Bill Mitchell-en Spanish El Pacto – A Syriza Reprise!1
Sarrera: Spain is diferent2
El Pacto: A Syriza Reprise!3
Artikuluan azaltzen diren punturik garrantzitsuenak:
(i) Espainiako gobernu defizita: % 5,24
(ii) Espainiako zenbait datu5
(iii) Greziaren egoera tamalgarria, 2015eko ekainetik!6
(iv) EBZ-ren ‘rola’: bankuen insolbentzia helburu7
(v) Tsipras eta manifestazioak8
(b) IU, enplegu osoa eta austeritatearen aurka
(vi) IU-ko Alberton Garzón-ek Mitchell-en liburuari egindako hitzaurrea9
“Tenemos frente a nosotros un libro que nos brinda la posibilidad de romper con los viejos y absurdos esquemas mentales que la ideología neoliberal nos ha inoculado hasta la médula. Además nos permite conocer una nueva forma de entender la política fiscal y monetaria. En sí mismo este libro es una formidable herramienta para lograr la transformación social que necesitamos y alcanzar así mayores cotas de bienestar y de justicia económica y social.”
(vii) Mitchell-en alde10
“La exposición a este tipo de propaganda, erigida además sobre una simbología identitaria y pasional que conmueve a cualquiera, ha sido tal dentro de nuestras fronteras que ningún europeo puede realizar un análisis que no esté viciado de tales consignas … Por eso es más fácil y probable que los análisis más objetivos y serenos sobre la Unión Europea sean llevados a cabos por personas que no han estado expuestas a esa progresiva y paulatina contaminación cognitiva que hemos sufrido durante tanto tiempo.”
(vii) Biek DTM ulertzen eta sostengatzen dute
“Este particular enfoque analítico se conoce como Teoría Monetaria Moderna, y supone un cambio de paradigma interpretativo en tanto en cuanto le da la vuelta a la extendida forma de entender cómo funcionan los bancos comerciales y centrales, así como los déficit públicos.”
(viii) Arau fiskalak eta helburu errealak, enplegu osoa
“Acorde a este marco analítico, el dinero no es más que un invento del ser humano para facilitar las transacciones económicas, una herramienta de política económica que debe utilizarse por parte de los Estados soberanos sin absurdas cortapisas como los topes de déficits públicos o de deuda pública, aunque siempre con precaución y astucia para evitar consecuencias no deseadas.“
(ix) Lan bermearen aldekoak dira, DTM-ren funtsezko puntua
“De esta forma, la consecución del pleno empleo en un entorno de estabilidad de precios es un objetivo perfectamente factible a través de políticas de Trabajo Garantizado implementadas por un Estado europeo que no se ate inútilmente las manos a la hora de aplicar políticas de inversión pública.”
(x) Aipatutako puntu horiek borroka politikora eraman nahi dituzte, jende guztiarentzako oparotasuna sortu ahal izateko
“La constatación de esta posibilidad técnica es crucial para convencer a la gente de que otra Europa, mucho más sana y democrática, es posible, y de la necesidad de dar la batalla en el terreno político para así arrebatarle a las élites económicas y financieras europeas los privilegios que el propio proyecto comunitario les confiere a costa del deterioro de los derechos económicos y sociales de la mayoría. Por eso tenemos frente a nosotros un libro que no sólo nos brinda la posibilidad de romper los viejos y absurdos esquemas mentales que la ideología neoliberal nos ha inoculado hasta la médula y de conocer una nueva forma de entender la política fiscal y monetaria, sino que en sí mismo este libro es una formidable herramienta para lograr la transformación social que necesitamos y alcanzar así mayores cotas de bienestar y de justicia económica y social.”
(xi) Biekiko adostasuna11
(xii) Liburuaren hitzaurrea eta ‘El Pacto’
“If you read the Foreward to my book and ‘El Pacto’, the coalition agreement signed last week in Madrid, two words come to mind – black and white!
Then if you read ‘El Pacto’, a further two words come to mind Syriza 2015”
Lau hitz horiek analizatu baino lehen, hona hemen segituan digresio txiki bat, Podemos-en inguruan.
(c) Podemos (We Can) – lehen eta orain!
