EU Economic Supercommissar Olli Rehn just held a remarkable press conference about the state of the union. I pick the cherries from the pie.
‘Europe’ Mr Rehn said, ‘is undergoing a mild recession’. Come again?? Mild? Bambi is Mild. A soft drizzle in balmy weather is mild. Paprika powder is mild. But Godzilla, Hurricane Kathrina and Cayenne Pepper are not Mild! We have unemployment up to 25 % in various countries. Youth unemployment up to 50 % is several. The Banking system totters in a third of our nations. Credit is nil. GNP is shrinking all along the line. And solutions are not forthcoming. In short: the only thing mild here is Mr Rehn’s juggling with euphemism!
Almost all countries are doing the right thing, Mr Rehn also pointed out. In 2013 most of them will see a return to mild growth. A likely story. The trouble is: ever since the outbreak of this crisis in 2008, I’ve been hearing like a regular mantra that ‘in 9 months time things will be looking up again’. Not too good for credibility, Mr Rehn. It looks as if the EU, as the only living body in the world, can be ‘a little bit pregnant’.
This year of 2012, Mr Rehn calculated, overall economic growth in the European Union (27 countries) will be 1.3 %. Overall growth in the 17 Eurozone countries will be 1 %. Hey, isn’t that a fascinating statement now? Apparently, growth is better in countries which do not use the Euro than in countries that do use the Euro. The Euro, that miracle coin that would bring us wealth, prosperity, extra international commerce, boosted industrial output and a booming service sector.
Now, want me to tell you a well-kept secret that nobody ever mentions? OK, here goes: according to the EU’s own statistical bureau Eurostat, growth in the non-Euro countries has been bigger than in the Euro-countries for every single year since the introduction of the Euro in 2002 (with the one exception of 2008, when – note the enourmous difference! - it was 0,3 in entire EU and 0,4 in the 17 Euro-countries)! With benign single currencies like that, who needs a debt crisis? (Oh, incidentally: the rest of the world will grow with 4.2 % in 2012... and that includes Africa and the poorer part of Asia, I guess…)
Oh, and one last joke: Spain will meet its budget-slashing goals this year, according to the Commissar, despite the fact that it is already lagging behind 1.1 % this month of May. Consequently the European Commission is preparing a special emergency program for the construction of landing strips for pigs in various Spanish communities which produce that excellent jamon serrano.
A Grand Performance! Let’s all vote for Mr Rehn again next elections! (Joke)