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European Political Economy

The EU has just enlarged, and faces many issues. Please use this forum to discuss any factors related to the EU's health, sense of identity, economics and politics.

Note that various articles on the housing markets of the UK, USA and Australia are recorded at House Price Crash Discussion Forums
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Slightly Optimistic
 20 Oct '17  08:26 : 0 recs

See 19.18. In desperation, little c tries another tack. He insists he is not complacent about the forthcoming global financial crisis, while not denying the facts. Finally he tells us the odds are stacked heavily in his favour.

Reminds me of W1A.
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little c
 20 Oct '17  06:43 : 0 recs

Good morning, Slightly Optimistic. At 19:18 yesterday evening, I was in the bath, so any definition passed me by. If I may nevertheless address your comments directly:

"We are being encouraged to forget about the financial crisis in 2008, and the flawed International Monetary Fund which the US President subsequently sidelined - effectively replacing it with an uprated G20 after the financial mayhem. But little changed.

A markets research team at Deutsche Bank wrote recently of how imminent the next financial crisis would be under the present arrangements. Ever since the last big default by the United States in 1971 and its 'corrections', it was reported that the world has had more financial crises than before.

The fact that the US has built up enormous unfunded liabilities [one estimate is $210 trillion] makes things worse. Even a huge default and theft of private property there wouldn't help. The world is in danger. No room for your complacency, little c."


I am not complacent about a forthcoming global financial crisis. Nevertheless, I am seduced by the view that Britain can make a success out of leaving the European Union, Slightly Optimistic. The odds are stacked heavily in my favour, Slightly Optimistic, so let us therefore raise the stakes this morning. Are you ready to go for the showdown?

"It is a seductive view that Britain can make a sucess of leaving the European Union regardless of what other governments do. However, Theresa May has no realistic option other than to accept that there will be costs and exacting trade-offs if the goal of a close free trade agreement with the EU is to be achieved. Britain cannot plausibly prosper without one.

Leaders of the other 27 member states will conclude the European Council summit in Brussels today by considering what progress has been made in discussions on Brexit. There is no sign that agreement on Britain’s contributions to the budget or the status of EU citizens in Britain is advanced enough, in Brussels’ view, to allow negotiations to move on to arrangements for after Britain has actually left the European Union ... "


The Times - The government is considering Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms. This might strengthen our hand with Brussels but it would be a risky route
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Slightly Optimistic
 20 Oct '17  06:37 : 0 recs

The problem for Europe's place in the world was defined at 19.18 yesterday.

In response, little c suggests the answer is simply accept the problem- ie complacency.
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little c
 20 Oct '17  00:53 : 0 recs : edited 1 time : last edit 20 Oct '17  01:19

None. Perhaps a visit to the British Museum could be arranged for Jean-Claude instead, Slightly Optimistic. Would you be able to act as his guide on this particular occasion, although it may mean a trip to London from Scotland!

Beliefs in spiritual beings and worlds beyond nature are characteristic of all human societies. By looking at how people believe through everyday objects of faith, this exhibition provides a perspective on what makes believing a vital part of human behaviour.

Seeing how people believe, rather than considering what they believe, suggests that humans might be naturally inclined to believe in transcendent worlds and beings. Stories, objects, images, prayers, meditation and rituals can provide ways for people to cope with anxieties about the world, and help form strong social bonds. This in turn helps to make our lives well-ordered and understandable.


The exhibition includes objects of belief from societies around the world and through time. It begins with a remarkable 40,000-year-old mammoth ivory sculpture known as the Lion Man. Depicting a lion’s upper body on the lower half of a man, it is the oldest known image of a being that does not exist in nature. It is the earliest evidence we have of beliefs and practices, and shows humans’ unique ability to communicate what’s in our minds through objects.

Different areas of the show will look at key themes of belief. The significance of light, water, fire and energy is revealed, linked to the idea that religious experience is governed by our senses. Objects reflect how people connect to worlds beyond nature through the natural environment or in specially built spaces. Other objects show the power of prayer, the importance of festivals and pilgrimage, and the marking of key life experiences – birth, coming of age, marriage and death. The long history of conflict and coexistence between different religions and beliefs is also explored.

