Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Greece to ditch euro and adopt dollar - possibly!

It has been suggested by President Trump's new ambassador to the EU that Greece is looking at ditching the euro and adopting the US dollar. Supposedly the Greek government is actively looking at this.
After two years of tranquility after their last bail-out the Greeks are due to make another pass at the fan in July this year when they will have to find €10bn - which of course they don't have.

But are they seriously looking at the US dollar as a life raft?

This blog thinks not. No, what is happening is that the Germans are reluctant to hand over more money because there are elections and Merkel is already in deep for letting a million hostile migrants into the country so the Greeks are playing a little game with the connivance of President Trump and putting the wind up Brussels. The play being: give us more money or we will drop you and go dollar.

Obviously a lot of countries do use the dollar as their currency, so the idea is not completely outlandish. Ecuador and El Salvador use it as their official and only currency; others such as Zimbabwe use it because their own money is worthless.

However using the dollar does not actually fix anything for the Greeks. Dollarization imposes fiscal discipline just like the euro does. To get out from under the cosh they need to restore the drachma, which of course they can print at will.

So this is all bluff.

(Unless of course they plan to adopt the dollar and default on all their debts at the same time! But no, they couldn't be thinking that, could they?!)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

President Trump's first day

What did President Trump do on his first day? 

Well, he started with "breakfast" with heads of major businesses in the Roosevelt room. A breakfast of sour grapes, bitter pills and some coffee for them to wake up and smell - no actual food was served. Trump told them to get their jobs out of Mexico PDQ because it turns out the wall is going to stop manufactured goods as well as illegals. He probably created more jobs for Americans there and then than Obama did in eight years.

Next he dropped into the Oval Office and revoked  the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TTP). The TTP has been brewing since 2008 and was basically agreed in 2016, but now it is stone dead. He hasn't done the same for the Trans-Atlantic Trade Partnership (TTIP) yet - it is less advanced than TTP and not due for ratification until 2020, but most likely Trump will kill it in due course as well.

So excellent news for America. Less so for other countries, especially Mexico which stands to lose both a hanger full of jobs and billions in remittances from its ex-pat workers in the USA, not to mention forking out to pay for the wall as well.

The UK has a major trade imbalance with the USA, in the favour of the UK, to the tune of about £40bn per year (which more than offsets our annual loss of £23bn with China.) Fortunately Trump has said that the UK will be "front of the line" for trade deals with the USA so his protectionism should pass us by. Also we export all sorts of intangible stuff like financial services and software which no wall is going to stop.

After sorting out trade Mr Trump decided to implement "small government" by declaring a federal employee hiring freeze - no positions vacant at noon on the Jan 22nd may be filled, except for military.

Then he had lunch.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Earthquakes in Italy

While the news is full of Iron Lady 2.0 - Mrs T herself, ie the Prime Minister at her Lancaster House speech setting Leaver hearts aflutter by claiming no deal would be better than a bad deal and threatening to grind the EU to dust beneath her kitten heals, other news from Europe is being ignored - unless you live in Italy that is....

That's an earthquake map. The biggy near Rome is 5.2 on the Richter scale. There have been a series of quakes in recent months, getting more and more frequent.

Looks like a big one is due.

Friday, 13 January 2017

The blackmail of Donald Trump

If the Russians think they are going to have Present Trump dancing to their tune just because they have video of him cavorting with prostitutes they are badly mistaken.

Of course there may be no such video. It is all rumour. Ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele wrote the dodgy dossier at the heart of this story after interviewing contacts he formed in Moscow while working there at the UK embassy as a spook. There is no suggestion he has seen the footage himself. He merely collated rumours. And The Donald is notoriously careful about such things; he warns other people about the risks of concealed cameras.

The real reason this is all a gentle breeze in a teacup is because as blackmail material it would never work. Imagine the conversation...

Putin: "Mr President, ve vill release  your sex tape unless you do exactly as ve say."

Trump: "No."

Putin: "Er..."

And that is the end really. If the Russians release the tape they lose their blackmail material and Trump will just laugh it off saying they tried to blackmail me and now they can't. If they don't release the tape Trump wins anyway.

So it is all irrelevant. The real loser here is the man who wrote the dossier, Chris Steele. He has gone into hiding (after asking his neighbour to feed his three cats!) supposedly because he fears for his life. But who is going to kill him? The Donald? No, because he has nothing to worry about. The Russians? No, because this whole thing is making them look bad and the sooner everyone forgets about it the better.

Chris Steele is really in hiding to avoid the press. At the moment the newspapers are using a twenty-year-old picture of him. What he really does not want is them to get a recent picture. His business is secret squirrel - he cannot be secret if everyone knows what he looks like. So he is currently on a desperate quest to save his livelihood by keeping his face off our screens.

It remains to be seen if that will work.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Striking over Christmas

Just to summarise, those striking over Christmas, in case you've lost count...
  • Southern Rail train drivers, because they don't want to close the doors,
  • Royal Mail, because they don't want to deliver the cards,
  • Airline check-in staff, because they don't want to check passengers in,
  • Baggage handlers, because they don't want to handle baggage,
  • Cargo crew, because with no passengers checked-in and no baggage there's nothing for them to do.
 I hope you were not planning to go somewhere this Christmas; no chance of that!

Friday, 9 December 2016

More enemies of the people

When the High Court ruled that Article 50 could not be triggered by the government purely on the strength of the democratically expressed will of the entire population, the Daily Mail called the judges "enemies of the people" - a phrase dating to Roman times but made chilling by the Soviet Union - enemies of the people, or state, tended to disappear.

Now we have more enemies of the people, this time the people of the Netherlands. A court near Amsterdam has found Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Party of Freedom, guilty of "insulting a group" and "inciting discrimination". His "crime" was to ask a public meeting if they wanted more or less immigration from Morocco. When the audience came down on the side of less he offered to make that happen for them.

Wilders: Not much concerned

Having convicted Wilders of something that is not actually a crime the court could not bring itself to impose any form of punishment.

This apparent magnanimity is probably just self-preservation. The judges may have sniffed the air, noted Brexit, Trump, etc, and realised being on the wrong side of history could be bad for their health as some point in the future, so they just let hm go.

In the UK there has been some blow-back to people judging the judges by using such terms as enemies of the people. But what are you supposed to do? Just let them ignore the will of the people with no consequence? Government appointees such as High Court judges should not be able to overturn the will of the people. When there is such a wide gulf between the ruled and the rulers, the rulers must give way. That is democracy. Anything else is tyranny - no matter how impressive the perpetrators' wigs.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Achtung! Burka ist Verboten!

Can you believe the cheek of the woman?! Angela Merkel that is. First she lets a million hostile aliens into her country, but now she see an election on the horizon it's all ban the burka patriotism. 

Well this blog doesn't agree with banning the burka; no, we should ban the people wearing them. The Islamic religion itself is the problem; the oppression of women, the rejection of "man-made law" (what we like to call "democracy") the creep towards sharia - it all has no place in our country. We don't want it.

Banning the burka is treating the symptoms; instead treat the disease.