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April 9, 2014

Via Kevin Drum, we find that Greece might have a successful debt auction:

Greece is undergoing an astonishing financial rebound. Two years ago, the country looked like it was set for a messy default and exit from the euro. Now it is on the verge of returning to the bond market with the issue of 2 billion euros of five-year paper.

There are still political risks, and the real economy is only now starting to turn. But the financial recovery is impressive. The 10-year bond yield, which hit 30 percent after the debt restructuring of two years ago, is now 6.2 percent....The changed mood in the markets is mainly down to external factors: the European Central Bank's promise to "do whatever it takes" to save the euro two years ago; and the more recent end of investors' love affair with emerging markets, meaning the liquidity sloshing around the global economy has been hunting for bargains in other places such as Greece.

That said, the center-right government of Antonis Samaras has surprised observers at home and abroad by its ability to continue with the fiscal and structural reforms started by his predecessors. The most important successes have been reform of the labor market, which has restored Greece's competitiveness, and the achievement last year of a "primary" budgetary surplus before interest payments. [Reuters]

But let's not get ahead of ourselves:

(Source: tradingeconomics.com)

Given the kind of people who have been in charge of the thing, I guess it's sort of impressive that the European Central Bank has finally figured out how to use their infinite Euro-creation power to keep member nations from defaulting on Euro-denominated debt. But with unemployment still over 27 percent, I'd say let's hold off on talk of a recovery.

Indeed, I rather fear this could be the worst of all worlds. Moving off the Euro would have been awful, but at least held the prospect of returning to growth and full employment within a couple years (from a much lower base). By contrast, the bank Natixis recently estimated that, given very generous assumptions, it will take Spain (which is in similarly dire straits) 25 years to return to 2007-era employment. A nation can do a great deal of catch-up growth in that time.

Realistically, I'd guess this means that Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, etc., will never recover fully, and instead we're witnessing the birth of a crummy, tattered Franco-German empire with a permanently depressed periphery. Ryan Cooper

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump is backed into a corner in South Carolina, where he has been routinely booed by the debate audience for everything from insulting Jeb Bush to insinuating 9/11 was George W. Bush's fault. Perhaps as a result, when Ted Cruz turned his criticism on Trump, Trump came back swinging with a particular vengeance.

"You are the single biggest liar, you're probably worse than Jeb Bush," Trump said — a mighty insult in his book. Trump added that Cruz is a "nasty guy."

"This guy lied about Ben Carson…and he just continues," Trump went on.

However, Trump was met with what is becoming a familiar sound this Saturday: Boos. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the only Cuban-Americans on the South Carolina Republican debate stage, and things got especially heated and personal when Cruz criticized a time Rubio went on Univision to speak in Spanish about his immigration policy.

When Rubio was given the chance to respond, he snapped, "I don't know how [Cruz] knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish."

Cruz countered by shouting in Spanish at Rubio. "We can do this in Spanish, if you want," he roughly said.

Some Spanish speakers took issue with Cruz's reply, however:

Nevertheless, Rubio didn't take Cruz up on the challenge, continuing on in English — but it was a moment for the books. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump locked horns for the second time in the South Carolina Republican debate when Trump took a swing at one of his favorite subjects of ridicule — the Bush family.

"I am sick and tired of him going after my family," Bush began in response, going on to say that, "While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe."

Trump interrupted, pointing out that 9/11 happened while George W. Bush was in office — and was greeted with a round of angry boos.

"He had the gall to go after my mother," Bush went on. "My mom is the strongest person I know."

But Trump, never one to cede the last word, quipped, "She should be running." Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After Jeb Bush explained his policy for going after ISIS at the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina Saturday night, Donald Trump ripped into the former Florida governor — and was met with ferocious boos from the audience. "Jeb is so wrong, Jeb is absolutely so wrong," Trump said of Bush's call to dispose of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, only to get the audience hissing.

Trump wasn't put off. "You know who that is? That's Jeb's special interest and lobby talking," he said, drawing his second round of boos.

"I only tell the truth, lobbyists," Trump replied. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Twitter/@MashableNews

The opening questions of the CBS Republican debate naturally surrounded the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, with Donald Trump being the first up to bat. Responding to the question of appointing Justice Scalia's replacement, Trump said he believed Obama would pick a successor within the remaining 11 months of his presidency— and if Trump were in the president's shoes, he would do the same.

Nevertheless, Trump had some advice to those interested in protecting Scalia's legacy of conservatism: "Delay, delay, delay." Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at the age of 79, had a way with words. In court, those words weren't so much spoken as thundered. And in his memorable dissents or important majority decisions, those words could often be described as biting.

The Catholic, Italian-American justice, the longest-serving on the court, was passionate about his belief in the Constitution and his faith.

"He was a hysteric in cases he cared about most," legal scholar Cass Sunstein told NPR. The cases that fired him up ranged from same-sex marriage and prayer in public school, to the death penalty and ObamaCare.

Scalia so intensely disagreed with the court's 2015 decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act ruling that he voiced his colorful dissent aloud from the bench, with phrases like "jiggery-pokery," "quite absurd," "feeble arguments," and "pure applesauce."

Words were important to Scalia, both in his reading of the Constitution ("The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring.") and in his "carefully crafted" opinions, which will live on long after his death.

Read more about Antonin Scalia's life, career, and legacy at NPR. Lauren Hansen

February 13, 2016
Getty Images/Alex Wong

Following the unexpected death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, Republicans and Democrats immediately began fighting over who should select his replacement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said President Obama "can and should send the Senate a nominee right away."

Were Obama to nominate Scalia's replacement, it would dramatically refashion the ideological make-up of the court, with the reliably conservative Scalia almost certainly being replaced by a liberal like Obama's other two nominees, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Ben Frumin

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