Category Archives: Overseas

Viral THreat

It is estimated that one deadly strain of avian influenza caused the deaths of 50 million people worldwide. In England it was named Spanish Flu. It broke out here in 1918 so towards the end of First World War.

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The current outbreak of Wuhan Virus is being taken very seriously but so far represents just a tiny fraction of the human cost that the pandemic of 1918 incurred. However the big issue that most commentators are not addressing is the disproportionate impact that the quarantine measures are going to have on world trade – and the global economy. In effect the entire world’s factory has been all but closed.

Each week that a factory in China, normally producing goods for export, remains closed around 2% of its annual production is lost. How many factories in China are already closed? And how many more will follow? How long before they can re-open?

Now we can all survive if the launch of the latest smartphone is delayed for months or even years. But the mighty Apple will soon feel the icy blast of recession if it runs out of products to sell. And it’s not just factory products impacted. At the opposite end of the process raw materials like coal, oil, iron ore, etc will experience a big drop in demand. This in turn will lead to a drop in prices and lay-offs in countries far away from the regions infected by the Wuhan virus.

There is a serious risk that there will be a collapse in world trade – and perhaps one big enough in scale to surpass the Wall Street Crash of the 1920’s … And that is yet another piece of 20th century history that no one wants to see repeated.

A Decade of Change?

With the scoreboard showing 1,314 days since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union the chances of another failure to deliver seem vanishingly small. And so just 3 more days remain for our country as a member. That in itself will be a first time situation for many British people. But then the 20’s seem set to be a decade of change in many ways.

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Starting at the top we have a monarch who has served for 67 years and will reach her 100 years in 2026 while her consort the Duke of Edinburgh will reach that milestone sooner – in 2021. A fact of human life is that it is finite – and so we must face the possibility that the 2020’s will be the last decade of the New Elizabethan era. So while Harry makes the headlines today it is the future of the monarchy that will come into question before too long.

Similarly the children of the 1940’s baby boom will reach their 80’s over the next ten years and fade away in greater numbers than ever before. A statistical fact used by pro-EU vote losers as a crutch to promote rejoining after another vote. Sadly for them this will never occur as both economic factors and bigger world issues will take priority over political manoeuvres in Europe.

And the biggest world issue will be climate change – along with the actions we are required to take in response. But that needs a separate posting …

Top Banker

The role of president of the European Central Bank (ECB) is vitally important for the prudent management of the euro. A tricky task when it is used in nineteen countries with widely-divergent economies.

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Until last week the role was filled by Mario Draghi and under his management trillions of extra euros were created and mainly used to fund government borrowing and EU industries through buying their bonds. This was intended to have the effect of getting businesses to expand.

On Friday Christine Lagarde started her eight year term as ECB president – and set out with a commitment for further euro printing. But that was arranged by Draghi before he left. An unusual move in the circumstances – and one that was opposed by seven of the twenty-five strong governing council. A body that reflects that basic problem with the EU – the differences between the financial policies needed in, for example, Greece and Germany. It is also a body that Mde. Lagarde will need for help – since she lacks any central bank experience herself.

But that never stopped her at the IMF so the chances are that the euro will not fall into terminal decline – despite various predictions in recent years. Just as long as the Germans can keep their economy buoyant … and stick with the euro.

What More Can We Take?

This weekend should, according to previous promises by our Prime Minster, be the country’s last as a member of the European Union.

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And even though there are six remaining days for things to change, it seems almost certain that leaving at the end of October will become another promise that is broken.

True the lack of a majority in parliament has left the country with a government that is unable to govern. With an array of anti-exit political factions and vested interests against it any meaningful progress has become impossible – even the judiciary showed their bias.

Of course, for the many Grandads happy to support leaving without the far-reaching constraints demanded by the EU, this situation means that a bad deal has also been delayed – so far. But with many politicians demanding that No-Deal is taken off the table the chances of the UK actually escaping the spider’s web of EU control next week seem slim.

Obviously giving up on the present parliament and having a general election does offer a potential solution. But only if it results in a clear majority of MPs being in one camp or the other. Recent experience shows that another minority government could be the result – and then we are back in the same situation by Christmas.

The public’s view of our pseudo-democratic representatives must now have fallen to an all-time low – with plenty of justification.

Storm Approaching

As predicted last week, the new deal with the EU revealed today – and immediately accepted by Brussels – is the May-Robbins dead donkey treaty with some tweaks for the Irish issue but now with a divorce bill reduced to just £33,000 million! So it seems our all-new prime minister is actually Theresa May 2.0 underneath.

