Free Markets, Free People

Europe

“Occidentophobia”?

Interesting article by a Dutch author that talks about the immigrant problem in Europe.  As always, read the whole thing.  But I was struck by these two paragraphs:

In December 2013, Professor Ruud Koopmans of the Berlin Social Science Center published a study on “Fundamentalism and out-group hostility,” in which he compared hostility among Muslim immigrants with hostility among Christian natives in Western Europe. He writes: “Almost 60 percent agree that Muslims should return to the roots of Islam, 75 percent think there is only one interpretation of the Quran possible to which every Muslim should stick and 65 percent say that religious rules are more important to them than the laws of the country in which they live.” In regards to Christian citizens he concludes: “Less than 4 percent can be characterized as consistent fundamentalists.”

On hatred of Jews and homosexuals among Europe’s Muslim population, Koopmans finds: “Almost 60 percent reject homosexuals as friends and 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted. While about one in five natives can be considered as Islamophobic, the level of phobia against the West among Muslims — for which oddly enough there is no word; one might call it ‘Occidentophobia’ — is much higher still, with 54 percent believing that the West is out to destroy Islam.” Recorded rates of Christian hate toward Muslims hover around 10 percent.

I am enamored of the new term because, more than anything, it is a term that can be thrown back at those who like to trot out “Islamaphobia” each and every time anyone attempts to discuss radical Islam.  So what’s the problem with Muslims, aka the “religion of peace”, that so many of them have hatred for the West and Western ways?  Doesn’t that qualify for a “phobia” for heaven sake – especially in the era of being tagged as ___aphobic (fill in the blank) of you disagree about anything the left is invested in.

The article says much of the problem in Europe is that Muslims there aren’t assimilated.  I can believe that.  The question, however, is how much of that is Europe’s fault and how much of that is the immigrant’s fault.  For instance, if you’re not willing to subordinate your culture (religious or otherwise) to the dominant culture, you’re not going to be assimilated.  If that’s the case, and the numbers are as indicated, aren’t then a majority of immigrant Muslims “phobic” about the West?

So, why are they there?

That’s the salient question, if the data is true, and it is one that EU leaders and those in the US, won’t ask or face.

If not to assimilate, what is the purpose of your immigration?

That question likely will see me labeled as “Islamophobic”.  If so, I can live with that.

~McQ

The West’s voluntary crisis

I’m more than a little bemused by the current self-inflicted problem Europe is experiencing and the US seems more the willing to allow to happen here, given that the current administration pretty much shares the ideals under which Europe is foundering.  I certainly understand the wish to aid people displaced by wars.  But since when did that mean committing to the mass immigration of a religious culture that has, demonstrably, refused to assimilate into the dominant culture of the countries into which they’re being imported (this isn’t a new phenomenon for Europe … it’s been going on for decades).  How does Europe, which has existent large populations of unassimilated migrants of the same religious culture assume this will somehow be different?

Of course, we’re talking about Islam.  Well, we’re talking about it.  As Andrew McCarthy points out, those in favor of welcoming this mass importation are talking about “fantasy Islam”.  This New Year’s Eve, reality slapped fantasy Islam and its adherents in the chops:

Nearly 200 women have filed criminal complaints in Cologne, the vast majority charging all manner of sexual assault. There have been few arrests, though, and nearly none involving sex crimes. The Muslim men used a tactic that has escaped the notice of fantasy Islam devotees but is well known to those of us who’ve followed the scant reports on the rape jihad as it has proceeded from Tahrir Square to Malmö to Rotherham: A group of men encircles the targeted woman or girl, trapping her while walling off police and other would-be rescuers. Knowing they are a protected class, the Muslim men have no fear of the cops — “You can’t do anything to me,” and “Mrs. Merkel invited me here,” are just some of the reported taunts. By the time “help” reaches one victim, the assailants have moved on to the next.

But, but … that’s not supposed to happen. Not in fantasy Islam which is all about peace and coexistence.  In fact, those that believe that nonsense are all about naiveté and willful ignorance.  And there is a building backlash to this absurd policy:

A poll published by the Sunday edition of the influential tabloid Bild showed 49% of Germans feared a repeat of the Cologne events in their hometowns. Similar New Year’s Eve assaults were reported on a smaller scale in the cities of Hamburg and Stuttgart.

