Thursday, October 27, 2011

Long-term readers will know I've been a big fan of the lovely Letizia right from the start. But I don't think I'd go as far as Paris Match magazine, which has described her as "simply perfect" after her recent appearance at the Prince of Asturias Awards ceremony. Or as "halfway between Grace Kelly and Queen Rania of Jordan". For one thing, some of her beauty came at a price. Still great to look at but less than natural.

I made a jaded comment about the euro saga last night. Here's a Times columnist making the same point but at greater length. And with a lot more humour:- There's a good reason no one makes disaster movies about financial crises. In disaster movies, there is always a solution which a crack team of miners/scientists/politicians can get to work on, just as soon as one boffin has explained it. The obstacles are horrendous but they're simple. The tension builds as the final battle approaches, and it then it arrives, easy to understand. And everyone knows when the battle is won: the enemy is defeated and the heroes share a laugh. With the European financial crisis, it's the opposite: with every day that passes, it gets messier, more complicated, and, frankly, more boring. Instead of coming together to a logical conclusion, new subplots break out daily. Previously, it was relatively easy to explain: Greece is bankrupt and we don't know what to do about it. But then we bailed Greece out and it's still not over. Now it's something along the lines of: Greece is bankrupt, but then French and German banks own Greek debt, so they might be bankrupt too. Then Italy has lots of its own debt, which Germany would like it to pay off, just in case that markets start worrying that Italy is bankrupt too. And that's before we even get into the the proposed solution (mostly it seems to be that Germany should throw money at everything, which the Germans understandably aren't too keen on). How big does the bailout fund need to be? Who pays for it? Who do we (well, the Germans) bail out: the Greeks, or the banks? Should the European Central Bank be allowed to buy government bonds? No one is sure of any of this. Not even the people whose job it is to understand it.

But wait! Here it is explained with Lego . . . . Enjoy. In so far as you can.

The majority view - if not the consensus - is that the solution which emerged at 4am this morning has kicked the can further down the road and so bought more time. But no one seems to think it's solved any of the fundamental problems. To me, it's symbolic that another senior bureaucratic appointment has been made in the person of the President of the group of 17 countries in the eurozone. That should do the trick. Nasty letters from him to the Presidents of Greece, Italy, etc.

As for Spain, there were some bouquets but also some brickbats. "EU leaders reminded the Zapatero Government that it is key for it to keep to its budget adjustment plan, especially regarding spending in the autonomous regions." El País - which sees Spain as the "big loser" - today wondered why her banks were being disproportionately burdened with additional capital requirements when they're less exposed to Greek debt than others. Who the hell knows? Perhaps Zapatero left the room for a pee.

Finally on this, here's a nice article from Tim Garton Ash in today's Guardian, on the theme of national debates engendered by the crisis.

In sheer coincidence, no sooner do I mention Shakespeare than an article appears in the Daily Telegraph in which snobbery is advanced as the basis of the suggestion that the Earl of Oxford wrote his stuff. Despite being dead when several of them were written and performed - The 'uneducated' Shakespeare, an actor and theatre manager, who attended neither Oxford nor Cambridge, could not – could he? – have had all the knowledge of Greece and Rome and Italy etc displayed in the plays. Click here for the answer to this.
I'm indebted to Private Eye's Funny Old World section for the news that there's a clinic in Madrid - Cosquillearte - which is the world's first clinic devoted to tickling. Click here for more details.

The longer I live with my younger daughter, the more I realise I could sell her for a fortune in various parts of the world. This is despite the fact she seems unable to replace a finished toilet roll. Though I guess this wouldn't be a problem in the places I'm thinking of. But as if I would . . .

Which reminds me . . . Living with my daughter 4:
Your new beard is looking good, Dad.
Thanks.
In fact, with a bit of effort, you could look good all the time.

I think this was a compliment.

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