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.