The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

New NSA leaks show how US is bugging its European allies | The Guardian

US intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest ‘top secret’ US National Security Agency documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as “targets”. It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae.

Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of “targets” includes the EU missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. The list in the September 2010 document does not mention the UK, Germany or other western European states.

One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed ‘Dropmire’, which according to a 2007 document is “implanted on the Cryptofax at the EU embassy, DC” – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents notes the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals.

The documents suggest that the aim of the bugging exercise against the EU embassy in central Washington is to gather inside knowledge of policy disagreements on global issues and other rifts between member states.

The new revelations come at a time when there is already considerable anger across the EU over earlier evidence provided by Snowden of eavesdropping on America’s European allies.

Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, demanded an explanation from Washington, saying that if confirmed, US behaviour “was reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the cold war”.

The German magazine Der Spiegel reported at the weekend that some of the bugging operations in Brussels targeting the EU’s Justus Lipsius building – a venue for summit and ministerial meetings in the Belgian capital – were directed from within Nato headquarters nearby.

The US intelligence service codename for the bugging operation targeting the EU mission at the United Nations is ‘Perdido’. Among the documents leaked by Snowden is a floor plan of the mission in mid-town Manhattan. The methods used against the mission include the collection of data transmitted by implants, or bugs, placed inside electronic devices, and another covert operation that appears to provide a copy of everything on a targeted computer’s hard drive.

The eavesdropping on the EU delegation to the US, on K Street in Washington, involved three different operationstargeted on the embassy’s 90 staff. Two were electronic implants and one involved the use of antennae to collect transmissions.

Although the latest documents are part of an haul leaked by Snowden, it is not clear in each case whether the surveillance was being exclusively done by the NSA – which is most probable as the embassies and missions are technically overseas – or by the FBI or the CIA, or a combination of them. The 2010 document describes the operation as “close access domestic collection”.

The operation against the French mission to the UN had the covername ‘Blackfoot’ and the one against its embassy in Washington was ‘Wabash’. The Italian embassy in Washington was known to the as both ‘Bruneau’ and ‘Hemlock’.

The eavesdropping of the Greek UN mission was known as ‘Powell” and the operation against its embassy was referred to as ‘Klondyk’.

Green Party officials in Brussels are demanding far-reaching consequences. ‘This is meltdown of the constitutional state,’ said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a Green Party representative in European Parliament. The NSA engaged in nothing less than ‘espionage against democratic countries and their institutions,’ he added. Albrecht was deeply involved in negotiating the EU’s own policies on data privacy. He said that no one is safe from surveillance anymore and demanded that the EU open proceedings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. … Green Party floor leader in European Parliament Daniel Cohn-Bendit went even further. ‘A simple note of protest is not enough anymore. The EU must immediately suspend negotiations with the US over a free trade agreement,’ he said. ‘First, we need a deal on data protection so that something like this never happens again. Only then can we resume (free-trade) negotiations.’ ‘Out of Control’: Europe Furious over NSA Spying on EU Facilities

'Out of Control': Europe Furious over NSA Spying on EU Facilities | SPIEGEL ONLINE

"Elmar Brok, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in European Parliament added his opprobrium. ‘The spying has reached dimensions that I didn’t think were possible for a democratic country. Such behavior among allies is intolerable.’ The US, he added, once the land of the free, ‘is suffering from a security syndrome,’ added Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats. 'They have completely lost all balance. George Orwell is nothing by comparison.'

Europeans are furious. Revelations that the US intelligence service National Security Agency (NSA) targeted the European Union and several European countries with its far-reaching spying activities have led to angry reactions from several senior EU and German politicians.

“We need more precise information,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz. “But if it is true, it is a huge scandal. That would mean a huge burden for relations between the EU and the US. We now demand comprehensive information.”

Schulz was reacting to a report in SPIEGEL that the NSA had bugged the EU’s diplomatic representation in Washington and monitored its computer network (full story available on Monday). The EU’s representation to the United Nations in New York was targeted in a similar manner. US intelligence thus had access to EU email traffic and internal documents. The information appears in secret documents obtained by whistleblower Edward Snowden, some of which SPIEGEL has seen.

