Friday, April 20, 2012

NOTE: This is a post I wrote a week or so ago but which then went into Drafts. Don't know why. Possibly my fault. Anyway, today's post is the one below this one.

From Hero to Zero. A week or so ago, Argentina's President, Mrs Kirchner, was being widely admired in Spain for taking on Britain over the Falklands/Malvinas. (Think Gibraltar. Though not Ceuta and Melilla.) But things changed abruptly this week when she announced plans to take over 50.01% of the shares of the Spanish company YPF, a subsidiary of Repsol. The Spanish government has said it'll interpret such a move as a 'gesture of hostility to Spain'. And that it would 'bring consequences’. Circumstances change principles, as they say. Get the gunboats out of mothballs. Though it may be tougher than the island of Perejil this time round. Argies may prove tougher than goats.

The Ciudad Real (Don Quijote) airport was built when times were not only good but looked - to some - as if they'd go on for ever. Opened in 2008, it was designed to cope with five million passengers a year, plus up to 90,000 tons of freight. Actual numbers have been a fraction of these and, unsurprisingly, it's now been closed down. It won't be the last of the Good Times airports to go this way.

There's a newcomer to the ranks of Strange American Forenames. We've had Mitt, Newt and Tiger. But now step forward Bubba Watson, the winner of this year's Augusta Masters. There's actually a word bubbing, the definition of which is not for the prudish. And in Australia bub seems to be a diminutive for baby. It's also close to 'blubbing', which possibly explains why he broke down in tears at the moment of his triumph.

An article on the Spanish economy in the New York Times spells it out starkly that Spain could be the next European economy brought down by German-led mismanagement of the euro-zone crisis. It need not turn out that way. But it surely will unless Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political allies inside and outside Germany acknowledge that no country can pay off its debts by suffocating economic growth. Austerity, the one-size-fits-all cure prescribed by Ms. Merkel, is not working anywhere. After weeks of misleading calm, and despite huge injections of liquidity by the European Central Bank, countries are slipping back into recession, unemployment is climbing and deficit forecasts are worsening. Bond markets are especially jittery about Spain and Italy, two of Europe’s largest economies. Talking of the targets imposed by Brussels, the paper says:- With no good way to achieve the numbers, Mr. Rajoy has proposed a number of bad ones, like cutting back on the public investment needed to improve economic competitiveness and worker retraining funds needed to lubricate labor market reforms. He has now proposed a second round of deep cuts targeting schools and health care. Shortchanging tomorrow’s work force to pay for yesterday’s housing bubble makes no economic sense. Finally, the paper returns to criticism of Germany:- These damaging cuts could have been less severe if the European Union had heeded Mr. Rajoy’s plea for greater short-term budgetary flexibility. They could be avoided if Ms. Merkel and her misguided partners would finally recognize that restoring the competitiveness of Europe’s economically weakened south requires more investment in reform and growth and less obsessive targeting of short-term deficit arithmetic. And will we see this investment? Not this year, I don't think. No wonder Madrid is preparing for civil unrest. All so very different from when cash-flush Spanish construction companies were buying into all sort of overseas businesses, such as BAA in the UK.

Finally . . . In which country do the citizens lose more money gambling than in any other? Time for a second mention of the Land of Oz. Where more than 50% of the population lose money on poker machines. And the rest lose it on something else, I suspect.

1 comment:

Alfred B. Mittington said...

And then. of course, there was Babe Ruth, who at roughly 90 kilos was neither an infant nor a gal...

There is nothing new under the sun, Colin!


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