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Friday, September 5, 2008


...My oh my, two animals in one day! First the endangered lynx and now the little piggy Lionel Barber who the ‘Asociación de Directivos de Comunicación’ (Dircom) would like to see turned in to bacon.

Lionel Barber is the editor of the august Financial Times in the UK. What has angered Dircom is that on Monday the newspaper carried an article in which it labelled the economies of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – as the P I G S to reflect the reality of their economies.

The president of Dircom, José Manuel Valesco, wrote a letter to Barber which was published on Friday in which he says the FTs remarks were both “disrespectful” and “denigrating”. He said the use of the word PIGS could not be accepted as a “play on words” or “a joke in bad taste” because they showed a lack of respect for the citizens, political representatives and businesses of the companies concerned.

Valesco went on to say that the FTs arguments were “superficial” also pointing out that the problems faced by the Spanish and other economies were largely external and from the same source that was hitting the USA and the UK. In addition he stated that the Spanish economic had enjoyed long term growth and the country was a major attraction to those who came to retire here or to spend long or short-term holidays.

Just last weekend the British Chancellor, Alistair Darling, was quoted in The Guardian as saying the economic times “are arguably the worst they’ve been in 60 years ... and I think it’s going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought.” The headlines immediately proclaimed he had admitted the economy was about to go into its most savage downturn since World War 2. He has since backtracked from that and says he was referring to the world economy.

None the less since then the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has forecast that the UK economy will shrink 0.3 per cent in the third quarter, and by 0.4 per cent in the fourth. The definition of a recession is two successive quarters of negative growth. According to official UK data released last month, the economy came to a standstill during the second quarter of 2008.

In contrast the economy in Spain is taking one hell of a battering but the government is adamant that it will continue to grow and that a recession will be avoided. Economic Secretary David Vegara is standing by his forecast that growth would fall to a 15-year low of 1.6 percent this year from 3.7 percent in 2007 but dismissed talk of a recession. Spain is also only one of the euro zone’s four big economies not to shrink during the second quarter.

What I know about the economy you could write on a one euro coin which I believe is still outperforming the pound. One hopes that the article was written in the spirit of warped but good old fashioned “British humour” and that the FT wasn’t being pig headed, piggish, attempting to hog the headlines or telling “pork pies” but you must remember, no FT, no comment.

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