Europe's Real Crisis

 | Dec 02, 2011 | 8:56 AM EST  | Comments
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Europe looks like it's edging closer to fiscal union as Angela Merkel pledges to push for an agreement. But I'm betting on little progress today. It is Europe and it is Friday.

Instead, we should look across to an even bigger crisis a short ferry ride across the English Channel.

Scotland is running out of Scotch.

Because of a lag time of more than 10 years in bottling Scotch, supplies could dwindle as exports jump, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

SWA executives said this surge in popularity, built on the growth of an affluent, image-conscious middle class in emerging markets in South America and Asia, could mean that some distilleries and producers might temporarily run short of supplies ...

This is serious. I'm advocating for the Fed immediately cut its Bourbon/Scotch swap cost by 86 basis points. That will at least give us a stop-gap measure until we can bring out the bazooka in the form of a $1 trillion Qualitative Drinking program to immediately boost alcoholic liquidity. All hail QD 2.

The whisky boom is actually indicative of the kind of growth that the U.K. really needs.

The association calculated that this rate of sales meant the whisky industry was earning £125 every second for Britain's balance of payments ...

This is due in part to a $160 million investment in the industry by Diageo in 2007. But instead of looking to revitalize its economy, the austerity coalition is punishing the economy so much that major brewer and pub owner Greene King is calling a pint a luxury.

"In this environment, the drinking-out and eating-out markets are performing well, delivering an 'everyday indulgence' to the UK consumer," chief executive Rooney Anand said as he announced an increase in first-half profits.

A good, cask-conditioned ale may be a luxury in New York. But in the U.K. it's like calling Bud Lite in St. Louis a treasured moment.

Johnnie Walker for Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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