Sunday, June 17, 2012

Anxious Times

Since my last post the bad weather has continued, with some of the more hysterical papers like the Daily Express talking about the wettest June on record to compliment April. 

The hosepipe ban has been lifted, and Mandy and myself have played a lot of tennis on damp courts and in drizzle. Marvellous.

Of course all this is really just whinging, because behind it all the Eurocrises rumbles on, seemingly immune to any possible cure. I don't really understand the ins and outs of it, but it appears private banks are heavily in debt and so are national governments. This means the banks are vulnerable to going bust, because the government isn't a credible lender of the last resort. It's scary to contemplate what happens when a government goes bust. Add to this the fact that many of the countries in trouble are part of the Eurozone, and you have the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929-1936.

A great depression is more or less what's happened to Greece and what may well happen to Spain and Portugal. Interest rates on Spanish government bonds are perilously close to 7% which is held to be unsustainable, and the credit rating for Greece is now junk status, which means the country cannot raise money on the open market. There are hair-raising tales of Greece being told in the media; things like children passing out in lessons due to hunger, hospitals running out of medicines, and runs on banks that have led to billions being withdrawn and kept under mattresses in cash. The worry of course is that if Greece does leave the Euro (I think it will) people's money will be instantly devalued by at least 1/3rd, maybe more. Tourists are not visiting the country because they are worried that ATMs might cease to function, or airlines and ferry companies might go bankrupt and leave people stranded.

Britain seems to have been comparatively well managed compared to other countries, although its doubtful Gordon Brown and David Cameron will be able to claim credit for that. One of the many depressing things about democracy is that voters don't do gratitude. They just do whinging.

Me? I'm just grateful to have a job that seems relatively secure, and a partner who loves me. Given the current climate, millions of Europeans must dream of having what I have. But there's a definite feeling at the moment that things might very suddenly fall apart, and unlike almost every other scare of the past 40 years (the energy crisis, nuclear war, the AIDS epidemic, BSE etc) this one has me worried.



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