Friday, 17 February 2012

World Bank Race

And they're off...names (cf the FT) are circulating,  opinions are being given on who may or may not stand, rules - spoken and unspoken - are being dusted off, while that old local authority recruitment injunction 'canvassing will disqualify' might never have existed.

Angels are for Condoleeza Rice.

Such a clever woman:  civilised, pragmatic, competent, successful yet discreet.  Ideally qualified as a political scientist with a profound understanding of the former Soviet Union  (more underdeveloped than that is hard to beat);  there are enough economists in the World Bank to sink a battleship and it's politics that matter in the world right now, not economics when we all know what needs to be done and where.   It's the doing  it that needs outstanding expertise.
Condoleeza for President of the World Bank!

The Bloomberg editorialist is calling for non-Americans to be in the running:

 "... it should go without saying that many extremely able candidates are available for the World Bank  job [Job?  This isn't a job - it's the presidency  of an institution wielding American power.  Why on Earth (seeing as we're coming over all global) should America have to find and nurture a suitable poodle?  Go for the real thing.]   who don’t happen to be American. To exclude them at the outset is indefensible. Obama should see this as an opportunity not just to appoint an excellent new leader of the World Bank but also to start a new chapter in global economic governance."

And  'a new chapter in global economic governance' wouldn't start from the World Bank now, would it?  And if it could then America is not going to have a non-American in charge, are they?

Further Update

The Observer seriously puts forward the candidacy of Geoffrey Sachs.

It doesn't happen often, but words fail me.  Conceited, superficial, boastful, intellectually under-powered....... as I said - words fail me.  

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Moody Judges

Florence has been down-graded by Moody's.    The city, its citizens, its region of Tuscany have been found guilty of spending that which does not belong to them: guilty of spending on beauty, truth, history, politics, the Renaissance; guilty of banking  offences.

Their representatives, appearing before the Moody judges, caused instant protest.

"The guy over there is naked,  and the boy in the little boots with the tip of his hat-feather up his ass is little better.  Actually the women are half-naked, at best, too - Cover them up!  Officer".

"Tried that, Sir.  The clothes make them look- well, more suggestive - They go about like this all the time, everyone knows what they look like, so covering-up makes people  kind of look more."

"They're part of this PIGS movement I expect.  OK. Moving along - Is that a lion they've brought in?"

"Listen up.  You are here for sentencing.  (Can they understand? Speak American? We need translators here?)".

"Couldn't say, Sir.   The one in the long skirt with the dark curly hair - he's a man, Sir,  name of Machiavelli, - he's told them to be realistic and to lie to advantage  when asked anything by the court."

"Don't want to get into questions of gender, or ethnicity or morals here - they wouldn't grasp it anyway.  We'll just go straight to the sentencing.  Are these the ones who burned our agent Savanorola   after he tried to get them to cut their spending? Those terrorists? There's no statute of limitations on terrorism, 1498 or no.  Right.

You will be taken from here to a place where your children will receive a good, moral American  education.  There they will learn to wear clothes and sing the national anthem with their hands on their hearts. 

(Do they sing?  Can they hold a tune?) 

There you will learn that you must give to the world as well as take; that you must balance the books; and you will learn the meaning of debt.

You are condemned to spend the rest of your lives in Florence, Oregon.

And may God have mercy on your souls."

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Golden Zlotys

Within the eurozone countries it is relatively easy to assess risk and gauge it against return.   Yields and spreads are  constantly available, a real time ready reckoner.   It may be uncomfortable but it's certainly transparent, and effective in causing  policy adjustment.

However, rating agencies are always behind the curve  (as was noted in the FT yesterday) and 'vanno prese cum grano salis'  (as the Prime Minister remarked on the telly last night); a sentiment echoed with considerably more vehemence in the Telegraph today by Jeremy Warner.

Interestingly, Warner went on to make a a point made by the Governor of the Austrian Central Bank ("Mervyn King buys 80% of new government issues") last year:

 "Bond yields are close to historic lows almost anywhere with its own currency and central bank; while in the UK, benign gilt markets are as much the result of the Bank of England’s printing presses as the Government’s fiscal strategy."

So what is a Girl to do when our Italian bond holdings have come bleating home like little lambs and  fresh investment decisions must be made?   If Eurozone sovereign bonds are bought at least I know where they stand, all the time, and have been standing, and why they moved, and can take a view rather than rely on undergraduate economics essays by ratings agency staff.

