Extra time

The fans were delirious

The boot goes in The boot goes in
The debate, if you can call it that, on what used to be known as global warming is confused. So we have the polar ice cap and various ice shelves shrinking at a rate never seen before while, at the same time, the coldest weather since records began is in full spate elsewhere. It's no good arguing or even reading up on this as you will almost certainly be reading the wrong sort of text. Far better to shift the goal posts and call it climate change then, whatever comes along can be both a vindication and condemnation of any view point you wish to hold. So it is with the economic crisis.

Recently in the House of Commons our unelected Prime Minister bellowed with a certainty that could come back to haunt him, "The debate about the use of fiscal policy is now resolved." Like hell it is. Gordon Brown may not have yet pronounced on the habits of polar bears, give it time though, there is an election coming, what he has done instead is 'fix' the credit crisis in the sphere of his own mind, which is the same as the whole wide world, so it's sorted.

Just a few days ago Brown was being accused of bullying the Germans. Many reports used either that description or one similar. This site picked up on a few of them and gave links to Bruno Waterfield (Telegraph) and Martin Kettle (Guardian) in the post 'An interesting match'. So that was that then, proved and sorted? Not a chance! Only a few days went by before Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph gave us an alternative view.

Evans-Pritchard laid out his credentials for us to check for bias; "This does not come naturally. My father insisted on German au pair girls during my childhood as his gesture towards post-War comity. I later did a stint at Mainz University dabbling in Kant (great) and Hegel (a fraud)."

All well and good so far, then, "But even Teutophiles who think that Germany has played an enlightened role for 60 years are losing patience with the antics of the finance ministry and Bundesbank, and with the dictatorial turn in Berlin's EU strategy."

Finally the boot goes in, "Put bluntly, Germany is pursuing a beggar-thy-neighbour policy. It is not fulfilling its responsibilities as the world's top exporter and pivotal power of Europe's monetary union. It is leaching off global demand, even as it patronizes Anglo-Saxons, Latins, and Slavs. No doubt binge debtors in the Anglosphere are much to blame for this crisis. But Germany rode the boom too. It made those Porsches and BMWs driven by the new rich. Its banks are among the most leveraged in the world."

All this from a man who as a boy skipped around as the au pair cleaned the house and for all we know while father hummed the Noel Coward song "Don't let's be beastly to the Germans." Hotter or colder right or wrong? We were shocked and confused, resolved? No it was not. Then Fraser Nelson in the Spectator waded in and we find that the Germans are in cahoots with Poland, Ireland, Japan and Canada in that some senior Ministers in these countries are not at all Brownite in their desire to borrow all it takes to restart the economy; or in Brown's case win an election. Oh dear! Back to the beginning is the only option.

The fact is each of the reports used as source material is correct but has its own focus, also each gives examples of Brown's fragile position. Waterfield introduces the element of the role of the UK ambassador complaining about the Steinbruck comments but also quotes Brown with, "Europe is fully united." If so what was the spat with Germany about then?

Kettle supports the heroic fiscal and practical moves the Germans have made in absorbing the old East Germany into the EU but also makes the point that Brown has "a politically dangerous degree of hubris."
Final whistle? Final whistle?
Much as Kettle would naturally welcome an ever larger EU, Evans-Pritchard points out that Germany wants this too. Rules are rules and yes the Germans just love rules except, it would seem, when their application hurts Germany. But then it is always so, with any country. Evans-Pritchard reminds us of the collapse of the Gold Standard of the 1930s with the quote,

"The rules of the game are that surplus countries should boost demand. The Gold Standard collapsed in the early 1930s because they – then the US and France – refused to do so. The burden of adjustment fell on deficit states, who had to tighten yet harder. The downward spiral dragged everybody into depression."

Ah the rules, well the US and France then and Germany now, if you don't like the rules don't sign up to them. Normally Evans-Pritchard is telling us how bad the EU is and we get that too, another quote from him:

"Worst of all is Germany's nefast role in dredging up the EU Constitution (Lisbon Treaty) after it had been rejected by French and Dutch voters. Having made one blunder, they are now making another by refusing to accept the Irish verdict as well. Why are they so maniacal about this? Because the treaty establishes German primacy in the EU's voting structure. This is raw national interest – camouflaged, of course."

All countries of the EU carry their national interests with them at all times as they go ducking and weaving through the zillions of rules the EU produces each year hoping that if any disadvantage may befall them it will be even greater for their partners. Just think of Brown and his cabinet assuming that the EU rules on emissions won't apply to their plan to expand Heathrow Airport, but they do.

Next up Fraser Nelson writing in the Spectator gives a list of statesmen who dare to disagree with the Brown plan for saving the world and being the Spectator makes the political point:

"Brown is still pretending that there is a consensus behind his way, and the Tories are isolated in being worried about the extra debt. So here are some quotes from around the world, showing how David Cameron is far from alone in his concern."

There is much to read here from Nelson but as this is supposed to be a global problem and, as our PM is such a star on the global stage, first the view of Jim Flaherty who is the Minister of Finance for Canada,

“Ongoing, unsustainable budget deficits are quite rightly unacceptable for Canadians. These structural deficits must never return… No one should ever expect us to be complacent about the risk of a deficit... We will not spend now to tax our children and grandchildren later.”

Japan could teach the world a thing or two about recession but would our PM listen?

Mr Kaoru Yosano the Economy Minister said, “That sort of voice won’t become loud. We are already deep in debt, so to create effective demand for instant pleasure would not be wise.” (First seen in the Financial Times, 1 December 2008)

So that's it then, just like our climate change debate it's go as you please, all are welcome and all shall have prizes, there is no right or wrong. Personally I'm still in sympathy with the Germans on this one about borrowing but much as our banks and financial systems begin to buckle under the strain of too much bad practice so will our political landscape change. Propping up bad banking inept political confederations and useless politicians had to come to an end sometime and now is a good a time as any.