I’ve become a bit of a fan of Prospect magazine if, for no other reason, than they have useless facts spotted in the media such as “the average weight of new members to WeightWatchers has risen from 12.3 stone (about 77kg) in 1989 to 13.7 stone (85kg) today” (Daily Mail, 24/08/09).
They also have some useful ones, such as “Americans are giving up their landlines at a rate of 700,000 per month. If this continues, the last cord will be cut in 2020” (the Economist, 13/08/09); and “General Electric is the only company remaining from the Dow Jones index of 1896. It had fewer leaders since then (eight) than the Vatican has had Popes” (Fortune, 05/04/04).
All good stuff and useful for presentations.
They also have interesting features such as the interview with Lord Turner, Chairman of the FSA last month, where he caused a furore by saying that some banking activity is “socially useless”. Tsk, tsk.
This month’s magazine continues that debate.
However, hidden on page 27, is this key column by Manneken Pis on EU matters:
“It seems inevitable that the Barroso II (European) Commission will be less committed to the free market than Barroso I. The focus of opposition to Barroso’s renomination as president was the accusation, chiefly emanating from France, that he is an ‘ultra-liberal’.
“One appointment he made five years ago has not served him well in particular. Charlie McCreevy’s term as internal market commissioner has been little short of disastrous for the cause of a deregulated Europe. (ed: how can Manneken say that when we have the PSD and MiFID here now?)
“The former Irish finance minister, a convinced free-marketeer, showed little interest in being in Brussels and even less in regulating financial services where, apparently, the market knew best. (ed: is the author taking the Pis?)
“Then came the crash … France wants the internal market but there is a complex interplay between who Paris will send and what job Barroso is willing to make available. The main contender is Michel Barnier, a former European commissioner and then foreign and agriculture minister in France.”
Oh Jeez, we’re gonna have flipping French tractor drivers blocking Canary Wharf next.
And it gets worse.
“There’s also talk of its current finance minister, Christine Lagarde.”
Bummer, there goes all of our bonuses too.
But wait, what’s this?
“One possibility is that France is offered internal market but without responsibility for financial regulation, which would be separated off into a specific portfolio. That, said one Eurocrat, would ‘allow the French to say they have got what they wanted, without actually giving it to them.’”
Thank goodness for political machinations and machinery, ay?