Thursday, January 19, 2012

For the second time in a row, the Spanish government today sold more bonds than it had targeted. And at interest rates significantly lower than last year. The French government also did well, shrugging off its recent downgrading. Stock markets rose on the news and everyone feels a little bit better. For now.

Next door in Portugal, things are not so good. Yields on her 10 year bonds rose to 14.39% today, taking her close to Greek levels. The forecast shrinkage of the economy over the next year or two and the prospect of a real depression raise concerns about political and social stability. The remedy favoured by the politicians - even more austerity - is expected to make things worse.

The Spanish government has said it intends to pass a law which will see jail sentences dished out to regional politicians who "spend too much." And the relevant Minister has said there'll be a provision to "impose rigour’ in the accounts of the regional governments. Who could argue against this? But, that said, the words 'stable', 'door', 'horse' and 'bolted' spring to mind.

It was with no great surprise that I read that the cost of banking has rocketed up in Spain. One wonders if we'll return any time soon to the situation of several years ago, when you were charged a percentage for moving your money not just out of but also into a bank.

I favour a font called Trebuchet MS. Today I discovered today that a trebuchet is a siege engine used between the 12th and 15th centuries. What the connection is I don't know. Perhaps each was invented by someone with the name Trébuchet. The machine was re-invented in the 1980s by a Shropshire squire who built one that would throw a piano more than 150 metres. Apparently, only the only people to find a use for the machine are rock musicians,

Finally . . . . A decent article from The Daily Mail on 'Green Spain'.

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