Jacques and the Euro beancounters

Because it is nearly Christmas, today we have a fairy story.

Once upon a time, not so long ago,  Jacques was a French farmer who lived with his mother. Their farm was not providing them with a decent living, and poor Jacques struggled every day to provide for the family.

Jacques was not stupid. He has heard the old English fairy story of Jack and the beanstalk. He was  not going to sell his last cow for magic beans, as he is not sure he believes in those. Nor does he like the sound of the giant very much, even though the giant’s hatred was specifically reserved for Englishmen, which Jacques can understand. There is no guarantee, thought Jacques, that he would like Frenchmen much more, or that the giant’s wife would be successful in hiding him.

One day Jacques could not get his sums to add up at all. He went to his mother and said he had been offered the chance to share their money and currency with the Germans over the border. He thought this could be a good idea. He pointed out that the Germans had plenty of gold. They seemed much richer than Jacques and the other French locals. If we joined the Germans, Jacques, said, we surely would be able to share some of their wealth and success. It was even rumoured that just like the old giant in the story, the Germans had a goose that laid golden eggs. Maybe they would share it with him.

His mother was sceptical. She didn’t like the Germans very much, because she heard bad things about them in the past. Jacques soon put her right. Modern Germans, he said, are very different. They are nice people now. They do want to help. They have said we can share our currency. They are not like old Blunderbore the giant.

His mother was won over. She consoled herself by thinking, at least my son doesn’t want to give our last cow away for a silly magic bean like Jack in that old tale. Maybe there is something in what he says. She didn’t have a better answer to how they could make a living, and the thought of all that German gold was very enticing. She didn’t really believe they had a golden goose, but she had read of big German gold hoards. There was no telling how they had got those.

So Jacques and all the other locals agreed to share their currency with the Germans. The Germans wanted to do it, as they could then sell many more of all those wonderful things they made so  well to all the other people in their currency zone. it meant they could sell more and save all the profits.

       The others  lived well for a few years, mainly by borrowing money to spend whenever they wanted to. Being associated with the Germans meant they could suddenly get cheap credit. They all wanted to buy lovely new German motor cars, which they did by borrowing.  Then one day when Jaques went to the bank to borrow some more so his family could have a holiday, the bank manager said No. He said the Germans were not sending him the money he needed to make all the loans, which had proved ever so popular.

Jaques went home and told his mum and friends. They said he would have to go to see the big German bank manager, and ask him nicely to keep sending the money to their local banks. After all, they did all share the same currency and had all agreed to look after each other.

So Jaques set off the see the German bank manager. He didn’t really believe the manager would be anything like the giant in the story, but as he got near to the office he thought he heard someone with a loud voice chanting

Fee fi fo fum
I smell the blood of a Frenchman
be he alive or be he dead
I’ll not part with my gold to buy his bread

That was probably all in Jaques imaginings, but when he got into the office a very polite normal sized bank manager confirmed that Germany was no longer willing to send lots of money to help everyone else in the currency zone. He said charity began at home. He said the Germans had worked very hard and had earned their gold. They did not have a magic goose that laid gold eggs, contrary to rumour. He was being kind by telling them there was no more money, so they could turn too and work harder. That had made the Germans more prosperous and so it should them.

So there was no golden goose after all. Or if there was, the Germans were being nasty and would not share it. If the Germans were right that they had got all that gold by hard work, how were Jacques and his French friends to catch up? The Germans said they had made all their gold by selling things to all the other people in their currency zone. The French couldn’t do the same because the Germans had already satisfied the market. Now the other people in the currency zone, like Jacques himself, had run out of money and could not buy lots more goods. Only the Germans could afford to buy more goods, but they refused to.

So what were Jaques and all the others to do? They had relied on all that German gold. Some of them really thought the Germans did have a golden goose. Some were morally indignant that the Germans did not want to send them any more. They thought the least the Germans could do, having taken so much money from them in the past for the goods they sold, would be to send some of that money back.

This fairy tale could have a happy ending. Some say the Germans relented and sent Jaques and the rest some of the German gold and they all lived happily ever after. Some say the whole area found a golden goose after all. It was a modern kind of goose called quantitative easing, so they could simply print enough money for everyone. Some say the Germans dug in saying if necessary there would be the break up of the currency. The others all had to go back to their farms, cut their costs and try to make a living after years of neglecting the hard work they needed.

