UEFA: Home of the cliche

Earlier today, the draw took place for next year’s European Football Championships (Euro 2004), placing the sixteen teams into four groups:

Group A: Portugal, Greece, Spain, Russia
Group B: France, England, Switzerland, Croatia
Group C: Sweden, Bulgaria, Denmark, Italy
Group D: Czech Republic, Latvia, Germany, Netherlands

The BBC Sport website has a good page detailing all the fixtures for the tournament.
Continue reading

Miserable failure

Ok, so I do have something to say about the stability pact.

The pact was so flawed that this may have been preferable to actually doing what was supposed to be done, but that does not mean this new “pretend it ‘s raining” policy is anything short of terrible. This is astunning failure of political leadership and the citizens of the Eurozone countries should be outraged.

Anti-Semitism in Europe, take two

This was all over the blogosphere a week ago. I didn’t get around to finishing this post until now. EU body shelves report on anti-semitism

I’m with Eugene Volokh, we should withhold judgement. It may be that the report was no good. This pasage makes me suspect so:

“When the researchers submitted their work in October last year, however, the centre’s senior staff and management board objected to their definition of anti-semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts. The focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, meanwhile, was judged inflammatory.

‘There is a trend towards Muslim anti-semitism, while on the left there is mobilisation against Israel that is not always free of prejudice,” said one person familiar with the report. “Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”

Some EUMC board members had also attacked part of the analysis ascribing anti-semitic motives to leftwing and anti-globalisation groups, this person said. “The decision not to publish was a political decision.”‘

Bullshit anti-semitism charges are frequently used by likudnik partisans and various other elements as a rhetorical bludgeon, and it sort of sounds like this was the case here. Note that this was the spin of the ones critical of the EUMC.

However, this passage makes me fear a good report would also have met with restistance: ‘”Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture.”‘

I hold that there is a fair amount of anti-semitic sentiment among some of the arab immigrants in Europe, and this is something many have been reluctant to acknowledge, out of a misplaced concern about fuelling anti-muslim xenophobia. We must deal with this problem, and we can’t do that if we pretend there is no problem.

Update: Apologies for all the typos.
Continue reading

Fiscal Tickery

Thanks David for the link. I haven’t commented on this because like Dutch finance minister Zalm (who I imagine working away weblogging into the early hours under a dim light provided only by his mobile phone) I am tired. I can’t help feeling that everything that needs to be said has already been said, and many times over. Now all we can reasonably do is wait and see the consequences.
Continue reading

Stability Pact

First of all, let me say I’m flattered to be invited to guest-blog on Fistful of Euros, which I’ve long thought was the coolest name of any blog ever.

I’d hazard a guess at two big reasons nobody has much to say about the security pact unraveling: First, there’s simply not that much to say at this moment beyond the bare facts of the case (although neither The Economist nor US bloggers Daniel Drezdner and Atrios have really captured the outrage that European editorialists have spewed at Paris and Berlin over this). The message from Germany and France is pretty clear: Do as we say, not as we do. End of story.

Second, this is a pretty difficult topic for a layperson (such as myself) to get his head around. Hence the usage of compact but vague phrases like “Europe Rips Up the Rulebook,” the headline given my recent press review on Slate covering this topic. (Feel free to read that if you want a review of the basic facts of the case from a non-economists’ perspective, plus a dose of what the European papers have said about the topic; but naturally I can’t compete with The Economist‘s coverage.)

So they tore up the rulebook. Seems a little back-to-basics is in order here: What was the rulebook for anyway? And what does this mean for the future of the euro?
Continue reading

The stability pact

No one here have said anything about the recent unraveling of the stability pact. That felt after a little weird after seeing that US bloggers Daniel Drezner and Atrios, of all people, have both commented on the issue.

(Edward did write about it on Bonobo Land though)

Drezner links to this article from the Economist, which is a must-read, it says just about everything I might have said.

Moore’s Law As Applied To Humans

Sorry, I’m back. I’ve been keeping myself kinda busy over the last two weeks. On my travels I met what you could consider to be a pretty bright programmer: he writes spider programmes. Now if you were silly enough to want to sit in the first few rows of a concert from some mediocre but popular pop star, you would probably want to be cursing him: for his boss and his spider programme would already have the tickets. He works for an entrepreneur in a nameless but extremely large country, who buys up all the tickets for 250 dollars and re-sells them at around a thousand a go. He told me that at first this work was easy, but recently things have gotten more difficult. The concert organisers have tried to overcome the practice by having an image inserted to which you have to manually type some given response. Problem solved you might think. Well no: this is where ingenuity and globalisation come in to guarantee that ‘real’ entrepreneurship will not be thwarted.
Continue reading


One thing that I’ve often heard in a half decade or so living and working in Europe is that Americans have no sense of place. Sometimes the idea is asserted that crudely, sometimes equally crudely in a different form: America is too young to have real history, thus Americans have no sense of history and are lacking the deep rootedness of many Europeans. Sometimes it’s a bit more subtle: A great many Americans are visibly more mobile throughout their lives than a great many Europeans. People move away for jobs, for family, for love, and often enough just for want of a change. They’re clearly not making lifelong attachments, and thus not as attached to a place.
Continue reading