SYRIZA has promised to cancel the austerity measures Greece adopted as part of the bailout package and renegotiate its debt obligations. This could trigger a confrontation with Athensâ€™ lenders in Europe and the IMF, potentially resulting in a Greek exit (or â€œGrexitâ€) from the eurozone. Prime Minister Samaras is playing up this risk. â€œWe shed blood to take the word â€˜Grexitâ€™ away from the mouths of foreigners, and SYRIZA is bringing this word back to their mouths,â€ he said in a speech late last year.
It seems Samaras is getting help in this campaign from Berlin. By 2012, Merkel had decided Greece must be kept in the eurozone to mitigate the risk of a â€œcontagionâ€ effect that could hasten the departure of other members and threaten the common European currency. This position implied Greece had some leverage, because its exit would hurt Germany and other eurozone members, as well. Now, according to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Merkel appears willing to accept a Greek exit, and her government is preparing for that possibility. Officially, of course, Berlinâ€™s policy hasnâ€™t changed: It wants to keep the eurozone intact. But itâ€™s hard to read the unnamed â€œGerman officialsâ€ who spoke to Der Spiegel and not conclude that Germany wanted to send a message to SYRIZA that Berlin will call its bluff if Athens demands onerous concessions or scuttles austerity.
Tsipras publicly scoffs at the possibility that Greece will be forced to leave the eurozone. â€œWe are through with the possibility of a Grexit, and there is only a Samaras-exit,â€ he has saidâ€”a nifty bit of sloganeering that has failed to soothe the nerves of Greeks who worry a SYRIZA victory will result in tumult between Greece and its creditors. Tsipras has tried to lessen those fears. The closer he gets to power, the softer his rhetoric has become. Only six months ago, says Economides, it looked like a SYRIZA victory would result in a Grexit. â€œNow theyâ€™ve talked their way out of that corner, and theyâ€™re leaving it open that theyâ€™ll do their utmost to stay in the eurozone,â€ he says.
London is gloriously un-plannable and horribly unplanned. From the Romans to the Romanians, the immigrant tribes who now call themselves English have been drawn to our uniquely cosmopolitan capital. This heterogeneous cultural mixture may help to explain the lack of appetite for plan-led â€œimprovementsâ€ or urban reshaping. There is no common cultural foundation upon which to create a formal grand plan.
On my bedroom wall hangs an artistâ€™s perspective of the plan Wren touted for the City after the Great Fire of 1666, fleshed out with buildings of classical design, looking like a beaux arts continental city. It is the first thing I see when I wake every morning and provides a constant reminder of the dangers of â€œmaster-planningâ€. If Wren, or any other planner, had had their way London would have ended up like Paris, Bath or Milton Keynes â€“ architecturally inspired, but difficult to adapt to changing and unforeseeable future needs. Paris is formally planned, lacking in cultural diversity and inward-looking â€“ no one can become a Parisian. London is unplanned, culturally diverse and a world business centre â€“ anyone can become a Londoner.
Of course un-planning only takes you so far as the author continues. Â Without planning (more specifically, land use restrictions), your entire city will suffer.
But while gloriously un-plannable the capital needs to be loved if we want to avoid the phenomenon of â€œlights-out Londonâ€, with homes just used as boxes for spare cash. It cannot survive without careful management and subtle control. Left to untrammelled market forces it will become an unstoppable nuclear reaction. George Osborne has claimed our dizzying house price inflation as his miracle of â€œeconomic growthâ€. Long gone are the days when planning was the bag of a politician of intellectual calibre, such as Michael Heseltine.
He goes on
Workers and residents want comfortable accommodation near the ground, with attractive spaces and facilities close at hand. Manhattan, the City and Canary Wharf can justify building office towers because their land area is constrained and demand for commercial space high. Office towers can be built in tight, sustainable clusters. This minimises their environmental impact and maximises their economic advantage â€“ if they are serviced by a high-capacity public transport system.
The same does not hold true for housing. The highest density residential neighbourhood in London is Chelsea, which is gloriously free of towers. In the 1970s, the Greater London Council created some of the highest density housing estates. These six- to eight-floor redbrick developments were built around the edges of their site, leaving attractive central gardens. Lillington Gardens, in Vauxhall Bridge Road, is a fine example, beautifully maintained and highly popular with its residents.
A residential development in Central London is now likely to make four to six times more profit than an office scheme. Without planning control, much-needed offices have given way to piles of â€œsafe-deposit boxesâ€ rising across the capital. These towers, many of dubious architectural quality, are sold off-plan to the worldâ€™s â€œuber-richâ€, as a repository for their spare and suspect capital. The purchasers are attracted by Londonâ€™s rocketing residential prices, born of our unusual fixation on home-ownership. But many chose not to live here.
Rented housing is a much more efficient use of scarce urban land, because people only rent what they need. Londonâ€™s house price inflation is also being fuelled by that â€œbuy-to-letâ€ property boom, which has aggravated the situation by reducing the security of tenants. We need an expanded, professionally managed, residential rental sector with dependable tenant security if we are to have any chance of addressing Londonâ€™s housing crisis. This would provide equal scope for development investors and the construction industry but also provide Londoners with what they need â€“ not just a global financial laundry cum bank vault.
