The € and the many passions it arouses

It has recently struck me how passionately people have been describing and defending their identity. At the same time there has also been some slightly less attention paid to French language, etiquette and how different people are from one place to another. Of course people using SFN are of a variety of nationalities and identities, for example we have several times seen reminders that correspondents are from the USA, New Zealand or wherever.

However, the ‘British’ are at the core of what concerns me here. Naturally one must question what those people are? I am of Scots origin, which is different to being of Welsh, English, Irish, Manx, Cornish or whichever origins people claim. Then we have those who are a mixture or are what they say but are of other origin: I have a Welsh friend with an entirely Irish Gaelic name and another in Scotland with an almost unpronounceable Italian name. Then there are many crossovers, mixed nationalities, races and for all we know planetary origins. Then we have different loyalties. Some will say they are English or whichever other whilst others suffice with British. Some of those are absolute royalists others are what we might call republicans. Then we have political party lines, we need not waste time on that because I imagine we all know what is meant. Thus the distinctions may go on and on until I spend so much time on them I miss the point I intend to come to.

That is Europe. First of all there are those who somehow cannot really accept that the British Isles, which are a very few kilometres from the European mainland, are part of that continent. I make exception, of course, to the Republic of Ireland which has integrated into Europe without the same apparent disdain. Irish individuals may feel that way, but the nation as a whole gives the impression of being part of Europe. Thus we have the rest of the British Isles that refer to themselves as the United Kingdom. Of course, I mean no disservice to those who are very much European in their minds and overtly so in their actions. One step beyond and we have the European Union. To mention the EU is a way of raising passions in numerous ways rather than simply pro and contra arguments. Then we have the very topical hot cookie which is the Euro. That is where passions sometimes become rabid rather than passionate.

A great deal of EU and € passions have been the creation of the media, particularly newspapers. Indeed, much of that media is giving such misleading information at present that some of the opinion formed by readers of certain newspapers is almost the diametric opposite to the facts. This contributes to the passions rising and toward the rabidity of some points of view. The irony is that had Gordon Brown in his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer given the green light for the UK’s participation in the single currency the UK media would for the most part be leading opinion in another direction with almost infallible certainty. Whilst it is fair to imagine that there would still be people wishing back to the days of £sd, much as there are pro Fr, DM, Fl, etc folk throughout Europe, British politicians would indubitably have been at the centre of the present efforts to keep the € afloat.

That there is no press as confidently predicting what has become known as the Grexit, which is the Greek withdrawal from the € and possibly even from the EU, as the British press appears a very British thing. Even here in France Le Figaro, which is a newspaper that can be very critical of everything and anything it happens to disapprove of, is not that negative.

Now what is the evidence for this Grexit? Well, it is quite true that recent attempts to elect a government have fallen on stony ground and may again in a couple of weeks and the Greek electorate appear to be swinging between right and left wings almost one day to another. However, recent opinion polls show that just over 80% of Greeks wish their country to remain in the €. I read several newspapers of various political alignments, from several countries and of UK papers only The Guardian has mentioned that whereas several French and German newspapers drew attention to the outcome of those polls.

Let us also think about the recent G8 meeting in Chicago. Barack Obama and Françoise Hollande called for a stimulus package that would support Greece. Angela Merkel was resistant, but in the end realised she was rather isolated, climbed down a peg or two and thus the entire G8 leadership pledged if would make every effort to keep Greece in the Eurozone. Indeed, David Cameron is said to have aligned himself with Obama in arguing for the European Central Bank to adopt a looser monetary policy since that would allow quantitative easing similar to that set out by the Bank of England and US Federal Reserve and thus encourage the EU and International Monetary Fund to come off the austerity track that was essentially the child of Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, the latter two both being now consigned to recent political history and neither Hollande nor Mario Monti in Italy following their predecessor’s lines, thus leaving somewhat Merkel isolated.

So, what is my point? Well, there appears to be near jubilation amongst some sectors of the ‘British’ population that the € and potentially the entire EU may all go up in a puff of smoke in the near future. The paradox in that view is that those people are overlooking the effect on the Sterling economy that will be anything but positive. For instance, if Greece or any other country does what Argentina did not so long ago, they can wave goodbye to all of the money owing to the UK and if as the ‘kill EU quickly’ pundits are predicting should Italy, Portugal and Spain go the same way then that deficit will grow enormously. In football terms that would be the UK being defeated by a number of own goals. The media simply omit to tell people that and are rather low key about the fact that David Cameron seems to be contributing energetically to the effort to keep the Eurozone up and running. The difference is that he is precisely informed about the fiscal consequences that certain newspapers prefer not to tell their readers about.

