Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ponters Pensées 14.6.16

Spanish Banks: After all the money that's been stuffed into them and all the reforms and mergers of the last 7 or 8 years, these are surely as safe as houses now. Well, No, says Don Quijones: The last five years have been a bumper period for banking scams and scandals in crisis-ridden Spain. From Bankia’s doomed IPO in 2012 to the “mis-selling” of complex preferentes shares to “unsophisticated” retail bank customers, including children and Alzheimers sufferers, all of the scandals have had one thing in common: the banks have consistently and ruthlessly sacrificed the welfare and wealth of customers, investors, and taxpayers on the altar of short-term survival. Some commentators claim that the problem of banking instability in Spain has been put to rest in recent times, thanks chiefly to a robust, debt-fueled recovery, a tepid resurgence of the real estate sector and the transfer of the most toxic assets from banks’ balance sheets to the festering balance sheets of the nation’s bad bank, Sareb. They could not be more wrong. Despite the untold billions of euros of public funds lavished on “cleaning up” their balance sheets and the roughly €240 billion of provisions booked against bad debt since December 2007, the banks are just as weak and disaster-prone as they were four years ago. More here. Perhaps I should shift my account from Banco Popular/Pastor, despite the charms of the (ex-Citibank) ladies who deal with me.

Canine Crap in Spain: Fed up with the piles of this stuff on its streets, the Madrid-region town of Torrelodones has placed a huge model turd in its main square, in an attempt to shame its residents into picking up the poop. This might just have worked, if some shit hadn't stolen the . . shit.

Which reminds me . . .

The Brexit: Not long to go now and the politicians in both London and Brussels - not to mention other capitals around the world – will have donned their brown trousers. For the latest polls show the Outers having a significant lead over the Inners. One of my favourite columnists Ambrose Evans Pritchard – about whose views on this issue I've been a bit confused for a while – has finally come out in favour of a Brexit. Read his pungent comments here. And the inevitable fulsome endorsement of (most of) his column by Richard North of Flexit here. I've been against the EU project for decades now, so am not terribly surprised by this development. As Ambrose puts it: Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error. For some of us it has nothing to do with payments into the EU budget. Whatever the sum, it is economically trivial.

Spain and the Brexit: Spain's Foreign Minister – known to me as Motormouth Margallo – has never missed an opportunity – especially ahead of elections – to play to the far-right gallery over Gibraltar. His latest contribution to the healing of this running sore is to threaten that Gibraltar will be excluded from the EU market after a Brexit and so should think again about its almost 100% rejection, a couple of years ago, of shared sovereignty. Fat chance, I would have thought. At least as long as the despised Margallo is heading the Spanish team.

Football Hooliganism: This is despicable, of course, but at least some of the Brits have been arrested both in France and the UK. Strangely, no Russians have been arrested, even though there was a vicious attack on England supporters in the stadium after the game. And various reported ambushes of English fans on the streets of Marseilles. Moscow's RT TV did report the violence but with no mention of these attacks and no video of a brain-damaged Brit having his head stamped on by a Russian thug. But this is not terribly surprising. Especially when a Russian MP is reported to have encouraged repeat attacks when paths again cross in Lille this week.

Finally . . . My walking companion of last week has nicely reminded me of one low-light for me, when one of 3 old dears I was chatting to in a village just before Comillas put my age at 10 years above what it is - because my hair was silver["White, dad"]. The oldest lady then tried to smooth my ruffled feathers by suggesting I was 5 years younger than my age. But the damage to my ego had been done by then.

I saw this list of, I think, Pope Frankie's philosophy on a church wall in Villaviciosa. You don't have to be a Catholic, or even a theist, to agree with it, of course:

Well, apart from the last one. Which adds nothing to the humanist prescriptions.

And I guess Frankie and I might well disagree on who's in the wrong on some things. Him, for example. Though I'm sure we'd remain friends notwithstanding.


Sierra said...

Seen no accounts of what happens during the two to 10 (there seem to be various forecasts) years of negotiations for UK to exit EU.

Colin Davies said...

Best guess might be Richard North's, in his blog posts and his Flexit document.

Sierra said...

Plenty of openings for classic "laws of unintended consequences"

Eamon said...

I know two Spanish pensioners in my barrio who receive their pension from the UK and they are worried what is going to happen should there be a Brexit.

Colin Davies said...

@Sierra. Absolutely. No one really know what's going to happen and there'll be many of these.

@Eamon: One can understand their concern. But there are bigger, longer-term issues at stake. A Brexit could well adversely affect me, as an expatriate with a British pension, but I'm still in favour of it. One either believes the EU political project - not the commercial common market project - is a good thing or not for the future. I never have. And I'm trying not to let my personal interests affect that view.

Eamon said...

I am also in favour of the Brexit even if it affects my pension and status here. I am not worried about it. The British have to make the choice of staying in or out. I was in favour of what was supposed to be the Common Market but it has turned out to be more than just a trading circle.

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