Bernanke on Economic Outlook and Policy

Chairman Casey, Vice Chairman Brady, and other members of the Committee, I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the economic outlook and economic policy.
Economic growth has continued at a moderate rate so far this year. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of about 2 percent in the first quarter after increasing at a 3 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2011. Growth last quarter was supported by further gains in private domestic demand, which more than offset a drag from a decline in government spending. 

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EU in crisis? Popular perceptions of the EU project in different Member States

A new study by the Pew Research Centre presents the results of a survey on attitudes towards the EU in different member states. While Germany remains most favourable to the EU project, this is also the case in Spain and Portugal whereas Britain, Greece and the Czech Republic have a less positive view. The ECB gets much less favourable ratings, with more than 50% being favourable only in Poland, with the most negative perceptions in Britain, Spain and Greece. Only the Germans see EU integration as conducive to economic growth. 
Two slightly surprising findings. First, Spain also (46%) retains a positive view of the effect of EU integration on the economy. Second, Greece has the highest share of the population seeing the Euro… as a good thing! This result is likely to have implications for the likelyhood of anti-Euro parties to win a majority in the next Greek legislative elections…

The crisis and national labour law reforms

Check this really interesting ETUI working paper on national labour market reforms in the context of the crisis by Clauwaert and Schömann.This shows that there have been significant reforms to industrial relations and bargaining system, individual and collective dismissal rules, as well as changes to rules on atypical contracts…
Note: Stefan Clauwaert and Isabelle Schömann are senior researchers at the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) in Brussels. This Working Paper presents the main trends and tendencies based on a country by country analysis. The country studies are regularly updated and can be found at the ETUI website:


This is a gloomy start of the week for the Eurozone, with spreads rising again in the usual suspects (Spain, 4.412, and Italy, 3.997) and not so usual suspect such as France (1.334). International investors are turning away from the Euro bond market, Euro is now at 1.302 dollars, and Asian stocks falling as a result of worries over the Eurozone… 
The adverse developments in the Eurozone are not the results of insufficient fiscal austerity but rather of too much austerity. As should by now be clear, and as Krugman notes in his Insane in Spain post, the crisis in Spain is not one of fiscal irresponsibility, but is better understood as resulting from a housing bubble