Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
It had to come to an end sometime. After days of pomp and pageantry, of waving flags and rousing music, the boats have been moored, the ceremonial uniforms set aside and the bunting taken down. The Diamond Jubilee is over, and we find ourselves back in a grimmer, grayer world — a place of government U-turns and double-dip recessions rather than street parties and good cheer.
So what, as memories start to fade, will we remember of the Jubilee? The most obvious lessons are twofold. First, that Britain can still put on a show, no matter what obstacles the elements may put in its way. Second, and more profoundly, that millions of the queen’s subjects wanted to take the chance, as the Prince of Wales said at the Jubilee concert, to say “thank you” — to assure her not just of their loyalty, but their gratitude for her 60 years of service.
Above all, the Diamond Jubilee was a celebration of the grandest and oldest of those institutions: the monarchy itself. … the Queen — unusually in this egocentric age — “sees herself as the custodian of her own line and its special calling much more than as an individual with personal goals and needs.” The Diamond Jubilee was a celebration of her person, and her reign, but it was also a celebration of that dynastic line, and the continuity it embodies. Indeed, the illness of the Duke of Edinburgh, unfortunate though it was, reminded us that we are ruled not by impersonal constitutional drones, but by a living, breathing family, one in whose triumphs and misfortunes the nation has long shared.
The Telegraph, London
Spain’s banking crisis
Spain’s banking crisis — even more than the political crisis in Greece — may prove to be the Eurozone’s undoing. Urgent action is needed.
Spanish officials hinted they would like Germany to come to its aid and allow euro zone rescue funds to lend money directly to its banks, which are overburdened with bad property debts.
This is an idea worth considering. The situation in the fourth largest economy in the 17-nation European currency bloc is critical, and the risks of contagion are huge.
The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is reluctant to appeal directly for help from Europe’s bailout fund because then it would have to agree to a formal rescue program, with stringent conditions — and this would be politically difficult in a country already undergoing austerity measures.
Unlike Greece, Spain did not have a government deficit before the 2008 recession and did not lie about its financial books. Its economic woes were caused by a property boom, thanks in part to the single currency. When the bubble burst, the country was left a fiscal hole it could not repair and severe banking problems that it attempted to paper over, rather than undertake a painful restructuring.
As a result, weak banks, especially the cajas, or savings and loans unions, were pushed into mergers with somewhat sounder institutions. The unfortunate result was a more frail and vulnerable banking system in which the markets had no confidence.
If euro-zone countries injected funds into Spain’s banks, it would solve the immediate problem, increase confidence and help Spain undertake the necessary longer-term structural makeover to put its banks and economy on a sounder footing. A more closely integrated banking regulatory system for euro-zone countries would improve the ability of Spain and other members with battered economies to weather severe financial-sector storms in the future, and help prevent similar crises while reducing the risk of contagion to healthier banks in Europe and around the world.
The Globe and Mail, Toronto