So passions are running high and fast in both directions and prophets of doom are having a wonderful time with their soothsaying of the collapse they are convinced is about to come. Indeed, since the beginning of 2012 the survival of both € and EU have been no more than a couple of days. Strange to say, but nearly half a year has gone and those journalistic oracles seem to have failed to get it quite right. Yet some of us do not wish to see the € disappear. We sincerely hope that Greece is helped out of the malaise and the couple of countries on the waiting list to join the EU and € respectively will wait a little longer but ultimately join. I just find it so ironic that had Brown made the decision that would have persuaded Tony Blair to say “We’re in too…”, that whoever was heading the UK government right now, which may have been Cameron for all we know, that he or she would have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve the Eurozone and would, as one expects of the UK, have been there at the epicentre of it all with Merkel and whoever else.

Now, of course I know full well what is going to happen here. The people who believe they see things clearly in black and white, but in fact I believe are looking through a grey murk, will tell me I am talking out of where the sun does not shine because they read it in X. Others will be more thoughtful and those of us who prefer to be Europeans or internationalists (my personal preference) will reply with well informed, well presented and less angry and usually reasonably if not entirely optimist points of view. I hope very much that SFN members who are not ‘British’ will also contribute because their points of view really do matter a lot, especially in the light of some of the quite outraged British ranting there may be (although I hope not) whatever some people might think. No matter what, I am quite certain that some of us have some interesting reading to look forward to.

That's how it was in the UK, but things changed when some fiancial institutions went under. People do not challenge the legality either because it is too expensive to try to get a thing like that to court. One of the many reasons I left the UK was because of changes like that, negative and nasty ones.

Very different from a US mortgage in a bankruptcy or liquidation. The creditor (if the debt is actually distributed) takes under the same terms as the initial creditor. A third party never has the power to unilaterallly renegoicate the terms of a contract without the consent of the other party.

Not called in but in a (re)negotiation when a mortgage is repossessed by a creditor of a broke bank/building society then if it is (for example) a 25 year repayment they can make it 20 years, therefore put up the repayments in proportion and get a quicker capital return to keep themselves solvent in effect. Nasty stuff.

European mortgages terms can be called even if the borrower is paying? How interesting.

Unfortunately it doesn't go that way, the debts like mortgages and laons would be passed onto the creditors who would be in a position to negotiate including making terms harder such as payments in shorter periods... Idea is great, reality terrifying. Trouble is, and I am optimistic about the €'s survival, if it all goes pear shaped then we will all be in deep dudu anyway.

I remember asking in December what was happening to the euro as at the time it was not expected to live beyond the New Year! OK, so stirling has gained a bit but it is still not at the 1.50 to the £ that it was.

Let the weak banks fail! Any other business that makes such losses would be allowed to, no rescue package for them. After all, who would the losers really be if the banks just didn't open tomorrow? The way I see it, the million pound cretins who make the bum decisions but still get rewarded, the shareholders who are investing "spare" funds on a gamble, so should be prepared to lose & savers who, in this climate, have spare cash not needed for everyday living ( tough, but not life threatening). Who would gain? The majority of bank customers who have mortgages & loans would be released from their debt, or much of it, as would other borrowers, & as such would not have to throw themselves at the mercy of welfare, which, combined with the billions saved in not bailling out the banks really adds up to a win-win!

Maybe a little simplistic, so convince me that these companies SHOULD be saved!

Guess it's the idea but in the end it has more to do with the occasion, the drinks before and after and it is also a class thing of a kind you do not suffer on your side of the water. Where foxes are rare they do what they call 'drag hunting' in the UK too - sounds pretty much the same as you did.

We never did true fox hunting: it was usually some bait drawn through the woods for the dogs. I think the style is more formal in Europe. I would guess a true fox hunt was a means to clear the land of the fox that damaged the land for farming. We never had that problem. 60K or 135lbs, I long passed that mark!