(xiii) Historia pixka bat eta istorioak12
(xiv) Grezia, Syriza, Troika, Podemos13
(xv) Politika ekonomikoa: neokeynesianismoa, Varoufakis14
(d) El Pacto
(xvi) Podemos eta IU: ‘we believe in one thing but will say and stand for another’15
(xvii) Pacto delakoaren 11. klausula16
(xviii) Kezkagarriagoa da 2. klausula
“El próximo gobierno deberá presentar y acordar con las autoridades europeas una nueva senda de reducción del déficit público que resulte coherente con las prioridades de nuestra economía: apuntalar la recuperación económica, incrementar el ritmo de creación de empleo, impulsar inversiones públicas que modifiquen el patrón de especialización industrial y fortalecer los servicios sociales y el Estado del Bienestar para luchar contra las desigualdades.
Esto exige un ritmo de reducción del deficit significativamente más paulatino que el planteado por la Comisión Europea, y que en todo caso se produzca como consecuencia de una mejora en la financiación del Estado y no gracias a nuevos recortes del gasto público. El ritmo de reducción del déficit debe trasladar al final de la legislatura el cumplimiento de los umbrales de déficit que establece el Pacto de Estabilidad y Crecimiento de la UE, dado que un ritmo superior podría fácilmente traducirse en una nueva asfixia económica y en la imposibilidad de fortalecer la cohesión social en nuestro país.
Debe acordarse igualmente la modifi cación sustancial de aquellos aspectos de la Ley de Estabilidad Presupuestaria que más dificultan la aplicación de políticas fiscales adecuadas a la posición cíclica de la economía y a las necesidades de reforzamiento del Estado de Bienestar, y debe revertirse la reforma del artículo 135 de la Constitución.
Además, un gobierno de cambio impulsará una profunda reforma de dicho Pacto de Estabilidad y Crecimiento, y de las reglas fiscales en la Eurozona, flexibilizando el objetivo de equilibrio presupuestario en los términos que plantea este acuerdo en el apartado “democracia internacional”, para adaptarlo a las necesidades de las distintas economías nacionales.
“Which in summary is about ‘austerity lite’ although they do not admit to having joined that club”
(xix) Brusela, Troika eta espainiar egoera ekonomikoa17
(xx) Defizita eta ‘Ezkerraren’ mantra18
“Why not just abandon the fiscal rules altogether, which if imposed would negate the capacity of the new government to achieve many of the admirable aspirations outlined in other clauses of ‘El Pacto’?
(1) ‘Black and white’ – Foreward to my book and El Pacto
(2) Syriza-ren esperientzia: ez zeukan B plana (exit), afera ez dagokio estatuaren tamainari20
(3) Podemos-IU akordioak ez dauka exit threat21
Eta euskal neokarlistak Podemos-ekin, Espainia demokratizatzeko helburuarekin22.
Galduta, erabat galduta, inoiz baino gehiago!
Noraino desbideraketa lotsagarri hori? Noiz arte?
2 Ingelesez: “I am now back in Australia after a very interesting 2-week visit to Spain. There were several ‘private’ events in that time, and I gave 7 public lectures over 5 days, with travel and meetings in between. It was a hectic week once the public events began, criss-crossing the rather large (by European standards) nation. I learned a lot about grass roots political movements (how they easily splinter as personalities get in the way) and about the state of European politics. I learned little about European economic policy – it is as ridiculous and damaging as ever, yet the ideologues, in the ‘pay’ of the financial and corporate elites, keep claiming everything is on track for recovery. Not! I heard about the ‘ghost’ airport, the unused Formula 1 race track, and saw the massive Arts and Sciences Complex in Valencia, all of which epitomise the excesses in the early years of the Eurozone and the unbridled capacity of Spanish politicians for corruption (the Wiki page doesn’t tell you that several corrupt pollies are already in prison over this project with more to come – see HERE and HERE and ).”
3 Ingelesez: “In the last week, a major development occurred with the signing of the so-called ‘El Pacto’ – Cambiar España: 50 pasos para gobernar juntos – which is an historic agreement between the leaders of Podemos and the United Left (IU) coalition and constitutes the manifesto to ‘Change Spain in 50 steps’ if they win government at the upcoming national election on June 29, 2016. If they don’t win government it will probably squeeze the Socialist party (PSOE) into extinction (which would be good). But ‘El Pacto’ is a dangerous document for the progressive side of politics. This blog explains why. Short summary: Syriza reprise!”
