the Brexit, the European Union will lose a net contributor to its budget, forcing the remaining members to rethink the bloc’s spending limits and priorities.
- EU members will have three options for dealing with the loss of the United Kingdom’s income: increase national contributions, trim the budget or look for new revenue sources. Each choice carries political risks.
- Budget-related issues will create new sources of friction in the European Union as national interests shape the negotiations.
When Britain leaves the European Union, it will take with it the sizable financial contributions it makes to the bloc’s budget. That will leave remaining member states with some difficult choices to make about how big future budgets should be, what they should pay for and how much members should pony up for them. In all likelihood, key policies — from agricultural subsidies to development funds — will have to be redesigned. And as members decide how to proceed, new sources of conflict will arise that will do little to help reverse the bloc’s political fragmentation.
The EU budget is organized around the Multiannual Financial Framework, which establishes spending priorities and limits for a seven-year period. (The current one lasts through 2020.) Every year, the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU member states negotiate annual budgets based on the spending limits and priorities established by this framework.
About 75% of the EU budget comes from payments made by member states, calculated based on their gross national incomes. This means that, in absolute numbers, the largest economies make the largest contributions. But not all member states contribute the same proportion of that income, which leads to imbalances in contributions per capita. Moreover, since the budget is used to finance most EU programs, many countries give more money to the bloc than they get from it. In 2015, for example, 10 of the bloc’s 28 members were net contributors to the budget. The others received more in program spending than they paid in.
Summary: The effects of mass immigration are undernews, ignored by the mainstream media. This looks at the streets of the Paris that tourists seldom visit, home to generations of immigrants. Here they live, many in poverty, some without hope, most alienated from French society (famous for its inability to assimilate foreigners, as the Jews learned).
“PARIS 2016: Scenes from the Apocalypse –
Mass Immigration ruins streets of France.”
“The Paris you know or remember from adverts or brochures no longer exists. While no part of Paris looks like the romantic Cliches in Hollywood movies, some districts now resemble post-apocalyptic scenes of a dystopian thriller. This footage, taken with a hidden camera by an anonymous Frenchman in the Avenue de Flandres, 19th Arrondissement, near the Stalingrad Metro Station in Paris as well as areas in close proximity, shows the devastating effects of uncontrolled illegal mass immigration of young African males into Europe.
“If it weren’t for the somewhat working infrastructure, the scene might as well have been the setting of movie shooting – or a slum in Mogadishu. The streets are littered in garbage, the sidewalks are blocked with trash, junk and mattresses, thousands of African men claim the streets as their own – they sleep and live in tents like homeless people.
“If no portable toilets are in reach, open urination and defecation are commonplace. Tens of thousands of homeless Illegal immigrants, undocumented or waiting for a decision of their asylum application, waste away trying to pass the time in the city. Although their prospects of being granted asylum as Africans are bleak, they’re hoping for a decision that would grant them an apartment, welfare and make France their new home.
Summary: Here’s an essay about the European Union from one of Stratfor’s more perceptive analysts. It provides a unusual and insightful perspective on Europe’s long quest for unification, and the bumps along the way.
Europe, Unhappily Ever After
By Reva Goujon.
Stratfor, 20 September 2016.
The scene at Bratislava Castle last week was a familiar one: European leaders gathered for another summit in a typically idyllic setting, where the natural beauty of their surroundings belied the deep imperfections of the union they were struggling to salvage. But now, in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the Continental bloc, delusion steeped in the ideals of an “ever-closer” union is wearing thin, and the realists in the room seem to be gradually gaining ground.
The shift in the summit’s tone was to be expected; closet Euroskeptics can no longer hide behind the United Kingdom as they assert national rights and tamp down Brussels’ principles. They realize that the longer Europe’s leaders avoid the hard questions, opting instead to continue extolling the “spirit” of the European Union as a way to survive, the more the bloc’s guardians will have to react to — rather than shape — the enormous changes bubbling up from their disillusioned electorates.
As Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (who has tied his own political fate to a referendum in October) testily noted, the Bratislava gathering amounted to little more than a “boat trip on the Danube” and an “afternoon writing documents without any soul or any horizon” on the real problems afflicting Europe.
Tempering Ideals With Realities
The same frustration was palpable in several conversations I had during a recent trip to Slovenia, a country that tends to stay below the radar in Europe but is nevertheless highly perceptive of ground tremors. Slovenia lies, often precariously, at the edge of empires. Under the weight of the Alps, the former Yugoslav republic has one foot lodged in the tumultuous cauldron of the Balkans while its other foot toes the merchant riches of the Adriatic Sea. All the while, its arms are outstretched across the Pannonian Plain toward Vienna, the seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.