The Slog enjoys a last word on Libor, and raises its eyes to eurozone anarchy, the FCO’s Eastern Med shambles, and a blow for the Greek coalition from those nice Troikanauts.
Following the recent Slogpost about the BBA’s Angela Knight, her somewhat misleading evidence to the TSC some years back, and her closeness to Terry Smith among many others, I find myself being taken to task by Nick Woods, an account director at City PR firm M:Communications. I now unreservedly apologise to Terry, Angela and Nick (who is Terry’s pr man) for suggesting that Ms Knight is on the Board of Fundsmith.
Nick is right, she isn’t: she’s on the Board of Terry’s rather larger holding company Tullet Prebon, of which Terry has been the Chief Executive since December 2006. I would’ve thought this makes their relationship even closer, and Terry’s self-styled Robin Hood image even more unlikely: Tullet Prebon is one of the largest inter-dealer money brokers in the world. It is therefore something of a conflict for Angie to be on its Board while allegedly offering objective information to the world about how the Libor rate is not being fixed; and pretty damn difficult for Terry to say he was unaware of that fixing. But there we are: I’m glad it’s all been cleared up, and I’m indebted to Nick for pointing out my underestimate of the hypocrisy involved re this one.
Readers new to The Slog’s mercilessly apolitical attack on all things City, bourse, Libor and so forth will perhaps not know that my interests stretch well beyond the temporary sideshow being billed as Tucker v Diamond, the Rematch. This seems also to be true of outside observers of the scrap: ratings agencies S&P and Moody’s have both put Barclays on negative watch, citing ‘uncertainty created by the loss of three senior executives’ that will ‘create uncertainty over the bank’s direction’. No mentions of Bank of England complicity, or Barclays criminality: clearly, both raters are applying their Russian House Rules to credit viability estimates these days.
However, that said, it is high time the British MSM lifted its eyes away from an infinity of Enquiries, and surveyed the broader mess formerly known as the global economy. A little while ago, The ECB cuts its benchmark lending rate by an expected 25 basis points to 0.75%. The market reaction to this was almost exactly zero, suggesting yet again that many markets long ago pronounced the euro dead. Angela Merkel, of course, continues to insist that the euro will survive and prosper, but she too must also keep at least one eye on an increasingly dangerous domestic political situation for her Austerity or Die drive towards a Fiscal Union of bankrupts. Largely aiming her comments at the German audience, she pured dilutign cold water on last week’s surrender at the EU summit, saying Germany entered no new agreements, took on no new EU commitments, and agreed to no new bailout rules.
That isn’t the way most everyone else remembers the occasion, but then it can’t be long before Die Kleine Geli explains to the world that she is in fact The Fairy in charge of the EU’s Magic Belly-Button Screwdriver, and should anyone be entertaining ideas about getting rid of her, the eurozone’s legs will assuredly drop off.
Meanwhile, Lord High Protector against the Greeks David Cameron saw his Ambassador in Athens David Landsman summoned to the ministry on the instructions of Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. There, he was told by the Yannis-Alexis Zepos, the ministry’s general secretary, that Cameron’s statement “might create false impressions, hindering the efforts to strengthen the climate of trust that is vital to confronting the economic crisis in Europe”. Which particular bit of confrontational trust he was on about wasn’t clear, but what is very obvious by now is that Dave and his pet billiard-ball Willy Hague have alienated the two (by far) most important econo-political allies we have in the Eastern Med, Greece and Israel. Their new natural resources and joint pipeline project make that a certainty: but meanwhile, the inhabitants of Camerlot are only just catching on to Moscow’s growing influence on the pivotal island in the region, Cyprus….a fact laid before the by The Slog over a fortnight ago.
And finally, although most of the MSM missed it, the European Central Bank urged Greece to avoid any further delays in implementing major structural reforms. Joerg Asmussen, an international negotiator for the bank, went onto German telly to pour ice-cold water on the idea that Greece might win quick concessions from the Troika. Asmussen said Greece must fulfill the targets of its austerity and reform program “100 percent” if the country wants to stay in the euro, allowing no wriggle room on timings – ie, giving the Greeks more time to comply.
This will come as something of a blow to the Pasok/ND coalition in Athens. The Troika will be delivering the formal message there this weekend. They should beware any and all grassy knolls.