It Takes One To Know One

Clown

“Clearly a clown with a testosterone boost” himself, hapless Social Democrat chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck just got his dinner invitation cancelled by visiting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano after calling former premier Silvio Berlusconi and comic-turned-politician Beppe Grillo “clowns.” Which they are, of course. But that’s the point. I think.

Speaking of clowns, Germany, never forget that we Americans have a right to be stupid – and that we exercise this right regularly. At least when we’re big important non-elected government officials we do. No matter where we are. No matter what country we happen to be visiting. Imaginary or not.

“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In America you have a right to be stupid — if you want to be.”

Friedman’s Prophecy

I don’t believe in prophets. I’m very skeptical when it comes to economists of all flavors, too.

But when looking around at what’s going on here in Europe these days and considering how even the Spiegel itself now warns us about investors preparing for the euro collapse, I can’t help but wonder if Milton Friedman didn’t have a functioning crystal ball after all.

“There is no historical precedent for such an arrangement (the euro). It involves each country’s giving up power over its internal monetary policy to an entity not under its political control. Such a system has economic advantages and disadvantages, but I believe that its real Achilles heel will prove to be political; that a system under which the political and currency boundaries do not match is bound to prove unstable.”

So Much For That Shootout

I still don’t know who Gary Cooper was here, but Mario Draghi just went from “I will do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” (and buy up Spanish and Italian bonds) to “the ECB may consider” doing so at a later date.

Needless to say, the markets were not amused. Cherchez la femme, I’d say (and it ain’t Grace Kelly).

What’s the hold up? Germany, perhaps. During a press conference afterwards, ECB vice-president Vítor Constâncio noted that only one member of the ECB was adamantly opposed to bond purchases. This seems to be a reference to Germany’s Bundesbank, which had vigorously opposed a central-bank bailout of Spain and Italy. And even though the Bundesbank doesn’t have a direct veto over ECB actions, it seems Germany, as the richest country in the euro zone, still has plenty of sway.

“For all the criticism of Merkel, she distinguishes herself from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic in that she has a plan.”

Humanitarian effort here? Nein Danke!

In Libya, maybe. But only if you ask nicely.

Uh oh. Germany is lecturing about responsibility again (immigrants from North Africa are trying to make their way to Europe for some strange reason these days and the EU is showing EU solidarity again).

Germany criticized Italian officials for undermining the Schengen Agreement, which established passport-free zones, and said Italy should handle the immigrants on its own.

“Within this European solidarity, it is necessary for each individual country to first face its responsibility,” Germany’s interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, said in a television interview.

Libya: Frankreich reagierte mit Spott auf Deutschlands Pläne: Die Bereitschaft Berlins zu einem humanitären Hilfseinsatz in Libyen sei wie eine “mündliche Nachprüfung”, sagte Verteidigungsminister Gérard Longuet am Dienstag vor der französischen Nationalversammlung.