Together, the objects in the exhibition offer a fresh perspective on practices of belief and how they are hugely important for societies, as well as individual believers. This exhibition is part of the fourth collaborative project between the British Museum, the BBC and Penguin Books. It builds on a Radio 4 series of 30 daily programmes over six weeks presented by former Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor. From 23 October, Radio 4 and the British Museum embark on the fourth major project coming out of their public service partnership.

Exploring the role and expression of shared beliefs in lives and communities through time and around the world, Neil MacGregor, former Director of the British Museum, returns to Radio 4 to present this landmark 30-part series.

The British Museum also presents a major exhibition on this theme, opening on 2 November 2017.

Throughout the radio series Neil draws upon objects and curatorial insights from the British Museum and beyond, with a focus on two or three objects in each programme. As with his last Radio 4 series, the multi-award winning Germany: Memories Of A Nation, Neil also travels to key locations - from the winter solstice in the ancient passage tomb at Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland, to the waters of the Ganges in India; from Jerusalem to a cave in southern Germany.

Across the series, the focus moves from daily and weekly practices, festivals, pilgrimages and sacrifices, to power struggles and political battles between beliefs, and between faiths and states.

Marking the end of the Radio 4 series, and following on from the success of River of Music, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting Sacred River: six hours of continuous classical music inspired by the major world faiths, from 9am to 3pm on Sunday 26 November. BBC World Service will broadcast the Radio 4 series weekly from Saturday 4 November.
An accompanying book for the partnership will also be published by Allen Lane in Spring 2018.

Neil MacGregor says: “Questions of faith have, in recent decades, moved to the centre of the global political stage - an unexpected return to a centuries-old pattern. But what are the connections between structures of belief, and the structures of society?

"In this series, using objects from the British Museum, and talking to experts from many disciplines, we try to explore some of these questions, looking at communities from deep history to the present day, in Europe and around the world.”

Gwyneth Williams, Controller of BBC Radio 4, says: “The rational and analytical, enlightenment-understood nature of humanity informs much of modern society. But, of course, as the brilliant Neil MacGregor shows in this wide-ranging and important series, we are so much more than that. Over the last decade, around the world, religious and spiritual awareness has grown and begun to pose a different understanding of what it means to be human. Neil, in this series, shows the depth, complexity and beauty of that rich heritage.

As he describes it: "Homo sapiens is also 'homo religiosus'. I am proud to broadcast this series at this time, supported by our valued partner, the British Museum and its inspiring Director, Hartwig Fischer.”

Neil MacGregor and his BBC Radio 4 programmes are renowned for their unique way of telling stories through objects. This is the fourth collaboration between the British Museum and Radio 4, following on from Germany: Memories Of A Nation (2015), Shakespeare’s Restless World (2012) and A History Of The World In 100 Objects (2010) - all of which were produced by the Documentaries Unit in BBC Radio Production.
Throughout the series, Neil MacGregor draws on the expertise of curators at the British Museum, and talks to leading academics, writers and thinkers, including Mary Beard, Afifi al-Akiti, Marina Warner, Rowan Williams, Mona Siddiqui, Eamon Duffy, Sunil Khilnani, Julia Neuberger, Grayson Perry, Devdutt Pattanaik, Karen Armstrong, J. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, Diana Eck, Linda Woodhead, A C Grayling, Amartya Sen, Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Living With The Gods will TX from 23 October 2017 over six weeks at 9.45am with a repeat at 7.45pm.

The programmes will be available to download via the BBC iPlayer Radio app, and a podcast of the series will start from 23 October. The Radio 4 website will feature six specially commissioned animations, each telling the story of a key object in the radio series. The animations are voiced by Neil MacGregor and illustrated by Scott Coello.

Overview of each week

Week one

The series begins with the emergence of society, starting with the Lion Man, a small ivory figure thought to be about 40,000 years old. Subsequent programmes this week focus on fire, including the role of fire in a Parsi temple in Gujarat, India; water, from Salisbury Cathedral to the Ganges; light, including a visit to Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland at the winter solstice; and seasonal renewal, where the objects include a corn figure of Osiris, from ancient Egypt.