I can’t tell you the ending, because, you see, this fairy tale is not yet over. Perhaps you can help me by telling me your idea of how we can end it happily.

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53 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    They all went and ended up living in a kibbutz.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibbutz

    Do I win a prize ?

    Reply No!

    • Mark B
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Well, bha humbug too you ! :¬)

  2. Brian Taylor
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    The good people who ran the EU at last saw the error of there ways and decided to turn the euro zone in to a Common Market so they could all buy from each other, with no cost to all the nations in this new free trade area all the people who worked for the EU went back to there own countries and made the goods that we sell to each other!
    This proves that turkey’s do vote for Christmas.
    Happy new Year!

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      That certainly is a fairy tail ending, about as likely as Cameron winning an overall majority in 2015, renegotiating something of value with the EU, and then granting the electorate a fair referendum on the issue.

      • johnb
        Posted December 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        Or any single one of the aforesaid.

      • bigneil
        Posted December 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        errrr – - have you hit the xmas booze already? – -have one for me !!

  3. John Doran
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Hi John, hope you’re well.

    A lovely tale, & timely too.

    What I think happens is that the Germans get nervous about all the QE magic, for fear that it will not work. They fear that it will turn their currency into monopoly paper money, & that they might need to buy wheelbarrows to go to the local shops to get a loaf of bread. Some of the German Grandmas had memories of this happening before.

    So the nervous Germans asked their good friends, the Americans, to return a huge stock of gold, which they were looking after for the Germans. Lo & behold, their good friends refused. “You can have your money back in 8 years” The stern reply came. The Germans looked at their erstwhile Yankee buddies & saw that they were no longer the vigorous pink cheeked youths, who had come to their aid some years previously. They had not aged well. They had become overweight & were imbibing overmuch. There were even dark rumors they were partaking of the forbidden magic poppy.

    The Germans stepped back, & looked again at their old friends. The Yankees had given up working hard themselves, a good few years back. They were now getting mostly all their donkey work done by (words left out ed) beings from far away overseas, who were enslaved to their priests & the priests harsh religion, & thus worked extremely cheaply, for, well, slave wages. Despite the Americans preaching loudly in their own temples about the blessings of their own religion, freedom & democracy, the Germans noticed that the Yankee donkeys in their own back yards were looking decidedly ratty. With little or nothing to do, many had taken to rather dubious habits, fighting amongst themselves, being nasty & yes, there were many of them also indulging in the forbidden poppy.

    So the Germans withdrew to their own country, & being a logical people, & hardworking also, they decided that their first step should be to establish the exact nature of the problem, & then the solution would be clearer. So the Germans had a get together, all round a cosy campfire, & those too far from the fire built their own little fires, & kept in touch via the magic long range speaking tubes, which some uppity youngsters had invented recently, & given away free to the world. Oh how the Yankees had roared & screamed when that had happened!

    “It’s against The Religion! They don’t realise they should have patented it & charged everybody for using it, forever & ever!” the Yankees had railed. “The rest of the World’s gone mad.” They had said.

    “So what’s the problem?” Said one German, warming his hands at the flame. “Why won’t they give us back our Gold?”
    “Because with our own Gold, we’d be more independent, & they don’t want us independent.” Said another.
    “Why not, they can’t be afraid of us anymore?”
    “No indeed, it’s not us with the Corporal’s Disease now”, one said.
    “Yes, they’re the one’s who’ve bred all those specialist Fatboys, & are dashing around like loonies, sitting on everybody.”

    A glum silence fell over the campfires, as all the Germans remembered the time of the Corporal’s Disease.The Yankees had sent their dumb & indoctrinated Fatboys to sit on the Germans, the Cold People had sent their most savage Fatboys, & the grim Brits had sent theirs. It had been horrific times, the most shameful times ever.

    There was no desire around the German campfires for a repeat of those times.

    “It’s the desire for power, isn’t it?” Came a small distant voice.
    Around this far campfire, the sparse number gathered made a circular motion with their right hands & then a languid throwing gesture.

