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Sunday, January 20, 2013 3:24 PM

Greece Law-and-Order Problem Escalates; Bomb Explodes at Athens Mall; AK-47 Shots Hit Ruling Party Headquarters; Worst Not Over

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Since December, radical groups staged coordinated arson attacks at the homes of five Greek journalists and fire-bombed the brother of a government spokesman.

Six days ago, nine shots hit the New Democracy party office, one of them in an office occasionally used by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

In a disturbing trend of increasing violence, a Bomb exploded at Athens mall earlier today.

A homemade bomb exploded inside a suburban Athens shopping mall on Sunday, slightly injuring two security guards as they checked that the three-story building had been fully evacuated.

The device, placed near a moving staircase and a bank ATM on the first floor, caused only moderate damage, a police official said.

“This homemade bomb did not only target a specific building. It took aim at democratic stability, social peace and prospects for economic recovery,” the citizens’ protection ministry said in a statement reflecting concerns that the same self-styled anarchist and far-left groups, held responsible for violence at anti-bailout demonstrations, were behind the latest wave of attacks.

A hooded gunman fired nine bullets from an AK47 assault weapon into the New Democracy headquarters in the early hours last Monday. One landed in the office formerly used by the party leader Antonis Samaras, now prime minister. In other incidents, small devices using gas canisters were placed outside building entrances, timed to explode late at night.

Nikos Dendias, the citizens’ protection minister, said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday that a revival of attacks against business and political targets had been expected since November, when the governing coalition agreed a new austerity package with the EU and International Monetary Fund. “Until now they have been isolated attacks, mainly symbolic,” Mr Dendias said.
Shots Hit Ruling Party Headquarters, Journalists Also Targeted

The Wall Street Journal reports Shots Hit Offices of Ruling Party in Athens
Unidentified gunmen fired shots at the offices of Greece's ruling conservative party early Monday, police said. There were no injuries and only minor property damage, but the action follows a series of arson attacks in recent days against journalists and others that police say bear a resemblance to past strikes claimed by radical Greek leftist groups.

One of the shots fired, from a semiautomatic rifle, pierced the window of an office occasionally used by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, head of the center-right New Democracy party.

The attack comes as Greek authorities move to crack down on self-styled anarchists. In the past few weeks, the coalition government, dominated by New Democracy, has been trying to assert its authority on the streets of Athens as it struggles with worsening law-and-order problems in the Greek capital.

In December, police cleared out a building known as the Villa Amalia where anarchist groups had been squatting for 22 years. Police said the building served as a staging ground for the violent demonstrations that have repeatedly rocked Athens since the start of its debt crisis three years ago.

Since then, unknown groups staged coordinated arson attacks at the homes of five Greek journalists last week, while there was another fire-bomb attack on Sunday at the home of the brother of government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou.
Euro Leaders Declare "Worst of Crisis is Over"

A week ago Bloomberg reported Euro Leaders Declaring Worst Is Over Turn to Economy Woes.
European leaders declaring they’ve gained the upper hand in the three-year-old debt crisis are sharpening efforts to channel a rebound in financial markets to an economic recovery to chip away at soaring unemployment.

Even as euro-area chiefs call for more time to lock in a bailout package for Cyprus and elections loom next month in Italy, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Jan. 11 that the single currency is “over the worst of the crisis.”

Draghi cited “positive contagion” in European markets after the ECB’s Governing Council left the central bank’s benchmark interest rate at 0.75 percent, holding its fire amid signs that the debt crisis is waning. Monetary policy makers have opted to rely on an unconventional policy arsenal such as the ECB’s pledge to buy unlimited amounts of sovereign debt.

Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt last week that “a gradual recovery should start” in late 2013, during which Standard & Poor’s has said Ireland and Portugal could return to the markets after their bailout programs expire.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads euro finance ministers, also signaled the improved mood, saying “the worst is probably over, but what we still have to do is difficult.”
Heard This "Worst is Over" Nonsense Before

We've heard this nonsense before. I did a search for "worst is over euro" and turned up a stunning number of links, some going all the way back to 2009.

