A year of progress? But towards what…?

Sorry dear readers, it’s been a while…..

So I just thought I would reflect a bit on any progress made over this year before we cruise along into next.

As a long-retired colleague of mine liked to say, “we’ve had an average year, worse than last, but better than next”…

Quite some frontpage news covered the return to growth of some European economies, however anemic that growth might have been. The UK was boasting about avoiding a double-dip recession when they announced with fanfare a 0.1% GDP growth. Not exactly great, but the need for good news is so high that we took it gladly, though no one was really fooled by the propagandist thoughts behind such a statistical outcome.

Anemic growth there is, however. But anemia is not exactly a sign of great health, is it?

European banks’ issues? Well, each time capital ratios and so-called acid-tests are performed on their balance sheets, the results come out worse, mainly due to the scope of wiggling-space that is used (and abused) to calculate real amounts at risk…

The EU has supposedly decided to set-up a formal body to assess banks and eventually close them down if necessary. Well, that will be yet another EU red-tape monster without much clout and political interference at each national level will make it kind of fun to watch. And the latest official estimates talk about 500 banks that would need to be closed. Who will pay? Oh, c’mon, let’s not get bogged down into details…..

Remember Cyprus? That has pretty much disappeard from the news! Was it solved? No, of course not, progress is “snailingly” slow (just made that word up). One possible outcome is that Russia, oups, sorry “Russian depositors” will end up owning one bank there, and owning a full-fledged EU Bank is an interesting “asset” to have. Going back through the various blogs on this one might bring a smile to your face. And it isn’t over yet, by far….

Budgetary deficits have had ups and downs, more ups than downs though; given the level at which they were, that was not too tough a target, but again lets take any good news we can get. Though the trends might not be tooooo bad, the budget deficits are still large by any measure, and that in an “austerity” mood that is hammering a large part of the population, compromising their well-being, their future and that of their children. You saw me coming, this brings us back to what I see as the hottest topic of our times: Youth Unemployment.

Much is said about it and the youth of today is often called the “lost generation”; of course by elderly “experts” who might have long forgotten what being young is all about. “Lost generation”? I don’t think so, as youth will by definition build one for themselves, by any means they see fit…. Hopefully, more through the ballot-boxes than in the streets, though most probably a strong mix of both.

So back to one of my favorite lines: Watch the next elections…..

Simon Q.

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