Sunday, February 22, 2009

Business as usual for the EU

The BBC eulogises over the EU leaders reaching an agreement to regulate the global financial systems more tightly.

European leaders in Berlin have agreed on the need to regulate all financial markets including hedge funds.

Actually, all they have agreed on is the need to reach an agreement to avoid the collapse of globalisation which relies heavily on a deregulated and globally interlinked financial system - and the EU relies heavily on globalisation and the "interdependency" that creates.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said participants at the London summit would bear a "historical responsibility" to reform the global system.

I always worry when anyone talks about a "historical" anything - like Blair with his "hand of history". The next statement fills me with dread.

"We have to succeed and we cannot accept that anything or anyone gets in the way of that summit. If we fail there will be no safety net," he said.

"Anything or anyone"? Like - the people and their will, maybe? That's always been the problem for the EU, supranationalism and globalisation - those pesky people keep getting in the way of the bureaucrats progress. Democracy is such a pain in the ass at times.

The Czech PM, Mirek Topolanek, was a little more pragmatic.

"If I put it very tenderly, the divergence in opinions was rather big," the AFP news agency reported him saying as he headed back to Prague.

"It was obvious that the four countries representing the EU in the G20 [France, Germany, Britain, Italy] do not have the same opinion on a number of issues.".

And quite probably not the same opinion either as a number of other states who won't be at the G20. One of the scariest comments of all came from our own esteemed Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown said leaders had agreed that the IMF needed access to at least $500bn (£348bn).

Is he serious? Does he not understand the sheer scale of this global problem? That $500 billion doesn't amount to a piss in the ocean of debt that is engulfing the world. It's barely a fifth of our debt alone. With that amount of money they might just about be able to prop up Lithuania for a few months, but if someone else goes belly up in the mean time then they'll have to look elsewhere for the money 'cos the IMF will be all out.

Still, the biggest concern of Brown and co. is avoiding protectionism - or not.

Ms Merkel said: "As far as uncooperative players, tax havens or areas where non-transparent business is carried out are concerned, we need to develop sanction mechanisms. These must be made very concrete," she said.

You mean - protectionism? I think she's got a bloody cheek saying that places where "non-transparent business is carried out" should be sanctioned. The EU is pretty good at keeping its business non-transparent - is she proposing they sanction themselves? Of course not - it's do as we say not as we do for the EU. In other words, business as usual.

Talking of protectionism .....

Both Mr Topolanek and the European Commission have voiced concern at attempts by France, Italy and Spain to shelter their car industries from the effects of the downturn.

Mr Sarkozy has suggested that in order to secure government aid, French carmakers should move production out of their East European factories and back to France.

The truth is, the French, Germans and Italians have always protected their car industries - which is why they still have car industries. We don't because we didn't - so now we're planning to spend billions of taxpayers money protecting Japanese, German, US and French car manufacturers.

I give globalisation and these governments a maximum of three years to turn things around and avoid this "recession" turning into a full blown global depression. They won't because they can't. The only thing that could stop it now is for each nation to act alone, look after themselves and implement protectionism - those that do will come out of this faster than those that don't and those that still have manufacturing capability will come out it better than those that don't.

Britain isn't in either of those categories.

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