Thursday, June 07, 2012

The eurozone: Spain seems to have annoyed just about everyone by admitting she has no chance of raising the money she needs and challenging the EU to raise it and hand it over. Preferably without strings attached. One commentator's view: A key official from the G7 group said Spain was testing Europe's patience to breaking point. 'The Spanish are too proud to be rescued. It is fatal arrogance,' he said. European diplomats say Spain is playing a high-stakes game of brinkmanship with Germany, betting that Angela Merkel will blink before the crisis spins out of control. The hope is that Germany will let the European Stability Fund recapitalise banks directly, and give the ECB a green light for renewed bond purchases to cap yields. "Europe needs fiscal integration, with a fiscal authority, a banking union with eurobonds, with a banking supervisor and a European bank deposit guarantee fund," said Mr Rajoy. It is unclear whether Mrs Merkel will accede to any such demands. She has agreed to explore moves towards an EU banking supervisor in the "medium-run", though the European Banking Authority already exists. German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble told Handelsblatt that a joint banking nexus might be possible in the future but only once EU states have fused sovereignty, a move with revolutionary implications. "Before we can talk about joint debt management, we must have a real fiscal union," he said. Brussels and the EU's French-led Latin bloc are pushing hard for a "banking union" and use of the ESF for bank rescues, but they are powerless without German backing. One wonders whether there's anything like enough time to resolve these issues and then implement whatever the German electorate is prepared to accept. I rather fancy not.

Meanwhile, back on terra firma in Spain, folk are rather upset that the contract for the Olympics outfits have, in the name of economy, been given to a Russian company. The fear is that the country will be a laughing stock. Though national bankruptcy might just achieve this first.

But anyway . . . When I was 18 and working on VSO in the Seychelles - well, somebody had to do it - I was very taken by an Omega Constellation watch in the window of a store in the capital (and only town), Victoria. So, I ordered it, spent the next 12 months scrimping and saving and finally bought it just before my departure to Mombasa. The watch has remained a treasured possession down the years, though I didn't always wear it. Anyway, two or three years ago, I took it out of the drawer and had it serviced in Vigo at a cost of 150 euros. Which I thought was rather steep. But there was only one agent who could do the work. A couple of weeks ago, I again took it out of the drawer, noticed it wasn't working and decided another service was called for, here in Leeds. So, I took it to Berry's and asked for an estimate. They called me yesterday with the figure of 325 pounds, which is just about what the watch is worth. So I called in today and retrieved it, saving face via the (genuine) reason that I couldn't wait 6-8 weeks to retrieve it. Back to Vigo, I guess.

I went to York today. I shouldn't have, but I did. I went there to have lunch with a couple who've got a converted mill near Silleda in Pontevedra province. But I was somewhat ahead of myself, as the lunch is next Wednesday. I've occasionally missed appointments through forgetfulness but this, I think, is the first time I've been premature for one. However, I was able to do some pleasant sight-seeing in York. And to pick up my watch at Berry's, as I walked past their door to the bus-stop.

Walking round York Minster, I noticed that each bank of candles had a fire-blanket draped over a rail below it. I wonder how many cathedrals in the last thousand years have burned down because of a candle accident. Shortly after this, I saw a sign advising that there were a lot of steps up to the tower and that medical advice should be taken by those who needed it. Wonderful. Presumably rapacious lawyers are a problem.

NB: In case you haven't seen it, the business-links site, Linkedin, has recommended to members(?) that they change their password, as their security has been compromised by some Russian hackers. God knows how but it's rather worrying.


Azra said...

My recommendation to sell off parts of the Spanish territories still stands - however ludicrous it may seem. The only things that are valuable and have any sense of worth in our current volatile economies are land and raw materials like Gold. These are good, tangible investments unlike "bonds" that no one is even sure exists! I should have been a President. My people won't like me very much. Although, I'd make Mondays part of the weekend :)

Colin said...

I vote for you as President of Spain. Which could involve you in moving here.

I can se the Balearics and the Canaries being of interest but would anyone want to buy Melilla or Ceuta?

How about Cataluña and the Basque Country? Or Galicia even?

Azra said...

I would move in a flash. I don't like this Southern Hemisphere.

The marketing strategy behind Melilla and Ceuta could be religious...Market the place as Muslim/Moroccan and I'm sure there'd be an Arab country interested. And if all else fails, one of the Emirates could even buy it - demolish the entire area and build a mini Dubai - shopping mecca of North Africa. Or they could always be converted into the next hot spots, holiday destinations, lots of resorts that kind of thing.

As for Cataluña, I think it would be best to keep much of the motherland in tact as possible. However, Galicia could be relegated to Portugal (even though they're broke, they'd just be expanding on their territory) - they could also be financially backed by the Qatari government - have I mentioned they have more money than they can spend?

And the allure for Qatar would be a monopoly on Portugal's biggest industries - which includes tourism. I just see many mini (less humid and much cooler) Dubai's for all the troubled people who need to be bailed out.

Grand ideas yeah? I suspect that as President, I'd be assassinated within the first year.

Colin said...

You'd be the first ever "out-of-the-box President(a). And eternally famous for provoking a war between Morocco and, say, Dubai. Yes, I see a fatwah forming!

Maybe you could start with Galicia. Of course, you're not the first to suggest union with Portugal. This is one of the policy planks of the nutty 'reintegristas'.

And the EU already see them as a single 'region'.

Azra said...

It is interesting. War can be avoided if Qatar hands Melilla and Ceuta over to Morocco as a gesture of goodwill - in a treaty designed to strengthen ties between both countries. And in the treaty, it would be agreed that Qatar would create jobs for Moroccans and hand over 20% of their profits to the Moroccan government.

I like this game. Some females play house-house. I play president-president LOL!

Colin said...


You're wasted in SA.

If you see an ad for UN Representative, go for it!

Alfred B. Mittington said...

I think you are both pretty crazy

And in any case, dear Azra: now that you have publicly written and posted that you consider Cataloñia to be part of the Spanish Motherland, be smart and do not show your face in Cataloñia until, say, 2051. You will be lynched before you can announce your candidacy for president...

Yours, Alfre

Ferrolano said...

I’m sorry, but I believe that somebody has placed the cart before the horse. My understanding is that at some time in the past, the top part of Portugal was originally part of Galicia that I think was given over as part of wedding arrangement. So, without any more fuss, give that part back to Galicia and while at it, bundle in the rest as it would be just too small to stay on its own…

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