Archive for the ‘Patterns of Integration’ Category

Youth Unemployment in Europe Rises Again

Posted on October 31, 2013 in Patterns of Integration, Social and Political Geographies, The Movement of Peoples

Europe continues to struggle with youth unemployment, which reached a record high in September. An especially interesting response is the return of traditional agriculture:

In Portugal, a growing number of young people, including graduates, have been returning to the land to take up farming. The government is encouraging the trend and now offers six-month paid training agricultural courses for 6,000 people aged between 18 and 35. The number of applicants for such schemes rose to 8,000 in 2012 from just 1,000 in 2008. Some 35 percent had higher education. Greece offers subsidies to new farmers, and also provides state-owned land at a nominal price, or even rent-free, to under 35-year-olds who are prepared to cultivate it.

The road to serfdom, or the road to surfing the dome of another economic bubble? The Financial Times has more.

From Cyprus to Italy

Posted on March 22, 2013 in Patterns of Integration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not pleased with Cyprus governance:

Merkel told a closed-door meeting of legislators in Berlin today that she’s annoyed the Cypriot government hasn’t been in touch with the so-called troika of international creditors for days, according to a party official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the briefing was private. Cyprus’s decision to test Europe is unacceptable, she told them.

Could such a seizure of private banking deposits occur elsewhere in Europe? The idea has already been floated. Joerg Kraemer, chief economist of Commerzbank, was quoted recently in Handelsblatt Online about Italy:

Net financial assets of the Italians … amounts to 173 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This was significantly more than the net financial assets of the Germans, which corresponds to 124 percent of GDP, said Kramer. “So it would make sense, in Italy a one-time property tax levy,” suggested the Bank economist. “A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product.”

In the meantime, a pro-Europe but anti-euro party has emerged in Germany and polled at 26-40% early this month.

UPDATE 3/27/13: Spiegel is reporting significant capital flight from two Cypriot banks on the eve of the deal, despite the “capital controls”:

There are indications that large sums flowed out of the two banks just before the first bailout package was signed in the early morning hours of March 16. At the end of January, some 40 percent of all savings held in Cypriot accounts were on the books of those two banks. Since then, however, much of it has been transferred elsewhere, despite orders from the central bank that accounts at the two institutions be frozen.

This appears to be an excellent way of demolishing every last trace of trust in both governing and financial systems.

UPDATE 3/28/13: The new President of the Eurogroup’s finance ministers told Reuters that Cyprus is not a special case but represents a new template for dealing with eurozone bank problems:

“What we’ve done last night is what I call pushing back the risks,” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, told Reuters and the Financial Times hours after the Cyprus deal was struck.” If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’. If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders,” he said.

Well, interesting times are ahead.

Nanovision in December

Posted on January 9, 2013 in Patterns of Integration, Religion & Secularization, Social and Political Geographies, The Movement of Peoples

Movement of Peoples

The first genome-wide perspective on the origin of Romani peoples has been published in Current Biology (Cell Press) by David Comas (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain) and Manfred Kayser (Erasmus University, Netherlands). Linguistic evidence has long placed the origins of the Roma in Rajasthan; genome data confirms this view and adds that intermarriage with non-Romani Europeans also contributes a great deal.

Gérard Dépardieu’s recent protest against tax rates in France reminds us that the free movement of people, and peoples, is often driven by economic incentives and disincentives. On the other end of the income spectrum, what are the movement patterns now in, for example, Spain, where unemployment is skyrocketing? More generally, youth unemployment is upwards of 40% at Europe’s edges, as this map based on Eurostat data shows.

Social & Political Geographies

Geography is one of those academic enterprises like English that has largely dissolved its disciplinary boundaries. It now encompasses not only the description of terra firma but of any phenomena (social, political, etc.) that can be mapped to it. With the advent of big data, maps have taken on new subjects, methods, and representational forms. One site that collects especially thought-provoking maps is Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs.

