Over the years, I've had a few tussles with a reader in Russia who uses Moscow as his handle. Mostly about the EU and its future. At one point Moscow reminded me the whole point of the single currency was to force the weaker members to reform their economies, so there'd be convergence with those of Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian countries. So, I thought I'd take a look at where we are, after a decade or so of the euro straightjacket:-
Do we have now an economy as strong as Germany's? - No. We're in recession again.
Do we now have an export sector anything like Germany's? - No. It's pretty small and, though it was growing, the latest figures show a decline.
Do we now have an unemployment rate like Germany's? - Not by a very long chalk. In fact, we have the highest rate in Europe.
Do we now have a budget surplus like Germany's? - No. We're struggling to keep the deficit below 6%, double what EU rules permit.
Do we have a credit rating like Germany's? - You must be joking. It's way below and has just been reduced further.
Do we now have productivity levels like Germany's? - Err . . No. Nothing near it and our level hasn't improved in 10 years.
Do we have an exchange rate with which we can easily live? - Very funny. Even the pound is now rising against the euro, despite the UK having gone back into recession.
Hmm. There must be something we share with Germany . . . Of course! Thanks to constant high inflation, we now have a cost of living at Teutonic levels. So the euro hasn't been a complete failure, then.
But there is good news. My lovely neighbour, Amparo - the other side from the divine Ester - told me last night Toni has, indeed, gone off to sea again. But only for a month or so. He'll be getting back just as return from the UK.
Back to the EU . . . Whatever the achievable/unachievable each member has for its budget deficit for 2012, all of them have 3% for 2013. Which is laughably unachievable by Spain. It's been hard to understand why bureaucrats and politicians have stuck with this nonsensical number and. But now comes some evidence that even they don't really believe it. As if they ever did. The thinnest of thin edges of a wedge?
The weather: First of all, I have to stress yesterday wasn't at all bad here in the the Rías Baixas of Galicia. And today is gorgeous. But I am about to return to a UK where the forecast is for the coldest May in 300 years. I suspect that whatever is going to cause this will also hit Galicia, at least to some degree.
Walking down to town yesterday to collect my just-serviced car, I was passed by at least ten driving school vehicles, all with their normal complement of one pupil at the wheel and two to three more in the back. So, there's another industry bucking the trend. And possibly one in which we'll see more and more entrepreneurs investing their capital. Maybe.
Finally . . . The bars in Pontevedra's old quarter were all humming last night. Especially the new ones, which can count on the in-crowd patronising them for a few months. Possibly even a year. Until the next new place opens up. Meanwhile, here's some evidence to support my claim that people are using their cash not for clothes and shoes but for having a good time and laughing in the face of austerity.