4 Ingelesez: “The Context
We learned recently that the much-touted recovery in the Eurozone is coming to an end under the weight of continued austerity as the mindless elites continue to deny the reality that spending equals income equals output.
In March, industrial output in Germany fell by 1.3 per cent and in France by 0.3 per cent, indicating that the manufacturing growth engine has gone into reverse.
Eurostat also published retail trade data last week (May 4, 2016) – Volume of retail trade down by 0.5% in euro area – the title being self-explanatory.
The data release reported that:
In March 2016 compared with February 2016, the seasonally adjusted volume of retail trade fell by 0.5% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.7% in the EU28, according to estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In February the retail trade volume rose by 0.3% in the euro area and remained stable in the EU28.
Interpretation: hopes for a consumer-led recovery are not strong.
This is a sharp downturn in the volume of retail sales after several months of recovery. It looks as though it could be a turning point again.
German retail sales fell by 1.1 per cent, France by -0.7 per cent and in Portugal by -5.2 per cent.
Spain continued to record growth in retail sales but then remember it currently is under the influence of an old-fashioned Keynesian-style fiscal stimulus and the government deficit is 5.2 per cent, well above the threshold allowed under the Stability and Growth Pact.”
5 Ingelesez: “Moreover, its structural fiscal balance (the component of the total balance that indicates the discretionary policy choices with respect to spending and taxation made by government) has been rising since 2013.
Please read my blog – Spanish government discretionary fiscal deficit rises and real GDP growth returns – for more discussion on this point.
A report in the Daily Telegraph (May 10, 2016) – Eurozone recovery wilts as sugar rush fades, deflation lurks – noted that the factors that were helping growth in the Eurozone last year, including the lower oil prices are “losing … potency, or is turning into a cyclical headwind”.
The article said that:
There are plenty of trouble spots in sight. Italy is struggling to manage a banking crisis as bad debts reach 19pc of lenders’ balance sheets, while Spain and Portugal are both in political turmoil and flouting EU deficit rules – leaving it unclear whether the ECB could legally back them in a crisis under its rescue machinery (OMT).”
6 Ingelesez: “In the last week, the Greek capital has turned into a riot zone. The UK Guardian article (May 9, 2016)- Greek MPs approve toughest austerity measures yet amid rioting – reports on how the Syriza government of Greece “pushed the legislation through parliament” to change the tax and pension system according to the desires of the occupying forces, aka The Troika.
For several days, “Rioters pelted police with stones while black-clad anarchists lobbed flaming Molotov cocktails”.
The Finance Minister claimed that “Greece could become a ‘failed state’ if it was pushed too far.”
I have news for him – it became a failed state when Syriza caved in to the Troika demands and allowed the ECB to openly blackmail it into accepting the last ‘bailout’ package in June 2015.”
7 Ingelesez: “The ECB, an institution charged with maintaining financial stability within its jurisduction, deliberately used its currency issuing capacity (in this case by denying liquidity) to bring the Greek banking system to the brink of insolvency as a bargaining tool to force the already compliant Syriza into its large act of bastardry against the Greek people.”
8 Ingelesez: “Tsipras has bent so far over to be part of the Eurozone elite (although I suspect the northerners hold him in contempt – if only because he has proven to be so pitiful) that he no longer can command any respect or credibility and just hangs onto power.
The riots are signalling that the people are now firmly against the government which promised to end austerity but have since imposed even greater austerity than anything the conservatives had been able to impose previously.
Tsipras and his colleagues have clearly double-crossed the people that gave them power. The ultimate treachery really.
Anyone who thinks the primary surplus target of 3.8 per cent of GDP by 2018 is a responsible policy target, in a country that continues to shrink in economic times and has private investment ratios of around 10.3 per cent (in the December-quarter 2015), down from 28.2 per cent in the September-quarter 2007, is suffering from a sociopathological disease, among other ailments.”
9 Ingelesez: “Last week, we launched the Spanish version of my current book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale.