Week two

The second week examines how religious practices acknowledge the transition through life. Programmes focus on the end of life, including Peruvian mummy bundles; the protection of the mother and infant in childbirth and in the early years; rituals around becoming an adult member of society; everyday activities in maintaining a faith, with objects including a 16th century ivory qibla, made for finding the direction of Mecca; and the role of weekly gatherings, including the importance of singing together as a congregation.

Week three

This week investigates ceremony, pilgrimage, rituals and sacrifice, including the creation of sacred spaces; the idea of pilgrimage including discussion of pilgrim souvenirs from locations visited by Chaucer’s Wife Of Bath; the importance of offerings and sacrifices; and the role and development of festivals.

Week four

Neil MacGregor considers the creation and the use of images, and the problems these activities can present. Programmes examine the idea of the presiding image; the making of images; the role of narrative images; the power of images; the role of iconoclasm; and the faiths which focus on the word rather than the image.

Week five

These programmes examine societies with many gods, or a pantheon of deities; the question of monotheism; the religions which travel beyond regional, national and continental boundaries; and questions of co-existence.

Week six

The final week examines religion’s place in society with a focus on the idea of the divine right of monarchs or rulers, the phenomenon of political leaders with a religious role, and tensions between national and religious identities.
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Slightly Optimistic
 19 Oct '17  21:59 : 0 recs

Defining the problem is stage one, little c.

See 19.18 below. What action is being taken to solve it?
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little c
 19 Oct '17  19:29 : 0 recs : edited 3 times : last edit 19 Oct '17  19:33

Before the UK’s June 2016 referendum on membership of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker delivered a stark warning. The president of the European Commission, often cast in London as an anglophobic Luxembourger, said Brexit “would not just be a catastrophe for Britain, but a disaster for Europe as a whole”. All EU leaders, including prime minister Theresa May, should heed his words when they gather in Brussels on Thursday.

The more optimistic members of Mrs May’s government hoped that the Brussels summit would mark a turning point, when the EU27 leaders would give negotiators licence to move from the first phase of the talks — on the terms of divorce — to a discussion about the future bilateral relationship.

This seems unlikely, though there may be a face-saving compromise after Mrs May’s constructive speech in Florence. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, is less optimistic: “There is not sufficient progress yet.” More than a year has passed since the UK voted to leave the EU. Yet the government has still to decide, let alone spell out, what Brexit ultimately means for the economy and for its most important trading relationship.

Both the UK and the EU need a solution to Brexit, Slightly Optimistic, but as of yet, you have singularly failed to enunciate any possible solution. Time is running out, so what should we do here in Serious Topics? No one is going to listen to us anyway, Slightly Optimistic!

FT - Both the UK and the EU need a solution to Brexit - In a feverish atmosphere, Britain should avoid undue brinkmanship
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Slightly Optimistic
 19 Oct '17  19:18 : 0 recs : edited 1 time : last edit 19 Oct '17  19:22

We are being encouraged to forget about the financial crisis in 2008, and the flawed International Monetary Fund which the US President subsequently sidelined - effectively replacing it with an uprated G20 after the financial mayhem. But little changed.

A markets research team at Deutsche Bank wrote recently of how imminent the next financial crisis would be under the present arrangements. Ever since the last big default by the United States in 1971 and its 'corrections', it was reported that the world has had more financial crises than before.

The fact that the US has built up enormous unfunded liabilities [one estimate is $210 trillion] makes things worse. Even a huge default and theft of private property there wouldn't help. The world is in danger. No room for your complacency, little c.
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little c
 19 Oct '17  08:29 : 0 recs

What detail would you dismiss out of hand, slight of hand?
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Slightly Optimistic
 19 Oct '17  08:25 : 0 recs : edited 1 time : last edit 19 Oct '17  08:26

So much detail. Interesting background principally on the membership of the G20.

However, it doesn't address the comment below:
I find it difficult to see the funny side of the G20 farce as you note below. The implications for an international financial organisation with a serious remit are astounding.

Dangerous to audit public money
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little c
 19 Oct '17  08:04 : 0 recs

Good morning to you all, wherever you live, inside or outside of Europe. I trust that alll is well with all of you this October morning! Just up your street, Slightly Optimistic, the European single market is a rules-based market which allows considerable freedom within the market, but considerable restrictions when moving inside or outside of the European Union (EU). It is, in this sense, one of the most highly regulated markets in the world today, although much of that regulation, for example on employment legislation may be good in and of itself. It may however restrict employment and contribute to high levels of unemployment around the Mediterranean basin! Would less restrictive legislation not free up European business, and allow more employment opportunities both within and beyond the European Union? Or does the legislation also protect the jobs and keep more Europeans in fruitful employment over future years?

