Thursday, June 07, 2012

Eurozone Crisis: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Lowers Expectations for Quick Fix ahead of European Union Summit

The Spiegel Online has the story at Merkel Lowers Expectations ahead of European Union Summit, writing inter alia about Merkel's Thursday morning interview on German TV:
"Ahead of a crucial European Union summit at the end of the month, Merkel once again emphasized the need for "more Europe," saying "we don't just need a currency union, but we also need a so-called fiscal union -- meaning more joint budgetary policies."

Most of all, though, she said that a political union was necessary. "That means that we must, step by step through the process, give up more powers to Europe as well and allow Europe oversight possibilities," she said."
Obviously, that is quite correct, and for that, there is no quick fix, so it still remains undecided what the short-term solutions will be for the current problems with Eurozone countries badly in debt, such as Spain and Greece.

Tourism Economics, the USA and Europe - Travel Destinations of German Vacationers and Travelers

Die Welt in an article by Kira Hanser has the stats for German travelers' vacation destinations, based on data from the ADAC Reise-Monitor / Reiseanalyse 2012, as follows:
(see Die Welt at Das sind die beliebtesten Reiseziele der Deutschen):

2012: America, be happy....

14.6% of all German vacationers
plan a vacation abroad in 2012, as follows:
- 3.7% - USA
- 2.0% - Far East (e.g. China, Thailand)
- 1.7% - Caribbean
- 1.2% - Egypt
- 1.0% - North Africa (Morocco, Tunesia)
- 1.0% - Near and Middle East
- 0.8% - Canada
- 0.7% - the rest of Africa
- 0.6% - Australia, New Zealand, Pacific
- 0.5% - Central America
- 0.4% - South America
- 0.4% - Mexico

In 2011 there were 70,000,000 vacation trips by Germans
at an average expenditure of €868 per person per trip:

- 46.2% by car or recreational vehicle
- 37.2% by plane
- 8.4% by bus
- 5.5% by train
with the rest on cruises, etc.

Top 10 For 2011

German Vacation Destinations outside of Germany in 2011 (top 10)
Spain - 12.3%
Italy - 8.2%
Turkey - 7.4%
Austria - 5.2%
France 3.0%
Croatia - 2.7%
Greece - 2.6%
Poland - 2.3%
Netherlands - 2.1%
Denmark - 1.8%

German Vacation Destinations within Germany in 2011  (top 10)

Bavaria - 6.4%
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - 6.1%
Schleswig-Holstein - 3.9%
Lower Saxony - 3.6%
Baden-W├╝rttemberg - 2.9%
Saxony - 1.3%
Northrine-Westphalia - 1.1%
Berlin - 1.0%
Rhineland-Palatinate / Saarland - 1.0%
Thuringia - 0.9%

and, as a sign of the times
Use of Mobile Internet Access by German Travelers

- weather - 37%
- information about local goods and services - 24%
- mapping and related - 23%
- general information about the travel destination - 23%
- public transportation - 15%
- other tourist-related topics - 15%
- booking of accommodations - 6%
- booking of transportation - 3%
- general booking - 2%

ECB European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi Lashes out at Prophecies of Doom and Deadlines to Save the Euro, Saying That is Not the Right Path: A Solution to Eurozone Problems Not Likely Until Year-End

In Draghi: Nobody can force Spain to seek bail-out,
an article by Valentina Pop at Economic Affairs,
Pop reports on a press conference held by European Central Bank (ECB) Chief Mario Draghi after the ECB left its key interest rate unchanged, in spite of voices elsewhere to change it.

On the interest rate inertia Jack Ewing writes at the New York Times:
"By keeping its firepower in reserve for now, the central bank put pressure on political leaders to weave the euro zone more closely together, for example by sharing the cost of bank bailouts and giving up more control over government spending. "
ECB Chief Draghi lashed out at prophecies of doom by commentators such as George Soros and Paul Krugman. As Pop writes:
"[Draghi] said it is not "correct" to talk about a three-month deadline to save the euro, as US financier George Soros and top economist Paul Krugman projected in recent weeks.

"This is not the right way to cope with these issues," he said."
Draghi also had stern words for the criticism coming from the USA in general, as Pop writes:
""To my knowledge, the US is not a small-scale economy. Countries around the world should first focus on their own reforms before worrying about spillover effects," he said, hinting at increased criticism from Washington that eurozone leaders are dragging their feet and letting the euro-crisis bring the entire world economy down."
We might add that the Eurozone is also not a small-scale economy and should be able to handle itself financially, in spite of current problems.

Certainly Draghi is correct in saying that prophecies of doom are out of place and one must await the measures that will be taken down the road.

As Reuters reports in Spain needs results of bank audits first - De Guindos:
"Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Wednesday there were no immediate plans to request a bailout of Spain's banks, with the results of an audit of the banking sector needed before any further steps are taken."
Obviously, as Ian Wishart reports at the European Voice in Wanted: a plan to save the eurozone, the upcoming European summit at the the end of June will be an important step toward arriving at a solution, but as he writes:
"Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, who is overseeing the ‘roadmap' for fiscal integration, appeared to play down suggestions that a comprehensive plan would be ready in time for the summit.
“It is only the beginning of the work,” he said on Monday (4 June). “Hopefully we can present results of that work by the end of this year.”"
Accordingly, the wheels of European finance here are going to be moving much more slowly and carefully than the somewhat hysterical voices in mainstream media might be wishing, but they will be moving.

