Portugal: What Happened After It Decriminalized Drugs | VICE

By Samuel Oakford

…..16 years ago, Portugal took a leap and decriminalized the possession of all drugs — everything from marijuana to heroin. By most measures, the move has paid off.

The rate of new HIV infections in Portugal has fallen precipitously since 2001, the year its law took effect, declining from 1,016 cases to only 56 in 2012. Overdose deaths decreased from 80 the year that decriminalization was enacted to only 16 in 2012. In the US, by comparison, more than 14,000 people died in 2014 from prescription opioid overdoses alone. Portugal’s current drug-induced death rate, three per million residents, is more than five times lower than the European Union’s average of 17.3, according to EU figures.

Source: Portugal’s Example: What Happened After It Decriminalized All Drugs, From Weed to Heroin | VICE News

Not Out of The Woods Yet: Despite Progress, Euro Crisis Is Far From Over – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Christian Rickens: So has Greece been rescued and financial markets been tamed? Is the euro crisis a thing of the past? Unfortunately not. With their successes in the last few days, euro-zone politicians have done little more than bought themselves time. They must use this window to brace themselves for the next wave of the euro crisis which is about to crash down on Europe.

It’s already clear that the Greek economy can’t survive with a government debt to GDP ratio that will — at best — still be at 117 percent in 2020, especially given the record pace at which the country’s GDP is contracting. There is still no coherent strategy for making Greece competitive again inside the euro zone, or for raising the capital for the huge investments needed — let alone for the wholesale revamp of the country’s entire public administration.

And so Greece is likely to report the next set of disappointing budget figures in a few months, and the wrangling over a new debt cut and a new rescue package will start shortly afterwards……

The other euro-zone governments have at most a few more months, perhaps only a few weeks, before the situation in Greece worsens again……That means that Portugal, Spain and Italy, the three other problem countries in the south of the euro zone, must perform the magic trick of stimulating growth while reducing their budget deficits. That can only succeed with a lot of pragmatism — austerity without growth is as pointless as growth without austerity.

via Not Out of The Woods Yet: Despite Progress, Euro Crisis Is Far From Over – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

Debt Crisis Contagion: The Euro Zone’s Deadly Domino Effect – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

The main problem of a Greek exit from the euro zone is not necessarily the direct impact on banks. I believe our government when they say that they would be able to get that under control. The real problem is the next domino. The crisis will spread unchecked to Italy. If Greece leaves the euro zone, then owners of Greek bonds will lose their entire investment. At best, the Greeks would pay them back a small part of their investment — in almost worthless drachmas.

So what kind of investor in his or her right mind would purchase Portuguese, Spanish or Italian sovereign bonds in this kind of situation? Not even a yield of 7 percent can make up for all the risk that Italy won’t be able to pay back its debt. As things now stand, Italy’s debt accounts for 120 percent of its annual GDP, growth is close to zero and the country is currently slipping into a deep recession. In fact, it’s a matter of mathematical inevitability that Italy won’t be able to service its loans if interest rates on its sovereign debt don’t fall. Granted, there have to be reforms. But reforms don’t resolve an acute debt crisis. We’ve already learned that lesson from other crises.

via Debt Crisis Contagion: The Euro Zone’s Deadly Domino Effect – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

Europe’s Economy Shows Weakness – WSJ.com

Italy was forced to pay its highest interest rate since the euro’s creation to sell five-year bonds—a sign of skepticism that new governments in Italy and Greece will be able to simultaneously boost economic growth and reduce high public-debt levels……Industrial production in the euro zone plunged 2% in September from August, the steepest slide since February 2009, according to the European Union’s statistics agency. The decline stretched from the weak periphery of Spain, Italy and Portugal to powerhouses such as Germany, France and the Netherlands. Compared with a year ago, output rose just 2.2%—the weakest gain in nearly two years. The data suggest “the euro-zone will soon fall back into another fairly deep recession,” said Ben May, economist at consultancy Capital Economics.

via Europe’s Economy Shows Weakness – WSJ.com.

Watch Europe’s Bank Deposits, Not Its Political Moves – James Wood

People are now moving euro-denominated deposits out of Greece, Portugal and even Italy in protection against a possible exit of these countries from the European Monetary Union…….What is the effect of the movement of deposits? The banks losing their deposits will soon be facing a liquidity crisis. A publicly understood liquidity crisis leads to bank failures. In short, the focus on political considerations misses the looming problem of a liquidity crisis and bank failures.

via Watch Europe’s Bank Deposits, Not Its Political Moves – Seeking Alpha.

Portugal Braces for Austerity Battle – WSJ.com

Portugal has little choice but to take tough steps. The country sought international help in April after failing to convince investors it was doing enough to shore up its shaky finances. In exchange for a €78 billion, three-year loan, Lisbon promised the European Union and the International Monetary Fund that it would slash its deficit and make structural changes to spur growth in key sectors.

The problem is these efforts are expected to prolong the economic slump at least two years and drive up unemployment, already at 12%.

via Portugal Braces for Austerity Battle – WSJ.com.