Well, I suppose that it all depends upon your point of view, but in France, for example, employment restrictions benefit the many in employment to the relative advantage of those who have a job over those out of work! President Emmmanuel Macron is committed to freeing the French social consensus up to allow more opportunities for those currently looking for work. Restrictions on workers' pension entitlements, for example, benefit those in employment at the expense of those suffering from relatively high levels of unemployment both within France and across the European Single Market. So France captures Europe's dilemma very well indeed. Let us not undermine the need for a common cause across what was once the Common Market, the European Economic Community (EED), something more exciting than the price of butter, for example, something more constructive than the allocation of defence contracts in a new Cold War: a need for a European mystique itself?

The European cultural community includes the peoples living eastwards of Germany, for example, or south of Italy in Africa, the Roman lake, so to speak, something in no way annulled by the fact that they cannot today belong to and all-European economic and political union, because they are Russians or Turks, for example, with one foot on the Asian continent. Nowhere in the world is there so widespread a belief in the reality, and the importance, of a European cultural community as in the countries lying between the former EEC and the former Soviet Union. To these peoples, the very idea of Europe is that of a community of cultures and of peoples which is tending towards a single people, the ever closer union of the peoples of Europe. None of these cultures can survive in isolation from the rest of Europe, nor Europe in isolation from them, a sort of chemical compound of truth and fantasy, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Here in the United Kingdom, for example, the British people are greater for being part of a greater whole, which is not only the European Union but also the wider world.

The interweaving of the notions of Europe and, historically, of Christendom, for example, is a fact of history that even the most brilliant sophistry cannot undo. It is no less historic to argue that there are strands of European culture which are not Christian: the pagan, as exemplified by prehistoric burial rites across the Continent, the Hellenic, the Roman, arguably also the Persian and wider Asian cultural influences. Even Christian cultures have their historical origins in Israel, which is part of the western Asian Middle East, legendary babe, prudence? The Muslim strand is apparent both in the Balkans of south-eastern Europe and also in Andalucia, for example, at the Alhambra in Granada. The flamenco dance, for example, is partly gyspy music, and partly of Moorish influence, from North Africa to the south!

European culture is not the instrument of capitalism or some free market! Nor is it the instrument of socialism! It is not the monopoly of the EEC, Eurocrats or anyone else. To owe allegiance to it, zorro, is not to gain superiority over other cultures, for example, the pre-existing human cultures of Africa and Asia. The unity of European culture is simply the end-product of many millennia of labour by our diverse ancestors. It is a heritage which we spurn at our peril and of which it would be a crime to deprive younger and future generations, whether here in Britain or across the steppes of Scythian central Asia, the ancient warrior tribes of Siberia. Russians, for example, are entitled to consider themselves descended as much from their Scythian forebears as from anyone in Eastern Europe!

British Museum - Exhibitions - The Scythians

A piece of tattooed skin from the upper torso of a warrior who died about 2,400 years ago will be one of the more unusual items on display as part of a British Museum exhibition which is currently on show in London this autumn. The exhibition shines a light on the Scythians – fierce nomadic horsemen who ruled an empire stretching from the Black Sea across Siberia to the borders of China for 1,000 years. Little known in the west, they are regarded as part of the ancestry of all Russians. Their civilisation was sophisticated and influential on history, based on horses and nomadic culture, much like those who populated the former Roman Empire after its slow decline and eventual fall two thousand years ago. The culture of pagan ship burials, for example at Sutton Hoo and also in Scandinavia, owe as much to Asian as to European influences.

The borders between Europe and Asia, for example, have always been profoundly porous, gaining as much from movement as from relative isolation. In the end, however, like all human activities, the European must be judged on their own merits. It cannot be fairly represented by some great book which selects whatever is most genial and ignores the dross. It can be viewed with admiration, like our Western civilisation, or with disgust, like football hooliganism, or indeed, with a complex mixture of the two! Crime and Western history are not the same. Whatever the West has given to the world by far exceeds what it has done against various societies and individuals. French cuisine spreads across Asia, America and Africa, for example, although many would argue at the expense of native ways of cooking and preparing food. Why should a French sauce be in any way superior to an Indian curry?