What of the safe havens?   German bonds are safe alright -  but paying to hold them?   And as for the United Kingdom sovereign debt,  how do I rate  Osborne and  King in comparison with, say,   Monti and Draghi?  Mervyn King is a fine economist but is subservient to George Osborne (oh yes he is, there is no independent Bank of England, remember who set it up) who is not.   Nope.  Not England.  I can't 'see' England.

What's needed is a sovereign with a growing economy, high employment levels,  highly educated population, entrepreneurial,  technologically sophisticated, stable and competent political leadership: resilient, multi-lingual, god-fearing Europeans.

Poland rides to the rescue.   Again.  [Nice wings.]

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


A bit heavy-going but makes for a smile.

(from Leiter Reports)


Representing the United Kingdom in Christendom

These remarks from Baroness Warsi are an embarrassment.  It is not just the jejeune language she hopes will:

'ring out beyond the Vatican walls', 

it is the incomprehension displayed with such artlessness:

'It seems astonishing to me that those who wrote the European Constitution made no mention of God or Christianity.'

and the arrogance in all its ignorance:

'I will be arguing for Europe to become more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity.'

She will  lead a rag tag and bobtail delegation of junior and peripheral ministers which will be shepherded by the Archbishop of Westminster.  She goes to discuss the importance of  faith
with the former Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith  - an office he held for quarter of a century;   an office formerly known as Grand Inquisitor of the Inquisition.

Let us hope he doesn't have her put through her paces but gives her the comfy chair, with a cushion.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

We Must Not Abandon Greece

Here is a map of the European Union and surrounding countries.

Bearing in mind that the EU is the politico-economic expression of  a defensive organisation -  NATO- which countries would you be loathe to lose?  And which would you not mind about if they stayed, went, or joined?

Angels would be loathe to lose Greece,  Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden, and the Iberian peninsula; would like to add Ukraine, Belarus, the Balkans, Norway and Switzerland; doesn't mind about the United Kingdom and Iceland.

Of course this Europe,  core Europe and its surrounding states, is Christendom.

This Christendom


not the 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam' with tambourine accompaniment Christianity so dear to other parts of the world.

Greece is not only or even primarily an economic problem.  Greece is one of us and, as such, has an absolute claim on our solidarity through its political distress and false turnings: the exploitation of its people and the illegal export of its wealth,  poor leadership,  and all the violence of lost causes making their last stand.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Snow on Snow on Snow

For those closed in by the cold and ice here you can gaze at the Rome of the early 18th century portrayed in prints and water colours.  A piece of the  grand tour for a winter's day.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Extent of the Threat of Scottish Independence

The reverberations (if not first indications of volcanic upheavals) from a vote on Scottish independence are being felt in Ireland.  Calls for a referendum in 2016 [no need to explain the significance of that date, Ed.] on the uniting of the six counties of Ulster with the rest of Ireland are being resisted by the UK government.

Under the Good Friday accords such a referendum will be called by the secretary of state for northern Ireland if there is clear evidence of a majority of the people in northern Ireland supporting Irish unity.

Owen Paterson ['Owen'? Is he Welsh? Ed.] has stated that recent polls show no such inclinations.  They might after a successful referendum in Scotland though, and with four years of campaigning.  No wonder the Westminster government wants any Scottish referendum sooner rather than later; and is even more keen on yes/no rather than a devomax evolution that is implicit in the devolution models used by parliamentary draftsmen when Labour so unwisely tried to divide-up the UK into Conservative-proof chunks. 

The people of the north-east of England voted 5 to 1 against a regional 'parliament' there. But even that cry is being taken up again by the 'the North has no voice under the wicked English Tories' sections of the Labour party.

If Scotland chooses independence the fragility of the rest of the federal United Kingdom will be wholly exposed.  

Sunday, 5 February 2012


The Munich Security Conference is so much more fun than Davos.  Saturday's sessions were particularly interesting - or at least they sound it;  but where are all the rolling blogs, the bated-breath, excited reporting, the WEForum style hype?

In the discussions of power, who's got it, and what they intend to do next  with it, Munich has not just the edge but the entire battleground.   US troops withdrawing  at last  from central Europe ( though unfortunately settling in Australia);  discussions of tactical nuclear weapons in the European theatre [surely not, there must be some mistake, we're not using Europe as a battlefield ever again, much too beautiful and valuable, Ed.];  war expressed as a euro crisis; transatlantic arrangements (not necessarily friendly after that assault on our currency, I imagine).

