Bitter experience in Europe tells us that trivialisations of painful historical events, especially if they come from leading political figures, can inspire thinking among electorates that eventually turns into self-fulfilling prophecies. That is exactly why numerous countries in western Europe have laws that prohibit and reprimand any trivialising comparisons with the heinous doings of the axis powers in the 1930s and 1940s that caused the loss of millions of lives and unspeakable suffering. So unspeakable, that most of our ancestors preferred not to share those experiences with their descendants to this very day…

That makes recent historical comparisons by two former mayors of London all the more serious and outright unacceptable to all those who were persecuted and sacrificed their lives in the past century and to those who were dedicated to building a new and “peaceful” European Union. The United Kingdom has been an integral and vital part of that process in the past century, including since it joined the EEC in 1973 and decided by referendum in 1975 to remain in the body that was originally formed in 1952 to secure peace on a continent soured by thousands of years of war. Read more

One should always be cautious with TV documentaries but, knowing the terrain and winter climate of many of the countries through which thousands of refugees are pulling their families on a daily basis, last week’s BBC story told by two doctors certainly did hit home.

It also highlighted how Germany as a country has provided refuge to so many people against all odds. The latter is clearly reflected in the daily German TV debates on the crisis and the border restrictions that have again been set up between Germany, Austria and Hungary – a very big issue after so many decades of working on pulling down those very borders. Read more

To the dedicated follower of emerging markets it has been clear for some time that the Greek economy is no longer in a position to reduce its debt/GDP ratio. All the more so, given the lack of a flexible exchange rate tool to support the country’s one main export, namely tourism, which has provided extra backing at tough times for countries such as Turkey, Thailand or even Argentina.

Indeed, in spite of Greece having taken more painful fiscal adjustment measures than most of its EM peers, public sector debt/GDP remains at an excruciating 175 per cent, real GDP has failed to recover meaningfully, deposit withdrawals continue and unemployment pressure remains. This is highlighted in the charts below (click to enlarge), which compare Greece’s experience to those of EM crisis countries (“t” is the year each crisis began: t=2009 for Greece, 2008 for Latvia, 2001 for Turkey, 1999 for Argentina and 1997 for Thailand). Read more