Euro-Kremlinology

by John Quiggin on December 9, 2011

Understanding developments in the European crisis has become rather like Kremlinology, trying to figure out the meaning of subtle changes in wording, and rearrangements of the Politburo on the podium for May Day parades. In particular, Mario Draghi of the ECB goes back and forth, sometimes suggesting that the ECB will do what nearly everyone else can see is minimally necessary to the survival of the euro (namely, print lots of them, and use some to buy EU government debt, as was done by the Fed and the Bank of England). At other times, though, it’s as if Jean-Claude Trichet is doing a ventriloquist act.

In one respect, todays EU agreement was anything but subtle. The fact that the Eurozone countries and those aspiring to join them were prepared to go ahead without the UK (and a few others) suggests that they have something serious in mind. But what – the announcement is pretty much a restatement of the Growth and Stability pact, and under present circumstances, the deficit targets can only be seen as aspirational.

Applying one of the approaches that used to be standard in Kremlinology (not necessarily a reliable one, then or now) I’m going to assume that the EU leaders are acting with some sort of coherent goal in mind and work from there. In particular, I’m going to assume that everyone who matters now recognizes the need for a big monetary expansion and the use of newly created money to resolve, or at least stabilize, the debt crisis. [click to continue…]

Books I Did Not Read This Year: an Ebook

by Kieran Healy on December 9, 2011

"Books I Did Not Read This Year."

I’ve been using the Readmill ebook reader on-and-off. I like it quite a bit. Using it prompted me to make an ebook of my own. Because I moved my own website over to Octopress a little while ago, everything I’ve ever written on it going back to 2002 is now in Markdown format. So over lunch yesterday I took advantage of John MacFarlane’s amazingly useful Pandoc, which can make EUPB format ebooks out of markdown files, selected thirteen posts from the Archives and made a little anthology called Books I Did Not Read This Year (epub). It’s free to download, because I’m such a generous person. Enjoy it on Readmill, iBooks, your or any other EPUB-compatible reader. Daniel kindly made a Mobi version for Kindle owners. I plan on making a few more of these, forming a Press (e.g. “Harbard University Press” or “Pengiun”), and then adding them to my Vita.