The Independent’s relentlessly Eurosceptic economics correspondent Hamish McRae foresees, in the best Scottish tradition, gloom and doom for southern (i.e. Catholic) Europe. He worries about the million or so people that the UK ‘has living’ in Spain, as if all of us were not workers and permanent residents but expatriate retirees, are just here for the cheap fags and booze and willing to return if things get tough. And he reassures us that ‘we’, by which he apparently means the British state, are preparing to help those million people if the foreigners screw up completely and Spanish cash machines run out of money. Such is the nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy that this panic will be monged and wildly overvalued by the City of London and disaster in the Mediterranean will be provoked – deliberately or not according to your point of view.
He also says:
If you were abroad over Easter and noticed the exchange rate, you may have been surprised to see that sterling is not as weak as it has been of late. The pound yesterday was at its highest since mid-February 2011. The rise has been particularly against the euro…
It is (deliberately?) unclear what he means by ‘of late’. If he means the last three months he is demonstrably wrong. The sterling/euro exchange rate for the last 12 months has been this:
In early July last year sterling reached a low point of €1.1136 and the other day it reached a high of €1.2060, which is lower than the high point of €1.2079 reached in early January.
At that lowest rate last July, a cup of coffee or a beer that costs 2 euros would have changed from £1.80 to £1.66, a 15-euro lunch would cost £13.47 instead of £12.48 and a dinner for 50 euros would be £44.90 against £41.46. That, remember, is taking the lowest dip on the 1-year graph and its second-highest point, and is using the interbank rate. By the time banks have had their share the effect on the total budget of a weekend away is hardly severe. Certainly my British friends who were here last weekend didn’t mention any particular problem.