    They were Frodos, & the gesture signified casting the Golden Ring Of Power into the volcano. Around the many fires, most paid no heed to this remark, for most people do not hear the siren call of Power. Most indeed, even at this gathering, were thinking of work, wives, children, husbands, parents & other family, friends & lovers.

    And this is the right way of the World.

    End of part one. Tea break.

    • Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Then the Yankees fessed up and said that a lot of the gold had gone to the Far East.

      So Jacques went on a long trek to see the Chinese bank manager.

      “Sure I’ll help you out. We’ll buy your farm from you and lots of other French farms and you can work the land for us. However, that’s only once we are finished buying up lots of African mines.”

      Meanwhile, the eu fairy called for more paternity leave

      • Bazman
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        More time off for new fathers. You can be sure the directors will have extra time off. Is that more silly than a bond for anyone travelling abroad? Would it also apply to businessmen and politicians or even yourself?

  4. petermartin2001
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately I can’t see any happy ending. There are two ways for the EU to function successfully. But the present way isn’t one of them.

    The first way was as it was before the introduction of the Euro. Everyone had their own national currencies and traded freely among themselves. That is the model of the EU the UK voted to join.

    The second way is to have a much stronger European Government with a system of surplus transfer between the richer and poorer States. That would require a Federal Budget of something like the same proportions as in the USA . Maybe 20% or so. All income tax could be collected Federally and distributed to the States. That is what happens in the USA and internally within countries like Australia , and even Germany itself, too.

  5. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    “The Germans wanted to do it, as they could then sell many more of all those wonderful things they made so well to all the other people in their currency zone.”

    No! the Germans were promised that they would never ever have to lend money to anyone else – another broken promise. No wonder they are so angry!

    PS I should have liked something about the Chinese elves that made magic things too…

  6. Acorn
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    It’s “Fee Fi Fo Fum”, an old English / Nordic “galdr” charm based on the rune Fehu.

    Anyway, the ECB discovers Quantitative Easing (QE) and they all live happily ever after. At the same time, in Germany, a couple wins its version of Strictly with the goose-step!

  7. Bert Young
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Jacques said “Thankyou” to his Bank manager and returned home to his mother who was now looking desperate and hungry . He thought ” I shall go to the forest and see if I can find some food ” . On the way he met another giant creature with prickles all over its back , a wart at the end of its nose and turned up toes in high heels , “Who are you he demanded ?” , ” You speak the same language as I do and your perfume smells just like the stuff I bought in Paris ” , he continued ” Can you help me feed my mother, she is not well ?” . In a very gruff voice with hints of grace and favour the monster replied , ” I sympathise with your plight and great sadness over your mother , I too have memories of your country and the days when everything was rosy, I believe I can help you “. At this point she put her hands together , closed her eyes and prayed for a very short time ; pulling out a mobile pone from her large pouch she said in a foreign language with an accent very similar to Jacque’s , ” Bon jour , it is Christiane here , please send messages to Germany and to my Italian friend in Brussels , to open up their bags of gold and give some immediately to my new friend Jacques who is in desperate trouble , his mother needs help ” . The monster then turned and said to Jacques , ” There you are , instead of eating you for my petit dejeuner , I have taken sympathy with you and decided to pull a few strings to make sure more bags of gold can be opened up for you to dig into “. Jacques looked at her in amazement and watched the monster turn on her high heels and strut off into the forest . He turned around and dashed back home to his mother . ” Mother I’ve done it ” he cried , ” We can go on feeding to our hearts content and continue to dig out gold from many more bags to come “. His mother gazed at Jacques , sipped from her large mug of black coffee and then said ” Thank goodness we can look forward to more days of good food and wine without having to worry whether nous avons the money to pay for it ” . She patted Jacques on the head and thought , ” One day he will grow up to be a great President “.

  8. Nick
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    John and the beancounters.
    ===================

    Nothing like a magic money tree in the UK. You pay into the cargo cult and John will deliver you a pension. Except that its like the Alice in wonderland. Is there a debt, or isn’t there a debt. A word is what I mean it to mean said John. One day its a promise, next day its not the way it works. One day its a pension, next day its welfare. One day its an entitlement, next day its means tested. One day its on the books, or is it off the books.

