A Topless And Bottomless Pit

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ERM +20
September 16th 1992 not only saw the Banned Blogger in the prime of youth with his mullet flapping in the breeze, it was a day as fortunate for Great Britain as 8th August 1588 when the Spanish Armada was blown away by storms. Indeed, with Spain in the run up to a bailout, and if Catalonia has anything to do with it, a breakup, both dates seem quite appropriate. But on the 20th anniversary of the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism) fiasco, we should remember that most of us were reluctantly in favour of monetary union at the time (it saves getting ripped off on foreign holidays by our nasty High Street banks.)

At least on a practical basis it was therefore a good idea, the problem was and indeed, still is, what level your country goes into a fixed rate and then logically single currency mechanism. Of course, the whole area is not only contaminated by politics and politicians. But it can be said that with the benefit of hindsight the introduction of the Euro came at a relative boom time which fixed weaker PIIGS economies at too high an exchange rate, with the second blow a financial crisis which in many ways is one of the worst ever.

Indeed, it would be interesting to live in a parallel universe where the individual EU states still had their own currencies in 2012. One might suspect that all things being equal and with the UK as a prime example, the double dip recessions we have seen over the past five years would still have happened. However, the killer blow of a common currency, is apparently tying the fiscal hands in terms of taking action to get out of an economic hole.

Nevertheless, at the time the Sovereign Debt of a nation balloons, there seems to be little difference to beg for money from the IMF as we did in 1977 or the EU, or both as everyone will probably do by the end of this crisis. There also seems to be little difference in the QE remedy practiced by the ECB, Federal Reserve or Bank of England. In fact, it seems to be prevention rather than cure which is a guarantee of a nation’s financial health. You need to have the Swiss Model (Monaco / Andorra et al- a haven for other people’s hard earned tax paid savings (Greater London and its housing market is close), or Norway – hydrocarbons and not many people.

A Direct Line To Happiness
It has only been a few days since RBS shareholders were revealed to be on the warpath in terms of the alleged misrepresentations of the bank at the start of the financial crisis. As stated here before there is very little chance of a court finding in favour of our hard done by friends, due to the lowly status of shareholders , and the high status of bankers as one of the chief paymasters of the legal profession. But now an added negative has come into view, the forthcoming IPO of Direct Line, a chance for the general public to buy what is already 82% ours. How does that work? This is the best way of the bank not only spreading goodwill, but reminding us that not everything Fred The Shred touched turned to ABN Amro.

The Duchess of Cambridge
It would appear that at the current rate of progress there will be no body part of the younger Royals – topless and bottomless -we are not familiar with. Happily, so far the fuzzy snapshots have been limited to those in the youthful prime, something which is apparently in the public interest. But all of this Peeping Tom activity should remind us that while Queen Victoria might have rushed to cover even a bare leg on a chair, this is the 21st century. Rather than spending money on suing Continental magazines (and apparently security) it might be better to face off the affair with a little positive spin on the wonders of the human body, as most of us should be familiar with how it looks even from accidental reflections in the mirror. In the meantime Her Royal Highness Princess Catherine should be instructed to wear a bathing suit, even in the bath, until further notice.

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