Authorities, who have described the violence in Cologne as unprecedented in the country, have also said that most potential suspects had applied for asylum in Germany or were in the country illegally. Cologne’s police chief was forced out Friday amid criticism over the police’s failure to prevent the attacks and its apparent hesitation to acknowledge that the attackers may have been asylum applicants. The police chief, Wolfgang Albers, denied trying to cover up the backgrounds of suspected attackers.

The attacks have also provoked an emotional debate in Germany on how to deal with sexual violence. Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker drew heavy criticism after saying that women should keep an arm’s length distance from men in situations that could escalate. She later apologized, saying she didn’t mean to set a code of conduct for women and that the attackers were the ones responsible in cases of sexual violence.

Since the New Year’s eve attacks in numerous cities in Europe, the narrative that has been spun by the backers of this mass immigration has been reduced to tatters.  There’s even evidence other incidents have been essentially covered up.  In Sweden, for example, a major newspaper stands accused of no failing to report such problems, but essentially refusing to do so.

And the media in the US seems just as complicit in trying to deny what happened on NYE was anything to do with refugees or, by inference, Islam:

“It was not clear,” the New York Times opaquely explains, “that any of the men involved were among those who arrived in Germany over the past year from conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

While the NYT tacitly agrees that the incidents happened, in this land of #allwomenshouldbebelieved, it apparently has difficulty believing the descriptions of the men those 200 assaulted women identified because of what that would mean in terms of identifying their religion.  One thing that seems to be clear, however … it wasn’t a mob of German (or other) European males.

So the fellow travelers invested in fantasy Islam continue to refuse reality and are reduced to shouting “Islamaphobia” at anyone who disagrees.

The situation here isn’t much different.  I understand Obama will have a Syrian refugee sitting in the balcony for his (thankfully) last State of the Union speech.  It is obviously a symbolic presence meant to assure us that there’s nothing to fear by importing fighting age men from an Islamic country into this nation.  Because, you know, government is on the job and has this rigorous vetting process before any refugees are allowed in the country.  You have nothing to fear.

Oh, wait:

Two men born in Iraq who came to the U.S. as refugees had court dates in California and Texas Friday on terror-related charges, as investigators say one of the men wrote that he wanted to travel to Syria because he was “eager to see blood.”

How did that happen?  One assumes those two were also a product of that “rigorous vetting process”.  How many more like them are still at large?

As for those who might come here from Syria, guess who is handling their screening?

The recent terrorism-related arrests of two refugees from the Middle East again showed the national security risks associated with the present refugee screening process. A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies analyzes this refugee resettlement screening process and the large role played by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the entity entrusted with the entire pre-screening process for Syrian refugees being considered for resettlement in the United States.

The UNHCR screens refugees and then presents the U.S. with potential resettlement cases; 22,427 Syrian refugee cases have been submitted. The selecting, pre-screening, and referring refugees for resettlement, as well as the humanitarian care of the well over four million Syrian refugees, has been accomplished with what amounts to one staff member for 2, 862 refugees. The selection process uses the following guidelines: “The mere absence of information, or one’s inability to find information that supports an applicant’s claim, should not in itself justify a negative eligibility decision.” The only requirement for applicants’ statements is that they “must be coherent and plausible, and must not run counter to generally known facts.”

Yes, friends, that same entity whose “peacekeeping” troops are so well known for rape.  I’m sure that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, no?

So why is it that Europe’s leadership and media continue to invest themselves in fantasy Islam?  Here’s one explanation.  Remember when the Catholic church’s sex scandal broke?  Remember how abysmally the church handled it?  Remember how badly it all went for the Church?

Instead like the church for political, economic or cultural reasons the countries of Europe hung back and the communities became isolated and unassimilated.  And when the cultural effect went beyond the results have been devastating, In Rotherham, in Birmingham, in Cologne, in Oslo in Paris and in literally thousands of other places the authorities have decided to go all in with a comfortable lie.  They have chosen to pretend that millions of unassimilated muslims in the west are not a problem, they have chosen to ignore the no go zones, the violence, the murder of their citizen and even the rape of their women and children for the sake of proclaiming that none of these things have anything to do with Islam, its practice or its culture.

