Archive for the ‘Euro’ Category

Love-Hate about the US-Europe

I have a long post simmering where I get into some of the things I don’t like about the US. Some apply to Europe as well, but that’s easy since Europe is basically a bunch of countries which have banded together because they finally figured out trying to kill each other made no sense. Although, there are a few people who still think it does. Part of this is due to watching (wasting a couple of hours) the first two episodes of something called “Tribes of Europe”. Europe has survived serious destruction without ending up like that series.

Portrait de la contesse Fouler de Relingue

Anyway, it sort of comes down to four things: food, culture, distance, caring for cities and countryside, and transport. We could get into the Oxford comma as well, but that is francophony-anglophony. The French will eat Grandma, but prefer their lovers….

I’m not sure I should make “head” jokes, but I am very certain some of my ancestors made it through the Terror. They were able to enjoy the bals des victimes, but they exited stage right when it came to Les Mis. I’m posting the cleaned up version of coiffure à la Titus which was popular post-terror. My race memory clicked on the painting by Guérin in the Louvre.

I don’t relate to US history and always thought that the Civil War monuments commemorated the Franco-Prussian War, which was the Civil War for me. My relations fought on both sides. A direct result was that my great-great-grandfather shipped his son off to the States to avoid Bismarck’s Army. It also set off a chain reaction of events which would lead to my being born in the US. The Second World War led to my father coming to the States.

The thing is that I can get the things I like in Europe in the States/North America, and some of the things I hate about the States exist in Europe. Although, it’s hard to get something vaguely like Europe’s history in North America. People in the US prefer the myth and have done a great job of wrecking the real history, but that is changing. Just not fast enough for my taste.

Still, I would prefer Europe to the States even if there were TGVs, the cities ended at defined boundaries, and there were really cool small towns out there that had restaurants that served exciting local food. As opposed to restaurants that are exciting because everyone is carrying guns–that’s not they type of excitement I mean. I left out more obvous old settlements. Places like Cahokia and Cahawba don’t do it for me since they were ethnically cleansed from history.

I didn’t get the Hudson Valley School of Painting and the concept behind it until I spent a lot of time on the ground (can’t make a good pun of “sur-le-champ”). But no matter what the appearance is, natural resources are limited. While the Americas have been populated for millenia, the cultures that populated them have been ethnically cleansed. Or are seen as a quaint. This quotation about the “First Thanksgiving” gets to the point:

One is that history doesn’t begin for Native people until Europeans arrive. People had been in the Americas for least 12,000 years and according to some Native traditions, since the beginning of time. And having history start with the English is a way of dismissing all that. The second is that the arrival of the Mayflower is some kind of first-contact episode. It’s not. Wampanoags had a century of contact with Europeans–it was bloody and it involved slave raiding by Europeans. At least two and maybe more Wampanoags, when the Pilgrims arrived, spoke English, had already been to Europe and back and knew the very organizers of the Pilgrims’ venture.

Most poignantly, using a shared dinner as a symbol for colonialism really has it backward. No question about it, Wampanoag leader Ousamequin reached out to the English at Plymouth and wanted an alliance with them. But it’s not because he was innately friendly. It’s because his people have been decimated by an epidemic disease, and Ousamequin sees the English as an opportunity to fend off his tribal rebels. That’s not the stuff of Thanksgiving pageants. The Thanksgiving myth doesn’t address the deterioration of this relationship culminating in one of the most horrific colonial Indian wars on record, King Philip’s War, and also doesn’t address Wampanoag survival and adaptation over the centuries, which is why they’re still here, despite the odds.

I found that while looking for this clip. I saw it when I went to the Smithsonian Museum of the Native American the day my application for European residency came through. The speaker is Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche).

Unfortunately, the westward expansion of the English Colonies meant ethnic cleansing of the Native Americans.

Anyway, Paul, my family is supposed to have been there for that First Thanksgiving, but it’s a lot more difficult for a European to move back than most people realise. And changing North America for the better is tough with monied interests blocking the way.