Patterns of Integration

One of the most obvious patterns of cultural solidarity in Europe is the sharing of food. Europe of course has long been known for its cuisine (France, Italy, Spain, etc.). One of the chefs best-known today for pushing the envelope is Ferran Adrià, from the famous (and now closed) restaurant, El Bulli. Adrià is leading the El Bulli Foundation, which aims in part to create a global database of gastronomy called BulliPedia. Like other cultural examples of modernism, Adrià’s approach to cuisine searches high and low and verges deliberately on the surreal to “make it new.” It’s interesting however that this global modernist cuisine is matched in status by its complement, the creatively locavore and primitivist cuisine of René Redzepi in Copenhagen, whose restaurant Noma is considered by the trade to be the best in the world.

Religion & Secularization

TEDx at the Vatican on April 19, 2013, will address religious freedom.

Other links of interest

eurozine, “Europe’s leading cultural magazines at your fingertips”

Council for European Studies (Columbia University)

Full Court Press in Europe

Posted on September 13, 2012 in Patterns of Integration, Uncategorized

Now that August vacations are over in Europe, the European Movement  is back in the game, pressing hard for economic and political unification, making headlines. Here are some of the recent statements:

European Central Bank – Mario Draghi announces a plan to buy short-term sovereign debt with no “ex ante” limit but under certain “conditions.”

German Constitutional Court – Issued a provisional ruling (full ruling TBA) that clears the way for Germany to ratify, with conditions, a permanent bank bailout fund for the eurozone: the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Klaus Regling – As the head of the EFSF and the likely head of the ESM (which would eventually replace it), stated that “the euro is irreversible” and that “resolutions proposed by the European Commission can be adopted even against a majority of euro area countries [which] reduces the possibility of political interference significantly.”

Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, in his State of the (E)Union Address 2012, offered what he called a “Decisive Deal for Europe” which “requires the completion of a deep and genuine economic union, based on a political union.”

A full-court press in short against Europe’s centrifugal tendencies, such as … a third Greek bailout.

Waiting for Karlsruhe

Posted on September 4, 2012 in Patterns of Integration

The German Constitutional Court is expected next week to issue its judgment on whether the proposed European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is congruent with Germany’s Basic Law. A “no” would be clear but cause widespread consternation. Even a “maybe” or “partially” will considerably lengthen the process of jointly addressing Europe’s (massive) sovereign debt problems, insufficient economic growth, record unemployment and capital outflows, the fragility of the eurozone, and the political integration of Europe 27.  The Court’s ruling is expected on 12 September.

The following week, on 19 September, faculty fellows of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies will hold a joint panel discussion of these topics at Notre Dame. Not without good reason is the Nanovic Institute’s film series this semester entitled “Power and Fragility.”

Schäuble and European Integration

Posted on June 25, 2012 in Patterns of Integration

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was quite candid recently in Spiegel Online  about the nature of European politics:

If we had always said we would only take steps toward integration if they would immediately work 100 percent, we would never have advanced by so much as a meter. That’s why we wanted to introduce the euro first and then quickly make the decisions needed for a political union.

He sounds very like Jean Monnet, whose preferred method of political engrenage has long been adopted (tacitly or not) by the European political elite. So too evidently has been Monnet’s supranationalism. Schäuble:

So far, member states have almost always had the final say in Europe. This cannot continue.

At the end of this week, the leaders of four major European institutions plan to present concrete proposals for the relinquishment of more  sovereignty, in a variety of areas, to Brussels.

European Sports and Society

Posted on March 9, 2012 in Patterns of Integration

At the Nanovic Institute, we are no strangers to sports. We certainly noticed that the US soccer team beat Italy 1-0 in an exhibition game on 29 February 2012 in Genoa, Italy. Clint Dempsey, an American career scoring leading in England’s Premier League, scored in the 55th minute with an assist from Jozy Altidore. In 78 years (11 games), the Americans had been 0-7-3 against Italy and outscored 32-4. (Ouch.) This was the first time the US beat Italy. Could this be a tiny cultural watershed? Notre Dame is a bastion of collegiate sports in America and also bastion of the Humanities — yet the two cultures rarely mix. It would be interesting, we think, to bring them together more often.