The idea that the Eurozone or the European Union could implode within a short period of time is just nonsense, although there is no denying some serious problems -- all foreseeable of course. Nevertheless, erroneous prophecies of doom are merely unnecessarily causing bank depositors to make unnecessary runs on their banks in places like Spain and Greece, and it achieves nothing sensible.

Massive numbers of Germans vacation in Spain and Greece each year: indeed, Germans spend more international tourist dollars per year than any other nation in the world, dollars that make up an observable share of the GDP of such countries. See e.g. the Spiegel article Greece and Egypt Try to Woo Back German Tourists and Das sind die beliebtesten Reiseziele der Deutschen. In any case, the powers that be in Germany most certainly are not going to let a country like Spain to go into default. Half of those German powers that be probably own homes on Mallorca and thus have strong interests in Spain generally. In a way, a part of Spain is almost like a part of Germany.

The key thus is to concentrate on financial and banking SOLUTIONS under the motto that one should spend 80% of one's time on solutions and only 20% of one's time on the problems to be solved.

The financial PROBLEMS are known to everyone, and they are solvable.

Structural economic changes, on the other hand, also necessary within the EU, are much more difficult and will require much more time, and, at the bottom line, must be a primary goal included in the financial solutions.

We might add with a little bit of humor that Krugman may be right on "the economics" and Soros may be right on "the money" but they are both wrong on "the politics" of solutions, which are always politically more complex than things look on paper. Many big players out there are protecting their own vested interests and the ultimate solution will then as always be a kaleidoscope of inputs, not perfect, but keeping the motors of finance and banking running.

Krugman is surely right, for example, that austerity is as at best a short-term non-sustainable solution and that growth can be the only long-term solution to the Eurozone's financial and structural problems. Successful nations such as France and Germany are going to have to pay more attention to helping Europe's periphery to become more modern in economic structure and attitudes. If not, the EU can not survive long-term with a few rich nations and the rest in financial distress.

Soros is surely right that monetary policy has to be fine-tuned to the wealth imbalance among the nations of Europe and of course the resulting debtor-creditor problems among those various European nations. In the end, inflation and expansion of the money supply are surely inevitable, but it has to be done indirectly because devaluation is not directly possible in the Eurozone or in the EU. Without indirect inflation, the Eurozone can not survive long-term.

But again, there is no need to panic and there are a multitude of opportunities for Europe to be become stronger and more stable.

Crossposted at EUPundit.

CNET News Writes that Apple wants to keep Samsung's Galaxy S3 out of U.S

Josh Lowensohn has the story at CNET News in Apple wants to keep Samsung's Galaxy S3 out of U.S. because it allegedly infringes two Apple patents for "unified search" and "links for structures."

Patents for "unified search" and "links for structures"?

U.S. patent law says that obvious, overly broad claims can not be patented, and yet that is the Apple patent strategy, aided by its handmaiden USPTO: essentially invent nothing, steal what you can from prior art, make overly broad patent claims, and then play patent troll against competitors while selling overhyped and overpriced products to consumers.

That has in fact proven to be a very successful strategy, especially in the USA. Just read the Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs for lessons on how to sell $10 of cheap materials at 50 times that price to the brainwashed masses. See Steve Jobs' angry quotes from biography can be used in Apple-Motorola trial, judge rules. As one can see in the video above: "We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." - Steve Jobs, Triumph of the Nerds (1996). Exactly that.

Apple invented neither search nor links. It is absolutely absurd that the USPTO has patented some kind of trivial patents for search or linking, all using the same basic prior art search and hyperlink technology that has been used since the digital era started and long before that.

A patented method to search? Forbidding others to search the way YOU do? Absurd! A patented method to link? Forbidding others to link the way YOU do? Absurd! That the courts tolerate this kind of primitive monopolistic sophistry is a scandal.

We own neither Apple nor Samsung smartphones -- finding both to be overhyped and overpriced -- but we can spot patent trolling scams when we see them.

And we can also see how essentially trivial patents are being shamelessly misused in the courts to delay product rollouts in international trade by competitors.

We are not involved personally in whether Apple or Samsung triumphs in these matters, but it is a scandal that legal systems are permitting these charades, whether in the USA or elsewhere. It is a development which reduces respect for the law -- everywhere -- and that is a dangerous thing.

Same Old Story in the Frivolous Use of Patents to Avoid Market Competition as Apple Sues to Have Launch of Samsung Galaxy S III Banned in the USA

The frivolous use of patents to try to keep companies from facing free market competition continues....

Dante D'Orazio has the story at the Verge in Apple asks judge for ban on Galaxy S III before US launch because of alleged patent infringing "similarities".

The reason for the patent law suit actually has a lot to do with the fact that Samsung on Tuesday launched the Galaxy S III in Europe, where the entire Galaxy line has been rightly leaving overpriced and overhyped Apple products in the dust, as savvy and informed Europeans are making smartphone purchase choices based on educated and informed decisions.

Miyoung Kim and Paul Sandle have the story for Reuters, writing inter alia in Samsung Galaxy S3 gets head start on rival iPhone:
"The smartphone, running on Google's Android operating system, boasts a 4.8-inch screen, one of the largest on smartphones ever, and much bigger than the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S."
Similar? Perhaps to the deluded.

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