Like the church scandal the driving force here is fear and a desire to put off a confrontation that this big lie is making more a more likely.  And like the church scandal the longer the west remains in denial the greater the cost of solving the problem

So again, the questions – reasonable questions – arise concerning these refugees.  Why must they come here (why can’t they be resettled in cultures in the area they come from which are compatible with theirs?)?  And if they come here, shouldn’t they assimilate instead of segregate and demand their own culture be both tolerated and implemented?  How does one implement cultural demands that require their own brand of law be superior to ours?  Or that women essentially be treated as chattel?  How many stonings, rapes, honor killings and acid attacks would we be willing to endure in the name of tolerance?

Victor Davis Hanson gives us 4 points necessary for successful immigration, the model for the past in the US.  They are a key to why, unlike Europe, America has been successful with its immigration over the centuries.  While the left scoffs at the idea of a “melting pot” and even warns that using the term is a “micro aggression”, Europe’s “salad bowl” proves their alternative to be … another fantasy.  Here’s Hanson:

“REFLECTIONS ON WISE AND SUICIDAL IMMIGRATION,”

One, immigrants came legally. Breaking the law was a lousy way to start American residency. How can an immigrant continue to respect and follow his adopted country’s legal system when his first act as an American resident is to mock federal law?

Two, immigration was blind and diverse. It did not favor one particular group over another. The more diverse the immigrant blocs, the less likely they were to form lasting separate communities. There were, of course, mass influxes of immigrants in the past, but they were quite diverse: gobs of Germans, hordes of Irish, masses of Italians and Sicilians, huge influxes of Poles and Jews, lots of Japanese and Chinese, large arrivals of Mexicans. But note how diverse and varied were the immigrants’ places of origin and how destined they were to bump into each other upon arrival. Each group was wary of the other trying to use immigration as a crass tool to boost their own political fortunes by bringing in more kin than their rivals.

Three, immigrants usually arrived in manageable numbers; mass arrivals were usually periodic and episodic, not continuous and institutionalized. Only that way could the melting pot absorb newcomers and avoid the tribalism and factionalism that had always plagued so many prior failed multi-ethnic national experiments abroad. To avoid the fate of Austria-Hungary or Yugoslavia, immigrants—geographically, politically, culturally—by needs were soon intermixed and intermingled.

Four, both hosts and immigrants insisted on rapid Americanization. Immigrants learned English, followed all the laws of their host, and assumed America was good without having to be perfect. Otherwise they would have stayed home.

Fantasy, willful ignorance and an abject refusal to confront evil lead to the mess Europe now finds itself facing.  Reality, as usual, doesn’t deal nicely with those who refuse to recognize it.  The threat to our country comes from those who believe in a culture and religion that, as they would have it implemented, is incompatible with Western ideals.  They have no business here.

Hopefully we won’t duplicate the stupidity with which Europe has so naively committed itself.  There is nothing wrong with slowing things down and ensuring we aren’t allowing those who don’t want to or won’t assimilate into our country.  We don’t need or want those who are like the two just arrested in California and Texas.  And, if that is “Islamaphobia”, then so be it.  I’ll live with the tag.

~McQ

Europe discovers its gas problem

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the G8 to be dead, thanks to Russia’s take over of the Crimea:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the Group of Eight leading nations defunct given the current crisis in Ukraine, in a clear message to Russia that the world’s seven other major industrialized countries consider its actions in Ukraine unacceptable. “As long as there is no political environment for such an important political format as the G-8, the G-8 doesn’t exist anymore, not the summit nor the format,” said Ms. Merkel, in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. “Russia is widely isolated in all international organizations,” the chancellor said.

Ah, yes, the old “isolated in all international organizations” gambit.  And what have all the “international organizations” done in reaction to Russia’s Crimean takeover?  About what they did when Russia pushed into Georgia.  A whole lot of nothing. It is one thing to have international organizations that have teeth and are willing to do something in reaction to such a blatant act.  But when they mostly issue statements condeming the action and void the Netflix accounts of certain Russian officals, being isolated from those organizations isn’t such a big deal.  All it does is make further diplomatic efforts more difficult, not that it is clear that Russia is open to diplomatic overtures.

Another thing that is happening is Europe is discovering it has managed to put itself in an energy situation that isn’t at all to its advantage.  30% of Europe’s natural gas flows through Russian pipelines (Germany gets 40% of its natural gas supplies from Russia).

So the scramble is purportedly on to change that situation.