The documents also indicate the US intelligence service was responsible for an electronic eavesdropping operation in Brussels. SPIEGEL also reported that Germany has been a significant target of the NSA’s global surveillance program, with some 500 million communication connections being monitored every month. The documents show that the NSA is more active in Germany than in any other country in the European Union.

EU and German politicians on Sunday, however, were reacting primarily to the revelations that the US had specifically targeted the 27-member bloc with its surveillance activities. “If these reports are true, then it is abhorrent,” said Luxembourgian Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. “It would seem that the secret services have gotten out of control. The US should monitor their own secret services rather than their allies.”

Asselborn characterized the operation as a breach of trust. “The US justifies everything as being part of the fight against terrorism. But the EU and its diplomats are not terrorists. We need a guarantee from the very highest level that it stops immediately.”

read on

The New Scramble for Africa and the War On Terror | Counterfire

The current scramble for Africa is not simply about the ongoing scramble for resources on the part of imperialist powers. The eurocrisis is an extra motivating factor. The crisis of neoliberalism which began in America in 2008 and then spread to Southern Europe and elsewhere threatens to spread much further still. This crisis has lit a fire under the US imperialists who are experiencing an economy in dire straits which is heading towards the ‘cliff edge’ we keep hearing about with no solutions in view and both government debt and the deficit increasing.

By way of contrast the old 19th Century scramble for Africa was motivated by a period of rapid industrial expansion fuelled by the industrial revolution. Expansion within Europe had hit a wall with the unification of Italy and Germany and so on. So the European powers turned their focus outwards towards the untapped continent of Africa at the end of the century. This involved both an imperialist scramble between imperialist rivals but also involved partial agreements and marriages of convenience in order to carve up African resources whilst attempting to minimalise inter-imperialist conflict.

Today we have a eurocrisis instead of an industrial revolution. Where previously rapid industrial growth pushed the west into Africa in order to open up new markets, now we have an economic crisis forcing imperialists to try and monetise Africa in an attempt to get some kind of purchase in a tanking economy.

When talking about the New Scramble for Africa it’s worth noting that it’s not just the left using the phrase, however convenient it may be for the left to bring up the imperialist past in the context of our current liberal democracy. In fact we don’t have to look any further than the head of Meryll Lynch Bank of America, a man by the name of Richard Gush, who said that ‘a new scramble for Africa is underway’ in the economic sphere in terms of the competition for markets and resources in Africa.

We also saw US Secretary of State John Kerry almost putting his foot in it at his inauguration hearing when he said that ‘China is all over Africa and we’ve got to get in the game here, folks, because if we get in the game we can win’. Presumably realising that he wasn’t just talking to his mates, he was also being broadcast on TV as well, Kerry tried to cover up this gaff by quickly adding that ‘when I say “win” I don’t mean win in the cold war sense, I mean win in an economic sense in terms of creating jobs for Americans’.

So the new scramble for Africa is a very real question we need to address. It’s important that we don’t just seek to understand the significance of the New Scramble For Africa but that we actually oppose any interventions into the continent and also oppose proxy wars and drone wars. Drones and proxies are in a way a partial response to the fact that the anti-war movement stopped conventional wars from being politically viable, at least in the West, forcing the imperial powers to find new ways to be horrendous and new ways of killing people.

It showed that a mass movement did actually force the imperialist powers onto a new track. Of course it’s still a nasty and dangerous situation we find ourselves in. This means that it is vital that we don’t just try to understand this new phase in the War on Terror but that we organise to effectively oppose this imperialist project as well.

IMF admits: we failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece | The Guardian

The International Monetary Fund admitted it had failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece as the Washington-based organisation catalogued mistakes made during the bailout of the stricken eurozone country.

In an assessment of the rescue conducted jointly with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European commission, the IMF said it had been forced to override its normal rules for providing financial assistance in order to put money into Greece.

Fund officials had severe doubts about whether Greece’s debt would be sustainable even after the first bailout was provided in May 2010 and only agreed to the plan because of fears of contagion.

While it succeeded in keeping Greece in the eurozone, the report admitted the bailout included notable failures.

