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Friday, 7 September 2012

Back to the '70s

If you visited Homeric Greece, rural Spain or even the Mezzogiorno in the '70s you will have been struck by several things. Firstly, that they had no effective toilets. Second, that all the young men were gone - fled to contract work on the coastal resorts, in the cities, gone abroad - but gone from the stone-washed villages in any case. Thirdly, you would have remarked the freight-carrying capacity of an average 5'5" grandmother; I once saw such a one with a sheeted bundle on her back followed by a donkey also carrying a load, with the grandmother's about twice as large. Today, of course, things are vastly different. The young men lounge about on benefits, with no jobs to be had and the EU have fitted load-restricters to the grandmothers. The toilets still don't work, though. 

As the markets get over their two-day long little blip of hope at Draghi's announcement and look for the meat, the focus will return to Greece. Unusually the Guardian has secured a column today from a relatively sane correspondent (the Blessed Simon Jenkins excluded, of course) in Costas Lapavistas
Banks are at the epicentre of the eurozone crisis, not states. The solution would have been to shut down bad banks and create healthy ones across Europe. But this would have meant German and French taxpayers bearing the costs of restructuring Italian and Spanish banks: an impossibility. Thus, national banking systems have been allowed to drift closer to their own nation states during the past three years: banks have relied on their own states to be rescued, and states have relied on their own banks to borrow. The result has been the fragmentation of eurozone banking, producing enormous divergences in interest rates among member countries. The monetary union is collapsing from within.
But Costas makes the fundamental error so often exposed by Richard North in supposing that the EU's leaders are struggling to find economic solutions to what is in essence a political crisis; as is becoming clear, the economic measures are just a sop to the markets to keep things ticking along whilst they ratchet up political union to the next stage. 

So when Greece (to her eventual benefit) is pushed out of the euro-balloon her citizens can rest assured they have been sacrificed for the greater good of a core European State. One may excuse them for resenting that everyone's been pretending that their fundamental economic strength is greater than it was in the 1970s.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is, thank God for the EU and all of its professional politicians...

They are just the people to solve a political probl...


TrT said...

Dont mistake the EUs disinterest in economics for an actual unimportance of economics.
Greek banks, government, and people all owe Germany a great deal of money.
Same goes for Italy, Spain and maybe even France.

When Greece goes under, a lot of Germans are going to be asking where there savings are.

Anonymous said...

"Thirdly, you would have remarked the freight-carrying capacity of an average 5'5" grandmother;"

Reminds me of the time the wife and I were in Cyprus, we came across a road gang, made up of little old ladies in black with pick axes, and one guy sitting on the steam roller.

Never failed to remind the wife of that one at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Plus you have all seen what the girls in Africa balance quite happily on their heads. Tough cookies these ladies.

Edward Spalton said...

I remember the Seventies in Greece very well - especially in Western Crete where things were, in general, rather behind the rest of Greece. The local lads used the traffic signs for target practice and the shepherds carried long barrelled, ancient rifles, slung across their backs.

Walking Westwards along the beach from Chania, an old boy called me into his house, brought me a chair and asked if I would like a glass of wine. Now home-made Greek wine is a very variable product but this was superb.

I knew enough Greek to say so.
"So you like my German wine?" he said.
"Surely this is from the soil of Crete"
I said, waxing eloquent after a couple of glasses.

"There are six of them under my vines"
he said.

We were not far away from Maleme where the German parachute assault achieved its objective at the cost of such heavy casualties that they never tried the trick again.