Greece Syriza

The Danger Of Syriza

I note with some concern the election in Greece of Syriza.

Whether it actually proves a disaster will depend on the European Union – and Angela Merkel in particular.

I argued when the Euro-crisis first emerged that there were only two broad solutions – either for the countries in trouble to leave the Euro and devalue their currency until they were competitive in the markets again or for the Eurozone to become to become one fiscal unit – a United States of Europe, if you like, with, for example, harmonised tax rates and one collective Euro-debt (not exactly fair on those countries not in large amounts of debt).

The pound’s devaluation in the market was one of the necessary conditions for the UK’s economic recovery.  Greece shares a currency so cannot devalue on it’s own.

Instead the Eurozone members after much procrastination decided upon a typical Merkel-esque fudge.  There is limited fiscal union – there is now a banking union and Eurobonds, for example.  Mario Draghi finally calmed the markets a couple of years back by promising to do “whatever it takes”.

Now we have to wait patiently for many, many years for there to be internal devaluations within the affected countries, with falling prices and falling wages until countries such as Greece and Spain are competitive once more.

Meanwhile, the people of several European countries continue to suffer for the cause of the political project – the Euro.

No wonder the likes of Syriza and Podemos are gaining fans in their respective countries with their promises to spend more money they don’t have and not pay back debt.

The danger now is that of any kind of move towards granting the proto-communists their promises to the Greek people of ending austerity and more importantly, writing off debt.

As an economics graduate and one with a particular interest in behavioural economics, moral hazards must be avoided.  In the UK we missed out on our opportunity to inflict punishment on bankrupt banks such as RBS by rescuing them.  The banks as a cultural organisation are unlikely to have learnt their mistakes.  In America, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and far more has been achieved in the way of regulating and restructuring banks.

The same moral hazard applies here.  If Syriza achieve their goal of debt write-off, Podemos will want the same in Spain (assuming they won the election).  There would be similar demands from other indebted countries – Ireland, Portugal, Italy, France – and the UK.  The UK’s debt as a share of GDP is not a million miles away from Greece.

We should not have any debt haircut – neither should Greece.

My advice has not changed.  Greece and Spain should leave the Euro to devalue their currency, and become competitive once more or the Eurozone fiscal union needs to be completed thoroughly, instead of just a patch-up job.

In reality there may be some Merkel-esque fudge once more – for example interest-free loans to Greece, which would be acceptable in my view.

But the important message must remain – if you spend profligately, you must pay your debt.

Page 3 The Sun

Freedom For Page Three

I was delighted to see that The Sun was featuring a topless model on page 3 again late last week.

Actually I should clarify, I did not see it – I only heard about it.  I am too engrossed in John Major’s autobiography and the only newspaper I read is The Economist.

I was somewhat discombobulated two days ago when I heard the same commentators that were defending Charlie Hebdo’s right to offend, cheering on the apparent demise of daily boobs on the basis that it is sexist and outdated.

It seems a tad contradictory to me.

If you don’t want to see a pair of boobs – don’t look at page 3.  Or buy a different newspaper.  There are topless men in publications that I don’t want to see – granted not quite as sexualised but still a sexualised image.  I simply don’t look at them.

To me it belittles the conversation about daily sexual harassment – the pathetic cat-calls that women have to put up with, the tooting of horns, the wolf-whistles and worse such as casual groping.  I am sure you’ve seen it and my female readers have experienced it.

The anti-page 3 campaigners should turn their attention to such petty but unacceptable behaviour from a small minority of men.

David Cameron Green Party TV Debates

David Cameron Is Right To Play Poker With The Debates

David Cameron is right to insist on the Green Party being represented in the debates.
He has now stated that he will not take part in the debates without them and he is right to do so.
It is plainly unfair for Ofcom to grade UKIP and the Liberal Democrats are major parties, without grading the Green Party as a major party.  The Green Party also has an MP and is polling slightly higher than the Liberal Democrats on average.
As I understand it, there will be 3 debates – one with the 4 leaders, one less Nigel and the final just Dave & Ed.  There is no reason why the Green Party cannot be the 5th party in the first debate.
79% of people want the Greens included.
This just stinks of the general media bias towards the Labour Party, particularly the BBC.
Of course the other main reason for wanting the Green Party involved in the same way that UKIP are involved, is that the Green Party will bleed votes from Labour, the same way that UKIP will bleed votes from the Conservatives.
For future elections, there needs to be an agreed minimal poll share, or some similar qualification for each stage of the leader debates.

Labour’s Dream NHS ‘Crisis’

I think it is about time instead of using the scare-story tactics of Labour on the NHS that we applauded the excellent work that our NHS does.

That the NHS is coming slightly short of its 95% target for A&E patients seen within 4 hours should instead be stated as a congratulatory message that 92% of patients into A&E are seen within 4 hours.

To me, that is pretty damn impressive.

Most other health services in the world don’t dream to meet such a target.  You can look close to home where Wales (under Labour) manage just 83%.

It is all the more impressive when you see this in the context of rising patient numbers to A&E.  In 2004 when the target was first set, there were 4,374,927 visits to A&E that year.  In 2014, there were 5,573,644 in total.  A 27% increase.

I repeat that I believe we should treat this as a success.

However there clearly is an issue.  I am not an expert on the health service.  I try not to use it unless strictly necessary (ie my mother tells me).  However with an aging and increasing population and the clear evidence that the exceptional A&E performance is perhaps only excellent now, along with empirical comments about the pressures, a discussion about the way forward should be held.

Labour should stop playing politics, such as their pathetic over-dramatised calls for an “emergency summit” and come up with some concrete proposals to improve the NHS.