“Market confidence was not restored, the banking system lost 30% of its deposits and the economy encountered a much deeper than expected recession with exceptionally high unemployment.”

In Athens, officials reacted with barely disguised glee to the report, saying it confirmed that the price exacted for the €110bn (£93bn) emergency package was too high for a country beset by massive debts, tax evasion and a large black economy.”

Under the weight of such measures – applied across the board and hitting the poorest hardest – the economy, they said, was always bound to dive into an economic death spiral.

Europe presses US on drones – not to cease, but to share | Drone Wars UK

European countries are piling more pressure on the US to allow them to buy armed Predator and Reaper drones. As we have previously reported Germany wants to buy armed Reaper drones from the US and France too has reported this week that it ‘expects’ the US to allow it to acquire unarmed Reapers as a step towards it aim of acquiring armed drone capability.

Italy meanwhile is getting frustrated with a lack of response from the US to its request to arm the unarmed Reaper that it currently operates. According to the Aviation News article, Italy says that it is “looking for alternatives” including supporting a European black (secret) armed drone project. There are already a number of known drone programmes under development within Europe including BAE System’s Taranis, Dassault’s Neuron and EADS’Talarion (although the future of the latter is far from clear). However these are all at an early stage of development with possible in-service dates being many years off and hence the desire of European countries to purchase Reaper and Predator drones.

This week Germany also announced it was cancelling the Euro Hawk project. Unveiled with such fanfare in 2011, Euro Hawk was a German version of the Northrop Grumman’s surveillance drone, the Global Hawk. Various reasons were given this week to the press for its cancellation but German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière simply called the project “a horror without end” in his Bundestag statement. Cancellation of this project, even though it has already cost Germany 500 million Euros, apparently ‘saves’ a further 500 million Euros which can now be spent on alternative drone developments.

Meanwhile the UK continues to operate its armed Reapers acquired from the US in 2007. The UK is now testing the British-made Brimstone missile on its Reapers as an alternative to the US-made Hellfire missile. This will no doubt make it easier for the UK to continue operating its Reaper drones after the Afghanistan ‘drawdown’.

New figures from SIPRI show that Israel has been the biggest proliferator of drone technology over the past decade with just over 40% of drone exports originating from Israel. Many of these small to medium unarmed drones have gone to European countries but also to Latin America and Africa. YnetNews also reported that sales of drones now nets Israel $400 million per year.

While other countries seek to catch up with the drone wars, the US this week undertook a significant test of its new autonomous X-47B drone. For the first time an unmanned drone has taken off from an aircraft carrier, flown a pre-programmed mission and landed all by itself. As many commentators reported, this is a major step forward.

Ominously, in the same week senior Pentagon officials told a Senate hearing on drone strikes that the war on terror is one without end or boundaries and that it is expected it to continue for another ten to twenty years. [++]

Eurozone in Crisis | Tom McNamara

Things are bad in the European Union (EU). Just how bad you ask? They are so bad that the unelected fonctionnaires in Brussels are finally being forced to say so. In a communiqué dated March 26th, 2013, the European Commission (EC), the civil service arm of the EU, pulled no punches. It reads like a laundry list of pain and suffering:

- Unemployment rose in January to 26.2 million people or 10.8% of the economically active population (11.9 % for the euro-zone area).

- Overall employment in the EU fell by 0.4% in 2012

- GDP in the EU shrank by 0.5% during the fourth quarter of 2012, the largest contraction since early 2009.

- Youth unemployment reached a new peak in the EU in January at 23.6%, with levels in Spain and Greece now approaching 60%

- The crisis has had a negative impact on fertility rates, which now stand at just under 1.6 children per woman. This is below the generally accepted replacement rate of 2.1, the minimum considered as necessary to keep a society’s population stable and at current levels.

By that last measure, one could literally say that the EU is dying.

To be fair, the Commission is urging that EU countries put more of an emphasis on social investment. It is calling for measures that will increase people’s “skills and capacities” in order to better allow them to “integrate in society and the labour market.”

As if to say that the only problem with the over 26 million people who are currently out of work was that they just needed to brush up on their java programming skills.

