Michael Chabon Is Blogging

by Henry Farrell on January 13, 2011

He’s been “subbing over at Ta-Nehisi Coates”:http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates for the last few days. Which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to post reviews of both _Gentlemen of the Road_ (aka: Jews with Swords!) and his lovely _Maps and Legends_ for at least two years.
[click to continue…]

European Cleavages

by Henry Farrell on January 13, 2011

Kevin O’Rourke, quoted “in extenso”:http://www.irisheconomy.ie/index.php/2011/01/13/divide-and-conquer/

A friend of mine has just sent me this “link”:http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSPISDCE7QE20110113, in which Sarkozy is saying that it is unreasonable for us to maintain our low corporate tax rates while seeking financial aid from Europe:

bq. “I deeply respect the independence of our Irish friends and we have done everything to help them. But they cannot continue to ask us to come and help them while keeping a tax on company profits that is half (what other countries have),” he said.

For a more inflammatory version of the same argument, by an influential French economist, click “here”:http://www.liberation.fr/economie/01012306493-le-scandale-du-sauvetage-des-banques-irlandaises. And I was struck on my last trip to France by how ordinary people there are making the link between the Irish bailout and our ‘dumping fiscal’.

There are lots of obvious counters to all this, but I think the more important point is that such responses are inevitable, given the European response to the crisis to date. As two recent articles point out (“here”:http://www.eurointelligence.com/index.php?id=581&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=3002&tx_ttnews[backPid]=901&cHash=c374cd2038 and “here”:http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/david-mcwilliams/david-mcwilliams-citizens-must-fight-rise-of-european-bankocracy-2492637.html), the real cleavage in Europe is between European taxpayers and bank creditors (with the ECB being a third interested party, as another body which could help to fill the holes which have emerged in the European banking system). But since the powers that be are ruling out bondholder haircuts and quantitative easing, the only cleavage we are left with in practice is the one between core and periphery taxpayers.

Of course ordinary French and German taxpayers are going to be angry at lending their money to an insolvent state with lower tax rates than their own. Why wouldn’t they be? Of course ordinary Irish taxpayers are going to be angry at having to pay for high interest loans designed to bail out foreign banks. Why wouldn’t they be?

And while ordinary Europeans get angry with each other, with unpredictable political consequences, capital walks away scot free.

It’s worth expanding the argument that I suspect Kevin is hinting at with his mention of ‘unpredictable political consequences.’ We have seen a lot of analysis from economists which points (correctly) to the inherent contradictions of the Eurozone’s shambolic crisis management strategy. Much less attention has been paid to the _political fallout_ which is considerable. The bailout strategies seem almost purpose-designed to corrode popular legitimacy both in the states giving and receiving funds. If the prospect of a politically viable European Union isn’t quite dead yet, it’s haemorrhaging on the operating table, and the surgeon clearly has no clue what to do. We will be running a seminar on Germany and the EU next week – I have a short piece in it which talks to this at greater length.

A carpet?

by Kieran Healy on January 13, 2011

Actually they do a pretty good job. I particularly like the kid who not only establishes the function of the record player, but also immediately discovers scratching.

Hoisted from comments

by Henry Farrell on January 13, 2011

At “another blog”:http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/01/women_in_the_news_in_2010.html#comment-53243, but by regular CT commenter ‘Davis X. Machina’

bq. Ms. Palin … represents a new phenomenon. Instead of trolling a message board or blog comments, she’s trolling an entire nation.