The Spanish translation – Distopía del euro, La. Pensamiento gregario y negación de la realidad – is now for sale.
The back-cover attribution by the Spanish parliamentarian and IU leader Alberto Garzón and his brother, economist Eduardo Garzón, is a summary of their Foreward to the book.”
10 Ingelesez: “In the more detailed 3-page Foreward the brothers Garzón indicate that those within Europe have been entrapped by the on-going neo-liberal dialogues that have continuously justified the serial errors made by the policy-making elites, such that only an outsider (in this case, me as an Australian) can cut through the hype promoting the ‘European Project’.”
11 Ingelesez: “When I read the Foreward, it was impossible to disagree with anything the Brothers Garzón had written.
In announcing his candidacy in the lead-up to the last national election (in December 2015), Alberto Garzón told the nation that the “state must be the guarantor of employment” (“el Estado tiene que ser garante del empleo” (El Pais).
A Job Guarantee was the ‘main proposal’ that the IU took into the last election, and that was entirely consistent with what they wrote in the Foreward to my book.
I met with Alberto at his offices at the Congreso de los Diputados (Congress of Deputies) or Lower House of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid last Thursday to discuss various policy issues. Eduardo was also in attendance.
It was a very cordial meeting. It came a few days after IU had signed the pact with Podemos to take into the June 26, 2016 general election.
While the topics of this blog were clearly discussed, I want to make it absolutely clear that nothing I write here reflects the views of Alberto or Eduardo expressed at the meeting nor discloses any confidential information that I gained during our personal meeting. All confidences surrounding that meeting are respected.
Anything I write here is based on publicly available information.”
12 Ingelesez: ”I don’t think I have to recount the history of Podemos, which rose out of the Ingignants Movement in Spain that mobilised mass demonstrations across that nation in May 2011. It should be well known by now.
A recent article in the Marxist Left Review (11, Summer 2016) – Podemos and left populism – discusses the way that Podemos has morphed into a conservative force which is leaving its grass roots out in the cold as its top-down leadership hierarchy pursues personal ambition.
I spoke to several former active members of Podemos during my time in Spain who were dismayed with the way in which the Party leadership had distanced itself from the grass roots and moved, increasingly, towards the Eurozone austerity consensus.
Spain is poorly served by the traditional working class movements. Its trade union movement has largely abandoned its charter after accepting the imposition of neo-liberal austerity (initially as pension reform which extended the retirement age) in early 2011 by the, then, Socialist government (PSOE).
This surrender led to the 2011 Economic and Social Agreement for Growth, Employment and the Sustainability of Pensions.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) has gone the way of such parties in Europe and is now firmly neo-liberal. It is socialist in name only and bears no semblance to the social democratic institution it once was. It is under threat of being wiped out at the upcoming election in June – following a similar decline path to PASOK in Greece, which is now just a small rump of a party.
While IU (which is dominated by the Spanish Communist Party) “clearly has always consistently opposed austerity it does not have a grass roots support base although the potential to build that is good, given the way Podemos has behaved over the last several years.
But in 2011, Podemos formed out of Indignant People’s Movement (‘los indignados’), which had organised a variety of public protests and marches throughout Spain to rail against the neo-liberal austerity.
It was a new type of political movement, determined to rid Spain of the endemic corruption among the mainstream politicians and capitalists and give voice to the millions of people who knew they were being screwed by the neo-liberal system but were being ignored by the large political parties.
It also expressed a deep hostility towards the traditional Left in Spain, including IU. The Marxist Left Review article wrote that the “autonomist influence” in Podemos:
… meant that the movement displayed a deep hostility towards the organised left, which applied even to some of the more organised anarchist groups.”
13 Ingelesez: “A UK Guardian article at the time (February 1, 2015) – 100,000 flock to Madrid for Podemos rally against austerity – said that ‘los indignados’ was “an impromptu revolt of thousands, camping out for weeks and rallying against a political establishment felt to be out of sync with the people.”
At the time, Syriza had not yet surrendered to the Troika, although the portents of capitulation were mounting. The rallies in Spain were interpreted as the beginning of a Southern European revolt against the Troika – first Greece, then Spain.
The Guardian article quoted Spaniards waving the Podemos flag saying that “Greece gives us hope … Things were going poorly there before. Now that the people have power, it can only get better.”
