19 Jun 2012

Some signs of eurozone movement

Today’s G20 meetings are about to start getting under way. At one point in yesterday’s full round table, China’s President Hu was translated to the room as having come up with US$403bn for the IMF’s firewall funds. The room gulped and gasped before the translator corrected herself and said “US$43bn.” Will today be similarly disappointing?

There are persistent rumours that Angela Merkel might say something that moves on the eurozone story, rumours too of a big coordinated central banks intervention. But the big picture remains that the eurozone is in a mess from which it will not crawl out any time soon.

The meeting between the eurozone leaders who are here, President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron (the most important meeting of the whole summit and certainly the closest our PM would get to centre stage here during his stay) didn’t happen. It’s not clear whether that was because of other meetings running late or because of something said at the Merkel/Obama bi-lateral (a one-on-one meeting between leaders).

Remember when Gordon Brown was claimed to have pleaded for an Obama face-to-face and didn’t get it – he was roasted by the press and (as we discovered at Leveson) very unusually lost his temper. Well, David Cameron’s bi-laterals at this world gathering will be with the leaders of Russia and Indonesia. He’s hoping fora chat with India’s prime minister but it wouldn’t be a long one if it happened.

There’s some puzzlement about how David Cameron crossed the road to be abusive to the French – your fleeing millionaires will fund our NHS. Echoes of George Osborne crossing the road for a fight with the French at the end of last year when he linked them to the most heavily indebted eurozone countries and got a tit-for-tat hit back over our rating. Presumably David Cameron can expect similar retaliation. What’s the point?

Googling the definition of “Mexican stand-off” to see if it is a usable pun/headline, you discover it probably isn’t – strictly speaking, it’s a three-handed stand-off and has been mis-used to suggest a 1 on 1 stand-off. But in the process, you discover something called a “Canadian stand-off” – that’s when, for instance, four hugely polite people come to a car junction and everybody yields right of way to everyone else and nothing moves.

Definitely not what’s happening here but an interesting national stereotype!

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