Economics · Mind The Gap!

This Isn’t About Britain!

I’ve known this since I lived in Germany back in the 1980s: Britain simply doesn’t get Europe. Britain has this idea that the Continent of Europe somehow needs its appendage – its appendix? That is to say, Britain is in a place of its own and it knows that through its superior culture and business practices it is the envy of the world. In short: Europeans are crazy to even let us go. Leave alone demand terms.

Look at Britain! They have motorcar industries, banking and fisheries… but then, so does Romania. Albeit the banks aren’t quite as impressive, their connection to Europe by way of railways is actually a lot better than Britain seems to think. Continue reading “This Isn’t About Britain!”

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Economics

Playing Chicken With Brexit

Who Will Blink First: Britain Or The EU?

There was a rather inflammatory article in today’s Guardian newspaper that suggested that the EU and Britain were playing chicken with Brexit.

There were several issues that the author didn’t mention, one being the thorny issue of a legally binding settlement. From the British, that is. Now to be fair, there have been murmurings that the British were actually going to produce something. However, thus far, the British have been very good at suggesting something might happen, in the way David Davis didn’t even think to write his impact report. In a democracy, this would have been enough to bring a government down: he had been ordered by the Speaker to present the report on the given date. All he could do was to turn out his pockets and say that the Russians had eaten it.

Or something like that, I can’t remember his exact words.

Continue reading “Playing Chicken With Brexit”

A Sideways View · Economics

A Sidways Look At The Carillion Debacle.

It’s world news now: the magisterial beast of the British construction industry, Carillion, is dead. Only it is no living thing, there is no successor in the way we used to say, “The king is dead, long live the king.” With this death, there are only more problems to uncover, not solutions.

Carillion worked primarily in the construction industry, and having run a business that was part of this charade, I know one or two things about it that few financiers would. As usual, these are the more obvious elements of the job – and it is always the more obvious things that are the easiest to overlook.

Continue reading “A Sidways Look At The Carillion Debacle.”

Economics · Modern Times

Would You Adam And Eve It?

Adam, Eve and the Apple: The Problem Of Our Past And Our Future.

It’s Christmas and you will need something to mull over when falling asleep over the Queen’s speech at three. Because, it’s more that Christmas is so easy to predict: it comes at the same time every year. It’s not like Easter that comes and goes as it pleases. Christmas is the same date, the same time every year. Year in, year out. Ask anyone when Christmas is and you’ll get the same answer. Ask them about Easter and it’s not so easy. Continue reading “Would You Adam And Eve It?”

Beyond Newton · Economics

The Twenty Cent Coin.

The new 20ct coin as issued by the mint in Utrecht: it shows Koning Willem Alexander with a band across his head to emphasize the fact.
Source: euro-muenzen.tv

As you can imagine, twenty cent coins in Europe abound. Even in the areas that are not officially the Eurozone, where the Euro is the official currency, twenty cent coins can be found. They can be found in Africa, too, because the Francophone areas of Africa lent towards the Euro as a sub-denomination instead of the dollar (as was the case when the Zimbabwean dollar fell to pieces).

Twenty cent coins aren’t anything special, then. So, when in my local supermarket the cashier handed me one, it should have dropped into my purse unnoticed. Only this one was shiny, a blikvanger as they say in Dutch, it was eye-catching. It interested me because here in Holland, any new coin usually means one of the newly minted Dutch coins with the head of the new king, Willem Alexander. He’s been maltreated by having his head divided to tell us who he is, but I doubt if it would make any difference to him. After all, he’s Dutch, and whilst a nice enough guy and all that, I’m pretty sure he’s as dim as the rest of them.

Continue reading “The Twenty Cent Coin.”

Economics · Mind The Gap!

Cutting Off The Continent.

A Very British Brexit.

Britain is, and always will be a very odd place to live for anyone who is used to the way Europeans live. Storms in the English channel that stop the ferries running between Dover and Calais are always headlined as “Continent Cut Off”. The British point of view is nothing if not eccentric. Britain, that small island just off the northern coast of Europe, is something of an afterthought in the mind of the average European.

Now I have lived in Europe for the better part of my life, and if there is one thing that has been consistent to any of the countries I lived in – Denmark, Germany and latterly, the Netherlands – it is the lack of understanding about Britain’s place in Europe. Here in Europe, it is necessary to register one’s place of abode, and on no few occasions, that is to say, in each case of registering, I had been asked to show that I, as a Briton, had the correct papers to allow me to live and work in their country.

I pleaded that Britain was a member of the European Union.

The response was as consistent as it was confused: “Britain is not a member of the European Union” later this changed to “Britain isn’t in the Eurozone.” After all, any European country of any sensible size was a member of the Eurozone, the gathering of countries who use the Euro as their currency. Ergo: if you weren’t in the Eurozone, you weren’t in the European Union.

Continue reading “Cutting Off The Continent.”

Economics · Mind The Gap!

Deeper In Debt.

Britain has a healthy economy, and it has a healthy economy because the economic figures are healthy. It’s how Britain – and the British – do business. We all do it, we all look to the paperwork: we all look to the figures at some point in the reckoning. Even when buying a bar of chocolate there’s the evaluation of quality over price; and that goes for Aldi too, who have various kinds of chocolate for the unwilling spender.

Britain, however, is a very different place than Europe. It’s as if there’s a real divide between the European economies and Britain in as real a way as there are twenty miles of seawater between them. There are few enough Europeans who understand the British mind – and an economy is the result of a cultural mindset. The British, for all their intelligence, are stumped when it comes to European minds and the economies they create. And the Americans are even worse because they’re so deluded as to think what’s right for them is right for everybody.

Continue reading “Deeper In Debt.”