Best of all no re-hashing of dull economics 101 by has-been politicians with delusions of economic and financial genius.  All the attendees are very much in power right now.   And are discussing the need to get their act together on the European defence/war front just as much as on the welfare/social spending/ labour costs too high per unit of output and the left-over-institutional-defences-of-that -situation front,  which has resulted in such naughty levels of peripheral sovereign debt.

Europe has lines to assert, instal and defend both within its societies and around its borders, as well as the protection of its interests and resources elsewhere.   We can do global - in the European  interest -  and it really wasn't nice to try and bring down the currency and the Union.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Atrocities of the Second World War

The court at the Hague has ruled; and individual citizens of Italy cannot act against the German State.  The ruling re-asserts the status quo and does more than reject the ruling of Italian courts: it requires that Italy should reinstate the law and prevent any further attempts, by these means, to recompense Italians for War  crimes.

Less coverage has been given to the statements of the Foreign Ministers of Italy and Germany who emphasize that further efforts are underway to ameliorate and expiate the brutal acts giving rise to the legal actions.

Civitella in Val di Chiana - the words release a roar of emotion and distress.  Even now.  But what happened there happened the length of Italy as Kesselring's armies retreated, betrayed from Berlin and suddenly in enemy territory as, during the Italian civil war,  Mussolini was overthrown and the Italian army fought with the Allies.  Unfortunately the long-term bitter opposition to Fascism, the partisans, rose too, behind German lines and, encouraged by Badoglio (who had changed sides without warning Italian forces, leaving them unready when German forces sought to disarm them)  attempted to assert their control over local territories.  Inevitably civilian populations paid the price of guerilla actions.

Worse, local fascists did not give up lightly and, using German punitive actions, pinpointed those for execution.  There was bitter anger against 'partisan' activity that resulted in the slaughter of whole villages, and the destruction of infrastructure and communities in larger settlements.   The assaults on retreating German troops were used to precipitate executions of political, class and personal enemies.

Nothing could sort out the morass of vicious score-settling after more than 20 years of violently authoritarian rule that went on then -  not now, not ever.   Of all the uses of religious belief and its rituals, perhaps ceremonies for the repose of the souls of victims, and of reconciliation between descendants of actors in the violence,  at least  these should be recognised.

Certainly the law  gives cold comfort and no respite.

The Member for Eastleigh

There's something about the Liberal Democrats and their precursors that yields titillating evidential puzzles.   This time the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said that having reviewed the evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service believed there was enough to bring charges:

"The essence of the charges is that, between March and May 2003, Mr Huhne, having allegedly committed a speeding offence, falsely informed the investigating authorities that Ms Pryce had been the driver of the vehicle in question, and she falsely accepted that she was the driver."

So we have an alleged speeding offence;  false information offered on the driver's identity; and a false acceptance of that false information on the identity of the driver.

She drove.  Yes, I drove.   Both assertions are stated to be false.

Who drove?

Rarely is attracting police attention a good idea.  If caught doing something that would be far worse if all the circumstances were discovered, take the lower penalty and shut up.   The car having been caught speeding Huhne should have coughed up, including for taxis and drivers for a bit, and let well alone.  Now he says:

"I am innocent of these charges and I intend to fight this in the courts and I am confident that a jury will agree."

It is difficult to imagine any outcome to this trial that is good news for Huhne if he succeeds in showing he was not the driver of the car.  At the very least he hasn't got the sense he was born with and isn't going to be invited back into any serious political role.

The voters of Eastleigh seem most unfortunate in their elected representatives.

Your Vote on Scottish Freedom

To obtain your ballot paper please go to  Subrosa.

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Hoon....

or a Nabarro de nos jours?

And what sort of person asks their spouse to join them in a conspiracy that perverts the course of justice?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

One in the Eye for the Globalistas

Christine Bortenlänger, the CEO of Munich Stock Exchange, was in a right paddy when she wrote (reported in Der Spiegel )

"The commissioners' decision is a decision in favor of a provincial and anachronistic isolation of Europe from the world. That's something that an export-oriented country like Germany can not support. It's time that the EU thought beyond its own borders, and thinks of itself as an important region on the global scale -- and also acts in a way that is open to the world."

Angels are against Europe being thought of   "as an important region on the global scale" just as much as being against the United Kingdom being thought of as an important region on the European (or indeed global) scale.

Particularly as 'global' has a nasty after-taste of 'American ' about it.  It isn't the American century after all; and what's left of their politico-economic debacle wrought in its assertion in the last twenty years is taking a great deal of cleaning up.