Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ponters Pensées 12.5.16

LGBT RIGHTS. I'm not sure what these are in their entirety but I was impressed to read that, in their regard, 'Catholic' Spain ranks 5th in Europe. After Malta, Belgium, the UK and Denmark.

The EU economy: The Eurozone recovery is wilting as the sugar rush fades and deflation lurks, says our old friend, Ambrose Evans-Prichard. The eurozone’s short-lived recovery is already losing steam as stimulus fades and deep problems resurface, raising fears of yet another false dawn and a potential deflation trap if there is any external shock over coming months. Markets are beginning to lose faith that the European Central Bank can deliver stimulus, and we are seeing the return of problems in public finances in Portugal, Spain, and Italy. More here.

A Brexit: The always readable and provocative Don Quijones points the finger here at those who are most afraid of this - the financiers who will suffer most. And who are, naturally, prominent in Project Fear, aimed at telling all other Brits how bad for them a Brexit would be. Quel surprise!

Things Impossible: I cited Alice in Wonderland yesterday. As you'll recall, the White Queen observed that sometimes she’s believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast. One politial observer writes that Many things previously thought impossible have already happened since the start of the financial crisis nearly ten years ago. The point is that logically more impossible things are on the way. Small wonder that a recent survey of UK chief financial officers revealed  business uncertainty to be at near record levels. Here's 6 of them:
  1. A Trump victory in the US presidential election
  2. A Brexit, leading to a wider breakup of the European Union
  3. The re-introduction of capital controls
  4. Helicopter money
  5. Further disintegration in the Middle East
  6. China meltdown
Details here.

Aphorisms: I had my midday tiffin yesterday with a close Galician friend - as a 'good' nationalist, he'd kill me if I wrote 'Spanish' - and he made a couple of amusing observations based on local beliefs/myths: Britain is a Galician colony which turned out well. France is one which didn't. He also amused me with his version of an old belief of mine: We're all the sum of our contradictions. The good news is that he promised to protect me at the next AngloGalician wild boar lunch from the 'bad' nationalists who resent my lack of interest in fluency in Gallego/Galego.

Galician White Wines: We have 3 of these: Albariño, Ribeiro and Godello. I've been singing the praises of the last of these for several years now. So I was pleased to read that the wine buff Robert Parker has gone overboard for a godello wine fromValdeorras. Click here. Louro costs €12.54 here. Reduced, says the web page, from - err . . .€12.54. Must try a bottle, even if it's pricey for a Godello.

Pontevedra Miscellany:
  • The city doesn't really do international cuisine. Apart from a decent Italian place, there's a few Chinese restaurants whose ginger-less cuisine probably wouldn't be recognised anywhere in China. But, walking into town from the station yesterday, I passed not one but two Sushi restaurants, one of them not yet open. Must give them a try.
  • In most Spanish towns and cities, the train and railway stations are close together on the outskirts of the conurbation. If you walk from one of ours into town, you pass a huge development of flat blocks, each of which has a row of shops on the ground floor. This is just one corner of it:-

Perhaps unfairly, this grey-toned barrio always reminds me of my first visit to East Berlin, not long after the Wall had come down. It doesn't help that most of the shops are not occupied and so are bricked up.

Finally . . . A year or three back, I created an email account for people I suspected would send me stuff I didn't want. And I came up with Dross Bin as my name, all other obvious options having been taken. Yesterday, I got a suggestion from Google+ that I include Dross Bin in my Friends group . . . Computers, it seems, lack a sense of humour.

NOTE: I promised to send a recent (Dutch?) pilgrim all my fotos of the (some think) wonderful graffiti around Pontevedra city. Could he or she write to me at, of course, so that I can send them. And anyone else who's interested in seeing these.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

You obviously did not convince your GP and your pharmacist to give you your vaunted pills…

Both links to economic articles lead the innocent reader to one single Ambrose piece…

And to my immense surprise, it turns out that in Pontevedra the train- and the railway station lie very close together… And here I thought there was a law that prescribes they must be miles apart, for health and ecology reasons…


Colin Davies said...

I take it you mean yesterday's articles from the Spectator and the FT. Not on my computer. It would surprise me as I check all links before posting.

Bill said...

I can't speak for others, but Spain is certainly one of the more congenial places for a gay man to spend itme. I am no supporter of socilaist parties, but it was certainly courageous of the then PSOE government to legislate for same-sex marriage, in the teeth of massive opposition from the Catholic hierarchy in Spain, egged-on by the then PP opposition which, once it returned to power, tried to overturn until thwarted by the constitional court. In the UK (or most of it - NI remains a holdout) it took a few years longer to achieve, but since it was I have taken advantage of it. As for the 't' in LGBT, I suspect that whilst similar problems occasionally arise in Spain (or the UK or other similar countries), it is in western societies only in the US that a "song and dance" is made of it, as the current controversy in States such as North Carolina about access to public "restrooms" (aka lavatories) shows.

As for the Eurozone and the return to 'downturn' (which it never really left), pumping massive artificial liquidity into the economy can only ever act as a temporary salve for wider economic (and politico-economic) problems and in the case of the Eurozone the Euro is itself a major limiting factor. The trouble with QE, however it is dressed up, is that it is difficult to wean the patient off this highly-addictive drug. Politicians who need to be elected or re-elected every few years are almost forced by their electorates to play this sordid game because however much voters say they want decent, honest governments, that only applies so long as those 'honest' governments don't actually take the measures needed to break the cycle of dependancy. The awful additional truth is that whilst the EU's Meditteranean countries want to retain the Euro as their currency, because it provides a kind of 'stabilitiy' against the recurrent devaluations of their former currencies coupled with high inflation, the price they are prepared to pay for this seeming monetary stability is higher levels of unemployment, specially for younger "job-seekers"; the basic economic divergences between certain northern and southern Eurozone countries is conveniently brushed under the carpet - it's only a surprise that extremist parties haven't already gained even more traction.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks for that, Bill.