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Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49770081) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

The comparison is only misleading if you bring your own personal bias into the analogy. Both governments and households declare bankruptcy when they can no longer pay the interest on their debts. Greek interest rates have been as high as many credit card interest rates, thus the comparison.

As for why they go into debt, I disagree with your assessment. I worked as a "loan counselor" (collections agent) for a mortgage company, I can tell you that people can go into credit card debt for many reasons. Many of those reasons have to do with paying immediate emergency needs and not frivolous expenses. Often, it's related to medical expenses in the USA - either directly or indirectly because they paid the medical bill, then used the credit card for food, utilities, gas, etc. The primary cause for personal bankruptcy in the USA is healthcare expenses.

As for why households in general go into debt - it's not dissimilar to governments at all. Households invest in future income potential with college loans, they invest in houses and cars with mortgages and car loans which are necessary essentials, and they invest in their own private businesses as well. Governments are no different. Governments as well as individuals can spend their money unwisely or on selfish things - like building tanks even their own army commanders say they don't need... or starting wars that create massive deficits.

The key difference, as you suggested is that governments can control their money supply and interest rates -- except when they sign that ability away to join the eurozone... in which case, they had better hope their interests align with the majority that controls the eurozone's power to control the currency.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49769791) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

You touch on a lot of good points - perhaps too many for me to address in one post without making a wall of text.

There is no doubt that Greece would have hit hard times during the great recession, but no one has a crystal ball to say how it would have fared. The issue isn't so much whether it would have been bad or not (oh, I think it would definitely have been bad!), but how quickly Greece could have recovered if it had control over its own monetary and fiscal policies.

Let's look a bit deeper:

Greece's economy is very different than the east asian countries you mention. I seriously doubt "speculators" would have been an issue.

Greece's GDP depends heavily on its service sector - especially tourism (7th most visited country in Europe, 12th most visited in the world) and shipping (it controls 17% to 24% of all global shipments by sea.)

Anything that hurts Greece's exchange rate actually helps its tourism and shipping industries. This means that the error is self-correcting. If the drachma drops, more people choose to ship via Greek ships or visit Greece on cheap holiday vacations which then infuses the Greek GDP and which then raises the value of the drachma. There's still higher inflation, but that helps Greece, too -- because its debts are in drachmas and largely domestic debt, and those are easier to pay off when the inflation rate is higher.

Granted, Greece would not have rebounded until other countries had as well - other countries in recession does little to help Greece's shipping and tourism industries. But, other eurozone countries and the USA rebounded far faster than Greece because Greece couldn't adjust its currency. With over 80% of its GDP from the service industry, being able to effectively lower the cost of those services via fiscal policy and the exchange rate would have made a huge difference.

Worst case scenario, Greece could have taken on huge debt anyway, defaulted, and then restructured and rebuilt itself by now with a more prosperous economy - it's not like tourists would stop coming or global shipping would shun Greek ships.

aside: I used to work in imports and logistics analysis for a large global manufacturing company. Every other massive cargo ship coming from our main port in Germany to Charleson, SC was a Greek owned ship.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49769401) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Yes, essentially.

You can't expect one currency work well across many countries if those countries have competing interests on monetary and fiscal policies coupled with unequal representation when deciding those policies. Something's got to give.

(What's good for Germany is bad for Greece and vice versa on fiscal policy right now... but Germany has more votes!)

If Greece had at least waited until their economy was strong enough to join the euro, they'd have weathered this much better. They'd still get the short end of the stick when it came to policies they disagree with, but at least it would have been worth it for them for the stability of the euro.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49769185) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Fair point, but all members of the EU are part of the EMU which regulates their economies "for the benefit of the EU"... and all members of the EU save for Denmark and the UK are required by treaty to align their economies to enter the eurozone and must adopt the euro eventually.

So, it's more a matter of WHEN to enter the eurozone than IF.... clearly, the timing was a big issue - compounded by the economic crash... but, really -- if you join the EU, it's generally understood you're going to eventually become part of the eurozone.

Greece might have prospered under the euro if it weren't for the global recession, but we'll never know.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49769075) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

I'm not sure where the "innate inferiority" issue comes from, but I certainly don't subscribe to that theory. Having a different economy than another country doesn't necessarily make one inferior to another - different rules for different situations, I say.

The EU has both political and economic goals, but many of those political issues are also economic ones. To deny that the goal of the EU is to switch its member states to the euro would be incredulous. To believe that Greece was a good candidate to switch to the euro is equally absurd.

Greece didn't meet the criteria to join the EU, so it should not have joined - that's just a matter of fact. There were very good reasons for those rules which both Greece and the EU member countries flaunted.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49769017) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Very fair point.

Even more specific, EU members are all technically EMU members, but not necessarily eurozone members.

But, also to be fair, all EU members with the exception of Denmark and the UK are bound by treaty to eventually switch to the euro and must make efforts to align their economies to do so, so there is still a lot of economic pressure to change one's economy and adapt the euro even on the non-eurozone countries.

So, it's not so much a matter of IF Greece would switch to the euro as WHEN... and before the economic crisis, no one would have guessed that switching to the euro would have hurt Greece so badly.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49768961) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Well... not exactly.