… [What] exactly is the solution to the current crisis that we find ourselves in, a crisis, it should be noted, that was brought on by reckless and irresponsible speculation in the now estimated $639 trillion unregulated over-the-counter derivatives market and the poor regulatory oversight carried out by various government agencies, and which was aggravated by poorly planned and poorly coordinated government policies that were doomed to failure from the very start, and which had almost nothing to do with the 26 million people who now find themselves out of work?

As the old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and the EU is no exception. It is doggedly promoting what can only be referred to as the 2 redheaded step-children of economics, better known as “growth friendly fiscal consolidation” and “smart fiscal consolidation.” In English (supposedly one of the official languages of the EU) this translates into “the good kind of self destructive austerity measures, not the bad ones that haven’t worked for the past 4 years.” [++]

Europe's flesheaters now threaten to devour us all | Seumas Milne

Europe’s flesheaters are back. The claim that the worst of the eurozone crisis is behind us now looks foolish. The deal forced on Cyprus by the German-led Troika at the weekend isn’t a bailout: it will effectively destroy the island’s economy. Instead of getting a grip on its grossly inflated banks, it will impose a brutal credit contraction, combined with sweeping cuts and privatisations, wiping out perhaps a quarter of Cyprus’s national income. Ordinary Cypriots, not Russian oligarchs, will pay the price.

Of course Cypriot politicians are to blame for having allowed the country to be turned into an adjunct of a bloated financial sector and a refuge for hot Russian money. But what tipped the divided island over wasn’t foreign investors’ sharp practices, but the impact of Europe’s wider crisis on its banks: in particular, their exposure to devastated Greece, currently also in the Troika’s tender care.

Some have hailed the fact the raid was carried out on Cypriot bank deposits over €100,000, rather than the public purse. At last the rich and those responsible for private banking failures are being made to cough up, it’s been said. Which would have been a good thing. But it’s savers, not bankers or shareholders, who are taking the 40% hit. And many of the targeted depositors, such as pensioners, are scarcely rich – or are small businesses which will now go bust.

The Cypriot government should instead have learned from Iceland: taken over the banks, isolated the bad loans, protected deposits, imposed losses on the wealthy, and used a publicly owned banking sector to rebuild the domestic economy. That would have offered its citizens a better future, almost certainly outside the eurozone. But it would have also encroached on private capital’s privileges and clearly couldn’t be tolerated. Instead, in classic EU style, Cypriots have been given no say, while German MPs vote on the deal. Meanwhile, Cyprus’s banks are still closed and capital controls will start to erode the euro as a genuine single currency. As the Greek economist Costas Lapavitsas argues, Cyprus has “reactivated” the European banking crisis.

Not that it had been resolved. [++]

Lest We Forget – The Neglected Roots of Europe’s Slide to Authoritarianism | Yanis Varoufakis

Europe is being torn apart by a titanic clash between (a) the unstoppable popular rage against misanthropic austerity policies and (b) our elites’ immovable commitment to more austerity. Precisely how this clash will play out no one knows, except of course that the odds do not seem to be on the side of the good. While at the mercies of this crushing uncertainty, it is perhaps useful to take a…short quiz. So, dear reader, will you please read the following ten quotations and, while so doing, try to imagine who uttered or wrote these words? [take the quiz]

The Greek Economy is Kaput | Mike Whitney

After 5 years of negative growth, record-high unemployment and savage cuts to essential safety-net programs, Greek society is beginning to buckle. Diabetics cannot afford their insulin, suicides and anti-depressant usage is off-the-chart, tuberculosis and HIV rates are soaring, and desperate pensioners in Athens have been reduced to dumpster diving outside grocery stores for a few scraps of food to feed themselves and their families. The shocking devolution of a modern nation into a failed state did not happen overnight or without the help of EU bureaucrats and financial potentates who dictate economic policy from Brussels, Frankfort and Berlin. These so-called “managers” have steered the 17-member eurozone into the biggest slump since the Great Depression, imposing belt tightening measures that have choked off growth, sent unemployment skyrocketing, and incited protest and street violence across the continent. Greece has been particularly hard hit. Poverty and destitution are now widespread. The country is a basketcase. [continue]

thepeoplesrecord:

Spaniards protest against healthcare privatization
January 7, 2013

Thousands of Spanish medical workers marched through downtown Madrid on Monday to protest against budget cuts and plans to partly privatize their cherished national health service.

