Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Keeping Cool Under Pressure

You have to admire Pedro Solbes, the Spanish economy minister. It doesn't seem to matter what happens or how bad things get, he just carries on as if nothing is happening. With stock markets crashing around the world, out comes Pedro with his words of reassurance; there's nothing to worry about, it's just a minor readjustment, the underlying economy is sound etc etc. You get the feeling he would announce the end of the world with the same reassuring monotone, and at the same time give us a few useful statistics on how long it would take us all to die.

Of course he was put there to serve this kind of function, he doesn't come across as a partisan political figure. On the other hand you have the hysterical catastrophy-laden discourse of the Partido Popular (PP), which attempts to blame the government for every single piece of bad economic news happening anywhere on the globe. The serenity that Solbes shows is all very well, but there is a danger that it starts to appear as complacency as people start to feel the consequences of the end of the economic bubble. People don't want to be told everything is going pear shaped, but they also don't want to see those responsible for the economy pretending that nobody has any problems.

Meanwhile new PP economic superstar Manuel Pizarro tells us that "the party is over". This of course is not a reference to his own economic situation, Pizarro walked away from Endesa with millions of euros in his pocket and it was reported the other day that he could pocket an additional €35,000 for being a member of the board of Telefonica for one month. A month in which he was not required to attend a single meeting. Small change for him, but at least it ensures that the champagne can continue to flow chez Pizarro.

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