Well, despite what the people said and wanted in Greece, their elected representatives (Syriza) soon betrayed them – categorically and without shame it seems. I was told in various conversations last week that Syriza is now falling apart – betrayal can only go so far.
Nothwithstanding the demise of Syriza in Greece, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias became the darling of the revolt in Spain and unconditionality gained popularity by mounting an anti-austerity, anti-establishment narrative.
But while there were a lot of slogans about change and empowerment of the people, Podemos has never been a radical party, in the sense that it wanted to change the property relationships that define capitalism.
The article in the Jacobin Magazine (May 14 2015) – The Future of Podemos – noted that:
Ultimately, the Podemos strategy is circling towards a political center that nowadays can only revive the political categories that were decisive before 15M destabilized them. The subjective declaration “I am a moderate” comes to mean the same thing as “I am middle class,” and makes little sense in a context in which the material conditions of the middle class are being demolished.
For more information about the 15-M movement see – Anti-austerity movement in Spain.
The Marxist Left Review article distinguishes its “radical” protests from its “moderate” politics and concluded that “the basic existence of capitalism was never seriously challenged” by Podemos leaders, although it also admits that some commentators have contested that view.
The ‘proof of the pudding is in its eating’ and the most recent dissemination from Podemos, ‘El Pacto’ supports the ‘moderate’ interpretation, which is, in itself, problematic.
Despite more radical pretensions of the grass roots of the movements that gave air to Podemos, its leadership has clearly followed a path of “bourgeois politics and the inevitable pragmatic negotiations with traditional elites”.
Much like Syriza.”
14 Ingelesez: “The Podemos leadership has also made some very conservative statements on economic policy.
In a New Left Review Op Ed (May-June 2015) – Spain on Edge – Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias wrote:
So the strategy we have followed is to articulate a discourse on the recovery of sovereignty, on social rights, even human rights, in a European framework … we openly acknowledge … we are being more modest and adopting a neo-Keynesian approach, like the European left, calling for higher investment, securing social rights and redistribution. That puts us on a difficult terrain, open to the standard criticisms of neo-Keynesian claims.
Neo-Keynesian economics is part of the problem not the solution. Please read my blog – Mainstream macroeconomic fads – just a waste of time – for more discussion on this point.
Further, note the emphasis on “in a European framework”. No exit talk here.
And again the emphasis on “higher investment”, which is the new Left-pro Euro mantra – we will abide by the Stability and Growth Pact fiscal rules at the Member-state level but still engender growth because we will arrange an external injection of investment funds via the European Investment Bank.
That is exactly what the ‘Modest Proposal’ from the former Greek finance minister [Varoufakis] proposed and presumably informed the early strategy of Syriza.
If anyone believes that the European Investment Bank or other European-level funds are going to stump up sufficient funds to revitalise public infrastructure and create full employment while the Member State government is running fiscal (primary) surpluses then they are off with the fairies. Sorry, it will not happen. It is delusional to think it will.”
15 Ingelesez: “Last Monday, Podemos and the United Left (IU) coalition signed off on a formal alliance to run a list together in the election.
The speculation is that if they were to place second, it is likely that the right-wing PP would form an alliance with the Socialist PSOE to head of the Podemos-IU coalition. Which would really say it all about Spanish politics and the demise of the mainstream Left parties throughout the world.
They have become so neo-liberal in their economic policies that they now entertain ruling with the right-wing conservatives. The speculation is that this would be the end of the PSOE, which would only be a good thing for Spanish politics, given the failure of that party to resist the worst inroads of Troika-style austerity during the crisis, and the corruption of many of its regional officials before that.
The agreement that this coalition has signed – Cambiar España: 50 pasos para gobernar juntos – has some disturbing aspects, although they reflect what Podemos has become.
The wording and intent of ‘El Pacto’ is anything but extreme and radical. It basically signals a willingness to fall in with the European austerity consensus.
As background, the coalition agreement is only relevant to the upcoming election. The two parties retain their right to their own political platforms, although officially both will speak to the coalition platform. When I learned that it sounded like a ‘security blanket’ and was tantamount to saying ‘we believe in one thing but will say and stand for another’.”
