Thursday, November 25, 2010

God knows how they do these surveys but we’re being told that Galicians will spend an average of 640 euros each this coming Xmas. This is well down the (inevitable) regional list, coming above only the Canary Islands. But, within the total, we in Galicia will be spending the most on food, at 211 each. Possibly because of all that ‘local’ seafood that’ll be consumed, especially the (dreadful) percebes. Or goose barnacles in English. Astonishingly, everyone in the country will be spending more than 100 euros on the two big lotteries of the season. In which they have less chance of winning than of being hit by lightning twice. On the same day.

I went to the gym near my house today, to enquire about prices. We went through the various options and I was disappointed to be told that I and my dog didn’t qualify for the Two Person special deal. Most interestingly, when I asked what the 30 euro Matricula fee was, the young lady dismissed it as ‘Nothing’. Which must mean either that they’re going to waive the sign-on fee or she wanted to give me the impression I didn’t have to pay it. I wonder which.

A minor apology . . .  I said yesterday that the building with Moorish aspects was built in the 11th century. Reader Victor tells me it’s a 15th century edifice. Actually, it’s 14th century according to the charming man on the reception desk there, in what is now an administrative unit of the University of Vigo. Incidentally, this experience was one which I rather doubt I’d get in the UK. The chap on the desk was charm itself and went to great lengths to try to get data out of his laptop. Which is not uncommon in Spain. That said, it might be that, where there’s a good deal of ‘underemployment’, people are a tad bored. And only too pleased to have something to do.

On the issue of the day, week and year . . . There seems now to be a consensus that the Eurozone is close to the edge of a precipice and that it will be pushed even nearer to it when Portugal inevitably seeks an IMF/ECB handout ‘ere too long. Writing in the left-of-centre Guardian, the ubiquitous Timothy Gorton Ash says everything now depends on whether a Europeanised Germany can manage to quickly forge some sort of Germanised Europe. Personally, I’ve no doubt - given enough time - the politicians and bureaucrats could manage this but I’m less sure the peoples of Europe (especially the Germans) would grant their permission for a true currency and debt union . Assuming they’re ever asked. As Gorton Ash says in his final paragraph, “The challenge for German statecraft is to find this difficult but sustainable compromise, in the most intensive negotiations with all its European partners – and then to sell the result to its own reluctant people.”

So the game has a while to run. Meanwhile, here’s one response to Ambrose Pritchard Evans’ request for solutions. Though, as it’s a leader from the right-of-centre Daily Telegraph, it may well have been written by Ambrose himself – “Federalist voices in the EU are arguing that this crisis makes the case for the closer political union that may make a currency union viable. Yet they are hopelessly at odds with public opinion across Europe, where there is no popular appetite for such a step. Europe’s leaders must, therefore, focus on creating instruments that prevent the capital markets holding the whole of the EU to ransom when one of its weaker members becomes distressed, and allow instead a managed exit from the eurozone. Given the woeful political leadership shown by the EU so far in this crisis, such a rational outcome is far from guaranteed.”

Personally, I’m most worried about Mrs Merkel’s reported Canute-like comment that politicians must act together to demonstrate that they can’t be beaten by the markets.

Finally . . . Remember the confidence-generating bank stress tests of last summer. Well, it turns out the Irish numbers were a sham, hiding the precariousness of their banks. One naturally wonders about those from other countries.

5 comments:

moscow said...

Colin,
One thing you'll have to admit: clearer than ever you are showing your cards. It is cristal clear which side you are on.

I am in favour of the euro and of political union, but at this stage I am (almost) ready to give up hoping. It would be a tad ironic that everything would come crashing down because of the incompetence of one man. How about a bit of divine justice?

I know the Germans very well, not less than I do know Spaniards. I fear they are not very good at inter-mingling with other cultures. And they are certainly totally uncapable of providing leadership. I often muse, would the British wake up to the fact that they could be the ones.....leadership requires patience, commom sense and flexibility, qualities the British have in spades. But of course, it won't happen.

Colin said...

Moscow, I really don¡t know what you mean by 'sides'. I am a eurosceptic and always have been. You are a europhile. It's possible to think the EU is a good idea and to accept it has done a lot of good along the way but also to be sceptical about the way it has been set up and progressed to date. And to be unsurprised that it is collapsing under the weight of its own internal incongruities. Which I have predicted for at least ten years.

I believe you and I even agreed it would, though you felt it would last longer than me.

If you are atributing schadenfreude to me, then you are wrong. I'm not even doing the gloating your were doing a month or two back, during a temporary hike in the euro, as I recall.

In short, I have never hidden any cards.

Which 'one man' by the way?

I'm surprised at what you say about the Germans. Is this a reflection of recent history?

As for the Brits, they have never aspired to Continental Europe leadership. And could never have led the EU after de Gaulle kept them out for years. For exactly that fear.

You really should read The Great Deception by Christopher Booker. Even if bits of it annoy you.

CafeMark said...

Funny, I never realised Iceland, California and Argentina were in the Euro. Still, at least it's not all being blamed on G.Brown!
Well-balanced piece by the Economist on why Sr Zapatero is the key to it all
http://www.economist.com/node/17575123?story_id=17575123

(for example) On the face of it, the Spanish fears look exaggerated. Although it shares something of Ireland’s banking woes and of Greece’s wretched competitiveness, it is in less trouble than either. Its public debt, at around 60% of GDP, is below both Germany’s and the EU average. Its big banks are strong. Its multinationals are increasing their exports

moscow said...

Colin,
I never said the euro would disappear, and least not how you interpreted it. What I meant was that every human construct, whatever, has a beginning, a live and an end.
And so it will be with the EU and the Euro, but that applies to nation states like Spain and Britain as well. I assumed it would disappear long after you were dead, which could take some time since - as far as I have gathered - you have longevity stamped all over your genes.

I don't think the end of the Euro was predictable at all. There is nothing wrong with the Euro. There has been a concerted attack on it by certain powerful groupings, and one nation in particular, has done all it could to achieve the aim of destroying it.

But even the end of the Euro will not be the end of the story, because once it is gone, and once all the ash has fallen down to earth, people will rush to call it back alive, only this time it will be better (designed).

Colin, I will spare you any of my sarcasm, but writing a blog means you expose yourself quite a bit to outward scrutiniy, and as you are not one to hold back on your opinions, it is pretty easy to figure what you think, not matter how much you later on try to iron things out.
And you gloat all the time.

Colin said...

So now a conspiracy theorist as well as an idealist. How powerful the UK must be in your world.

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