European leaders will seek ways to cut their multi-billion-dollar dependence on Russian gas at talks in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, while stopping short of severing energy ties with Moscow for now. EU officials said the current Ukraine crisis had convinced many in Europe that Russia was no longer reliable and the political will to end its supply dominance had never been greater. “Everyone recognises a major change of pace is needed on the part of the European Union,” one EU official said on condition of anonymity. As alternatives to imported gas, the Brussels talks will debate the European Union’s “indigenous supplies”, which include renewable energy and shale gas.

Now, one would think that such a situation would call for drastic and speedy action.  Anyone want to bet how long they dither and, should they decide to exploit their “indigenous supplies”, how onerous the rules and regulations will be?

When leaders of the European Union’s member states meet today and tomorrow (20-21 March) in Brussels, they hope to reach consensus on the EU’s long-term climate goals. But agreement appears unlikely because of deep divisions between east and west. Ahead of the summit, ministers from 13 member states signed a declaration supporting a European Commission proposal for an EU commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 – up from a 20% target set for 2020. This ‘green growth group’ includes France, Germany, Italy and the UK. But Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are wary of the target and the timeline, and are resisting any such commitment.

The latter group will most likely be all for moving ahead as speedily as possible to exploit “indigenous supplies”.  They’ll meet some pretty stiff headwinds, apparently, from the Western EU nations. You can almost see this train wreck coming.

Meanwhile in the pursuit of “green energy”, Europe is apparently ready to toss in the towel:

Governments across Europe, regretting the over-generous deals doled out to the renewable energy sector, have begun reneging on them. To slow ruinous power bills hikes, governments are unilaterally rewriting contracts and clawing back unseemly profits.

You have to laugh.  “Unseemly profits”?  They’re subsidies, sir.  Not profit.

It’ll be interesting to see if the EU has the will to sort this all out in the next couple of days.  If one is a betting person, you’d have to guess that the odds for success are long, given the EU’s recent history.

~McQ

Prepare for more foreign policy disasters

One of the foreign policy promises Barack Obama made was that during his presidency, America would have a “light footprint” on world affairs. Our first indicator of what that meant was the action in Libya when the US “led from behind”. The Obama administration belived that pulling back from our strong presence and position in the world would help mollify other powers and usher in a new era of peaceful cooperation with America as a partner and not necessarily the leader.

How has that worked out?

Ask Russia, China and a few others:

The White House was taken by surprise by Vladimir V. Putin’s decisions to invade Crimea, but also by China’s increasingly assertive declaration of exclusive rights to airspace and barren islands.

Neither the economic pressure nor the cyberattacks that forced Iran to reconsider its approach have prevented North Korea’s stealthy revitalization of its nuclear and missile programs. In short, America’s adversaries are testing the limits of America’s post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan moment.

“We’re seeing the ‘light footprint’ run out of gas,” said one of Mr. Obama’s former senior national security aides, who would not speak on the record about his ex-boss.

What we’re actually seeing is naivete in foreign policy head toward a predictable conclusion. Foreign policy isn’t bean bag and it has been established many times in history that the retreat of a great power from the world’s stage will see other seemingly lesser powers attempt to fill or take advantage of that power vacuum.

The “light footprint” didn’t “run out of gas”, the light footprint was foreign policy destined for failure from its inception. Mr. Obama and his foreign policy team were warned about that constantly and preferred to ignore both the warnings and history.

Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment. History suggests that such eras — akin to what the United States went through after the two world wars and Vietnam — often look like weakness to the rest of the world. His former national security adviser Thomas Donilon seemed to acknowledge the critical nature of the moment on Sunday when he said on “Face the Nation” that what Mr. Obama was facing was “a challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe, an order that we have a lot to do with.”

But while Mr. Donilon expressed confidence that over time the United States holds powerful tools against Russia and other nations, in the short term challengers like Mr. Putin have the advantage on the ground.

Mr. Obama is managing “an era of American retrenchment” he initiated.

It doesn’t look like a period of weakness to the rest of the world, it is a period of weakness that is compounded by our weak leadership. We’re engaged in bringing our military down to pre-WWII levels and we’ve made it clear that we’re not interested in fulfilling treaty obligations with the likes of the Ukraine. How else would one interpret our actions?

And, of course, one of the best ways we could address this particular crisis is to up our shipments of natural gas to Europe so they weren’t dependent of Russian pipeline supplies that flow through the Ukraine. That would give Europe some leverage because they wouldn’t be held hostage by their need for Russian petro supplies. But on the domestic front, the Obama administration has made building the necessary infrastructure to cash in on our growing natural gas boom almost impossible.

