News Summary for May 11, 2020
This week’s news summary begins with the most important story that you probably haven’t heard anything about: the German Federal Constitutional Court’s decision that the European Central Banks’s Public Sector Asset Purchase Program (PSPP) violates the principle of proportionality because it fails to take into account the program’s differential economic impact. The ruling, which obliges Germany’s Bundesbank to withdraw after a three-month grace period from the PSPP, which was mobilized to help troubled economies in the wake of the Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, will negatively affect the EU’s attempts to contain fiscal turmoil in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and could force weaker members of the Eurozone to leave.
Katarina Pistor, Professor of Comparative Law at Columbia University, and Willem H. Buiter, Visiting Professor at Columbia, provide summaries of the ruling as well as interesting critiques. In Pistor argues that the decision, which overturns a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU (supposedly the highest authority on EU law) patently oversteps the court’s mandate. Buiter makes a similar argument in and provides a more detailed explanation of the potential economic fallout.
The German court’s ruling came just as the terms of credit lines from the European Stability Mechanism were being defined. Countries will be able to borrow up to 2% of GDP and will have 10 years to repay the funds. Most importantly, there will be oversight from the European Commission, but no imposition of reforms as a term for receiving the loans. Bjarke Smith-Meyer provides the details in
The political fallout of the COVID-19 crisis continues. In John Lichfield provides an interesting analysis of the repercussions of crisis for the Macron government, whose responses have been widely critiqued by the French public. Borrowing historian Marc Bloch’s term ‘strange defeat,’ which described how mutual antagonism in politics and intellectual laziness created a defeatism that allowed Germany to rapidly defeat France in WWII, he suggests that a similar set of circumstances is influencing the French understanding of their government’s response to the crisis.
Global NGOs are taking note of the drift toward authoritarianism in parts of Eastern Europe. Laurenz Gherhke in reports on Freedom House’s decision to downgrade Hungary from democracy to hybrid regime in its latest Nations in Transit report. The report also bemoans the general deterioration of democracy in Eastern Europe. We could wish that things were dramatically different here . . .
Hanne Cockalaere reports that the European Commission is proposing that . Restrictions between Schengen Zone countries will likely be lifted before other restrictions. For those of us with family in Europe, the possibilities of seeing them this summer are rapidly fading.
On the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, Helmut K. Anheier, Professor of Sociology at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and at Heidelberg University’s Max Weber Institute, contemplates the passing of the last generation to have historical memory of National Socialism in Though, as he admits, this is not a new topic, he frames it interestingly within contemporary political events. If the above link does not provide you with full access to this article, please use the link to Project Syndicate at the bottom of the page that IU Libraries provides.
The COVID-19 crisis is inspiring generosity world-wide. Irish donors are repaying a historical debt to the Choctaw people, which donated to $170 to Irish potato famine relief in 1847, by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a GoFundMe campaign that is providing relief to Hopi and Navajo tribes that are hard hit by COVID 19. You can read the details in Ed O’Loughlin and Mihir Zaver’s
Also, on May 4, Ursula von der Leyen hosted an EU-led global fund-raising telethon that brought in nearly €7.5 billion to help fund the development of treatments for COVID-19. David Herzenhorn and Carmen Paun provide an evaluation of the effort, at times critical, in Specifically, they note the absence of the US and Russia from the effort and question the extent to which financial commitments by some entities represent new commitments.
On the lighter side, Paul Dallison in a satirical piece, suggests that Madonna’s $1 million contribution to the fund, which outstripped the contributions of certain member states, qualifies her, by virtue of an “obscure law,” to become the 28th member of the bloc, replacing Great Britain. . . .
If you’ve already binge-watched all your shows and are desperate for visual content, you can watch the telethon . It’s three hours of talking heads from around the world without any music or other entertainment. If Europeans love Jerry Lewis as much as they claim, you’d think they’d figure out how to do a telethon right, particularly in the light of ! Talk about a missed opportunity! Anyways, I can’t imagine that anyone will watch this past the 30-minute mark, but if you do I recommend checking out Justin Trudeau at the 44-minute mark. He’s sporting a COVID-19 beard and in desperate need of haircut, but still looking good!
Over the Summer Semester, we will be providing biweekly news summaries. Weekly summaries will return in the Fall.