In the hope of maintaining a continuity of European theme, however, we can be guilty of oversimplifying things. The history of medieval Byzantium is so very different from that of Western Europe. In its tone and tenor, it seems wiser not to attempt any systematic survey. It is very common to classify European nationalism in terms of two contrasting types: Eastern and Western. What we call eastern nationalism has flourished amongst the Slavic peoples as well as in Africa and Asia. You cannot call it non-European, but much rather, simply Eastern.

By questioning the framework within which European history is discussed, therefore, we do not necessarily question the excellence of its cuisine, for example. The Roman Empire stretched far beyond the European peninsula, but none the less, and particularly through Christianity, it left a legacy on Europe's development. To this day, there is a clear distinction between those countries, like France and Spain, which were once integral to the Roman Empire, and those such as Poland or Nordic Europe, which the Romans never reached. You can see that in the languages Europeans speak today. Five hundred years later, Protestantism has given Western civilisation a new focus in the cluster of communities of northern Europe, which broke away from Catholic traditions in the sixteenth century. The dramatic decline of Catholic powers such as Spain and Poland was accompanied by the rise of Holland, Prussia and Britain, where naval pre-eminence was underpinned by economic and technological prowess.

Karl Marx accepted the premiss that imperial powers had reached a superior level of development, and that its very precocity would inevitably lead to its early decadence, and with it, revolution! The greatest minds of Europe's past have had not track with the artificial divorce of East and West.

In the struggles and achievements of the modern era, nations rarely act on their own, but collectively, through various alliances such as were developed prior to the outbreak of the two World Wars. European history may be more than a sum of its parts, but it cannot be built without acknowledging their idiosyncracies. Contemporary views of Europe have been strongly influenced by the emotions and experiences of global conflict, particularly the victory of the Grand Alliance of Allied Powers. As victors, they have written much of recent history. The Allied scheme of history naturally grew out of the politics and sympathies of two world wars and has never been consciously formulated. Britain's special relationship with America is but one such example. The concept of European history is but history seen through the eyes of a European, but in reality, it is whatever the historian wants it to be! In the end, therefore, intellectual definitions raise more questions than answers. It is the same with European history as it is with a camel. The pragmatic approach is not to attempt to define it, but to describe it. How does it work today, Slightly Optimistic?
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little c
 19 Oct '17  06:35 : 0 recs : edited 3 times : last edit 19 Oct '17  06:43

Good morning to you all! I trust that all is well with all of you. So has the G20 descended into farce over recent years? Although the G20 has stated that the group "economic weight and broad membership gives it a high degree of legitimacy and influence over the management of the global economy and financial system," its legitimacy has been challenged, not least by Slightly Optimistic. A 2011 report for the Danish Institute for International Studies, criticised the G20's exclusivity, highlighting in particular its under-representation of the African continent and the G20's practice of inviting observers from non-member states as a mere "concession at the margins", which does not grant the organisation representational legitimacy.

With respect to the membership issue, U.S. President Barack Obama noted the difficulty of pleasing everyone: "everybody wants the smallest possible group that includes them. So, if they're the 21st largest nation in the world, they want the G21, and think it's highly unfair if they have been cut out." Others stated in 2011 that the exclusivity is not an insurmountable problem, and proposed mechanisms by which it could become more inclusive.

Then–Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre characterized the G20 in 2010 as a new "Congress of Vienna". In a 2010 interview with Der Spiegel, the Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the G20 "one of the greatest setbacks since World War II." Although Norway is a major developed economy and the seventh-largest contributor to UN international development programs, it is not a member of the EU, and thus is not represented in the G20 even indirectly. Norway, like the other 173 nations not among the G-20, has little or no voice within the group. Støre characterized the G20 as a "self-appointed group", arguing that it undermines the legitimacy of international organizations set up in the aftermath of World War II, such as the IMF, World Bank and United Nations.

