Thursday, December 11, 2008

If you haven’t read the comments of the German Finance Minister pouring buckets of cold water on the desperate measures being taken in London and Paris right now, click here and/or here. Don’t you just love to see the ‘greengrocers’ apostrophe’ [“Most other European government's”] in a BBC report?* If even the BBC can’t get the apostrophe right, perhaps it really is time to scrap it. Allowing us pedants to moan but at least get some sleep. Or should that be ‘we pedants’?

Actually, it gets worse. Politically, I mean. Some see the riotous events in Greece as a harbinger of things to come in other EU countries where fundamental problems have been masked by an EMU-driven artificial boom and where the recession will consequently be both deeper and longer than elsewhere. Naming no names. Though this is a bit worrying.

Overall, I can feel myself being drawn towards a bet that the crisis will weaken rather than strengthen the EU. Not that it will stop the project, of course. There are too many vested interests. And, meanwhile, who’d bet against the panicky Irish doing what they’ve been told to do and revise their ‘ignorance-driven’ attitude towards the Lisbon Treaty/Constitution next October? Interesting times. If you can hang onto your income.

Here in Spain, we now have IMF joining the chorus and telling us that, because structural reforms didn’t take place when times were good, Spain risks suffering longer than most other economies. But this is only a prediction and it possibly contrasts with the views of those more optimistic souls who thought the construction boom would never end and that property prices would never fall. But that, if they did, there’d only be [in President Zapatero’s pre-election words] a ‘light deceleration’ and people would go on buying properties when prices were falling.

A day or two ago, I waved away a young clipboard-wielding woman whom I assumed to be a Romanian crook. But, returning later by the same route, I saw four or five young women collecting in the precincts of our basilica and wondered whether I hadn’t been unfair. I shouldn’t have worried. The police arrested them yesterday – ‘Not for the first time’ – after they’d garnered 151 euros for a non-existent charity for the deaf and dumb. Probably the same place as last time.

Finally . . . I’ve been written to by the ex-Chairman of the Northern Rock bank, offering to make me a millionaire. What a lucky bunny I am. He’s clearly not Nigerian so I must be able to trust him. Strange, though, that he seems unaware of the conventions of English punctuation. But, then, if the BBC is equally ignorant, perhaps this is nothing to worry about.

* Corrected by the time I came to post this!

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