Are Russia and others testing the limits? You bet they are and all of those interested in those limits are watching this drama unfold. To this point, it appears Russia sees no downside to its action. Should that continue to be the case, you can be assured other nations will also “test the limits.”

This is Mr. Obama’s 3am phone call. And it appears he has let it go to the answering machine.

~McQ

Remembering the promises, looking at reality

You remember the grand promises a certain candidate made in 2008.  And in the area of foreign policy he told us how huge a mess it was and how he was going to clean it up and how the world would love us again.  He was going to “reset” relations with Russia and get us out of all these wars.  Oh, and of course, solve the problems in the Middle East.

Yeah, that was then and this is reality:

The [Middle East] is unraveling and American policy is in deep disarray. Our strategic options are getting worse, and the stakes are getting higher. When former President Bill Clinton is warning that his successor risks looking “lame” or like a “wuss” or a “total fool,” it’s a safe bet that the Kremlin and Tehran aren’t impressed by White House statements. Meanwhile the Obama administration seems to be locked into a sterile, short-term policy approach driven by domestic considerations; it is following the path of least resistance to a place that in the end will please no one and is increasingly likely to lead to strategic disaster.

An insightful article by the Democratic-leaning Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg offers a deeply unsettling view of a Syria foreign policy process gone off the rails. If Goldberg has the story right—and he usually does—Secretary Kerry and the bulk of the White House security team want the President to authorize a no-fly zone and other strong measures in Syria, in part because they fear that American dithering in Syria is empowering the hardliners in Tehran and that by avoiding a small war in Syria now the White House risks a much uglier confrontation with Iran not all that far in the future. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants nothing to do with it, pointing to the difficulties and costs of the military mission.

And rightfully so.  It has also really “reset” relations with Russia … to the Cold War era.  Well done, Mr. President.   But that’s not the real problem is it?  It is how we got in this mess in the first place: Amateur Hour at the White House:

As Goldberg tells it, the biggest problem for the administration is that its early aggressive, poorly judged rhetoric that Assad “must” go now makes it impossible to avoid Obama’s looking like an irresolute bluffer if the Butcher stays put. This is the conclusion, anyway, that both Russia and Iran will draw, and they will respond by pushing the US along other fronts as well.

This is an entirely self-created problem; there was absolutely no objective reason for the administration to lay those markers on the table. There was no requirement in America’s foreign policy that the administration bounce in with the categorical demand that Assad step down.

That is absolutely correct.  But as is mentioned further on it was fighting for re-election and didn’t what there to be a wimp factor.  As usual, politics trumped what was best for the nation.

So in every real way, this administration has lived up to few if any of it’s grand promises of 2008.  In fact, if truth be told, the honeymoon is over with Europe.  The proof, as they say, is in the turnout:

When John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him. Fifty years later a far more subdued invitation-only crowd of 4,500 showed up to hear Barack Obama speak at the same location in Berlin. As The National Journal noted, “he didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one-hundredth the size of JFK’s,” and far smaller than the 200,000 boisterous Germans who had listened to his 2008 address as a presidential candidate.

As for the Middle East … well there’s no love lost there either.  This administration has fumbled everything to do with the region during it’s tenure and has no one to blame but themselves. They’ve totally and without any help, managed to bottom out our image in the area in the same way they’ve bottomed out the economy.  If this guy isn’t the worst president with the worst team we’ve ever had inflicted on us … twice … then I don’t know who might be.   And don’t even get me started on the “leadership” in Congress – from both parties.  They’re absolutely the worst yet.  That may come as small consolation to the administration, but the combination of the two is killing us.

~McQ

ICYMI: Companies planning on less hiring in near future

According a report by Reuters, much of it is related to the looming crisis in Europe:

Only 23 percent of the firms polled in June plan to add to staff in the next six months, the National Association for Business Economics said on Monday.

NABE’s prior survey, conducted in late March and early April, had shown 39 percent of companies planning to add workers.

The point, of course, is now is certainly not the time, with unemployment at 8.2%, to give business another reason to delay hiring, right?  That would seem, to most, to be a reasonable point.  While the European problem unfolds and comes to some sort of resolution, you’d think government would be attempting to encourage and enable domestic businesses to do some hiring anyway, right?