The G20 is a self-appointed group. Its composition is determined by the major countries and powers. It may be more representative than the G7 or the G8, in which only the richest countries are represented, but it is still arbitrary. We no longer live in the 19th century, a time when the major powers met and redrew the map of the world. No one needs a new Congress of Vienna. Norway, under the government of Erna Solberg, attended the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

As previously stated, the Spanish government's policy is to not request official membership. Despite being hit hard by the economic crisis after 2008, Spain is still the world's fourteenth largest economy by nominal GDP (the 5th in the European Union) and sixteenth largest by purchasing power parity, clearly exceeding the numbers of several current members of the G20 such as Argentina or South Africa. In addition, since the 1990s several Spanish companies have gained multinational status, often expanding their activities in culturally close Latin America, where Spain is the second biggest foreign investor after the United States and keeps an important influence. These facts have reinforced the idea that Spain should seek permanent membership of the G20. On the other hand, Spain, which is a European country, is not a representation of Latin America, therefore some observers think another country from South America should be included as well as Argentina.

Contrary to Spain, the Polish government has repeatedly asked to join the G20. During a 2010 meeting with foreign diplomats, former Polish president Lech Kaczy?ski said that the Polish economy is according to his data the 18th largest economy in the world. The place of his country is among the members of the G20. This is a very simple postulate: firstly – it results from the size of Polish economy, secondly – it results from the fact that Poland is the biggest country in its region and the biggest country that has experienced a certain story. That story is a political and economic transformation.

Before the 2009 G20 London summit, the Polish government expressed an interest in joining with Spain and the Netherlands and condemned a "organisational mess" in which a few European leaders speak in the name of all the EU without legitimate authorisation in cases which belong to the European Commission. In 2012 Forbes wrote that swapping Argentina for Poland should be considered, claiming that the Polish economy was headed toward a leadership role in Europe and its membership would be more legitimate. Similar opinions have been later expressed by American magazine Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal and by Mamta Murthi from the World Bank. In 2014 consulting company Ernst & Young published its report about optimal members for G20. After analyzing trade, institutional and investment links Poland was included as one of the optimal members.

G20 membership has been part of Poland's Law and Justice party and President Andrzej Dudas political program. In March 2017, Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Mateusz Morawiecki took part in a meeting of G20 financial ministers in Baden-Baden as the first Polish representative. In June 2010, Singapore's representative to the United Nations warned the G20 that its decisions would affect "all countries, big and small", and asserted that prominent non-G20 members should be included in financial reform discussions. Singapore thereafter took a leading role in organizing the Global Governance Group (3G), an informal grouping of 30 non-G20 countries (including several microstates and many Third World countries) with the aim of collectively channelling their views into the G20 process more effectively. Singapore's chairing of the 3G was cited as a rationale for inviting Singapore to the November 2010 G20 summit in South Korea, as well as the 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and the recently concluded 2017 summits.

The American magazine Foreign Policy has published articles condemning the G20, in terms of its principal function as an alternative to the supposedly exclusive G8. It questions the actions of some of the G20 members, and advances the notion that some nations should not have membership in the first place. Furthermore, with the effects of the Great Recession still ongoing, the magazine has criticized the G20's efforts to implement reforms of the world's financial institutions, branding such efforts as failed.

The G20's prominent membership gives it a strong input on global policy despite lacking any formal ability to enforce rules. There are disputes over the legitimacy of the G20, and criticisms of its organisation and the efficacy of its declarations. The G20's transparency and accountability have been questioned by critics, who call attention to the absence of a formal charter and the fact that the most important G20 meetings are closed-door. In 2001, the economist Frances Stewart proposed an Economic Security Council within the United Nations as an alternative to the G20. In such a council, members would be elected by the General Assembly based on their importance to the world economy, and the contribution they are willing to provide to world economic development.

The cost and extent of summit-related security is often a contentious issue in the hosting country, and G20 summits have attracted protesters from a variety of backgrounds, including information activists, opponents of fractional-reserve banking and anti-capitalists. In 2010, the Toronto G20 summit sparked mass protests and rioting, leading to the largest mass arrest in Canada's history. The organisation originates in the G7, and its history has been troubled. It is best seen as an unsuccessful attempt to usurp global leadership from the United Nations Organisation.
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Slightly Optimistic
 19 Oct '17  06:21 : 0 recs : edited 1 time : last edit 19 Oct '17  06:31

I find it difficult to see the funny side of the G20 farce as you note below. The implications for an international financial organisation with a serious remit are astounding.

