Monday, November 24, 2008

Here’s a conundrum. Spain’s universities are regularly assessed – both by domestic and international agencies – to be among the weakest in Europe. And yet three of the top ten business schools on the continent are located here. No wonder I read yesterday that the universities – once the students have stopped protesting about reforms – could take a leaf out of the business schools’ books.

Just when you thought you might be getting a bit of a handle on what’s happening in the world, along comes an article on the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ deflation. Not to mention the spectre of ‘negative feedback loop’. Perhaps it’s time to find a cave to live in.

Talking of unfathomables, here’s what you need to understand why the Spanish government is prepared to let 30% of Repsol go to a ‘private’ Russian company for possibly even less than a peppercorn. As they say, circumstances change principles. Even if you’re a socialist.

I guess it’s going to be even harder now but the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] says Spain has done nothing to correct 20 of the 49 things alleged to be wrong with its economic structure. Among which, it seems, are pension financing and labour market flexibility. It’s this sort of thing which makes me pessimistic about Spain climbing out of the slough of economic despond as quickly as other countries. By which I decidedly don’t mean Britain.

Arguments have already broken out, it’s reported, between France and Germany as to how much to spend and on what to lift the EU out of recession. So I don’t suppose there’ll be one humongous central fund doling out charity to deserving companies. Other than what’s already in place, of course. It struck me today this might not be a bad thing, when I was reading an article on the moneys which the EU is claiming back from Galicia for all the projects which never quite made it to fruition. I suspect there’s a few of these elsewhere as well. So guess how efficient and effective an EU super-fund administered from Brussels would be.

Talking of Galicia . . .

Yesterday’s Voz de Galicia contained a 6 page colour brochure from the Xunta about a new bridge planned over the river Lerez here in Pontevedra. Plus several ads from the same source of finance. I decided not to mention it last night but, having read this article this morning, have changed my mind. I expect we’ll see more and more of this, with Keynes offered as the justification. Assuming anything is offered.

I think I’ve commented before that civil servant featherbedding is a very British sort of corruption.

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