All EU members are also members of the EMU and are bound by its economic policies -- they just aren't necessarily forced to switch to the euro immediately. Being bound by EMU policies can be almost just as bad as switching to the euro for Greece.

Sweden is required to switch to the euro per treaty once certain metrics are met.

All EU members other than the UK and Denmark which specifically have opt-out clauses are required to eventually switch the euro.

But, you make a very fair point. Greece could have negotiated to enter the euro when it made more sense for them to do so. However, no one at the time saw the economic devastation coming, and if there hadn't been a global recession, Greece would likely have instead enjoyed a roaring economy with the boost the euro gave it globally.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 1) 626

by Ramze (#49768857) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

All austerity really means is an attempt to reduce the deficit by reducing government spending. There are lots of ways a government can do that. The USA doesn't much like to balance its books either - especially when it has a recession or a war. There's nothing communist about it.

Greece made a lot of mistakes because it didn't have a lot of options. It would make one temporary fix here and create another problem there, so to speak. They did make a lot of hard decisions to increase retirement ages and other "entitlements" which have helped with their deficit, but possibly hurt their current economic situation.

One of their issues is that they turned to the government to ease their economic woes - so, their government spending now produces about 60% of their GDP. Any austerity measures to reduce that spending has a feedback loop in that it also reduces their GDP - which is bad news for their economy that's still in a deep recession with high unemployment. The government essentially put the economy on life support which was a "good thing," but taking the country off of that life support too quickly will kill the patient... and leaving it on the life support is potentially a slow death anyway.

Sort of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

In any case, austerity alone will not resolve the situation. Greece's debt is more than double its GDP (The USA, by comparison, has debt almost equal to its current GDP). Greece has very high interest rates as well. This is roughly like an American household making $120K annually with $240K in credit card debt. If the creditors don't give them a huge break, it's time to default.

Comment: Re:it's not "slow and calculated torture" (Score 5, Interesting) 626

by Ramze (#49767059) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Yes and no. Germany isn't being nefarious. The crux of the issue is the same as it's always been - Greece should never have joined the EU. Germany and Greece have very different economies and different fiscal and monetary policies. Given Germany has more power in voting, Greece knew what they were getting into. In fact, they lied about their economy just to get in - because they wanted the benefits of the euro that all EU countries would enjoy plus the stability of the euro and the lower interest rate they could (and did) restructure their debt under when converting to the euro. This backfired during the Great Recession when they were disproportionately affected and subsequently every country in the EU was given a different interest rating for their government bonds based upon their individual risk where before, they were all given the same risk level - so they got currency stability, but lost interest rate stability.

Germany pushed for rules to entry that require a deficit lower than 3% of GDP - Greece cooked their books and lied when they showed numbers to the EU lower than that. There was also a rule that total debt had to be lower than 60% of GDP. Greece hadn't seen numbers like that in decades, but the rule was bent and they were allowed in. HUGE mistake for all parties. Greece wasn't a good fit even with lots of safeguards in place as their needs didn't match Germany and other players.

40% of Germany's GDP comes from exports... and they got rid of exchange rates between EU countries plus lower exchange rates worldwide because the euro wouldn't increase in value as quickly as the deutschmark - the trade-off for them was that they pay higher interest rates to support the overall euro. Greece got bonuses, too -- lower interest rates, lower inflation, and cheaper imports which briefly led to a higher standard of living. Greece was on track to lowering its debt and increasing GDP...

What happened? - the market crash, the housing crash, worldwide economic collapse basically. Everyone suffered, but not equally. Greece couldn't effectively use monetary policy to help recover from the injury because it was tied to the EU - and Germany, who weathered the slump like a champ and saw no need for such measures, had more power to control that monetary policy in the EU than Greece or other suffering countries.

So, the dominoes start falling. Greece takes one measure after another to compensate for the lack of monetary policy flexibility as it crushes under debt without the ability to change the money supply and/or interest rates, or ease trade with fluctuating exchange rates. Their credit rating is downgraded making it impossible to get decent interest rates on loans needed to get themselves through the recession. There was no money for a stimulus package and the crippling debt just made the situation worse. The bailouts and debt-restructurings are nice peace-offerings, but wow... when you see how Greece was dealing with up to nearly 30% interest rates for a while there, it still feels like they're being fleeced. The whole thing smells of usury.

Coupled with austerity measures during a recession, I'm surprised Greece didn't just get up and leave the EU long ago. I don't blame Germany for acting in their own best interests, but I do blame each EU country that allowed members to join that did not match the necessary economic requirements.

Spain and Greece are suffering high unemployment largely because their wages are in euros and they can't do much with fiscal and monetary policies to ease their current competitive disadvantage:

If they hadn't joined the EU to begin with, they might have been in better shape -- or if they'd at least been given the option to keep their former currencies until they were ready to fully switch over to the euro.

Comment: Re:Unenforceable laws (Score 1) 55

by Ramze (#49727129) Attached to: Swedish Court Orders Seizure of Pirate Bay Domains

Disney cares nothing about pirating.