    In the strange world of quantum physics where you can’t tell what’s going on until you measure it, politicians are conning you for fear of the consequences.

    The consequences are dire. 30% of the people in the UK would be starving in one month without the cash coming in, they don’t dare cut. However, giving the 8,000 bn debts rising faster than taxes, they are going to be forced to cut, and not pay.

    So the game is to keep the axe man at bay. Like the old game of pass the parcel in the local mosque/belfast pub, their only hope is to avoid the axeman or the rope when it blows up.

    In my life time I will get to see MPs (losing their seats? ed), because people like John have bottled it on the debt and chosen to keep it secret.

    As usual, the poor have the most to lose.

    Reply I have set out the full debt before so stop spreading lies like this.

    • APL
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      JR: “I have set out the full debt before so stop spreading lies like this.”

      Math not lies.

      You have an increasingly aging population, thanks to the pill, abortion a declining young population.

      Yet your entitlement programs are all based on more tax from the young – people that don’t exist. Or at least not in the numbers required to sustain the ponzi scheme.

      Solution? Immigration.

      Problem? Many immigrants don’t earn enough to pay much tax, so that isn’t going to work out.

      Many immigrants are welfare claimants and they are taking more out of the system than their compatriots are putting in.

      Result? Collapse and very unpleasant civil unrest.

    • bigneil
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      agree that the poor lose most – -the rich will make sure of that – -what is going to be the cost of importing thousands of non contributing foreigners -and who will still be here when pension age beckons? – and how can ANY MP say it is a correct policy to let in thousands to go and add onto the NHS, schooling, housing and benefits bill – -of course it will be the poor who pay-the govt will increase taxes for the people at the bottom – -just to pay for the screw ups. – the rich will award themselves an 11% rise and claim more expenses for the electricity for stables etc.

      firmly believe the rich want us back to lords and serfs/peasants. – we can all doff our flat caps to the rich as they hurtle past on the HS2

  9. Leslie Singleton
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    John–That was brilliant and amusing but there is one point that always stands out with me on anything like this and it is the emphasis on “hard work”. It is not by any means (just) hard work that makes the Germans successful and the French less so. There is the question of who has made the correct or the more correct decisions, macro and micro. I do not think Germans are inherently more intelligent but at least from this point of view their forced rebuilding after WWII had a huge effect, in particular their setting up of Trade Unions (ironically as advised by us) in a sensible way. The changes needed are of such magnitude that they will never happen voluntarily, which is very worrying if you think about it.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The Gold, The Gold, where did it come from, does it exist at all ?

    The little Frenchman went back in history to try and find the truth, how had the Germans got all that Gold.

    Going through his collection of books he came across the history of a certain Farmer Brown, a rather smug Englishman who years ago pretended he had all the answers to everything, even boom and bust.
    What had happened to him, where was he now, what was he doing, indeed it was even written that he had saved the Banks so great were his powers at the time, so he research further.
    Yes indeed farmer Brown did exist and yes he was from GB but he was not an Englishman at all he was a canny Scotsman, and indeed he did have plenty of gold when he had inherited his fathers estate, but he also appeared to have lost it all in a casino type auction by placing his bet on future predictions, which turned out to be a grave error.
    However another Scottish man was now promising riches to the Scotish people if they could seperate themselves from those nasty English rulers.
    I wonder if he has the answer he thought as he daydreamed further.

    But

    It would seem from history that the Germans had placed the correct bet at the same casino, and hoovered up all of farmer Browns gold along with many other leaders of Nations, and so they to had been left destitute, along with millions of the population, and they were all now in the very same position as the French farmer looking for profitable work.

    Then the French farmer had a thought, if I could simply borrow a local French farmers Bull to mate with my cow on a regular basis, both of us farmers could share the new born calves and grow a new heard each, it may take some time, but it would cost absolutely nothing except perhaps a little food in the winter, but then we could be proper farmers again, get back to what we know best, and perhaps then even say up yours to the Banks and all of the other parasites that always seemed to want a share of the action.

