I was delighted to read last week's news that from 2016, Winston Churchill will be the new face of the fiver (five pound note, about $7.50, if you're reading this in the US). Now, my reaction isn't surprising, given that I wrote a book about Sir Winston. But it goes far beyond my appreciation for the man who led Britain through her darkest hour and into her finest.
Why is it that I always seem to have to write these pieces just before some binary event or other, usually of Eurozone origin, meaning that by Tuesday (in this case), I could look extremely foolish?! Oh well here goes: my feeling is that the Cypriot crisis will fade from memory over the next few weeks and won't lead to wider Eurozone contagion. There - I've said it.
Brussels have decided the unravelling of the Euro and the wider European Project is unthinkable; in order to save the post-World War II consensus, principles and agreements are now void. The euro must be saved at all costs. Merkel has resigned to accepting the end will justify the means; a banking and political union must occur, regardless of the path of misery that awaits the periphery.
Yesterday a man decided that the pound's value against the euro and the dollar was 'just about right'. As a result, the pound stopped weakening against the euro and the dollar, as it has been doing so for several months. I was disappointed. I get paid in euros so I benefit from the pound being weak.
The public excitement around the England team will take something really special in the difficult conditions of Brazil to restore it to anything like its previous scale. Still, if we finish the year having beaten Scotland at Wembley, plenty will be happy enough. Maybe actually the FA's 150th anniversary fixture list is inspired after all, by the management of low expectations?
IMF economists have finally acknowledged what politicians have long denied. They have shown that austerity policies implemented by politicians and demanded by financial markets are severely damaging to what economists define as 'growth'. Ultimately, argues the IMF, these policies are self-defeating. As most thinking people now recognise, rather than repairing the broken and bankrupt economies of the world, austerity is making matters worse.
Setting a budget is a difficult exercise at the best of times. Even when money is plentiful, it is never unlimited, so tough choices have to be made. Now imagine 27 countries, all with their own of difficulties and preferences, having to decide about billions of euros for a seven-year period in the midst of the biggest economic crisis since the great depression.