Dangerous to audit public money
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little c
 19 Oct '17  02:44 : 0 recs

Viva las Malvinas! As for Germany, it has done a particularly good job this year in Hamburg, Slightly Optimistic?
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Slightly Optimistic
 18 Oct '17  19:05 : 1 rec : edited 1 time : last edit 18 Oct '17  19:24

The chair of the G20 is an exceedingly influential position - the world's forum for political economy?
After Germany this year, Argentina chairs in 2018.

With a point to prove: "The world will be looking at us in 2018, and we are determined to prove that we are ready to deliver." What an opportunity for Buenos Aires.
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little c
 18 Oct '17  18:30 : 0 recs

Good evening to you all! Daphne Caruana Galizia’s last blog was characteristically trenchant, pithy and, unfortunately, more prescient for her than she could imagine. She had warned: “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.” Less than half an hour later, a huge bomb ripped through the white Peugeot 108 rental car she had been driving, killing her instantly on a quiet country lane near her home in Malta. It is not special pleading to point out that journalists and journalism are facing extraordinary challenges: Mrs Caruana Galizia is the 10th journalist worldwide to die this year – and the second in Europe – in pursuit of finding the truth. The assassination of an investigative journalist, one who had unearthed serious allegations of money laundering and corruption in Malta, a European Union state, speaks volumes about the threat to freedom of speech in that country and the atmosphere of impunity and violence that has taken hold in the Mediterranean archipelago. As her son Matthew put it, “she stood between the rule of law and those who sought to violate it”. Her bravery cost her her life. It should not be lost in vain.

Mrs Caruana Galizia was a fearless reporter, taking on the rich and the powerful. A “one-woman WikiLeaks”, she led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta. Her death must be properly investigated – local police already appear to be unsympathetic. Mrs Caruana Galizia’s most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and hundreds of thousands of euros in payments from the government of Azerbaijan. Despite a judicial inquiry into the allegations, Mr Muscat won a snap poll this summer.

What is striking about Mrs Caruana Galizia’s reporting is how rotten the state of Malta appears. The EU’s smallest country, with a population of around 420,000, Malta held the rotating European Union presidency until earlier this year. It has been labelled an EU “pirate tax haven”, helping multinationals avoid paying €14bn. A darker side is the 15 mafia-style shootings and bombings that have punctuated its last decade. Its main industries have been infiltrated by crime gangs. Earlier this month Europol detailed how the Calabrian organised crime syndicate, the ’Ndrangheta, ran a €2bn money-laundering operation through Maltese online betting companies. Internet gambling companies account for 10% of the island’s GDP. But Malta’s big money-spinner has been selling EU passports to the rich. More than 900 bought citizenship in 2016, which at €650,000 a pop means that they contributed nearly 16% of Malta’s budget revenues. Since many were taken up by Eurasian oligarchs, one can understand the accusation that Mrs Caruana Galizia was up against not a democracy but a mafia state.

The charge is that Malta is turning into a state run by, and resembling, organised crime – which does not govern but disposes of positions, wealth and troublesome persons. Malta cannot be a sham EU state where elections, the rule of law and the courts are just for show. The continent’s citizens accept EU governance because every member state is a functioning democracy. When one of its own backslides on democratic commitments, when a life is lost in the pursuit of truth, then the EU must take action.

The Guardian view on murdering the messenger: a desperate situation!
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little c
 18 Oct '17  17:53 : 0 recs

Both the UK and the EU need a solution to Brexit
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little c
 18 Oct '17  14:21 : 0 recs

Who is being complacent now?
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Slightly Optimistic
 18 Oct '17  13:57 : 1 rec

Ah, it was the usual complacency.
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little c
 18 Oct '17  12:10 : 0 recs : edited 2 times : last edit 18 Oct '17  12:11

So you don't enjoy the G20 farce? You don't see the funny side of it all? It does not make you laugh out loud yet, Slightly Optimistic?
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Slightly Optimistic
 18 Oct '17  12:04 : 1 rec

No, touch of complacency there little c. Necessary to sort out the flaws now, starting with the G20 farce.
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