16 Ingelesez: “For a start, Clause 11 of ‘El Pacto’ under the broad heading of Social Democracy (“Democracia social”) says that the coalition will pursue a Guaranteed Income scheme.
The Job Guarantee proposal of IU (which was centre stage in the December 2015 election) has gone. The IU still advocate a Job Guarantee as per the wording of the Foreward in my book by the Garzón Brothers, but in terms of this election, the Podemos BIG proposal rules supreme.
That is a backward step.
Basic income schemes are vastly inferior to employment guarantee schemes and have no in-built inflation stabilisation capacity.
Please read my blog – Employment guarantees are better than income guarantees – for more discussion on this point.”
17 Ingelesez: “The next government must submit and agree with the European authorities a new reduction path for the government deficit that is consistent with the priorities of our economy”.
The priorities are spelt out as “supporting economic recovery, increase the pace of job creation, boost public investments that modifying the pattern of industrial specialization and strengthening social services and the welfare state to fight against inequalities.”
The priorities require (at present) a substantial boost in the overall Spanish government deficit. The economy is barely growing at present and there is massive residual damage from the GFC and the austerity that has been imposed.
And even then, the current fiscal balance is 5.2 per cent of GDP, well above the allowable threshold under the fiscal rules of the Treaty.
Brussels has been turning a blind eye to the Spanish fiscal situation and have allowed a rise in the structural deficit in recent years – that is, an old-fashioned Keynesian stimulus has been introduced by the Spanish government.
That is the reason the Spanish economy started to grow again (from the June-quarter 2013).
The Brussels elites have ignored the deficit rising because they knew it was the only way to generate growth and help support the right-wing PP government at the last election.
If the Podemos-IU coalition was to gain power (which is not impossible at it currently stands), then Brussels would suddenly become very interested in the 5.2 per cent deficit and the suffocating pressure would begin to ramp up the austerity.
What would the ‘coalition’ do then? People have been claiming that because Spain is so big, the Troika would not dare pull a Greek-style coup like they did to run over Syriza last June.
My view is that the Troika would bull-doze a new progressive Spanish government quick-smart and take no prisoners.”
18 Ingelesez: “‘El Pacto’ sort of has an answer. While saying the new Spanish government would obey the Stability and Growth Pact (that is, the fiscal rules) it would seek to cut the deficit more gradually to bring it back within the allowable thresholds.
It notes that it would not cut public spending to do this but allow growth to generate extra tax revenue. Good luck with that!
This is the mantra that the Left are also employing these days – the ‘austerity-lite’ approach. They implicitly concede that deficits are bad and commit to balance or surplus but try to retain credibility by saying they will just cut more slowly.
But the message (damage) is clear: they are admitting that it is the deficit that matters per se. Fiscal policy thus loses its context – to improve well-being.”
19 Ingelesez: “ ‘El Pacto’ says the new Government would seek to change some of the clauses in the Stability and Growth Pact (ease the limits).
Good luck with that.”
20 Ingelesez: “The problem is that this looks to be going down the Syriza path. Some sort of unbridled optimism that Spain is too big to be treated badly as it renegotiates the SGP etc.
Syriza was quickly crushed because it had no Plan B – no exit threat – not because it was small.”
21 Ingelesez: “The new Podemos-IU, similarly, has no exit threat. Indeed, Podemos is pro-Euro and IU have been dragged along for the ride – perhaps hoping to sort things out later.
No threat – no power.”
EBZ-ren ‘rolaz’, gehigarria:
The ECB grants debt relief to all Eurozone nations except Greece
“The ECB does not buy Greek government bonds. As a result, the ECB excludes Greece from the debt relief that it grants to the other countries of the Eurozone.
The exclusion of Greece is not the result of some unsurmountable technical problem. These technical problems can easily be overcome when the political will exists to do so. The exclusion of Greece is the result of a political decision that aims at punishing a country that has misbehaved.
It is time that the discrimination against Greece stops and that a country struggling under the burden of immense debt is treated in the same way as the other Eurozone countries that have been enjoying silent debt relief organised by the ECB.”
ECB, for details on the ECB’s asset purchase programmes, see https://www.ecb.europa.eu/mopo/implement/omt/html/index.en.html