    So that is what he did, he went right back to basics, used his farming knowledge to the full, and do you know what, he does not need the Banks or Politicians to make rules for him at all any more, he is totally independent and thus ignors all of the rules still played out by those who have lost the ability to think for themselves, and who are still searching for that illusive pot of gold at the end of the promised rainbow..

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      sorry if its a bit long, but I thought it a very relevent storyline.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        A happy ending too, all done by commonsense and no borrowing of money.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        Guess it must have been censored for being too long, but thought it would be ok, as it was not as long as John Dorans good effort which was published.

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    The end of the story is this: the Germans rather crossly reminded Jacques and the other Frenchmen that it was their leaders who had insisted on sharing the same money because they were afraid that the newly re-united Germans would be too powerful and might turn nasty again; but as the Germans had been persuaded to accept that proposal against their better judgement they would now see it through to its proper conclusion with what they themselves thought of as being typically German thoroughness, a quality on which they prided themselves; and that meant that the same money must be used not only in France and Germany but in every other part of the new country called “Europe”, including its offshore islands; and if anybody objected they should get themselves a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word “single”, as in “Single European Currency”.

  12. Tad Davison
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I could tell a story about Barney and the Bean Counters, or perhaps the absence thereof.

    RT reported yesterday that the Pentagon has effective misplaced trillions (no, not a misspelling) of dollars since 1995 and nobody seems to know where the money has gone to. Could be that some fairy has performed some magic trick and made it disappear, but more likely it has been swallowed up in funding for black ops and the like, and has gone into the pockets of people who perhaps don’t really need it. The poor old US tax-payer meanwhile is kept in the dark and given the mushroom treatment.

    Our own MOD used to be run that way with more black holes than the Milky Way and Andromeda put together. But my wish for the new year is much more transparency and accountability in the workings of our own government, and a distancing if not a detachment from a so-called ally who has been involved in more wars, incursions, and mass slaughtering, than any other nation on planet Earth, just so they can preserve their
    ‘national interests’. It is still not fully understood by some, why America’s oil should be beneath someone else’s sand.

    In the final analysis, the beans that really matter most, are the dead people of this planet who have lost their lives unjustly and unnecessarily, buy hey, who’s counting?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  13. forthurst
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Missing paragraph in Jacques’ story:

    In order to ensure a great victory for the Bolsheviks so that they could take over the whole of Europe including England, the English decided to help them (the English are easily gulled into fighting other peoples’ wars, they do it all the time) by bombing all the Germans factories into rubble, and then after the Yankees had won the war and prevented the Bolsheviks taking over all of Europe, they paid for the Germans to built bright new factories and fill them with shiney new machine tools, thus they were soon able to make the best cars which everybody including Jacques wanted to buy; the Germans became so good at building cars that they needed new markets where people could afford to buy them, but how? They agreed that the miserable pail of milk which Jacques’ cow produced every morning would be worth the same as gold, so Jacques could easily buy those shiney German cars that he so envied. Then the naive and pompous Englishman, Mr Grocer decided he wanted to join Jacques’ new club; he wanted to join so badly that the Germans and French decided that he could only join if he agreed that the English would have to stop buying cheap agricultural produce from their compatriots abroad, but would have to buy them instead from Jacques’ farmer friends, and that they must stop producing so much milk themselves because the Germans could not afford to pay for their milk in gold as well; furthermore, the English would have to hand over their ancestral fshing grounds so that their fish could be all hoovered up by Continentals, and open their markets to French and Italian cars as well as German in order to assist Mr Red Robbo destroy the English car industry.

    Much later, a lot of other countries with farmers like Jacques were allowed to join Jacques’ club because the English, being very stupid, thought this was a good idea. The Germans then said that they could not afford to pay so much for all the milk, including Jacques, that their new enlarged estate produced. So instead of buying a lot of overpriced milk, the Germans decided to lend large sums of money to their enlarged peasantry.