The march is part of a series of such demonstrations, described as a “white tide” because of the color of the medical scrubs many protesters wear. Participants on Monday walked behind a large banner saying, “Health care is not to be sold, it’s to be defended.”

Monica Garcia, spokeswoman for the Association of Medical Specialists of Madrid, which initiated the march, said her organization would continue to protest “the loss of our public health care, a national heritage that belongs to us and not to the government.”

She said the regional government was trying “to obtain economic benefit” from a system it had not invested in.

Health care and education are currently administered by Spain’s 17 semi-autonomous regions rather than the central government.

Many regions are struggling financially as Spain’s economy has fallen back into recession, having never recovered from a real estate crash in 2008. Some regions overspent in the good times but are now unable to borrow on financial markets to repay their huge debts, forcing them to make savings and even request rescue aid from the central government.

The region of Madrid proposes selling the management of six of 20 large public hospitals in its territory and 27 of 268 health centers. It argues that’s needed to fix the region’s finances and secure health services.

Doctor Agustin Reverte, 31, said privatizations would lead to less diagnostic tests on patients who will be attended by fewer medical staff, reducing the overall quality of the service.

“Those in government have money, so they don’t care if they have to pay for health care,” said Aurora Rojas, a 55-year-old nurse. “But the rest of us who just have a regular salary will not be able to afford decent treatment,” she said.

Source

A year on the brink | Joe Stiglitz

… The depression that European authorities have imposed on Spain and Greece already is having political consequences. In Spain, independence movements, especially in Catalonia, have revived, while neo-Nazism is on the march in Greece. The euro, created for the avowed purpose of fostering the integration of a democratic Europe, is having precisely the opposite effect. The lesson is that politics and economics are inseparable. Markets on their own may be neither efficient nor stable, but the politics of deregulation gave scope to unprecedented excesses that led to asset bubbles and the rolling crisis that has followed their collapse. And the politics of crisis has led to responses that are far from adequate. Banks have been saved, but the underlying problems were left to fester – no surprise there, given that, in both Europe and America, the task of fixing them was assigned to the policymakers who had caused them. In Europe, it was politics, not economics, that drove the creation of the euro; and it was politics that led to a fundamentally flawed structure that created ample room for bubbles, but little scope for dealing with the aftermath.

To forecast 2013 is to predict how divided government in the US and a divided Europe respond to their respective crises. Economists’ crystal balls are always cloudy, but those of political scientists are even cloudier. That said, the US will probably muddle through another year, neither pushed over the cliff nor put on the road to robust recovery. But, on both sides of the Atlantic, the polarised politics of bravado and brinkmanship will be much in evidence.

The problem with brinkmanship is that, sometimes, one does go over the brink.

Spain: the pain of austerity deepens

sinidentidades:

Forget, for a moment, the Greek tragedy. The tale of social woe set to play out in Spain this year is both bigger and more important to the world. For the drama of rescuing the euro, or letting it sink, will be played out on Spanish soil.

That is not to say Spaniards will have it worse than Greeks, though Eurostat figures show only Bulgaria and Romania now have a higher percentage of people deemed at risk of poverty. Spain’s economy will shrink, once more, by 1.5% – a dramatic enough figure, though one most Greeks would happily settle for. But Spain represents a quantitative leap in Europe’s ongoing tale of misery. Its economy is five times bigger than Greece’s – accounting for 12% of the eurozone. And there are almost twice as many Spaniards as there are people in bailed-out Portugal, Ireland and Greece together.

As Spain enters another year of recession, Europe’s politicians offer only one remedy. It must swallow more of the harsh medicine of austerity. But will it survive the cure? And will the spiral of decline really come to a halt towards the end of the year, as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promises?

