Friday, May 11, 2012

Reading an ad for the latest iPad today, I noted it is "more immersive than ever". I'd be impressed if only I had any idea what this means.

Talking about ads . . . I saw one for a product priced at 38.99 pounds today. I can (just) see the logic for pricing something at 39.99 - on the basis that none of us is sophisticated enough to realise this is really 40 quid - but 38.99?? Are we supposed to be more switched off at a price of 39 quid than 38.99? Am I missing the psychology here?

The world (well, the BBC) is agog at what's happening in what I've called the murky world of Spanish banking. Here's Giles Tremlett of the Guardian on this subject. As he writes:- Spain's government has moved to quash doubts over the health of the country's banks by ordering an independent audit of assets held by the entire banking sector and a fire sale of repossessed land and homes. The banks were also told to set aside a further €30bn (£24bn) in provisions against potentially toxic property assets. At the end of a traumatic week for Spain, prime minister Mariano Rajoy's People's party government claimed the moves would shine a bright light on what critics see as the excessively opaque world of Spanish banks. Well, bright lights and Spanish banks are not natural bedfellows, so it'll be interesting to see what all this bombast actually produces.

To no great surprise - and least not here - the EU Commission has issued revised forecasts for Spain for this year. Brussels has forecast that - despite (because of?) all the reforms and cuts carried out - Spain won't meet the deficit objectives either for 2012 or 2013. Their forecast of the deficit this year is 6.4% against the Government’s target of 5.3%. Next year's is predicted to be 6.3% against the (imposed) target of 3%. Which only the insane will ever have considered achievable. In cash terms, the Commission predicts there'll an 11 billion euros deviation this year. Needless to say, unemployment is forecast to continue rising this year, in the direction of 6 million.

Addressing itself to Europe as a whole, today's Economist says that "The night terrors are back. . . . The idea of a chaotic Greek departure from the euro at a time of Franco-German disunion should terrify everyone it touches . . . With so much at stake, the rest of the eurozone urgently needs to lower the risk that contagion from a Greek exit would affect Portugal, Ireland and even Spain and Italy. The worry is that, just at the moment when hard-headed realpolitik is needed, politics has fallen prey to self-delusion, with leaders in all the main countries peddling seductive half-truths that promise Europe's citizens an easier way out." France, says the journal, is the most obvious example of this "lurch into dreamland." Oh dear.

Finally . . . I'm here to tell you that, should you stupidly break the glass in your cafetière, you can still make a decent cup of coffee by putting the ground beans into a large cup or mug and then pouring hot water over them, without stirring. Except they aren't ground beans; they're ground seeds. Coffee plants don't produce beans. Of course, if you forget to drink the coffee and then forget that you've put it in the microwave for a minute or two, you won't have any coffee at all. Regardless of whether it was made from ground beans or seeds.

The wisdom of the good Dr. Osler.

It is much simpler to buy books than to read them and easier to read them than to absorb their contents.


tim said...

Here's a poem about books, or maybe the publication of the Audit's office report on Spanish Banks...

A book, I think, is very like
A little golden door
That takes me into places
Where I've never been before.

It leads me into fairyland
Or countries strange and far
And, best of all, the golden door
Always stands ajar.

Colin said...

Thanks, Tim. I liked that.

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