The Euro

The two best things about the European Union are the right of free movement and the Euro. Which is good since they sort of go together as it’s nice to not have to change currencies when you go from country to country. Imagine living in the US and having to change your money if you went from State to State: especially if there were drastic differences in value. Toss in the insult of having the coins thrown back at you even if they were significantly valuable (e.g, dollar, pound or Euro valued coins).

Despite this, only 19 of the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) have adopted the Euro as their primary currency and sole legal tender. Denmark (and the United Kingdom) opted out of adopting the Euro. It is also currency in a few of the “postage stamp” non-EU member States. Also, it’s used in some of the French overseas territories and the British Bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The latter may be the only part of the United Kingdom to use the Euro, but it would make sense since they are on Cyprus, which is an EU member and part of the Eurozone. Montenegro and Kosovo also use the Euro, but they originally used the Yugoslav Dinar and then the German Mark as their currencies.

I’m not going to get into the mechanics of how countries become part of the Eurozone, but most of the non-Euro nations are part of the former eastern block with the exception of Denmark and Sweden. And I actually spend a lot of them, even if I joke about never seeing them. But I never carried around much cash anyway. More so since Brexit.

The Euro Symbol (€) on your computer

I need this symbol since I use it a lot in correspondence.

Weirdly enough AltGr+4 produces the Euro Symbol (€) on my keyboard.

It seems that these are the ways to get the symbol:
AltGr+e – Works in most European countries
AltGr+u – Hungarian and Polish
AltGr+4 – UK and Ireland
AltGr+5 – US International, Greek Latin

Try it and see which one works for you.

Also, AltGr can produce some of the European accented characters (é,ú,í,ó,á).

I think this only works in Windows.

Posted 19/08/2014 by lacithedog in Euro, Euro Crisis, Euros, Microsoft Windows

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Cheering on the PIIGS in Euro 2012

I know this was taken BEFORE the Italy-Germany match, but…

While the starting mood of Euro 2012 was marred by accusations of racism from the hosts Ukraine and Poland, I found my behaviour was guided more by wanting to cheer on the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain), the countries being hit hard by the Euro crisis.

When I heard it was Germany v. Greece–I just wanted to Greeks to kick Germany’s arse so badly for all the austerity measures being foisted on the PIIGS. In fact, contrary to normal nature, I was cheering on the PIIGS whenever they went up against Germany.

Ultimately, it was Spain who beat Italy to gain the title while I would have preferred to see Germany duking it out with a member of the PIIGS for the title, but at least it was a member of the PIIGS who won!

One of my friends, who is an economist made sense of all this since he realised that subconsciously I was cheering on the underdogs in the economic Euro crisis.  Although, BBC’s World Have Your Say delved into this issue as well and I have to admit that yes, it is far more than just football.  So, maybe any tinge of Euroskepticism is illusory as I know full well that the Economic Euro also has to succeed for the European Union and Economy to thrive.  Deep down, I want to see the Euro thrive.

The EuroMess

I’m not sure how to describe the Great Euro Mess, but I have to agree with Micheal Portillo’s comment that it will be a long time in sorting out. That said, I’ve finally watched The Great Euro Crash with Robert Peston and Michael Portillo’s Great Euro Crisis. Both of these have been uploaded to Youtube and are available on the “non-official” sources for BBC material (that is non-iPlayer downloads) if you are interested or outside the UK.

I won’t say too much about Robert Peston’s piece other than it was a well done overview of how the whole mess happened. There isn’t as much analysis as much as history. The main point that one should take from Robert’s piece is that the European Union was to bring peace and prospertity through the economic union of Europe. Which takes us to the Euroskeptic Michael Portillo looking into the topic.

I have to admit that having a Euroskeptic deal with the topic of the Euromess is truly intriguing. I was told that it was well done by others who are keener on the EU than Michael. Although, I wanted to say take a look in the mirror when Michael makes his statement about not knowing what a European is (or looks like). Michael, You and I are EuroBrits (as is the Queen with her German background) if ever there were ones.