The Treasury now controls the policies, delighting in the destruction of the last tools of planning. The Use Classes Order has been neutered to let offices, and soon shops, be turned into homes without planning permission. Rather than stimulating the reuse of empty buildings, this measure has seen the rapid disappearance of much-needed office accommodation in prime locations. Without land-use control, planners are powerless.
Jerry Weiers lives less than two miles from University of Phoenix Stadium, where the New England Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Weiers also happens to be the mayor of Glendale.
Yet as politicians, chief executives and tens of thousands of well-heeled fans rub shoulders that day in the stadium in Glendale, a western suburb of Phoenix, he plans to watch the game on television in his living room, because he has not been offered a ticket.
â€œIt was on my bucket list, but itâ€™s not going to happen,â€ Weiers said. â€œIf I had my druthers, Iâ€™d rather be in the stadium. Iâ€™ve had people say that if I was a team player, I might have gone to the game. But Iâ€™m a team player for my city.â€
Weiers is not shy about making that point, so he is not surprised that he was snubbed. Critics have called Weiers ungrateful because the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl will draw thousands of visitors to his city, and some of them will visit restaurants and hotels there. Glendale will also receive lots of free advertising during game broadcasts, though a vast majority of people visiting Arizona for the Super Bowl will visit the city only on game day.
James Cassella, the mayor of East Rutherford, N.J., was also criticized after he complained last year that his borough had been overlooked even as the Super Bowl was played at MetLife Stadium there.
But the friction in Glendale is acute because the city has a reputation for betting big on sports â€” and paying a price for it. In the last decade, the city spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a hockey arena for the Coyotes and a spring training complex for the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The hope was that the facilities would prompt residential and commercial development. But when the recession hit in 2008, the Coyotes went bankrupt, the mall next to the arena foundered, and the city was overwhelmed by its debt payments and was forced to slash public services.
â€œThe city of Glendale is the poster child for what can go wrongâ€ when a city invests heavily in sports, said Kevin McCarthy, the president of the Arizona Tax Research Association. â€œYou donâ€™t want to be building stadiums and not be able to hire police officers.â€
Glendale is by no means the first city to have sports facilities turn into albatrosses. Cincinnati and Miami, to name just two, built stadiums for wealthy owners in deals that backfired.
But the scale of spending in the city of 230,000 residents is unique. According to Moodyâ€™s Investors Service, Glendaleâ€™s debt is equal to 4.9 percent of its tax base, nearly four times the national median and twice the average rate for cities in Arizona. More than 40 percent of the cityâ€™s debt is dedicated to paying off sports complexes.
What the NFL does to Super Bowl host cities is a crime. Â NFL owners want to host a big party and the taxpayers pay for it. Â It is insane.
As for his Super Bowl ticket?
Whether that attitude gets Weiers invited is another question. Cassella, the East Rutherford mayor, said that after stories surfaced that he, too, had been unable to get a Super Bowl ticket, Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, invited him as his guest. John Mara, an owner of the Giants, sent him a parking pass.
The Conference Board of Canada predicts this drop will cause Alberta to slip into a recession by the end of the year. Jeff Rubin, the author of “The End of Growth” and former chief economist of CIBC World Markets believes the dip in the sector could affect Saskatchewan as well, though not as seriously.
“I don’t expect Saskatchewan or Newfoundland to be as adversely affected as Alberta,” Rubin said.
“But it’s going to impact the economy, it’s going to impact tax revenues. Governments are going to be challenged in the sense that if they don’t challenge spending, they’ll see their deficits go off side.”
It could also affect property prices.
The Conference Board of Canada predicts that Alberta will slip into a recession before the end of the year. Rubin echoes that warning. He said Alberta could experience its worst recession since the late 1980s.
At the end of the day, Saskatchewan will be okay because we have what the world needs. Â It may not be as great as it was in 2009 but we will be okay. Â That being said, we are so reliant on commodity prices that these kind of dips are going to impact us forever with no way out. Â In that way the new Saskatchewan under Brad Wall isnâ€™t a lot different than the old Saskatchewan under Grant Devine or Roy Romanow. Â Like the rest of the world, the global economy will always have a big impact on us for good or for bad.
Cam Broten has said before that he wants more eggs in more baskets. Â I think we all do in Saskatchewan but man is it hard to do. Â I posted before about Albertaâ€™s struggles in diversifying their economy and the same thing has happened here. Â I agree with diversification but we are a province of a million people and there are going to be times that the world economy conspires against us and makes it really hard. Â This is one of those times.
Almost every respondent wrote that the fact of his being the first black president will loom large in the historical narrative â€” though they disagreed in interesting ways. Many predict that what will last is the symbolism of a nonwhite First Family; others, the antagonism Obamaâ€™s blackness provoked; still others, the way his racial self-consciousness constrained him. A few suggested that we will care a great deal less about his race generations from now â€” just as John F. Kennedyâ€™s Catholicism hardly matters to current students of history. Across the board, Obamacare was recognized as a historic triumph (though one historian predicted that, with its market exchanges, it may in retrospect be seen as illiberal and mark the beginning of the privatization of public health care). A surprising number of respondents argued that his rescue of the economy will be judged more significant than is presently acknowledged, however lackluster the recovery has felt. There was more attention paid to China than isis (Obamaâ€™s foreign policy received the most divergent assessments), and considerable credit was given to the absence of a major war or terrorist attack, along with a more negative assessment of its price â€” the expansion of the security state, drones and all.Â