Steeplechasing is jumping the big fences, the Grand National is the most famous example of a distance horse race with diverse fence and ditch obstacles. I lived in a hunting village, that is to say where the master of the hunt lives and it meets, but personally disapprove of fox hunting for many reasons, including the damage done to farm land since actually relatively few foxes are actually ever caught and then they are old, diseased ones in many cases. The hounds tearing them apart is barbarous, could never. However, I did a bit of jumping and could up to my early 40s occasionally. My younger daughter has been learning for two years and now she is past 'pony club' stuff I have started to use a neighbour's horses occasionally. I rode last week to see, but the broken shoulder didn't like it. It'll be a few months. We have a lot of tracks marked for walkers and riders in the forest just by us, so it is fantastic here.

As for the talent to be a jockey myself. No, it was never in me. I wanted other things and by the time I was just over 60k (for you perhaps comin up to 130 pounds) and a little tall for flat racing it was over. I have never been in any kind of competitive race although I have clearly 'raced' with trainees and stable apprentices of the Derby course at Epsom having learned at Ashtead almost beside that course. Never won though.

I learned enough to play the horses on track though.

Never did anything professional, we just had a few horses growing up near NYC and we hunted and raced with friends. It wasnt until I was older that we went to the tracks. Steeplechasing is that a course race? We used to hunt and ride the estates near us. I never had much talent or size to become a jockey, tho I still like to ride and hunt. Don't get much chance anymore, do you still ride?

Thanks Terry. I saw that one and downloaded it at the time and in fact have used it to compare some of the ratings changes against. It is very good. What the agencies are not doing is telling us about countries like Argentina and India who have gone up slightly and too little about Brazil who went up a bit and then down again. They are too pre-concerned with the countries they are gambling on seeing going down. As I am saying to Chris, it is like a day at the races and in this case nobody is watching the unfavoured horse who is going to come up from behind and pass the post first.

Here's another one, Brian. Huge amount of data.

Just had a proper look. No UK, whoops they're gone already? Seriously though, if all ratings agencies were charted like that the disparity would be amazing. Think the hurricane Chris is predicting might be like the hot sun, storms and what have you hereabouts, none of them actually seem to have happened, even looking at meteo-sat live shots of SW France. Get the same economic feeling looking at a ratings chart like that.

No, never did P t P, lots of riding classes with runs on Epsom course and a fair bit of jumping included, but actually I simply like going out for a nice long walk and canter, would rather wade through a stream than jump it. Until I was about 16 I could have been a flat jock (if I had wanted) but the last growth spurt got me to 5' 8" (same as Lester Piggott actually) but weight wise I was nearly 10 stone (over 60k) so too heavy (it saved me by being a good excuse too when the old man had to sign my uni application)

So did you actually P t P Brian? If so - respect - was far too wussy!

Been out at my children's judo graduation so missed that. Wow. Is this the end of civilisation as we know it and should I start collecting shells on the beach when I take the kids in acouple of weeks so that when we go back to pre-modern trading I have a basic unit of exchange? Strange times, either all going to be rescued or effectively most of the world going broke.

Because I lived near Newmarket which apart from its two courses (three actually because it has an amateur only jump course), it is the breeding, training and bloodline capital of the world and I simply got to now the people. Toward the end of his life we even had Desert Orchid who was the most successful flat horse of all time, anywhere, stabled less than five minutes walk from me and I got to me him lots of times. Paddocks in the UK are 'open' if you pay for the members' enclosure and training (what you call pacing) courses are all on open land. Can't remember what Cologne was like except going to the meetings. Nothing as open as the USA for sure. But love the sport, but not sorry I did not become a jockey. I am National Hunt (UK = the jumps like steeplechasing and hurdles) height and weight anyway, mos of those people are physically wrecked by 50. Social scientists go on until we drop dead.

About 30 minutes ago there was a call for Europe and the US Congress to clean up the euro mess from a US president. Highly unusual statement from the president of the US concernign the euro. BofA's market just published its fragility index and it has soared higher - alarmingly signaling higher systemic risks than in the peak pre-Lehman era. Goldman Sacs begun its GDP downgrades (down 2 tenths a point) for 2nd quarter. The market is now less stable than with AIG, Lehman, Merrill and all the soon to be failed banks while the economies are solely controlled by a few politicians and fewer academics. We are (on both sides of the Atlantic) in for a hurricane.

I’ll Have Another’s bid for a Triple Crown ended with the shocking news that the colt was out of the Belmont Stakes... now that is disheartening.