That said, I have to admit that seeing a non-US “conservative” is always a breath of fresh air. Unlike US conservatives who want to shout down the opposition, Michael was very open minded—especially when no one was willing to take him up on his Euro-Drachma/Euro-Mark challenge. Unfortunately, the single currency is the future for Europe, which having lived in Europe makes me say “Thank god!”

My best story was that I was at an antique market in Brussels’ Place du Grand Sablon and trying to figure how how much 32,000 Francs was in “Real Money”. The vendor thought I didn’t understand his trente deux mille and repeated it in English. I was tempted to reply, I knew how much it was in Francs, but how much is that in Real Money such as Pounds or US Dollars?  I can add in the joke about the woman who hires an armoured car with security guards to bring in a load of notes which after being labouriously counted for most of the day turns out to be worth 62p.  The main point is that a good, solid single currency is good for European trade.  Which the Euro was for a while until other causes set in.

Michael sees the problem as being totally related to just the single currency, which Roberts programme pretty much had debunked.  Although Michael’s points about the EU are somewhat valid.  Unfortunately, Austerity is not totally due to the Euromess since non-Euro countries (and non-European countries) are also tightening their belts.  Michael’s comment about the Greeks selling government assets seems to pale when one realises that the US is also trying to privatise government functions, which is more a political decision than an economic one.  In fact, I find it odd that a Tory would be against the single currency given its benefits for trade, while this lefty is defending it–as do most people whatever their political stripes.

Of course, reasonable people can disagree and somewhat see the other person’s point of view.  I have to bring the United States back into this discussion since Michael remains very civil throughout his programme. which US politics is not.  Michael and other Euroskeptics worry about the problems of Union in the United States of Europe, which given the two civil wars and lack of civility in US politics is a point which needs to be taken seriously whether you agree with it or not.  Of course, one needs to see the benefit of a union to realise that there are some sacrifices which need to be made.  Europe with its history of war realises that Union is necessary for peace and that union requires some compromise.

Now, why didn’t he say this in his programme?

Shooglenifty – A Fistful of Euro

I’m listening to the news where they are talking about people withdrawing millions of Euros–This came to mind–

On the back burner is Michael Portillo’s Great Euro Crisis from This World. The people who’ve seen it say it’s pretty interesting watching Eurosceptic Portillo’s opinion of the crisis.

Then again, I still have two series (2 & 3) of Great Railway Journeys to plow through!

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

One of my neighbours is a German (husband) and Greek (wife) couple, family arguments about finance have been over the topic of the Euro and Greek debt for the past couple of years rather than the usual financial arguments!

Anyway, there may be some peace in the household today with the announcement that this has been addressed. Although, it’s amusing how its been addressed, which is why I’ve titled this “Robbing Peter to Pay Paul”. One of the question I asked on my first quiz on MikeB’s blog was:

How much national debt is too much?

Which was a trick question, but entirely relevant to this solution. I would toss in the concept of “too Big To fail” as well, but the question ultimately is “who is too big to fail: the Governments or Banks?” Governments are adding more money to the pot, and banks have been told to increase their reserves in this solution to the Euro crisis.

And anyone who was dim enough to have lent money to these countries is getting a fraction of their investment.

The thing is that both government and the private sector are having to take a hit in this “solution”. “Solution” since it offers more questions than answers. Not to mention the failure of a few countries will effect the world economy. Which gets back to my too big to fail comment.

Who is too big to fail: Governments or the private sector?

I’ve wanted to post Michael Peston’s BBC Documentary Britain’s Banks: Too Big to Save? Although another good documentary is Inside Job. Ireland and Iceland were both brought to their knees by the excesses of their banking industries, yet the public ended up bailing them out.

Regulation is needed, but that means that we have another question which is who should regulate the banking/financial industry: the public or private sector? For most of its existence, the Bank of England was a private institution (nationalised in 1946) that worked to regulate the British economy. So, a private body can act as a “reserve” bank.

Of course, there are issues of control and transparency when one discusses whether such a body should be public or privately run.

Anyway, we now have a patch job of a solution to the Euro crisis–how long before another crisis occurs?

Posted 27/10/2011 by lacithedog in Banking, Banks, economics, economy, Euro, Euro Crisis