    How did it end? Everybody became very unhappy: the Germans became unhappy because they realised that in order to sell their cars they had to lend back all the money they made from selling their cars, so they were working very hard for nothing; everbody else became unhappy, because the germans were so good at making everything that everbody else who was not a farmer like Jacques became unemployed, and the whole system was being run by a faceless and unaccountable bureaucracy in Brussels which made people wonder whether the Bolsheviks had taken over the whole of Europe, afterall. The system set up by Jacques’ government with the Germans started to collapse as the huge armies of unemployed people everywhere decided that the best way to keep warm (Brussels had declared that only windmills could be used for making electricy which surprining only rotate when the wind blows) was to have a good riot.
    Then the armies of the unemployed converged on Brussels and stormed the Berlaymont, and the rest as they say, is history.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I didn’t realise it was going to be that long.

  14. Anonymous
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    The ‘modern’ goose wasn’t a goose at all. It was a duck – a heart attack in feathers only good for its cooking fat.

    Overinflated bread de-basted (debased ?) in the oven with bit of quackative squeezing.

  15. Neil Craig
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    The story might apply to Pedro & Luigi and Theo but the French have a hidden hoard even better than gold & one Heinrich doesn’t like either – uranium reactors that provide them with cheap power and all their neighbours, including England, with less cheap power.

    That is why the French are still doing relatively well compared to the PIGS countries or indeed Britain, while giving themselves a 35 hour week and a lot of tax.

  16. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    At home Jacque’s mother loved all her children more than life itself and she had steadily been working to provide comfort and security for the next generation. She had watched , toiled and had observed the break up of families, the lack of love, the many wars, the greed and selfishness and knew that the only way was to look after one’s own , for without love and the responsibility for ones own, nothing grows. Then alas, times twists made all mutually distrust. Mother had no defense against moral corruption. She cried when “Many left their bodies to the kites of Syria” she wept when “Many left their souls in Syria” .She understood the perpetual struggle between good and evil and hoped that her children would not search for fools gold as a substitute for happiness.

  17. ian wragg
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    It will end in tears John just as the next election will for the Tories. People will only be conned for so long.
    Only 9 days to go and the LIBLABCON is toast.
    Now a rendition of “Oh Come All Yea Faithfull”.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      As the present ‘recovery’ could well be a holding off – to hand over a poisoned chalice to Labour in 2015.

      Will anyone stand for Britain rather than party politics ?

  18. JoeSoap
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Jacques decided to insult the Germans by telling their bank manager that when he got angry because Jacques wanted to steal their gold, he looked as though somebody had inserted a digit into his back side. At this stage it became clear that Jacques had resulted to personal insults, and the remainder of the world supported the Germans who were correct in keeping their gold and outraged that they had been personally insulted again.

  19. cosmic
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Jacques’ fairy godmother rolls up and declares that there are no French and Germans, just EU citizens living in different regions of the EU. Then she waves her magic wand and it’s so; a thousand years of history vanishes. All these problems which hinge on there being French and Germans suddenly don’t exist. Then they all live happily ever after, at least as happily as citizens of the USA live with differences between the states.

    The crux of this fairy story is that there are French and Germans who stubbornly identify themselves as French and Germans and are not about to stop doing that any time soon. They don’t routinely regard themselves as EU citizens who happen to live in different parts of the EU. Attempting to ignore that, or bring it about union with trickery, creates tensions. Of course, given a fairy godmother with awesome powers, these are slight problems.

    While she was about it, she could knock off another few problems. She could set up a factory making 7 league boots which would ease transport problems no end. She could construct a generator which produced more energy than was needed to turn it, so it could power itself by running an electric motor to turn it and produce a surplus.

    If that was too much, she could just create the plans for a working fusion reactor.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      I believe it was the realisation that there was no such fairy godmother that led the EU to first adjust and then abandon a question it used to ask in all Eurobarometer surveys, about whether you felt more European than German etc etc.

      Eg from the autumn of 2004, on page 94 here:

      http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb62/eb_62_en.pdf

      across the then 25 EU member states, only 3% of respondents said “European only”, while 7% said “European and NATIONALITY”, 47% said “NATIONALITY and European” and 41% said “NATIONALITY only”.

      Which is reminiscent of the situation in Yugoslavia before it broke up; in the 1981 census, only about 6% of the population chose to identify themselves as “Yugoslavs”, and as the federation started to disintegrate that dropped to 3%.

  20. Rods
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m in poetic mood:

    The End Of The Euro…..