Instead, as demonstrated in the story below, you have a president (and a party) who seem dedicated to killing whatever possibility there is for such hiring in the bud by calling for higher taxes on the “rich”.

Of course they count on the bulk of the public being ignorant of what comprises the “rich” that the administration wants taxed (small business which produces 85% of the jobs in the US) and certainly, to some extent, they’ve been successful in that endeavor. 

Many will tell you that there’s really not much government can do economically.  That they get blamed or praised when it goes south or does well, but in fact that’s more political tradition than reality.

I disagree.  Economic policy can have a profound effect on the economy.  A policy that encourages and enables business will have a net positive effect economically.  One that discourages or unsettles the business climate (increased regulation, increased taxation, etc.) will have the opposite effect.

Right now we have an example of the latter.   The 8.2% unemployment rate we now endure isn’t a result of the “European crisis”, it is the result of an unsettled and hostile domestic business climate, much of it created by the current administration’s policies.  Europe’s woes will only add to that.  Instead of doing everything they can domestically to encourage expansion and hiring, this administration has decided to again lobby for taxing the job creators at an even higher level.

Of course be prepared for the ready excuse that the crisis in Europe presents.  Blaming Bush doesn’t work as well now as it did 4 years ago.  ATMs and tsunamis won’t work either.  But President “It’s the Other Guy’s Fault” will try very hard to shift the blame of any economic downturn in the next few months across the Atlantic.

But remember – we are at 8.2% now.  And that has much more to do with this President’s policies than anything that has happened in Europe.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Around the economic world in a few minutes

A post to update you on what is happening, economically around the world.

In Asia, some not so good signs.  In China, housing prices fell in 100 Chinese cities for the 5th straight month.  Chinese manufacturing has also cooled significantly:

Manufacturing activity in China and across a wide swath of Asia slowed in May, heightening fears that the turmoil in Western economies is dragging down one of the few remaining engines of global growth.

Two purchasing managers indexes for China fell in May, briefly rattling investors Friday and stoking speculation Beijing may have to respond aggressively to support growth. Indonesia posted its first trade deficit in nearly two years, and South Korea’s exports, considered a bellwether for Asia, unexpectedly fell for a third straight month.

"The green shoots of recovery that we were seeing a month or so back are wilting away," said Rob Subbaraman, chief Asia economist at Nomura Securities. "The crisis in Europe is one reason; the other one is the China slowdown. But I think less appreciated is that the height of uncertainty about the outlook has caused Asian firms and multinationals in Asia to pause in their investments, and I think that’s the bigger factor right now."

China’s official PMI, based on government data, showed manufacturing continuing to grow but by the barest of margins, falling to 50.4 in May from 53.3 in April. A figure above 50 indicates expansion. An index produced by HSBC and Markit showed Chinese manufacturing was worse, falling to 48.4 in May from 49.3 a month earlier.

"We feel that in China a very powerful stimulus"—combining fiscal outlays and cuts to banks’ reserve requirement ratio—"is required to arrest the slowdown in growth," said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economic research for HSBC. "These numbers today suggest this is coming sooner rather than later. If that stimulus is not delivered, then China is indeed looking at a hard landing."

Both the US’s non-recovery recovery and the Eurozone crisis are being blamed for this slowdown.

The economies of Asia, both the emerging markets and the more developed countries, are being hit by a double whammy of slowing domestic growth and the impact of the European debt crisis on Asian exports and finance.

Signs of distress are proliferating.

In India, the government reported Thursday growth in the first three months of the year at the slowest pace in the past nine years—up 5.3% from the year-earlier quarter, well below the 8% pace of recent years. "A gasping elephant," said Leif Lybecker Eskesen, HSBC’s chief India economist, in a note to investors.

In China Friday, an official gauge of manufacturing activity fell to a lower than expected level, which is likely to add to market concerns about China’s slowdown. China’s official Purchasing Managers Index fell to 50.4 in May, compared with 53.3 in April and lower than the median forecast of 51.5. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. The Ministry of Commerce, meanwhile, is blaming "worse-than-expected" economic performance in Europe for disappointing export data.

Early Friday, South Korea said its exports unexpectedly contracted for a third consecutive month in May compared with a year earlier. South Korea is the first country in Asia to release trade data for the month and is often a harbinger of regional trends.