Rather than compile my own list, please consider a chronology of statements compiled by David Lizoain for the Social Euro Journal.

Chronology of Statements

  • 10/12/2009 – Brian Lenihan, Irish Minister of Finance: “Our plan is working. We have turned the corner.”
  • 09/07/2010 – Jürgen Stark, ECB Chief Economist: “[T]he worst is over…The I.M.F. is underestimating the strength of the economy in Europe.”
  • 29/01/2011 – Christine Lagarde, French Minister of Finance: “I think the euro zone has turned the corner.”
  • 10/03/2012 – Herman von Rompuy, European Council President: “[P]roblems have not yet finished, but the worst of the crisis is over.”
  • 13/03/2012 – Wolfgang Schauble, German Minister of Finance: “We can say that the worst is behind us, but we cannot relax our efforts.”
  • 13/03/2012 – Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy: “The most acute phase of the crisis appears to be definitely over but this is no reason for us to relax.”
  • 13/03/2012 – Francois Baroin, French Minister of Finance: “If the question is whether the worst of the crisis is behind us, one can say yes … If we do not deviate from our path, the worst is behind us.”
  • 22/03/2012 – Mario Draghi, President of the ECB: “The worst is over, but there are still risks. The situation is stabilising.”
  • 27/03/2012 – Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France: “I think we came out of the financial crisis, that confidence is restored and we are in the process of economic recovery…Europe has an economic government which overcame the Greek crisis.”
  • 27/03/2012 – Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro, “The crisis in Greece is a challenge for the Greek society and for the EU. It is the legacy of years of irresponsible policies. Thanks to European solidarity, we avoided the worst, a social disaster.”
  • 28/03/2012 – Herman von Rompuy, European Council President: “[W]e have turned a corner.”
  • 28/03/2012 – Mario Monti, Prime Minister of Italy: “You all know that the eurozone has gone through a crisis, a huge crisis. I believe this crisis is now almost over.”
  • 18/10/2012 – François Hollande, President of France: “The worst is over.”
  • 19/11/2012 – Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain: “There are doubts about the irreversibility of the euro, it’s true that there were more a few months ago than today…I’m totally and absolutely convinced that the worst has passed.”
  • 27/12/2012 – Wolfgang Schauble, German Minister of Finance: “I believe the worst is past.”
  • 07/01/2013 – José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, “I think we can say that the existential threat against the euro has essentially been overcome.”
  • 09/01/2013 – Herman von Rompuy, European Council President: “Firstly and most importantly, the worst is behind us, in particular the existential threat to the euro.”
  • 10/01/2013: Herman von Rompuy, European Council President: “The worst is now behind us, but not all is right, far from it.”
  • 11/01/2013: Wolfgang Schauble, German Minister of Finance: The single currency is “over the worst of the crisis”
  • 14/01/2013: Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Eurogroup, “[T]he worst is probably over, but what we still have to do is difficult.”
  • 16/01/2013: Ewald Nowotny, Member of the ECB Governing Council: “The crisis is not over yet, but the worst is over.”

I am quite certain there are dozens of other equally senseless statements to add to the list.

Worst Not Over

Every time there is temporary stabilization of bond rates, a whole slew of nannycrats proclaim "the worst is over".

I see escalating firebombs, arson, and near-anarchy in Greece, coupled with 26% unemployment in Greece and Spain, over 56% youth unemployment in both countries, and major problems in Italy, and France.

Moreover, a constitutional crisis is underway in Spain, and Massive Fraud in Spain Threatens Entire Government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as Protestors in Madrid Shout "Resignation".

With every tick up in unemployment adding powder to the keg, I wonder how much worse things get before the powder keg blows sky high.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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