    There was a happy ending, as they saw the error of their deeds.
    Let each country have a currency, to meet the people’s needs.
    When they scrapped the beastly Euro, the people did rejoice.
    Once again there was joy and optimism, in their collective voice.
    They had believed their politicians, so it wasn’t all their fault.
    Now lets this get this job a finished, with a Eurobond default.

    The dark abandoned factories, where a Euro profit could not turned.
    To keep a warm in winter, they had all been burned.
    New factories sprang up in their place, industry again at the fore.
    The people were making things and profits, like they did before.
    The new workers were making money, which they tucked under their belt.
    The Drachma, Lira and the Punt were the source, of this new found wealth.

    There were many winners, which brought great happiness and joy.
    But in the vast happy crowd, were a very unhappy girl and boy.
    The German’s were not happy, it was plain for all to see.
    This messy split from the Euro, they just could not all agree.
    They was much in the way of protest, and they did make many a boo.
    Their Eurobonds were useless and were told to forget about TARGET2.

    To John and all the contributors of here have a great Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2014.

  21. uanime5
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Jaques realised that the Germans weren’t the best in every field in the common market so he decided to focus on producing goods in areas that the Germans didn’t excel in, such as fine wines, to ensure that France would be able to produce things the Germans would want to buy.

    He also realised that due to his country having a different climate to Germany this enabled him to grow many goods in the south of France more cheaply than Germany because he didn’t need to use a greenhouse. Thus he had better access to some raw materials than Germany, which gave him a competitive advantage.

    Finally Jaques realised that having an economy bases around one sector would not be viable in the long term, so he encouraged other sectors to grow rather than solely focusing on one sector.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      But then the wicked islanders pushed through a special tax designed to destroy the French wine industry, in retaliation for the French government’s Project Spartacus designed to destroy the City of London, and nobody lived happily ever after.

    • Bob
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Then Jacques decided to get a well paid, secure job working for the URSSAF carrying out the essential task of catching bar owners who do not report customers to the government for returning empties to the bar.

      http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/french-pub-fined-using-undeclared-2950506

      And the nation prospered due to the enormous fines imposed on the bar owners.

    • peter davies
      Posted December 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      well well uni – might be worth you getting out a map to understand that Jaqcues shares a border with Germany AND that the climates of Northern & Southern Germany and Northern & Southern France are totally different.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 23, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

        According to most climate models north and south Germany have the same climate, though some do give east and west Germany different climates. However no part of Germany has the same climate as the south of France.

  22. Richard1
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps there will be a happy ending, with a face saving fudge enabling some weaker eurozone countries to exit the euro and restructure, and some eurosceptic countries such as the UK (to be followed perhaps by the Nordic countries once the precedent is established?) establishing a much looser, free trade focused relationship with the EU. The government bubble we now have will at some point burst as electorates get to realize that governments can’t themselves create sustainable growth by spending more and more taxpayers’ money. People in the EU will then demand that Jacques retire to be replaced by a new generation of leaders who will realize that the only route to prosperity is competitiveness in a free global trading system without bubbles created by state borrowing and interventionism.

  23. Chris S
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Dear John

    Thank you for taking the huge amount of time and trouble it takes to run what is the best Political Blog authored by a Member of Parliament. Hosting our comments is a further burden for which we thank you.

    I’m sure that political friend and foe alike will want to join me in wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

    Best Regards

    Reply Thanks.

    Chris S

    • Atlas
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Seconded.

    • Martin Ryder
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Thirded

  24. Bill
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Well the Germans went to see all the men in the great land of China and they decided to do a deal together. The Germans would share their technology with the Chinese if the Chinese would make all their cars cheaply so that these could be sold all over the world. So for many years the Germans and the Chinese worked together until one day they had a disagreement about who owned the factories that used German technology and Chinese labour. I am sorry to say the story ended sadly and poor Queen Democracy who was very ill and who had a palace in Germany and a house in England was eventually killed by the great Dragon Bureaucracy.