Already the country’s social fabric is tearing. Family networks keep the working class going as unemployment hits 26%. Fewer than half of those aged under 25 find work. Anecdotes of misery abound. Grandmothers with memories of the “hungry” 1950s cook up large pots of lentils to feed unemployed grandchildren. At night, small crowds gather outside supermarkets in poorer neighbourhoods of Madrid, seeking thrown-out produce. In middle-class neighbourhoods ghostly figures wander the streets rummaging through bins by night.

Middle-class friends face new dilemmas. How do you look after a now terminally ill 90-year-old aunt and her son with mental health problems, asks one, when both have lived off her €600-a-month pension? Another has given her spare room to a 57-year-old graphic designer friend who cannot find work and does not qualify for dole payments. How long will he stay? A doctor – and single mother – admits that she worked before Christmas with flu because she could not afford to take (unpaid) sick days. “I tried not to breathe over my patients,” she says.

Anecdotal evidence of Spaniards’ suffering is backed by hard figures. When crisis struck in 2008, families began to save madly. Four years later savings rates are tumbling again – too many families are having trouble getting to the end of the month. Average household disposable income has already dropped, in real terms, by almost 10% since 2008. In poorer regions such as the Canary Islands, Andalucia and Extremadura, almost a third of the population is below the at-risk-of-poverty line,according to the National Statistics Institute. In a damning report, Oxfam says that previous crises in Latin America and Asia point to serious long-term damage if austerity measures remain in place. “Poverty and social exclusion may increase drastically,” it says. “By 2022, some 18 million Spaniards, or 38% of the population, could be in poverty.”

Rajoy’s year-old conservative government no longer calls the shots, if it ever did. In 2012 it tried to obey Brussels and Berlin, raising taxes and chopping spending on health, education, social services and almost everything else. Pensioners and civil servants became poorer. Yet early figures suggest that, by the time money borrowed to bail-out banks is included, the deficit remained above 8%. In 2013 Rajoy promises to do better. And that means even more cuts.

With a quarter of this year’s budget to go on servicing debt, Spain itself now needs a bailout. In 2013 it looks set to test the new “soft” bailouts now on offer from eurozone partners. That will be a make-or-break moment in the euro crisis. If it works and helps set Spain on the road to recovery, the euro is safe. If it does not, there are few solutions left. A soft bailout will be less painful than those inflicted on Greece, Portugal and Ireland – because it comes with a European Central Bank (ECB) promise to buy Spanish bonds in order to keep borrowing costs down. But it will still come with one chief condition – more austerity.

Restricted by the euro straitjacket and unable to devalue its currency, Spain is on the slow, painful path of internal devaluation. That means Spaniards must become poorer – accepting lower wages, lower pensions and worse public services. That way, they are told, their economy can become more competitive, making cheaper goods to consume itself or sell to the rest of the world. “We can only get out of this crisis by working more and, unfortunately, earning less,” said former employers’ federation leader Gerardo Díaz Ferrán two years ago. He was not, of course, talking about himself. Díaz Ferrán’s own companies have since gone bust and the workers sacked. But prosecutors claimed Díaz Ferrán stole money from his companies first – ensuring himself a high-end lifestyle that included a Rolls-Royce and two luxury apartments overlooking New York’s Central Park. In 2013, Spaniards will undoubtedly find out more about the former leader of Spain’s most powerful business lobby – a man who allegedly paid no income tax in 2009 or 2010. But his grim recipe for the future still holds.

Spaniards are more likely to fret about jobs, incomes and the shrinking value of what they own. Last year, some 800,000 people lost their jobs. In 2013, unemployment will rise further as another half a million or more jobs are lost. A new labour law offers workers in companies with falling revenues either wage cuts, sackings or both. And house prices will continue to tumble in a country where 80% own their homes. Prices dropped 15% last year – the biggest fall since a housing bubble burst in 2008. The stock of houses up for sale is growing thanks to foreclosures. A rash of suicides among those about to lose their homes saw new legislation introduced to protect the most vulnerable at the end of last year.

“Things are improving in Spain,” Mario Draghi, the powerful ECB boss, said before Christmas – according to Spanish translations of his words. “2012 was a year of painful gains. And 2013 should also be one.” The pain, at least, is guaranteed.