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Friday, 18 November 2011

Funeral in Berlin

Cameron is in Berlin today to attend the funeral of his own words. Such brave rhetoric about using the UK's veto to wring fundamental changes out of Europe, the naive hope that the Euro 17 would give way before our shiny-faced boy, even a referendum over treaty changes, perhaps. Nein, Nein, Nein. No veto. No treaty changes for Britain. And no referendum. They won't permit it

Of course it doesn't help that Cameron still comes across as a dilettante playing at politics; gravitas and the mantle of Statesmanship elude him. In opposition to our lightweight, Merkel is about as heavyweight as a Tiger II. And Germany takes this crisis deadly seriously, almost as an existential matter, and is prepared to play as hard and dirty as it takes to win. We're not. The entire German civil service is ideologically committed to a federal EU and every ounce of their talent and commitment is being thrown into this battle. Our own civil service is also at heart pro-EU, and no lights will be burning late in Whitehall to counter German moves. The ammunition they will feed Cameron will be dud. They really don't care - all Cameron needs to do is enough to assuage domestic discontent. Silly words will do.  

Blower in the Telegraph has it about right. The Big Freeze is on.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Smoking in Cars

Like those of the climate change liars, the 'scientific' assertions about cigarette smoke in cars just don't hold water. It's a fact that ambient levels of carcinogens in the air on a Westminster pavement are four times higher than those in a sealed car in which a smoker has just consumed a ciggie. 

I did the numbers in a post back in March HERE

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Why Vickers must happen now

Just occasionally the toxic liabilities hidden by common consent in the depths of the UK banks surface. I'm talking about the $10 trillion of worthless derivatives, of course. As UK banks' direct exposure to Greece was discussed, there didn't seem to be a problem; direct loans of some £1.6bn were outstanding, and at risk. Pfft. Our banks are big enough to swallow that. Then came the 'but' - in addition there were worthless derivatives of some $60bn linked to Greek activities, which a Greek bank failure would expose. Ah, that's different, then. 

Until we insulate the working economy from these liabilities, until the Vickers reforms are implemented, we will all be held liable for these toxic assets. 2019 is far too far away. We need separation by the end of 2012 at the very latest. As the Euro zone disintegrates, as surely it will, so will European banks start to fall and like a Fred West Open Day, the bodies in the cellar will start to surface. The buccaneer banks with their toxic derivatives must be allowed to collapse and go if trade, manufacturing and the real economy, all of which are robust, are to survive. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Youth unemployment timebomb

Europe's youths aren't working. Youth unemployment in Spain is close to 45%, in Greece 40%, 30% in Ireland and Italy. In the UK some 20% can't find work. Yet modern Europe is a continent based on consumer consumption; the TV ads haven't changed since 2008. A snappy little Fiat, the latest iPad, a DFS sofa, financial products, designer coffee, a home and cat - all dangled as aspirational should-haves to two-thirds of a generation. The workless third are expected to be patient and wait, I guess. 

That last sentence wasn't a throwaway. 30% youth unemployment can mean either that all youths can expect to be employed 2/3rds of the time or that 2/3rds of youths are employed all of the time and 1/3 for none of the time. Surprisingly, Spain, with employers who as a body avoid giving a permanent contract and its obligations to the young, is among the job-sharers; all young people tend to have some work, albeit short-term, with gaps between contracts. The UK is among nations that should be wary of creating the opposite, a cohort of adults who have passed through youth without having ever worked, for here lies a timebomb.

Those who have had work experience, albeit a series of short-term and insecure contracts, will settle into full-time permanent employment as soon as they have the chance. Those who have never had work experience by the time they hit 35 are unlikely ever to work during their working lifespan. This timebomb is the result of well-meaning but actually destructive employment protection measures of the kind promulgated by the Labour Party and the EU.   

Let's ensure we're in the former group; if young people have to share flats (and costs) to even-out short term contracts, if they have to learn to live for twelve months on nine months' earnings (and both short-term tax breaks and better hourly rates would help here) and if they have to take the iPad this year and defer the new Fiat to 2013 this is infinitely better than creating a deadweight cohort of unemployable, unfulfilled and wrecked lives. The more flexible and less secure our youth labour market, the better the long term chances of all our young people. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Even 'bad' democratic decisions are better than this

A warm welcome back to Richard North, who has returned to find that commentators all over the place, including in a Telegraph leader, are waking to the fact that our rule by a Rousseau-esque technocracy, an elite Euro Commissary, is a tad anti-democratic. These are people who tell us we must sacrifice democracy and liberty in order to be truly free; who tell us they know best, that they have the solution for a Utopian continent, and that everything they do is for our own good. And neither are they lying. These people really do believe the truth of their 'project', believe that riding roughshod over nations and democracy will somehow produce something universally good, fair and equal for all the peoples of Europe. However, as Janet Daley points out in the Telegraph this morning 
What the architects of the dream, and even those of us who are caught in the backwash, will have to accept is that capitalism is probably incapable of producing enough wealth to cover the cost of limitless “social protection” programmes as well as providing uniform levels of prosperity for all working and non-working citizens.
It's all about trust, and the Euro-elite simply don't trust voters to make the 'right' decisions. They're blind to the greater truth, that even 'bad' decisions made democratically are better than 'good' decisions made by a dictatorship.