If you have the heart – and the economics brain – here is Edward Hugh on the Greek bond developments, with the added bonus of a codicil on Spain. As Edward points out, the response of the Spanish president, Señor Zapatero has been to assure us, for the nth time, that there’s nothing to worry about, Spain’s economy is basically very sound and the recovery will be with us in a day or two. To which Edward raises the not-unreasonable questions – “How much more in denial is it possible to be, and how much longer must the future of all Europeans continue to be put at risk by head-in-the-sand statements like this?” I’m guessing quite a while. The Spanish know how to play the EU game better than anyone.
Meanwhile, reports are emerging of a huge European fraud around the carbon trading scheme. Who would have thought it? Bureaucrats put in place a complex scheme and then it’s promptly abused on a massive scale. Perhaps they modelled it on the Common Agricultural Policy. But you have to laugh. One wag has said the perpetrators must have been caught green-handed.
But back to presidents . . . Appearing at some EU meeting yesterday, the Greek head honcho insisted the country’s economy was basically strong but that the government knew it had to tackle problems of corruption, clientelism and public sector reform. His comments could have come one hundred percent from the mouth of president Zapatero, it struck me. Except for the bit about his government tackling corruption, clientelism and public sector reform.
And talking of bureaucrats . . . It seems those working for the EU are the highest paid in the world. Which should surprise no one, of course. Nonetheless, they’re on strike for more. I think it’s becoming clear what your kids have to do these days when you give them the succinct career advice “Go where the money is”. Head for Brussels, in one form or another. Where your power and your ability to play with someone else’s money increase by the day. And you can do it in one of around fifty languages.
Back here in Spain, the government has got the New Year round of price increases off to a good start by announcing a 7% increase in electricity prices. I thought of this today when reading a cri-de-coeur from a letter-writer in today’s El Mundo, who felt she must be living in a different universe from the one where there was the price deflation everyone was worried about.
Finally . . . I didn’t think it right to bore you with a picture of the mushrooms in my lawn but here are the shoots sprouting – after three weeks of persistent rain – from the seed holder at the bottom of my garden . . .