Settling Accounts?

I don’t know how many of you have seen the film The Insider, but Caesar Alierta, boss of Spain’s telecommunications near-monopoly Telefonica, has always seemed to me to fit the bill perfectly. Now the Financial Times announce that he is finally to be charged with an old insider-trading scandal:

C?sar Alierta, executive chairman of Telef?nica, the Spanish telecommunications group, has been charged with insider trading in connection with alleged improper share trades when he was chairman of a tobacco company. The public prosecutor’s office is seeking a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence for Mr Alierta, the most senior executive ever charged with insider trading in Spain. The prosecutor’s office is also requesting the seizure of ?1.86m ($2.27m) of profits Mr Alierta is alleged to have made from trading in Tabacalera shares when he was chairman of the Spanish tobacco group in 1997.

As the FT notes, the case also has a political dimension, since it forms part of the ongoing ‘feud’ between PSOE and PP. The reality is that ‘justice’ is still a very political issue in Spain. Still, you have no idea how happy it would make me to see Alierta finally convicted of something. Adding-on a few racketeering charges might not go badly amiss either.

China Trade With EU

I’m not very happy with the ‘US Trade Figures‘ post I put up last Friday. I think it’s a glorious mess. The key to the problem is that I tried to deal with two – interrelated but disinct – topics at once: the euro and China trade. So today lets ignore the euro (which has once more resumed the downwards drift, even as I write) and take a bit of a closer look at where we are – in trade terms – with China. (Btw: the planet has finally returned to its orbit, and Brad Setser has an analysis of the US trade data here).

The big item in this weekend’s news is, of course, the agreement reached with Beijing on textiles. The EU textile industry will now have three years to adapt, but since textile manufacturers don’t appear to have taken too much advantage of the ten previous years, it is hard to know whether this will serve any useful purpose. Doubly so, since it is not yet clear how the calculations will be made, and I have the distinct impression that much of the recent surge in imports will now, in effect, be consolidated.

Be that as it may, what about the broader issue?
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