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By TheophileEscargot (Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 04:22:18 AM EST) Reading, Theatre, Politics, Links (all tags)
Theatre: "Noises Off". Reading: "Stalin Ate My Homework". Euro summit. Links.

Saw a preview of Noises Off at the Old Vic. Superb, classic farce from Michael Frayn about a touring theatrical production of a terrible farce, which alternates between front of house and backstage action, showing how the tensions between actors manifest in the production.

Brilliantly funny, with a slow start building to an intricate mix of verbal and physical comedy. Very well played as the actors come into and go out of character. Totally worth seeing.

We paid £10 each for tickets along the side of the upper balcony with a bit of a restricted view. It's worth going for more expensive tickets if you can though, £20 gets you forward-facing seats at least.

What I'm Reading
Stalin Ate My Homework by Alexei Sayle. Interesting memoir of his childhood and adolescence in Liverpool, raised by members of the British Communist Party.

Pretty funny and very compelling. Has an elegiac feel later on as the cosy warmth of belonging to a subculture with a certainty of moral conviction starts to evaporate.

Eurozone Summit fallout
Deutsche Welle overview. VoxEU analyses the vague statements. BBC: How two-speed Europe will work. Spiegel: The Birth of a Two-Speed Europe. City fears over EU isolation.

Economist. Europe's great divorce . "That's not wielding a veto, that's called losing". The negotiations.

Commentary. Daily Mail Sarkozy snubs Cameron, Fabians: Cameron veto undermines Britain's future . New Statesman: EU treaty is a disaster for the left. Centre for European Reform: Britain on the edge of Europe Newspaper front pages. "PM has shown great political courage". Express: Britain close to EU exit.

I'm not sure what to think yet. The details are pretty sketchy and we don't really know what's going to emerge.

On the one hand, I have some sympathy for David Cameron, who had a very weak hand going in. While he's getting the blame for derailing a change to the Lisbon Treaty, it's not at all clear to me that that option was even feasible. It was a titanic struggle getting even the Lisbon treaty passed by every EU nation, and that was a minor technical change in a time of prosperity. Getting an actually substantial treaty change passed in a time of fear may well have been impossible, in which case Cameron is just the fall guy for something that was inevitable.

On the other hand, this outcome seems pretty terrible for everyone.

The Eurozone rescue efforts are now handicapped because they have to use new rather than existing treaties and institutions. What threatens the Eurozone threatens the UK. Much of our trade is with it: a recession there drags us down. The international banking system is fragile and interlinked: Eurozone bank crises will affect our banks even more than the US sub-prime mortgage fiasco did.

Single market regulations, including banking regulations, are set by qualified majority voting: there's no UK veto. While the point was theoretically to protect the City, there's a great danger now that the 17-26 "inner nations" will now agree regulations without any UK voice or consultation; then the whole EU will rubber-stamp it regardless of UK opinion.

City boys tend to think in the short term. Cameron has doubtless done exactly what they wanted in the short term, they'll be slapping him on the back that everybody's 2012 profits and bonuses are safe from a financial transaction tax.

In the long term though, this may threaten the City's status more than a deal. After slapping him on the back, his City buddies may well quietly, one by one, slip off to Frankfurt and Paris where they're closer to the centre of power, while London is gradually hamstrung by EU regulations.

(Note 1 for right-wingers. Leaving the EU wouldn't even help: the EEA nations and Switzerland still have to abide by EU regulations. They can't opt out of individual regulations, even the Swiss have only a theoretical opt-out of huge chunks of regulation governed by whole treaties.)

(Note 2 for left-wingers. I've seen some talk about how because the proposed deal limits national budget deficits for Eurozone members, it's a fundamental change to sovereignty. Don't forget that the old Growth and Stability Pact also supposedly limited national budget deficits for them. So the change is just that they might actually enforce it this time round.)

Economics. Australian Exceptionalism. Offshoring and Wages:

When we examine the effects of offshoring on wages for different knowledge groups, we find that offshoring has the largest positive effect on occupations that require communication and language (premium of +4.4%), followed by social sciences (+3.7%), and maths (+2.7%). The premium for natural sciences and engineering is close to 0. This may seem curious given the policy emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) education in many advanced economies, but if science and maths are universal languages, jobs requiring them can be done anywhere with an educated workforce.
Pics. Old London maps..

