Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The unholy trinity

As I road to work today I could see as the traffic slowed ahead a large red and white mess which was blocking the centre lane. At first I thought it must be a sheep, but given that this is an elevated section of a busy dual carriageway, even I realised this was unlikely. As it turned out, I rode past the dismembered remains of a swan...I've never seen that before. Plenty of road kill, but a swan is something different. I can't think how it happened, but would undoubtedly have left a very big dent on whatever hit it. Such a shame. Still that's one less for the Queen to count.

Cuba is one of those places that I, like many others, would love to visit. I'm a great admirer of what Castro tried to achieve, even if the reality is that he failed. He wouldn't have failed quite so badly if the US had not adopted a policy designed to bring down the communists, and doggedly sticks with it in its complete absurdity. Changing US policy to Cuba is one thing Obama could have done relatively easily, but as with all things has largely ducked the issue, as he has in the Middle East. So it is interesting that the younger Castro is now bringing about reforms that could bring Cuba into the twenty-first century...the promise of limiting leadership terms and probably most importantly to start allowing the buying and selling of property...although recent US and European experience may suggest that keeping a very tight reign on the whole thing is the only way to survive. Let's hope that the gradual reforms are enough to make this a peaceful process before the current leadership expires...history tells us that is unlikely, but then Cuba has done a lot to change history.

I may have mentioned my thoughts on the bankings sector before. Have I? I may even have mentioned my thoughts on the credit rating agencies - Moody's, Standard and Poors and Fitch's. This glorious bunch of criminals are the ones that decide how financially worthy an organisation, a financial product, a sovereign state is. They're also the ones that merrily gave first class ratings to the bundles of mortgages that were never going to be repaid and precipitated the current financial crisis. With their failings laid bare before us, it has staggered me that any one pays any attention to them. It wasn't just incompetence on their part, many would argue that it was a criminal conspiracy. After all, their clients are the banks - the very ones that gain from any changes in credit ratings...after all they charge more in interest to the less credit-worthy.

Last week, Moody's decided to downgrade the Irish Republic...in the face of very positive reports from both the EU and the IMF. And this week they followed this by downgrading further the Irish Banks to 'junk status'. This makes it more expensive for the Irish to raise money...increasing the likelihood of failure. Perverse on all levels, apart from the money markets who must be rubbing their hands with glee. The impact goes beyond the Irish borders,as once more the vultures are circling around Greece, and all the work of shoring up the Euro is being seriously undermined by these cowboys. Portugal could well be back in the firing line. Be sure that if one domino falls, the rest will follow suit...and we will be directly in the line of fire. That will mean crippling interest rates destroying any prospect of economic recovery and millions more unemployed.

And just to underline how these people operate, yesterday they issued a warning about the US, for its lack of a deficit plan, sending shares spiraling down around the globe. Potentially, that could devastate the global economy.

The question is why do we allow these people to have more power than Governments? Why do we give these private corporations which have been demonstrably incompetent, and perhaps criminally corrupt the power to devastate the lives of billions of people? Without question, they should be dissolved and replaced by an international body that doesn't have a conflict of interest, or commercial considerations, to do this job. Before it's too late.

Have a read about it on the BBC here

And here is an advert in memory of another fallen swan