Saturday, September 6, 2008

PIGS or CANDIES

In the last couple of posts, I have managed to draw criticism (to say it mildly) from all parts of the spectrum: Catalan nationalists, Spanish nationalists, the Anglo world, generally amused by the irrelevant fights between Catalans and Spaniards, taking sides as though this were a soccer match being watched sitting in the couch, drinking beer and eating popcorn, but jumping as grasshoppers when someone dares to criticize them a little bit.
So far, the only ones who did not call me names have been the Swedish, let’s see for how long.

I do not know whether you read an article in the Financial Times called PIGS in the muck. The pejorative acronym PIGS used by the Financial Times refers to the countries Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. The article has some merit, but, once again shows the total lack of respect of the Anglo world for those countries and territories below the virtual Pyrenees (with the exception of Gibraltar).
Despite the cheap shots, I agree with the substance of the article, the fact that the economies of those 4 countries have grown out of speculation: “wages rose, debt levels ballooned, as did house prices and consumption”. The foundations of those economies are weak and a recession would hit those countries much harder, especially Spain, as the FT points out. Let’s not forget that unemployment in Spain will very soon reach the 11% mark.

When attacked, I normally side with Spain, but I would like to do it out of juxtaposition and friendship, not out of inclusion and submission. The truth is that I do not want my country, Catalonia, to be part of the PIGS. I want Catalonia to be one of the CANDIES (Catalonia, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Euskadi and Sweden), small countries with strong economic fundamentals, with diversified economies, with real added value activities, with outstanding education systems and international focus.
Catalonia has all the ingredients to be one of the CANDIES, but the fact that Catalonia is part of Spain and has limited control of its policies and resources makes it impossible (together with the fact that the Catalan politicians are totally inept).

In one of my next posts, however, I plan to theorize about those grandiose countries which, for a variety of reasons, believe that they are the center of the universe, France, UK, China, Korea and USA, also known as, FUCK-U (as first described in the LT, the Llorens Times).

13 comments:

Agus said...

"Let’s not forget that unemployment in Spain will very soon reach the 11% mark." => It reached that mark in July, and surpassed it last month.

"When attacked, I normally side with Spain, ..." => Why? You don't need to.

"... but I would like to do it out of juxtaposition and friendship, not out of inclusion and submission." => Oh, my God! Stop taking drugs!

"I want Catalonia to be one of the ..." => OK, what's your plan?

"In one of my next posts, however, I plan to theorize about those grandiose countries ..." => So, you don't have a plan.

Your reasoning is: as we are helpless, let's throw crap to the ones luckier than us.

Brilliant! Though, it seems a typical Spanish attitude to me.

I pretty think I'll pretty much skip that post.

Best regards,

Agus

ian llorens said...

I welcome all kind of comments and I especially enjoy those from people who disagree with me.
I miss Garci and I will miss you, but I will not change my editorial line to keep readers.
You clearly lack sense of humor. I like to laugh at things and laugh at myself.
There will be no post about the FUCK-U countries, I just needed some entrance to make a joke.

I am a Catalan nationalist, I love my country, Catalonia, and through me, many people have learned what Catalonia is, our distinctive culture and language. I like to do it with a positive attitude and not badmouthing Spain and the Spaniards. I am sorry to disappoint you, but this is my style and what I believe in.

I would welcome that you start your own blog to really understand your political views. I hope there is something else beyond your anti-Spain approach.

Viaca Catalunya.

Johnny Tastavins said...

I read today that some newspapers were dealing about the PIIGS instead of PIGS, because they thought it was also necessary to include among these "mucked" countries also Ireland, so you could no deal Ireland in the candies, may be you should switch your preference to Iceland? ;-)

I don't agree with the article of FT, as far as has been written by some stupid english guy whose main target is to eat "jamon de jabugo" while some PP opositor tells him the disaster of the spanish economy.

ian llorens said...

Johnny,
Great suggestion for the I (although I had also considered Israel).
I changed Estonia for Euskadi in the last minute for similar reasons.

Now with Kosovo, Abkhazia and Ossetia there is much more room for play.

Nuri said...

I love Greek food, my best friend is half Portuguese -I speak the language too-, and I've Italian and Spanish friends too and I'm 1/4 Spanish also.
Pigs are cute, useful, and highly intelligent.

Oink.

Erik Wirdheim said...

Ian,

A sometimes dangerous thing with Swedes is that we avoid conflicts and you are not exactly a "Swedish consensus seeker". Do not interpret our silence as a signal that we all agree with you. ;-)

Now that does not mean that we do not want to be part of the CANDIES and, personally, I would not mind seeing Catalonia as a sovereing member.

But, do you really think that the Koreans deserve a punch, or were they just unfortunate possessors of the K you needed for your acronym?

//Erik in Vilanova

Rab said...

About this article, I left a couple of comments in the FT in the comments section, under Rab Trenator.

