Thursday, January 22, 2009

I’ve woken very early today and decided to post this polemic, in addition to the one I wrote late last night and the usual one I will post this evening. So, if you have any interest in Ryan’s progress, don’t be fooled into missing yesterday’s post. Of course, if you have an RSS feed such as Google Reader, this is unlikely . . .

I’ve been known to say that, although the Spanish are an affable, sociable and, indeed, charming people, life here can be irritatingly devoid of the little courtesies I take for granted from my own culture. So, imagine my surprise to read today that “The courtesy of everyday social exchanges in America can be startling to visiting Britons.” And that “According to a UK survey last month, our own standards are plummeting.” There are things worse than an economic crisis. Maybe I should be considering the USA for when things get truly intolerable in Europe. Especially now that there's a saint running the place.

Speaking of financial crises . . . Each passing day now sees another nail in the coffin of Britain’s economy and a further reduction in the chances of me winning my bet with reader Moscow that the pound will bounce back to 1.25 against the euro by the end of 2009. I do, though, get the impression there’s rather more acceptance and commentary about Britain’s dire situation in the UK media than there is here in Spain in respect of her own similar predicament. Or even worse plight, if the real Jeremiads are right and Spain is forced out of the eurozone. Here’s one such British commentary, calling into question Gordon Brown’s sanity. And this from a left-of-centre paper. Here's another – from the other side of the political divide - in which the writer answers my question about the missing 37 billion pounds handed over to the banks by Mr B. Yes, it is stuck in their vaults, helping to clean up their dirty balance sheets. So, not terribly productive. Francis Bacon said a few hundred years ago that money is like shit - no good unless you spread it. In the same way, cash needs to flow around an economy as blood does round the body. At the moment, everything that Mr Brown injects into the corpus/corpse of the British economy seems to end up filling just the left foot.

Of course, no balance sheet is filthier than that of UK plc, thanks to the off-balance-sheet PFI financing scheme that Mr Brown has been so keen on. And which now looks like an even bigger negative than it has done over the last ten years. Perhaps this is why one of the world’s savviest investors is encouraging everyone to get shot of all their pounds. As if all of us could!

Not all of the bankers whose greed and profligacy has created the mess we’re in have retired from the scene with millions in the bank. Or, more likely, under their mattresses. Several of them have devastated their families by killing themselves. The latest is the ex-star of the Irish financial scene, Patrick Rocca. I rather doubt that Gordon Brown will be taking this route. Or even resigning. But if he does decide to top himself, perhaps he could do us all a favour and shoot the hapless Mr Blair on his way out. This is about the only chance they have of forcing history to be kind to them. What a disaster the New Labour government of commercially inexperienced but City-and-money-loving ex-socialists has been. Except, of course, for the several hundred thousand overpaid new civil servants it has employed and who, along with their colleagues, now enjoy job protection and the prospect of a handsome pension. Albeit in very devalued pounds.

Talk about moral hazard!

PS. If you think this is gratutiously nasty, bear in mind I have 30-40 insect bites on my neck. A savage mosquito? Or a flea from the night train?

PPS. I knew Ryan was clever for a dog. But I didn't realise he was reading Bacon.

PPS. Thank God! A report that insists Britain is not bankrupt. At least, not yet.

PPPS: Oh dear. I've now read it and it says Spain is in a worse plight than the UK. I wonder how much a green card costs . . .

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