Video. Porn song (NSFW). 1980s video game addiction. Josh and Stephanie Explain New York City Subways. School portait.

Random. H&M Puts Real Model Heads On Fake Bodies. Rules of magic.

Articles. Londongrad.

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Man of Steel | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Australia... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 04:33:46 AM EST
Ignoring the private debts stats in the article after the recent financial crisis seems a little shortsighted.

Still, small population + natural resources + customers for the natural resources tends to do wonders for economic performance.
Much like Thatcher and North Sea oil. Or Norway.

Funnily enough, when I lived there, I agreed with cam that Australia was failing to actually build for internal prosperity. Now I think - well, why not be like Norway?

The piece on offshoring and wages... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 04:38:57 AM EST
is all at once very perceptive and very depressing.
It's a great illustration of the gap between micro and macro levels.

Not sure by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 05:18:46 AM EST
From a triage point of view, it seems to be things with a zero benefit might be the ones to encourage. Things with a strong positive are probably safe, things with a strong negative too hard to save.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
I wonder what Danish maths grads do by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #8 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 05:19:50 PM EST
Is it quantitative work, that requires close work with management or product development, or complex data analysis, and communication of that. If they were British jobs I would have guessed finance.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Eurozon Summit by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 07:44:40 AM EST
I haven't fully processed it. 

But what they're doing is to continue to forward the notion that the current sovereign debt crisis is a moral failing.  What I've read of the treaty modifications seek to solve the moral dilemma.  It doesn't do anything for the economic crisis and in the short term will make it worse.  Cutting government budgets in a depressed economy will further depress the economy and negatively impact government revenues.  Eventually the economy will recover.  The real question is how much pain you want to put the populace through in order to get to recovery.  You can make their situation much worse in the short term to get to the bottom quicker or you can ease the pain along the way.  There's the real moral failing. 

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Alexey Sayle by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #5 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 10:18:31 AM EST
Have a soft spot for him, didn't realize he was biographing now.

Euro - this does seem epochal but I find it really hard to read where it's going. The thing is EU institutions so far have fudged by in all sorts of explicitly illegal ways because it was convenient or it was sort of what people wanted it to do. (This is like much of organizational life really.) Eg the EU accounts not being signed off by auditors for over a decade. So if the consensus breaks down, it could well break down just like that - everyone mouthing platitudes and doing their own thing anyway. It's not at all cut and dried that this is even really a veto, as one of your links mentions.

Giving up fiscal or monetary stimulus as a policy option seems kind of insane though. I'm not even convinced it's someting "the markets" are demanding - they were quite happy to rally on the recent injection of liquidity. I guess an obvious step would be for the central institutions like the ECB and European Commission to take over the counter-cyclical spending role. It's not like Keynesian-style infra spending is alien to them. They could try to tie it to the economic cycle better.

Last note - Croatia has balls of steel joining now. Seems to be a case of the political class forging ahead without popular backing though. That doesn't taste very good. It probably is in their interest to be in, at least in normal times - they have a plenty of EU land borders and must be pretty well tied economically. Euro doesn't make any more sense for though.

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Woman of Kleenex by marvin (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 04:04:24 PM EST
Your title reminded me of a Niven short story.

Video game addiction video: by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #7 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 04:29:24 PM EST
I call bullshit. That woman's WAY too ugly to be Aussie.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

The Eurozone is a success by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #9 Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 06:24:46 PM EST
10 Has Germany gone to war with France over coal?
20 Goto 10

Me neither. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 08:19:27 AM EST
getting even the Lisbon treaty passed by every EU nation
Even if they had to vote twice, until the "right" result was achieved, in Ireland, the Netherlands and even in Labial France.

In the long term though, this may threaten the City's status more than a deal.

In short, no.  FTT is even conceded by the Eu authorities to be a bad thing.  If the EU superstate wants to cripple itslef by doing so, off you go.

That'll be more business for London then.  Don't forget that London is the springboard for NEAT (North Am, Euro and Asia) transfer, although that's looking more like ANET these days.

Acting outside the constraints of the EU has set a precedent.  Even if there's more taxation and useless regulation in the EU with regards the banking sector, expect the monied interests to negotiate around the EU.  Precedent, rememeber?

France is fucked and they know it.  Chermany has no appetite for assuming the role of saviour, so the bill was designed, from the start, that no Brit government could sign it.

Man of Steel | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback