From Volume 7, Issue 52 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 23, 2008

Western European News Digest

Italian Entrepreneurs Support Tremonti

Dec. 20 (EIRNS)—A letter by an Italian representative of small and medium-sized companies, published by the financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, has provoked a flurry of letters from entrepreneurs who are furious about the destruction of productive capabilities, due to the continued system of globalization and financial bailout. The daily points to the fact that the businessmen express a "Tremontian accent" in their mood, referring to Italian Finance and Economics Minister Giulio Tremonti, who has called for a New Bretton Woods system.

"Tremonti is right to put a stop to it. We need regulatory mechanisms to interrupt destructive processes against our Made in Italy," said a textiles businessman who has seen sales of his quality products in the U.S. drop 50% in the last month. "For international finance, [regulations] have not been introduced. We have to provide it for trade, before it is too late." This businessman has a liquidity shortage of Eur1.5 million, because of unpaid invoices.

Merkel in Discussions on Economic Crisis

Dec. 18 (EIRNS)—German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin with the governors of the 16 German states today, to discuss aspects of the planned "second" conjunctural incentives package. Merkel's use of the term "Aufbau West" (mirroring the post-1990 Aufbau Ost for construction in Germany's eastern regions), to emphasize investments in the western regions of Germany, has already stirred up criticism from the East.

It is said that with the presentation of the annual economic report on Jan. 28, Merkel and Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck will declare a "state of grave disruption of the economic balance," along the lines of Article 115 of the German Constitution, which would allow them to borrow more money than permitted under normal circumstances.

EIR, Schiller Institute Hold Seminar in Copenhagen

Dec. 18 (EIRNS)—Entitled, "The Escalating Global Financial and Strategic Crisis on the Eve of the Obama Presidency," the seminar, held on Dec. 18, was addressed by Schiller Institute chairman in Denmark and EIR bureau chief Tom Gillesberg, who spoke about the financial crisis, and the British roots of the Mumbai terror action, designed to destabilize both India and Pakistan, in light of a Lyndon LaRouche's proposal for a Four-Power agreement to challenge the London-based financial oligarchy. Gillesberg also described the LaRouches' recent trip to India, and LaRouche's press conference at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

The presentations provoked an intense debate, especially on the details of the British manipulations. Some attendees at first protested the attacks on the British as conspiracy theories, but through the discussions, gained more insight into how the real political world operates.

Those attending were mostly from the poorer (but very populous) sections of the world.

Informal Paris Meeting on Afghanistan

PARIS, Dec. 14 (EIRNS)—A top international coordination meeting on Afghanistan is being held today in the Paris area. Present at the meeting, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner, are the foreign ministers of all of the countries neighboring Afghanistan: Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and China. Members of the UN Security Council, the U.S.A., Russia, and Great Britain will also be participating, as well as India, represented by Anand Sharma, number two of the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Germany and Italy have been invited because they are heavily involved in Afghanistan.

Dynamite Found in Paris Shopping Mall

PARIS, Dec. 16 (EIRNS)—French police today discovered five sticks of dynamite in Paris's largest shopping mall, Printemps-Haussmann. The dynamite was found after the state press agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) received a communiqué claiming that "several bombs" had been placed there; it was signed by a totally unknown entity calling itself the "Afghan Revolutionary Front," and demanded the withdrawal of all French troops from Afghanistan, "before February 2009."

President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, called for "vigilance" and "strength" in the face of terrorism. Since the explosives had no detonators, the act, while dangerous, might be considered more a cat-and-mouse play from the autonomist scene, than a real threat from al-Qaeda-related operations.

Travesty: Banks in Parmalat Trial Acquitted

Dec. 20 (EIRNS)—In a sentence that will feed popular rage already mounting after the Madoff scandal, the Parmalat trial in Milan, Italy ended with a ten-year sentence for Calisto Tanzi, Parmalat owner and manager, and acquittal for all the international banks that prosecutor Francesco Greco had indicated were the real puppetmasters of the Parmalat derivatives scam. Giuseppe Oddo writes in Il Sole 24 Ore: "Parmalat, more than a milk manufacturer, was—between the mid-'90s and 2003, and until the bankruptcy—one of the main international producers of toxic assets." Greco "had listed all the junk-operations that the world's largest investment banks had tailored forcefully on Tanzi's Parmalat: securitizations, credit default swaps, convertible notes, special investment vehicles, financial leasebacks, and who knows what." The court found that there was no evidence for criminal fraud and acquitted Bank of America and Citigroup, the two banks most heavily involved.

Prosecutor Greco had blasted the immorality of the system that allowed the banks to use Parmalat to produce financial toxic waste, comparing it with the same immorality behind the Paulson bailout plan.

The sentence is a blow for bondholders, who lost the chance of recovering their money from the banks, and for Parmalat itself, whose stocks rose in expectation of a penalty paid by the banks.

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