What irritates me is the excuse by the editorial team that the acronym was a pun. Then they said that the author behind the note was Cuban, as if that meant anything.

The problem is that the use of PIGS is not new. It was coined by the northern European press (Germany tabloids in particular) to describe the entry to the Eurozone. The English tabloids (to my knowledge, the Scottish Daily Record never used it) adopted it immediately, and the snobby, ignorant arseholes that work in the City and Canary Wharf started using it in their non-official research notes and email updates.

I have written to the editor at the FT, and to a couple of journalists I know and have and asked them not to use it again. It is highly insulting and it displays a kind of patronising, presumptuous arrogance and ignorant prejudice that I find highly irritating about the Anglo-Saxon world.

As you well point out though, Catalonia is still part of this group of underperforming economies but the inclusion of Italy is highly subjective. Italy’s current account deficit has not rocketed like that of the other member states, and the credit expansion took a different shape in Italy.

I’d argue that the inclusion of Ireland in the CANDIES group is dubious. I would not lend any spare cash to an Irish bank, unless I was paid a risk premium well above other western, including Spanish, banks. They have their own sub-prime problem, called “self-certification mortgages”, exactly like in the UK.

The reaction of the Spanish readers however has been only too predictable. The vast majority resorted to insults and retaliation without providing any solid argument. The threats of boycott and revenge were farcical.

What really annoys me is that we pay a lot for our subscriptions to the FT, and I expect more than just borrowing tabloid acronyms for a laugh and superficial analysis.

ian llorens said...

Erik,
I desperately needed a K and when looking at the list of countries which are officially listed under K, I happily noted that Korea, North – Democratic People's Republic of Korea, was on the list.

That is the Korea in the FUCK-U acronym and I have no regrets.

* Kazakhstan – Republic of Kazakhstan
* Kenya – Republic of Kenya
* Kiribati – Republic of Kiribati
* Korea, North – Democratic People's Republic of Korea
* Korea, South – Republic of Korea
* Kosovo – Republic of Kosovo
* Kuwait – State of Kuwait
* Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyz Republic


On the other side, it appears that I will need to replace Ireland (apparently a piggy candidate) for either Iceland or Israel.

ian llorens said...

This is Rab's comment in the FT.com
I think that it is really worth while reading.
Good job Rab.

By the way, your alternative acronym made me laugh, especially due to the connotations in Catalan.


"Pigs in muck: FT in the gutter (2)
by Rab Trenator 02 Sep 2008 01:31 PM
Lex,

I have no sympathy whatsoever with Spanish nationalism, whose narrow-minded prejudice is only too familiar to many Catalans and Basques, and Cubans I dare say (1898).

The “flaming” comments by some Spanish readers should be put in the context of the controversial picture of the Spanish basketball team and the reaction of the Anglo-Saxon press, of which the FT is part of regardless of who authors a particular article.

Notwithstanding the above however, it is clear that you are in denial about your own unfortunate choice of wording as much as the Spanish press are in denial about the country’s problem with racism in sport or the “funny” picture of their basketball team.

- Lex: “If Lex resorts to word play and punning to advance its arguments, it is to alleviate what might otherwise be a semi-tragic conversation”

The only thing truly tragic here is that the FT thinks that using highly insulting and pejorative acronyms can be constructed as acceptable word play and punning. Please leave that to the English tabloids.

I note that you have not counter the argument that the inclusion of Italy is this group is highly arbitrary and subjective. Never mind the fundamentals: GPS is not as good a pun as PIGS, right? (By the way, if you change Portugal for France, you get FIGS…so many possibilities!)

Seriously now… we are all awaiting a debate about the problems affecting the south of Europe in the wake of the current financial crisis. However, such debate shall be conducted in a civilised manner and without the use of a cheap acronym that is highly offensive, and not of the standard the FT should aspire to. Debate requires analysis of data and interpretation.

A few clues for the FT:
+ No of houses built in Spain vs France, Germany, Britain put together.
+ How the mortgage market works in Spain (no-subprime), high deposits, but still some “black market” and extortionate legal fees.
+ Job market and productivity, even productivity within different regions of Spain. Financial transfers within the Eurozone and within Spain and Italy.
+ Corporate tax laws in Spain. Regulatory framework of the Bank of Spain.
Etc, etc,

You see, there is so much we could discuss and read, but as long as you keep using an insulting acronym, which you would not dare to use against any other group of nations, no serious debate can take place.

Over to you.
null"

Nuri said...

I vote for Iceland. As much as I like jews, I dread the way Israel's dealing with politics.

Agus said...

1714: Yes, We Could Have Done It

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30397165@N05/

Anonymous said...

Bonhora,
m'agrada l'acronim, a veure si fa fortuna. A mi em falta Flandes i Finlandia al grup, pero be... L'acronim dels PIGS te mes de 20 anys (desde mitjans dels anys 80) quan P,G,S van entrar a la UE.
Salut!

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