Friday, June 08, 2012


How much does Spain need to get itself - and the EU - out of the hole it's in? 25 billion? 40? 100? 250? "Between 370 and 450 billion? . . . It's anyone's guess, of course, and all these numbers have been quoted in the last few days. If the Spanish government delays beyond Sunday with its face-losing bail-out request, I guess the number will keep on climbing. 500 billion anyone?

Logic dictates that, eventually, Germany will cave in and agree to whatever is necessary to save the European Union project, regardless of how poorly it was conceived and how badly it has been - and continues to be - implemented. But can anyone say they're inspired by the crisis management skills demonstrated to date? Organise, piss-up and brewery are words which spring unbidden to mind. As I may have said before.

But anyway . . . Even though I'm a long-time admirer of Simon Jenkins, I never, ever thought I'd write this sentence - Here from The Guardian is a brilliant article on the euro.

To lighten the mood . . . Here's a great cartoon on the EU theme, putting it in the context of the Euros football competition that started today.

Now that the mood is lighter . . . This week I've taken delivery of a number of items from Amazon. And it's been a joy to take them from the delivery guy without having to give a (false) ID number or prove my identity or sign either a piece of paper or a hand-size computer. BUT . . . I have overdone things with the plastic owl I've bought in the hope it'll keep the voracious pigeons away from my table in Veggie Square. It's an eagle owl and it's 18 inches(45cm) tall and 8 inches(20cm) wide across its chest. So, it's not going to be inconspicuous and is surely going to earn me a reputation for eccentricity (at the least) when I put it to good use later in the month. I guess I'll see who my real friends are then.

James Michener writes of a strange incident in a hotel in Badajoz some years ago. At a hotel desk he was told that the daily rate rose the longer he stayed. This reminded me of the first two houses I tried to buy (serially) when I first came to Pontevedra. In each case I put in a decent bid, to be met with an increase in the asking price by the seller. The only logic I could come up with was - "If there's a stupid Brit prepared to pay anything like I'm asking, I must be selling it cheap. And there may be more Brits even more stupid than he is." I walked away from both opportunities but never knew whether this surprised or pleased the sellers.

This in turn reminds me of the time I was helping a friend to buy a house in the country. He actually accepted the asking price but the seller put obstacle after obstacle in the way of completing the sale. So I asked the agent what on earth was going on. She just shrugged and said - "When Galicians are odd, they are really, really odd." Maybe he thought, like my putative sellers, that he'd priced it too low. Eight years later, I bet the property is still on what passes for a market in Spain these days. At the same price.

Finally . . . Back to the EU. And an interesting observation on Germany - Much like the UK, Germany is undertaking a highly charged internal debate about its place in Europe. For the first time, the twin pillars of Germany’s extraordinarily successful post-war settlement are in conflict: its commitment to Europe, and its belief in sound money and stable budgets. Whatever the outcome of this debate, it will have a defining impact on the future of the EU.

On the cover of The Economist today, there's a sinking submarine, called The World Economy. From which a voice bubble says - "Please can we start the engines now, Mrs Merkel?"

Thank-you and Goodnight.

7 comments:

trebots said...

I'm assuming the IMF is copying the Spanish practice of deliberately underestimating needs in order to avoid the populace rising up and telling them where to stick it. 40 billion extra every six months sounds much better than {40 * x} in one whack.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

SJ is a lot better than that clueless scarecrow of Janet Daley. I often watch BBC's Dateline London where both Mr. Jenkins and that obnoxious ignorant yankee come to regurgitate their wisdom. SJ plays the archetypicall charicature of the englishman (he might be welsh - who knows?) to perfection. Unflappable dry charm. He knows how to deliver vicious venom bottled in
a neutral, polite seemingly inocuous tone. Physically he has the appearance of a lizzard with a perennial half-smile like a thin crack in an otherwise expressionless face.

What he has to say is mostly rubbish though. Utter nonsense. Nothing reveals more about his personality than the comment about the coptemptiously dismissive eurocrats. How it must have rankled. So many years gone by and it still rankles.

Of course, Germans are fat robotic disciplined nazis with their eye on the next apfelkuchen and they will stop at nothing to get it. Spaniards are lazy, dumb, day dreamers with little more in their head than the next fiesta.
How could possibly such differing souls ever be put in the same room together? Let's keep 'em apart, each in his own box and let the buggers at Canary Wharf and Mayfair pick them up one by one.


Moscow

Colin said...

@ Moscow.

Beautifully penned. Though I can't understand why you give us the caricature Germans and Spaniards. I've never met anyone who thinks like this. Perhaps I need to get out more.

So, now . . . . Your prediction for the euro and the eurozone?

Thanks for citing BBC' s Dateline London program. Not aware of it and will now try to watch it.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

I trained as an economist (to my own chagrin). I am useless at predictions.

I do positvely recommend Dateline London. Headed by Gavin Esler (from Newsnight's fame) it is often (unintentionally I presume) hilarious. Watch out for the Frenchman from LeMonde when he comes out, and that dragon from the DailyMail (Dame Anne Leslie)....I always get a fright when I see her. The Palestinian guy is quite good also.

Moscow

Anonymous said...

Colin,

It is one of those days.

Simon Jenkins' gems:
the British Empire "was a remarkable institution that dismantled itself in good order"
England is "the most remarkable country in European history"
(source wikipedia)

Remarkable indeed.

Moscow

kraal said...

And it came to pass - but it's not a rescue, really

Colin said...

@Moscow

Well, history will judge England better than any of us can right now.

And SJ may be judged to have been right.

The Empire: Contrary to what you seem to believe, this is never talked about these days. Or even mentioned. I never heard the word mentioned even once during 4 days of Jubilee madness. And kids are taught that the empire was black, bad and a force only for evil.

The institution which was mentioned was the Commonwealth, which has flourished since Britain abandoned it on joining the EC. It is now taken seriously again and, indeed, have several members which were not part of the empire.

The fact that ALL ex-colonies are part of the Commonwealth gives some support to SJ's claim about the empire. Can Germany, France or Spain make anything like this claim to a harmonious relationship with their ex colonies. Which, by the way, are far more numerous in Britain's case.

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