From Yesterday’s FINANCIAL TIMES World News:
US President Barack Obama said Greece needs to make some “tough decisions,” as he warned that the eurozone shouldn’t rely on America to drive the global economy.
With the Greek government potentially running out of money as soon as next month, the question of whether Athens can persuade its creditors to dispatch more money from its bailout fund has dominated financial markets this week.
Mr Obama, who was hosting Italian prime minister Mario Renzi in Washington, told a press conference:
Greece needs to initiate reforms; they need to collect taxes; they need to reduce their bureaucracy.
When the new PM (Alexis Tsipras) came in, I called him and recognised you need to show your people that there’s hope, that you can grow, but you have to show those who are extending credit, who are supporting your financial system that you’re trying to help yourself; that requires making the tough decisions.
Negotiations between Greece, the International Monetary Fund and other eurozone countries have so far stumbled on which set of reforms the new government in Athens is prepared to sign up to.
Europe’s monetary authority unleashed a new wave of stimulus in March, which has buoyed stock markets and raised hopes that the eurozone might break free of its economic stagnation.
However, Mr Obama added:
All of us have to recognise that global aggregrate demand is very weak; China won’t be growing as fast.
What I’ve said to the Europeans is don’t expect that the US will be the engine for everyone; don’t expect you can keep selling to the US but we can’t sell anything to you because your economy is weak.
Mr. George Friedman is Founder and Chairman, Stratfor, a private intelligence company located in Austin, TX.
This article is published herein by permission of Stratfor.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by French President Francois Hollande, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 6. Then she met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Feb. 9. The primary subject was Ukraine, but the first issue discussed at the news conference following the meeting with Obama was Greece. Greece and Ukraine are not linked in the American mind. They are linked in the German mind, because both are indicators of Germany’s new role in the world and of Germany’s discomfort with it.
It is interesting to consider how far Germany has come in a rather short time. When Merkel took office in 2005, she became chancellor of a Germany that was at peace, in a European Union that was united. Germany had put its demands behind it, embedding itself in a Europe where it could be both prosperous and free of the geopolitical burdens that had led it into such dark places. If not the memory, then the fear of Germany had subsided in Europe. The Soviet Union was gone, and Russia was in the process of trying to recover from the worst consequences of that collapse. The primary issue in the European Union was what hurdles nations, clamoring to enter the union, would have to overcome in order to become members. Germany was in a rare position, given its history. It was in a place of comfort, safety and international collegiality.
Mr. Nikos Konstandaras is managing editor and a columnist of Kathimerini, the leading Greek morning daily. He is also a contributor to The BusinessThinker.com
Like glaciers melting after ages of stability, the global political system is undergoing great change. Alliances are loosened or reinforced, old enmities are revived and the whole system of global governance is being tested. It is impossible to predict where this will lead.
There was a major May Day rally by workers in Moscow’s Red Square – the first since 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of the banners did not express the demands and wishes of Russian workers, instead they praised President Vladimir Putin for his dynamic intervention in Ukraine’s domestic affairs and for the annexation of Crimea. On May 9, a major military parade in Red Square commemorate the day in which the Allies defeated Nazi Germany. The revival of this Soviet tradition was Putin’s project. More recently, Russia adopted laws which make it easier to annex parts of countries that were in the Soviet Union; they also allow citizens of such territories to gain Russian citizenship. It is clear that Russia is on an irredentist march.