Written in a time of fever

Tuesday, 10 January, 2012

When the fever was upon the true believers, visions were common occurrences and those who had been so blessed were moved to set down their insights on paper so that others might be saved. For example, economist Jeremy Rifkin wrote The European Dream: How Europe’s Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream. Similarly, after having seen the light, Washington Post reporter T. R. Reid authored a bestseller, The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy and, possessed by the same spirit, foreign-policy guru Mark Leonard explained Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century.

These things I have witnessed with mine own eyes, and they occurred during the first decade of this century.

Northern and southern Europe are different places

Thursday, 29 December, 2011

Some of the best commentary on Europe and the euro this year has come from the keyboard of Walter Russell Mead. This week’s column is titled Europe Is Still Hip Deep In The Bad Stuff and here’s the money quote: “But if Europe dodged the charge of an angry bear last month, it is still […]

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Angie, Angie, where will it lead us from here?

Friday, 16 December, 2011

“My own favorite Merkel story comes from 1981, when she left the husband whose surname she still carries, Ulrich Merkel. They had met while studying physics in Leipzig, married, moved to East Berlin, and for three years Ulrich had the apartment done up while Angela completed her doctorate. When the place was spick-and-span, she decided to leave. ‘One day, she just packed her things and moved out,’ her ex-husband recalls. An almost wordless operation, apparently. She took only one item — the refrigerator, removed while Ulrich was out of the house. That’s Angela Merkel for you: a woman who runs away with a refrigerator.”

So writes Roger Boyes in Newsweek. His profile of the German chancellor “Angela Merkel and the Euro Crisis: Women in Leadership” is highly entertaining but it’s not going to go down well in Germany where it will be perceived as British payback for the recent Merkozy humiliating of David Cameron in Brussels. This is a pity as Boyes has spent 35 writing about Germany and he’s one of the most perceptive analysts of the country, its politics and its culture.

Beyond Berlin, though, the blush is well off the rose and much of austerity Europe now sees Angie through the perceptive eyes of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who peeked into their crystal ball in 1972 and wrote, “With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats / You can’t say we’re satisfied.” That’s Angie.

Angela Merkel

A vote of confidence in the euro

Thursday, 15 December, 2011

The outlook for the “Project”, as the crazed commissars in Brussels call their beloved common currency, is grim and prospect of implosion is so threatening that even Guardian columnists are pondering THE END, but this does not mean that a contrarian must run with the herd. Quite the opposite, in fact. So, when the manufacturer of the new Rainy Day laptop offered the option of a keyboard with the euro symbol, we voted for it. If the currency, miraculously, manages to survive, it’ll be handy to have at hand, and should the euro go down in flames, the value of the computer will increase due to the antiquarian aspect of the keyboard. Win win!

Rappers join models insisting on euros

Wednesday, 7 December, 2011 0 Comments

Ah, those were the days. And those days were in 2007, which is when the Independent was telling its envious readers, stuck with their dull sterling, about the product placement in “Blue Magic”, the new video from the “mega-star rapster Jay-Z”. Here’s the lyrical bit: “It is not a fancy car that he is endorsing — although both his rides, a Rolls-Royce and soft-top Bentley, are plenty spiffy — but rather a currency — and it is not the dollar.” It was, of course, the euro!

Rappers join models in insisting on euros as greenbacks fall further out of fashion” was the headline. Gossip about other celebrity endorsements was rife: “Chatter about his video comes on the heels of reports that Gisele Bundchen, the world’s richest model, is asking that payment for her numerous advertising gigs be in euros.”

And today? “Metallica rocked by euro crisis“. According to the Telegraph: “Heavy metal band Metallica has brought forward a European tour scheduled for 2013 to next year over fears the single currency will collapse, jeopardising the chances of getting paid for the gigs.” O tempora o mores as Cicero said. Watch Jay-Z flashing those €500s at 0.50.

AEP picks his Unwort: Fiskalunion

Monday, 5 December, 2011 0 Comments

This is going to be a critical week for the beleaguered euro, and the common currency’s most incisive critic is starting the week in top form. We’re talking about AEP (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard) of the Telegraph. With “Fiskalunion is worst of all worlds for Europe“, AEP comes out of the blue corner, hitting hard: “None of Mrs Merkel’s proposals — whether enshrined in EU treaties or not — offer any meaningful solution to the crisis at hand. They continue to ignore the cancer in the EMU system: the corrosive 30pc currency misalignment between North and South, and the German-Dutch trade surplus.” After that jab, comes the right hook: “Her plan clings to the Wagnerian myth that Club Med fiscal extravagance is the cause of all the trouble, though Spain had a budget surplus of 2pc of GDP five years ago and never broke the Stability Pact — unlike Germany — and Italy has long had a primary surplus.”

By the way, the EU might not be the ideal organization to enforce Fiskalunion as its auditors have for the last 17 years running refused to sign off its own budget because of “material errors” amounting, last year, to 3.7 per cent of all its expenditure.

It’s going to be a critical week.