Yes, Minister Redux

 | Sep 30, 2011 | 8:19 AM EDT  | Comments
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There's an air of resignation in European market activity. Stocks are slumping, with the major indices off 2% or more and the euro is also falling.

There's some disappointing data – most notably a surprise rise in inflation in the eurozone – but the market activity seems more like everyone's just given up and is waiting to ride out the worst quarter since 2008. It's like a team tanking the last few games and hoping for a better draft pick.

While there's not too much more in the way of market-moving news (everyone's sticking with our old friend uncertainty) digging through the pages of the FT reveals a story that illustrates why any sort of Europe rescue is doomed.

The UK is celebrating a victory against EU regulations that ensures it can still serve beer in pints and sell eggs by the dozen instead of going metric.  

"We've also protected what we already hold dear," (Caroline Spelman, environment secretary) added. "Selling eggs or bread rolls by the dozen, and using imperial measures like pints, are great British traditions that we all know and love, and there was no way I was going to let them be put at risk."

I'm assuming Spelman has no knowledge of pop culture and is just unintentionally channeling the classic BBC comedy "Yes, Minister." In a 1984 Christmas episode, protagonist Jim Hacker vaults into contention for Prime Minister with a rousing speech against EU plans to rename the British sausage as the "emulsified high-fat offal tube."

"The Europeans have gone too far. They are now threatening the British sausage. They want to standardize it -- by which they mean they'll force the British people to eat salami and bratwurst and other garlic-ridden greasy foods that are totally alien to the British way of life. They've turned our pints into liters, our yards into meters, we gave up the tanner and the threepenny bit. But they cannot and will not destroy the British sausage."

You're going to fix an entire sovereign debt, currency and banking crisis while still arguing over this junk? Endearing in some ways. Terrifying in most ways.

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