I use the terminal font for € posts from now on. Unsurprisingly. The currency is bouncing dead cat highs on thin rumours and fat fingers. Do traders hang round chat rooms waiting for the latest: ooh, Fat Freddy's Cat says Draghi could be capping yields or yielding caps or something. There's no LSD trip quite as light fandango as that alternate reality we see before our eyes: sparkling € diamonds more lustrous than gold. And they even greece their optimism....
The Syrian regime has resorted to more airstrikes in its battles against the rebels. Does this reflect a greater dependence upon Alawite resources in elite services, as the armed forces wither on the vine: unreliable Sunnis confined to barracks, defecting to the rebels or deserting? Despite the rhetoric, the Ba'athists have proved unable to decisively seize back Aleppo from the rebels. The terms of trade continue to peel away their foundations.
The rumours that circle around the Syrian Civil War are manifold. Assad is weak and ready to be toppled. The regime has bunkered down and is ready to use chemical and biological weapons. Western, Saudi and Qatari forces are backing the Free Syrian Army. There is a safe haven; the Kurds are revolting and so on.
This tells us little about the sources of the conflict or the nature of how it will be resolved. One window is the role of foreign soldiers within the opposing forces. For the rebels, there is the accusation of Islamism and Al-Qaeda: foreign jihadists using the conflict as a pathway to paradise. A Telegraph article interviewing a British convert to Islam and jihadist indicates that the relationship between Syrians fighting for freedom and jihadists fighting for themselves ("paradise") is a fraught one.
The role of foreign fighters is hotly disputed in rebel ranks. One story — possibly apocryphal — is that two Indian Muslim jihadists who arrived in Homs saying they wanted to die for Allah were immediately sent by secular FSA leaders to attack one of the toughest checkpoints in the city. The checkpoint was destroyed and the two men were killed, which meant, said the secular activist who told the story, that everyone was happy.
But many media activists and rebels fear they are a liability, adding little to the cause and attracting suspicion among potential backers in the West.
For the Ba'athist regime, defections by Sunni Muslims is being shored up by strong intervention from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (and probably Hezbollah) with militia training, weapons support and, perhaps, active engagement with the enemy. Yet, as the uprising continues, such surreptitious support does not appear adequate to save the slow dissolution of the despot.
Robert White of "The Atlantic" is one of those portentous scribes who defines rationality as people who think like me. On this occasion, People who think like Me, are scanning the most obscure utterances of Israeli officials an concluding that they are bluffing. Indeed, so poor and indigent are the Israeli officials and blinded by their dependence upon the United States; their foreign policy can be reduced to "influence Obama". Or that would be the case if they were rational such as People who think like me, since White must be right.
Such startling insights are then applied to Iran whose anti-semitic eliminationist rhetoric can be discounted because the chances of them launching an attack on Israel can be measured as "zilch". After all, we know that those who shout that they wish to drive the Jews into the sea are merely joshing with a small liberal democracy under siege. Should we just discount what people say when it is irrational (in the eyes of people like White) or shall we take them at their word?
When will White write "New Evidence that Iran Is Bluffing About Israel"?
The uprising in Syria has now become a civil war. I am not sure when that transition took place. Perhaps no-one does. The original attempts to overthrow the Ba'athite regime were cruelly destroyed by the regime's forces (no one has a good word to say about Assad; he has saddamised his own people and is vilified).
Over the last few weeks, the regime has become weaker, the resistance fighters stronger. Strongholds of the Free Syrian Army were massacred and shelled, yet they are strong enough to fight back and obtain territory.
And that is the hallmark of a civil war: opposing sides, holding territory, fighting for the sovereignty of Syria. Civil wars drag on; they disrupt, they spill over boundaries; they foster extremism and end only after bloodletting is exhausted. Let us hope Assad's regime is too weak to last long.
Clegg has been accused of petulance, immaturity and treachery over the last few days by many Tories. Hardly the best of breed in honesty or meeting obligations, either in manifestos or coalition agreements. Yet the baying voices from the Tory press have personalised Clegg's statements without analysing what forces and constraints within his party led him to this decision.
The rising bad blood between the coalition parties, well-reported and increasingly orchestrated from the Tory backbenches, reached a crescendo with the rejection of House of Lords reform. The Liberal Democratic attempt to gerrymander the constitution was rightly rejected; this, and the successful campaign against the AV referendum, led the minority party to reject the boundary changes.
Playing a weak hand badly is Clegg's metier. Yet, he needed to wield power before his party in order to demonstrate that he was exacting 'payment' from the Tories for their bad behaviour even at the expense of future negotiations or victory at the next general election. One has to ask what political party prefers a leader who courts electoral immolation just so they can feel good about denying their coalition partners a fundamental desire.
Clegg's act is one of weakness, not strength. His leadership days are numbered.
Mario Monti, in an interview with Der Spiegel kept his phrases light and neutral. He stated that his role was to save Italy from financial ruin and "moral support" from other countries was required, especially from Germany. Dig deeper into Monti's utterances and his assertion that Italy has not received one pfennig from Germany so far ignores the huge liabilities held by the Bundesbank under the Target 2 system. This unauthorised transfer of virtual assets allowed the Italians to stuff European banks and the European Central Bank with debased assets.
Those assets and liabilities will still need to be accounted for as we endure the endgame. The poison has overwhelmed the body corporate and all countries are now infected by the malaise. The European timetable is out of step with the markets. A banking union gameplan will be published in September and finally agreed in December; by this time most of the sovereigns may have choked.
And then the ball will roll eastwards and westwards...
Soon, the € will be an obsolete symbol on 4. Yet, even as it plummets toward some low, renounced by its members, we should remember that it will still have a role. €crats and MEPs should choose, after the death of their institutions, whether they wish their pensions to be paid in € or as the minimum allowed under the national pension scheme of their countries.
A fitting retribution for this incompetent political class.