Meanwhile in Europe, the UK’s manufacturing is reported as slumping with activity dropping to its lowest level in three years.  The Eurozone jobless rate stands at 11%.  Additionally the Eurozone crisis is now beginning to effect countries with close proximity and ties which are not a part of the Euro:

The euro zone’s deepening fiscal crisis continued to take its toll on some of the neighboring economies of central and eastern Europe in May, as surveys released Friday indicated manufacturing activity contracted again in May.

The countries in Europe’s center and east have close trade and financial ties with the euro zone, and some have seen demand for their exports weaken as the currency area’s economy has stalled, while western Europe banks have cut their lending to the region.

A double whammy.  And, finally, within the Eurozone itself, companies are trying to prepare for the Greek withdrawal from the zone (and possibly Spain’s as well):

As European officials race to quell fears that Greece may exit the euro, many companies doing business in the troubled country are preparing for the worst.

Most executives, analysts and others agree on one thing: the impact of a Greek withdrawal from the euro zone is impossible to predict. That’s why multinational companies are rehearsing for any number of contingencies. They range from a paralysis in cross-border payments to a civil breakdown in Greece to a broader breakup of Europe’s common currency.

Retrieving their cash is among the companies’ gravest concerns. If Greece were to revert to its former currency, many companies fear that any euros left there would be converted into less-valuable drachmas. Should that happen, Greece is widely expected to impose capital controls to keep the remaining cash in the country.

Can you say “completely mess?”

Meanwhile, here, the business climate remains unsettled, hiring still isn’t showing any real turnaround and the economy continues to bang along the bottom (one assumes, it could drop again if the Euro crisis explodes) with no real trend upward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

Dale’s post, “Fantasy v. Reality” is spot on.  And there are plenty of examples of his point to be found.  One of the characteristics of those who live in the fantasy side of things is their continued denial of the real cause of Greece’s problems specifically and Europe’s problem generally.

They, like certain politicians on this side of the pond, want to lay it off on others – the implication being that if that situation is changed, the problems that Greece and other countries are encountering will resolve themselves.

Here’s an example:

And then what? And then the strategy would appear to be to cauterise the amputation; to circle the wagons; to issue the most ringing and convincing proclamation to the markets that no more depredations will be tolerated; and to get the Germans to stump up, big time, to protect Spain and Portugal. We are told that the only solution now is a Fiscal Union (or FU). We must have “more Europe”, say our leaders, not less Europe – even though more Europe means more suffering, and a refusal to recognise what has gone wrong in Greece.

The euro has turned out to be a doomsday machine, a destroyer of jobs, a killer of growth, because it entrenches and exacerbates the fundamental and historic inability of some countries to compete with Germany in making high-quality goods with low-unit labour costs. Unable to devalue their way back into the game, these countries are forced to watch industry wilt under German imports, as the euro serves as a giant trebuchet to fire swish German saloon cars and machine tools across the rest of Europe.

Germany is almost alone in recording economic growth in the first part of 2012; Germany is doing well from the euro; and so the theory is that Germany should pay to keep the whole racket going by bailing out the improvident and the uncompetitive, just as London and the South East subsidise the rest of the UK.

Alas, it is not a strategy that is likely to work. As Angela Merkel has made clear, there is little political support – let alone popular support – in Germany. EU leaders may want a fiscal union, but it is deeply anti-democratic. We accept large fiscal transfers in this country because Britain has a single language and a single political consciousness in a way that Europe never will. Rather than creating an “economic government of Europe”, the project will lead to endless bitterness between the resentful donors and the humiliated recipients, as these diminished satrapies will be instructed to accept cuts and “reforms” – designed in Berlin and announced in Brussels – as the price of their dosh.

Or, “it’s all Germany’s fault”.

Germany implemented Greece’s labor laws, work week, retirement age, public pensions and government subsidies.  You didn’t know that?  It’s Germany’s fault that it has all caught up with Greece in a down global market.  If Germany wasn’t so damn good, Greece would be in such damn bad shape.

Really.  That’s what this guy is pushing.  I mean, my goodness, imagine – “high-quality goods with low-unit labor costs”.  How dare they?  How can one pump up a welfare state and keep it going with competition like that?  It is Germany’s job to enable Greece’s work 38 hour week. Germany’s job to ensure their generous pension plans, early retirement, subsidies and welfare payments.

How dare they do otherwise.  They owe Europe.  They owe the rest of Europe the lifestyle they desire but can’t afford.

What is wrong with that country?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO