Monday, 10 September 2012

Good cop, bad cop . . .

After a week of dealing with all sorts of personal matters (including some dental mishaps) I'm  intending to be back in full swing tomorrow, until then just a short word on something I read this morning.

I can remember when Sunday morning TV was just a series of religious based shows that really wanted to do nothing more than satisfy the guilt of those who decided that sitting at home was preferable to sitting in a place of worship and being lectured to. The phenomenon of the Sunday news show now means you get all the fun of that church lecture but with a modicum of personal relevance. Sundays are also primetime for talking heads, pollsters, experts and "Op-Ed-sters".

A good example is reformed currency demolition expert George Soros. Mr. Soros has re-branded himself into a macro-economic wise man by embracing philanthropy and writing books. He seems to want to be a grandfather for central bankers, someone they can go to when they need advice.  Once again on Sunday kind old granddad George was out there offering advice, mainly to the Germans, but available to all his worried grandchildren. I've always found it fairly pompous that political leaders release their speeches 24hrs in advance of actually delivering them to their chosen audience, but when Soros starts to do it I have to relax my gag reflex. On Monday night Soros will be telling the chosen few in Berlin that they need to either get behind the Euro and embrace inflation or leave it altogether.

Read the full speech here and decide for yourself.

My own view is that the essay/speech is mainly correct in its facts, as you would expect from someone who has specialised in benefiting from troubled economies. My main disagreement comes in the conclusion that Germany has some sort of duty to bail out its European partners:

"In short, the current situation is like a nightmare that can be escaped only by waking up Germany and making it aware of the misconceptions that are currently guiding its policies. We can hope Germany, when put to the choice, will choose to exercise benevolent leadership rather than to suffer the losses connected with leaving the euro."
I don't believe Germany wants to make the other economies go through austerity for its' own sake, rather, like the Germany after reunification I believe that Frau Merkel wants to see Europe embrace reforms that allow the debtors to fulfill their commitments in the long term. At the moment all we see are budget cuts, but no change to fundamental pillars of these economies, such as labor reform. Europe needs to commit to being a competitive block of highly skilled and productive workers and not some huge experiment aimed at doing the bare minimum. Germany will support this type of Europe with money . . . the alternative would be a splintering of core Europe.

And finally a quick mention on what I thought was the cycling event of the year, the Vuelta. The thing that makes this event in some ways more compelling than the TdF is the time bonus system for stage places. It means the GC riders can't relax and compete against a small clique. It helps too that this year in Spain we got more climbing than at the TdF, which really succumbed to the time trial monster and handed Sky a deserved but somewhat hollow victory. The crucial stage 17 . . . magic:


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