Slight sense that things are on the move in Europe. H/T Harley for this:
FRANCE IS ‘TOTALLY BANKRUPT’ HOLLANDE SHATTERED AS MINISTER REVEALS STATE OF ECONOMY
FRANCOIS Hollande was left picking up the pieces after France was sent into a state of shock as his labour minister described the nation as “totally bankrutpt.
Michel Sapin was left red-faced after revealing the potential state of the French economy and leaving the French public to question Mr Hollande’s policy.
Speaking during a radio interview, he said: “There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state. That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.”
Hollande doesn’t seem to be a great success. He hates rich people, and they’re leaving France in droves. He’s even driven Gerard Depardieu to Russia,
And it seems that David Cameron’s speech has had a far bigger impact in Europe than it had in Britain. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph:
France’s Vox Agora praised David Cameron for breaking the taboo and igniting a pan-European debate, running a red-blooded headline: “towards the end of European dictatorship?”
“The British prime minister has scored a bulls-eye,” said the Frankurter Allgemeine, Germany’s most venerable newspaper. “Cameron is right: the EU must be more flexible and competitive. The return of competences to the national authorities must be made possible. The EU must be made more democratic at long last.”
Germany is in ferment as citizens awaken to danger that EMU bail-out funds will shoe-horn their country into an EU fiscal union with shared debts. To the extect that this is buttressed by the actions of the European Central Bank — bond purchases, bank liquidity, or Target2 imbalances — it is more insidious since it amounts to fiscal union by stealth.
The Free Voter party won 10pc of votes in Bavaria with calls to block the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and this in turn has forced the Bavarian Social Chrisitians to harden their message, including demands for a referendum on transfers of power to Brussels. Chancellor Angela Merkel has her own “UKip problem”.
So too does the French establishment. Marine Le Pen’s Front National — at 18pc in the polls — is threatening the right-flank of the Gaullistes with calls for an in/out referendum. President Francois Hollande’s Socialists face a parallel attack on the other side from the Left Front.
So too do Italy’s mandarins. The triple alliance of Beppe Grillo, Silvio Berlusconi, and the Northern League commands 37pc of the vote on EU-bashing of one kind or another.
Holland, Finland, and Austria all have eurosceptic parties large enough to upset politics. Austria’s Freedom Party now wants an Alpine alliance with Switzerland and a vote on EU-exit.
It is hard to know exactly what has caused the dam to break. The failure of EMU has played its part. Half Europe is trapped in depression, with 1930s levels of unemployment, deprived of the policy levers needed to extricate themselves. The gap in growth between the US and Eurozone is running at 20-year highs of almost 3pc, and looks likely to continue with powerful compound effects through much of the decade.
AEP also sees a political shift in which French influence diminishes:
The hot debate in Germany is perhaps why Mrs Merkel has refused to join the chorus of attacks on David Cameron, instead holding out an olive branch with talk of a “fair compromise”. In Davos she went so far as to embrace his message of deep reform.
The new political fact in EU affairs is the Anglo-German Entente, a twist that has caught many by surprise. You could say this is raw trade politics. Britain has become Germany’s biggest trade partner, over-taking France for the first time in the modern era.
Germany is looking beyond the EMU stagnation sphere, where its trade has fallen from 46pc to 37pc in just over a decade…
Also in the Telegraph on the subject of big government, James Delingpole:
Pick any issue – the environment, education, healthcare, the economy… – and time and again you’ll find the agenda has been successfully hijacked by a handful of zealots who are not remotely representative of the broader public interest. Why? Because politicians will do almost anything for a quiet life and find it much easier to buy off noisy troublemakers by capitulating to their demands, however unreasonable, than to take a principled stand.
Also, of course, it’s much, much easier for a lobby group to make a powerful, emotive case for more government spending on its favourite deserving cause than it is for the government to explain why it can’t afford it.
For those of us who believe in liberty, free markets and small government this represents the greatest challenge of our time
You could say that again. And it hadn’t occurred to me that politicians might have capitulated to the unreasonable demands of lobby groups like ASH simply so as to have a quiet life. If so, it was a false economy, and it has only stored up bigger problems for them further down the line.
Apart from that I came across this beautiful Jeff Buckley track today. He was a good looking guy. Pity that he drowned in Wolf River Harbor in 1997.