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If that is not the case then a Baldrick-style cunning plan could be in play – based on a guess that our self-serving politicians will defeat the dead donkey for a fourth time on Saturday – and then a hope that the EU would loose their patience and say no to another extension. Thus exiting without a deal on 31-Oct-2019. But that seems like another flying pig scenario!

For the other political parties the latest deal has already been rejected as a step backwards and provided them with more fuel for revoking our Article 50 leave request; probably via a one-sided referendum. A view that might now just win out. If it does then the only bright spot would be a general election to follow with an opportunity to vote in a Brexit parliament that would invoke Article 50 again – if the EU had not blocked countries using that route by then.

That tangled web is entrapping us more and more …

Darkening Skies

Today the bookies are rethinking their odds that there will be a UK-EU deal agreed as soon as next week. Clearly someone thinks that a deal is near.

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So while all the anti-no deal politicians ought to be happy at the  expected news it is more likely that they will live to regret their feeble-minded efforts.

Why? Because the only deal the EU have ever supported is their one-sided treaty agreed to by the May-Robins gang. A treaty that even these same anti-no deal politicians rejected no less than three times. This is the only deal that is ready-to-go – and one already approved by the 27 EU members.

Grandad could be wrong and a complete replacement for the 600+ page treaty might be created in time to be approved next week. But pigs might fly. So what about a few quick edits on the existing treaty? Well the only edits so far covered relate to the Irish land border. Nothing else has been aired in public.

The logical implication is that the original treaty – the dead-donkey deal – will be tweaked for the Irish issue and then put to the UK parliament for a fourth time.

And, as before, if approved it will commit the country to a much despised Brexit-in-name-only future. A Pyrrhic victory that leaves the UK with the worst of no-deal and worst of remain without any advantages. And a general election will punish the culprits but come too late to undo the mess.

Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

We Cannae Take Much More Captain

As the political wrangling reaches fever-pitch the mood amongst the general population seems to range from despair to barely contained anger.

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How can so many of our elected representatives be so bad? Many – most – ignore their constituents’ choices and play juvenile games in an insulated metro bubble with zero regard for the well being of the nation.

At least the EU politburo is working towards an objective with a plan – even though it is flawed plan to create a European Empire ruled by a central cabal. Whereas every UK plan seems to be to try anything and hope we can all muddle through. All the time expecting that everyone involved will play the game with fairness and honesty. An ideal that cuts little ice in the 21st century.

The next few weeks are supposed to be our last under EU control .. but we have all heard that so often before.

Good Riddance

Given that it is now 1,200 days since the EU membership referendum result and that was preceeded by months if not years of pro- and anti- arguments you would think that every possible issue had been covered.

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But no. Instead we have shrieks and wails from anti-Brexit factions demanding months more of delays. For what? To discuss? To have a rigged referendum? To have a damaged general election? Or simply to remain- either by these repeated delays or by revoking our leave request?

Looking at our politicians – and judges – from outside of the metropolitan bubble gives Grandads little insight into their off-camera activities. But experience tells us that most are driven by self interest – be that personal, financial or idealogical. So we cannot see who is getting paid or benefiting from insider trading or who is trying to weaken or even break-up our country. But there can be little doubt that they exist.

And outside of the UK we have little support from powerful EU figures – unlike leaders in Australia and the United States for example. And the typical EU view is that we are there to be exploited and restricted in any way possible. Their words deny it – but their actions do not.

The country has to leave – and today would not be too soon!

Learn From History

As the horrors of the 1939-45 War fade from living memory they become just another part of history. And our present day issues with the European Union are almost always taken as short term; arguments unrelated to the bigger picture or long term perspective.

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They are in a different mental compartment to Nazi plans for controlling Europe from 1942. Yet the Treaty of Rome – the start of the current EU – was produced just 8 years after troops from the Western Allies had to carry out risky airlifts to get vital supplies to the people of West Berlin for the eleven months of a Russian blockade. Indeed British troops were still stationed in Germany when the Treaty was produced.

As a result few, if any, in those shouting, banner-waving mobs have any concept of the plans behind the EU’s on-going fiscal and legislative programme. To many a highlight of EU legislation is the capping mobile phone roaming changes [seriously – this was circulated as a major reason to remain just last month!]. Few have bothered to read – much less digest – the plans dictated by top eurocrats and EU civil servants.

However you would hope that all pro-EU activists – especially those who have spent the past three years shouting down anyone who disagreed – would have read what it says on the tin. Yet it seems not. Just this week we saw a pro-EU placard-waving marcher asked for their three favourite things about the EU. They could only think of one – the NHS!

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. [George Santayana]