  25. Max Dunbar
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Jacques’ mother, being an old hoarder and saver who didn’t like waste, had amassed an enormous amount of junk in the loft. One odd item was a large brass shell case which lay in a corner covered in dirt and green oxidation. Jacques thought it could be worth the effort to clean it up and sell it to an English collector perhaps or take it to the local scrap merchant failing that. It was a very large shell casing and, on closer examination, appeared to have serial numbers and codes in German on the base.
    He gave the old casing a rub with some brass cleaner and lo and behold a genie appeared from the mouth of the casing. The genie had a strange turnip shaped head with no neck and short reddish fair hair with a face that had vaguely feminine features. With a long monotonous tone the genie said something in German to the effect that if a magic word was uttered, the shell casing would spew forth unlimited gold coins. Jacques was very excited and asked the genie how he could find this word. The genie replied with a riddle that had something to do with the Greeks in it.

  26. peter davies
    Posted December 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Jaques and his mates realized that it is a natural trait for politicians to want more power for themselves so decided to break the mold. They decided that what was needed was a free trade zone with some commonality in goods traded rather than a customs and currency union so proceeded to revert to their own currencies, turn the EU parliament into a massive theme park……………. and pigs might fly!

  27. Border Boy
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    The German Giant chops down the big tree because it is used by Jacques, Demetrius and Juan to access the land of milk and honey. The Eurozone is in deep trouble and the Germans are killing it as they killed the ERM. This is not malice they cannot help it.

  28. formula57
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Jacques was well-unimpressed with the German bank manager’s words and yet he was a resilient and resourceful chap and was not about to have some sort of Dien Bien Phu moment. Au contraire mes braves, thought Jacques, as he summoned his neighbours Miguel, Luis, Luigi, Christos and Seamus to explain his plan. First he said we have to placate the bank with continuing austerity but we do it like that accountant that Farmer George has, with a big song and dance about cuts but in reality we let spending and debt levels rise. There will be some unused labour but meh, can’t be helped. Next we must make the Germans cut taxes, boost consumption and so reduce domestic savings. That will reduce the German trade surplus and cause higher inflation there, but what a result as our trade deficits come down as we become relatively more competitive. The bank manager spends his own gold on himself but that helps us – win-win. Then if needs be, as and when we like, all of us can restructure our debt (all of us except the German bank manager pointed out Seamus whose words provoked howls of laughter from everyone). Of course, explained Jacques, such a cunning plan would need a degree of obfuscation to avoid full scrutiny so there would have to be plenty of talk and activity about “more Europe” and “banking union” and things but that was only healthily consistent with keeping the vision fresh and the dream alive. The pals were brimming with confidence and happiness as they went off to see the German bank manager together. When he saw all of them looking so pleased and determined, the German bank manager thought to himself that it might be best to go along with that they wanted, at least for a while as it seemed a better idea than Germany itself leaving the single currency. If some gold had to be spent at home, well, who was more deserving of a little luxury? So that is what happened, and little by little things improved and they lived happily ever after – well as happily as they could for from that day to this, no-one was so rude as to recall how good things had been before the world turned sour. In that regard, Farmer George was a great help as his grumpy tantrums provided plenty of diversion.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Next we must make the Germans cut taxes, boost consumption and so reduce domestic savings. That will reduce the German trade surplus and cause higher inflation there, but what a result as our trade deficits come down as we become relatively more competitive.

      How exactly will the Germans cutting their taxes and boosting their consumption reduce their domestic savings? If the Germans only spend part of the extra money they get through tax cuts and save the rest then their domestic savings will increase, not decrease.

      It also won’t work if the Germans respond by producing more goods to meet the increased demand.

      • formula57
        Posted December 27, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        The term “savings” as used there is its meaning in economics, being the remainder of production that is not consumed.

  29. stred
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    My son came back from Paris last night with a Grimm tale. His wicked landlady had ordered him to the Hotel deVille to fetch her a free box of chocolates. The Bureaunomes and the Mayor had decided to give everyone over 60 a present as it is the Fin d’Anne season. They had some spare gold and thought it would make the old people happy( and vote for more). Believe it or not, this is not a fairie story.

  30. Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    This isn’t a fairy tale, its a nightmare!

  31. Bazman
    Posted December 23, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    How does Chicken George fit into this story borrowing more in five years than labour did in five and Iain Vanishing Thick’s banking fantasises.

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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