More energetic remedies

“We [Eurozone] all have to become more competitive” — Jens Weidmann, Bundesbank President, in a FT interview.

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter III:

‘But she must have a prize herself, you know,’ said the Mouse.
‘Of course,’ the Dodo replied very gravely. ‘What else have you got in your pocket?’ he went on, turning to Alice.
‘Only a thimble,’ said Alice sadly.
‘Hand it over here,’ said the Dodo.
Then they all crowded round her once more, while the Dodo solemnly presented the thimble, saying ‘We beg your acceptance of this elegant thimble’; and, when it had finished this short speech, they all cheered.

It’s Azerbaijan

Winning Eurovision 2011. Apparently the AFOE crew was too sober to liveblog the festivities. In any event, one member of the collective has already observed, “That’ll put off any war over Nagorno-Karabakh for at least a year.”

Eurovision previously at the Fistful:

2009 Slightly depressing follow-up relevant to this year’s winners.
2007 Bonus 2007

Thoughts? Or is Eurovision simply beyond thought?

Dear Socar

Dear Socar, Socar Public Relations and Socar of Georgia (if your website is working),

Normally when I put 50 lari worth of gasoline into my car, I get about half a tank. Earlier this week, I visited one of your affiliates in Tbilisi, paid for 50 lari of gas (the price per liter did not seem significantly different from the other filling stations nearby) and drove off. The needle eventually showed that I had gotten about a quarter of a tank of gas.

If I could remember exactly which affiliate I had this experience at, I would be able to avoid it. But it may just be easier to avoid Socar stations entirely. And to share my experience.


Doug Merrill

And speaking of Moldova

First, Scraps of Moscow has had some good coverage of the Moldova elections. If you’re interested, check out some of the recent posts over there.

Second, my recent post on Vladimir Voronin neglected to mention one of the most obnoxious aspects of his regime: his useless and disgusting son Oleg. I should correct that.

So: Oleg Voronin has used his position to become one of the richest men in Moldova; depending on who you talk to, his fortune is estimated at tens of millions, hundreds of millions, or “over a billion” dollars. One analysis suggests it’s around $600 million, which would be roughly 10% of Moldova’s GDP. (Keep in mind, this is a country whose per capita GDP is lower than the Philippines or Mongolia.) Whatever the amount, it’s pretty impressive for a podgy fortysomething guy who, up until the collapse of Communism, was a biologist working for a milk cooperative. Continue reading

The Nub of the Matter?

From Brad DeLong:

The key irrationality [causing the present crisis] was a private-sector failure on the part of the shareholders and top managements of the banks to make sure that their traders had an appropriate stake in the long-run survival of the bank and not just in constructing a portfolio that would be marked-to-market at a high valuation on Dec. 31. And the government needs, for all our sakes, to compensate for this private-sector irrationality.

That’s the conclusion of a very interesting argument.

Nevermind the Economics, Here’s Eurovision

It’s that time of year again, and this time all of Europe — except plucky Georgia! — turns to the Third Rome Moscow, home of Eurovision 2009.

In years past, we’ve amused ourselves to no end with the song contest. Here are posts at least as good as some years’ winning songs:

Can’t Resist
Who’s European?
Eurovision: The Quickening
Zombies Finnish First (As a bonus, this post links to an article containing the clause “naked people running through streets of Helsinki, according to magenta-haired Finnish journalist.”)
Andorre, null point (Also? Follow the links to the shoeblog, and then search that site for Eurovision. Captions such as “The Norwegians and their golden camel toe” or “Georgian sword yodelling” only begin to describe the fun.)
Europe Unites in Song

Just in case we’re too drunk stunned busy to liveblog the event itself, consider this an open Eurovision thread.

Michael O’Hare on Executives

And what to do with them.

But what about the talent part? On the whole, this indispensable leadership and insight has made a smoking ruin of every company they were allowed to play with! Let’s take Bob Lutz, the vice-Chairman of General Motors. In the Jan. 31 Economist, we find him saying GM held on to SAAB for nineteen unprofitable years out of twenty, for a $5 billion loss, selling car after car at a loss of $5K each because … wait for it … “it loved the marque and the cars.”

I had to read it again: they flushed five billion dollars of their shareholders’ money down the toilet for the personal amusement of the executives, and went on doing it for two decades. More amazing still, Lutz is dumb enough, or arrogant enough, or both to tell exactly that story to a reporter. Most amazing, he seems to still be vice-Chairman!

Read the rest, it’s pitchfork-ready.