Monday, April 30, 2012

A Spring contrast

In Tallinn Spring is slowly advancing into Summer. The Sun begins to offer some warmth and the days are growing long.


In London the weather is less good. The rain and storms, that seem inevitable once a drought is declared, are clearly depressing the national mood. In the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic games, the national mood still remains rather bleak.


Although the local elections will probably be a nasty mid term shock to the coalition government, the elections that really matter to Britain are happening elsewhere. The likely change of government in Paris may see significant changes in French policy- and the demise of the Sarkozy part of the "Merkozy" partnership may simply be the prelude to a change in government in Berlin next year.


Europeans have grown weary and disillusioned with the austerity program that has been imposed at the behest of the right wing-led government in Germany. The meltdown in Spain and the continuing crises in Greece and Portugal leaves few in the Eurozone immune. If Germany will not agree to fiscal transfers, which it unilaterally deems unconstitutional, then since no other transfers have democratic legitimacy, the result will be the evisceration of the banks in Germany and France (and the UK) that retain their exposure to the southern Eurozone.


There are no good choices for dealing with the crisis, and still the UK remains in the firing line, despite its independent currency. Indeed the slowdown of the UK economy is coming partly as the result of the steady appreciation of Sterling against the Euro over the last year.


As Mervyn King told David Hale during the 2010 general election campaign, those who won that election have taken on a poisoned chalice- and many will view the UK local elections as a striking testimony to that possibility.


Yet it may not be so.


The UK has begun to restructure- and the political pain is still being  inflicted, yet as the British debt levels begin to level off, there is already some benefit. Confidence in Sterling is strong, despite economic numbers that are comparable with the weaker Eurozone members. The coalition remains stable and its application of policy-  whether you believe in the policy or not- is consistent. It may even be that the UK, far from undergoing a double dip recession, is actually growing faster than recorded, and growth may be more robust still.


So as the storms envelop the country in gloom, it is worth considering that the crisis, as with the weather, may yet improve. 


Meanwhile in Estonia, the sun begins to shine more brightly and the better weather leaves us- to coin a phrase- with a spring in our step.   

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