Sunday, May 09, 2010

In the wake of the inconclusive British elections, I see at least one well-known British columnist has jumped on my Let Scotland Go bandwagon. Just a coincidence, I’m sure . . . Or obvious.

As for Spain finally emerging from the recession into the sunny uplands of export-led growth, if you’ve got half an hour to spare and you like charts, Edward Hugh’s analysis of trends here should interest you. I’ll eschew quotes and just say there’s enough in the article to justify the overview in El País’s business section today that, while the sun has indeed come out, it’s shrouded in clouds.

On the wider EU front, Edward writes that “As the Greek emergency has grown into a wider European sovereign debt crisis, so eurozone governments seem to have arrived at the conclusion that changes to the design of European monetary union can no longer be postponed”. But “it is still far from clear that Europe's leaders are ready to accept just how thoroughgoing the institutional changes may need to be if they are to be capable of putting the common currency on a sound and sustainable footing.” Pending this, he says, “the crisis of confidence turns on whether or not Spain’s banking system will be able to find sufficient funding in the interbank market to satisfy its liquidity needs according to the exit schedule laid down initially by the ECB.” Meanwhile, “The principal reason why Spanish debt is steadily moving into high risk territory is to be found in the impact on investor confidence of the perceived state of denial over the magnitude of the problem to be found at the highest levels of the Spanish administration, and the absence of any credible plan to address the situation”. Back to Sr Zapatero and his irrepressible optimism, I guess. Or as Edward puts it himself . . . “What is worrying people is whether or not Spain could become another Greece in the future, and whether or not the country’s present leaders have the determination needed to take the steps to ensure it won’t. Confidence in Spain’s economy is at a low level, and confidence in Mr Zapatero’s ability to do what is needed is at an even lower one. If Spain’s Prime Minister finds he is no longer able to convince external observers that he can do the job which needs to be done, then in the interest of all Spaniards and all Europeans he should offer to stand down at the and of the European Presidency in July and pass the rudder over to someone who can.” Fat chance, I suspect. He and Mr Brown may have more in common than just an unshakeable belief in Socialist solutions to economic crises.

On a lighter note . . . Here’s a picture explaining why my neighbour of three doors away has wrested from Tony’s wife the garland of Worst Parker in the Street. An easy decision really, as Mrs T tends to park a metre or two away from the pavement (sidewalk), not a metre or more onto it.

And here’s a couple of snaps of the new statue (and shadowy friends) behind Pontevedra’s town hall. I’m not yet clear who it is. So ideas are welcome. I doubt it’s the Bulgarian wrestler it looks like.

En passant, winter has returned here, the temperature has dropped ten degrees or more, and I have the sort of throat that tells me my nostrils will be streaming tomorrow. Happy days. Bring back Global Warming. And get those hot toddies mixed.

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