They have The Disney Channel for free on every cable subscription for a reason -- their media is merely marketing for their overpriced toys, clothing, stuffed animals, and other more profitable products -- and maybe even trick you into going to Disney Land or Disney World and shell out a few thousand dollars to take the family for a week and see several of the parks.

Sure, they are rabid dogs when it comes to protecting their IP, but they'd much rather you watch their infomercials... er... movies than not.

Comment: Re:It's about money. (Score 1) 289

by Ramze (#49724009) Attached to: North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband

As a former resident of NC, I call BS. Attorneys General are not puppets for the states. They are lawyers, but they're also elected (NOT appointed!) officials that offer legal advice and represent state governments in courts, but also have the right to represent the citizens of states and take legal action on their behalf as well. NC's Attorney General is also the state's highest law enforcement officer. They swear an oath not just to uphold NC state laws, but to uphold federal laws - and federal laws always take precedence. AGs have WIDE discretionary power to decide for themselves what action the state should take regarding legal challenges and court rulings.

As Attorney General, one can advise a state NOT to contest a federal ruling that strikes down the state ban. NC has no law compelling an Attorney General to contest federal rulings that strike down state laws, either.

The AG of VA did nothing that his previous AGs hadn't already done - he chose not to contest a ruling. He did not fail in his duties. VA is trying to pass a law requiring the AG to defend the state's position, but good luck - as it's in conflict with the AG's responsibility to protect citizen's civil rights and uphold federal law. Any attempt to argue that the gay marriage bans are constitutional given the legal precedents set by even SCOTUS themselves would be spurious at best - and any good AG would advise against a lawsuit and not go forward with one.

NC is very upset with its AG for the statements he made declaring the state law indefensible as well as his personal belief that it's a bad law. Sure, he'll prepare the best case he can should the state force him to go to SCOTUS to defend their crap law, but anyone that's read the SCOTUS rulings and the federal court rulings based upon them knows there's no other way to interpret the law. SCOTUS will have to issue a ruling contrary to their earlier opinions for any state to have a chance to argue their marriage ban laws are constitutional within the framework they've been given.

It should be noted that the NC AG is only now giving up after exhausting ALL options because all arguments his office has proposed have been rejected by various federal courts in other cases. To continue would be expensive and futile. The VA AG simply came to the same conclusion much earlier.

Comment: Re:Sudafed (Score 1) 333

by Ramze (#49723925) Attached to: Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine

Fun fact, words can have more than one spelling, and rigamarole is a perfectly acceptable spelling:

Also, it's a bit stupid to declare "rigmarole" as the proper spelling over "rigamarole" when the term itself is a colloquial bastardization of "ragman roll."

Comment: Re:MS confuses GUI design with functionality (Score 1) 198

by Ramze (#49716511) Attached to: What Might Have Happened To Windows Media Center

That was... quite a wall of rambling text, so I apologize - was quite sleepy when I typed up that book above. lol.

But, to follow up:

Sony's Playstation 4 has never (to my knowledge) been modded and there are no hacks other than account sharing and cloning at the present time. It was released in Nov of 2013. I frequent homebrewer sites... and basically, they've given up trying to mod consoles altogether declaring the age of the mod chip over. People are also afraid of jail time as some have been charged with DMCA violations for selling mod chips.

The Playstation 3 was never modded either - it wasn't even really hacked as someone leaked the keys, so everyone used those to make software mods.

The hardware mods only worked b/c the manufacturers weren't expecting them. Now, they hide the internals better so you can't solder between chips and perform man-in-the-middle attacks. They also check firmware versions and test for mod chips, then disable online access if anything abnormal is found. I wouldn't say hardware modding is over yet, but it's getting there. Most mods I see these days are for controllers, not systems.

As for PC miniaturization, I thought this was impressive:

Look at the latest 12" Macbook motherboard:

It's smaller than a Raspberry Pi 2, and only a bit bigger than the tiny Iphone 6 motherboard. It holds a Dual Core Pentium M 1.2 Ghz with hyperthreading and turboboost to 2.6 ghz with 8 GB of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 5300 that supports the retina display.

This article basically goes on to say what I've been saying - you can't service this kind of device, you just replace the entire mobo if it breaks:

The system is hardly top of the line, but it does support the idea that the internals of PCs/laptops are shrinking to credit-card size at a rapid pace and that the current GHz speed plus a decent graphics chip are "good enough" for most people. The high end macbook pro and macbook air motherboards aren't much larger, really - just some additions for more I/O and fans. If it's that small now, just wait another 10 to 20 years. We already have the tech to put that entire mobo on a chip smaller than a dime, but it'd cost a fortune to design and get a decent yield off of a wafer that size.

Of course, in 10 to 20 years, desktops will be gone. We'll maybe have a something that looks like today's PCs acting as a "home media server" with lots of laptops, phones, and tablets that connect.. maybe all on the same domain or "home network" of some sort. Maybe a few small form factor devices like mac minis, roku, tivo, etc. None of the devices will be upgradable or repairable as it'd be cheaper to buy a new one than to bother. I expect in 30 years, all of them will be locked into one walled garden or another.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.